Small Town Rumors by Carolyn Brown

Small Town Rumors by Carolyn Brown
Publisher/Year: Montlake Romance, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 289
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Everyone is talking about Jennie Sue Baker and the mess she made of her life in New York. The former high school queen bee–and wealthy darling of Bloom, Texas–has returned home after all these years, riding on a common bus and bearing two bounced alimony checks. In a town that thrives on gossip, Jennie’s fall from grace has shamed her mother, set the town buzzing, and caused old, jealous enemies to whisper in delight. They say she’s taken a job as a housekeeper, gotten a garage apartment, and might be crushing on Rick Lawson, a simple farmer with modest dreams.

As romance starts to bud, Jennies relishes what it means to follow her heart, find real new friends, and finally be herself–regardless of all the lying town chatter. But fate has another twist in store. Rumor has it that Jennie now stands to lose what matters most…unless she can convince Rick of one true thing–and that’s love.

What I thought

Sometimes, you just need a sweet, comforting escape read. This was my first time reading Carolyn Brown, and while I wouldn’t call this book life-altering, now I know that I can turn to her when I’m in the mood for a Hallmark-movie read.

Small Town Rumors was a nice and simple read, something that would be perfect for porch sitting with a glass of sweet tea or lemonade. The writing might be a little simplistic, and the characters were a bit like one-dimensional caricatures, but y’know I did really enjoy this one. I’ve been a bit stressed lately, so it was nice to kick back and relax into something Mayberry-style. Stories like this one always make me wish I had grown up in a small town. The humor wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it did make me smile, especially the banter from Lettie and Nadine. I wasn’t sure how the romance would be, but it was of the closed-door variety. This was a cute, if not entirely believable, story, and just like a good Hallmark movie, it gave me all the warm-and-fuzzies. My favorite part about this book was probably all the bookish references. Between a small used bookstore, a small town library, and a male lead who drives a bookmobile and builds little free libraries (swoon), my bookish heart was content.

If you’re in the mood for something light and comforting and guaranteed to make you smile, Small Town Rumors is sure to fit the bill.

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
Publisher/Year: Wednesday Books, 2020
Format: ARC/paperback
Pages: 326
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering L.A. circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their new target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

What I thought

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

You guys. This. Book.

Foul is Fair is dark, SO dark. It’s vicious. It’s violent. It’s gritty. There’s SO much blood, even Tarentino would be proud. It’s wildly implausible, but it delivers a deliciously chilling tale of revenge that’s absolutely vindicating. And I am HERE FOR IT. I will warn you now, this book isn’t for everyone, and it has a list of trigger warnings a mile long (see Hannah Capin’s website for more detail).

I don’t want to dwell too much on the plot, so there’s just a few points I want to make. First of all, I LOVE how Macbeth ties into the story. While I don’t think it’s exactly necessary to be familiar with Macbeth before reading this, I will say that even a basic understanding of the plot of the play adds so much more depth to the story, and I thought it was an amazing take on it.

Along those same lines, I think that, at least for me, knowing this was a Macbeth retelling helped me to 100% suspend my disbelief and to better appreciate the writing style. It’s a theatrical book, through and through. I really don’t think that this was intended to be believable–it’s a cold-blooded revenge fantasy, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t cheering for Jade the whole way, regardless of whether this all could actually happen or not. And I absolutely loved Hannah Capin’s writing style–it was so unlike anything else I’ve read and it lent itself so perfectly to the feel of the story. I feel like Capin perfectly exemplified what it would be like to be inside the mind of Lady Macbeth herself. I loved it!

This was my first time reading something of Hannah Capin’s and I’m sincerely looking forward to more from her! Especially since I noticed on Goodreads today that this is the first in a series–yes! Give me book #2 stat, please! For fans of the likes of Kill Bill and Cruel Intentions and for anyone who’s ever wanted revenge, you won’t want to miss out on this new title from Wednesday Books!

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland
Publisher/Year: Headline Publishing Group, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 531
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


1316. On the wilds of Dartmoor stands the isolated Priory of St. Mary, home to the Sisters of the Knights of St. John. People journey from afar in search of healing at the holy well that lies beneath its chapel.

But the locals believe Dartmoor was theirs long before Christianity came to the land. And not all who visit seek miracles. When three strangers reach the moor, fear begins to stir as the well’s waters run with blood.

What witchcraft have the young woman, the Knight of St. John and the blind child brought with them?

The Sisters will need to fight for everything they hold dear as the ghosts of the Old World gather in their midst.

What I thought

There are few things I love more than adding to my “will read anything they write” author list. I read Karen Maitland’s The Owl Killers a couple years ago and loved it, so I was very excited when my library was able to track down a copy of this for me.

Two of my favorite genres are historical fiction and fantasy, so I am absolutely here for Maitland’s impeccable historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural. This story was more of a slow burn for me, but I truly didn’t mind that because I so enjoyed feeling completely immersed in the time period. I can tell how much research Maitland does–both from the extensive historical notes/glossary in the back and from how much the time and place came to life. And as someone who lives in central PA, who has never been to England let alone Dartmoor, and who does not know much about the time period, through Maitland’s efforts, I was able to easily follow along and learn as I read. Not only that, but she has a talent for creating atmosphere–the eerie, damp, chilly moors were a character unto themselves.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but I will say that of particular interest to me was the dichotomy of pagan beliefs and the influx of Christianity, among the other power struggles at play. As I mentioned, this story was a bit more of a slow burn than I was expecting, but again, I just really enjoyed learning about a time period I knew nothing about. The story is as dark and melancholy as the moors on which they take place, but I couldn’t help but keep turning the pages to see how the characters turned out. Maitland again employs a multiple perspective storyline, but it flows seamlessly and I love that structure.

All in all, Karen Maitland is a truly excellent addition to the historical fiction realm. If you are a fan of the likes of Bernard Cornwell or Philippa Gregory, I urge you to read this or any of her other books. Bringing the Dark Ages to life in a way that makes me glad for modern day conveniences, I really enjoyed falling into this story and becoming captivated by the characters as they struggled their way through life in the Dark Ages in Dartmoor.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Publisher/Year: The Dial Press, 2020
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured veteran returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

What I thought

I ugly-cried through the end of this book. I cannot even begin to fathom living through this level of tragedy. I don’t know what was sadder to me–Edward having to relearn how to be after losing everything or the passengers unaware of what was about to happen…until the moment they knew what was coming. This is a book that is going to haunt me for a long time to come, but ultimately, I think that’s a good thing. We could all use the reminder–tell people how you feel, don’t take anything for granted, and don’t put off your dreams.

I thought the way Ann Napolitano told this tale was perfect. For as heartwrenching as this story was, it was also uplifting to watch Edward as he began to heal, physically and emotionally, with the help of those around him. The grief never goes away, and it doesn’t in this story either. Life simply goes on, and I found it fitting that Edward didn’t have a “happily ever after” ending, but rather a life alongside the loss, if that makes sense.

Ann Napolitano’s writing astounded me and frequently took the breath out of me. I also loved the narrative structure here–I’m a fan of multiple perspective storylines, and I found the driving force of the flight narrative to push the story forward while Edward’s life after the flight proved to be a healing balm for me. Napolitano’s skill of embedding her characters with true humanity, flaws and all, kept this story from feeling too preachy or unbelievable. In fact, I found that it felt so genuine that I felt my own sense of loss, as if in finishing this book, I’m leaving characters that had become real to me.

I feel like I’m fumbling with this review–the feeling of melancholy from this beautiful book has taken the words right out of me. Simply let it be said that I loved this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone. Just make sure you have a box of tissues handy because you will need them!