Photo Review – Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris


Behind Closed Doors

by B.A. Paris

Summary: Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Source: I purchased a copy from a local thrift store

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Behind Closed Doors started with an interesting premise and set up with the dinner party and the reader wondering about Grace. I loved the idea of wondering what happened behind closed doors and what could be wrong with Jack and Grace.

A lot of people raved about this book and, as a lover of thriller and suspense, I was super excited to find out the twists and backstory.

The more that was revealed, the more ridiculous the story got. This whole plot was so beyond over the top and not at all believable. I mean, I didn’t put the book down and I flew through the pages, so I will give the book credit for being addictive, but I wished it wasn’t so far fetched because half of me was just kind of like watching a train wreck trying to see how crazy this book could actually get.

I don’t think Jack would have revealed himself and his flaws to Grace so nonchalantly and actually have reasons for why he was a certain way based on his childhood. That part rubbed me the wrong way, even if I was buying the rest of the story like it could really happen. Only cheesy movie villains stop to tell their entire plan with reasons and justifications.

If you don’t take the book too seriously, it’s kind of crazy and fun to read, but if you’re expecting a legitimately good book or a thriller that actually makes you a little scared because it could happen to someone, I just don’t think this is it.


Star 3


Photo Review – One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid


One True Loves

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a PeopleMagazine pick and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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I really like Taylor Jenkins Reid. After now having read 3 of her books, I can say that I think I have a new favorite contemporary author! She really creates situations and characters that draw me in and make me feel so many emotions. The synopsis told me all of the basic plot points, but I was still surprised and on the edge of my seat even knowing it was coming. It is rare that I feel so connected to the characters when they are so different from myself, but I was totally invested.

I definitely recommend One True Loves and it was a hit with my local book club, prompting awesome discussion about what we would do, who we were rooting for, and how people can grow and change through their lifetime. I loved the way it makes you think about who we are and how we change.

I also love that the main character wasn’t always a reader. I have always been a reader, but there were definitely times as a teen where reading was the bottom of my list of hobbies I enjoyed and I kind of love having that in a main character because not all adult readers were lifetime readers and we should represent them in books, too!


Star 4

Photo Review – Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake


Five Dark Fates

(Three Dark Crowns #4)

by Kendare Blake

Summary: After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever.

The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens.

Source: I borrowed a digital library copy

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I love how many twists and turns happened in order to reach the finale.

I felt like Five Dark Fates had some more pacing issues and some parts were tough to get through, but overall I enjoyed it. Nothing I expected to happen happened, which kept me on my toes for the most part.

I never really liked any of the sisters/queens, but in the end, I’m not sure I was ever supposed to. It didn’t change my enjoyment of the series or what I ended up rooting for because they all had their flaws and their qualities.

I definitely recommend the series and loved how dark and full of magic and mystery it was. Not the most likable characters, but an intriguing setting and a ton of politics ended up making it worth the read!


Star 4

Photo Review – Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) by Kendare Blake


Two Dark Reigns

(Three Dark Crowns #3)

by Kendare Blake

Summary: #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake returns with the highly anticipated third book in the Three Dark Crowns series! And while Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island.

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Two Dark Reigns was pretty interesting. I wasn’t sure where it all would lead after the events of the previous book and the title totally threw me off!

While the pacing was a tad slow at times, I really enjoyed getting more of the history of the island vs the mainland and kind of get a little perspective. I thought it added to the story and made me root for different conclusions than I felt I was rooting for previously.

Overall, I think the series improved with time and I loved (I mean LOVED) the ending. Everything about this one was just so dark and so completely messed up at times. I totally loved the story, even when I’m not always a fan of the characters.


Star 4

Photo Review – One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake


One Dark Throne

(Three Dark Crowns #2)

by Kendare Blake

Summary: The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

Source: I purchased a signed hardcover

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I remember vaguely enjoying Three Dark Crowns and being curious as to what happened next, so I snagged a copy (at Costco) before moving and finally dove in a year and half later.

I thought One Dark Throne was a much better story than the first book as we knew the characters, felt that the stakes were higher, and I felt the action was more fast paced in this book.

To some degree, I feel like this could’ve been a duology, but I admit it would be quite a cliffhanger W-T-F happened kind of ending. Still, I really enjoyed how many twists there were and how much happened. It seemed so dark and delightful!


Star 4

Photo Review – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson


Sorcery of Thorns

by Margaret Rogerson

Summary: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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This may be weird, but I, lover of books and libraries, who finds solace in bookstores and being surrounded by books, dislike librarian fantasies. I have no idea why, but generally I have not enjoyed them in the past and find prompts like Read a book about books to be excruciating as a result. I absolutely loved An Enchantment of Ravens by the same author, so I borrowed Sorcery of Thorns as soon as it was available without even reading the synopsis. *I know what you’re thinking, WHAT on earth, it literally says library in the synopsis, how could I miss that?* A few pages in, I gasped audibly and realized that I may be reading a librarian fantasy and it may mean I’ll end up rating a book by an author I really like very badly and it would be all my fault! I really try to avoid books I know I’ll hate when they are new and the reviews are pouring in and I’m over here grumbling and rating 2 stars because of librarians when it’s not the book’s fault. I kept reading, hoping that I would enjoy it anyway, because I was enjoying it already.

Fortunately, I loved Sorcery of Thorns despite the librarian fantasy theme. Maybe it had something to do with the library being a bit different in that it housed grimoires, which were often chained and very dangerous. The main character was drawn to the types of books that had personalities (actual personalities) and, while she did go on many adventures that stemmed from the library or took place in one, it wasn’t a weird library of knowledge portal type of story. The main character was also not the type who never dabbled in her own adventures (she was in trouble constantly and bent rules all the time) and she didn’t live within the pages of stories and never experienced anything, afraid of risks and what not. So the things I dislike most about librarian adventure stories were not present.

Sorcery of Thorns was an awesome magical story full of secrets, plots, sorcery, danger, and demons. I absolutely loved the characters! And the magic system! And the romance and friendships! *swoons*

Let me raise a glass to a YA fantasy author who consistently writes amazing YA fantasy STAND-ALONE novels. *cheers*

It’s nearly impossible to find YA fantasy standalone novels and when you do, the books are either super long (like a trilogy mashed into one book) or they are standalone books that are still somehow in the same world about the same things featuring some of the same characters. Margaret Rogerson is truly unique and amazing for delivering two very different stand-alone fantasies that delivered a great story from start to finish, leaving us wanting more, but only because it was so good! I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next. We’ve been asking for this for years and I’m so happy these two books exist.

I highly recommend Sorcery of Thorns. I am so glad I kept reading it!


Star 4

Photo Review – The Broken Girls by Simone St. James


The Broken Girls

by Simone St. James

Summary: A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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The Broken Girls was such an enjoyable read. It was part ghost story, part mystery. Fiona was a journalist and her sister had been murdered years ago. The present day restoration of a disturbing old school brought back memories since her sister was found on the grounds. The book took on old secrets as Fiona’s research on the restoration took her into the 1950’s as she explored the disappearance of one of the girls from the school, the 90s as her sister’s murder stayed fresh in her mind, and the present as she pieced it all together.

I loved getting the POVs from the girls attending Idlewild in the 50s, especially with the legend of Mary Hand haunting the grounds.

Fiona’s boyfriend was a cop on the local police force which presented a lot of conflict and was a point of contention since Fiona couldn’t just let things go when it came to investigating the past.

I loved how the novel explored small towns, the treatment of women, history, secrets, ghosts, and murder.

I don’t want to give too much away since I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely recommend this one, especially for a nice spooky October read that isn’t quite a horror novel.


Star 4