The Blonde Bookworm

Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino -- Review

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Title: Blind Kiss
Author: Renee Carlino
Pages: 336
Publishing: August 14th 2018 by Atria Books


A powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio... Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection."


I am a massive fan of Renee Carlino and I was extremely excited to check out Blind Kiss. The beginning of the novel was super catchy and I was so excited to see where the characters would end up. Unfortunately, there were a few slow portions of the novel that seemed to drag, and it was a little darker than I was expecting. I tried to look past that (surprisingly easy) and it became quite addicting. 

The characters and the story were complex and I was constantly guessing what would happen next. I flew through the last half of this novel and I loved how it all ended for the characters. If you are a fan of Carlino's work or a fan of Christina Lauren, I would highly recommend checking out this novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Atria for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3/5

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield -- Review

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Title: Once Upon a River
Author: Diane Setterfield 
Pages 480
Publishing: December 4th 2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books


A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.


Oh my heavens... what did I just read? Once Upon a River is a truly amazing novel and I don't know how I'm going to put into words how I feel about it. Coming in at about 480 pages long, this is not a short read or one that you'll be able to skim through quickly. With that said, it is NOT a book you will want to skim through quickly. I wanted to soak up every little detail and every speck of information about each of the characters. 

This novel is highly character driven and it's definitely a novel that will continue to grow on you with time. The first several chapters take a little while to get into because of all the character introductions, but give it time and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. I loved so much about this novel that it's really hard to talk about the best parts and the best characters, but I think I grew to love Rita and Mr. Armstrong the most out of everyone. BUT... all of the characters were phenomenal and I probably would change that answer tomorrow if you asked me again! 

All in all, Once Upon a River was a beautiful and atmospheric read that you will  want to spend your time taking in. It is filled with beautiful scenery, contagious characters, and more magic than you could imagine. I would highly recommend this novel to readers who loved Setterfield's previous novel. Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Rating 5/5 

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd -- Review

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Title: Grim Lovelies 
Author: Megan Shepherd 
Pages: 376
Publishing: October 2nd 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers


Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.


Grim Lovelies was hands down one of my favorite YA reads of the year. The setting and pace of the novel were spot on and it was so different from anything I've read before. The characters were a lot of fun and the world building was incredible. I could practically see Paris from my seat on the sofa. 

This novel had so many wonderful qualities, but I think one of my favorites was the face that the characters were in a race against time. That aspect added even more suspense to the novel and made me keep flipping page after page. I think I said "one more chapter" about 20 times! I also really loved all of the unique characters and the personality that they brought to the novel. 

All in all, Grim Lovelies was an enchanting and charming read that I would highly recommend to readers who enjoy YA fantasy. It held me captive from start to finish and I can't wait to see what Shepherd has up her sleeve for the second installment. Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for sending a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 4/5

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube -- Review

Monday, November 19, 2018

Title: The Dark Beneath the Ice 
Author: Amelinda Berube 
Pages: 320 
Publishing: August 7th 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire


Something is wrong with Marianne. 

It's not just that her parents have split up, or that life hasn't been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital. 

She's losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. 

Something is after her. But a first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing's rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. And Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it think it's owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.


When I read the synopsis for this novel, I was all in. When I really got into it, I was not feeling it. I had heard it was a dark and scary novel with hints of Paranormal Activity and I was really excited to get into the Halloween and fall spirit, but unfortunately it fell flat for me. It really wasn't that scary and I honestly had a hard time getting engaged. 

I don't think there was really any one thing wrong with the novel. I think possibly my expectations were just a little too high and I became bored with the story. This novel has pretty decent reviews on Goodreads so I would still recommend checking it out if the synopsis interests you. Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 2/5

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes -- Review

Monday, November 5, 2018

Title: Little White Lies 
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
Pages: 400 
Publishing: November 6th 2018 by Freeform


"I'm not saying this is Sawyer's fault," the prim and proper one said delicately. "But."

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.


This novel immediately spoke to me when I read the synopsis and I knew I had to pick it up! I'm a sucker for all things YA drama and Little White Lies was FULL off drama! I was immediately hooked and became totally wrapped up in the story. The characters were fun and entertaining and you never knew what they would do next. Sawyer was definitely my favorite character and I loved reading about her throughout the novel. 

All in all, Little White Lies was a fun an entertaining read and I would definitely recommend it if you are a fan of drama filled YA reads. I thought it was a fun mixture of Riverdale and Pretty Little Liars, so if you liked either of those then I would definitely pick it up. Thanks to Freeform and NetGalley for sending this novel in exchange for and honest review. 

Rating 4/5

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage -- Review

Monday, October 29, 2018

Title: Baby Teeth 
Author: Zoje Stage 
Pages: 304
Publishing: July 17th 2018 by St Martin's Press


Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.


I very rarely read a novel that truly creeps my out, but oh my goodness this book is crazy! Or I guess I should say Hanna is crazy. I was totally hooked from the first page to the very last and I know this novel is one that is going to stick with me for a while. The characters are perfect, the tone of the novel is spot on, and Stage's writing style is incredibly entertaining. 

Let's start with Hanna's character. She is an odd little girl who felt sympathy for... at first. But then the novel takes a quick and dark turn, and I feel awful for Suzette's character. Stage's writing forces the reader's emotions into turmoil and I couldn't have loved that aspect more. 

This novel is not for the faint of heart and I've definitely heard some mixed reviews, but I would highly recommend it if you love suspense novels with a scary twist. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for sending this novel in exchange for and honest review. 

Rating 4/5

Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon -- Review

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Title: Sailing Lessons 
Author: Hannah McKinnon 
Pages: 384
Publishing: June 5th 2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books


On the shores of Cape Cod, the Bailey sisters reunite with their long-lost father for a summer of hope and forgiveness in this heartfelt novel from the author of the “sharp and evocative” (Kirkus Reviews) Mystic Summer, The Lake Season, and The Summer House, sure to appeal to “fans of Elin Hilderbrand” (Booklist).

Wrenn Bailey has lived all her life on Cape Cod with her mother Lindy, older sister Shannon, and younger sister Piper. Growing up, life was dictated by the seasons with sleepy gray winters where only the locals stayed on, followed by the sharp influx and colorful bustle of summer tourists who swept up the elbow of the Cape and infiltrated their small paradise.

But it wasn’t just the tourists who interrupted Wrenn’s formative years; her father—brilliant but troubled photographer Caleb—has long made a habit of drifting in and out of his girls’ lives. Until the one summer he left the Cape and did not return again.

Now, almost twenty years later, Caleb has come back one last time, suffering from pancreatic cancer and seeking absolution. Wrenn and her sisters each respond differently to their father’s return, determined to find closure. But that means returning to the past and revisiting old wounds—wounds that cause the tightknit Bailey women to confront their own wishes and wants, and admit to their own wrong-doings over the years. In a place that brings both great comfort and great pain, the Bailey sisters experience a summer on the Cape that promises not only hard endings, but perhaps, hopeful new beginnings.


I'm always looking for a good beachy read, and Sailing Lessons was perfect for that craving. Full of family drama, romance, and roads to recovery, this read was enough to make me sit still on the beach and read until the book was finished. I loved McKinnon's writing in this novel and how she made the characters truly come to life. I felt like I was experiencing highs and lows with each of the characters throughout the novel and I loved it. 

McKinnon has a way of taking relate-able characters and putting them into situations that you're constantly asking yourself, "what would I do?". I love that about her writing and I love how it constantly has my mind moving and contemplating. I would highly recommend this novel if you need a good beach read or if you are a fan of Kristin Hannah. Thank you to Atria and NetGalley for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3/5
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