The Blonde Bookworm

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd -- Review

Monday, February 19, 2018


Title: My Name is Venus Black
Author: Heather Lloyd
Pages: 368
Publishing: February 27th 2018 by Dial Press
ISBN: 0399592180 


Venus Black is a straitlaced A student fascinated by the study of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, goes missing.

More than five years later, Venus is released from prison with a suitcase of used clothes, a fake identity, and a determination to escape her painful past. Estranged from her mother, and with her beloved brother still missing, she sets out to make a fresh start in Seattle, skittish and alone. But as new people enter her orbit—including a romantic interest and a young girl who seems like a mirror image of her former lost self—old wounds resurface, and Venus realizes that she can’t find a future while she’s running from her past.


My Name Is Venus Black is a novel that has been on my radar for quite a while, and I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to read it on NetGalley. The novel opens with a fair amount of intrigue and mystery. Venus Black has been arrested for a crime, but the reader is given only a little bit of information and has to fill in a lot of the details. I loved this about the novel because I was able to use the bits of information given to create a whole picture in my mind. 

The story is told from the perspective of Venus as well as another young lady, and I loved the back and forth between the two connected stories. It allowed the reader to really connect with the characters. Each of the characters were beautifully written and I really grew to love some of them and strongly dislike others. I felt a real connection to them and cared about how their story would turn out. 

My Name is Venus Black is a beautifully written story about forgiveness, redemption, and the love of family. I truly enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy contemporary YA novels. Thank you to Dial Press and NetGalley for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 4/5

She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop -- Review

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Title: She Regrets Nothing
Author: Andrea Dunlop
Pages: 400
Publishing: February 6th 2018 by Washington Square Press
ISBN: 1501155989


In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth,the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.


Andrea Dunlop has become one of my auto-buy authors, and in her latest novel She Regrets Nothing, Dunlop does not disappoint. The reader follows along as Laila Lawrence is reunited with the wealthy side of her family. And not just a little wealthy, these people know how to spend money and have a lot of it to spend. They quickly take Laila under their wing in NYC and begin to teach her what its like to be wealthy. 

She Regrets Nothing is fast paced and extremely well written. Dunlop has a talent for keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, and I constantly felt the slight build up in her writing and knew that eventually something awful or amazing was going to happen. I loved the characters in this novel and felt that each of them were important to the plot and particularly complex. 

In summary, She Regrets Nothing is a gorgeous novel about deceit, greed, and what some will do for the love of money. I absolutely loved this novel and would highly recommend it! Thank you to Atria Books, NetGalley, Andrea Dunlop, and Booksparks for sending a novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 4/5

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine -- Review

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Title: Honor Among Thieves 
Authors: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre 
Pages: 309
Publishing: February 13th 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books

Synopsis from Goodreads: Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.


Honor Among Thieves is a unique and intriguing novel. It is filled with diverse characters, constant suspense and mystery, and talking space ships. YES, living and breathing space ships that speak to their passengers. I loved how unique this novel was and found myself unable to put it down. 

One of the things I found frustrating and incredibly entertaining, was the fact that the authors left the reader in the dark about the reasons for the space missions. It was frustrating because I always felt one step behind, but it was also entertaining because it added a certain air of mystery and suspense to the novel. But it wasn't just the readers who were in the dark. The characters also were unsure of their actual mission in space. All of the characters were entertaining, but Zara and Nadim were by far my favorites. I loved Zara's spunk and Nadim's heart. They worked well as a team and added such a unique relationship t the novel. 

All in all, Honor Among Thieves was interesting, full of suspense and had many unique qualities. I would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy sc-fi fantasy novels. I will definitely be looking forward to book two! Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3.5/5

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton -- Review

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Title: The Belles 
Author: Dhonielle Clayton 
Pages: 448 
Publishing: February 6th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
ISBN: 1484728491

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.


The Belles has been on my "must read" list for quite some time, but before reading the first few pages, I was already starting to feel the hype pressure. You know what I'm talking about? That feeling when a novel is talked about and talked about and then you start to get nervous you might not like it and be excommunicated from the book world??? Well, I got that feeling. And sadly, I think the feeling was warranted. Don't get me wrong, the novel wasn't bad... It was good. But I just don't think it lived up to the ridiculous hype (which is quite hard to do, honestly). 

The story line in The Belles was definitely unique and interesting. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and their personalities, but something just continued to fall flat for me. I felt like the novel was a bit predictable. Even the "plot twists" were pretty predictable. I also wasn't a huge fan of the love interests. I just kept having the feeling of wanting more from the characters. 

But enough about what I didn't like. Let's talk about the good stuff! I looooooved the world building. I could perfectly imagine the beauty products and gorgeous elaborate dresses, and the palace seemed magical! I think the mini animals were quite possibly my favorite part of the book. I think I would want to have a mini panda bear! Clayton's magical world reminded me a bit of the Capitol in Hunger Games and I loved it. 

All in all, The Belles was an interesting novel that explores identity, self esteem, confidence, and the world of privilege. I had a few issues with the pacing and depth of characters, but overall it was an interesting read and I look forward to reading the second novel. Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for sending the novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3/5

The Other Side of Everything by Lauren Doyle Owens -- Review

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Title: The Other Side of Everything
Author: Lauren Doyle Owens 
Pages: 272
Publishing: January 23rd 2018 by Touchstone
ISBN: 1501167790


Laura Lippman meets Megan Abbott in this suspenseful literary debut about three generations of neighbors whose lives intersect in the aftermath of a crime.

Bernard White is a curmudgeonly widower who has lived in Seven Springs, Florida for decades and has kept to himself since his wife passed. When his neighbor is murdered, he emerges from his solitude to reconnect with his fellow octogenarians. These connections become a literal lifeline as a second, and then a third, elderly woman is murdered, and “the originals” as they call themselves, realize that they are being targeted.

Amy Unger is an artist and cancer survivor whose emotional recovery has not been as successful as her physical one. After the woman next door is murdered, she begins to paint imagined scenes from the murder in an effort to cope with her own loss. But when her paintings prove to be too realistic, her neighbors grow suspicious, and she soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the police.

And then there’s Maddie Lowe, a teenage waitress whose mother recently abandoned the family. As Maddie struggles to keep her family together and maintain the appearance of normal teenage life, she finds herself drawn to the man the police say is the killer.

As they navigate their increasingly dangerous and tumultuous worlds, Bernard, Amy, and Maddie begin to uncover the connections between them, and the past and present, in a novel that ultimately proves the power of tragedy to spark renewal.


The Other Side of Everything is a thought provoking literary journey disguised as a suspense novel, and I deeply loved this story from start to finish. The characters were intriguing and the story line was fast paced with just the right amount of suspense and thrill. I loved the fact that it had classic suspense vibes, but also took the reader along on a journey with the characters as they navigated life and loss. 

The Other Side of Everything is definitely not your typical suspense novel. It has more emotional components than most thriller/suspense novels, but do NOT let that turn you away. It is beautifully written and I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy suspense novels as well as general fiction. Even though this novel is one of my first reads of the year, I know it will be one I remember for the remaining 11 months!

Rating 4/5

Deadly Sweet by Lola Lodge -- Review

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Title: Deadly Sweet
Author: Lola Dodge
Pages: 270
Publishing: January 16th 2018 by Ink Monster, LLC
ISBN: 9781943858255


For fans of Hex Hall,The MagiciansPractical Magic, and Food Wars!

Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spell books in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch in the suburbs, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Unfortunately, witches have a bad rep, and Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with each rejection letter.

Then her great aunt Agatha pops out of the woodwork with a sweet offer. If she signs on as Agatha’s apprentice, Anise can have all the training and ingredients she’s ever imagined, and she’ll inherit the family bakery.

The catch? Studying with Agatha means moving to Sedona—a dangerous otherworldly power center where her aunt is a key player in the magical community’s shady dealings. And the last apprentice? Assassinated.

Now Anise is next on the hit list. If she can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brulee.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?


Deadly Sweet is the first novel in the Spellwork Syndicate series. It is a story about a young witch who wants nothing more than to attend college and become a pastry chef. I thought it was a really cute story with a nice magical touch. I would have loved to experience a little bit more of the magical world, but it was still thoroughly entertaining. 

The novel was a little on the short side, but I enjoyed that because I thought all of the information included was pertinent and not too much fluff. The story was slightly predictable, but it was really cute and I didn't mind that I could figure out most of the mystery before it occurred. I loved Anise's character and I really enjoyed the fact that she was pretty ordinary. Yes, she was a witch, but she wasn't a prodigy or princess. She was just a young girl who wanted to live a somewhat normal life as a pastry witch! 

Overall, Deadly Sweet was a fun and entertaining read. It was straightforward and had steady pacing with interesting characters. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy YA fantasy. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series when they are available. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3/5

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan -- Review

Monday, January 15, 2018

Title: Anatomy of a Scandal
Author: Sarah Vaughan
Pages: 400
Publishing: January 23rd 2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books 
ISBN: 1501172166 


Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?


Anatomy of a Scandal was an interesting and thought provoking read. It was very different than the typical crime novel. Instead of having a lot of twists, turns and thrills, it was drawn out with beautifully detailed writing that gave the novel more of a dramatic edge. The pacing was a little slower than I was used to, but I believe this was done intentionally in order to set the stage for Kate to uncover the crimes in the courtroom. 

Speaking of the courtroom -- those scenes were by far my favorite portions of the novel. I loved the craftiness of the lawyers and how they used particular wording to bring out the truth without the suspect even knowing it. Kate was a thrilling and brilliant character, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her with each turn of the page. 

Anatomy of a Scandal was a slow burning crime novel with loads of drama and scandal. I really enjoyed this novel and loved how it made me step out of my comfort zone. I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy crime fiction novels. It is definitely one I will be recommending all year! 

Rating 3/5 
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