Book Review: Litani by Jess Lourey

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A chilling mystery, inspired by true horrors of our nation.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

The Amazon Charts bestselling author of Unspeakable Things and Bloodline explores the darkness at the heart of the rural Midwest in a novel inspired by a chilling true crime.

In the summer of ’84, fourteen-year-old Frankie Jubilee is shuttled off to Litani, Minnesota, to live with her estranged mother, a county prosecutor she barely knows. From the start, Frankie senses something uneasy going on in the small town. The locals whisper about The Game, and her mother warns her to stay out of the woods and away from adults.

When a bullying gang of girls invites Frankie to The Game, she accepts, determined to find out what’s really going on in Litani. She’s not the only one becoming paranoid. Hysteria burns through the community. Dark secrets emerge. And Frankie fears that, even in the bright light of day, she might be living among monsters.

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Sabrina!

Let me start off this review by giving everyone a brief warning. Litani is inspired by the Satanic Panic that occurred during the 80s, so the main theme of the book has to do with the idea of an underground child sex ring. It does not shy away from topics about child abuse, including child sexual abuse. There are no real explicit details about what would happen to a child in these situations, but the implications are there. Please be safe when reading it! You can find a list of content/trigger warnings above.

Now that I’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way, I want to say that the timing of me reading this book was perfect. I had literally never heard of Satanic Panic before a few weeks ago, when I listened to a podcast episode about it from You’re Wrong About. Side-note, that podcast and its hosts are great, and I’d definitely recommend it!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the phrase, Satanic Panic was a phenomena that started in the United States in the 1980s. Basically, there were a lot of unsubstantiated claims that there was a global child sex ring started by satanic cults/satan worshippers. Despite lack of solid evidence that this was the case (children may have been getting sexually assaulted, but there was no proof for the notion of an underground international satanic sex ring), it didn’t stop the hysteria and paranoia that followed as a result.

Litani follows the story of a 14 year old girl (note: I would not classify this as a YA. It is an adult novel through and through) who just experienced the loss of her father and is forced to move in with her estranged (and emotionally distant) mother. While she explores the town, she hears whispers about something called “The Game” and about children being molested and sometimes murdered in satanic rituals. She is consistently warned by multiple members of the community to not play with any adults. Not only that, but is there someone lurking outside her window at night?

Needless to say, this book is creepy. The copy that I have calls it a mystery on the back blurb, but for me, it definitely falls under the thriller category. It gets under your skin chapter after chapter. One of the things that I think it was particularly good at was making every single adult seem suspicious. Is there really a child sex ring in this town? How many adults and children are involved? What horrors lie in the town’s past and why won’t anyone talk about it?

Something that I was not expecting was to be educated on several types of plants. The main character, Frankie, has deep knowledge of botany, due to her dad’s expertise, and there are a bunch of fun facts sprinkled throughout the book about the properties of plants, both good and bad. I had (and still have) the urge to write all of these down somewhere. There are even some fun (but kind of creepy) sketches included of human-plant hybrids that Frankie draws to keep track of the people she meets.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style in the very beginning of the book, but it grew on me very quickly. Also, since it takes place in the 80s, I found myself noticing some phrases that I either haven’t heard in a long time or haven’t heard at all. The time-dated mentions of things like corded phones and VCR tapes often gave me intense feelings of nostalgia. Oh, how I miss my childhood.

If you’re into thrillers and can stomach the theme of child sexual abuse, I’d definitely recommend giving Litani a try. Its around 300 pages, and was a very quick read in my opinion. You likely won’t be able to put it down.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: The Wedding Cake Wish by Rosie Green

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Another cute and cozy mystery from the Little Duck Pond Cafe series!

Foreword

Thank you so much to Rachel at https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/ and Rosie Green for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eBook and blog tour media kit!

About the Author

Rosie’s series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘A Summer of Surprises’, is out now.

Look out for ‘Snow Falls over Sunnybrook’, a heart-warming Christmas delight, out in November 2021. As snow drifts down over the village, will romance finally blossom for one very special pair?

Follow Rosie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green88

Review

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Wedding excitement is in the air! With their big day approaching, Fen has her heart set on a gorgeous, intimate celebration with not much fuss at all. But strong-minded mother-of-the-bride Marjery seems to have considerably grander plans. There’s also the small problem of a missing best man, and when Fen tasks Hudson Holmes and Ruby Watkiss with the job of tracking him down, their investigations unearth far more secrets than they bargained for. Will the Big Day go ahead in the light of such dramatic revelations? Can a wedding cake wish save the day? One thing’s for sure – this will definitely be a wedding to remember!

Review (No Spoilers)

The Wedding Cake Wish is standalone book 17 in the Little Duck Pond Cafe series by Rosie Green. I will say, however, that it is book two in a sub-series about Ruby Watkiss and Hudson Holmes and there are a few references to the previous book, so I would definitely recommend giving that one a read before jumping into this one. I reviewed it a while ago, and you can find information on it and my review here.

Although I haven’t read any of the other books in the Little Duck Pond Cafe other than these two Watkiss-Holmes mysteries, this series is such a cute, fun, and quick read that I’ll definitely be picking up the others when I have a chance! It manages to give you major cozy mystery vibes while not relying on too many cozy mystery stereotypes to keep the ball moving.

The main plot of this novella follows Hudson and Ruby as they attempt to find the missing best man for their friend’s wedding. He left his apartment under seemingly strange circumstances and has refused to answer any calls or text messages since. Our lovable duo are tasked with finding out why he left, or if he was in fact taken.

I had a lot of fun with the main plot of the book and the twist and turns that came along with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care much for the two side stories dealing with Rob and Fen’s pre-marital problems and the love-triangle building with Amelia, Ruby, and Hudson. I found both of these side-plots to be a bit predictable and unrealistic. The easy-going and loving friendship building between Hudson and Ruby is by far my favorite part of this mini-series. I would have preferred to have that shine more throughout the novella.

The authors notes and acknowledgements at the end mention that this book is book 2 in the Watkiss-Holmes trilogy, and that the final book is coming out in November. I can’t wait! The slow-burn romance building between these two is almost too much to bear, and I have a definite need to see them find a happy ending together. Please Rosie Green, give us that happy ending!

The Wedding Cake Wish is out now! You can find it here for purchase (affiliate link)!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A perfect blend of funny and serious. Full of life lessons about the future.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Kalena Miller for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 7, 2021

It’s the night of senior prom, and eighteen-year-old Julia has made a pact with her friends. (Yes, that kind of pact.) They have secured a secluded cabin in the woods, one night without parental supervision, and plenty of condoms. But as soon as they leave the dance, the pact begins to unravel. Alex’s grandmother is undergoing emergency surgery, and he and his date rush to the hospital. Zoe’s trying to figure out how she feels about getting off the waitlist at Yale–and how to tell her girlfriend. Madison’s chronic illness flares, holding her back once again from being a normal teenager. And Julia’s fantasy-themed role play gets her locked in a closet. Alternating between each character’s perspective and their ridiculous group chat, The Night When No One Had Sex finds a group of friends navigating the tenuous transition into adulthood and embracing the uncertainty of life after high school

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Kalena Miller grew up in College Station, TX with her mom, dad, and the most photographed hamster in history. After high school, she moved a thousand miles north to attend Carleton College, where she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Religious Studies. After a brief stint working as a paraeducator in Seattle, Kalena decided she missed school too much, so she spent the next two years pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.

Kalena currently lives in Hopkins, Minnesota with her husband, Kenny, and Toy Australian Shepherd, Toshley. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction and co-authors narrative nonfiction with her mom, Kathy Miller (check out her website here). She loves books that make her laugh and make her cry, preferably at the same time, and she firmly believes all quality novels should feature a cat.

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Told through alternating points-of-view, The Night When No One Had Sex is a YA contemporary novel about a group of teenagers who have made a pact to all have sex on their prom night. Unfortunately, fate has alternative plans for them. Amidst tales of being locked in a closet during foreplay, unexpected hospital trips, desperate scone-making during mental breakdowns, lost cats, dead animal heads, and lupus flares, this group of friends is in for a unique, but decidedly unsexy, night of their lives.

When I first started reading this book, I had a really bad feeling that I was going to find myself quickly exasperated by teen foolishness. There seemed to be so much tension before the night even began that I found myself preparing for the absolute worst. Thankfully, that’s not where this book headed for me.

Although many of the characters have infuriating qualities, there was something about them and the way that they were written that made these qualities somewhat endearing. Whenever they made a decision that was a clear mistake, instead of finding myself frustrated, I found myself lovingly shaking my head in an “oh you silly silly kids” type of manner. They all had flaws, but it was clear that every single one of them following misguided attempts to do what they thought was best. Their friendships and inter-relationships were perfectly beautiful at times and tragically beautiful at others.

On top of having great characters, this book had an equally-lovable plot. There were some things that didn’t make any sense (I’m looking at you, Alex-Leah internet sub-plot) but, once again, I found that I wasn’t at all bothered by it. The story is a mixture of serious life lessons and incredibly heartfelt/hilarious interactions between loved ones. It’s a feel-good novel all around, and I think it will be well-loved by many,

The Night When No One Had Sex was a fantastic novel that I would definitely recommend. It’s out on shelves now, so don’t forget to grab your copy!

Book Review: We Are 100 by Nathan Timmel

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A thrilling suspense novel that is as intense as it is thought-provoking.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation.Then he meets Cassandra.She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high.

As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan’s: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace… and that’s just the beginning.Will the FBI unearth Cassandra’s identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

First of all, a big thank you to Nathan Timmel for sending me a complimentary physical copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I especially love receiving physical copies over digital, because they are better for my diminishing eyesight.

When I first saw the cover of We Are 100, it immediately reminded me of some of the YA mystery novels that I’ve read in the past couple of years. It gave me Karen McManus vibes. Let me tell you, that is not at all what this book is. The overall story follows two FBI agents as they attempt to hunt down the mastermind behind the planning of 100 violent acts before it’s too late. In that way, it is more of a police procedural suspense novel than a mystery.

The narration switches between following the FBI team assigned to the case, the members of the 100 (unconnected individuals who are carrying out these violent acts), and “Cassandra” (the person behind it all). I really enjoyed this style choice because it allowed me to get a kind of eagle-eye view of the entire situation. Basically nothing is hidden from the reader—almost all of the suspense comes from the question of will the FBI find and stop Cassandra in time?

Due to the switching of timelines/narrators, the cast of this book is a decent size, but not so big that you lose track of who is who. Each chapter gives the reader an inside view of how that person/group think(s), and thus allows the novel to present a diverse amount of opinions and viewpoints. It is because of this that I do want to slightly warn you that this book isn’t going to be for everyone. There are a number of “political” statements sprinkled throughout that might rub certain readers the wrong way depending on how they feel about particular topics. The overall theme deals with people in power abusing their privileges and screwing over those who are reliant on their help, so you can imagine that it might touch on several sensitive topics. Off the top of my head, I can list that it tackles some of the following: rape and subsequent legal corruption, pedophilia/child sex trafficking, insurance corruption, bank corruption, and justifiable homicide/suicide. Please keep this in mind when you’re making your way through the novel. You might not always agree with what is being said, but it is important to keep an open mind and to attempt to see things from other points of view.

We Are 100 is sure to provide some food for thought, both while you’re reading and after you’ve finished. It came out earlier this year in March, so you can grab your copy right now!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas by Jennifer C. Wilson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Quick. Cute. Heartwarming.

This review was featured on Twinkl as part of their Christmas campaign.

Foreword

Thank you so much to Rachel at https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/ and Jennifer C. Wilson for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eBook and blog tour media kit!

About the Author

Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quite often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.

After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.

Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea. 

Review

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Callum and Lexie are perfect for each other – at least, that’s what everyone tells them. But they’re just good friends, aren’t they? And neither wants to ruin the solid friendship that’s treated them so well since university.

But when an old school friend of Callum’s asks Lexie for a date, and passions overflow on a work night out, could it be the trigger to show each of them what they have been missing out on all this time?

With twelve weeks until Christmas, that’s a lot of opportunity for romance – and for misunderstandings…

Review (No Spoilers)

Two holiday romances in a row! I’m a huge fan of these types of books and I’m so glad we’re finally in the holiday season. One of my favorite things around December is to go to the library and grab anything that looks like a cozy romance, especially if it’s holiday-themed!

Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas was a cute, fast-paced, friends-to-lovers novella. It took around an hour and a half to read it, and even that went by incredibly quick. The story follows two best friends who, after years of telling people they aren’t dating, suddenly wonder if there’s something more to the chemistry brewing between them. The narration switches perspectives between the two leads—something that I wish all romances would do. It allows us to see both sides of the story and clears up any miscommunications (how I loathe that trope) very quickly.

In regards to the characters, I thought Lexie was both amazing and incredibly mature. Callum is constantly flirting with the line between carefree bachelor and dangerous heart-breaker, and Lexie handles this fact extremely well. Callum, on the other hand, was a bit of a mess, so it took me a while to warm up to him. I think I might be still on the fence about whether I think he’d be a good life partner or not. I’m still holding out hope for him to become more reliable and introspective.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novella a lot. There’s even a hint in the prose that there may be another book in the series about two of the side characters and I’m 100% on board for reading it. I always tend to forget how much I like the short and quick feel of novellas, but this book definitely reminded me of how fun they can be. If you know of any holiday romance novellas, PLEASE send them my way. I want to read more!

Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas came out on Tuesday, so if you’d like to purchase it, you can find it here!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An outrageously cute and quick read. Perfect for the holiday season.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Tif Marcelo for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Giveaway information to win your own copy of the book is listed at the very end!

Book Information

Genre: YA Holiday Romance
Publishing Date: October 5, 2021

A paperback original romance about a bookish Filipino-American girl who crosses paths with the innkeeper’s aggravating nephew–but when they accidentally switch phones, their newly discovered secrets draw them together.

Lila Castro is ready to take on her last winter break of high school. The snow is plentiful, the mood is full of holiday cheer, and she’s earning extra cash working at the cozy local inn. But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Veracruz, becomes her coworker. When they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they both realize they’ve been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets–and a dash of holiday spirit–bring them closer to love?

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Tif Marcelo is a veteran US Army nurse and holds a BS in Nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She hosts The Stories to Love Podcast, and is the USA Today bestselling author of In a Book Club Far AwayOnce Upon a SunsetThe Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I don’t know about you, but there’s something that I love about books with book blogging main characters. It always feels like the author is giving us a little thank you for the part that we play in the bookish community.

If you haven’t read The Holiday Switch, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about, because the blurb for some reason doesn’t mention this fact: Lila Castro (the main character) is a book blogger. She has been anonymously blogging for around 2 years using a website called Tinsel & Tropes (HOW CUTE IS THAT!?). The book includes several of her blog reviews as part of the story, and it made me feel so seen. It was one of my favorite parts of this adorable novel.

The plot follows a romance that is brewing between Lila and her new coworker Teddy. It starts off as a bit of a hate-to-love situation, with Teddy showing up and taking the hours that Lila had needed in order to save up money for college. However, their relationship quickly warms and turns into one of the cutest things I have ever seen. Most of their communication happens through flirty/banter-filled text messages, and I am a HUGE sucker for text conversations in romance novels. On top of that, this book has great Filipino American rep, realistic characters and character relationships, and the perfect cozy holiday vibe.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading The Holiday Switch. It is a festive and heart-warming read that you won’t want to miss, and it’s out tomorrow. Don’t forget to grab your copy!

Giveaway (Rafflecopter)

One winner will receive a finished copy of The Holiday Switch. The giveaway starts on October 4th and ends on October 11th.

Blog Tour Spotlight: As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

Today I’m bringing attention to the YA Mystery/Thriller As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson. I’ll take you through the blurb, about the author, and a few tour excerpts! If you’d like to follow along with the tour, you can find the full tour schedule here!

Premise

The highly anticipated, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the addictive A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series that reads like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end, you’ll never think the same of good girls again.

Pip’s good girl days are long behind her. After solving two murder cases and garnering internet fame from her crime podcast, she’s seen a lot.

But she’s still blindsided when it starts to feel like someone is watching her. It’s small things at first. A USB stick with footage recording her and the same anonymous source always asking her: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? It could be a harmless fan, but her gut is telling her danger is lurking.

When Pip starts to find connections between her possible stalker and a local serial killer, Pip knows that there is only one choice: find the person threatening her town including herself–or be as good as dead. Because maybe someone has been watching her all along…

Purchase Links:

About the Author

Holly Jackson started writing stories at a young age, completing her first (poor) attempt at a novel when she was fifteen. She graduated from the University of Nottingham, where she studied literary linguistics and creative writing, with a master’s degree in English. She enjoys playing video games and watching true-crime documentaries so she can pretend to be a detective. She lives in London. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is her debut novel.

What readers have to say

After Pip solved her most recent mystery, we had no idea what was in store for her in As Good As Dead. We can say that this is definitely the darkest and most shocking book of the trilogy. Pip is no longer the good girl who got in over her head. She makes some tough choices about if she should protect herself or face some serious consequences.

i’m all booked up

This is a the very best kind of book, the kind of book that keeps you up into the early hours even though you know you have to wake up in the morning but you just HAVE to keep reading. I would consider myself obsessed.

lousbookstuff.com

I found the book so hard to put down and read longer than normal to finish it. I needed to know what would happen.

Confessions of a YA Reader

It is incredibly rare for me to enjoy the last book in a trilogy. I could even say that I am notorious for hating them, but this book is phenomenal and whilst some readers didn’t enjoy the darker aspects of Pip’s journey, I relished in it.

HerBookishObsession

Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.