Blood Like Magic Review

Today’s book is a very magical enticing read! Let’s take a look at Blood Like Magic!

Blood Like Magic by [Liselle Sambury]

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

Order the book here!

Note: Each Review I will link a Black Owned Independent Bookstore for you to order from. Let’s support our small bookstores!


Tawney’s Review:

This was a great YA Urban Fantasy/Sci-fi book. The diverse characters and family dynamic were strong. The setting refreshing, as it took place in a futuristic Toronto. Yay Canada! I really enjoyed reading Blood Like Magic. ,

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Voya is a descendant of powerful Black witches and waits for the Calling so she can inherent her magic. Of course things don’t go smoothly with impossible tasks and terrible consequences arise. This was a unique story with family at the heart of it. I loved how Voya would always fight for her family, even if the situation was difficult her family came first.

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Liselle Sambury did a wonderful job at bringing her characters to life and keeping the futuristic magical world around them realistic. Each character had depth and you couldn’t help but fall in love and connected with them. The pace flowed with conflict and mystery, which had me turning each page with anticpation.

Should you read this book? Yes! A captivating read with wonderful characters that make you yearn for the second book immediately! Thankfully it’s a series so we can follow Voya and her companions again soon.

Book Review: The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson • As Told By Nadine

Made In Korea Review

This month is national Asian Pacific American Heritage month so I decided to honor that by reading books by Asian authors. I love own voice authors, and this was a perfect month to find new favs. Today let’s take a look at Made in Korea.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris. 

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover… 

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor. 

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

Order the book here!

Tawney’s Review:

Fire Keeper’s Daughter Review

Not only is this one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen but it’s a fantastic own voice story. A book that is on my favorite 2021 reads. Let’s take a look at Firekeeper’s Daughter.

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars. At the same time, she grows concerned with an investigation that seems more focused on punishing the offenders than protecting the victims.

Now, as the deceptions―and deaths―keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Order the book from The Lit Bar

Note: Each Review I will link a Black Owned Independent Bookstore for you to order from. Let’s support our small bookstores!

What Big Teeth Review

Today’s review is a creeptastic read that I couldn’t put down.

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Let’s take a look at What Big Teeth!


Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together―in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.

Order the book here: Harriett’s Bookshop

Note: Each Review I will link a Black Owned Independent Bookstore for you to order from. Let’s support our small bookstores!


Tawney’s Review: I found myself intrigued by this gory mystery of a book. Eleanor returns home from being at boarding school for 8 years to a family full of strangers. She returns with questions; why was she sent away and why is she treated like a stranger?

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Eleanor’s family has secrets. Grandma Persephone is a witch, Grandpa Miklos, Luma and Rhys are wolves, and her mother mostly stays in the bathtub full of tentacles. Of course bizarre occurrences start to happen due to having a monstrous family. Eleanor fears them but also wants to belong with them, so this twisted conflict is quite captivating. Which make all the more for a good read.

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Szabo did a wonderful job at writing a haunting story. The gothic setting wasn’t dreary but spooky and added a tone of dread. It also brought intrigue and mystery to the book. Add in monsters and ghosts and it brings a great cast of characters. The family dynamic is dysfunctional given the members are very different in their peculiar ways. We come to understand them as Eleanor grows familiar with her family herself. The biggest mystery is her cousin Arthur. He is the heir apparent to the family and seems to serve their every needs. There are subtle clues with twist and turns towards answers but the reveal at the end was satisfying.

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Should you read it? Yes! With a haunting mystery and secrets lucking in every dark corner of this monstrous family it makes for a fantastic read.

Book Review: The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson • As Told By Nadine

I’m back! The Night Swim Review

I’m back! It’s been a while since I reviewed or posted anything. A lot has happened, especially at the beginning of this year.

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I’ve been looking for a job since moving to Nashville last year and it’s been pretty much intense during this pandemic. That was why I took some time off reviewing. But I have been keeping myself busy by writing and reading.

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My first review this year is on The Night Swim. I have read a lot of books in the last few months but this book has stuck with me. I devoured it once I started reading and couldn’t put it down until I finished. Let’s take a look at The Night Swim.


In The Night Swim, a new thriller from Megan Goldin, author of the “gripping and unforgettable” (Harlan Coben) The Escape Room, a true crime podcast host covering a controversial trial finds herself drawn deep into a small town’s dark past and a brutal crime that took place there years before.

Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name―and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation―but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases―and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Order the book here: Estelita’s Library

Note: Each Review I will link a Black Owned Independent Bookstore for you to order from. Let’s support our small bookstores!


Tawney’s Review:

I’ve always been into true crime, weather it’s podcast, books, documentaries or my favorite series Dateline and Forensic Files. That may be why I got a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies and went on to work for the court system.

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Rachel Krall is a successful true-crime podcaster with Guilty or Not. She is an investigative report who knows how to research, as her podcast last two season overturned a conviction and solved a cold case. She puts her listeners in the jury seat so they can decided if the person is guilty or not.

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Now Rachel finds herself following a trial of Scott Blair, a North Carolina resident charged with raping a sixteen year old. Just like real life, the town is divided on who to believe. Scott is a swimming champion and very much liked. His wealthy parents have hired a top attorney to fight the charges as Scott, as a good chance to go to the Olympics. The victim is unable to speak up for herself as the court ordered her silence. She has been put in anonymity but everyone in town knows who she is. She is being bullied with defamatory language on social media. But when Rachel receives a note from a woman named Hannah, a new case emerges. Hannah’s sister drowned 25 years ago and she wants Rachel’s help in solving it. Hannah believes her sister was murdered.

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The point of view flips from Rachel, as she investigates these cases, and to Hannah, as she describes her sister Jenny’s life. The back and forth point of views was very interesting and kept me engaged as both characters revealed new clues and suspects.

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This was a very good psychological thriller. Golden did a fabulous job at placing the reader in each scene, whether it was in the courtroom or investigating witnesses. There were also transcripts from Rachel’s podcast that made for an interesting addition to the story. The victims’ stories are so relevant with what is happening in the world today regarding rape. The twists and turns made for an intense read. The dual mysteries combined to a fantastically shocking ending.

Should your read this? Yes! A psychological thriller with fantastic twists and turns.

Book Review: The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson • As Told By Nadine
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The Vanishing Half Review

“People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else.” Britt Bennett the Vanishing Half.

As a twin this sentence resonates with me.

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Today’s book is a must read!

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Today’s book is a fantastic read with wonderful writing and characters in a heartbreaking story about twins and their lives taking different paths. Let’s take a look at The Vanishing Half.


The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Order here!


Tawney’s Review:

This book was a wonderful read that explored race, identity, family and sisterhood. Identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella were born in a town of light skinned Black people, where the lighter skin you are the better. The twins runaway to live very different lives. Desiree lives as Black marrying an extremely dark skinned man and Stella lives as white in a privilege life with her white husband. As years pass Desiree returns home with her very dark daughter Jude, while Stella lives her life with her very blonde daughter Kennedy. The story is told third person following the lives of each woman and her daughter through a multi-generational story. It was a very intriguing story that entrapped me until the very end.

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As a twin I found it hard that Desiree and Stella would leave each other and live their separate lives. I couldn’t imagine living without my twin…however, twins are their own person, with different personalities, and desires. Sometimes a traumatized childhood could shatter things like Desiree and Stella’s had witnessing their father be lynched by white men. I found their split fascinating because Bennett did a wonderful job at making it real and believable. But the loss of the twins connection to each other broke me.

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The characters were relatable and vivid. Not only were Desiree and Stella wonderfully developed but the supporting characters were excellent as well. Jude, Kennedy, Early and Reese had their own engaging stories with prejudice and identity issues. This book was beautifully written with each chapter raw and real. The book is also a great learning experience educating the reader on understanding issues that Bennett weaves into the book such as race, class, privilege and identity.

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This book is so relevant for what is going on with our world today that I HIGHLY recommend reading The Vanishing Half.


About the Author:

BritBennett_AuthorPic_EmmaTrim.jpgBrit Bennett

Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction. In 2014, she received the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, and her debut novel The Mothers was a New York Times bestseller. Her second novel The Vanishing Half was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

Follow her on: Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

Twin Book Review: Final Girls

During this pandemic we have found ourselves a bit lazy and depressed. Not blogging or writing. But we have been reading. There is something comforting in reading books.

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Psychological thrillers are our favorite reads right now. There’s something twisted and dark about murder and coming along for the ride to solve it. This was Kristen’s recommended book and we devoured it. Let’s take a look at Final Girls.


Final Girls: A Novel by [Riley Sager] Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second Final Girl, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Order here


Tawney’s Review: Final Girls is a saying in a Horror movie, where the last girl is standing, the survivor, after all the massacre and death is the Final Girl. That is what Quincy is, a Final Girl, the only one to survive her friends’ murders at Pine Cottage. She joins two other Final Girls, Sam who fought for her life against the Sack Man and Lisa who lost nine sorority sisters to a murderer. Together they are trying to live normal lives…until Lisa is murdered.

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The book started slow at first. Of course the setup has to happen and the pieces slowly come together. However, once Lisa dies and Sam comes into the picture things pick up to the point I couldn’t put the book down.

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Should you read it? Yes! A twisty psychological thriller with a surprise ending.

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Kristen’s review:
This is definitely a book for slasher fans and lovers of B-rated horror movies. It was a dark psychological thriller with several plot twists.
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I did enjoy the book, though it was a slow burn.  I almost put it in my DFR pile but the ending made up for the slow pace. Riley Sager is a talented writer and knows how to throw a few misdirection towards his readers. He added the B-rated corny, eye rolling comedy mixed in with the suspenseful ride. I would definitely like to see this made into a movie. I’m looking forward to his new book Home Before Dark, which is out now!
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Review: I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

It’s been a rough week and now more than ever we need to support the black community. I’m trying my best to support and so can you! There are many ways to do it. Take action and use the Black Lives Matter resources or help support George Floyd’s family on their GoFund me page. Use your privilege to support those in need by speaking up. Or maybe stepping back and seeing how your own life may have played a part, whether intentional or not.

Informing yourself on what is going on is helpful too. You can follow Colorlines for daily news on race matters or follow Civilrights.org on civil and human rights. Or you can read whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

Today’s book is about two very different girls thrust into violence and relying on each other. Today’s book is very relevant on what is going on in our nation this week. Let’s take a look at I’m Not Dying With You Tonight.

 


 

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

This book is perfect for:

  • Sparking conversations about prejudice and the racial tension that exists in America
  • Parents and educators looking for multicultural and African American books for teens
  • Fans of Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, and Jason Reynolds

Order here

 


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Tawney’s Review:   Lena and Campbell don’t know each other nor are they friends. They are two strangers with different backgrounds and social groups, but they are thrust together in an unexpected way.

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Lena is black, fashionable in style, knows what she wants…which is her boyfriend Black and knows she will make it big one day. Campbell is white, new to town, quiet with no friends and basically invisible. The two teens are thrown together in a night of violence and they soon come to realize they have to work together to make it out alive.

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The pace was quick and I was hooked, hoping the girls made it home safely. It was good to see the two different point of views of a black and white American teenager. What’s great is that the authors are black and white too. That alone gives this book the much need viewpoint of the character’s thoughts and actions. You get the knowledge of what Lena and Campbell both feel and how different they look at things, especially the riot going on within the book. You feel like you are right there with them every step of the way as they try to make it home. It is a fantastic book to bring intense and much needed discussions to a classroom or book group.

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Should you read this? Yes! With the events going on currently this book is a fantastic read to bring the reader into the chaos of riots and protests and to understand the view of two very different characters.

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About the authors:  

Kim

Kimberly Jones is a former bookseller, and now she Hosts the Atlanta Chapter of the popular Well Read Black Girl book club, as well as the infamous, viral sensation the YA Truth or Dare author panel at the Decatur Book Festival. She has worked in film and television with trailblazing figures such as Tyler Perry, Whitney Houston, and 8Ball & MJG. Currently, in addition to writing YA novels, she is a director of feature films and cutting-edge diverse web series. She also regularly lectures on working and succeeding in the Atlanta film market.

Kim’s book roots run deep. She served on the Selection Committee for Library of Congress’ 2016-2017 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the 2015 Children’s Choice Illustrator Committee for The Children’s Book Council, and the advisory board that created the Creative and Innovative Education Master’s Degree program at Georgia State University. She has been featured in Redbook, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and was Book Brahmin in an issue of Shelf Awareness. James Patterson and the American Booksellers Association chose her out of over 3,000 booksellers to receive a bonus for her outstanding work as an indie bookseller.

She resides in Atlanta and is the proud mother of a gifted boy. She lives for synthetic wigs and nail art, as her style icons are Dolly Parton, Chaka Khan, and Diana Ross. Her  YA novel, I’M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT, co-authored with Gilly Segal, was released on Sourcebooks Fire August 6, 2019.

Follow Kimberly here.


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Gilly grew up in Florida, came of age in Israel, where she served in the IDF and graduated from Hebrew University, and finally decided to call Decatur, Georgia home. By day, she’s a lawyer for an advertising agency. By night, she is a caped crusader! No, just kidding (she wishes). Her real not-actually-secret identity is writer. She’s been writing in one form or another since she wrote her first young adult novel – a Sunfire YA romance fanfic – typed out on an electric typewriter. Although she will confess it was titled CLAUDIA, she will neither confirm nor deny that any copies still exist. Whatever you do, don’t ask her mom if it’s in those boxes still stored in the closet of her childhood room.

When Gilly’s not reading and writing, she can be found exploring Decatur with her three kids and searching bakeries the world over for the perfect French macaron. Her favorite so far is rose lychee.

Her debut young adult novel, I’m Not Dying With You Tonight, co-written with Kimberly Jones, will be published by Sourcebooks Fire, with an anticipated release date of October 1, 2019. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

Follow Gilly here

The Phantom Twin Review

Today’s review touched me. I love graphic novels but as a twin I connected with this book.

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But you don’t have to be a twin to connect to this wonderful heartbreaking story of loss and love. Let’s take at The Phantom Twin.


 

 

A young woman is haunted by the ghost of her conjoined twin, in Lisa Brown’s The Phantom Twin, a sweetly spooky graphic novel set in a turn-of-the-century sideshow.

Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters, conjoined twins in a traveling carnival freak show―until an ambitious surgeon tries to separate them and fails, causing Jane’s death.

Isabel has lost an arm and a leg but gained a ghostly companion: Her dead twin is now her phantom limb. Haunted, altered, and alone for the first time, can Isabel build a new life that’s truly her own?

Order here!

 

 


Tawney’s Review:

The Phantom Twin was a great read with wonderful art and a heart wrenching story of conjoined twins who live at a freak show. It’s set in the 1920s with a traveling cirucs. Here one twin feels at home among the other freaks while the other wants a normal life.

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Jane and Isabel are joined together by an arm and a leg. Jane urns for a life of her own so when they are approached by a physician to separate them, she jumps at the chance. But things turn for the worst and Jane dies leaving Isabel alone in the world. Of course this brings on such emotional turmoil. I couldn’t image life without my twin so this is just gut-wrenching.

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However, Jane is not too far as a phantom twin, still attached to Isabel. And this does bring problems and drama to the story. The art work was wonderful and help capture the twins world. You felt the hate of the villagers to the freaks and the pain of Isabel’s loss.

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The Phantom Twin was a swift read that takes the reader into the 1920’s and the life of a conjoined twin. It was a heartbreaking story of loss and finding love again through tragedy and triumph.

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Should you read it? Yes! A wonderful story that shows the darker side of the circus and the triumph of a former conjoined twin who must now live her own life.

One Minute Out Review

From Mark Greaney, the New York Times bestselling author of Mission Critical and a coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, comes another high-stakes thriller featuring the world’s most dangerous assassin: the Gray Man.

While on a mission to Croatia, Court Gentry uncovers a human trafficking operation. The trail leads from the Balkans all the way back to Hollywood.

Court is determined to shut it down, but his CIA handlers have other plans. The criminal ringleader has actionable intelligence about a potentially devastating terrorist attack on the US. The CIA won’t move until they have that intel. It’s a moral balancing act with Court at the pivot point.

Order here!

 


Tawney’s Review: 

I liked The Gray Man novels. They are intense action packed thrillers!

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One Minute Out finds Court in the dark world of sex trafficking. We start off in Croatia where Court is attempting to assassinate a war criminal. It always a pleasure to see Court try and keep his moral code when in danger or dealing with enemies. Each chapter is filled with intense adventure where the reader is transported to cities around the world.

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I did find this book a little different from the others in the series because it was in first person. As it was nice getting into Court’s head it was a little jarring. I’m not sure I liked it this way but I do applaud the author for giving us a different view of the series.

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The pace is fast and writing smooth. As always there is action and lots of twist and turns throughout the plot.

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Should you read it? If you haven’t read the series I would start with book one, but it’s a good instalment if you have.