Title: A Forgery of Roses Author: Jessica S. Olson Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery Publisher: Inkyard Press Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 29, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.
She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone.
But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.
Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.
Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.
From Sing Me Forgotten author Jessica S. Olson comes a gothic fantasy murder mystery perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Erin A. Craig.
Myra Whitlock is a Prodigy. That means she can paint someone’s portrait and then use it to alter their appearance in some way. Under the current Governor, Prodigies are illegal. Myra’s Mom, who was a Prodigy too, and her dad have disappeared. Myra is left to look after her ill sister on her own. When the Governor’s wife approaches Myra with a proposition that will give her a huge paycheck, she can’t resist. The Governor’s wife wants Myra to paint her son, who has secretly died, and bring him back to life. Myra has never brought anyone back to life, but it isn’t as easy as fixing a small injury on a portrait. She discovers a murder mystery which puts her life, and her sister’s life, at risk.
This book reminded me so much of Stalking Jack the Ripper and The Picture of Dorian Gray, two of my favourite books. The idea that a portrait can alter a person’s real appearance is fascinating. Pictures can show things on a person that they don’t notice themselves. This talent that Myra had was useful at times but also dangerous because it can harm a person as well as heal them.
I was completely shocked at the ending. The final twist was not what I expected at all. There were hints at the end of the possibility of a sequel and I hope there will be one because I loved this book!
A Forgery of Thorns is an exciting fantasy mystery!
Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
About the author:
Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her four wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. She is the author of Sing Me Forgotten (2021) and A Forgery of Roses (2022).
Have you read A Forgery of Roses? What did you think of it?
Title: What His Wife Knew Author: Jo Jakeman Genre: Thriller, Contemporary Publisher: Viking Source: Publisher Format: Paperback Release Date: March 1, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
Nail-biting domestic suspense that puts a contemporary twist on the classic whodunit, from the acclaimed international author of The Exes’ Revenge and Safe House.
When the body of Oscar Lomas, an experienced hiker, is found at the bottom of a remote cliff in the Peak District of England called Cloud Drop, all the signs–including the Sorry note he left behind for his wife, Beth–point to suicide.
Plans for the funeral begin, but Beth cannot accept that her husband took his own life. As she sets out to discover what really happened, Beth soon realizes that the safe, protected life she thought she had was nothing of the sort, and that Oscar had kept many secrets from her–secrets that involve even close family and old friends. It turns out that he had enemies–and perhaps she did too, even if she didn’t know it.
As the troubling revelations keep coming, Beth has to focus on solving one mystery if she is to reclaim her own life: who killed Oscar Lomas?
When Oscar Lomas’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff, all the signs point to suicide. However, his wife, Beth, doesn’t believe that’s what happened. She insists that there be an investigation into her husband’s death, and she starts asking questions around town. As she discovers more of Oscar’s secrets, she realizes she didn’t really know her husband or most of the people around her. He had a lot of enemies who could be suspects in his death. Beth keeps digging until she can finally answer who killed her husband.
It’s been a while since I’ve been blown away at a thriller, but this one kept me guessing. I was certain that I knew what had happened but I was completely wrong. There were so many twists and it was fast paced, so I couldn’t put the book down.
There were some tough subjects in this book. They include suicide, rape, drugging, adultery, and murder. I think these tough topics were handled well, but they could be potentially triggering to some readers.
What His Wife Knew is a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
The Exes’ Revenge by Jo Jakeman
The Last Affair by Margot Hunt
Have you read What His Wife Knew? What did you think of it?
Title: Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell Author: Taj McCoy Genre: Romance, Contemporary Publisher: MIRA Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 22, 2022 Rating: ★★★★
A delicious debut rom-com about a plus-size sweetheart who gets a full-life makeover after a brutal breakup.
Savvy Sheldon spends a lot of time tiptoeing around the cracks in her life: her high-stress and low-thanks job, her clueless boyfriend and the falling-apart kitchen she inherited from her beloved grandma—who taught her how to cook and how to love people by feeding them. But when Savvy’s world starts to crash down around her, she knows it’s time for some renovations.
Starting from the outside in, Savvy tackles her crumbling kitchen, her relationship with her body, her work–life balance (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, her love life. The only thing that doesn’t seem to require effort is her ride-or-die squad of friends. But as any home-reno-show junkie can tell you, something always falls apart during renovations. First, Savvy passes out during hot yoga. Then it turns out that the contractor she hires is the same sexy stranger she unintentionally offended by judging based on appearances. Worst of all, Savvy can’t seem to go anywhere without tripping over her ex and his latest “upgrade.” Savvy begins to realize that maybe she should’ve started her renovations the other way around: beginning with how she sees herself before building a love that lasts.
Savvy Sheldon is used to helping everyone in her life, but she doesn’t look after herself. Once her boyfriend breaks up for her because of her appearance, Savvy realizes it’s time for a change. She works hard at her job as an underwriter to get a promotion. She starts working out with her friends and goes to cooking classes which she loves. Savvy finally decides to give her house a much-needed renovation after meeting Spencer, a hot contractor. Savvy tries to excel at each of these new activities in her life, but then she starts to burn out. Her original motivation was to get revenge for her boyfriend breaking up with her, but then she realizes she has to make these positive changes to improve her lifestyle.
This was a fun story! Savvy was a strong woman but she didn’t always realize that. She started out wanting revenge for her boyfriend, but she quickly realized that she didn’t want him back so she wanted to improve herself for her own good. Savvy had a great support system behind her, with friends who stood by her side and family who wanted the best for her.
Though there was some romance, that wasn’t the main part of the story. This was almost a coming-of-age story for an adult because Savvy learned to improve her life throughout the story. She changed the way she ate, worked, had fun, and worked out, all things that improved her overall life. I liked that this was a revenge story that turned into Savvy improving her life for herself, not an awful ex-boyfriend.
Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell is an empowering rom com!
Thank you MIRA for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Intercepted by Alexa Martin
About the author:
Oakland native and attorney Taj McCoy is committed to writing stories championing black and biracial women of color, plus-sized protagonists, and characters with a strong sense of sisterhood and familial bonds. When she’s not writing, she may be on Twitter boosting other marginalized writers, trying to zen out in yoga, sharing recipes on her website, or cooking private supper club meals for close friends.
Have you read Savvy SheldonFeels Good as Hell? What did you think of it?
Title: The Storyteller Author: Kathryn Williams Genre: Young Adult, Mystery Publisher: HarperTeen Source: Once Upon a Book Club Box Format: Hardcover Release Date: January 11, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
This story follows a teenage girl’s quest to uncover the truth behind her secretive great aunt Anna, who just might be the long lost Russian princess Anastasia.
It’s not every day you discover you might be related to Anastasia…or that the tragic princess actually survived her assassination attempt and has been living as the woman you know as Aunt Anna.
For Jess Morgan, who is growing tired of living her life to please everyone else, discovering her late aunt’s diaries shows her she’s not the only one struggling to hide who she really is. But was her aunt truly a Romanov princess? Or is this some elaborate hoax?
With the help of a supremely dorky, but undeniably cute, local college student named Evan, Jess digs into the century-old mystery.
But soon Jess realizes there’s another, bigger truth waiting to be revealed: Jess Morgan. Because if she’s learned anything from Aunt Anna, it’s that only you can write your own story.
In 2007, while Jess Morgan is helping her mom clean out her great-great aunt’s house a couple of years after she died, she finds an old trunk full of diaries. They’re all written in Russian, so she has to find a translator. Evan, a local college student accepts the job of translating them. However, they soon discover that the journals were written by Anastasia Romanov, who was supposedly killed with her family in 1918. Jess has to know if her aunt really was the Russian Princess, so she must do her own research to figure this out. Meanwhile, she has drama with her best friend, her boyfriend, and her parents. Jess uses her investigation into her great-great aunt to distract herself from the other problems in her life.
The story about Anastasia Romanov is fascinating. For some reason, throughout the 20th century, there have been many women who claimed to be her. One popular impersonator, Anna Anderson, was mentioned in this story. The main question in this story is whether Jess’s great-great aunt Anna really was Anastasia Romanov.
The setting of 2007 is important to this story. There was a key discovery made in the Romanov mystery in that year. I won’t give it away in case it spoils the story. It cleared up a lot of questions I had about the story. I was worried the ending would be completely made up, but it followed the facts of the true story of Anastasia Romanov quite faithfully.
The Storyteller is a great YA mystery!
What to read next:
Romanov by Nadine Brandes
Have you read The Storyteller? What did you think of it?
Title: How to High Tea with a Hyena (And Not Get Eaten) Author: Rachel Poliquin, Kathryn Durst (illustator) Genre: Children’s, Picture Book Publisher: Tundra Books Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: April 5, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
Celeste is a cockroach, and everyone knows that cockroaches are survivors, so who better to give advice on surviving an encounter with a polite predator? High teas are dainty meals with pretty teacups: you nibble tiny cakes, sip milky tea, and chit-chat about not-so important things like why doughnuts have holes and if fish have eyebrows. But Ruby the hyena is loud, ferocious, and tends to slobber. High-speed gobbling makes good sense in the wild, but it is a definite no-no in the tearoom! And Ruby just happens to be Queen of a very large clan of hungry hyenas. Will high tea be ruined by uninvited guests? Is Ruby peckish for something other than Celeste’s famous cream buns? Using her vast knowledge of hyenas, Celeste comes up with lots of strategies to get through high tea in one piece. Many of her suggestions are dangerous, most are absurd, but all are based on true hyena biology and hunting behavior.
In this book, Celeste the cockroach teaches how to survive having high tea with a hyena. She explains how to politely eat snacks and drink tea while having time to gossip. However, hyenas can’t learn these skills very well. Celeste has some strategies on how to interact with these polite predators.
This was an adorable and funny story. I learned a lot about hyenas that I didn’t know before. I’d never heard of an aardwolf (a type of hyena) or that hyenas can’t climb so other predators hide their food in trees, away from hyenas.
This story was funny in the way the hyena couldn’t behave politely during the high tea, but it was also a good teaching tool. The hyena shows how we shouldn’t behave in polite situations, so that will teach children what’s right and wrong during events like having high tea. It’s ironic that a cockroach, an insect associated with being dirty, was the one teaching about polite behaviour.
How to High Tea with a Hyena is a fun children’s book!
Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
How to Promenade with a Python (And Not Get Eaten) by Rachel Poliquin, Kathryn Durst (illustrator)
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
Other books in the series:
How to Promenade with a Python (And Not Get Eaten)
Have you read How to High Tea with a Hyena? What did you think of it?
Title: The Tsarina’s Daughter Author: Ellen Alpsten Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin Source: Publisher via NetGalley Format: Ebook Release Date: March 15, 2022 Rating: ★★★★
Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and his wife, Catherine, a former serf, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the envy of the Russian empire. She is insulated by luxury and spoiled by her father, who dreams for her to marry King Louis XV of France and rule in Versailles. But when a woodland creature gives her a Delphic prophecy, her life is turned upside down. Her volatile father suddenly dies, her only brother has been executed and her mother takes the throne of Russia.
As friends turn to foes in the dangerous atmosphere of the Court, the princess must fear for her freedom and her life. Fate deals her blow after blow, and even loving her becomes a crime that warrants cruel torture and capital punishment: Elizabeth matures from suffering victim to strong and savvy survivor. But only her true love and their burning passion finally help her become who she is. When the Imperial Crown is left to an infant Tsarevich, Elizabeth finds herself in mortal danger and must confront a terrible dilemma–seize the reins of power and harm an innocent child, or find herself following in the footsteps of her murdered brother.
Hidden behind a gorgeous, wildly decadent façade, the Russian Imperial Court is a viper’s den of intrigue and ambition. Only a woman possessed of boundless courage and cunning can prove herself worthy to sit on the throne of Peter the Great.
Ellen Alpsten’s stunning new novel, The Tsarina’s Daughter, is the dramatic story of Elizabeth, daughter of Catherine I and Peter the Great, who ruled Russia during an extraordinary life marked by love, danger, passion and scandal.
Tsarevna Elizabeth is the daughter of Peter the Great and his wife Catherine. She lives a luxurious life with dreams of marrying the French King. However, after receiving a prophecy from a woodland creature, everything in her life goes wrong. Her relatives die one by one and the future she imagined for herself disappears. Elizabeth must use the lessons she’s learned from these hardships to become a strong and determined woman.
This was an epic story about love, scandal, and determination. It felt like this story took place over many decades because so much happened, but it was just a few years. This was the kind of story that had me looking up the true history to find out what actually happened and what was fiction because it was hard to believe it was true. This history made a great story.
I was glad that this story wasn’t as graphic as the first one about Catherine, Elizabeth’s mother, called Tsarina. This one focused more on the scandal and drama between people and their relationships, rather than the brutality they experienced.
The Tsarina’s Daughter is a thrilling historical story.
Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
About the author:
ELLEN ALPSTEN was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands. Upon graduating from L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, she worked as a news anchor for Bloomberg TV London. Whilst working gruesome night shifts on breakfast TV, she started to write in earnest, every day, after work and a nap. Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons and a moody fox red Labrador. She is the author of Tsarina.
Have you read The Tsarina’s Daughter? What did you think of it?
Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for.
The War of Two Queens, the stunning continuation in the Blood and Ash series from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout is available now!
War is only the beginning…
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes book four in her Blood and Ash series.
From the desperation of golden crowns…
Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.
And born of mortal flesh…
Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.
A great primal power rises…
Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.
Casteel The click and drag of claws drew closer as the weak flame above the lone candle sputtered and then went out, pitching the cell into darkness. A thicker mass of shadows appeared in the open archway—a misshapen form on its hands and knees. It halted, sniffing as loudly as a godsdamn barrat, scenting blood. My blood. The smooth bands of shadowstone tightened around my throat and ankles as I shifted, bracing myself. The damn stone was unbreakable, but it did come in handy. A low-pitched wail came from the creature. “Mother—” The thing exploded out of the archway, scurrying forward, its keening moan becoming an ear-piercing screech. “—fucker.” I waited until its stench of decay reached me and then pressed my back against the wall, lifting my legs. The length of the chain between my ankles was only about half a foot, and the shackles wouldn’t give an inch, but it was enough. Planting my bare feet into the creature’s shoulders, I got a good, most unfortunate look at the thing as its foul breath blasted me in the face. Man, the Craven was not a fresh one. Patches of gray flesh clung to its hairless skull, and half of its nose was gone. One entire cheekbone was exposed, eyes burning like hot coals. Lips torn and mangled— The Craven twisted its head down, sinking its fangs into my calf. Its teeth tore through the breeches and into flesh and muscle. Air hissed between my gritted teeth as fiery pain burned its way up my leg. Worth it. The pain was more than worth it. I would spend an eternity taking these bites if that meant she was safe. That it wasn’t her in this cell. That she wasn’t the one in pain. Shaking the Craven free, I dragged the short chain over the thing’s neck as I crossed my feet. I twisted at the waist, pulling the dull bone chain tight across its throat, ending the Craven’s screams. The shackle clamped down on my throat as I kept turning, cutting off my air as the chain dug into the Craven’s neck. Its arms flailed on the floor as I jerked my legs in the opposite direction, snapping the creature’s spine. The spasming became more of a twitching as I hauled it within reach of my bound hands. The chain between my wrists, connected to the shackle at my throat, was much shorter—but long enough. I grasped the Craven’s cold, clammy jowls and brought its head down hard, slamming it against the stone floor by my knees. Flesh gave way, spraying rotting blood over my stomach and chest. Bone split open with a wet-sounding crack. The Craven went limp. I knew it wouldn’t stay down, but it bought me some time. Lungs burning, I unwound the chain and kicked the creature away from me. It landed by the archway in a tangled mess of limbs as I relaxed my muscles. The band around my neck was slow to loosen, eventually allowing air into my burning lungs. I stared at the Craven’s body. At any other time, I would’ve kicked the bastard into the hall like usual, but I was weakening. I was losing too much blood. Already. Not a good sign. Breathing heavily, I looked down. Just below the shadowstone bands, shallow slices ran up the insides of my arms, past both elbows and over the veins. I counted them. Again. Just to be sure. Thirteen. Thirteen days had passed since the first time the Handmaidens swarmed this cell, dressed in black and as quiet as a tomb. They came once a day to cut into my flesh, siphoning my blood as if I were a damn barrel of fine wine. A tight, savage smile twisted my mouth. I’d managed to take out three of them in the beginning. Ripped their throats out when they got too close, which was why they’d shortened the chain between my wrists. Only one of them actually stayed dead, though. The damn throats of the other two had stitched themselves closed within minutes—impressive and also infuriating to witness. Learned something valuable, though. Not all of the Blood Queen’s Handmaidens were Revenants. I wasn’t sure how I could use that information yet, but I guessed they were using my blood to make brand-spanking-new Revs. Or using it as a dessert for the lucky. Tipping back my head against the wall, I tried not to breathe too deeply. If the stench of the downed Craven didn’t choke me, the damn shadowstone around my throat would. I closed my eyes. There had been more days before the Handmaidens showed the first time. How many? I wasn’t exactly sure. Two days? A week? Or—? I stopped myself there. Shut it the fuck down. I couldn’t go down that road. I wouldn’t. I’d done that the last time, trying to clock the days and weeks until there came a point when time simply ceased to move. Hours became days. Weeks became years. And my mind became as rotten as the blood seeping from the Craven’s ruined head. But things were different in the here and now. The cell was larger, with no barred entrance. Not that there needed to be one with the shadowstone and the chains. They were a mix of iron and deity bone, connected to a hook in the wall and then to a pulley system to lengthen or shorten them. I could sit up and move a little, but that was about it. However, the cell was windowless like before, and the dank, musty smell told me they once again held me underground. The freely roaming Craven were also a new addition. My eyes opened to thin slits. The fuck by the archway had to be the sixth or seventh one that had found its way into the cell, drawn by the scent of blood. Their appearance made me think there was one hell of a Craven problem aboveground. I’d heard of Craven attacks inside the Rise surrounding Carsodonia before. Something the Blood Crown blamed on Atlantia and angry gods. I’d always assumed it was due to an Ascended getting greedy and leaving mortals they’d fed on to turn. Now, I was beginning to think the Craven were possibly being kept down here. Wherever here was. And if that were the case, and they could get out and get aboveground, so could I. If only I could get these damn chains to loosen. I’d spent an ungodly amount of time pulling on the hook. In all those attempts, it may have slipped a half-inch from the wall—if that. But that wasn’t the only thing different about this time. Other than the Craven, I’d only seen the Handmaidens. I didn’t know what to think about that. I’d figured it’d be like the last time. Too-frequent visits from the Blood Crown and their cronies, where they spent their time taunting and inflicting pain, feeding, and doing whatever they wanted. Of course, my last go-around with this captivity bullshit hadn’t started that way. The Blood Queen had tried to open my eyes first, coax me to her side. Turn me against my family and my kingdom. When that hadn’t worked, the real fun had begun.
About Jennifer L. Armentrout #1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was an Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins. She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over a hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.