Bookish Posts · Uncategorized

My Bookish Goals for 2019

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year again . . . 

Everybody is making New Years Resolutions 

 

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t know about you, but those feel like too much pressure to me. There’s also the easy to fall into trap of making unattainable resolutions or ones that society deems acceptable. 

 

Ahem, I’m looking at you . . .

“I’m going to get bikini body ready for summer.” 

“I’m going to make $1 million this year.”

 

No judgment if those are your goals and you have specific and healthy steps to attain them, but I’m thinking more specific and personal this year. 

That’s why goals work so well for me. Goals seem to take the pressure off, while also encouraging me to focus on what’s truly important to me. 

 

So let’s get into my Bookish Goals for 2019 

 

  • Read only 100 books in a year (max of 120) 

Why? In 2018 I read 160 books, but the focus was more on quantity versus quality and savoring the reading experience. Limiting myself a bit also allows me to focus on other areas of life. And let’s be honest, 100 books in a year is still a lot.

  • Request/be accepted for 5-7 NetGalley books per month 

As many new book bloggers do, I requested & got accepted for way too many ARC books from NetGalley. While this is great (FREE BOOKS), I didn’t have as much flexibility to read what I wanted when I wanted. The reading schedule was REAL

  • 7 months or more of an average of 4.0 star rating

Why? This was my goal in 2018 as well. It helps to put my focus on reading books that I think I will really love. 

  • Participate in the Book Riot 2019 Read Harder Challenge 

I’ve been doing this for the past few years and really loved being introduced to books I never would have known about. I’m not forcing myself to finish the challenge or read books that I know I will strongly dislike just for the sake of completing the challenge. 

  • Participate in the 2019 Reading Women Challenge 

I just recently found out that this Reading Challenge existed, but I’m super excited to participate. My reasoning is similar to the Book Riot Challenge. 

  • Focus more on *POC/AOC, **county of origin, and LGBTQIA+ content in books 

I’ve had these goals for the past few years, but I’m continuing with them. I usually aim to hit 20% for each goal. It helps keep my reading well rounded and I am introduced to books I never would have found otherwise.

*POC- People of color (usually the main characters), AOC(Author of Color).

**Country of Origin: Countries other than the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia 

 

Do you agree or disagree with my goals? What are your reading goals for the year? 

Let me know in the comments. I’m always really interested in what people prioritize in their reading journeys. 

 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · Uncategorized

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Published: April 10, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 388

Genres: domestic fiction, mystery, psychological thriller

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: other Lisa Scottoline books, family drama, books filled with twists and turns 

Foodie Vibes: homemade spaghetti – dinner as a family 

 

Synopsis: 

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

Noah Alderman, a doctor and a widower, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie, and for the first time in a long time he and his son are happy. But their lives are turned upside down when Maggie’s daughter Anna moves in with them. Anna is a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble that is brewing. Events take a deadly turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her only daughter, but the realization that her daughter’s murder was at the hands of a husband she loves. New information sends Maggie searching for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.

 

Review:

After Anna is another great book from Lisa Scottoline. Whenever I pick up one of her books, I know I’m in for a quality entertaining read. After Anna didn’t disappoint. 

I like that the book kept me highly entertained and guessing about the killer throughout. I was sure I knew who had done it, early on, but it turns out I was wrong. One of these days I’m going to get it right! I also enjoyed the drama that manipulative teenage girls can bring. There’s something special the author does with her mysteries that keep me captivated. 

The one thing I didn’t like was that for a long time you don’t know if someone is a pervert or not. It made me feel uneasy.

Overall, another great novel from Lisa Scottoline. Definitely makes me want to keep reading her books!

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Have you read books by Lisa Scottoline?

What’s your favorite book of hers?

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · fiction · mystery · Police Procedural · psychological thriller · suspense · thriller · Uncategorized

Perfect Girls by Alison James

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Perfect Girls by Alison James

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 333

Genres: thriller, mystery, psychological thriller, suspense, crime

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: twisted psychological thrillers, can’t get enough of them books, the horrors of modern day techonlogy

Foodie Vibes: tea and biscuits but beware …

 

Synopsis:

Phoebe. Tiffany. Melissa. They all made one little mistake…

When twenty-five-year-old Phoebe Stiles opens the door to her perfect apartment she doesn’t realise it’s the mistake that will kill her…

The body of the beautiful English girl is discovered months later – dumped behind the back of a department store. But who was the stranger she let into the safety of her home?

As Detective Rachel Prince pieces together the mystery surrounding Phoebe’s death, another young, blonde girl is found brutally murdered and abandoned in the grounds of an old theatre.

In the most dangerous case of her career, Rachel must track down the faceless individual to stop the body count rising. But to uncover the shocking truth, Rachel has to put herself at risk… can she catch the twisted killer, before they catch her?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Alison James for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Perfect Girls is a perfectly addictive novel. A psychological thriller that uses all of the modern day technology and social media advances to truly scare you. The author didn’t resort of cliches to make the book work. Definitely a unique and chilling novel. Perfect for a creepy Halloween read!

The detective from England ends up going to Hollywood to investigate the death of a young woman, who previously lived in her country. The local police wrap up the case quickly, but Rachel has some lingering doubts. Following her hunches, she crosses the country to investigate until she can figure out the truth. 

The book pulled me right in and captivated me throughout the whole read. I thought the premise and little details made for a unique, complex and intriguing story. The author was great at making me feel as if I was right there, especially with her descriptions of scent. Such little details, but they make the book that much better. 

The mystery was great. However the romance, which didn’t play much of a role, was kind of annoying. I could have done without it completely. Since it wasn’t featured much, it didn’t really bother me though. 

Overall, a phenomenal mystery that uses technology and social media to keep you guessing until the very end. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Have you read this book yet? What did you think? 

ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense · Uncategorized

Release Day | Chasing Shadows by Catherine Bybee

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Chasing Shadows by Catherine Bybee

Published: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Pages: 316

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, romance, suspense

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance with an underlying suspenseful mystery, strong women who know what they want, characters working through trauma

Foodie Vibes: burger and fries at a local bar – simple yet effective 

 

Synopsis:

Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.

Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.

But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Montlake Romance and Catherine Bybee for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Chasing Shadows centers around Avery Grant, who we see as a tough woman who knows what she wants. As the book goes on and we learn more about her character, we also learn more about the reasons behind this. Why she’s taking martial arts classes to ward off an attacker, is determined to be successful at her job despite not needing the money, and why she only has a few close friends. I really liked the main character, even when I wanted her to be a bit more emotionally open with her new love interest. I also liked that the book featured many other strong women that help her on her journey through life. The romance felt authentic and was sufficiently sexy.

I didn’t see the twist at the end coming. And I’m not sure how I feel about it still. I don’t hate it, but I think certain people got away with their bad behavior too easily. 

Chasing Shadows is a more substantial read that I initially thought and that’s exactly the way I like my contemporary romance novels. Worth the read!

Add to Goodreads

 

Totally random question for you all:

What’s your favorite color?

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Sports · Uncategorized

ARC Review | Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

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Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

Published: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Little A 

Pages: 316

Genres: contemporary fiction, sports

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: college athletics, the toll life can take on a person, relatable characters 

Foodie Vibes: egg white omelets, dry toast, black coffee — perfectly measured out and calorie counted 

 

Synopsis:

Breadloaf and New York Public Library fellow, Jaclyn Gilbert’s LATE AIR, a tale of a fanatical Yale cross country coach sent reeling into the ghosts of his past after an early morning practice run on the golf course goes horrifically wrong, injuring his star runner and churning up all that has lain dormant around the coach’s fragmented life and marriage.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a free ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Late Air can best be described as an odd book in a mainstream way. The coach shows he cares about his athletes, himself, his wife and their child through actions. He obsesses about counting things, keeping in control, and producing results. By staying regimented he can achieve what he wants for himself and others. Much of the book is about his goals and coaching his Division 1 athletes. It’s fascinating, sad and a bit horrifying to read about the inner workings of his brain. The book can be seen as a warning against a singular focus mindset. 

Despite the catch being so focused, the story was a bit all over the place. At times I got lost and other times I didn’t really care. There are many life lessons to be learned, but I didn’t really care about the characters. 

All in all, a cautionary tale against obsession, but not as amazing as I had hoped.

 

Answer me this:

What’s your favorite sport?

Let’s get to 5 comments, and I’ll share my favorite sport!

Uncategorized

What You Missed Wednesdays | Chick Lit Edition

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

4.5/5 stars

authentic representation, good friendships, complex women

 

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Rush by Lisa Patton 

4/5 stars

southern sororities, making a difference, race injustices 

 

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One Good Thing by Wendy Wax

3.5/5 stars

fun beach read, relatable people, sun soaked

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · Medical · non fiction · science · Uncategorized

ARC Book Review | The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel

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The Atlas of Disease: Mapping Deadly Epidemics and Contagion from the Plague to the Zika Virus by Sandra Hempel

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: White Lion Publishing 

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, medical, health, science, history 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about health and wellness, medicine, science in general but especially human health

Foodie Vibes: healthy well balanced meals that are prepared with the ultimate food safety in mind 

 

Synopsis:

Behind every disease is a story, a complex narrative woven of multiple threads, from the natural history of the disease, to the tale of its discovery and its place in history.
 
But what is vital in all of this is how the disease spreads and develops. In The Atlas of Disease, Sandra Hemple reveals how maps have uncovered insightful information about the history of disease, from the seventeenth century plague maps that revealed the radical idea that diseases might be carried and spread by humans, to cholera maps in the 1800s showing the disease was carried by water, right up to the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s and the recent Ebola outbreak.
 
Crucially, The Atlas of Disease will also explore how cartographic techniques have been used to combat epidemics by revealing previously hidden patterns. These discoveries have changed the course of history, affected human evolution, stimulated advances in medicine and shaped the course of countless lives.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, White Lion Publishing, and Sandra Hempel for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The Atlas of Disease is perfectly summarized in the title. The book features diseases that have caused epidemics, outbreaks and overall ill health in humans throughout history. The author uses maps to help illustrate the spread of, infection rate, and other useful information relating to each disease. 

Each disease featured starts with the basics about it, so even if you’re not an expert in the field you can learn about the disease enough to have a good understanding to read the rest of the section. The next few pages describe the history, transmission, and much other information related to that specific disease. I found it fascinating and learned some new information, even beyond what I had learned in my college courses. 

I found it very interesting to see how people’s actions affect the spread of disease including individual people’s choices, the political climate, war, poverty, and famine. Also the book is a great example of why vaccinations are so important. Yes, anti vaxxers I’m talking to you. Vaccinate your children!

However, some of the maps didn’t interest me that much. Partly because I was reading it on my iPhone so I had to constantly zoom in and move the page of the book around the see the whole map, so it was more bothersome than worth it. Also I already understood most of the information through reading the text, so the map didn’t give me too much additional information. But if you’re a big visual learner or very next to the subjects then the maps would be very helpful. 

All in all, I really enjoyed reading The Atlas of Disease. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a nerd like me. 

 

Do you think learning about diseases is interesting or scary? 

Daily Goodie Box · Free Samples · Friday Fun · Unboxing · Uncategorized

Unboxing my Daily Goodie Box

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I love free samples! I mean, who doesn’t? Am I right?

 

Besides the whole “it’s free factor”, I really enjoy learning about and trying new products before purchasing them.

Money can be tight for me, so I want to know I’m going to love a product before spending hard earned cash on it. I”m sure many of you can relate.

 

So when Daily Goodie Box was looking for bloggers to receive a Goodie Box and write a blog post about it, I jumped at the chance. I’ve already tried and reviewed products from them with my personal account. I’m super excited to share this month’s unboxing with you!

 

 

Daily Goodie Box sends out boxes of free samples to it’s members for them to review. The products can be samples sized or even full sized. Let me be clear: shipping is free, no credit card required, and it’s very easy to sign up.

 

Each month there are different products to try out and review. I received October’s Box. These are all the samples I received and my thoughts about them!

 

* I have various food intolerances, so for some of the food products I had someone else in my household try them. A blogger with a tummy ache is not a happy blogger. For transparency purposes, I will indicate which products I personally didn’t try and the other person’s thoughts.

 

Susan Brown’s Baby – Foaming Shampoo

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Since there aren’t any babies in the household, I tried it out myself. Taking one for the team! It’s super easy to use, definitely smells like typical baby shampoo, gentle, and leaves my hair feeling really soft. It seems like it would be really good for babies or toddlers. 

 

Nightfood – Midnight Chocolate Crunch Bars

My dad tried it and enjoyed the taste. I like the concept: a healthier version of a typically super processed junk food chocolate bar. The product would be great for people who want to indulge and satisfy their cravings but still be mindful of their healthy eating habits. 

 

Ethical Bean – Classic Medium Roast

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It smells amazing! If it was decaf I could have tried it, but I keep smelling it. Oh my goodness, yum!!!

 

Gear Beast – Universal Smartphone Wallet

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Such a cool concept for people on the go who don’t want to carry around a lot of extra items. Just your smartphone, a few credit cards, ID, and cash. Total honesty: I didn’t try it out on my phone since it’s over 4 years old. I was afraid that if I took off my current phone case I might not be able to get it back on without breaking. 

 

Coral LLC – Coral White Toothpaste Tea Tree

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It’s different than traditional toothpaste. I tend to stick with the traditional toothpaste, because I haven’t found a natural one that I really love. I can definitely taste the cinnamon and tea tree oils in it, which isn’t bad but takes some getting used to. The coral gives it a bit of a different feel, which I think might whiten my teeth nicely. I haven’t used it enough to know for sure, but fingers crossed. 

 

Pure Chimp – Matcha Green Tea

I’ve never tried matcha before, but I really like green tea so I was super excited to try it. I loved it! And have been drinking it every morning since then. The smell is a little strong, but the taste is smooth and delicious. 

 

Chosen Foods – Vegan Mayo on the Go

I’ve never tried vegan mayo before, so it was another new experience for me. Fairly good taste though. 

 

Karma Nuts – Peri Peri Roasted Cashews

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My dad tried these and enjoyed them. A bit spicy for him, but he does not like spicy food at all. A great healthy protein packed snack with a ton of flavor.

 

Veroni – Iron Energy

No one I know drinks energy drinks, so I couldn’t test out this product. Too much caffeine for me! But it seems like a fairly standard energy drink.

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I had so much fun trying and reviewing these products. I even discovered that I definitely love matcha! Who knew?

 

If you like a product, click on the link for more information. Maybe you’ll find something you like as much as I did. 

Also if you want to try and review products like me, sign up for Daily Goodie Box and start sampling!

 

And remember,

Daily Goodie Box

It’s more than just Free Samples!

DailyGoodieBox.com

 

* This post is not sponsored. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review. I did receive a free Goodie Box for the purposes of reviewing the products for this blog post. I do not receive any financial compensation if you click on the links. They’re simply so you can get more information on products that may interest you.

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir · mental health · Uncategorized

Surviving Myself: How an Eating Disorder, A Car Crash and a Stroke Taught Me to Love My Life and Finally Live It by Dina Pestonji

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Surviving Myself: How an Eating Disorder, A Car Crash and a Stroke Taught Me to Love My Life and Finally Live It by Dina Pestonji

Published: July 19, 2018

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

Pages: 350

Genres: memoir, mental health, autobiography

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, life lessons, authentic eating disorder representation

Foodie Vibes: homemade Indian food surrounded by family

 

Synopsis:

GROWING UP, DINA PESTONJI was afforded all the comfort, love and affection anyone could ask for. She should have been a happy, carefree girl. But from the age of 10, she felt uncomfortably “different,” like an ugly brown duckling in a sea of perfect girls with white skin and blue eyes.

In this powerful, brutally honest memoir, Dina vividly describes the losing battle that engulfed her mind and body—one with a hateful, self-loathing and cruel inner critic.

Consumed by a misguided obsession with fitting in, being exceptional and “perfect,” she unknowingly allowed a deep self-hatred to set in over the years—a hatred that not even her acceptance at the swankiest schools nor a dream job in California could change. Only after surviving a horrific car crash and a paralyzing stroke while still in her 20s, did she begin to see herself for who she really was: strong, independent, a fighter…blessed.

Surviving Myself, is the captivating, emotionally charged story of the author’s journey to self-acceptance and inner peace, narrated with the refreshing candour of a close friend. Alternately humourous, shocking and heartbreaking, it is also the story of a family’s overflowing love.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tellwell Talent and Dina Pestonji for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me. 

The title pretty much sums up the book. Dina struggles with an eating disorder in her teen years, constantly feels different from her peers, gets into a car crash, moves abroad several times, and has a stroke. All before the age of 30. That’s a lot of information for a person to get in 30 seconds, not to mention experience in 30 years. 

Her story is remarkable, inspiring and so relatable. Even if you haven’t dealt with all of the challenges that she has, you will still be able to relate to a lot of her feelings. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, loving your family but wanting to prove your independence, frustration, finding your place in the world, hopelessness and courage. The writing is so relatable. It’s like listening to a really smart mentor give you all the life lessons you need to know. I would read another 350 pages of her experiences and insight. 

The only aspect that slightly annoyed me was reading the younger years. Maybe age 10 and 11. Since it’s in 1st person, the writing is from a pre teen’s perspective. Makes sense for the story, but not my favorite age range to read about. These are only minor details though.

Overall a fantastic memoir that really resonated with me. Do yourself a favor and give Surviving Myself by Dina Pestonji a read!

 

Which of Dina’s experiences can you relate to?

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christian · Christian fiction · mystery · romance · suspense · Uncategorized

ARC Review | A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

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A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Revell

Pages: 336

Genres: suspense, mystery, Christian fiction, romance

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: conspiracy theories, books that cut close to reality and freak you out too

Foodie Vibes: coffee, coffee, coffee to keep yourself awake & reading so you can’ quickly find out what happens

 

Synopsis:

Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret–one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn’t simply suffering from paranoia.

Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan–and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.

With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, Lisa Harris takes readers deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Revell and Lisa Harris for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Another good novel from Lisa Harris. Not my all time favorite from her, but still a good solid suspenseful mystery. It was nice to get back into the world of police detectives solving mysteries in Christian fiction.

I enjoyed the world of conspiracy theories with good reason. The book was so psychologically terrifying. The fact that these things could happen in real life is so scary. Hackers attacking the power grid and leaving our country without power for months. The impact it could have on our country and so many people is terrifying. Such an interesting premise! There was a lot of action, physical and mental, that kept me reading, reading, reading to find out what happens.

Despite all the action that I loved, I didn’t really like that the murder mystery involved a psychiatric patient in any way. In this case, the patient wasn’t a suspect (not a spoiler), but there is so much stigma and stereotypes that I’m wary of books that even associate therapy, mental health, etc. with anything negative. Also a key to solving a major part of the mystery was overlooked until much later. If I were there, I would have found the object right away by doing a simple but thorough search. If the characters stopped to think for 2 seconds the detective and psychology would have found it. So frustrating!

Overall, a compelling mystery that unfortunately had a few nuances that bothered me. Loved the conspiracy theory ascent though.

 

Are you more of a murder mystery, psychological thriller or horror novel reading? Tell me why in the comments