3.5 Star Books · Audiobooks · Book Reviews · humor · memoir

Book Review: Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

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Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

Published by Ballantine Books on November 29, 2016

Pages: 209

Genres: memoir, humor

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Gilmore Girls, memoirs with life lessons

Read with food: coffee, duh! Because . . . Lorelai in Gilmore Girls

 

Synopsis:

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

Review:

Everyone has been saying how amazing and hilarious Talking As Fast As I Can, is. I found it good, but not as great as all the hype.

Maybe it’s because while I enjoyed the TV show Gilmore Girls, I was not a super fan. So the behind the scenes look at the show wasn’t that interesting to me. The writing is also amusing, but not over the top hilarious.

The memoir does contain a lot of life advice that makes me think. I appreciated that. Lauren Graham talks about enjoying life as it’s currently happening, instead of spending all your time online. I found this especially poignant as I was outside enjoying the spring flowers and listening to this audiobook.

A bit underwhelming, but overall an enjoyable read.

 

I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks … especially memoirs read by the authors. #love 

 

Any recommendations for me?

 

What are your favorite memoirs?

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Gothic · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Published by Berkley on March 20, 2018

Pages: 336

Genres: mystery, thriller, gothic, suspense, historical fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Criminal Minds, Cold Case, creepy satisfying books

Read with food: popcorn ~ the suspense is that good; it’s like watching a movie you can’t take your eyes off 

 

Synopsis: 

A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Review:

Murders, deaths that may or may not be accidental, haunted boarding schools, disturbed teenage girls. What more could a reader possibly want in a creepy, can’t put down book?

The Broken Girls alternates between 1950 and 2014. In 1950, 4 girls live in a haunted boarding school, Idlewild, for disturbed/delinquent teenage girls. One of them goes missing. Secrets are uncovered, and nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface. Then in 2014 a body is discovered on the grounds of the now derelict Idlewild.

In between, a young woman is murdered on the grounds. Fiona, the sister of the murdered woman, is now a journalist. Writing an article about the renovations on the grounds of Idlewild. She digs up more than a few secrets that the small town wishes to keep buried.

The Broken Girls is a perfect mix of an unsettling episode of Criminal Minds directed by Matthew Gray Gubler and a satisfying episode of Cold Case.

I definitely recommend you give this haunting book a read!

 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Book Review: The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

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The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

Published by Kira on April 26, 2016

Pages: 384

Genres: psychological thriller, mystery, suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: dramatic intense Lifetime Movies, disturbed and smart teenage girls, supposedly perfect rich neighborhoods

Read with food: strawberry lemonade to sip by the pool

 

Synopsis:

Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she’s felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she’s determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who’s about to enter high school.

Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can’t be trusted—and almost everyone has secrets they’d do anything to protect. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can’t help but find sophisticated Kelsey’s interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.

But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz’s relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it’s not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…

Review: 

The Drowning Girls is an addictive novel.

Creepy, suspense filled, and dramatic people make up the characters in this story. Is the book the most original in terms of plot lines? … No, but it’s so entertaining.

I couldn’t stop reading.

The Drowning Girls has the vibe of a Lifetime Movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kelsey, the teenager, is conniving, smart and highly disturbed. Phil, the man she is obsessed with isn’t completely innocent either. The stress from Kelsey’s obsessions reveals the true nature of all involved.

I highly recommend this addictive, page turning, drama filled book!

 

I want to read more books with a similar vibe. Anyone have any suggestions?

 

2 Star Books · Book Reviews · romance

Book Review: Only Her: A Bad Boy Second Chance Romance by Rebecca Janet

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Only Her: A Bad Boy Second Chance Romance by Rebecca Janet

Published by Kindle Edition on May 12, 2018

Pages: not listed (582 pages when read in iBooks on an iPhone)

Genres: romance

Rating: 2 stars

Recommend to fans of: romances that supposedly check all the boxes, drama, guys with good hearts

Read with food: champagne and strawberries

 

Synopsis:

Only HER can give me that feeling…

Neal

I was the one to walk away. When opportunity came knocking on my door, I answered it. At the time, I thought it was the best thing for me to do.

I’d build up my empire, gather up my wealth, and come back to give her everything she ever wanted.

Only, it’s not that easy.

It’s never that easy.

She no longer trusts me and for good reason, too. As far as she’s concerned, I abandoned her.

But, I’m not about to give up.

This time, she’s mine and I’m not leaving without my Queen.

Kara 

Everything was just fine until he showed up.

I worked a typical nine-to-five job and I was fine with that. Okay, maybe pushing pills at a pharmacy was slowly driving me insane, but at least it paid the bills.

Besides, one day, I was going to be a successful author. I just needed to get over a serious case of writer’s block.

Which wasn’t helped by the fact that my ex-boyfriend, my first and only crush, just suddenly came waltzing into my life after a ten-year hiatus.

Oh, and get this, he thinks he can just pick up where he left off.

Not going to happen.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

This is a full-length standalone novel brimming with temptation and high heat. It features a hot-as-hell alpha male on a mission fight like hell to win his woman back . It has no cheating, no cliffhangers and this one is for you if you love big weddings and happily ever afters!

Review:

A big thank you to the author for giving me a free ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

With that being said, I had high hopes for this book, I really did. 

I have been on a bit of a romance novel kick lately. I usually read 1-2 per year, so several romance novels in a month is a big thing for me.

Unfortunately this one was only okay. The premise sounded promising. Two people who hadn’t seen each other in years after a heartbreaking night. It’s unique which I appreciated. I also really liked their shared love for books. Always a plus for me!

But the rest of the story was only okay. It seems to check all the boxes that a good romance novel would need. I wish the writing and characters were more developed. It seemed like a lot of plot twists and things thrown in there in a very short time. This caused the story to move very quickly and feel a bit forced at times. 

Also, it definitely reads like a typical romance novel, not a contemporary fiction novel centered around romance. The latter is my personal preference. But maybe it’s not yours. 

Only Her has a good premise, but ultimately it fell short for me. I had high hopes for this romance novel, since I have been enjoying many of them lately. It’s a short book, so if you want to check it out it’s a quick whirlwind of a read. 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · Literary Fiction

Book Review: Most Precious Blood by Vince Sgambati

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Most Precious Blood by Vince Sgambati 

Published by Guernica Editions On March 1, 2018

Pages: 300

Genres: literary fiction, LGBTQIA+ fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: authentic stories, struggles with one’s sexuality

Read with food: any sort of authentic Italian food . . . be sure to make enough for the whole family

 

Synopsis: 

Hard Luck Lenny Lasante is the quintessential good son, brother, and father. He fears a calamity will derail his son’s future the way his own dreams were derailed years ago and is adamant that Frankie leave home for college, but Frankie is preoccupied with thoughts of Gennaro DiCico, the son of a small-time mobster. Lenny’s fears are realized when a cabdriver’s son avenges his father’s murder. Most Precious Blood, set in the eleventh-hour of a declining Italian-American neighborhood, speaks of complex and often destructive loyalties, consequences, and forgiveness.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

Most Precious Blood tells the stories of Italian Americans living in New York City. Like most families, life is messy, filled with heartbreak, struggles, and attempts to find oneself despite what family might think. It’s Italian family life written into a story format.

At the beginning, I wasn’t really enjoying the book. It didn’t really draw me in. As I kept on reading, I learned more about all the characters and grew to enjoy their stories more and more.

Most Precious Blood mainly focuses on Frankie, a teenager growing up in the neighborhood. He’s in love with Gennaro, the son of a small time mobster. They don’t want to reveal their relationship to others, for fear of judgment and lack of acceptance. I ended up really enjoying the story as it continued to unfold. I could even see a sequel being written.

Overall, I would recommend Most Precious Blood for it’s traditional but open minded characters, rich storytelling, good food, and relevant topics.

 

 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · non fiction

Book Review: Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

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Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

Published by Algonquin Books on February 14, 2017

Pages: 332

Genres: non fiction, science, history, anthropology, biology, nature, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books that include a comprehensive mix of multiple sciences to uncover the facts, science nerds

Read with food: 100% vegan salad

 

Synopsis: 

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism–the role it plays in evolution as well as human history–is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party–the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti).

Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother’s skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species–including our own.

Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

Review: 

A book about cannibalism seems like it would be weird and horrific, but it was actually quite intriguing. That is not to say I want to engage in cannibalism … actually quite the opposite.

The book discusses the history of cannibalism in animals and humans, and the mainly evolutionary and survival purposes for the practices. Young animals, especially amphibians, would engage in cannibalism by eating other smaller animals of the same species to increase their chance of survival. I found this fact intriguing and informative, as my preconceived notions were that cannibalism was only creep psychotic serial killers.

In humans, the practice of medical cannibalism throughout history occurred in some cultures. Mainly as an attempt to cure health conditions or periods of extreme famine.

Overall, I found this book to be incredibly interesting. The author is truly trying to understand the practice of cannibalism, not sensationalize it. A bit of an odd book choice for some, but if the topic intrigues you, then I definitely recommend this book.

 

So . . . I want to know, what’s the weirdest book you’ve read?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

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Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

Published by: St. Martin’s Paperbacks on April 5, 2016

Pages: 368

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: sweet romances, hospital romances, good people who experience personal growth, Grey’s Anatomy

Read with food: tiramisu and red wine ~ the perfect pairing to go along with the romantic dates between Joshua and Delaney

 

Synopsis:

Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake’s Mercy Hospital, where she’s developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she’s assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she’s determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It’s not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other’s hearts?

Review:

I’ve had Heart Like Mine on my TBR list for awhile now. I finally got around to reading it, but sadly I was a bit disappointed.

The gernal story line and romance was only okay. I enjoyed it more as a contemporary fiction than romance novel. The romance supposedly checked all the right boxes: lakes at sunset, handsome doctor who loves kids, great Italian food, etc. But it didn’t really draw me in that much.

What did really pull me in was the eye opening experiences that Delaney had on the pediatrics floor. Forced to make budget cuts to the pediatrics unit, she is invited to spend time there by none other than Dr. Joshua Mackenzie. He wants her to really learn how important all the hospital services are to the sick children. Spending time on the unit, Delaney grows as a person and rekindles her passion for her career. I really enjoyed this story line.

I also really appreciated the in depth justification of all the services and personnel required to care for the children. I think it will definitely open some people’s eyes.

I wouldn’t recommend it for the romance, but Heart Like Mine ended up redeeming itself in the end. 

 

Reader Question . . . how do you feel when a book that you’ve so wanted to read ends up being a bit underwhelming? Comment below and let me know! Or just say hi!

4 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

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The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Published by: Gallery Books on December 5, 2017

Pages: 288

Genres: memoir, humor

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: comedy, real talk, memoirs, books with good life advice

Read with food: corn on the cob … if you’ve read the book you will definitely get this 

 

Synopsis:

From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.

Review:

The Last Black Unicorn is hilarious, real and vulnerable. Tiffany shares the story of her life, from childhood to present day, in the laugh out loud funny way that only she can. First of all, I highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook. It’s read the author herself and makes the memoir that much better! Beware, some parts are NSWF, not safe for work, so wear those headphones people! 

I appreciated her genuine life story and advice along the way. As hilarious as the entire book is, there are also a lot of life lessons to be learned from her story.

Follow your dreams, keep working hard, don’t take sh*t from anyone, mange your money well, and believe that you are worth it.

I went into this book not knowing much about it. I kept hearing people recommend it online for it’s hilarity, so I decided to give it a try. So glad I did!

Just a warning for you all: they talk about sex a lot. She says the word penis, and all the other euphemisms for it, a lot. If that bothers you or if you have little kids listening, maybe not the book for you. But otherwise, do like I did and give the hilarious The Last Black Unicorn a listen … or a read. 

Book Reviews

Book Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

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Trade Me by Courtney Milan 

Published by: Courtney Milan

Pages: 279

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, new adult

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance, strong but flawed characters, tech companies

Read with food: bottled water and rice dish

Bottled water: Blake- could be economical but is made expensive

Rice: Tina- practical, substancial, and adaptable

 

Synopsis:

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life. 

Review:

Blake and Tina couldn’t be from more different life circumstances, and yet they find themselves in the same college course. They say that opposites attract, and in Trade Me that is absolutely true. The characters of Tina and Blake are perfect compliments to each other. More importantly they respect each other first as humans beings, then friends, and then something more. Also the romantic bits of the story help to fuel it along, but don’t make up the entirety, which is my kind of romance.

I do wish that the relationship with Blake and his father was a bit more transparent. As a reader, I felt confused and unsure about Blake’s father’s intentions. It detracted from my enjoyment of the story at times.

Lately I’ve been reading more romance novels. The main reason? … I’ve been doing my research and found books that are really high quality and speak to me within the romance genre. Trade Me has inspired me to keep reading within this genre. 

Book Reviews

Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

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Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on September 15, 2017

Pages: 430 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, crime fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: intense twisted books with satisfying endings, passionate characters, trauma intensive stories

Read with food: Alcohol and nachos 

A shot of whatever alcohol you have lying around to get through the tough traumatic sections (Some cold water if you’re under 21 or don’t drink alcohol) Be safe people!

Football game nachos: quick, cheap, and not that nutritious but it gets some food in your system; much in the keeping of the character of Niko

 

Synopsis:

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

First and foremost, a big trigger warning for torture and sexual assault in graphic detail. It’s definitely intense, and I almost stopped reading the book because of it. That being said, about 10% of the book or maybe less is torture and assault. Also, the authors put a trigger warning at the beginning which I much appreciated.

Niko has spent his entire life caring for people, especially those close to him and in need. As a child, Niko’s friend and neighbor Aislin has a very difficult upbringing. He does his best to be a great friend and protector, even though he’s only 14 years old. Aislin is kidnapped. Niko is devastated and angry. He grows up to be a cop, but never stops searching for Aislin, his North Star.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about Pitch Dark. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the storylines. The drama, the suspense, and how everything turns out. Works well in the book. It’s the details where I have some issues. Of course there’s the graphic descriptions of the assault. It makes the book what it is, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. At least not to that intensity. Also, the character of Niko is very over the top at times. Obviously he had gone through terrible things, but he acts as if he’s the only one who can solve the case, protect the victims, etc. I appreciate the sentiment and passion, but it gets to be a bit much at times. Also, some of the descriptions are a bit odd and left me asking “do people really talk like this?”

The story overall works well and I’m glad that I read Pitch Dark. I liked the revelations towards the end. The character of Aislin was a welcome breath of fresh air and encouraging strength. I ended up enjoying Pitch Dark, despite my mixed feelings throughout.