4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

How do you deal with the downsides of blogging? 

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Her One Mistakes by Heidi Perks | New Release

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Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, domestic fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: great psychological thrillers, characters that you root for

Foodie Vibes: ice cream that your husband tricks your daughter into believing that she doesn’t want 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and Heidi Perks for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review. Sorry about the late review on this ARC. A migraine prevented me from getting the reading done.

Lately the thrillers I’ve been reading have been exceptional. Her One Mistake can be added to that list. The book takes us through the horror of losing a child. The palpable fear is so intense, it’s almost indescribable. The author crafted a complex mystery that’s slowly revealed in perfect timing. The mysteries upon mysteries make for a book that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I think I read it in less than 2 days. 

I also like that the concept of gaslighting is featured. It’s not called as such, but it’s well done. The tension and suspense is perfect. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book about a child being kidnapped, or if it would be too typical. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the complexity, surprise and characters. A wonderful psychological thriller that I highly recommend. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Bookish Question:

What makes a psychological thriller great, for you?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Bookish Posts · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Women's Fiction

The Best Book! | ARC Review | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, mental health

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books with all the feels, good representation of people on the autism spectrum

Foodie Vibes: cherry wine coolers 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, Tracey Garvis Graves and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

The book is absolutely amazing! There are not enough words to accurately describe how wonderful the read was, so I’m not even going to try. I will just say this: I’ve never done this before — not given a full in depth review of a book. That’s how special I found The Girl He Used to Know. But take my word for it, read this book! 

 

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the words to explain how amazing a book, movie, feeling is?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

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The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 358

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, suspense 

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: romance novels with a mix of suspense, realistic fiction, adorable family life, couples that are #relationshipgoals 

Foodie Vibes: bananas and ice cream ~ for all those pregnancy cravings 

 

Synopsis: 

My relationship with my husband has been splashed all over the tabloids ever since we first started dating. What should I have expected when I took New York City’s most eligible bachelor off the market?

But no matter how long I’m with my husband, I can’t shake the feeling that a stroke of luck brought me here. That I don’t deserve the life around me. And I swear, if one more paparazzi takes a picture of me I’m going to freaking lose my mind.

I needed to prove to myself that I’m not worthless. So I wrote a novel under a pen name, but I’ve been rejected by so many literary agents I’ve lost count. And I’m so consumed with this idea that I need more out of life that I never had a chance to see the real story unfolding around me. The story that would threaten the life I took for granted.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads and Ivy Smoak for the copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Light to My Darkness is wonderful, heartfelt, passionate, and has just enough suspense. Penny is pregnant with her second child. She craves bananas and ice cream. She looks after her adorable 3 year old, Scarlett. And her husband absolutely worships her. The only difference this time around is that she has a moderate to severe heart murmur, and the pregnancy is putting added stress on her heart. 

I really liked that this romance novel features a pregnant and married woman as the main character. Not many authors do this. Their relationship is very steamy. The stress that her health condition puts on their day to day lives is also explored. The representation is great. Scarlett is also such a smart adorable kid. The suspense of Penny’s health condition and later darker elements kept me turning the pages quickly. 

However, there are a few aspects that I’m not a huge fan of. One is the manner that the couple met. Some people don’t have a problem with it, but I did. Also the last 20% of the book had a lot of information thrown in quickly. I wish that it was further explored. And the ending … let’s just say you’ll either love it or hate it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this contemporary romance featuring a strong smart woman who is pregnant. The suspense made it even better. I definitely recommend giving The Light to My Darkness a read. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

If you’ve been pregnant before, what’s the weirdest food craving that you experienced?

 

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Medical · mental health · Young Adult

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow 

Published: August 30, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 416

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, mental health 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: realistic portrayals of mental health struggles, homelessness and self harm, realistic non fluffy books

Foodie Vibes: peanut butter and bread — cheap, doesn’t require refrigeration and is filling — required for when times are tough 

 

Synopsis: 

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

 

Review:

Trigger warning: self harm, alcohol abuse, mentions of sexual assault

 

Girl in Pieces tells the story of Charlotte, a teenage girl who struggles with self harm. The book starts out with her hospitalized in a mental health facility. She doesn’t speak to anyone, but is glad to be there. Due to a lack of family support, she was homeless prior to the hospital. 

Girl in Pieces isn’t like many other young adult books featuring self harm. It tells the story of a different subset of teenage girls. I like that it gives a voice and a relatable character where there wasn’t one before. I also appreciated that the author didn’t glorify self harm. The story and Charlotte’s journey is very intense, almost a bit much for me at times. She has lots of ups and downs in her journey along the path to recovery and figuring out her future. It’s very realistic. 

While the representation is great, there are multiple aspects that I didn’t love. #1: her relationship with her boyfriend, for multiple reasons. Also, the fact that no one makes her go to school. No explanation about this either. When Charlotte was not making the best decisions for herself I was very frustrated for her. In general I enjoyed reading about her, but didn’t connect with her character as much as I would have liked. 

Overall, a well written story with great representation of self harm and other mental health struggles in general. The downsides didn’t mean a bad book, but more annoyances/frustrations on my part as a reader. Definitely worth checking out!

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

How should we react when we see someone who has self harm scars? Discuss below. 

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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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? 

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!

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · mental health · non fiction · Self Help

When Life Hits the Fan: A Mindful Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring For Others by Janet Fouts

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When Life Hits the Fan: A Mindful Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring For Others by Janet Fouts

Published: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Tatu Digital Media

Pages: 162

Genres: non fiction, self help, mental health, medical

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: resources to help with caregiving, all types of caregivers, learning to cope with the demands of caregiving – sanely

Foodie Vibes: quick nutritious cheap meals to fuel you for all the demands of the day

 

Synopsis:

More than 44 million Americans provide care for family members and friends with chronic illness or conditions that require day to day assistance.

In general, caregivers do this out of real compassion and love, or a sense of duty for the person they are caring for.

Often they find themselves thrown into roles that are unfamiliar and sometimes scary; like managing through the medical and insurance system to gain the best possible care for their loved one or understanding the options in the middle of a medical emergency. Stress levels can go through the roof, and over time stress wreaks havoc on the caregiver as well as their loved one.

If the caregiver also has a family, a job, and other responsibilities and caring for their loved one is added to their current roles. While it is a labor of love, it can be exhausting over time, and things start to fall through the cracks, including caring for their own health.

When Life Hits the Fan shares the experiences of a number of caregivers and activities that they can do to take care of themselves, body and soul. The practices in the book come from the author’s training in mindfulness, emotional intelligence and positive psychology as well as her own caregiving journey.

With a practical approach to stress reduction and easy to follow exercises, When Life Hits the Fan helps us understand what’s going on inside our minds and our bodies and ways to create resilience and care for ourselves.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tatu Digital Media and Janet Fouts for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book is exactly what I needed to read, as a caregiver. Seriously, if you’re a caregiver in any form, then you need to read the book. The information was so relatable, honest and helpful that I’m going to check out the author’s website for even more caregiving resources.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “care for the caregiver.” It is absolutely true. We can’t take care of everyone else without first taking care of ourselves. It’s simply not sustainable in the long run. And most of us are caregivers, in some capacity, for the long term. The author teaches that your compassion needs to extend to yourself or it’s incomplete. So true!

The book is short but packed with helpful information and compassion. The author truly gets what it’s like to be a caregiver. The self care suggested is practical, affordable, generally short in duration, and can be done almost anywhere. I’ve heard some of these suggestions before, but it’s nice to have it all in one book.

When Life Hits the Fan would be great for reading while waiting for your loved one’s appointments, during a few minutes of downtime, etc. The book is accessible, helpful and comes from a compassionate place. I highly highly recommend it if you’re a caregiver in any capacity. 

 

How many of you are caregivers?

What do you do for self care?

 

————————————

 

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · non fiction · religion

New Release | She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams

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She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams 

Published: November 8, 2018

Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press

Pages: 200

Genres: non fiction, LGBTQIA+, religion

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: modern day religion, real trans people’s stories, church and the LGBTQIA+

Foodie Vibes: sensible healthy meal to fuel your mind and body

 

Synopsis:

Jonathan S. Williams was three months into pastoring a new, evangelical church plant when his father confessed a secret: he was transgender. His father, Paul, a prominent evangelical pastor, soon became Paula, and Jonathan’s life and ministry went into a tailspin. Feeling betrayed by his mentor and confidante and scared that his church would lose funding and support if Paula’s secret was exposed, Jonathan sunk into depression and alcoholism.

She’s My Dad explores Jonathan’s long and winding journey toward reconciliation, forgiveness, and acceptance of his father as well as his church’s journey to become one of the few fully LGBTQ-inclusive, evangelical churches in America. Jonathan and Paula offer insight and encouragement for those with transgender family members, empathizing with the feelings of loss and trauma and understanding that even being LGBTQ-affirming doesn’t mean the transition of a family member will be easy. Jonathan writes of his family’s continuing evolution, the meaning of remaining loyal to one’s father even when she is no longer a man, the ongoing theological evolution surrounding transgender rights and advocacy in the church, and the unflinching self-scrutiny of a pastor who lost his God only to find God again in his father’s transition.

 

Review:

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

She’s My Dad tells the story of Jonathan’s Dad transitioning to her true self, Paula. The book is honest about the challenges, learning process and love that goes into having a family member transition. The process is made even more complex, because Paula is a pastor in the Evangelical church. 

I liked that the chapters alternated perspectives between Jonathan and Paula, allowing the reader to better understand the story from all perspectives. I didn’t realize the focus in religion would be so great. I’m not religious, but I learned a lot about churches excluding or choosing to include LGBTQIA+ people. I think the book could be very helpful and validating for people who are religious and identify as LGBTQIA+. 

While it was hard to hear Jonathan’s struggles about his dad transitioning, it was honest. For awhile he didn’t seem very kind to Paula, which bothered me. I think a lot of people can relate to the loss and confusion they may also feel. I feel like the book focused on the church a lot, and maybe would have been more well rounded by including a wider variety of experiences. 

Overall, an honest, educational and heartfelt book about Jonathan and his dad, Paula’s story. 

  • In the book, Jonathan refers to Paula as his dad, so to my knowledge I’m not misgendering anyone. But if I’m wrong, please correct me.

 

Answer me this:

How can churches work to better serve their LGBTQIA+ congregation?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mystery · POC · Urban Fiction

New Release | Triple Threat by Camryn King

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Triple Threat by Camryn King 

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Dafina Books

Pages: 320

Genres: contemporary fiction, urban fiction, POC, contemporary romance, mystery

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to: readers who want a behind the scenes look at fame in the elite sports world, fans of indecent love gone wrong, Law and Order SVU, justice

Foodie Vibes: healthy fueling meal of salmon, green salad and whole grains — prepared by a personal chef

 

Synopsis:

Mallory Knight knows all too well how perfect lives can be illusions. And after surviving an elusive stalker and a wrenching investigation, this determined journalist wants to profile someone whose life is an open book. Superstar athlete Christian Graham seems to be the real thing—and he’s the kind of honorable, understanding man Mallory never thought she’d find. He also knows rejection and loss…and their instant attraction burns too hot to resist. Until she gets a strange anonymous lead. Until her instincts uncover secrets that make every generous public gesture seem like a lie—and turn every seductive touch into a trap. Now, with her career and reputation on the line, Mallory won’t stop pursuing the truth—even if real justice devastates everything she can’t afford to lose…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina Books and Camryn King for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Triple Threat is the story of a journalist trying to investigate the death of her best friend. It was ruled a suicide after some sloppy police work, but Mallory knows better. The evidence doesn’t add up. She uses her resources and skills learned during her career to obtain justice for her friend.

It took me awhile to get into the story. The first 50 pages or so, I didn’t really care about it, but the story and characters slowly grew on me over time. Also there are a lot of people/circumstances that are interconnected but the connections weren’t made clear until later on in the book. The more I know, the more I enjoyed it. Also, certain characters’ disregard for women definitely bothered me. He wasn’t all bad though.

Now onto the positives. The book gives a behind the scenes look at very successful professional athletes. Specifically the world of basketball. Showing the good an athlete can do with their fame was great. The mystery aspect was intriguing too. It reminded me of an episode of Law and Order SVU. So definitely a plus in my book!

Overall some hits and some misses with Triple Threat. Great representation of professionals in an urban setting.

 

How far would you go to find justice for your friend?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

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Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice