CONSTANT READER REVIEW – Revival by Stephen King

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions…And lit with electric lights.”

My feelings about Revival are…complicated, to say the least. The premise is promising. The execution is so-so (the villain? He’s just not…BAD enough. He’s misguided and desperate and full of himself, but…)

“People have many ways to be lousy to one another, you’ll find out when you’re older, but I think that all bad behavior stems from plain old selfishness.”

Is this horror? I don’t know. It leans a bit more into the literary or commercial fiction realm, with some touches of sci-fi and a few horrific scenes. (And really, what IS horror? Is it a genre or a feeling? Both?) We have a “villain” who is obsessed with electricity. SERIOUSLY obsessed. He spends his life chasing…something (the reveal isn’t as terrifying as his dedication to it, trust me).

Jamie is a relatively likable main character, and although we only get bits and pieces of his life (primarily in relation to good old Reverend Jacobs…or whatever you want to call him) you can tell that he’s mostly a good man who has just made a lot of mistakes.

And this is one of those books where you can’t help but wonder if King has just been too mean to his characters – there’s a lot of tragedy and heartache and horror (the real-life kind) tucked into these pages and it can seem a bit heavy-handed at times. However, that writing can be SO good.

Should you read Revival? It’s a must (in my opinion) if you consider yourself a King fan. But if you’re more of a casual Constant Reader? Stick to the classics.

REVIEW – Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown

Thick as Thieves wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still enjoyed my reading experience! Arden Maxwell is back in her hometown after years away (her father disappeared after his assumed involvement in a notorious heist and murder). What Arden doesn’t know is that two of the men who were involved with that crime two decades ago are watching her every move.

The crime and mystery in this book is complex and interesting – we eventually get chapters from the perspective of each person who was involved on that night, and slowly piece together what actually happened.

This can be classified as “romantic suspense” which isn’t a genre i’m really familiar with – I didn’t know this about the book going in, so the accelerated romantic plotline threw me for a loop. I didn’t dislike that aspect of the story, but it did feel a little forced (and almost inappropriate?) at times. However, since romantic suspense isn’t something I typically read, this could be typical for the genre.

Thank you Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of this book.

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer

Even though I love historical fiction and I love cozy mysteries, for some reason i’ve struggled in the past to read historical cozies…well, that streak finally ended with Murder at the Mena House! I absolutely loved the first book in this new series – Jane is a fun main character, Aunt Millie is mysterious and precocious and intriguing, and the dashing Mr. Redvers might be my absolute favorite.

Set in Egypt, young widow Jane is spending time abroad with her Aunt Millie at the Mena House Hotel. They meet some interesting characters right from the jump, and when sassy socialite Anna Stainton is found murdered, it’s a race to find the culprit before another body turns up. I had such vivid imagery of this in my mind while reading! It felt like going on vacation. Murder at the Mena House has Clue (yes, the board game) and Agatha Christie vibes, and i’m so excited to pick up the next book in the series!

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – Back in the Burbs by Tracy Wolff and Avery Flynn

I had SO much fun reaching Back in the Burbs – it’s hilarious and heartfelt. Mallory’s life is a mess (no, really). She’s in the middle of dealing with a difficult divorce AND her favorite aunt has just passed away. However, when she learns that great-aunt Maggie left Mallory her house, she decides it’s time to take her life into her own hands and start fresh.

This is…easier said than done. Great-aunt Maggie’s house needs work. A LOT of work. And the cute guy across the street is a little bit rude.

This story ended up being more complex than I anticipated, and it was such a happy surprise. Back in the Burbs doesn’t get bogged down by the details – and while it covers a few heavier topics, it remains relatively lighthearted overall, with ample amounts of humor sprinkled throughout each chapter.

If you’re looking for a good summer or vacation read, this is it! Thank you Entangled Publishing and Valentine PR for sending me a copy of this book.

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan

A promising start to a brand new cozy mystery series, Fresh Brewed Murder tackles some tougher topics but never loses that overall cozy vibe that readers love.

Sage has recently opened Ground Rules, a coffee cart located in a food truck park in Portland. She barely has time to make more than a few lattes before she finds a repeat (and grumpy) customer dead right in front of her cart. Sage is immediately high on the suspect list, because a box cutter from her very own cart is the murder weapon.

We get a glimpse into Sage’s complicated life story (which I assume we will get more of in future books!) and the author doesn’t shy away from tough issues like homelessness and gentrification.

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan

I’m still new to historical romance but slowly reading more (and buying more…) and A Rogue to Remember was a great debut from Emily Sullivan. Lottie and Alex are characters you can root for – both running from complicated pasts and uncertain (or certain and awful) futures. I’d consider this a great book for those new to the genre – if you’re thinking of giving historical romance a try, start with this one!

I’m also excited for the next book in the series – we get a relatively small glimpse of Rafe in this book, but he definitely makes an impression.

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Death at the Salon by Louise R. Innes

Death at the Salon is the second book in the Daisy Thorne mysteries, and I had a lot of fun reading it! Daisy owns Ooh La La, a local hair salon in a small English village. When one of her customers ends up dead mere hours after her (final…) appointment, Daisy has to work fast to not only clear her name, but keep herself (and her staff!) safe from a murderer on the loose.

Fans of cozy mysteries are sure to love the setting and characters of this series – I can’t wait to see what Daisy will do next!

Thank you Louise Innes for the digital ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Matter of Hive and Death by Nancy Coco

A Matter of Hive and Death is the second book in the Oregon Honeycomb Mystery series, and I liked it even more than the first! Wren is a great main character and her Aunt Eloise, best friend Porsche and charismatic kitty Everett are absolutely delightful. (And, of course the tall, blue-eyed Officer Jim Hampton…)

The mystery in A Matter of Hive and Death was fantastically written and really fun to solve, with a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing.

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Okay, I officially want to dive into Kate Quinn’s backlist. The Rose Code was an incredibly immersive, emotional, charming piece of historical fiction. Focusing on the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, The Rose Code features three main characters – Osla, Mab and Beth – who have incredibly different personalities but become fast friends.

Throughout the course of the war, we follow the three women as they endure long shifts, battle sexist attitudes, fall in (and out) of love, and experience unimaginable loss.

The book bounces between two timelines – WWII (beginning in 1940 and moving along at an even pace) and post-war 1947, mere days before the wedding of Princess (now Queen!) Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Quinn is an incredible storyteller – I felt like I was transported into 1940s England, sitting in the room watching these amazing women work on breaking codes that ultimately could save the lives of hundreds (or thousands). The way Quinn weaves together fiction with real-life “characters” and events is remarkable, and you can tell she has done her research. The Rose Code will entertain you but it will also educate you.

Thank you to Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the finished copy!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle by Sarah Graves

Best friends Jake and Ellie, owners of the Chocolate Moose, are wrapping up their busy summer season. In an effort to prepare for the winter and make some extra money, Ellie takes on a big catering order. At the same time, they’ve decided to enter Eastport’s annual cookie baking contest. When the local curmudgeon ends up dead, Jake and Ellie take it upon themselves to investigate (they have a reputation for doing so…)

This is the second book i’ve read in this series, and it definitely won’t be the last. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments – Jake is an absolute HOOT. Ellie is a bit more levelheaded and the “brains” of the pair, but their friendship is adorable and their proclivity for snooping where they shouldn’t is always entertaining.

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!