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Review of Murder in the Cards

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time away from the blog, but today I am excited to share my review of Murder in the Cards by Gina Cheyne. This book is part of the SeeMS detective series. I did receive this book for free.

I did not read the first book in the series but I still got on pretty well without reading it. It may have helped understand the characters on a deeper level but I don’t believe it is necessary if this is the book that stands out to you in the series!

For everyone that reads my blog, or my bookstagram, we all know that I love a good cozy mystery, and that is exactly what this book is. For this book there are two time periods, the present day, and the exciting dive into the past. The past always excites me in books, and I felt like the past and the plot twists within the past was done so well that it really kept me intrigued the whole time.

This book was full of plot twists and really was the perfect book to read while just sitting in bed, drinking some tea. I recommend it for anyone that wants a book that will keep them guessing but can also be finished in a short amount of time, which I love in my cozy mystery reads.

You can see the reviews of other people and the ratings on goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61145311-murder-in-the-cards?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=CUbgpCUsO2&rank=2

This is a book that I will continue to recommend and thoroughly enjoyed reading.

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Review of “A Bit of a Stretch”

A few weeks ago I read “A Bit of a Stretch” by Chris Atkins. This book is written by a documentary creator as he is in jail in the UK. He records everything that happened to him his years in jail, and even has done research about the prison system as a whole in the UK in order to back up what has happened to him.

cover of "A Bit of a Stretch"
cover of “A Bit of a Stretch”

The book is funny in some places, but also serious when talking about the facts of the prison system and just how unorganized and harsh it can be to the prisoners. Throughout the book we follow the writer through different sections of the prison, different jobs he worked, and different people he met along the way.

We learn about the food, the jobs, and how little they get to talk to people in the outside world. Most of the people he comes into contact are white-collared prisoners, and he is also one of them. He does have some run ins with some blue-collared prisoners and those are also put within the book.

Atkins makes sure to say that while he did have some hard times while he was locked up it isn’t anything like other people had to face because his crime was listed as white-collar. I believe this is an important point that needed to be made since while he did have a hard time, it could have been a lot worse if his crime would have been worse.

This book touches on tricky subjects, but also highlights what needs to be done in order for prisoners to be not only safe but to be rehabilitated. I really enjoyed reading about the UK’s prison system even though I don’t live in the UK. I recommend this for anyone wanted to read a slightly funny non-fiction book.

Review of “The Amsterdam Affair”

We all love a good Christmas book to start off the holidays. I had the great opportunity to be a part of the book tour for Kate Frost’s “The Amsterdam Affair.”

This book is a very fast and light read. I read it in basically one sitting and flew right through it. As the best Christmas books are, this book is very uplifting and really gets you in the spirit. Straight from the beginning we see the main character, Iris’, willingness to do anything for the people she cares about. She moves to Amsterdam for her boyfriend that is very inconsiderate and does not care about her feelings in the matter.

While the move might not have been her choice, she finds the best in this situation, grows to love the environment, makes friends and makes a life for herself. When her boyfriend, Will, decides that he doesn’t like Amsterdam and wants to go back to the UK early Iris finally puts her foot down and stays in Amsterdam for the time being.

I have always wanted to see Amsterdam, and I feel that I was finally able to through this book. The scenery that Frost explains to the reader paints a vivid picture and really captures the holiday season in a place known for its beauty during Christmas.

Iris as the protagonist was amazing. We see her grow from someone that was practically living for someone else to someone that lives for herself and makes her own decisions. The fact that she is able to stand up to Will really shows her growth as a character and I am here for it.

This book had so much depth in the fact that Iris not only grows as a character but also we are looking at hard times in relationships, career choices, passions, and finding ones self. It touches on so many topics in such a short period of time and does it well. This book truly is a feel good book that will make the reader think in depth but still enjoy every second of it.

I recommend this book for anyone that loves Christmas books. For anyone that loves a feel good story where the protagonist grows as a person. For anyone that needs a fast-paced book. And lastly, for anyone that just needs a book to read.

Review of The Hashtag Killer

Hi everyone, today I am reviewing The Hashtag Killer by Andrew French as a part of a blog tour. 

Summary: 

Catch a killer or save a child. What would you do?

DI Jen Flowers thought she’d seen it all after fifteen years on the force, but when a vigilante serial killer hits the city and uses social media to gather supporters, she must fight the public and her doubts to catch a murderer and save her daughter. 

Suffering from blackouts and abandoned as a child by her father, Ruby Vasquez has been chasing that one scoop to make her an internet star. Living with an alcoholic mother who hates her, Ruby discovers a secret about the vigilante’s first victim, which puts her in the killer and DI Flowers’ sights. 

Jen and Ruby have to overcome the secrets in their past while battling each other to discover the Hashtag Killer’s identity. Jen will have to choose between keeping her daughter safe or finding a killer, while Ruby will need to decide if becoming famous is more important than doing the right thing. 

Book Review: 

To start this book has multiple points of view which I love, but this one starts out full force and it did take me a little bit to get used to it, but I did!

The story is very interesting in the way Ruby uses social media, and how the killer is also able to use social media for his plans. It really shows the impact of social media and just how easy it is to sway an audience. 

I really enjoyed the depth of Jen and her daughter and basically how Jen is able to change her outlook in order to be what her daughter needs her to be during this hard time. I think it is important to show what the daughter was going through and how Jen was able to put her daughter’s feelings in front. 

This book had a lot of plot twists that I really wasn’t expecting, and kept me guessing throughout the whole book. It definitely kept me on my toes which is great. This book really has mystery, as well as showing the pressure of people through social media which we see through Jen’s daughter, and even through Ruby as she is willing to do anything to become internet famous. 

This book has a lot of layers to it as we get so many people’s background stories but I think that that is pretty important since so many things make up murder investigations. 

Purchase Link:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08SPBY6QZ

US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08SPBY6QZ

Author Bio: 

Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste. He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England. He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream. Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.

Media Links: 

Website: https://andrewsfrench.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewfrench100 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewfrench100/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A-S-French-Author-150145625006018

Review of Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions

I finishedTell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli last week and it completely broke my heart. 

Luiselli works as a translator for undocumented children coming up to the United States. Her job is to ask them questions that will determine whether or not the children will be able to get a lawyer in order to help them stay in the states. 

Most of these children do not know the answers to the questions or they are too nervous about what might happen if they are being honest. Luiselli, during this job, is not able to tell the children that the likeness that they will get a lawyer is not very high and it all comes down to the answers to the questions.

Luiselli has an insider’s perspective to the immigration process and how hard it truly is and even breaks it down into the laws of immigration and what must be done in order to stay, and once you get to stay that it isn’t always the best transition.

This book really tore at my heartstrings as we read actual answers to the forty questions, and follow one story decently far through the immigration process. It really shows just how hard it is to come legally in, and how hard it is to stay in if you come without the proper documentation. 

This deep look into immigration shows a side of America that does not have much light on. Immigration is a touchy subject that people tend to stay away from, but nothing will ever get better or change if we avoid the conversation. Luiselli’s book is such a great way to open the conversation as it dives deeper into immigration, laws, and the inhumane situations these little kids are put through, all while they don’t have any of the tools in order to understand what is happening to them. 

This book is incredibly eye opening and also just so emotional in the powerful narrative and information that the author utilizes to further the discussion of immigration.

Review of I Wish You All the Best

This week I will be reviewing I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver. This book is 329 pages and was published in May of 2019.

Ben has been hiding a big secret with who he is. When Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary they kick Ben out of the house right away. Ben turns to Hannah, their sister, who Ben hasn’t seen in 10 years. 

Hannah helps Ben find a therapist, switch schools, buys them clothes, and helps Ben figure out who they are in a safe environment. Ben also has a best friend, Nathan, who is Ben’s first friend that their able to be themselves around and the reader sees their friendship grow into something more. 

I am completely obsessed with this book and just how Ben was able to grow as a person and be comfortable in their own skin. Ben grows so much from start to finish, and the reader connects to Ben and his emotional battle to figure out their life. 

The friendship that Nathan offers Ben is also completely unbelievable. They give each other a safe environment where they can talk about anything and just be themselves. When Ben tells Nathan that they are nonbinary Nathan’s reaction of understanding and acceptance was just what Ben needed to start opening up to other people. This also sparks the relationship between the two of them that was so sweet and endearing. 

The fact that Ben’s parents confront them after kicking them out was also such an important part of the book. Without getting kicked out Ben probably never would have found this niche of people, and probably would not have found themself as well as they did. It also really showed Ben just what their parents wanted from them, and it was great to see Ben stand their ground and fight for what was right for them. 

This book is so touching and it was such an uplifting book about finding oneself and reconnecting with people that you never thought you would. I truly recommend this book. Lastly, this book is supposed to be turning into a series and I can’t wait!

Review of Six Strings

I would like to start this review by stating that this book, Six Strings by C Billie Brunson was sent to me for free, but this is not impacting my review.

I am going to post the blurb that is on the back of the book:

“Carl Percival (Percy) VanNess inherits a guitar from his father. He’s intent on learning to play and wants to use it as a roadway to fame and riches. But this guitar is not as benign as it appears. In fact, the music produced when it is played incites anyone within earshot to murder whomever is in sight.

Troubles escalate when Carl Lets his buddy Peyton borrow the guitar, Next, Mat, Peyton’s older brother, gets caught up in the same diabolical intrigues surrounding the guitar. 

Only Stacey, Carl’s enduring sweetheart, is aware and seems immune to the Gibson’s evil persuasion. Is this due to some latent magic she holds within, dumb luck, or something else entirely? Can she, with the help of her loyal Lab, Diva, convince her friends to let go of something they cherish before it tears their friendship apart? Might two Djinn token seekers who are after the guitar to fulfill their own agenda put the brakes on her efforts?”

So to start this is a genre that I love but I’m very picky about it, but I completely loved the concept of this book and the writing style. I also really enjoyed the short chapters. I love short chapters because it makes the book feel more fast paced for me. 

For the characters, Carl is such a believable teenager. He is the “too cool” high schooler that can’t tell his girlfriend how he feels. I thought this was very believable because of how feelings are looked at from guys especially in high school. Stacey, Carl’s girlfriend, is such a fun character. She is the first person that we see to put together that something is wrong with the guitar, and we see her jealousy when Carl is picking the guitar over her. At first I didn’t like that she didn’t just leave him during this time, but when we got the backstory of Stacey it all made sense and pieced together nicely. Peyton and Matt are really fun as brothers because of their dynamic. 

The descriptions and scenery were great throughout this whole book. With so much supernatural in puts and details sometimes it can be hard to imagine everything that is happening, but with this book I didn’t have that problem. This book is in the third person which works really well since we have so many people to follow and we need to see into each person’s life in order to piece all the information together. There are so many little details that add up that the reader needs to know so this point of view gives the reader insight from all the different angles. 

With the backstory of what is wrong with the guitar the people that it affects makes complete sense. I think once we get the background everything about the guitar before and after makes so much sense. There is so much suspension in this book, and I really enjoyed trying to guess what was going to happen next (even if I was wrong the whole time). 


This book  is such a great change from the normal paranormal books, and has such a unique concept, especially with the back story. I really enjoyed being thrown into the story with Carl and mostly Stacey since I was on Stacey’s side. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is definitely a book that I would reread and definitely recommend it to anyone that likes horror, paranormal, magical realism, or needs a change in their genre.

DNFing Books

DNF: Did Not Finish

TBR: To Be Read

For so long I refused to DNF books and forced myself to finish the book no matter how much I didn’t like the book. That has recently changed these past few months. 

I recently started reading Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book has been on my TBR list for so long and I was so excited to start reading it, but for some reason I just couldn’t get into the book. It started to feel like more of a chore to finish it instead of really enjoying my time reading. 

I had been seeing this book all over Bookstagram with great reviews and I really liked the premise of the book, but it just wasn’t right for me at the time. Sometimes you have to be in the right mindset for certain genres and concepts and I don’t think I was in the right mindset to read this book at this time. And that’s okay. 

It is okay to walk away from a book. It is okay to take some time away from a book and come back to it later, or not come back to it if that’s your choice. 

You should never feel bad about DNFing a book. The author of course wants you to enjoy their book, but if you’re not then don’t force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. Reading is something that should be fun and an escape from everyday life, not something that feels like a chore. 

There are so many amazing books that are waiting for you to read them that there is no reason to spend your time forcing something to be read. Think about yourself first. Will you really be getting anything from finishing that book other than being able to say you finished it? Will you ever get that time back that you spend reading and hating the book? 
One day I will go back and try to read Mexican Gothic when I am in a different headspace. As people we have many emotions and feelings and sometimes those feelings don’t align with our reading and that is okay. It is okay to not enjoy a popular book that others liked. It is okay to give a book a second chance. It is okay to not give a book a second chance. Lastly, it is okay to reread a book you have enjoyed. Always put your enjoyment with reading first.

Book Manifesto

Book Manifesto

  1. Books have the capability to change people’s lives
  2. Physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks all count as reading and should be looked at as equals
  3. Reading increases vocabulary
  4. Reading can help people fall asleep
  5. Judging people on the books or book genres that they read is a common concept that is not okay
  1. A single book can change a single person’s life, or it can change multiple people’s lives. It doesn’t matter what the book is trying to accomplish. Sometimes people feel a pull to one story, plot, or even character and they react so strongly that it can make them feel like they are not alone, or it can change how they view certain scenarios or people.
  2. No matter the form the reader uses in order to consume the book should not matter. Some people cannot read due to many reasons but they should still be able to consume books like everyone else. Ebooks are so much easier to travel with or just carry around with you so why shouldn’t it be viewed as reading if the person is still consuming the same book? No matter the form that people take to consume the book shouldn’t matter because they are still reading. Audiobooks trigger a different area of our brain when it comes to how we process it, but it uses the same process meaning that our brain is just as active with audiobooks.
  3. Reading forces readers to read words that they might not encounter any other way. The reader must then infer what the word means or look it up. This simple thing forces the reader to expand their vocabulary whether or not they realize it. It may not be a great amount of words but even one word is still learning.
  4. Reading relaxes the mind and also strains your mind in another way. Your brain is having to process what you are reading so that you can comprehend the plot, but it also strains your eyes making your eyes heavy. Reading also calms down the reader and will help with their breathing putting them in a calmer body environment. All of these things make it so that the reader is able to fall asleep faster.
  5. Juding people based on the books they read is like judging someone for the foods they eat, or the movies they watch. It honestly doesn’t make sense. Just because a genre or book is not something that you specifically like does not give you the right to judge someone because they like that genre or book. This to me is an elementary way of thinking. A way to put oneself on a pedestal and a way to think that they are better than someone else based on what their brain is consuming.

My Top Ten Favorite Books

  1. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris 
  3. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  5. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  6. Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  8. Long Way Down by Jason reynolds
  9. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  10. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin

Obviously my favorite books change all the time, but these are the books that have been on my list for a long time. I am just going to describe the books, and give a little reason as to why I think everyone should read these books or just to give them some recognition from me. 

All The Bright Places is a romance book that focuses on two teenagers that are both having a hard time with living. While they don’t seem like a likely pair they are able to bond over the things that they are not able to tell anyone else. I have read this book multiple multiple times and I cry every single time I read it. 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz gives the story of a man that tattooed the numbers on the new people coming into Auschwitz. This story is try, while it is not written from him he had Heather Morris write down his story so that other people could understand what they went through while in concentration camps. This book is short, but so impactful. 

As I Lay Dying is a book that I just really enjoy reading, with all of the different characters and depths within the book. It is a very fun read from so many points of views. 

The Poet X follows a Latina girl that is fighting with her identity as she is living in a Catholic household but she isn’t comfortable with it. She wants to be a poet, and finds herself hiding a part of herself no matter who she is with. This is such a good read, it is written in prose and I love books written in prose. It is a great coming of age story. 

Wonder is such an important read to me. We follow August who was born looking not like anyone else. He has been made fun of and people tend to ignore him so when his parents tell him he’s going to go to an in person school he has a lot of anxiety about it. We see August grow as a character, and the people around him also grow as they realize that he is just like everyone else. 

Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel that is also a memoir that deals with substance abuse. We follow the main character who is now living with his grandparents since his parents are both having issues with substances. We see the heartbreaking moments when his mother comes back only to leave again. This book puts substance abuse in a graphic way that is easy to understand what is happening, but it also makes the reader feel for the child and all that he has experienced in his life. 

Speak is about a girl that was sexually abused and now has to go to school with the person that did it. It shows how people victim blame, and don’t want to believe that the popular guy would do something like that. It is such a sad realization that this does happen a lot. This book gives a voice to so many victims and has actually got people to reach out to this author and be able to talk about what has happened to them. 

Long Way Down follows a young boy who has just lost someone he loved to a shooting after a drug deal. As he is on his way to get revenge for the death he gets into an elevator and has conversations of other people that have also died from gunshots due to drugs and how they wish they hadn’t. This makes the main character really think about what he was planning on doing. This book was so impactful because it is loosely based on the author’s own experiences. 

Persepolis is also a graphic novel and has a part two that is also one of my favorite books, but for this I am pairing them together. This is a memoir as we follow Marjane in her life pre and post-revolutionary Iran. We see the struggles her family went through before and after. We also see what her life was like when her parents sent her to Europe to escape Iran and how hard it was for her to fit in. This was a subject that I never learned much about and it really gave great background. 

A Corner of the Universe is a book I read in middle school and it still breaks my heart when I think about it. When Hattie’s uncle Adam comes to visit she realizes he is not what she was expecting. Adam has the mind of a child and has problems processing ques. The reader and Hattie is able to see all of the struggles Adam goes through when communicating and how differently people treat him. 

Have you read any of my favorite books? What would you add to the list? Marygrace’s Goodreads