Off the Map
Beck Sisters #3
St. Martin's Griffin
March 7, 2023
E-ARC / Audiobook
NetGalley / Public Library
August 7 - 19, 2023
On the road to love, you don't need a GPS...
Carla Black’s life motto is “here for a good time, not for a long time.” She’s been travelling the world on her own in her vintage Jeep Wrangler for nearly a decade, stopping only long enough to replenish her adventure fund. She doesn’t do love and she doesn’t ever go home.
Eamon Sullivan is a modern-day cartographer who creates digital maps. His work helps people find their way, but he’s the one who’s lost his sense of direction. He’s unhappy at work, recently dumped, and his one big dream is stalled out—literally.
Fate throws them together when Carla arrives in Dublin for her best friend’s wedding and Eamon is tasked with picking her up from the airport. But what should be a simple drive across Ireland quickly becomes complicated with chemistry-filled detours, unexpected feelings, and a chance at love - if only they choose it.
First of all – I grabbed this book when I first dove back into NetGalley and had zero restraint. I received an email with a few romance novels available and I requested them all. Even though I don’t particularly like this cover. (I think it’s the fact that her hair makes it look like it takes place in the 1920s or something, when it does not.) I do appreciate that the cover is actually a scene from the book. That’s not super common.
With that out of the way, this book has a lot of heart. Carla has a lot of baggage (despite traveling with very little baggage! Haha) Her father, the only parent she has, is slowly fading away from her, losing his memory to dementia or Alzheimer’s (sorry, I can’t remember which.) He doesn’t want her to watch him suffer, so he tells her to keep traveling—which was their thing—and see as much of the world together as they could. He doesn’t want her to watch him waste away and forget her.
When Carla arrives in Ireland for her BFFs wedding, the grooms brother, Eamon, picks her up. And they almost immediately jump into bed, which is something I absolutely abhor in romance novels. Buuut they won me over in the end. What starts as a fling, becomes so much more once the pair get to know one another.
Eamon is Carla’s opposite. While she’s home, she works as a bartender saving all her money to travel the rest of the time. Eamon has a well paying desk job, and has never given himself the chance to travel, despite his desire to do so. Despite being so opposite, they connect. And experiencing that relationship build up was a joy. And, as with any good book, both of these characters have to face the things in their lives that are pulling them down and make some big choices.
Bonus points for all the descriptions of Ireland. That’s a location on my bucket list, for sure!
So, do I recommend this book? Well, I plan to read books 1 and 2 in the series, so what does that tell you? 😉
It’s been, oh… eight months since I last did this. Whoops! But I’ve been pretty good at holding back and not requesting everything and anything that caught my eye.
Below, I will list the new NetGalley titles that I’ve been approved to read, the publication date and genre, a very brief summary, and why I chose this book.
Also included is my current, at time of writing the NetGalley roundup, feedback ratio. (This is the percentage of reviews I’ve submitted in comparison to the total number of books I’ve been approved for.)
In January I had a list of 15 NetGalley titles to read, of those 15 I’ve read… 9. Not too bad!
Current Feedback Ratio: 77% (up 2% since January!)
The Seaside Library (April 11, 2023) – Women’s Fiction
ABOUT: There are secrets that bring friends together, and others that drive them apart…
WHY I chose it: I’ve enjoyed Brenda Novak’s romantic thrillers, so I thought I’d try another side of her!
Enchanted to Meet Youby Meg Cabot(Sept 5, 2023) – Paranormal / Romance
ABOUT: A witchy rom-com from New York Times bestseller Meg Cabot about a plus size witch who must team up with a handsome stranger to help protect her village from an otherworldly force—but will she be able to protect her heart?
WHY I chose it: I like Meg Cabot! I like witches! Plus, everytime I read the title, I start singing Taylor Swift “I WAS ENCHANTED TO MEET YOOOOUUUU!”
Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch and Beth Revi(Oct 3, 2023) – Paranormal / Romance
ABOUT: Fritzi is a witch. Otto is a hexenjäger—a witch hunter. They team up and…. ?
WHY I chose it: The unlikely pairing of the witch and witch hunter sold me. Plus the cover is suuuuper pretty! (I’ve actually started this book and I have ZERO regrets asking NetGalley for an ARC copy!)
Insane Emperors, Sunken Cities, and Earthquake Machines by Garrett Ryan(Oct 6, 2023) – Non-Fiction / History
ABOUT: Did the ancient Greeks and Romans have conspiracy theories? Did they come close to an industrial revolution? Did they drink beer? In a series of fast-paced essays, Insane Emperors, Sunken Cities, and Earthquake Machines answers 40 questions that ancient historian Garrett Ryan has been asked in the classroom and through his popular YouTube channel ToldinStone.
WHY I chose it: Sometimes a girl just wants to learn about history!
Inheritance by Nora Roberts(Nov 21, 2023) – Paranormal / Mystery
ABOUT: Inheritance is the first in The Lost Bride Trilogy by #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts—a tale of tragedies, loves found and lost, and a family haunted for generations. Sonya discovers that not only did her father have a secret twin nobody new about, but she’s inherited a majestic Victorian house on the coast of Maine…and it just might be haunted.
WHY I chose it: Family secrets and a haunted house. Need I say more??? (Plus the cover looks like a fairy tale!)
The Couple in the Photo by Helen Cooper (Dec 5, 2013) – Drama / Mystery-Thriller
ABOUT: From the author of The Downstairs Neighbor and The Other Guest comes a propulsive suspense novel that asks how far you would go to keep a friend’s secret.
WHY I chose it: I was in the mood for an adult mystery/thriller and this one sounded interesting enough. I actually requested this and The Heiress at the same time, along with a couple others that I was denied. (That was probably for the best, TBH!)
The Heiress by Rachel Hawkins (Jan 9, 2014) – Drama / Mystery-Thriller
ABOUT: New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins returns with a twisted new gothic suspense about an infamous heiress and the complicated inheritance she left behind.
WHY I chose it: The cover was intriguing, and I love sound of all the drama surrounding the family drama.
Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands (Jan 14, 2024) – YA Fantasy
ABOUT: When mysterious faeries from other realms appear at her university, curmudgeonly professor Emily Wilde must uncover their secrets before it’s too late, in this heartwarming, enchanting second installment of the Emily Wilde series.
WHY I chose it: I read the first book this past year and enjoyed it enough to want to know what happens next for Emily and the fair folk.
So, did any of these titles catch your interest? Share in the comments!
Suddenly a Murder
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
September 5, 2023
July 12- 28, 2023
Seven friends throw a 1920s-themed party, where it's all pretend—until one of them is murdered. One of Us Is Lying meets Knives Out in this killer locked-room mystery.
Someone brought a knife to the party.
To celebrate the end of high school, Izzy Morales joins her ride-or-die Kassidy and five friends on a 1920s-themed getaway at the glamorous Ashwood Manor. There, Izzy and her friends party in vintage dresses and expensive diamonds—until Kassidy's boyfriend turns up dead.
Murdered, investigators declare when they arrive at the scene, and now every party guest is a suspect. There's the girlfriend, in love. The other girl, in despair. The old friend, forlorn. The new friend, distressed. The brooding enigma. And then, there's Izzy—the girl who brought the knife.
To find the killer, everyone must undergo a grueling interrogation, all while locked in an estate where, suddenly, the greatest luxury is innocence.
The blurb for this book compares it to One of Us is Lying and Knives Out… and while I can see the parallels, honestly, I think Suddenly a Murder is far more entertaining. I was engaged in the story from the very beginning.
Izzy is a student at a high school for rich kids, and the only reason she’s able to go there is because her mother is a teacher at the school. She and her bestie, Kassidy, are both obsessed with the 1920s and for a graduation gift, Kassidy rents out a beautiful historic house on a private island for Izzy, Kassidy, Kassidy’s boyfriend Blaine, and a group of their fellow graduates to celebrate their freedom from high school—bonus, this house was where one of their favorite 1920s movies was filmed!
Kassidy, being the dramatic young woman that she is, insists that in order for the week to be authentic, nothing modern is to be allowed on the island. That means no cellphones, no modern clothing, nothing! She’s stocked each room with period clothing for each guest and after instructing them to change, has everything modern shipped back to the main land. The week is going to be epic.
But not everything is champagne and glitter when one of them ends up dead. And we know from almost page one that Izzy brought the murder weapon to the island.
Enter the detectives who work to read between all of the lies and piece together the real story of what happened to Blaine, Kassidy’s boyfriend-of-four-years-turned-murder-victim. Everyone loved Blaine, who could do such a thing? But as the friends tell their stories, we quickly learn that more than one person has motive for murder.
To be honest, a lot of the characters blurred together. I don’t think this was poor writing, more just a me problem. I read this book in small pieces over a longer period of time than it would’ve taken me if I only read one book at a time, and when there are as many characters as this book has, and they’re all introduced relatively quickly, I sometimes struggle to keep them straight. I was able to keep up well enough and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all.
All of the characters in this book were enjoyable but my favorite was Pilar de León, the detective merely consulting on the investigation. She was a woman seemingly full of secrets, who could easily act like your best friend one moment only to arrest you the next. She was wonderful. I’d love to read more books based on her investigating crimes and mysteries.
As for the books ending…I didn’t call it. At all. I love when a book is able to literally keep me guessing until the very last pages and Lauren Muñoz succeeded in doing so. This is an author I will keep on my radar. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the cover (sorry!)
5 glorious stars for Suddenly a Murder and, hands down, one of my top reads for 2023.
* Shout out to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for a review in exchange for my honest review!
Mystery / Suspense
St. Martin’s Press
August 1, 2023
New from the #1 bestselling co-author of The Golden Couple and The Wife Between Us!
"I'm a huge fan of Sarah Pekkanen's books, and GONE TONIGHT is her best yet." —Colleen Hoover
Catherine Sterling thinks she knows her mother. Ruth Sterling is quiet, hardworking, and lives for her daughter. All her life, it's been just the two of them against the world. But now, Catherine is ready to spread her wings, move from home, and begin a new career. And Ruth Sterling will do anything to prevent that from happening.
Ruth Sterling thinks she knows her daughter. Catherine would never rebel, would never question anything about her mother's past or background. But when Ruth's desperate quest to keep her daughter by her side begins to reveal cracks in Ruth's carefully-constructed world, both mother and daughter begin a dance of deception.
I love a good mystery/suspense novel, but this one just fell flat for me.
The entire build up of Catherine believing her mother has alzheimer’s and Ruth questioning if her daughter has violent tendencies just didn’t work for me.
To be honest, most of the book I was bored. Everything happened in the past, which is filled in so slowly it was painful at times, or in the climax of the book, which I admit, was pretty good!
What would have worked better for me would’ve been if we’d learned Ruth’s story in real time, and then time jumped to the present time to learn how it ends. The format the author chose just dragged for me. I also needed more about Catherine’s father, to really establish his character, I felt he was very glossed over. He felt one dimensional.
What I did enjoy was the background of Ruth and the secrets she’s hiding. The climax was very engaging and I didn’t want to stop listening to the audiobook at that point.
Overall, this was a good story that was executed in a way that I personally did not find as enjoyable as I would’ve liked.
You Won't Believe Me
Mystery / Thriller / Horror
June 27, 2023
May 29 - June 4, 2023
Brace yourself for the unexpected in this chilling novel that will thrill suspense and horror readers alike! Willow can't remember what landed her in captivity, but she'll do anything to survive. For fans of Natasha Preston and Stephen King.
Willow is alone, confined to a bed with restraints. She can't remember how she got there…or how long she's been there.
An old lady appears in her room to feed her twice a day. Granny doesn't talk, but Willow can hear thumping from somewhere beyond her door. It's not Granny's shuffling steps. It's too loud to be Granny's cat. Is it someone? Something?
Then Granny's cat dies in Willow's room. And Granny follows a few days later. Willow will do anything to survive. But freeing herself from her bed is only the beginning… Because there is someone else in the house. Who is this mysterious teen who calls himself Elijah? And is he the reason she's hostage or the key to her escape?
When Willow wakes up tied to a bed with no memory of how she got there, she slowly begins to try and piece together what happened. She knows that a deadly virus had been wrecking havoc and that her father had been a lead scientist working on a cure. But beyond that… nothing. She’s fed every day by an elderly woman who calls herself “Granny”… until “Granny” succumbs to the deadly virus right in front of Willow, leaving her tied to a bed with nobody to help.
Except she’s not alone, there’s another captive. A teenage boy. In whispers, he explains that the world has been destroyed by the second wave of the virus. That all they have left is each other.
But, could it be true? And why can’t she remember what’s happened to her?
This book is all over the place in the very best way. You think it’s one type of book, then you realize it’s something else, only in the end to realize you were completely wrong. Some readers will absolutely hate that, but as someone who enjoys many genres, it was such a fun ride.
For much of the book, the chapters begin with text conversations between Willow and her crush from school, August, from before she found herself tied up. The significance of this isn’t truly revealed until the latter portion of the book and ooooh is it juicy!
If you’re looking for something different that will keep you guessing, this is the book for you! And with that ending, I really wish there was a sequel in the works!
The Spirit Girls
Rylan Flynn #1
May 9, 2023
April 22 - 30, 2023
“Where are you taking me?” Rylan follows the figure through the trees. The girl’s dark ponytail swings as she turns back, then walks on without answering. Deep in the woods, she disappears… and Rylan finds her body, mouth wide in a silent, final plea for help.
Rylan Flynn has always been able to see what others don’t—the restless spirits haunting Ashby, Indiana. She’s learned to live with her “gift” but sometimes she longs to escape.
The woods have always been a peaceful place for Rylan. But on a visit to her aunt’s cabin, she catches sight of a spirit in the trees. The ghost of a young woman approaches, leading Rylan to her body.
With a flood of horror, Rylan realizes that the girl, Celeste Monroe, has been murdered. An outgoing newcomer to town, Celeste had no enemies. Who on earth would want to see her dead?
When a coin carved with strange symbols is discovered in Celeste’s throat, it’s clear that a twisted, cold-blooded killer is at work.
Rylan’s abilities could be the only way to prevent further deaths. But Ashby’s handsome head detective, Ford Pierce, has made it very clear that he doesn’t want her help.
And any unexplained knowledge of the case could make Rylan the perfect suspect.
When another body is discovered and blood at the scene points to Rylan’s family, she is more determined than ever to uncover the truth. She must race against time to untangle a web of dark secrets… but can she find answers before the murderer claims another victim?
The Spirit Girls is a fun paranormal mystery novel that is very quick, easy, and enjoyable to read.
Rylan sees ghosts. She talks to them, she helps them cross over, and she has a YouTube channel (and a BFF for a camerawoman) to share her tales of ghostly encounters while also picking up clients and helping their ghosts cross over.
Rylan is a great character. She’s both easy to understand, and also complex. What I love about Rylan is that she has secrets and baggage, namely that her mother was murdered in the house and still haunts her bedroom where she was killed. (This is revealed in chapter 2, so not really a spoiler.) Rylan is also a hoarder. It’s hard to tell exactly how extreme her hoarding is, but… it’s pretty bad. I’m super curious to see how this progresses as the series goes on. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book where the protagonist has a hoarding disorder, so this was a unique and welcome addition to Rylan’s character.
In this book, Rylan becomes involved in the ritualistic murder of a teenage girl, when the ghost of said girl guides Rylan to her body and then disappears. As the bodies begin to stack up, and the murder investigation hits closer to home than she’d like, Rylan feels as though she has no choice but to solve the crime herself.
I loved the mystery in this book. I had suspicions about who the killer was, but I didn’t really know until the big reveal. I loved the characters. I loved the pacing. But I have one major gripe, that I really hope will be resolved before publication—after the first chapter or two, the author quits using contractions, leaving the dialogue feeling very stilted and unnatural. If we were talking about one character who doesn’t use contractions, that would be a character quirk. But no. This is every character from about chapter 3 til the end. It drove me batty. It wasn’t enough for me to quit the book, but it did pull me out of the story.
With that said, will I continue with this series? Absolutely! There are the beginnings of a potential romance and I’m really curious to see how that progresses and what it could mean for Rylan’s hoarding issues. And I’d love for her mother to cross over and find peace at some point.
If you can overlook the lack of contractions, this is a paranormal mystery you don’t want to miss!
Huge thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!
Whats New With Me
I think spring is finally here in Minnesota. After a brief few days in April of 70* weather, we had yet another snow storm. It was a very snowy winter, and I am forever grateful to have been recruited to a (mostly) work from home day job!
It’s finally back up to the 70’s and as I write this, I am sitting on my back patio with the sun shining and the birds chirping. I don’t think there are any sounds better than this!
Yesterday I hauled compost from the country yard waste site and topped off my raised garden bed, and today I planted some squash seeds (Kuri and Sunrise varieties) that I saved from some squash I bought from the farmers market last year. I’m hoping I get a nice yield, as I’m giving up half my raised garden bed for this trial! (The last time I grew squash, pumpkin, and melon, it was in the ground in another part of my yard that we have grassed over.) The other half of my raised bed will be home to some peas, beans, peppers, and 1-2 tomato plants (last year I had maybe 5 tomato plants and soooo many went to waste because I couldn’t consume them that quickly!) I’m very excited to start growing veggies again.
In the writing world, I’m (very) slowly re-reading Something I’m Good At and taking notes so I don’t make any continuity errors in the yet-to-be-titled stand alone sequel. After essentially 4 years of zero inspiration/motivation to flex my creative muscles with writing, I think I’m ready. I have a lofty goal to finish this book before the end of 2023, but let’s be honest, that’s unlikely. Once I finish my notes from book 1, maybe I’ll set myself some shorter goals, such as: Complete Outline by ___. Write X chapters by ___. You get the drift.
Also in the writing world, I have about 18,000 words written in my “monster” book that I started a few years ago and have been revisiting from time to time. It’s also a YA romance. I’ve hit a wall though, so that’s on the back burner while I work on the SIGA sequel.
In life, like I said before, I’m loving my WFH job. My manager/supervisor are great. The work is typically not too challenging, so my stress level is way down from my previous job. And getting to sit outside on my patio and work in the spring/summer is so good for the soul. I’m also pretty good at my job, so that’s always nice, right?
I’m also very excited because in June I’ll be attending the Taylor Swift Eras Tour in Minneapolis. I have my Folklore/Evermore outfit ready to go! (I’m low key keeping my eye out for cheap tix for the second show. Don’t tell my husband! 🤫) I also won tickets from the radio to see Ed Sheeran in Minneapolis in August, so I’m pretty stoked to take my 16 year old to their first ever concert… and all it’ll cost me is parking!
Aside from that, my time these days is spent keeping my house standing, driving my youngest to lessons, trying to eat healthy and get back in the exercise habit (I’m trying running again… Ahhh!), and working my publishing side gig for Melange Books (and its imprints, Satin Romance and Fire & Ice Young Adult Books). I love the work that I do for them—cover design, web updates, and formatting—and honestly, if it paid the bills I would quit my day job in a heartbeat!
So… that’s what’s new! Leave a comment below if you have anything exciting happening in your life!
Zando Young Readers
April 11, 2023
April 2 - 17, 2023
Back to the Future meets The Joy Luck Club in this YA contemporary romance about a Korean American girl sent back to the ’90s to (reluctantly) help her teenage mom win Homecoming Queen.
Being a first-generation Asian American immigrant is hard. You know what’s harder? Being the daughter of one. Samantha Kang has never gotten along with her mother, Priscilla—and has never understood her bougie-nightmare, John Hughes high school expectations. After a huge fight between them, Sam is desperate to move forward—but instead, finds herself thrown back. Way back.
To her shock, Sam finds herself back in high school . . . in the ’90s . . . with a 17-year-old Priscilla. Now this Gen Z girl must try to fit into an analog world. She’s got the fashion down, but everything else is baffling. What is “microfiche”? What’s with the casual racism and misogyny? And why does it feel like Priscilla is someone she could actually be . . . friends with?
Sam's blast to the past has her finding the right romance in the wrong time while questioning everything she thought she knew about her mom . . . and herself. Will Sam figure out what she needs to do to fix things for her mom so that she can go back to a time she understands? Brimming with heart and humor, Maurene Goo’s time-travel romance asks big questions about what exactly one inherits and loses in the immigrant experience.
I went into this book hoping for all the 90s nostalgia. The book takes place in 1995, and I certainly got the 90s vibes. It was so much fun flashing back to the time of my childhood. (In 1995 I was a whole ten years old.)
Sam and her mother, Pricilla, do NOT get along. Pricilla was the first generation Korean-American living with a single mother barely making ends meet, trying to live the stereotypical American dream, while Sam is a Gen Z social justice/climate warrior who grew up very privileged. After a huge fight with her mom, Sam is thrown back in time to 1995. Sam is convinced she needs to help her mom win homecoming queen, then all will be well in the future.
The “magic” in this book is light, existing only as the plot device to throw Sam together with her mother, as a teenager. This really is a story of a mother/daughter relationship, with a romance side plot thrown in for good measure.
As someone who was once a teenage girl herself, as well as being a mother to a teenager now, I really felt that I could see the POV of both Sam and Pricilla. I definitely identified a little more with Pricilla, probably because we’re both millennials. Sam actually annoyed me quite a bit by taking every little thing she sees as not politically correct personally.
I loved the romance that was thrown in. I’m not going to say anything more on that front, except that I really enjoyed it.
The ending to this book was perfect. I can’t say how it ends, but I really liked it. Everything fell together exactly as it should.
Four Found Dead
Natalie D. Richards
May 2, 2023
December 30, 2022 - January 29, 2023
At the movie theater where Jo works, the last show has ended. But the nightmare is just beginning.
Tonight, Tempest Theaters is closing forever, the last remaining business in a defunct shopping mall. The moviegoers have left, and Jo and her six coworkers have the final shift, cleaning up popcorn and mopping floors for the last time.
But after an unexpected altercation puts everyone on edge, the power goes out. Their manager disappears, along with the keys to the lobby doors and the theater safe, where the crew's phones are locked each shift. Then, the crew's tension turns to terror when Jo discovers the dead body of one of her co-workers.
Now their only chance to escape the murderer in their midst is through the dark, shuttered mall. With its boarded-up exits and disabled fire alarms, the complex is filled with hiding places for both pursuer and pursued. In order to survive this night, Jo and her friends must trust one another, navigate the sprawling ruins of the mall, and outwit a killer before he kills again.
This is my third book by Natalie D. Richards so I was really sad that this was a 3 star read for me. Granted, the other two books I read were in 2016 (My Secret to Tell and One Was Lost), and maybe I’ve changed as a readers since then. That could be a part of it, but I do think there’s more to it than that.
While Richards’ previous novels were mystery/suspense… Four Found Dead reads more like the plot to a teen slasher flick. Because that’s what it is. A group of teenagers trapped in an abandoned mall with a killer. There were no real surprises and it all felt pretty repetitive.
One thing Richards’ does that I enjoy is include little snippets that don’t belong in the story, sort of as clues to something else that’s going on. And in the other two books I really enjoyed those. I enjoyed them in this book as well, but in the end they didn’t have the same impact as the previous books I read.
This book is told through the eyes of Jo. The movie theatre she’s worked at for years is shuttering its doors for the last time, and all she and her friends/coworkers want to do is close things up and head out to enjoy some late night pancakes. But then things get weird and before they know it, one of Jo’s friends is dead. Together, the group must illude a killer.
This could be awesome. But we know who the killer is from the get go. And we’re never truly given a solid motive for their actions.
What I did enjoy was the nostalgia, for me, of movie theatre employment. I sold popcorn and movie tickets myself as a teen my senior year of high school through college. To this day, it was probably the greatest job I’ve ever had. Movie theatre friendships are built to last. Alas, that nostalgia wasn’t enough to save this book for me.
I just needed…. more. More motive revealed. More build up to the start of the killing spree. And more variation of what happens while they’re on the mall.
I’m willing to give Richards another chance. She has plenty of books to choose from!
Have you read Four Found Dead? Did it work for you?
Mr. & Mrs. Witch
St. Martin's Griffin
March 7, 2023
February 18 - March 10, 2023
In Mr. & Mrs. Witch, the next novel from bestselling author Gwenda Bond, a couple discovers at the altar the surprising secret identities they’ve kept from each other.
Savannah Wilde is a witch, a very powerful one—an identity that only her fellow witches know. Following a whirlwind romance that surprised herself and her family, Savvy is all set to marry the love of her life. But she isn’t the only one with a secret that needs to be kept, even from her soon-to-be husband.
Griffin Carter is a top agent for a clandestine organization that, well, used to primarily hunt witches, but now mainly tries to shut down supernatural threats their own way. He can’t wait to lay his eyes on the woman he’s about to spend the rest of his life with.
As Savvy walks down the aisle to Griffin, the wedding quickly goes from blessed day to shit show when their true identities are revealed. To say there’s bad blood between their factions is putting it mildly. Savvy and Griffin are tasked to take the other out, but when they discover a secret that could take down both of their agencies, they realize the only way to survive is to team up. With assassins hot on their trail, will Savvy and Griffin make it out alive to try again at ‘I do’?
To be honest, I struggled with this book in the beginning. The third person present tense was, throughout the entire reading, at times jarring. I’m usually fine with first person present, but third person present was just…. a lot.
As you can see, I still gave this book 4 stars, because the story was lovely. The title is what drew me to requesting an ARC of this book from NetGalley, assuming it was an intentional play on the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And it totally was.
Savvy is a witch and a member of C.R.O.N.E., an organization that uses their powers to help the ordinary, non-magical populace from the supernatural. Meanwhile, Griffon is a member of H.U.N.T.E.R, an organization of mortals who use technology to combat those same supernatural threats. Throughout time, C.R.O.N.E. and H.U.N.T.E.R. have been enemies, but the last 300 or so years have been spent in a tentative truce, each side waiting for the other to do something to bring on full war once more.
So, needless to say, when Savvy and Griffin fall in love, they keep their secret identities to themselves. Members of secret organizations aren’t known for blabbing about what they do.
And then the wedding day comes. And who should attend but the very leaders of each organization, sending what should be a blissful day into utter chaos.
The book is told alternating between Savvy and Griffon’s POVs, as well as both present day and the timeline leading from the day they meet up ’til the doomed nuptials.
This was a fun book. I really loved reading both Savvy and Griff’s POVs of their love story from the beginning, as well as the aftermath of the wedding-interrupted. I really didn’t know where the story was going, but I loved where we ended up. I can’t imagine any other ending for this tale.
My only question for the author is… will we get to read a follow up with certain other side characters?
The Last Beekeeper
Julie Carrick Dalton
March 7, 2023
January 31 - February 18, 2023
Julie Carrick Dalton's The Last Beekeeper is a celebration of found family, an exploration of truth versus power, and the triumph of hope in the face of despair.
"Fans of Delia Owens will swoon to find their new favorite author.” (Hank Phillippi Ryan)
It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind—find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated. There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as their own. While she initially feels threatened, the group soon becomes her newfound family, offering what she hasn't felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it's time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future.
But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honey bee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn't understand, but she can't shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father's missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha's fragile security and threaten the lives of her newfound family—or it could save them all.
Julie Carrick Dalton's The Last Beekeeper is a celebration of found family, an exploration of truth versus power, and the triumph of hope in the face of despair. It is a meditation on forgiveness and redemption and a reminder to cherish the beauty that still exists in this fragile world.
The Last Beekepeeris the story of Sasha, the daughter of the world’s last known beekeeper. The story takes place in the future, after we terrible humans have killed all of the pollinators with the use of pesticides and GMOs. The story takes place a decade or so after the last of the bees, the last of all of the pollinators, have died. Without pollinators, the food system collapsed. People starved; died.
Sasha’s father was keeping bees illegally, and due to an extremely unfortunate event, was discovered and put on trial and sent to prison, leaving 11-year old Sasha to live first with her uncle, and then in a group home. Fast forward, Sasha has aged out of the system and has returned home to the farmhouse her grandparents built, which had been seized by the government upon her fathers imprisonment and has been empty and neglected all the years she’s been gone.
It’s at her old home that Sasha finds a group of squatters who reluctantly let her stay for a week, which turns into a month, and so on. All the while, Sasha keeps her true identity a secret. She’s only gone home to find the research she knowsher father has hidden somewhere on the property. If her new found-family finds out who she is, she fears they’ll turn on her and kick her out. She’s spent her whole life being hated for being the daughter of the Last Beekeeper.
This book gave me a whole range of feels from sadness to optimism to anger to joy. Overall though, this book gave me a sense of peace and calm. The world Sasha lives in is depressing and difficult, but at the same time, she’s living the simple life. She’s tending her garden to feed her and her friends, she’s riding a bike to get around. It just sounds… peaceful. Plus, Sasha’s connection to the bees throughout her childhood is beautiful. I’m terrified of bees, but this book has made me respect them just a little more.
Chapters alternate between Sasha as a 20-something, and Sasha as a child. Slowly we learn what led to her fathers imprisonment. And the other secrets he’s harboring.
This is a beautiful book. I would absolutely read this again and will recommend it to everyone.
The Last Beekeeper is on it’s way to being my top read of 2023, and the year has barely started!