Sunday, July 24, 2022

Two Truths and a Lie - April Henry

Title: Two Truths and a Lie 
Author: April Henry
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 2.5 Stars 


A group of teens are trapped in an old motel with a murderer in this chilling YA mystery by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.

Nell has always wanted to be an actor, but doubts her ability. As a member of her school’s theater program, she prefers working backstage. On the way to a contest, an unexpected blizzard strands her acting troupe in a creepy motel. Soon they meet a group of strangers from another high school—including the mysterious and handsome Knox, who insists they play the game Two Truths and a Lie. When it’s Nell’s turn, she draws a slip of paper inked in unfamiliar handwriting:

I like to watch people die.
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed.

Suddenly a night of harmless fun turns into a matter of life and death. As guests go missing, it becomes clear that a murderer is hiding in their midst ready to strike again. In a room full of liars and performers, the truth is never quite what it seems. Nell is going to have to act like her life depends on it—because it does.


Two Truths and a Lie had an interesting premise, and there were parts that were definitely thrilling and scary.  I don't know if I'd read it again, but it was a good one time read.  

I personally felt like it was pretty easy to figure out exactly who had committed the murders in the 80's.  BUT that's just me.  

Other than figuring out who exactly the bad guy was, I did enjoy trying to figure out what that person was going to try and when.  I thought there was some good tension and thrill in that aspect.  

Since I know what midwest winters can be like, I found the scene of them being trapped in a blizzard totally plausible.  (It happens - ask me about the night we spent in a school during my freshman year at a speech tournament.)  The weird creepy motel added even more to the story and made me never want to stay in some country motel ever!

When both groups of kids arrived at the motel, one group had an actual teacher with them, and the other group had a student teacher with them.  The actual teacher went to bed, stating she was going to take a sleeping pill and was not to be woken up until the following morning under any circumstances.  The student teacher stayed up all night with the kids and played games with them.  Don't be like either one of these adults.  That was very frustrating to me.  They both should have done a better job supervising the kids during that first night. 

I liked Travis's development throughout the book.  He had some things going on, but I think he was really a sweet guy who just wanted to make other people happy.  

The book was a quick read, and scary enough to keep me hooked.  If you want something that's thrilling yet quick, check it out.  

If you've read the book already, let me know what you thought! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Eyes of the Forest - April Henry


Title: Eyes of the Forest
Author: April Henry 
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 2 Stars 



After a bestselling fantasy author disappears, only his biggest fan believes he’s in danger and has the courage to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery with a chilling psychological twist.

Bridget is RM Haldon's biggest fan. His epic fantasy series, Swords and Shadows, created a lifeline between Bridget and her mom as she lost her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at his only book signing, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he'd created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write his final book. Now, Haldon is missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s clues and save him before it’s too late?

Master mystery-writer April Henry weaves another heart-stopping young adult thriller in this story that seamlessly blends suspense with fan culture. For readers of Courtney Summers and Karen McManus.


I was told there'd be a thriller. There was, in fact, no thriller.  

This is the first April Henry book I've read, so I didn't know what to expect.  The only reason I rated this book two stars was because it was not, in my opinion, a thriller.  It was not this heart pounding, "That person's been kidnapped" story. Rather, it was a book we go into fully knowing that the author has been kidnapped, and who did it.

Bridget, the books MC, is a superfan of a local fantasy author whose books have been popular since before she was born.  She's continued holding them close to her heart because she read them with her mom, who died when Bridget was 12.  In the second chapter we learn that Bob, author of this beloved fantasy series, organized his kidnapping with a local teen - Derrick.  Bob knows Derrick because Derrick's mom is Bob's cleaner/secretary. 

Anyway, during this "kidnapping" Derrick brings Bob things, and forces Bob to write, then sells the writing to people in the dark web.  It's not until halfway through the book that Bridget, who was apparently drafted into helping Bob keep track of his books because she has an encyclopedic knowledge base of said book, realizes that something is wrong and emails Bob. This leads him to email her, and it takes her just as long to realize the email is a code and MY GOD IT WAS SO SLOW AND SO INSIPID. 

So, before I go and spoil anything else (sorry, kind of) let me tell you about the following:

The Characters. They were not well developed at all.  They were all pretty one dimensional with no depth and nothing to make me care about them, not even a little bit.  There was literally not a single character in this book that I genuinely liked and wanted to root for.  

The Writing.  Mediocre at best.  There was just enough there to make me want to finish just so I could see HOW Bob got out, but otherwise, the phrasing of things just fell flat. 

The Story.  BORING.  The last time I was this bored reading a book that was supposed to be thrilling was when I read Lucy Foley's The Guest List.  When you know what's happening from the very beginning, it sort of takes all the fun out of it.

Friends, if you've read this book, I'm sorry.  And if you haven't read this book, DON'T.  

Drop some recs for awesome YA and adult thrillers and horror in the comments if you've got them!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Chef's Kiss - TJ Alexander


Title: Chef's Kiss 
Author: TJ Alexander 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars 


A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager in this deliciously fresh and witty queer rom-com.

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.

Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).


I absolutely adored this book.  The author did a great job of melding together two of my favorite things: Food and Romance. 

Simone and Ray were wonderfully written characters and I fell in love with both of them.  They were both well written and well developed.  It was fantastic to watch them both go through the changes they did and the self discovery they both experienced throughout the novel.  Simone really opened up and learned that it was okay to be more open not only with other people, but also with herself.  Ray had a lot to do with that because they were so open and so honest with Simone about who they were and what they wanted, and I think that showed Simone that she could be herself, even in the face of complete jackasses like Chase.

Speaking of Chase, he was one character in this book that I absolutely LOATHED.  He was a toady, ignorant jerk.  Ray came out to Simone as non-binary.  They then made the decision to come out to the rest of the employees of The Discerning Chef.  Most of the people who worked there were like "Okay, cool.  You are who you are." But Chase and some of the TDC execs were so awful to Ray.  These people would intentionally misgender Ray, using feminine pronouns for them, instead of they/them pronouns.  Chase would also repeatedly use Ray's dead name even after Ray told him they are called Ray.  It was absolutely infuriating.  Simone and several other employees really had Ray's back, and really worked hard to make sure they were all open to and accepting of Ray. 

I feel like this story was really well developed, and it drew me in from the beginning.  It also made me wish that Ray and Simone were real people doing real videos about beer and food because the videos they made together in the book sounded epic!  The author did a great job of developing the romance and chemistry between Simone and Ray, and also did a wonderful job of showing how hard it was for Ray to come out and be vulnerable in a place where a lot of people didn't accept them for who they are. 

Watching the characters get to know each other and develop these awesome bonds of friendship throughout the book was great.  (And, of course, the more between Ray and Simone.) It was great the way this helped them really stand together when Ray was being discriminated against because of who they were.  

I loved the slow burn aspect of the book as well.  You could tell that Ray and Simone were attracted to each other, but it was great that this book really took the time to develop that relationship and have those characters really get to know each other.  I'm not a big fan of insta-love, so having this slow development of the relationship was amazing.

Overall, this was a great read that I'd recommend to anyone who loves romance.  

If you've already read this book let me know what you thought of it in the comments!