Words Unsaid – K.G. MacGregor

Rating: 5 out of 5.
A different but at the same time familiar new entry to the Shaken series from MacGregor. It’s hard to say you enjoy a book when it contains such difficult subject matter, but it had lots of great features that I really liked.

I read all five books in this series one after the other, so it’s possible I’ll have a slightly different opinion than someone else who read this with some time between book four and five.

This review isn’t going to be as detailed as I normally would – as the storyline is too important, and the surprise too much a part of how you feel about the storyline.

The biggest difference between this and the other books in the series is that we get an additional point of view in the narrative, that of Lily and Anna’s oldest son – Andy. It’s an important difference. The reason Andy goes missing is unfortunately all too familiar in the news nowadays, but it’s an important story to tell. I enjoy books where I learn new things, even though it’s fiction, so this was right in my wheelhouse.

Despite the subject matter and the changes in viewpoint, I found lots of similarities in the book that definitely make it a great addition to a series I’ve come to really enjoy. The openness and communication between Anna and Lily is still paramount. I love their relationship, their relationship with their kids and their families.

The book is packed with lots of things going on, and is set approx. 10 years after book number four. It would make for a good final part of the series if this is to be it, but I wouldn’t mind one more either.

If you haven’t read this series I’d definitely recommend it, but start at the beginning. I think this could be read as a standalone, but you’d miss so much about how Lily and Anna got here, and a big part of the enjoyment for me in this book, was the continuation of their journey together.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Zero Chill – Carolyn Elizabeth

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I read both Dirt Nap and Zero Chill one after the other, and I have to say it was great to immerse myself in the world of Corey and Thayer for a while.

They’re are now living together in Thayer’s lake house, trying to live a more peaceful life than their first six months together has given them so far. I liked that Elizabeth didn’t choose to move the time forward significantly, that we get to experience them healing and moving on from previous events.

As with all Elizabeth books, the characters are really well written, and the plot moves along at a nice pace. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Thayer’s Nana, but this is true for all three books. The new character additions add humour and richness to the storyline, adding a slightly different but nonetheless interesting focus.

Zero Chill comes with lots of intrigue and mystery, but not as much peril as Dirt Nap – something which works really well for this narrative. Elizabeth mentions that this is her pandemic book in the acknowledgements and I felt like this was deliberately less intense than previous instalments.

It gives lots more time to explore the relationship between Corey and Thayer, and for the quiet moments where they get to really explore what it means to them to still be together after the events of Gallows Humor and Dirt Nap. Reading this made me realise why I love it when we’re gifted with a series about a great couple – it isn’t just about the meet cute and the whirlwind romance, it’s about how they stick with it and grow together.

This wasn’t my favourite of the three books, but I’m genuinely hoping this isn’t it for the series. I want more Corey and Thayer, but I also want to see where things go for Rachel and Nora.

I would highly recommend this, but make sure you read the other two books in the series first.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Across the Hall – Kat Jackson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
This was a nice easy read that I enjoyed a lot.

Caitlin is recently divorced, moved into a new condo next door to her best friend, and about to begin a new job as a substitute English teacher. The only thing she’s interested in right now is work.

Mallory is a history teacher with a reputation for being difficult and unapproachable to the rest of the faculty, but there’s something about her that draws Caitlin to her.

I’ll read a blurb to pick the books I want to review – but after that I don’t revisit them before I start the book, so for the first chapter or so I thought this book was going to go very differently than it did. I’m glad. The book I thought it was going to be would probably have been very good – but I like this narrative more!

I liked the slow burn direction the narrative takes. Whilst Mallory is depicted as cold, and oftentimes pulls away from Caitlin, prolonging the slow burn aspect, I liked that it never felt like either Caitlin or Mallory actually broke from their characters. The relationship progression felt quite natural to me – but perhaps it’s because I’m a bit of an armadillo myself!

One thing for me that I did struggle with was some of the character names. A couple of the secondary characters have names that are very similar to Mallory, and in some of the school scenes I had to slow down my reading in order to ensure I fully kept track of what was going on.

Caitlin’s ex plays a part in the storyline, and I thought Jackson did a good job of keeping this interesting, causing tensions on both sides of the relationship, and providing closure in a way that didn’t set up for any further dramatic conflict.

I also really liked Catilin’s best friend Lina. Their friendship is great and ensures you get to know Caitlin further, plus the way Jackson depicts her experiences, both in the romantic sense, and the military, added to the storyline for me. I wish we’d had a bit more closure on her storyline though.

I’ll definitely be going back to check out Jackson’s first book, and I’m looking forward to what might come next.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cure for Insomnia – Laina Villeneuve

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I found this to be surprisingly enjoyable. It’s my first Villeneuve book and reading the blurb I wasn’t sure if this would be too science heavy for me. Instead I found that the science was one of the things I really liked about the book.

Karla is a research scientist, spending the majority of her time working on a research project to cure blindness in those with diabetes. Her family are convinced that she works too much, and when she is volunteered to help her niece with a sleep study for her science fair, the conclusion is that she needs a girlfriend.

Remi is a judge at the science fair. She’s not sure a relationship is the right thing for her, but she’s just as intrigued by Karla as Karla is by her.

The background characters in this really helped make the narrative for me. I loved how they made the story not just about the romance and kept things really interesting. The use of these characters, especially Karla’s niece and the student she is mentoring, not to mention her amusing best friend, kept the narrative moving at a decent pace and kept me interested.

The science discussions that Karla has are depicted in a way that is not so bogged down in terminology that a lay-person can’t understand the meaning behind the scenes. I also especially liked how Villeneuve used Karla’s science and research background to allow her to communicate effectively with Remi’s brother.

Whilst I found some of the communication breakdowns between the MCs frustrating, I could understand why they happened the way they did and Remi’s reactions to the things that took place.

I wanted more from the ending. I’m not a fan of the conflict, everyone get back together, we don’t see the happy for now fully taking place, and to me that’s how this ended. I wanted more of them starting to learn to be a family, how they fully integrated properly into each others lives, that kind of thing.

I’ll definitely want to read more of Villeneuve in the future and would recommend this to romance fans.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One Little Yes – Jamey Moody

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Having enjoyed the Your Way series, I was definitely looking forward to reading One Little Yes, and it didn’t disappoint. Whilst it was missing something for me to be a five star book, I thought Moody did a great job of looking at the characters situations and approaching them from a different point of view.

Gina needs a kidney transplant. She’s had kidney disease since she was a child, and the time has finally come to look for a donor. At her best friends New Years party she meets Angel, a loner workaholic, who instantly catches her eye.

I liked both characters a lot. I especially liked how Moody dealt with Gina’s embarrassment about having to ask her friends to support her and get tested to be a donor – it’s done in a sympathetic way that doesn’t inspire feelings of sorrow for Gina.

The growth in both Gina and Angel’s feelings for each other, and the acceptance of their past reasons for not letting themselves connect with other people is also done well.

i liked the cast of characters that make up their friendship groups, and the addition of the ‘Rainbow Warriors’ from the LGBTQ+ youth group is a nice touch in giving us more opportunities to get to know Gina.

There’s no crazy conflict, a heartwarming ending and genuine communication between the pair, making this a nice romance to read when you need a bit of a book hug.

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.