#BookReview In The Dark by Cara Hunter

I discovered Cara Hunter years ago through Goodreads and ever since I’ve been on the hunt for her novels. I accidentally came across one of them in a local store. They normally don’t even sell books! But there was In The Dark perched on top of a little display. I grabbed it, speed walked as fast as I could and bought this book. It sat on my shelf as I admired it, and finally got the nerve to picked it up. The wait was DEFINITELY worth it. All caps, bold, italicize – let’s make this clear. In The Dark by Cara Hunter is a delightfully addicting thriller for mystery fans.

Cara Hunter has a special voice when it comes to thrillers. There are no chapters – the story just keeps moving. There’s constant movement, a fast pace and twists and turns all over. Suspects are introduced and hinted at along the way. Reader sleuths will have fun trying to nail down who did what with who throughout this book. Who kidnapped the girl and her child? Who killed another person? Was there an affair? Is the older man crazy or does he actually have dementia? Why are all of these people so suspicious?!

A young woman and her child are found in a basement. This is shocking and sudden, but links to deaths of women in the past. Everyone wonders if this is the missing woman that was presumably kidnapped years ago… But what if she’s not? The story unwinds to bring us many suspects who have likely cause for this behaviour. Abusive marriages, desperate affairs, greedy relatives after wills and deceit will bring forth the suspect… But with so many suspects, is it only one person? Or is all of this nonsense connected?

DI Adam Fawley’s books are super intriguing. They glue me to every page and it’s really hard not to binge the entire book. I couldn’t get enough of the thrills, twists and turns Cara puts into this book. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves mysteries and thrillers. The character development is also on point. I loved how Cara painted these pictures of how everyone is not perfect and how we need to think about all of the information we’ve been given. It felt like I was a detective alongside Adam Fawley and his crew. It’s an absolute delight for thriller fans like myself.

Overall, this is yet another winning book! I highly recommend it and will continue to support Cara Hunter. Who doesn’t love sneaking away into an amazingly written book?

Five out of five stars.

Want to join in the thrill ride? Grab this book now:

Check out Cara’s socials by clicking on the links below:
Goodreads Author Page
Twitter: @CaraHunterBooks

Looking for more thrilling reads to fill up your TBR? Check out some of my other faves featured on my blog:
Close to Home by Cara Hunter
Spiral by Khaled Talib
Wrong Place by Michelle Davies

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow me on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community by Steven Knipp et al.

If you’re looking for a book that will stir your emotions but also remind you that you’re not alone, this is it!

Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community is a delightful book with many short stories within its pages.

Background: GenPRIDE is a nonprofit I had not heard of before I picked up this book. It sounds like it’s doing fantastic work by focusing on helping the lives of midlife and older LGBTQIA+ people. And, fun fact, individuals from this group wrote this book! So that’s pretty darn cool, if you ask me. This book helped build a community and I am absolutely honoured to be able to pick this book up!

This book starts out with a breathtaking and beautiful dedication to Kevin Charles Patz. He was not only a writer in this book, but a good friend of the other writers. The dedication was heartwarming and made me smile. I’m sad to hear that Kevin has passed, but I’m glad he lived so fondly in others hearts.

The feelings this book gives is just insane. You’ve felt what these authors have felt, you’ve just maybe not known how to express them. The anxiety of people, the feeling of pure loneliness – having someone write those out and see that I’m not alone was an amazing coping mechanism for myself. Especially in these wild times – quarantine and pandemic – knowing that I’m not the only one feeling these crazy feelings is nice and soothing. You hate seeing other people having these feelings, but at least you know you’re not alone.

The heartbreak of Do Young’s Ghost hit home a little too hard. The pain of learning someone you love is dying from a source that isn’t kind… It hurts. My heart goes out to Greg. We can sit in the same boat together.

Hiding yourself from others or hating what you have to hide – Jenny, you give me strength and hope that I can be who I strive to be.

Loss from Steven Knipp, Hope’s story of birthdays, Shayla’s story of addiction and Linda’s purely incredible comment – “Why don’t people use non-gendered pronouns when they have doubts” is an age old question for me. Funny story, I used to teach classes and couldn’t always tell what names matched genders. Oftentimes, I would call the kids “Dude” as a non-gendered term as I was learning what names/nicknames they liked being called and what pronouns they went by. Dude was always an incredible non-gendered term in the world of children. That sentence reminded me of the amazing times I had back then, what a nostalgia trip that was!

Overall, this is a beautiful set of stories. I hope this group writers more and I’m able to pick up all of their books. This is a mesmerizing, must read on my list!

My summary sentence for the whole book: It amazes me how writing can soothe the soul and bring people together.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the editor, Jennifer Haupt, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find this book by clicking on the following links:

Looking for more non-fiction and feeling-full reads to spice up your life? Check out some of my other faves that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt et al
#BookReview Produce Poetry or Die by Narada Voux Sanders
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Wedding Peach by Nao Yazawa

Wedding Peach by Nao Yazawa is a unique, little manga that gave me major Sailor Moon vibes!

Growing up, I loved Sailor Moon, Winx Club, Magical Melodies and all of those other girl power stories. So, it was only natural I’d move towards this book.

If you cross bred Sailor Moon with weddings, I’m convinced you’d get this book! In this little, lovely manga, you’ll find a story packed full of girl power, pretty dresses and love!

For me, this isn’t the best manga I’ve ever read. It’s pretty beat for beat what I’ve read in other girl power manga stories – girls with powers, romantic love interests, friendship, bad guy fighting, etc. Peach learns about her powers, suddenly is a super awesome fighter and starts taking care of the world of love! The boy she likes is a jerk, but man is he handsome! This is definitely a YA manga!

Despite these little tropes, I still think it’s very fun and a nice read to get your mind away from the world. As long as you understand this is almost like a B-rated version of Sailor Moon, you’ll enjoy it.

If you love manga and girl power, I’d highly recommend this book. I think it’s just too cute to pass up. I love a great manga that is fun, fluffy and easy to enjoy. I could have easily binged it, but I decided to take my time. it’s pretty rare for me to pick up a manga so I wanted to make it count!

Three out of five stars!


Check out this fantabulous book on:


If you love fun and fantasy, here’s some other books you may enjoy:
#BookReview Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
#BookReview Seizure by Kathy Reichs


Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms by Kiyohisa Tanaka

Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1 is an absolutely adorable manga!

I truly loved this little manga and I cannot get enough of it! It’s sweet, fast paced, adorable and magical. It’s also super relatable since it’s dealing with outcast-like characters!

Nid, a young dragonewt, comes across a human girl named Juana. They do not speak the same language and Juana is an unknown species to Nid. Nid is an anxious fellow who doesn’t fit in and is a carnivore among herbivores. He feels misplaced yet somewhat familial with Juana. He decides to go on a quest to help his new friend.

Nid is our eye into the story. We see Juana and watch her interact with the dragons, but Nid is the true lead of this story. His frustrations, anxieties and sense of adventure are all present. It’s really fun to see the non-human side of things for once. Plus, making Nid so relatable to the population of readers that is going to read this book is wickedly smart.

This book is super heart warming and sweet. I need the remainder of this series ASAP. It’s just so kind and lovely and everything I need during a stressful time. It’s a great and happy way to escape everything going on right now. I will say that this book will not be for everything. It did seem kinda niche, but I still think it’s lovely and everything I needed and wanted it to be. Additionally, I could see middle graders, YA readers and adults loving this story. It’s universal for it’s age group.

Also, I love the art style of this manga. The cover itself drew me in and then the illustrations kept me there. It’s colourful, fun and whimsical. I love it!

Five out of five stars!

Check out this book on:


If you like fantasy and manga, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you’ll love:
#BookReview The Boy Who Cried Ghost by Richard Clark
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
#BookReview Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell

Nothing Is Strange or everything is strange?

Mike Russell is a master at oddball books. I always go into these books not knowing what to expect and come out with my mind blown. It’s a similar feeling to watching David Bowie music videos or trying to come up with a valid WandaVision theory (Mephisto or Magneto?).

This selection of short stories is an easy to read and mind boggling adventure. You can jump in and out without the need to worry or fear that you’ll forget something. Each story stands alone and will mess with your mind (in a good way, I promise). This book will grab your attention and keep in the a strange and exciting way. If you love bizarre and want to be enticed, welcome to the world of Mike Russell.

I really enjoyed these stories, if I’m being honest. Their kooky, odd, curious, bizarre, strange and all of the other synonyms you can come up with. It’s the oddity of Alice in Wonderland – it’s delightfully fun yet makes you question reality. The absurdity is what makes it so much fun. Is there meaning there? What is normality anymore?

My personal favourites: Cream Tea, The Diaries of Sun City, and Dunce. The entire book has stories about love, death and grief, some tentacles, miracles and insanity.

This will definitely be a niche book! It’s not for every reader and that’s okay. The books aren’t always straight forward so it can be hard to read in that respect. Either way, these stories will make you grin or grimace in a world full of fun.

Four out of five stars.

I received the book for free from StrangeBooks in exchange of an honest review. Thank you yet again for another lovely and mind boggling book.

Go give this book a gander:
Goodreads: Nothing is Strange

Check out the fabulous world of Mike Russell by clicking on the links below:
Twitter: @strangebookseye
Goodreads: Mike Russell

If you love this book (or even the review) clickity clack some of these other links that will take you to other books you might love:
#BookReview ExtraHumans by Susan Jane Bigelow
#BookReview Strungballs by Mike Russell
#BookReview Strange Medicine by Mike Russell

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

**Featured image/cover provided by the Publisher – StrangeBooks.

#BookReview His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac

His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac is a thrilling and horrific zombie novel.

In the last year or so I’ve been reading more zombie books. It’s kind of amusing because I’m not the biggest zombie apocalypse fan, yet I just kept picking them up. People lent me zombie books, I accidentally stumbled upon them or I would randomly pick a book off my shelf and BAM zombies. Then in walks His Name Was Zach with more zombies to fill up my shelf.

This book is big and long, but totally worth it if you dig zombie apocalypse books. We follow Zach (shocker, I know – the title definitely doesn’t give that away), who is an ex-Marine surviving a couple years into the insane zombie apocalypse that took his wife away from him. He has a surrogate daughter Abby along for the ride with him. She lost her family during the craziness years ago, but when her and Zach found each other it was the family they both didn’t know they needed.

This duo has a cute Father-Daughter relationship that will make you smile. Of course, that’s when they’re not both kicking butt. Both of these characters are strong but have flaws that make them feel real. Abby isn’t just a damsel in distress – she’s smart and strong (and sometimes innocent, but she’s a young teenager). Zach has demons to face but is also capable of holding himself up. It’s a nice mix that I don’t see too often in books like this. Bonus points for Peter Martuneac. Also, the nickname Bug is pretty cute.

Some of the back story of this book is kept safe like a secret – hidden away until just the right moment. Slowly, some of these mysteries unfurl and we get to see some of the brutality of the past. At the beginning it frustrated me, but once I got going I really appreciated the slow build and slow burn of the lack of information. Luckily, this book isn’t slow on the action so you don’t think too much about that once you get going. Zombie fights, potential cannibals, abduction plots, murder and wilderness survival all come at you pretty fast. It’s kind of hard to believe the book was almost 500 pages!

If you like thrills and horror mashed together then this book is for you. I applaud Peter for making an engaging zombie book that is definitely R rated. There’s lots of triggers for death and an almost rape scene, so reader beware.

I didn’t like the ending, but that’s no surprise if you know me personally. It’s not a hit against the book, but it made me sad.

Overall, it’s a great zombie book and I highly recommend it!

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Peter Martuneac, in exchange of an honest review.

Click on the links below to find this book:

Find out more about this series on:

Are you looking for more horrific reads? Check out some of these other terrifying books on my blog:
#BookReview Dead Women Tell Tales by Rajeev Singh
#BookReview Two Mothers by K. Kris Loomis
#BookReview NYV: Goth by K.D. McQuain

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Spiral by Khaled Talib

Khaled Talib has crafted another magnificent thriller, called Spirals, to keep you on the edge of your seats.

In Spiral, Laurence Turner is apart of many tragic, surprise events that just keep coming his way. He’s been around enough dead people to make it suspicious. Honestly, it’s amazing this guy hasn’t been labelled suspicious before! His fiancee died on a tragic trip that he doesn’t remember much of. He picks grapes but also is near a lab that is cloning, which tragedy will soon fall on them too. This guy is just a tragedy magnet, the poor fellow.

As bad luck follows Laurence, he gets swept up into a giant conspiracy. Russian spies, fake friends and thrills everywhere, this book is gonna leave you breathless! There’s lots of plot twists that are awesome and I didn’t see coming (seriously, I was surprised which is a hard thing to do with how many books I read and soap operas I grew up on).

Other fun notes:

  1. A dude named Snowman, because of course there is.
  2. Fast paced, constant action and rescue missions.
  3. Biker gangs!
  4. Excellent introduction to insane terminology like coddiwomple.

Overall, this is an excellent thriller for those seeking something not mainstream. I love picking up indie thrillers because they don’t follow the same formula the bestsellers list does. Seriously, if you love thrillers and mysteries then grab an indie book. You’ll be surprised how many new favourites you’ll pick up!

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Khlaed Talib, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find out more about Spirals or purchase it by clicking on one of the links below:

Khaled Talib is one magnificent author. Why don’t you give his pages a like or a follow to learn more about him?
Goodreads Author Page
Twitter: @KhaledTalib

Do you love thrillers? Here are some other thrilling books featured on my blog that you’ll enjoy if you love books like Spiral:
#BookReview Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib
#BookReview The American Crusade by Mark Spivek
#BookReview The Rainbow Vintner by Geza Tatrallyay

And give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview PRODUCE POETRY OR DIE. by Narada Voux Sanders

PRODUCE POETRY OR DIE. by Narada Voux Sanders is a beautiful collection of poetry that is pure art.

You can tell that the author is an artist with how this excellent collection of poetry is written. I enjoy dipping into the poetry world, especially after taking classes studying poetry for my degree. The world of poetry and peeking inside an author’s mind is just breathtaking. Especially when it’s a poet! Poets are strange creatures that can weave their words with grace in unique patterns. It’s a form of magic, I swear!

This book was no different than my opinion on poetry – it’s pure magic. The themes of pain, love, diversity and fear are all very prevalent. With most poetry, there are going to be some pieces in this book that stand out to you more than others, but that’s okay. Some of the poems I related to on a very personal level, while others I didn’t but could still appreciate. There were stories that I couldn’t relate to but felt strongly for, all because I got to see the author (or voice’s) point of view.

Ethnic degradation, society’s flaws, colonization, and abuse of all forms was all present in this work. You can tell that there was strong feelings behind this set of poetry – much like the title suggests. There’s also all forms of poetry – rhyming, various meters, a story, an interview, a prayer and a glossary. It truly is a mesmerizing collection with a little bit of everything.

Some of my personal notes that I took while reading:

  1. Metrical Venting – raw, real and honest. I really loved the flow of it when you read it aloud (which you should always do with poetry – seriously, sometimes that is the art).
  2. Misafirkist – This felt like a take on colonization and white supremacy.
  3. “Human crimson juice” is my new favourite saying and I will be using it instead of blood.
  4. I’m More Than What You Perceive Me To Be – ridiculously relatable and very important to hear.
  5. Poetic Patience, Closet, Piñata, F’in’ Flowers – some of my personal favourites.
  6. The White on Dark War – This is an eye opening poem that gives me “The Cattle Thief” by E. Pauline Johnson vibes.

Overall, this set of poetry has miraculous metaphors and was all around awesome (enjoy the alliteration). This felt like a poetry slam written down which is probably why I love it. Plus, the overarching grand themes are done very well!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this collection from the author, Narada Voux Sanders, in exchange of an honest review.

Ready to read some poetry? Check out this collection on:

Check out Narada Voux Sander’s social media:
Instagram: @naradavouxsanders
Twitter: @NVSNaradaVoux

If you are seeking more books, why not check out some of the other books recently featured on my blog?
#BookRecommendations Top 20 Books from 2020
#BookReview The First Days of August by Alan Froning
#BookReview Alone Together by Jennifer Haupt et al

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker

Ahh, romance is in the air! This February I’ve loaded the bloggity with lots of romances, and here’s another lovely one! Mary Jayne Baker is definitely up there for my fave romance authors. Give this rom-com a look-see!


Mary Jayne Baker is proving to be a Queen of romantic comedy, let me tell ya!

I’ve been enjoying books by Miss Mary Jayne and couldn’t resist when I saw this book floating around on NetGalley. Because it’s so good, I even bought myself a copy too! I can’t get enough of these super sugary sweet romantic comedies because they are just so feel good! And full of laughs! Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to consistently find romantic comedies that have me giggling!

So, we have this group of friends who named their little get together group. The Marry, Shag, Kill Group became so many other titles, but finally settled on The Never Have I Ever Club! So a new group is formed and is gonna try to do something new that they always wanted to try! A fair amount of these folks are elderly, and we all know they will have time left in life to learn. This all came about though because Robyn’s ex broke up with her, and now she appears to be falling for his twin brother, Will. Did I mention Will’s a hot doctor? That totally helps.

This adorable pair slowly begins to fall for each other, and they lean on each other in tough times. They are quite the pair! I liked watching this slow burn romance develop over time, to be brutally honest. It was a great change from the sudden love at first sight books I’ve been picking up recently.

There’s so many fun pop culture references in this book that it has me grinning. Honestly, I think these books are just a barrel full of fun (or monkeys, whatever quote you want, really).

My only potential negative is that this book could be a little bit shorter and the story wouldn’t have changed. But, that’s just my opinion! I still think the book is an absolute delight and it doesn’t affect my enjoyment at all.

If you like romantic comedies, this is a fun book to pick up! It’s a laugh out loud funny kind of book with a wonderful friendship growing into romance trope that will melt your heart away. I couldn’t get enough of this book and I know I’ll be following Mary Jayne Baker in the future because I think her books are just fantastic. I am definitely in her reader base! What a talent!

Four out of five stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

If you love romance, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you’ll love:
#BookReview Seeing Colour by Amber Faucher
#BookReview The Perfect Fit by Mary Jayne Baker
#BookReview A Bicycle Made for Two by Mary Jayne Baker


Find out more about the amazing Mary Jayne Baker on:
Twitter – @maryjaynebaker
Goodreads – Author Page

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Intricate Deceptions by Jennifer Rayes

Intricate Deceptions was an exceptional start to an exciting series.

This novel was far better than I expected it to be. At the beginning, I was a little put off by the start (loss of memory/amnesia as an intro hasn’t boded well for me in my readings) but it turned out to blow my mind! I’m really impressed with Jennifer Rayes’s story telling and I am desperate to get the next novel in this book now!

Anywho, my opinions:

1. The start felt like an adult novel 100%, but as the story went on it felt closer to a New Adult novel. It is definitely R rated for some of the content (human trafficking), but some of the conversations felt more YA like (the romance).

2. Without spoiling, some of the plot points seem to happen “just in time” or to fit the narrative, rather than the story unfolding in a timely manner to get to those sections. I would have loved this book to be a little bit longer and come to the conclusions on their own, but the plot still worked.

3. CLIFFHANGER. Jennifer, why did you do this to me? Now I NEED the second book!

4. Difficult content – Human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping… Some of this content may be difficult to read for some people. Keep that in mind when you want to read this book! I did think Jennifer did a great job in this book with how she addressed the tough/harsh issues of the world. It’d be very difficult to have a book be light-hearted at some moments, but harsh at others yet Jennifer managed to keep the tones perfect and at the right timing.

5. Time period – I’m kind of confused on what the time period is. At the beginning, it felt like early times monarchy but as I moved forward it felt like a modern story without cellular devices. That confused me the most with this book, but once I got past that and just let myself enjoy the book it was no problem at all. I probably missed the cues somewhere (gotta love exam time). In the next book, I’d love to see this expanded on more. Maybe I could learn more about the history of this magical world we’ve dove into in this novel?

6. Characters seem to disappear for a while at the beginning of the book, but they do come back! I was worried that characters were being introduced for no reason, but Jennifer did tie them back into the story. I hope more of them make appearances in further novels!

Overall, I really liked this book! When you look past the small continuity errors, this book is an exciting ride that I want to continue! Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy of the second book!

Four out of five stars!

Jennifer Rayes requested a review for this book and sent me a free copy. This had no impact on my review, this is my honest opinion.

Find Intricate Deceptions on Amazon:

Intricate Deceptions on Amazon.ca

Intricate Deceptions on Amazon.com

Find Jennifer Rayes on her website or Goodreads:



Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

If you read this review, comment below your opinions on this book! Or give me a shoutout on twitter @ReviewAlholic with the hashtags #BriarsReviews & #IntricateDeceptions