I’m so delighted to be bringing you three ARC reviews today for books that are all already out and available for you to pick up if you so choose! I’ve decided to focus on the positives of being behind in reviewing books for y’all, honestly, because I’m not sure getting ahead is ever going to happen. So today we have For You and No One Else by Roni Loren, which I listened to, thanks to an audio review copy from Netgalley! For You and No One Else concludes a trilogy from Loren and I think it was my personal favorite of the trilogy so I would definitely recommend it. Then we have What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher, which is a fascinating retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher by Poe, and I was lucky enough to get to try it via an audio review copy from Netgalley. Finally, I read Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter, her traditional publishing debut, via an audio ARC from Netgalley. And with that, let’s get to the reviews!
For You and No One Else by Roni Loren
Roni Loren excels at writing mental health focused stories, in my opinion, and especially in the way that she explores the importance of taking care of your mental health even if there’s not some sort of official diagnosis. I really loved how she handled that aspect in For You & No One Else and I think this book is the best from her Say Everything trilogy! Eliza is a therapist and she has this intense drive to be perfect, or maybe, more accurately, she has a drive to have her life LOOK perfect. She made an upbeat YouTube video about how to handle spending Christmas alone, then proceeds to ignore all of her own advice and go to work instead. At work, she finally meets her neighbor, Beckett in a more official capacity and the two of them find themselves having a happier Christmas than either of them anticipated. I really loved the way the friendship between them developed and the way the sexual tension was always very present under the surface. I felt like their relationship developed so naturally and I really, really enjoyed this book, like five stars enjoyed it. Right up until the bleak moment.
Y’all… I totally get having a bleak moment. I do. It’s tradition, it’s standard format, and we love angst sometimes. But it has to (a) make sense and (b) the payoff afterward also has to make sense AND be an actual payoff. This book did not deliver on either account. I went on a mini rant to my best friend about it, but I don’t want to go into detail here because of spoilers. Anyway, despite the fact that I really felt like the end faltered, I enjoyed the rest of the book so much that I still think 4 stars is the correct rating!
Also, I was lucky enough to listen to the audiobook and I thought Desiree Ketchum did a fantastic job voicing both characters. I would definitely recommend the audio format, not because it did anything above and beyond, but just because I really enjoyed her narration style.
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
I’m not usually a horror kind of girl, but so many people have been raving about T. Kingfisher recently so I couldn’t resist requesting this audiobook and I’m glad I did. What Moves the Dead is a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe and I’ve never read it so I can’t really tell you how faithful or expansive this book is in comparison. What I can tell you is that Kingfisher created a really intricate world in a short amount of space, providing a ton of world-building even though we’re focused on a sliver of said world. I thought that was a really neat thing to do because it really brought the characters and the world to life.
As far as the plot itself goes, essentially Alex goes to their friend’s home and finds that Madeline and her brother are both looking skeletal. It’s not necessarily clear why/what’s causing the illness. But Alex meets up with a mushroom expert lady, there’s a doctor staying at the house, and Alex also has their trusted valet type person to help them investigate. Honestly, I would say this felt to me like more of a slow mystery with a rather atmospheric setting more than horror, but since I’m not even sure what I’m looking for in this genre, I can’t really tell you if that’s how it was supposed to feel. What I do know is that the narration was really well done in the audiobook and I enjoyed my time listening to it.
Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter
You know how sometimes a book is objectively good and yet, something about your mood leaves you feeling flat about it anyway? That’s me with Bet on It. In another life, in another mood, I would love this book. The mental health representation of anxiety and PTSD is so well done and I really loved how both characters handled their own mental health and the issues the other was dealing with. I also felt like the third act break up situation was actually consistent with the characterization of the characters and din’t come out of nowhere or feel forced. But… something about either my mood or the book itself just really kept me from ever getting so invested I couldn’t put the book down. I had to force myself to keep picking it up and finish it. So, let me focus on all the reasons you should consider picking this book up, in case some of these aspects would appeal to you.
– mental health rep
– on page therapy
– friendship and the importance of friendship
– trying to find your place
– dealing with a complex family dynamic and coming to terms with a troubled past
– explicit sex scenes
– Bingo jokes
Also, I want to mention that the narrator for the audiobook, Angel Pean, did a fantastic job voicing both Aja and Walker. I really enjoyed her narration style and look forward to reading more with her narration in the future. So overall, I would recommend this book, but maybe not if you need something that will keep you intrigued the whole way through if you’re already struggling to focus on reading.
Have you read any of these books already? Do you want to pick any of them out? How do you feel when you read something out of your comfort zone? It was an interesting group of ARCs I read most recently…