First, Middle, and Last Impressions – November 30, 2022

I love taking a look at a book cover and description and then coming up with my own idea of what the book will be about. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m so wrong it’s almost funny. So I’ve decided to write about my first, middle, and last impressions of each book I read, as well as a little bit on why I wanted to read it because sometimes, when I’ve finished, I really can’t remember.

The first impression is based solely on the cover and description. What do I think it will be about?

The middle impression is kind of a check-in on how the story is going about halfway through.

The last impression is my final thoughts on the book, what I’m left thinking.

I hope you have as much fun with this as I will!

The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Verant – Romance

the spice master at bistro exotique samantha verant

Why I want to read this: After her two Sophie Valroux books, I’ve decided Verant is one of my favorite women’s fiction authors, so I can’t wait to get into this one. It sounds like it’ll be more romance than women’s fiction, but it’ll be dripping with food and I do love reading about food.

First Impression: I expect this one will be absolutely delicious. Since the description sets up a love interest, I’m sure this will be more romance than women’s fiction, but I’m okay with that because Verant’s descriptions about food are incredible.

Middle Impression: This is definitely different from the Sophie books, especially with the focus on romance. It’s sexier than I expected, but so far very clean, except for some of Kate’s fantasies. There’s so much food, and it all sounds so delicious. Kate does seem a little crazy, but it’s so much fun, and I adore the secondary characters. Charles seems to flip a switch a little abruptly, so I’m curious to see how things progress between them.

Last Impression: I really loved this. I’d say it’s more romance than anything else, but I loved how clean it is and really ended up loving Kate. Charles’ and Kate’s mothers were hysterically fun to read about and were easily one of my favorite things about this book. I was disappointed Charles felt like he was being jerked around for the sake of the story, but his relationship with Kate was quite lovely. This was a great blend of food, pets, movies, and music, so it really felt like there was a lot of life in it.

A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza – Mystery/Thriller

Why I want to read this: So far, I’ve really enjoyed all of Garza’s novels, so I’m excited to read this one. I love how all of her books involve mothers and the relationships they have with their children.

First Impression: I haven’t actually looked at the description, so I don’t know what this is about. But, going off of Garza’s past novels, I expect some wacky mother-child relationships with some nice twists and turns.

Middle Impression: So far, it doesn’t seem too twisty, but I like the narrator. Valerie has two grown children and is suffering from early onset dementia, so it sometimes makes for a slightly disturbing reading experience. Her son has me on edge and her daughter feels off, but maybe Valerie really is starting to lose her grasp on reality. She certainly seems isolated and her house is haunted, so there are a lot of elements going on.

Last Impression: The second half was home to some great twists. It did feel a little predictable, but I really enjoyed reading how it all unraveled. I was disappointed the ghost part wasn’t a bigger part of the story, making it feel like an afterthought to keep things interesting. But there’s a nice blend of past and present, and I liked that Valerie was very aware of all of her failings.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson – Science Fiction

There will be no formal review post for this book, so this will serve as my review.

Why I want to read this: This has been sitting on my shelf for almost two years, so I figure it’s time.

First Impression: I remember there were a lot of great reviews, so I’m expecting an incredible story and fantastic characters. I think cozy might have even been attached to this book by a reviewer or so, so I’m excited to dive into this and nestle into the story.

Middle Impression: I guess it’s okay? I remember there were a lot of rave reviews when this came out, but I’m having a hard time figuring out why. I love the idea of a multiverse and have enjoyed a couple of other novels with them, but this one doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark for me. It’s an interesting concept on these pages, but it also feels annoyingly predictable, like I’m a step ahead of Cara, and that’s not a feeling I enjoy.

Last Impression: I suppose this was interesting, but I seriously don’t understand all the hype that was around this when it came out. I did like how resourceful and relatively smart Cara is, but I didn’t like feeling that I knew what was going to happen and what she was going to do before it all happened. Mostly, I was disappointed that Cara jumped to other worlds frequently, but the reader is only treated to a few worlds. The space between them was definitely interesting, but it took on a religious feel I wasn’t expecting. I found the world to be interesting and I liked the commentary on classism, but it felt a little too black and white and overall fairly simplistic. Not much surprised me about this story, and it just felt too simple and linear to really hold my interest because the twists and turns were predictable or just simply unsurprising.

The Descendants by Destiny Hawkins – Fantasy

the descendants destiny

Why I want to read this: This one was dropped in my inbox for a mini review. It’s not exactly my cup of tea as I don’t typically read fantasy books with an academic setting, but I do love that cover and it sounds interesting and nicely dystopian.

First Impression: This sounds like YA dark dystopian in an academic setting, which I don’t believe I’ve read before, so I think it’ll be interesting, but not exactly up my alley. Though I do expect some interesting things to happen in this story.

Middle Impression: Unfortunately, while the world sounds interesting, I’m not getting a strong sense of it. The magic sounds interesting and how society functions feels appropriately dystopian, but, with all the trauma and pain I’m surprised there isn’t more calloused, traumatic people wandering the world. Rayah feels a little too well-adjusted, as do pretty much everyone else, so I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it all. So far, the first half is all set up, so I don’t know where the story is going, but so far it sounds like a typical story of a powerless main character actually being super powerful.

Last Impression: I loved all the diversity, and the relationships between the students felt appropriate for the world, which was fantastic. The distinction between Lytonia and the Wild Lands was fascinating and it was great to get to see both, to compare and contrast them and really start to wonder about which has it the best. Unfortunately, this ends on a cliff hanger and this really only felt like the beginning of a larger story. I did like the set up of who appears to be the villain, and they were suitably villain-y.

Only Ghouls and Horses by Dan Harris – Paranormal Fantasy

Why I want to read this: I love ghosts, but stories with ghosts tend to wander in a horror direction. This one, though, sounds like it’ll be humorous and a lot of fun, so I’m excited.

First Impression: I’m not really sure as books with ghosts tend to be a bit scary for me, but the description just sounds like so much fun, so I’m hoping for more fun than horror.

Middle Impression: So far this is interesting and fun. It feels like a series of events that happen to Tom, so I’m not really sure of where the story is going, but I really like Tom. He’s such a fun character and his new place of employment is what feels like a typical dreary British office space, except they deal with the paranormal and Tom is not interested in promotion.

Last Impression: This is a super fast read. It’s short, so it’s quick, but there’s plenty of characterization and story in it. What feels like a second main character is introduced, so I think it’s dual POV. Fortunately, I really like Tom and Martha and the sides they operate on. I’m getting a hint of the overarching story, so I’m excited to see where it goes.

Just a Wild Ghost Chase by Dan Harris – Paranormal Fantasy

Why I want to read this: This is the second book in the series, and the author was kind enough to send this alongside the first book. I also found the first book to be a lot of fun, so was eager to continue to read about Tom’s adventures with ghosts.

First Impression: As the second book, I expect it’ll be more of the same with more ghosts and humor. This one is also short, so it’ll probably be fast paced.

Middle Impression: This starts off with more of a horror feel, though I scare easily so this probably isn’t accurate. It’s still very fun with plenty of threads of humor and some nice twists. This continues with both Tom and Martha getting their own POVs.

Last Impression: I think this one is a bit more serious than the first book with more meat to the story. It’s still very fun and humorous and Tom is the perfect main character for this kind of story. I really liked how it seemed to change gears once it started to get a little too scary for me and all the fun and humor were brought back in.

The Alpha Trial by Lian Skaf – Legal Thriller

Why I want to read this: Legal thrillers tend to confuse me, but I still enjoy reading them. I was particularly drawn to the fact that this also involves a medical procedure that eventually led to unfortunate side effects later on.

First Impression: A medical legal thriller? At least, that’s what the description makes me think, but I tend to be wrong with books like this. I expect to be lost, but am interested to see how the trial progresses.

Current Progress: 35%. After not really understanding what was going on for a little bit, I feel like the story has finally eased me in and I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’m a little disconcerted by how everything feels like it could be happening now with all the things we have now, but it’s actually set a couple of decades in the future. But I’m starting to really like the characters (there’s an older one who is quite interesting and I find him to be a lot of fun) and it’s been interesting to get all the information necessary to lay the foundation of the case. Even though a lot of it involves people just talking to tell their stories, it manages to feel fluid and entertaining, even when they’re just sitting. There are also some parts with a more cinematic feel, so it’s interesting to read passages and see it as though I’m watching it in a movie.

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