Mini-Reviews #27: Two Twisted Crowns, Dark Corners & Mixed Signals

Mini-Reviews is a blog series where I’ll be sharing mini reviews of the books I’ve been reading lately.  Each post will include 3 books I’ve recently read and will be grouped by genre (though we’re bound to get a hodgepodge post every once in a while!).  Let me know if you’ve read anything I’ve talked about or if you feel inspired to pick anything up after hearing my thoughts!  I also want to note that I’m attempting to do away with half stars this year and I’m going to use the official goodreads rating system which is based on enjoyment level (1 star = didn’t like it, 2 star = it was okay, 3 star = liked it, 4 star = really liked it, 5 star = it was amazing).

Two Twisted Crowns by Rachel Gillig (The Shepherd King #2) – Since I haven’t reviewed One Dark Window on my blog yet, I feel confident that I can keep this review completely spoiler free for those who haven’t yet read book one.  This is such an incredible fantasy duology and it’s absolutely perfect to pick up during the Autumn season! The series takes place in a mist-locked kingdom called Blunder where magic is seen as an infection to be eradicated.  We’re following Elspeth, a young woman touched by magic who has eluded the Physicians responsible for doing so for a number of years.  Elspeth is harboring a secret infection which manifests in a monster she calls Nightmare inhabiting her consciousness from time to time.  The mercurial spirit protects her and keeps her secrets but her life takes a drastic turn when she meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road. In Blunder, there is a renown deck of twelve cards, known as the Province Cards, which are the keys to curing the plague of mist.  Each card exists in limited quantities between 1-12 with the rarest card being the sole Twin Alders card in all of existence. After their fateful encounter, Elspeth joins the King’s nephew Ravyn, Captain of the Destriers, in a dangerous quest to reunite the deck.  As Elspeth is helping Ravyn, she’s slowly beginning to lose herself to the Nightmare.  I really loved everything about this series from the fascinating and well developed worldbuilding of Blunder to the mysterious and fairytale-like lore behind the Provence Cards.  We get to enjoy the drama-filled antics of the royal family and the chilling effects her cousin Ione faces after being exposed to the Maiden card. The story is set amongst the most atmospheric backdrop, a kingdom that’s been covered in mist and hasn’t seen the light of the sun for years.  The Destriers and the Physicians instill fear in the general population as well as the reader, and best of all, the legend of how the Province deck came about will immediately enthrall you.  As much as I enjoyed book one, it was book two that solidified this as a favorite series. We get additional perspectives, one from my favorite character in the book, and I love the romantic relationships that develop.  I could not put Two Twisted Crowns down and to be totally honest, I’m pretty upset that it’s over! I would definitely re-read this series and I’m especially excited to pick up on more that I might have missed the first time around, now that I know the full story.

Dark Corners by Megan Goldin (Rachel Krall #2) – Dark Corners is the second book in the Rachel Krall series, the first book being The Night Swim.  I am a huge fan of The Night Swim, as well as Megan Goldin’s other standalone thrillers so I was very highly anticipating Dark Corners.  In Dark Corners, we are following the same podcaster, Rachel Krall, as she tackles a new case which hits much closer to home.  After essentially being tricked into flying down to Florida to assist the FBI with a case they’re working on, Rachel is questioned and then left in the dark about their true intentions.  But Rachel being Rachel is not one to back down from a challenge and she vows to help the missing influencer.  Now that Rachel has gained a ton of notoriety from the case she cracked in The Night Swim, she receives countless requests from people hoping to have theirs or a family member’s innocence proven.  In Dark Corners, Rachel gets involved in a very interesting case.  A suspected serial killer who’s been in jail for years for another crime gets his first visit from a well known influencer just days before his release.  In the next handful of hours, that influencer disappears.  While the FBI knows that Terance has been in jail, they can’t help thinking he’s somehow involved in Madison’s disappearance. What’s also interesting is that we get the perspective of an unnamed protagonist who operates a rideshare vehicle and enjoys murdering people on the side.  Sadly, this book did not do it for me.  While I continued to enjoy Megan’s writing style, I had a number of issues with the story.  First and foremost, I felt like the perspective of the killer took away from the suspense of the story overall.  I also took issue with the distinguishing characteristic of the killer.  Without getting into spoilers, I felt that using an uncontrollable medical condition was an unnecessary way to go about differentiating someone.  Understanding that their treatment during childhood (as a result of their condition) led to them turning into a cold blooded killer felt mean spirited.  My second gripe is with the portrayal of influencers.  99% of the influencers in the story are vapid, self-obsessed, airheads and while I’m certain that could be the case for some, it came across as a very generalized characteristic amongst the community at large.  Rachel is technically an influencer via podcasting, but she’s completely ignorant to everything on the social media side of her business. At one point in the book, Rachel attends an influencer convention called BuzzCon and she very strongly gave off “not like other influencer” vibes.  There was also a clear shift in personality and ton in the Rachel we met in The Night Swim versus the Rachel we spend time with in Dark Corners.  I also thought the added romantic plotline was unnecessary.  I did enjoy the unraveling of Terance’s story and the search for Madison, but the other factors impacted me too negatively to warrant a higher rating.  If you’ve never read Megan Goldin before, this is not the place to start.  I highly recommend her other books which are all 4-5 star reads (and likely contributes to why I felt so disappointed in this one).

Mixed Signals by BK Borison (Lovelight #3) – Mixed Signals is the third installment in the Lovelight series taking place in the small town of Inglewild and following Lovelight Farms’ resident baker who we met in the previous books, Layla. Layla is extremely happy that her best friends and business partners at the farm have found love, but after a series of bad dates, she’s feeling down and wondering if she’ll ever meet her person.  During a particularly terrible date, she runs into Caleb Alvarez who rescues her and drives her home.  On the way back, the pair decide to start fake dating as practice since they’re both down on their luck in love.  But little does Layla know that Caleb has been harboring feelings for her, and Layla starts to get attached after finally being treated well despite the terms of their one month agreement.  I truly thought that In the Weeds would be my favorite book in the series after how much I loved getting to know Beckett and Evelyn, however, Mixed Signals completely proved me wrong! Layla and Caleb are definitely sitting pretty at my number one spot and I’m so thrilled that we’ll be getting yet another book at Lovelight.  There’s so much to love in this series from the charming small town, to its quirky residents, to the mouth watering descriptions of Layla’s baked goods, and most especially, the romance.  Watching Caleb and Layla’s feelings for each other blossom and see them ease into a relationship with their soulmate is beyond heartwarming.  I have so much adoration for this pair of sweet cinnamon roll characters that it truly makes my heart flutter! I really appreciated how well these two characters communicated with one another- something that can be pretty rare in romance.  Of course there is still the third act hiccup, but overall, this book was just so nice.  I loved reading about two nice people connecting, caring about one another and forming a lifelong relationship.  It’s also worth mentioning that I was in a huge reading slump and this book pulled me right out of it!

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One Response to “Mini-Reviews #27: Two Twisted Crowns, Dark Corners & Mixed Signals”

  1. Heather says:

    I love the Lovelight Farms series, and I can’t wait to pick up Two Twisted Crowns!

    -Heather | Nerdy By Nature Blog

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