BOOK REVIEWS: The Final Gambit, Carrie Soto is Back, and A Girl Called Corpse

I finally managed to get these three books from my local library and read them in February. Here are the reviews.


The Final Gambit – Jennifer Lynn Barnes – 6/10 (two less than the first two)


Avery’s fortune, life, and loves are on the line in the game that everyone will be talking about.

To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help – and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake-and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning.

– I clearly had forgotten what the last book, The Hawthorne Legacy, was about, as I was reading this book going, “did they”, “that happened”, “I don’t remember that”. So, I guess a trilogy is best read together.

– The beginning was jumping across weeks, more telling, mostly boring, and even though it got the story to where it was going after a couple of chapters, I wonder if some of it could have been cut out, or edited better, or written better.

– This book included characters introduced in the last book, brought them to the fore, added characters and stories that had been long hidden even though everyone was STILL keeping secrets. I thought Avery and the H-Boys were smarter, but they made classic mistakes, were trusting and got used.

– Once again, we were expected to remember all of these characters, and let me say, I did not.

– I did a review of the last book, and only two brothers had found out who their father’s were, in this book it was claimed three had found out and only Xander was left. He found his father, but the connections were perilous. Was this a lie or an oversight in editing?

– I didn’t like the ending, when one was traded for another. I thought, how ridiculous to kidnap a grown man just so you can have him around. You beat him up to play your game, yet he was your flesh and blood. That was just…weird shit. But what the old man, and even his daughters, especially the boys’ mother did, with the games they played, were no better.

– The lawyer wasn’t any better than the last two books. She was rarely in it, thank god, but still managed to get herself kidnapped, and was more angry at Avery than the dude who took her. I wished she’d been killed off.

– I don’t know, this book was off. In the sense of having to jump over the beginning details to get to the meat. The characters hadn’t really grown up, even though they were nearly a year older. Things just seemed like they hadn’t really progressed, not even in the vibe of the writing. Maybe it was me not remembering from the last book, or maybe it was one of those situations where Jennifer didn’t go back over her own books, or notes, and write it as well as the others. Maybe this was one of those books that all the energy had been put into the first two and there wasn’t much left for the last one. Were there mistakes, or was it just me? Not sure, but obviously I’ll recommend it for those who have read the first two.


A Girl Called Corpse: An Elston-Fright Tale – Reece Carter – 9/10

‘Find the thing the Witches call a treasure,’ says Old Man, ‘and you’ll get back all those memories you’re missing.’

With a body made of wax, seaweed for hair and polished abalone shells for eyes, Corpse is bound to haunt the Witches’ sea shack forever. She has no memory of the kid she was before she was snatched and ended up on the rock-that-doesn’t-exist. But the delivery of an unexpected message sets Corpse off on a surprising quest, searching for answers to the old and familiar questions that have filled her not-brain since the day she first woke up a ghost. Questions about her name. Questions about her family. With only her eight-legged friend Simon for company, Corpse heads into the unknown. There will be danger – cruel Witches, a silver-eyed sea monster and a cunning Merchant with a hungry grin – but Corpse is not afraid. She’ll stop at nothing to uncover the truth about her past. Only some answers, it turns out, are much closer than she thinks.

– I did a video review of this book, as my emotion after it says much more than printed words could, and I’ve included it below. A review of Carrie Soto comes with it.


Carrie Soto Is Back – Taylor Jenkins Reid – 5/10, one less than Malibu Rising –  ***SPOILERS***

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

– This book barely competes with Daisy Jones for boringness.

– As much as I’m not a fan of tennis, I understood names, places, etc, but it’s just not my thing. I found it so incredibly boring. The only thing that kept me going was whether Carrie won at the end or not. And while she fought her way back to compete at top level and make it through to the finals, dealing with her dad’s bad health, and then untimely death along the way, she didn’t freakin’ win. What a freakin’ let down.




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  1. the tote trove March 28, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    I love your video review of A Girl Called Corpse! Your passion for this book is in your every word — and tear! It’s beautiful how much of your heart is in this. 💗💗💗
    the tote trove recently posted…This One’s for You, Magenta and RueMy Profile

    1. Jewel Divas Style March 28, 2023 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks, Tote. I even had a reply from the author himself, Reece Carter on YouTube.


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