Thursday, May 23, 2024

V. Casa: Vaieon

In her debut novel, Casa shows the strength of a woman who finds herself in the most unlikely place:

Lily is living a normal life with her husband and children until one night she feels her body falling, being pulled away. When she awakes, she find herself in the strangest place, first thinking it is a jungle but the plants don’t match and certainly the creature she just saw doesn’t match either. Lily has somehow found herself in the Cretaceous Era. This is her tale of survival and trying to find a purpose in this new Era. 

This is Casa's debut novel and I have to applaud her with taking the road less traveled. Many debuts that I read tend to be in safer genres, where there is more readily available avenues for inspiration for their book or ideas of how things should/could unfold. Personally, I have not read too many time travel books and secondly, I have never read one where the individual is taken back to the Cretaceous period.

This is very much character driven novel, so if you do not like character driven novels this will not be for you, but I think you would be missing out on a great character. Lily is really well written in this book, you feel her struggles especially at the beginning as she attempts to come to terms with where she is, even though she does not know how it happened. Honestly, I probably would have freaked out a lot more than she did. It was interesting to watch her adapt in order to ensure her survival but at the same time questioning whether she wanted to live as well, she contemplates a few times that being eaten may be a mercy for her. You really feel for her when she is missing human interaction. 

I really appreciate that Casa had the dinosaurs have some form of intelligence and that they were not as mindless beast as we often think they are or portrayed in some media. They are able to form bonds, within and outside of their species and I think that Casa did a great job in highlighting this. Baby Boy, was just a treasure in the story, and I look forward to the scenes with "him" especially at the beginning.

So the time travel aspect is never really explained in this book. There was this weird scene in the middle of the book, with, I don’t even know, what that was but it was supposed to explain how Lily ended up there, but honestly it just confused me more than anything. I think I would have preferred Lily not being able to ever figure out the time travel aspect, as she never really focuses on the ability to get home. She does accept that this is to be her life now fairly quickly.

This was a good debut novel, and after messaging with the author, it is going to be a series, which I was happy to hear (that ending I still had quite a few questions). For sure one to check out if you like survival books, character driven books and dinosaurs (but not the dino erotica phase that happened a few years ago).


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Thursday, May 16, 2024

John Marrs: Keep it in the Family

John Marrs, shows why you should always check the attic before you buy a new home:

Mia and Finn have fallen on some hard times that have forced them to move in with Finn's parents. To say that Mia and Debbie, Finn's mother, do not get along is an understatement and Mia wants out of the house as soon as possible. When a home comes up for sale, Mia and Finn jump on it and are determined to turn it into their dream home. As they are renovating, they come across some a strange message written behind the baseboards in one of the rooms "I Will Save Them from The Attic". This leads them to investigating the attic and making a gruesome discovery. Mia becomes obsessed with what they have found and wants to make some of it right out of it, she needs to in order to cope. Secrecy shrouds everything in the attics but the more she investigates the more she realizes that the threat of danger is not just in the past but the present now. She will do whatever it takes to protect her family, but what if it is too late?

I absolutely Loved loved this book and I think it is one of those books that you will either love or hate it as it deals with darker aspects, downright creepy, insane and well just F*ck up. However, I will be fair and say that the beginning of this book i was not sure about it, I was kind of waiting for things to happen and I will say that they do not happen quickly at the start of the book. Wow, this book was fantastic, full of suspense the entire way. This is how you write a domestic suspense book. This book is extremely dark and if you have triggers involving children in any way shape or form, then do not pick up this book. Marrs does not go into great description about what occurs to the children, but there is enough there that I could see it triggering people.

I really enjoyed the different timelines and POV as this added to really get to know each character, what is at stake as well as add to the atmosphere of the book as you didn’t know what Marrs was going to reveal next. Plus you get, the now famous i think, Chapter 39 that is just one word. I like how the darkness is not just in one timeline but is spread throughout both, but just in different ways. It is always interesting when there it POV of the bad guy and this one has that as a constant POV. You really get to know the main characters in the present POV, Finn, Mia, Debbie and Dave, and their personalities and motivations and who they are as people. You cannot help but feel sorry for Mai at several points in the story, especially with some of the vindictiveness that Debbie puts her through. Very much an hellish mother in law.

I was able to figure out who the killer was fairly early on but there were so many twists, turns and revelations along the way, that I don’t even care that I was able to figure it out early on, Marrs was still able to shock me constantly throughout the book. Like the shocks just keep coming until the end of the book.

Without giving much away, if you find the beginning slow push through, I promise it will get better and more twisty the further you read. This is the second book I have read by Marrs but I am going to be picking up his backlist as well as the new books he releases. Highly recommended book, especially those who like the darker side of things.


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Friday, May 10, 2024

Kamilah Cole: So Let them Burn

In her debut novel and the first in a series, Kamilah Cole shows the power of love between sisters:

When the her people needed a hero, a way to sway the war in their favour, Fallon prayed to the Gods and become the Child Empyrean. As the child Empyrean she was able to channel the power of the Gods. Five years later, Fallon still has all the powers, but no war to fight in. When she is forced to attend an international peace summit all she expects to show off her powers and go home but instead her older sister Elara find herself bonded to an enemy dragon. Both women have impossible choices to make in order not only to save themselves, their island and people but the world as well.

This is a good debut novel and I found myself invested early in the story and where Cole was going to take the characters. I really enjoyed that this book took more of a political that I thought was going to be but at the same time there was a lot less action than I thought there would be. As this is Cole's debut novel, I felt that there were some aspects in this book that you could tell it was. I think that this mainly seen in the world building, in the character arc of Fallon and the book was a bit predictable.

Elara was my favourite POV in this book and is a solid/interesting character right from the beginning. She is the older sister of the Child Empyrean and all she wants is to make her own way in the world get out of her sister’s shadow. I found that in her dragon situation there was more at stake and she was in a dangerous situation with the Dragon school she finds herself in. I also think that Elara has an interesting character Arc and how she has to adapt to the situation she finds herself in as well as question everything that she knows. I wish that Cole would have spent more time in the school aspect and how much Elara was out of place/different from all the other students there. There are some scenes, but I think that this is glazed over in this book.

I was not really interested in Fallon's POV. To begin with I thought that Fallon's POV was going to be interesting with her being the Child Empyrean and having the power of the Gods, but her POV really fell off for me. Fallon is supposed to be 17 but she acts like a petulant child at times, maybe this is due to her surviving war and being famous bringing but it seems like she has to be constantly reminded about the stakes, like she keeps forgetting them or something. She is constantly bored when her sister's life is at stake and she just proves many times throughout the book that she is just a child.

I wish there was more about the drakes, there is a lot made of them but we do not get that much interaction with them. And i wish there were more than one scene of Drake vs Dragon, I mean that is what the Drakes are there for, but we get very little action there.

This book is touted as a Jamaican fantasy novel, as I am not Jamaican and am not familiar about Jamaican culture, hell I have never even been to Jamaica, I cannot really comment about this aspect. However, I did find the world that Cole created interesting, but I felt that there were a lot of gaps along the way and we don’t really understand major aspects of the world and the war that occurred before this book until the latter part of this book, so there were points when i was questioning things. So much is made about the war that I actually checked (twice) to make sure that I was reading the first book in the series. I think this series would benefit with a novella placed before this book iron out a few of these points as well as have more about how Fallon became the Child Empyrean and her feats in the war and why she is revered now. 

Based upon the ending I will totally be picking up the next book. I loved the Arc of Elara’s character and need to know how Cole is going to move the story along. Totally an author for people to check out.

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Saturday, May 4, 2024

Jenny Holiday: Canadian Boyfriend

Jenny Holiday shows what happens when a Ballerina meets a Hockey player but this is not your typical Hockey Romance:

In order to have some support growing up Aurora created a fake boyfriend after meeting a hockey player at work one day, and it was extremely convenient for Aurora that her boyfriend was from Canada. What harm could having a fake boyfriend be, it is only when said fake boyfriend walks into her Dance studio that Aurora doesn’t know what to do. Mike Martin is feeling overwhelmed with his life. His life had recently passed away, discovering she may not have been as honest with him as he would like and he is raising his daughter alone. But Aurora just seems to get him and she becomes a pseudo nanny to his daughter it seems that they may just be able to help each other out.

This is the first book that I have read by Holiday, so I was not sure what to expect and in some ways I got more than what I was expecting but at the same time I got less than what I wanted out of this book. I would not call this a rom-com I didn’t feel like there were really that many funny moments and I wouldn’t call it a steamy romance either as most of these events happen behind closed doors. How I would describe this book is two people who are working on themselves end up helping each other more than they thought possible. 

This book is sweet and focuses on the importance of mental health which was amazing. Holliday does not glaze over the fact that both Mike and Aurora are working through things from their past and present and I like that Holiday does not repeat which mental health issues that they are dealing with. I also like that Mike and Aurora take different and similar paths to getting back to a more healthy mental state. 

Could that last 10% been a bit different, I think so, I don’t think it needed to play out how it did and I think Mike totally overreacted. So yeah you have probably guessed there is a third act breakup (really it happens pretty late in the book) and it just didn’t need to happen. And then the get back together seems so rushed and not fully developed in a way. I wished that Holiday would have spent more time on it.

This book was not quite what I was expecting, I thought it would be a more straight forward Hockey Romance but it was much more than that. I really enjoyed that Holidays focused on mental health in this book. Where Holiday lost me was the third act/ending area break up that just seemed forced, like that Holiday felt that she had to put it in there (she did not). I enjoyed this book enough to check out some other books from Holiday.


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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Luanne Bennett: Bloodlust Blues

In the first new a new series, Luanne Bennett shows what happens when a new creature sets it's site on a small town:

Crimson, Georgia is just like any other small town, one where people keep to themselves but are also up in everyone else's business. When a new restaurant opens up across from Charley's bar, The White Stag, she is curious about who the owners would be and it seemed a bit too fancy for their small town. The members of the community start to act strangely and some are starting to go missing Charley can't help but think it is due to this new restuarant, but how could a new restaurant be the cause of all the extra havoc in town, Charley doesn’t know but she is going to find out.

I am pretty well versed in the urban fantasy genre but I can honestly say I have not heard of Bennett before so I was really eager to check her out. I am always on the search for new urban fantasy author as that genre is one of my favourites and my favourite authors in it do not write fast enough.

This book was okay, did it add anything new and different to the urban fantasy genre, not really other than the power that Atticus had and what he was doing. I think that this was the most interesting aspect of the book, but there really wasn't any suspense or intrigue to get there. I think that right from the beginning it is pretty obvious who the Big Bad is in this book and Bennett does not do anything to dissuade this fact. 

Charley (why did she have to be named Charley I swear there are too many women named Charley in Urban Fantasy) was not a very memorable character other than the fact that she has some underdeveloped powers that she knows nothing about or how to control them. I mean Charley started off strong with her love of helping out Misfits, I was just expecting more out of her and she just felt flat at times, or completely different people. Most of the story seems like Charley is just going about her day at the White Stag. The only real interesting character in the book is Candy, an ex-stripper who is a powerful witch.

I really appreciated that there is no obvious love interest for most part of the book, which gave very early 2000 urban fantasy feel to it and i am here for. There is one that is hinted in the latter part of the book and I hope that Bennett lets it progress slowly and more naturally.

I do wish there was a bit more world building, though it did feel like a regular small town set in our world, just with paranormal creatures here and there. There is the typical people do not like vampires and they are on the other side of town type of thing, but there are exceptions to this rule. So world building was pretty typical as well and you can tell why Atticus chose this town to set up his restaurant.

This book was good but not great I think is the best way to sum up this book. I finished the book but I kept waiting for Bennett to push the envelope a little bit more and throw something really exciting and interesting in. I would continue on in the series to see where Bennett takes it but I cant really recommend anyone rush out and buy it.

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Sarah Barrie: Unforgiven

Sarah Barrie shows what happens when a once victim becomes the vigilante:

Lexi has dedicated her life in just trying to survive, she drinks to much and sleeps with whomever she likes as long as they pay her. But Lexi's true passion is as a Hacker. Tracking down pedophiles, gathering information about them to put them away. Lexi was the last victim of the notorious pedophile known has the Spider, oh so she thought as a new individual has come forward claiming to be the real Spider as they emulate the murderous acts. Now everything from before is being called into question, even the innocence of the man convicted of being the spider. Did they get it wrong all those years ago?

This is the first book that I have read by Barrie and I can tell you this will not be the last. This book is a dark, gritty thriller that you will not want to put down as you get caught up in the search for "copycat" serial killer. This book will seem darker than other thriller books and that is because the victims are children. I will say that Barrie does not go into detail of what happens to the victims but does give enough detail that you KNOW what has happened to them and it is heartbreaking and sick. So if you have triggers of child abuse then this book will not be for you, as I said not a lot of detail of what is happening but enough to know as a reader what is happening.

Lexi is a straightforward but also complex character at the same time. I love that Barrie did not sugar coat her past or make it seem like what she lived though has not affected her, it has and Barrie does not shy away from this. Lexi is trying to recover from her past and help those who cannot help themselves yet at the same time she is unable to forgive herself for what happened and what almost happened to her sister. Lexi has chosen to be an escort as she believes that is really all she is good for, but Lexi is nothing but a survivor and she always will be. I appreciate that Barrie does take time to explain Lexi's history as well as the link between her and DI Rachel as their history brings some of tension that is felt throughout the book.

This book had quite a few twists and turns along the way and I like that all the evidence is not just handed to the police or Lexi. Lexi does a lot of digging on the internet so that type of information can take time to dig through, especially the type of groups that Lexi has had to infiltrate over times. I will also totally admit that I did not see that final twist coming. 

In the real world would the let Lexi be as involved as was probably not but I’m okay with how Barrie dealt with it in the plot, I mean this is a work of fiction so you need to dispel things a bit. And how Barrie presents it in the story works.

This was a terrific read, Highly recommend this book if you like thriller books and be prepared to read this one in one sitting. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, Lexi is the type of character I am drawn to in these types of books. 


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