Sunday, May 9, 2021

Michael F. Haspil: Graveyard Shift

In the first book in the new series, Michal F. Haspil adds a new warrior to the urban fantasy world, one that has been dead longer than most vampires have been alive:
Alex Menkaure, former Pharaoh and now a mummy, is now a cop in a specialized unit that deals with vampires and anything else that goes bump in the night. Alex also has a partner Marcus, a vampire, that he has worked with previously in a specialized government unit and together they are probably the best team when it is discovered that someone is poisoning the artificial blood supply. Instead of sating the vampire that drinks it, instead they enter into a blood frenzy and kill anyone who is around. Alex and Marcus need to discover the source of the poisoned blood in order to stop mayhem from erupting on the streets, but there are old and strong forces at play here, human and vampire and only one can win.
Well this was a really fun book and had me reading way past my bedtime and trying to read every extra minute that I could get, even if it was just a page or two. All the usual suspects are here with werewolves, vampires and vampires assimilating into the human world, synthetic blood and such. But where Haspil shines is with his addition of adding a Mummy into the mix, yet you read that right a Mummy. Who would have thought that would change the dynamic so much, but trust me it did. Also this was Haspil's debut novel, and it was really well done and I think the mystery aspect with the synthetic blood was fairly well developed.

Personally, I love Alex as a character and he does have some character growth in this book which is appreciated and unexpected for an individual who has walked the Earth for centuries. Haspil had such a cool, unique and different idea by bringing Egyptian culture into the paranormal one, and honestly it makes me think why it has not been done more. Haspil found such a cool way to fight vampires and really who better than someone who is powered by the Sun, the complete opposite of the Vampire life. Alex also doesn't give much of Fuck about most things, seeing as how he has lived a long time, this does make him feel like an anti-hero at times.

I think the main problem that I had with this book was that it does not read like a first book in a series. There are too many references to the past and I get that Alex and Marcus are centuries old, and there will be history there, but I think a better first novel would have been one where they were just starting out with UMBRA or still under that program. UMBRA is a government agency that they both used to be apart of toe "deal" with the emerging Vampire program, so I would have been an interesting book too. What happens in this book is that Haspil refers back to UMBRA too often (I want to say several times in each chapter) that it makes the reader feel like they are missing something, that there was a book before this one that fleshed out the relationship between Marcus and Alex more and how they both came to be police cops.

I really enjoyed this debut novel and I think that Haspil brought some fresh ideas into the urban fantasy genre. I do hope that he continues on with this series, as I know I would pick up the next one.

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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Catherine Ryan Howard: The Nothing Man

Catherine Ryan Howard takes the readers into the mind of  a serial perpetrator, The Nothing Man, where anyone could be his next victim:

 Eve Black, aged 12, was the only survivor of a serial killer attack on her family and she has made it her mission to bring the perpetrator known as The Nothing Man to justice. The problem is that there was never any clues left at any of the crimes scenes and there were often different types of crimes that were committed that the police were never sure if it was The Nothing Man or not, as one day he just stopped. Jim Doyle is the Nothing Man, and one day on shift at work he sees a book that features his name and he is compelled to buy it. The book takes him back to what he would consider his Glory Day, when he could be who he truly was. The farther that Jim reads into the book, he realizes how close Eve is and knows that she will stop at nothing to find him, unless Jim can stop her first.

I really enjoyed this book, as it was something different from an very overwhelming saturated serial killer genre. This is one of the first books that I have read in this genre where you actually know who the killer is and you get almost everything from their POV. In that way it had a true crime type of feel to it.

What sets this book part is that one of the main POV is that of the killer/rapist/assaulter and the other is that of the book that was written about him and his terror on the public many years ago. This way we get a play between the crimes that Jim committed all those years ago, him reliving them and then wanting to become that man again. As well it shows two different perspective, how the police viewed the crimes and how the perpetrator did as well, and they do not always match up.

I wish that Howard would have gotten in deeper with Jim. I felt that the chapters from Jim's POV were too short and I "understand" parts of the reasons why Jim began his other way of life, I just wanted to know more about the man, more about his past, and more about what he did to curve the urges when he stopped, as we can tell from his current day POV he still has this craving to put people who wrong him in their "place". Honestly if this was a real person he would be want by every behaviorist and forensic psychologist out there.

As we know who are killer is throughout the book, there are not as many twists and turns along the way. The main mystery in this book was were Jim and the police able to figure out who The Nothing Man was and whether he would become that man again. I would say that there were two main twists (that I was able to figure out) and a third smaller twist that I did not see coming.

This was a really enjoyable read, and I appreciated that Howard took a different approach here. There are times where serial killer books, even from different authors, follow the same format so it is refreshing to find something new. I look forward to reading another book by Howard.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Rachel Aukes: Bounty Hunter - Lone Gunfighter of the Wastelands

In the first of a series Rachel Aukes takes readers to a lawless place that is mainly controlled by the Bounty Hunters:

The world is in the Shits. The revolution was supposed to make everything better, but from what Joe can tell nothing has really changed, other than a lot of people died and now he works as a Bounty Hunter. When some brother named Sloan want to make the Wasteland's their own territory there are more than a few Hunter Guilds that want nothing to do with it. But the Sloan brothers refuse to take no for an answer. When they come after the company that Joe works for they're about to learn why he earned the named Havoc in the revolution. Joe hates nothing more than a bully so the Sloan brother better watch out, or they are going to find out why you never corner a Bounty Hunter

This book is a really fun read and for those who love sci-fi and western mash up they are sure to enjoy this book. I recently started watching the Mandalorian (I know I’m late to that party) but this book reminded me of that series just no space travel. Even the cover of the book has some Mandalrian flare to it. It has great action/fight scenes that play out in very dramatic fashion, especially if a character named T-Rex is there. He has some creative ideas on how to piss the other guys off, and I really enjoyed every second of those events. It also has quite a bit of heart to it, that I was not expecting from this book.

Joe is a great character, he is loyal to a fault, has some pretty high morals but also a badass to go along with it. Trust me you want Joe to be on your side in a fight. He is resourceful, thinks a few steps ahead but also on the fly. I appreciate that Aukes let Joe get hurt and that he was not invincible and had to compensate when this happened. I really like Joe's loyalty to a fallen soldier from one of the past revolutions and his need to take care of that man's family and also to his employ Reuben even though he could make more money or not have people shooting at him every two seconds if he were to betray him.

The main issue I have with this book is that the World wasn’t fully developed. There were constant reference as to what happened before the world got this way and which side Joe fought for, that I just felt like there was a book before this one. I know there was a revolution, maybe even two to get to the world that Joe is living in now, but even the current world is really undefined. I know they are in the wasteland, but why is is called that? Is there other cities or civilizations outside of the wastelands or is that all that is left after the War(s). This is the area that the book lacks the most, I actually checked to see if there was a book before this one just to make sure it was me and not the book that was off on this point.

I enjoyed this book as it was a fun ride from beginning to end especially if you like cowboy sci-fi action. I look forward to checking out the next book in this series and hope that the world is a little better defined.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Kate Quinn: The Rose Code

Kate Quinn returns to WWII, but this time it is the story of the women who helped with the code breaking against the Nazi's, only to discover a Spy in their midst:

1940s England and England has been preparing to fight a war with Nazi Germany. What Germany does not know if that England has intercepted and eventually decoded the Enigma machines. It is this ability that brings three very different women to the secret base of Bletchley Park, where the mission of those there is to intercept, decode and translate the messages from the Axis powers. What they begin to realize is that their own lives and those they love are in the messages that go through Bethcley Park and they must do everything in their power to keep them safe. But there is a trader at Bletchly Park that has seen to it that the one woman who could discover them is put away in an insane asylum. Now those who no longer trust each other must work together to figure out who.

I do not read a lot of Historical Fiction novels, but I have found when I do, I reach for Quinn when I am look for one. As I started writing this review I discovered that I never wrote on for The Alice Network last year (and I highly recommend that one too), and this one follows a similar format but I really liked that all the women are in both time frames in this book. This book really has everything in it and will make you feel a wide range of emotions. There is love, heartbreak, anger, deceit, friendship, mystery and of course betrayal. I actually loved the mystery aspect of this book and had me questioning everyone at Bletchley Park and the women as well, if one of them was the traitor and I am happy to say I did not figure it out (which does not happen very often).

I found both periods interesting and appreciated that the after the war periods were shorter until the latter parts of the book as this really sets all three women up as full fledged character. I enjoyed Osla, Mab and Beth's and that Quinn did not recopy each of the women. Yes, they do have some similarities in their overall stories, but not so close that I was not interested in them. However, I will say that the book was starting to feel a bit long by the 80% mark of the book. I got to the point where it was alright enough about the women’s lives and love lives and let’s find the traitor, get Beth and put some sort of plan into action to figure out who it is.

The most AMAZING part of this book is that the women that Quinn features in this book are real and I had no idea until the book was finished. I mean of course Prince Phillip (May he Rest In Peace) but I had no idea that the women featured were real as well. It made me want to look these woman up and know more about their lives, and see which aspects that that Quinn put in the book were true, especially that ending. All I can say is that these woman are extremely amazing and what they were able to accomplish at this time in history is truly special and amazing.

I feel like Quinn can weave an almost perfect story of intrigue, mystery, love story and all with strong female characters. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to those who like Historical Fiction and to those who want to read something outside of their usual genres. I look forward to reading other books by Quinn.


Normally I recommend books similar to this one, but I do not read enough Historical Fiction to do that. As stated above The Alice Network by Quinn is also a great read.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Adrienne Young: Fable

Adrienne Young takes the readers to the ways of the traders life, who live and dies by the ways of the sea:

Fable has spent the past 4 years of her life stranded on an island, forced to do what she can to survive, in order to make enough coin to buy passage home. Fable is the daughter of the most respected and feared trader. He is also the man who left her on the island and told her that if she could make her own way home, he would respect her and that she was more cut out for the life among the traders than he believed. But her father has rivals and enemies a plenty all of whom would like to get their hands on Fable for her unique gift with stones. Fable has to figure out who she can trust and use all her instincts in order to be able to survive this world. When she meets a trader names West and his small crew, she hopes that he is someone she can trust, but everyone has their own secrets.

This book had the was one of the host raved about YA novels last year and while I do read some YA novels I am fairly selective in those that I do read. This one had so many great reviews associated with it that I decided to give it a try, plus I haven't read a pirate based book, since....ahem, I read romance novels many many years ago (full on bodice ripping on the cover type, lol).

This book can basically be summed up as fun, easy read, with a strong female character that takes places on the high seas. The writing is good and the plot is easy to follow, flows well but there are no real big surprises throughout (except the end). Mainly the plot is a little simple and not a lot happens in the book. The beginning was really strong with Fable struggling to live and get off the island, things happen in the middle and then around the last 20-30% things really pick up again. In between that there is just a lot of sailing and going to other islands, that's about it. I will say that I was surprised with a few darker moments in the book that elevated the book in my opinion.

There are times where I thought that the secondary characters seemed more interesting than Fable. I mean Fable has a strong start with being stranded on the island to fend for herself and her power is pretty interesting (and I hope it is explored further in the next book), but she seems to fizzle out once she leaves the island, kind of like a fish out of water thing who does not have the ability to follow orders and lacks common sense a few times

This book was a good, easy read and I think that any YA reader will be happy with the plot and story as it unfolds. As an adult reading this book it felt a little simple and I wasn't completely sold on the romance in the story, I wish they would have taken a longer period for it to develop. As well I just felt like it took too long for the plot to unfold, the middle portion of the book doesn't add a lot of substance to the book. However, with a cliffhanger like Young leaves at the end of this book, I know I will be checking out to next book.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Courtney Summers: The Project

Courtney Summers brings readers into the world of The Unity Project and one woman's mission to find her sister:

Lo feels like she has been alone most of her life. After her parents died in a car accident, her sister Bea abandoned her to go be part of the Unity Project which Lo is 100% sure is a cult. Lo has spent those years after her sister disappeared trying to contact her, just even to talk, have some sense of family, but she has never heard from Bea. When a prospect presents itself for Lo to see the inner workings of the Unity Project Lo knows she cannot pass up this chance to reunite with her sister and finally have the family that she has dreamed of. However, it's hard to reunite with someone who does not want to be found and as Lo delves deeper into the Unity Project and gets to know the leader Les even more she has more and more questions, and she can only hope that one of the answers will lead her to Bea.

This is the second book that I have read by Summers and I enjoyed that this book is completely different from Sadie. I think that the cult idea/aspect that is not written about as much in modern fiction so I very much enjoyed that Summers was going for something that not a lot of people are reading about these days. However, I did find that the book was quite slow until the last 20% of the book where things really started to pick up. I also found a few events predictable and at times the time shift was confusing.

I would not put this in the horror genre as the book is being advertised as, I would say more of a psychological mystery not even a thriller as I never felt the chills or suspense that I expect from that genre. Really what you are reading towards in the book is the whether the Unity Project is good or not. I think that is where Summers excels in this book is having you question if the Unity Project is a cult but also whether they have done anything wrong or not. One thing you can be sure of is that The Unity project seem to be there when someone is in their moment of Need, very cultish I guess?

I really enjoyed the two POV within this book however, the time frame does jump around and it not linear in Bea's POV at all. There are year gaps sometimes that go back and fourth when it is her POV and this was confusing at times. Thankfully Lo's POV was pretty steady, I think if both jumped around like that, you would lose readers really quick. With the dual POV you do get to see how similar the sisters really are, even though they did not grow up together. What I find really interesting about Lo is even though she did not grow up within The Unity Project, how naive she is about simple things in the world, from her workplace to how a car works to even what a cult is at times. There were times when I really questioned Lo's thought process as it could not all be chalked up to age.

I think where Bea ends up is really predictable, I was able to see it coming after we learn about Bea from Lo's POV, even before people start telling her that Bea does not want anything to do with Lo. I will say I did not see that ending coming, but at the same time seemed like a bit of a cop-out. I mean what actually happened there?

This was a good read as I liked the cult aspect, it was well written and I really enjoyed how the story was told, but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be and lack the overall suspense I wanted from this book. I think that her novel Sadie was better and for me personally Sadie had me on the edge of my seat throughout, as we need to find out what happened to her. I look forward to seeing what Summers comes out with next. One thing is for sure, she has a great ability for storytelling and as far as I can tell is keeping it formula free.

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Suleikha Snyder: Big Bad Wolf

Suleikha Snyder takes readers to NYC where it has become a sanctuary city for supernaturals:

Joe Peluso has blood on his hands, not only from his overseas missions with the army, but now he has killed the Russian Mobsters murdered his foster brother. Neha Ahluwalia is a psychologist and lawyer and she has been tasked with getting under Joe's skin enough to help them formulate a defense for his up coming trail. However, the Mob would like nothing better that for Joe not to make it to trial at all. When a hit goes wrong Joe and Neha are forced to flee together. Now they are on the run from the Mob, but something has brought them together, a need to be with each other, they just don't know if they have enough time to fully explore what is between them.

Now this book is a DNF for me, I made it to about 40% and could not continue reading this book. However, I do not completely fault Snyder writing/story for me not finishing this book. I know that may weird but the book is actually really well written, has some interesting ideas within it it, but it was just not what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting something more a line with Ilona Andrews books instead I got pure paranormal romance/erotica. I actually blame Netgalley more than anything for not putting the correct categories associated with this book. 

This book is liked on Netgalley as Sci-fi and Fantasy, no secondary categories. I mean even some of the books I have read by Ilona Andrews have the romance category next to them as well. Did I guess by the cover that there was going to be some romance involved in the book and reading the premise you know that is going to happen, but I did not expect there to be the enormous of sex and thinking about sex that occurred in this book. 

The sex is honestly the theme of the entire book. Hey I'm in prison and a hot lawyer walks in, all I'm going to think about is sex and her body (probably justifiable in that situation), said lawyer also thinks this about inmate. Hey bad guys are chasing us, lets just get a quick one on in the alley.  Hey bad guys are still chasing us, all I can think about is sex and not about how to deal with the situation at hand. Hey more bad guys are chasing us, lets have more sex. Honestly that is what feels like occurs within 40% of the book, with just a smattering of the actual plot, which I'm not entirely sure I understand.

I flip back and fourth whether there are too many POV in this book or not. On one had I wish the POV were just Joe and Neha and their story but from them all we really get is sex and get more of the substance of the book from Danny and Yulia's POV as they more in touch with what is occurring with the Russian mob and well frankly not having sex at this time. So from them I know about a specialized force that is there to help shifters and the the Russian Mob is trying to take out Joe.

I have read other reviews that have slammed the book for having a depressive feel to is and continually talking about racism, both normal and paranormal ones. Well if you're not a White person, welcome to the world as other people see it. Additionally, Snyder is not white, why would she write a world for how white people see it? That just does not make sense to me at all. She should and did write about her own experiences surrounding her culture and growing as a non-white woman.

I just wish it was more story and plot than sex. Maybe the next 60% it got better, but I wasn't willing to find out. However, those who like paranormal romance/erotica would most likely enjoy this book. I read a review that gave it A+ for sex scenes, so if that is what you like to read, check this book out. It was just not for me. 

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Kelley Armstrong: A Stranger in Town

This is the 6th book in the Rockton Series by Kelley Armstrong and if you have not picked up this series yet you need to. Do not start on this book, in order to understand not only the characters and relationship but the overall plot of this book you will need to read the previous 5 books (City of the Lost, A Darkness Absolute, This Fallen Prey, Watcher in the Woods and Alone in the Wild)

Kelley Armstrong is back with the 6th book in the Rockton series, and although the wilderness can be unpredictable, it's the people you need to watch out for:

There has been a downturn in the residences that have been coming into Rockton and few people have been granted extension to stay. Dalton thinks that it is just the ebb and flow of Rockton life, but Casey is not so sure. When an extremely injured hiker stumbles into a party  held by some of the first settlement teenagers panic starts she appears to be the sole survivor of a hostile's attack.With the increase in Hostile's attacks the council is on the verge of shutting Rockton down, something none of the current residences want. It's all hands on deck as Casey and Dalton rush to discover if there are any others in her camping party alive, try to keep the Rockton a secret as well as try to convince the council that Rockton should stay open.

From the very first sentence I am transported back to Rockton and the wilderness and every time that happens I absolutely love it. I feel like I am there in the Yukon forest with Casey and Dalton as they explore the wilderness or more often than not, on the hunt for a killer. Each time I read in this series I think that Armstrong gets better and better at setting the atmosphere of the wilderness that surrounds the town and immersing the reader in it.

This is one of my favourite series out there and this is a strong addition to the series. I liked that Armstrong has taken the time over several books to cement the relationships within this book and how everyone works together. Armstrong has added some great and interesting secondary characters in the past few books and in this book there is even more interactions with them. April was a great addition to the secondary cast and the different perspective that she brings not only towards the town (and life in general) but the development of Casey as a character as it gives a different look into her past. Also I'm really loving Sebastian as a character. I feel like he is guy that no one has figured out yet. They all keep a close eye on him, but I get the since that he is playing everybody and I look forward to seeing how that turns out. He is a true psychopath if you ask me.

This book is a bit more complex than the previous entries in this series, this is due to the multiple threats that are occurring within this book as well as Armstrong deciding to bring some closure to story lines that have been ongoing since the beginning of the series. I applaud Armstrong for taking the time to flesh out these story lines as they are important to Casey and Rockton. However, some readers may find it a bit convoluted if they have not read the previous books in this series recently. I was able to follow along and actually predict some of the twists (but not all) but I had read three books from this series last year.

I highly recommended series, if you like books with a small town feel, full of secrets, great detective work that relies more on the mind and putting clues together than anything else this is the series for you. I look forward to seeing where Armstrong takes Rockton next.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Keith C. Blackmore: Mountain Man

Keith C. Blackmore, takes readers to a small Canadian town where one man is trying to survive just by his whits:

Gus has all the things he needs in order to survive; Boomstick, Samurai Bat, Motorcycle leathers and a will to live. He has been living on his own for quite sometime now, looting what he can from long abandoned stores and homes (especially the liquor store). Gus has learned to live day to day as he never knows when his time will come. he may die while drunk or out on a run for supplies but one thing he does know is that he does not want to become a zombie. Really Gus only has his will to live that keeps him going until meeting another survivor changes everything.

I feel you can tell that this book was written in 2011. It has a dated feel to it and just the basic ideas of what you need to have in a zombie book. I just feel like it needs an update and some new ideas in order to make it feel more modern. Zombies are not really the creature that people are going to strive to read about right now, so you need something that makes it different and great from all the other Zombie stories that have already come.

I get that the main character, Gus, is a pretty crude guy that doesn’t have a care in the world and really just say fuck it to everything but I don’t need to read about him scratching his balls every few pages, once was enough thanks. Also all the metaphors for his penis, balls, overall manliness it just got exhausting and we get it already. I was really happy that Blackmore added Scott's POV. If it would have been Gus' POV throughout the whole book, I would have stopped the book before halfway, as I just could not deal with how he thought and spoke. Scott is more of a guy that you would cheer for in this book, he is not obsessed with getting drunk, sex and such that it was easier to read his POV.

Balckmore did a good job in describing the fight and fleeing scenes with the zombies and these occurrences within the book were entertaining. I think one of the areas that Blackmore needed to tone down was the description of bodily functions. I did not need to know about every trip to the bathroom and how it went.

I think the idea of Tenner is where Blackmore would have been really successful in having something a little different within this book. Wish there was more from Tennar's POV as he is basically like a kid in the Candy store with being a serial killer and all. I wish why he did what he did and was he the reason all the zombie bodies seemed to be disappearing, this would have really added more of a twist to the book other than about two POV from him. Tenner was a tertiary character that had so much potential that was not used.

I'm not sure where Blackmore will take this series, it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger but I am not sure I want to read the next one in the series yet, it will be a wait and see thing.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Alex Finlay: Every Last Fear

In Alex Finlay debut novel readers are introduced to family that has given everything to prove the innocence of their oldest son:

The Pine family has suffered a great loss of their eldest son to the judicial system, as they all believe that Danny is innocent of the murder he was convicted for. The Pine Family, especially the Dad, Ethan Pine, has dedicated everything to proving that his son is innocent and Maggie Pine, sister, who knows how to use the internet and Social Media to get armchair detectives going. With the airing of a doc-series send the trail back into the public's eye they are sure that they are going to finally get the answers they seek. But the Pine family has more to give and their middle son Matt, the one that wanted nothing more to do with Danny's case, is about to give everything he loves for it and return to a place he never thought he would visit again.

I was really impressed with this book especially since it was was Finlay's debut (at least I think it is a debut as Alex Finlay is a pseudonym). Finlay shows a seasoned ability to weave an intricate story that will have readers on the edge of their seat from the very first pages. This was a great book, with lots of twists and turns throughout as you try to figure out two different crimes, one current and one from the past and whether or not they are linked together. I will say that for all the red herrings thrown in the book that will have you questioning many aspects of the murder and murders, I was able to figure it out quite early what kept me reading was Finlay's ability to tell a story, and of course to make sure I had it right.

I feel like this story is very Now / in this moment, with the use of a Making a Murderer style docu-series that was released in order to highlight the injustices that the Pine Family has faced and even having some of the scenes from within the movie play out in the book. I think that this modern take would really appeal to audiences even though it is something that is becoming used more often in books. However, I feel like Finlay does it in a fresh way by having the docu-series crew in the book as well, wanting to make a followup to their hit show, this changes some of the dynamics. Finlay also shows the power of social media in the book and how it can sway things, for example the FBI being put under more pressure because the President's daughter is #TeamDanny.

I felt like Matt was really well developed as a character and you feel his pain about what his family has gone through, what he is going through and his reluctance to be apart of it all until he is forced to. However, I do think that the secondary characters that could have been interesting were not well expanded on. Finlay tries a bit more Sarah, but I still feel like she isn't that fleshed out as a character. Sarah seems like such an interesting character to me, a Economic Crimes investigator who gets thrown into this new role for dubious reasons, but she just comes across as a typical FBI agent and I feel like there is more to here. Additionally, I wish there would have been more in Mexico, that story did not feel like it had fully played out and there was more there than what was let on, or maybe that was just me as I liked Carlita Escobar as a character. I just want to throw this out there but a Sarah Keller and Carlita Escobar book sounds like an amazing idea to me. I will say that I did have a problem with Matt's group as it was basically had every stereotype you could think of for a group of people of and call them the the Misfit Toys, just didn't sit well with me.

This was a great debut novel and Finlay has set the bar high for himself for the next book. I hope that the great story telling ability shown here continues on. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Kerri Maniscalco: Kingdom of the Wicked

Kerri Manscalco a tale of two sister, one whom is murdered and the other who will stop at nothing to find the murderer:

Emilia and Vittoria are witches who secretly live among the regular folk, doing all that they can so hide in order to avoid persecution. Emilia and Vittoria may be twins but they are far from same personalities and risks they are willing to take. One night Vittoria fails to show up for dinner and Emilia goes looking for her, and soon finds her body desecrated. Emilia makes a vow to find who killed her sister and to do all she can to stop them. Emilia does not realize that there is more at stake here than she thought, Vittoria was not a random murder. Murdered young witches have been showing up all over Sicily forces Emilia to venture into Magic she never though she would use.

I have tried a book by Maniscalco before (Stalking Jack the Ripper) but I didn't get that far into the book before I realized that it was not for me. However, I had heard so many amazing things about this book (plus look at the cover of this book) that I decided to give it a try. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this book at first as I believed there was going to be too much of a focus on a romance aspect and while there is, I felt like it did not take away much from the story of Emilia trying to figure out who murdered her sister and why. There is for sure sexual tension between Wrath and Amelia but it does not overshadow everything else going on in the story.
This book had a little bit of everything I expect in the paranormal genre; witches, demons, curses, religion, religious fanatics, soul selling, deals with the devil, over bearing grandma and murders, quite a few murders in fact. This also made the book bit darker than I was expecting it to be, from the murders to the powers of the demons, and what Emilia ends up doing with her powers, there are quite a few dark scenes. I like that Maniscalco made the book darker as I think that it fits the plot of the book and how everything plays out.

I really liked the Witch aspects in the book. I feel that Maniscalco did research into Wiccan and weaved it into the story. She does not give the witches just these magical powers, but powers that are based with herb, bones, earth etc, it all has a very nature based feel to it, whether they are practicing white or dark magic or cooking in the restaurant kitchen. This does not meant that they do not have power, it just takes more than a flick of a finger or wiggle of a nose to achieve things. I like this authentic feel that Maniscalco gives to this book with the research she has clearly put in.

One thing I'm not 100% sure is when this book is taking place in time, it could be now, with the restaurant business that the family owns, having Emilia as the head chef and the food ideas/combinations that she comes up with. But there seems to be quite a few restrictions on girls/women at time that do not jive with current times. Plus no ones seems to mention modern technology at all, not even in passing, so I think it might be more Victorian times, which would also go along with the clothes that Emilia wears, I'm just not 100% sure

Really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. If you are looking for a dark witch read that has murder, mystery and quite a bit of mayhem, then pick this one up.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Riley Sager: Home Before Dark


Riley Sager takes the readers along for a journey with a woman who has to face her past in order to move forward:

Twenty five years ago, Maggie and her family were forced to flee a house that they were convinced was haunted by an evil spirit. You may have read about it in the book, House of Horrors that Maggie's father released soon after they fled the home. This means that Maggie did grow up in a spot light a bit, seen as a survivor of a demonic house. Maggie thinks that it is a bunch of lies and it is not what she remembers about that time at all, though to be fair she does not remember much. When her father passes away and leaves her Baneberry Hall, she wants nothing to do with the house, she just wants to put some modern amenities in it and sell it to the highest bidder. But stepping into a place that she has not been in for 25 has consequences. When strange things begin to happen around the house, Maggie begins to think that everything written in House of Horrors may have been true.

This is the second book that I have read by Sager and I really enjoyed this book a lot more than Lock Every Door. I found that there was more suspenseful throughout the book instead of just the last eighth of the book. Sager really shines with the suspense and mystery aspect in this book and he has you going back and forth with what is happening in the house. I read this book after The Amityville Horror, late last year and I will say that Home Before Dark played out in a very similar fashion to this book, minus the priest involvement, and you could tell that there were certain ideas that Sager took from that book and placed in his, which I am okay with. I think it even made sense that he use The Amityville Horror book to shape what is wrote in House of Horrors, as that is what the book is compared to in this story. And really when it comes to a ghost or evil spirit based book, there are only so many new ideas that one can come up with to create the atmosphere that one is looking for in the book.

I liked that Sager had two points of views throughout the book with one of them being the book that Ewan Holt wrote when Maggie was a child. This added the context as to why Maggie hated the book and wanted to just be rid of the house that has followed her throughout her whole life. I enjoyed that the book revealed more of the oddities/strangeness/atmosphere that they experienced in the house as it also gave context as to why certain things were happening again and you wonder what will the spirit bring back next. The Polaroid picture aspect was truly terrifying that is for sure, I am also not sure I want to have my record player plugged in any time soon "She is 16, going on 17", I don't have that record but still no thank you.

I liked Maggie enough as a main character, but I found that this book was much more plot driven than character driven especially given the POV within the book.

This is the Sagar book that I was expecting when I had heard so many great things about his books. He weaves suspense and a creepy atmosphere throughout the book and I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to pick up another book by him.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

CW Lamb: Young Blood

CW Lamb takes readers to the future where those who have all the power and money, want something more, they want to live forever:

Girls keep disappearing from the streets and all of these girls were waiting for their results from a special test that will help set up themselves and their families for the rest of their lives. Detectives Ethan Walls and Rachel Edmunds think they have found a link between the missing girls, but the link leads into the territory of the Haves section in their city, which is full of corruption within their police force. They want to make sure that no more girls go missing, but the Haves have a special need for the girls and they will stop at nothing to make sure that their supply never dwindles.

This book started out strong but became a fizzle by the end. To begin with this book had a very Altered Carbon feel to it, which I really liked as I loved the first season of that show (I tried the second season but it wasn't as good as the first). You see the similarities in the have/have not, those who have it all wanting to live forever/endless power and the lack of respect the police department gets. This is where the similarities end, there was very little action or even detective work in the book. It felt like Lamb was trying to do too much with the book at once instead of having a sci-fi detective thriller and/or mystery.

I liked all the different points of view though I do not think that both detectives needed to have one as they didn't really add any new information to the story that the other could not have told to the reader, other than the mutual attraction between them. I think my favourite POV were that of the scavengers who lived on the fringe of society, only taking things from the streets that they need. There is quite a bit of jumping between the POV so if you are not one that likes more than two or three POV you will not like this book as there are around seven by the end of the book. I didn't mind the jumping around so much as it gave different perspectives within the society and did help round out the story.

I wasn't a fan of the the romance that Lamb put in the book. It felt forced, cliche and just put in there to have it in. I mean it did not add anything to the story (other than the detectives constantly stating how tight the others clothes were), did not enhance anything, it was just well they are cop partners so they must have an attraction to each other as they are both good looking so they should then form a romance.

Overall, the book was okay, bordering on boring at times. I thought there would be more action. It felt that the farther I read into the book the more Meh the book became. I was looking for action, spice, grittiness, connection, something, to bring more life into the story. I think Lamb had an interesting concept here, just wasn't executed how I wanted it to be and this is maybe due to the Altered Carbon feel I got right off the bat, that I wanted it to be similar to that.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Eileen Cook: The Hanging Girl

Eileen Cook takes readers to a small town where one girl is trying to change her life with her “paranormal abilities”.

 Skye Thorn has been giving Tarot readings to help make money so that she can move to New York after high school. Though it seems whenever she makes any money to save there are always bills around the house that need to be paid. But now her "psychic" abilities are being used to help find a missing teenager from her high school, the problem is, is that Skye has inside knowledge of the kidnapping. The job was supposed to be easy and no one was supposed to get hurt and Sky would have enough money to start a new life. But things quickly spiral out of control and Skye realizes she is leagues with those who will go to great length to get what they want.

This is a high school type of drama book where an influential and popular girl from school goes missing and overall I found the plot was good, held my attention and I was excited to see if I had figured everything out right. I can say that there was a twist that I did not see coming, so that always get bonus marks in the end from me. Additionally, although this was a YA novel I appreciated that Cook did not feel the need to have a love or relationship interest for Skye, it would have muddied the story I think.

I liked Skye as a main character and the insecurities that she has with herself and home life especially when contrasted with her best friend, Drew. It is interesting how one mistake that Skye made when she was young (understandable too considering her home life) is what really holds her back in life, with no one willing to take her seriously till now. Skye is really ashamed of her mother and the abilities that she believes that she has but at the same time is willing to use said abilities to manipulate others.

The ending was not what I expected and I think it is one that you will either love or hate. I personally liked the path that Cook decided to end the book with, not your norm that is for sure, but that is why i liked and appreciated the path she took.

This is the good read that had some unexpected twists and turns along the way. If you are looking for a YA mystery read be sure to check this one out. I look forward to reading some other novels by Cook.


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