Saturday, December 30, 2023

Hannah Nicole Maehrer: Assistant to the Villain

In her debut novel Hannah Nicole Maehrer show that even a Villain require an assistant to make sure his day runs smoothly:

Evie Sage needs to find a job, she is the some earner in her household as her mother left when she was young and her father has a mysterious illness that can never be cured, plus she has a younger sister who she is determined will not have to drop out of school like she did. In chance meeting Evie find the perfect job as the assistant, it just comes with a side of things that may not be morally right, like murder and torture. However, Evie is determined to keep a smile on her face and make sure she can keep this job, even if a dead body happens to currently be on her desk.

For a debut novel I really like that Maehrer went for a light cozy fantasy book with just a side of mystery. I say just a side of mystery as it never felt like the hunt for the mole/spy was ever really front and centre but something literally on the side of Evie’s desk. This book is 340 pages and it feels like not a lot happened, unless you count relationship building but that is about it. It seems like Evie and The Villain just danced around each other, a lot.

Evie is the highlight of the book, I love how positive she is no matter what but at the same time is is a fairly morally grey character. Actually all the characters are morally grey in this book. I mean no one really questions the heads hanging from ceiling or how they got there.

I will say there are also some funny moments throughout, especially when the Villain is trying to Test Evie. I also like the side characters but they are not overly developed in this book.

I liked that there were duo POV but I wish there was more from the Villain’s doing his villainous this against the king. We only really get this in the prologue and one other scene.

The relationship between Evie and The Villain seemed a bit juvenile at times, and I think at times it felt forced. I just wasn’t really feeling what Maehrer was writing for them. I’m all for not having a relationship between the two main  characters or have it slowly develop over multiple books but when a book is mainly centred on that fact I feel like it should not feel fake. 

I really wanted to enjoy this book, I was totally onboard with the concept and premise. I’m on the fence whether I will pick up the second book in the series. This one does leave off on a cliffhanger but all the action and really information comes out in the last 10% of the book. Before that it kind of felt a bit like fluff.

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Sunday, December 24, 2023

Kelley Armstrong: Hemlock Island

Kelley Armstrong takes readers to a remote island with no cell service, no help and soon nothing but death:

When Laney’s renters report a disturbing event at her rental Island, Laney is forced to go there with her niece to investigate. But when Laney shows up she is not the only one there to investigate, her ex-husband (Kit), his sister (Jayla), her ex-friend (Sadie) and her brother are all there. Each has their own reason for being there, but all of them are shrouded in secrets. When the group finds a hand sticking out from the ground, they know all is not well on the island and they discover their ways off the island have been destroyed. They are stuck on the island and there is someone on the island that is hell bent on murder

I am a big fan of Armstrong and try to read the majority of the books that she releases. I was extremely happy to see her release one in the horror genre. To begin with this book very much gave me And Then There Were None vibes with the location and the beginning of missing people. However, while the vibe to begin with was there Armstrong very much morphed it into her own thing.

It is hard to describe what occurs in this book without giving it away, so I’ll just say that the farther you read into the book, the darker, creepier and crazy is gets. You won’t be able to figure out what is happening and who is behind the murder and bodies but that is okay just enjoyed that ride. Trust me, this book totally did not go the way that I thought it would. And I cannot fault Armstrong imagination in this books for the darkness and scares that she creates.

I personally wish there was more of a second POV in the book, even that of the bad “guy” just to round it out a bit more and not just have everything from Laney.

There are a lot of secrets that come out in this book and part of me questions why they are needed in the book, maybe for some character development but really they do not add anything to the overall story. Maybe it just so happens that your root for some characters to survive over others.

I really enjoy that Armstrong is expanding her library of works into genres that she has not published before. To me this says that she is growing as a writer. Will all the books be great as we compare them to the series we know and Love, No but it still speaks to someone wanting to grow and you have to respect that.

I really enjoy when a book does not go the way I think it will in this genre. This was quite the ride and I think will have you engrossed from start to finish. I hope that Armstrong decides to write more in the Horror genre.

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Monday, December 18, 2023

Jennifer Hillier: Jar of hearts

Jennifer Hillier questions how far someone will go to bury their darkest secrets:

When Geo, Angela and Kaiser were 16 they were inseparable, until Geo meets an man who makes her feel things that she has never felt before. She starts to distance herself from her friends so that she can be with Calvin more and more. But on the night of a party, Angela does not return home, she disappears without a trace. 14 years later, Geo is a rising start at a pharmaceutical company when secrets are about to be discovered. Angela was a victim of a serial killer, a serial killer who has been ID as Calvin, Geo's one time boyfriend. Geo has known what had happened to Angela 14 year ago and has carried that secret all this time. Now everyone knows the truth, but when bodies start to appear again in the same manner as Angela's death, there are some truths 

This is the second book that I have read by Hillier and probably one of her well know ones, and after reading it I know why. This was a dark, gritty psychological thriller book that pulls back the layers of the main character Geo time and time again. It will have you on the edge of your seat as more information is reveal both in the past and the present. With that said I was able to figure out what was going to happen (for the most part) and who was the killer basically after the first crime scene. However, figuring it out did not take away from my enjoyment of the book, I was curious to see how Hillier would lay everything out.

I personally enjoy books with two timelines. I will say that at times the past timeline felt like it was taking a bit to long to get to Angela's murder and the events of that night, but other than that i think that Hillier did a good job in balancing them out.

Geo is a fascinating character, that I don’t know if we ever get the true picture of who she is by the end of the book, there are aspect of her character that are revealed that are simply outstanding and unthinkable. There is a lot made in the past about Angela being a master manipulation at 16, but I think Geo as an adult may just have surpassed that. I think you feel for and hate Geo at the same time especially as you progress farther into the past timeline. And her ability to keep the horrendous secret for 14 years, is simply crazy.

Did I like the ending? I'm not sure, maybe not what i wanted to occur, maybe a bit too safe. I think I wanted Hillier to surprise me in this aspect and go for something a bit different.

I like play of this title of the Jar of Hearts that Calvin gives Geo as well as the lyrics associated with the song that just make so much sense with this book. If you have read this book and have not looked up the song that shares this title i recommend it.

This was a great book and I can see why it was touted as one of Hillier's best books. Even though I was able to figure it out fairly early on I still enjoyed it and seeing how Hillier put all the pieces together. I know I'll pick up another book by her.


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Monday, December 11, 2023

Travis Baldree: Bookshops & Bonedust

Travis Baldree returns with a prequel to see how Viv starts her mercenary career:

Viv is on one of her first quests with Rackam's Ravens and she is wanting more than anything to prove herself but things dont quite go as planned. Forging ahead of the team, leaves Viv severely wounded and forced to take rest in a sleepy sea side town of Murk. What' a mercenary to do with so much down time, well explore the town, befriend a bookshop owner and she'll soon realize that adventure is still not too far away.

You could read these books in any order as Legends and Lattes came out first and this is Viv's prequel and other the Epilogue there is nothing that would ruin Legend and Lattes if you decide to read this book first. I enjoyed getting to know Viv more in this book and see her as she was just starting out with Rackem's Ravens and her earnestness to impress. She is young and full of life and just wanting to have a sword in her arm at all times. You just get to see what a good person (Orc) that Viv is.

The thing that I realized about this book is that Viv does not need the stone in Legends and Lattes she is just a good person who draws other good people in. It makes me wonder if she lost that somewhere along the way or she just didn’t have confidence in herself in regards to it. 

As much as I love Viv all the side characters are great as well, full of personality and even growth in the book as well. I think that every reader would love to visit or own Fern's bookshop.

I love that this series fits within the cute cozy mystery/fantasy read with a medieval feel to it. The storyline and world is easy to follow and just all around fun read. I enjoy all the characters and creativity that Baldree has with the type of characters in the book.

I hope that Baldree either creates more stories surround Viv or even just creates more stories in this world. I really do love it.


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Monday, December 4, 2023

Caroline George: Curses and Other Buried Things

Caroline George, takes readers down south where a generational curse is after another daughter:

How does one combat a generational curse, when you know that the curse is coming for you next. Susana knows that when her 18th birthday hits, the swamp will come to take her, just like it did her momma before her. But she does not want to die, she wants to find a way to break the curse so that she can live a full life and be with the boy that she has always wanted to be with.

Well this book did not go as planned. I will say that it is well written and George's description in regards to the swamp are excellent but I thought this book was going to be a dark horror or psychological thriller but it was not. I think I would classify it as southern gothic romance, maybe, I'm not really sure, it just was not what I was expecting based upon the premise. 

I found I was never actually in the mood to read this book, it felt too trying, confusing and just disappointing in not getting what I thought the book was going to be about not to mention slow as well. I picked this book up many times and would find i would be putting it to rest a few chapters later as I just didn’t feel engaged enough to continue on and then would try again a few days or even weeks later. I mean I finished it but I cannot say I enjoyed the task of getting there. I did the audiobook version of this book and this is not to say that the narrator was lacking, she was amazing but it was the content and the flow of the story that I was unable to get into.

I did not like that the two timelines had main characters with the same name and other than in the beginning of the book, it was hard to differentiate between the two as similar aspects and events were happening in each timeline. I get that George was trying to point out that the curse had not changed even with the passing of time, but still there needed to be some way to differentiate the two other than some verb differences.

Susana in the present time literally does nothing to prevent her sleepwalking into the swamp, which she knows will kill her. Even when she confides in someone about it and then a safe guard is put in place she refuses to use it. Like what? You want to die? Also where are the family in this book, I mean she lives with them and they know about the curse but they really do nothing to see if Susana is okay? Are they okay if she dies, like so many have before her and they have to know that she is thinking about it as well, so where is the Love?

There is no doubt that George can write and create a story. I do not know if the fault lies with George with the premise as the book is sold as something that it is not, or mine and never being in the right mood to read this book. I know I’m in the minority with my review so make sure to check out other if you are thinking of reading this book.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Emily McIntire: Hooked

Emily McIntire has taken the retelling of a beloved Fairy Tale, Peter Pan, to the dark side:

What if the Fairy Tale had it wrong, that the evil person in the story was actually the good guy. Hook has sought nothing but revenge from Peter, who had ruined his life when he was a young child. The actions that Peter took, caused Hook to turn into the man that he is, dark and depraved. Hook has always sought revenge and when Peter's daughter, Wendy, is spotted in his club he knows he has the perfect way to exact that revenge. But just as his plan is working, Hook's empire begins to crumble he has a trader in his mix, or is it Peter again, realizing that his daughter may be in danger and Wendy isn't sure who she is in a relationship with, a man or a monster names Hook.

I'm all for fairy tale retelling (even though I have only read a few) and this one takes it dark with a retelling of Peter Pan, I totally thought this book would be more of a fantasy read and less of a thriller/dark romance read, but I am okay with that. I liked the little nods that McIntire made to the original story, like pixie dust being the latest drug on the street and the Yacht that Hook lives on was named the Tiger Lily as well as the ticking of the clock plays a major part.

I was pretty hooked (pun intended) on the first half of this book, but somewhere along the way it lost its sparkle. I think that this was due to the fact that I had figured out what was going to happen and there was nothing was set out in the book to question what had figured out. From that point on I found the book predictable and not as entertaining, I mean the beginning of the book start out dark, graphic and murder occurs but these aspect seem less in the second half of the book and Hook is less Hook like.

I enjoyed that McIntire had dual POV, of Wendy and Hook. They are two very different characters with very different POV, yet they complement each other how McIntire has it laid out. 

Wendy was pretty good character and she has some character growth and changes throughout the book but at the same time she chooses to stay blind and refuses to see the red flags that are surrounding her.

Hook is the star of this book. He is a fascinating character and I liked certain aspects that McIntire brough over from the story, like the ticking of the clock sound, that too Hook back to a horrific place. I kind of wish that hook actually had a hook, or no hand with interchangeable appendages to keep it a bit more similar to the story instead of just a hooked knife. Hook is 100% a product from the upbringing that he received and as much as he is dark, gritty, morally gray character you cannot help but feel for him.

This books started out amazing but just seemed lacking in the second half. I really enjoyed Hook as a character and he was my favourite part of the book This book is not for the faint of heart and would be for readers who like their books on the darker side. I know that McIntire has a full series of these dark fairy tale retellings so i may have to try another one and how that it can keep the darkness and pace from beginning to end. So I guess to sum it up I think this book was good but could have been great.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Stephanie Archer: Behind the Net

Stephane Archer shows that sometimes a Hockey Player can help a Songbird and vice versa: 

All Pippa wanted to do was succeed in the music industry. She knew it would be hard work, but that was her dream. When her Ex crushed her dreams, when his career started to take off, Pippa knew she had to start fresh. But she never thought that she would become the live in assistant not only to an NHL hockey star, but also the guy that she had a crush on in Highschool. Jamie seems to have the typical hockey ego, is extremely hot and grouchy too, but the more that Pippa interacts with him, she realizes just how sweet and protective he is. Pippa knows that nothing will probably come between her and Jamie but she is falling for him and he may break her heart, but it might be worth it.

Alright, this is probably the year that I have read the most contemporary romance books in a very very very long time and I think that Behind the Net would be in my top 2. This is the first book that I have read by Archer and it made me want to run out and try the other books that she has written.

I really enjoyed this book, I was a fan of the storyline, plot points and characters throughout the book. This was an easy read that had drama, but not too much drama, was able to make me laugh out loud at times, and just overall had a good mix of being sweet and steamy.

I liked that this book had dual POV so that we get both Pippa and Jamie's perspective. They are two very different people when it comes to life (very sunshine and grumpy feels) but I think that this complemented the dual POV that Archer decided to have. It was funny to see how they saw different situations and how they chose to act in them. The dynamic between Pippa and Jamie is also awesome i love when they first start living together, there are some funny moments and tense moments that occur.

Jamie is a perfect grumpy guy, who has a heart of gold from the pup he rescues to taking care of his mom and wanting to take care of Pippa too, no matter what form that takes, plus he wants her to succeed in whatever she wants to do, he will support her. He is just an all-around good guy.

I don’t know if it is a spoiler or not but I love that there is not Third act breakup, that is probably one of my biggest pet peeves within the contemporary romance genre. Instead of a third act breakup Archer decided to do the more mature thing and have the main characters talk and work on their relationship so that they can get to their HEA

I picked this book up to take a break from the darker genres that I read and I am so glad that i did. Archer had me invested from the very beginning and I cannot wait to continue on with this series. If you like forced proximity/fake dating and Grumpy/Sunshine, Hockey Romance troupes then you will enjoy this book. 


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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Carissa Orlando: The September House

In her debut novel, Carissa Orlando shows that a house can hold on to many things:

Margaret and Hal always wanted a big Victorian house, and once their daughter moves out to go to school, they know that now is their chance to own their dream home. When they purchase the home on Hawthorn Street, they couldn't believe their dreams had come true. However, this home has a dark history that has chosen to stay within except for the month of September, the house weeps blood, the souls trapped inside the house become more present and sometimes violent. This would have most people fleeing for their lives, but not Margaret, this is her house, her home and she will do whatever it takes to ensure it stays that way. But after 4 years, of Septembers Hal cannot take it anymore he wants out, and when he goes missing, their daughter Katherine comes to the house to try and find him.

This book was not as scary as I thought that it would be but it is still the perfect for a spooky read for October (or September) or really anytime of the year. The book is a bit slower that I was expecting as well but it very much comes together with the culmination at the end of the book. I still think about bones crunching and crushing and it makes me cringe. There are points in the book where you really don’t know how it will all play out and I liked the suspense that this created. I think the main part that I did not like was that it was a bit predictable with regards with Hal, I think that it is obvious from the beginning

I loved Margaret as a main character and her ability to not only adapt but accept the pranksters (as she calls them) for what they are, victims of horrible murders and knows that what they are doing in their afterlife is not their or her fault. Even Julian the one that likes to bite, she just knows that is she follows the rules, September will be over, and things get back to relative normalcy. You also feel sorry for why Margaret has had to adapt to any situation that she has been in and why she creates rules that surround her life. She did not have a happy marriage and one that seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. Margaret is for sure the best part of this book

I normally prefer dual POV books as it gives a more rounded story but this having only Margaret’s POV was the right decision. As much as this book is about the house, it is really just as much (or even more) about Margaret. Even though we only have her POV we get to see what she has experienced in the past both within the house and before the house, that give us a greater picture of what she has endured. Also, I was not the biggest fan of the daughter Kathrine, so I'm happy that we did not get her POV.

This was a great debut novel, a great spooky read and an amazing main character. If you are looking for a Gothic type Horror book that I would say is not as dark as a lot out there, pick this one up. I look forward to seeing what Orlando comes out with next.


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Monday, November 6, 2023

Hannah Bonam-Young: Out on a Limb

Hannah Bonam-Young, takes readers on a journey where one night can change everything:

Winnifred "Win" McNulty, does not want to be coddled for her limb difference, she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself with a few minor adjustments. When Bo, a stranger to Win, shows up at a Halloween party and beat her pirate costume, a what is supposed to be a one-night stand occurs. But that one-night stand changes everything. Bo surprisingly wants to be involved in all aspects and to help Win out as much as he can or she'll allow and Win does not know if she can handle this new challenge all by herself. Bo and Win decide to get to know each other just as friends, but as they know things do not always go according to plan.

First I have to say that I really like the pun in the title, I don’t think I have seen a better title for a book in a long time, so well done Bonam-Young.

I do not read a lot of contemporary romance book but I highly recommend this book, it was very wholesome, and it was all about the building of relationship. You know from the premise that a supposed to be one night stand turns into a baby happening, which basically forms the whole basis of the story in trying to build some type of a relationship because baby is coming and they both want to be part of that baby's life

It was really cute how the two of them met, pirates nonetheless and you can see that they are very much drawn to each other right away as they share in their acceptance in the disabilities that they have. Win who has had her's her whole life and Bo, still learning to cope with having his leg amputated. I like that Bonam-Young does not make a "big deal" about the disabilities that each has, they are there and are a part of the people and who they are but it does not overshadow their other characteristic and they are not all about their disability.

Bo is very puppy dog, cinnamon roll, whatever you want to call a good all around guy and super sweet you just have to fall in love with him. Plus, when you hear all that he has faced and how he ended up losing his leg, you realize how much this new possible of a life means to him. Win is just a determined character who charges headfirst in to life, and doesn’t want to ask for help or be coddled, she is doing fine, even when maybe she isn't. You have to love her drive and her wants for the future are amazing and you start to love her as a character as well.

As I said before I have not read that many contemporary romance books, so i wasn’t sure what to expect, many seem to have the third act trope, which I am not a fan of, but I was really happy that this one did not succumb to that.

Fuck me, this book is a little bit of sunshine and I am 100% here for it. I really loved this whole story, from characters to the relationship that Win and Bo try to build together, it just was really solid. Plus Bonam-Young is a Canadian Author so I'm always happy to support Canadian. I know I will be checking out her other books.


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Sunday, October 29, 2023

N.J. Mackay: The Quiet Dead

In the start of a new series N.J. MacKay, when a man confessed to a murder turns out to be innocent:

Hayley DaSilva walks in on a scene that no one should, the murder of her mother, brother, her brother's friend and her youngest brother missing and who was never found. He farther admits to the murder and is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. 15 years later, when a new development is being put in, small bones are dug up from the ground. They belong to Ethan DaSilva, he has finally been found. Hayley now lives in America in a new life, one where no ones knows that her family has been murdered. When she receives the phone call that Ethan has been found, she goes back to England and is forced to face the truth about what happens. DI. Sebastian Locke is assigned to the case and right away, he can tell that the case was not handled well and they were too quick to convict a man and the really murderer is out there. But 15 years has past, can DI Locke finally get justice for the DeSilva family?

I liked that Mackay does not do flashbacks other that what the characters remember, which is not much due to drugs and alcohol consumed at the time. I think that this made it harder to put the evidence together, for both the reader and the investigators in the book, as people are being asked to remember things from 15 years ago. There is never really a clear suspect within the book as the investigators continue their investigation, I enjoyed this, as it kept me on my toes in trying to figure out what happened back then and who has gotten away with murder. I will say I did not have it all figured out, which does not happen very often.

There are dual POV in this book, one of our investigator DI. Sebastian Locke and the only survivor of her family Hayley DeSilva and I did not mind this, but at the same time, I found that Hayley's POV were repetitive at times. She was not able to add much to the investigation, so I found some of her chapters felt slightly like filler chapters. They do make you care for Hayley as a character as you feel really sorry for her for what she has suffered, but that is not the point of the book, the point of the book is to solve what is now a cold case.

You have to admire DI Locke in the book, he is determined and wants everything done right, no matter where the truth may take him. I also like that Mackay took time to make Locke seem like a real person with having some of his family life shown in the book. 

This was a good book and a good start to a series, I really enjoyed the cold case aspect and to me it seemed the investigation was on point. I hope that Sebastian and Lucy work together again, I think they had a good dynamic with each other. I would check out another book in this series.


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Monday, October 23, 2023

Shannon Mayer: Taken by Fate

In the first book in a new series, Shannon Mayer shows what happens when the Veil Falls:

When the Veil fell, humans soon realized that they were no longer at the top of the food chain. The Veil that used to protect them from Werewolves, Vampires, Angels, Demons and the Fae, they are now able to cross over whenever they want. When the humans lost the war, they had to agree to send humans to be sold as slaves a few times a year. Sienna has been running and she knows how not to be caught by the slave runner, until she needs to be. She needs to be sold to the werewolves so that she can find her little adopted brother Jordan and bring him home. But Sienna get bought by a Vampire night for the Harvest Games, one that becomes deadly to survive unless she can find a Vampire to help her, lust after her to survive. But there are political moves going on in the background and death may be immanent. 

This is the first book that I have read by Mayer, and with the cliffhanger that this book has, I know that I will be reading the next book in the series. I found that this book had me hooked from the beginning and i was not expecting that. I really like Sienna as a character from the very beginning she was strong and kind, even to those that she just met and she didn’t take and shit from anyone. I basically got sucked into her story, I would say that the general idea of the Harvest games is very much The Selection but with more deadly consequences and the women are not vying for one guy, but any vampire they can.

While this book is about the human women finding a vampire to eventually take care of them in the Harvest games, I found that this was more of a side story overall, yes it affected some of the scenes and plot of the book but there was so much more going on that I did not mind this aspect (one I think I would normally not enjoy) especially when things get deadly. I was really surprised the amount of the story that was political and almost had a spy aspect to it, from both Sienna and the General's avenues. I was also happy that Mayer decided to have dual POV for this book, as it really rounded out the story.

The world building here is simple and not overly explained or complicated. I do have a few questions about why the veil fell, seems like the vampires do not know either and why when the Werewolves, Vampires, demons, Angles and Fae got together to defeat the humans, it now seems that they are enemies? None of this is really explained, but I found that this does not take away from the overall story and I think will be explained further on.

There is some romance/lusting in the book, but it is a slower burn, which was okay with.

I really enjoyed this book; it was an easy read that I was able to lose myself in. It had both dark and light moments that i think that Mayer blended well. I really like Sienna as a character, she is for sure a highlight of the book for me. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, especially with that cliff hanger.

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Monday, October 16, 2023

Clemence Michallon: The Quiet Tenant

In her debut novel, Clemence Micahllon shows the length a woman will go to, to survive:

Aiden Thomas is seen as a hard-working family man, who is now having to raise his daughter, Cecilia, alone, after his wife passed away from cancer. But Aiden Thomas is not who he seems, every night he visits a woman in the shed, a woman who cannot quite remember what her life was like before, all she knows is that she is alive and if she wants to stay that way she needs to follow the rules. But the rules are about to change, as Aiden's life has changed, her life is about to as well, maybe one that will lead to the opportunity to escape if she can be brave enough, but 5 years of brainwashing, punishment, hurt and fear may have taken that ability away from her, all she really wants to do is make sure that she survives.

Michallon is another debut author that I had the pleasure of reading this year and I think that the first thing that people need to know before reading this book, that is more of a domestic suspense read that a regular serial killer thriller book as most of the main characters are living in a house together, this includes Rachel, the Quiet Tenant. 

I think what this book has in spades is a feeling of suspense, how long will Aiden put up with Rachel, will Rachel find a way out, will Cecilia figure something out or question this women Rachel, and will Emily be able to trust her gut on things. In the same since, since the suspense within the book is drawn out, it can feel slow at times, and not having the plot move forward as fast as one may want it to. It almost become that the chapters featuring Rachel were very the same each time, and i do not know if this was deliberate or not to put emphasis on the life that Rachel has been living in for so long.

You have to admire Rachel for most of the story, even though so of the choices that she makes are frustrating you are somewhat able to understand why she makes them. She has such a high survival instinct that it is insane but at the same time she wants to help Cecilia. Rachel is the one that has survived Aiden and I do not think that this aspect should be overlooked. 

I don’t think that the book needed a POV from Cecilia as I found she didn’t really add much to the story, mainly just talk about Rachel being weird and loving her Dad even though he is strange at times. I think that Emily's POV was interesting, and I do wonder if there was a different twist here or there what would have become of her, I think we all know where Aiden was heading with her but you just don’t know for sure.

I like how there were chapters, even though they were short, where the reader learns how many people that he has killed and how he picked them, lured them and eventually killed them. Some of these "chapters" are longer than other, but they are no more than a page.

This was a good read and overall, I enjoyed the story, plot and how it was presented. I will admit that the book felt slow at times and did not seem to more along, as fast as i would like. For a debut novel I am impressed and i look forward to seeing what Michallon releases next.


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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

N. E. Davenport: The Blood Trials

In her debut novel and the first book in a duology, N. E. Davenport where one woman bent on revenge can change the entire world:

Ikenna's world has been flipped upside-down, her grandfather and only family left has died and she has been wallowing the last few months in school numbing the pain away. Her grandfather was also the only one who knows her secret, her blood gift that has needed to be kept hidden from birth. When one of her grandfather's best friends tells Ikenna that her grandfather was actually as, she will do anything to find out who was responsible. Bent on revenge she decides to once again pledge to become a Praetorian Guard, the most brutal trail where only a quarter of those who enter survive. The country of Mareen has been at peace for a long time but there are many forces at play and many who do not want Ikenna to survive the trials.

I personally love reading debut novels, I think that when an author decides to put a book out there, their debut is often one of their best and they bring something new to the genre they have chosen write in. So I was extremely surprised to find out that this was Davenport's debut book, it had many things that I love in the fantasy genre and I am personally shocked that this book has not received more hype, especially when it was released last year

Although this book has been stated by some that this is a YA book I would say it is more New Adult as it was fairly dark and a lot of death that in times is described in detail. There is also a lot more politics that occur in the book as well, especially in the latter half of the book. 

I loved Ikenna as a character, even though there were times when you want to hit her, but she felt very real, with real emotions and reactions to what is occurring around her. She has a secret that she has to hide, even from her friends therefore, she is truly alone once her grandfather is dead. Ikenna has a mouth on her and times her anger gets the best of her, but Ikenna has the skills and abilities to back them up, so she is pretty kickass. I found Ikenna's interesting and one we do not see very often, very Kate Daniels like but extra and extreme at times.

Lots and lots of racism and misogyny in this book and while the main lead does not “handle” it well all the time, I mean who would, she is amazing how she navigates through this world. She must prove herself more for not only being black but also a woman and she takes the measure of all those around her both friends and foe.

I think my criticism with this book is that i found it a little predictable, right from the beginning and I am a little bit confused on the world building. I am not completely sure about all the countries involved and why the Mareen are seen as the "best" of the countries, probably just a self-title as they are mainly white people, but as you read farther and farther into the book that does not seem to be the case. I also was confused of all the power that Ikenna's grandfather held and how he was able to hold the peace between so many countries, they say he was good with words, but that alone would not have been enough to hold peace as the way the Mareen treat most people is just horrible 

I really enjoyed this book, it was a lot darker that I thought it was going to be as death and trails is a big part of this book. Ikenna is a character that may be frustrating at times, but still someone you cheer for throughout especially everything that she has to go through. I cannot wait to read the next book in this duology. 


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