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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