Sunday, April 28, 2024

Luanne Bennett: Bloodlust Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Sarah Barrie: Unforgiven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Megan Boley: The Darkness All Around Us

In her debut novel Megan Boley explores what happens when you give a pharmaceutical company too much power:

Pharmmatrox was on the cutting edge of medical science, they had created incredible drugs that were supposed to save the world, no on would ever get sick again. But instead of curing people, they created an additive drug called Dust, that eventually turns the user into a zombie like creature.  Stella is just trying to survive and keep her promise to find her friends before people started turning on mass. But Stella has a few problems, no only is she a user of Dust she is also on the run from a woman who is hunting her believing she is the reason why there are turned in the first place. Stella knows her time is running out in more ways than one and she has to try and find her friend and hopefully do some damage to the company that caused this in the first place.

When I read the premise of this book, I knew it was one that i would want to read. I am all for books where there are morally grey characters, and when the book is presented as Dark and Gritty. I have not read a zombie based book in quite some time, I think many have moved away from the genre for awhile (it did get oversaturated there for awhile), but I am happy to delve back into the genre. I like Boley's take on how the zombies are created, this is not your typical you get bitten you become a zombie. No this is if you use this addictive drug too long, it is going to turn you into one and all those who take it know this. However, like in many zombie or apocalyptic novels, the zombies are really the least of your worries, it is the other survivors you need to worry about. I think that Boley does a great job of showing how far humanity can fall and how the two different groups The Faction and Pharmatrox (troxies), are battling each other for control.

I struggled to get into this book at the beginning, I wish there had been a prologue to give readers the general idea of the dystopia we are about to step into, the two sides and why they are fighting. Instead, we have to wait till chapter 10 in order to get even a hint of what occurred before. I wasn't able to understand why people hated Troxies and wanted them all dead or how people were becoming zombies, so I felt like I was muddling through the first few chapters trying to figure it all out. 

I think I saw a review where some people had a hard time believing one of the twists in the book, I personally thought it was quite obvious, and not surprising and it just made since when you think of most dystopia/end of the world type books; everyone changes in some way or another, from who they are to their names, people have to change and adapt in order to survive. The other twist I did not see coming at all, and does it really affect things in the book, not really, so I am fine with it.

I appreciate that Boley does not waste the side characters in this book, they are not just there to be there, but feel like they are fully fledged people and different from each other even though they do not get their own POV. Each of them has a purpose in this story, especially those around Stella and I enjoyed that we got to know them as well. They also helped keep Stella grounded in certain situations which Stella needed quite a bit of in this book. I mean how can you not like Quinten. 

Death was an interesting addition and I wasn’t sure of her purpose until halfway through the book, so if you find the Death character confusing to begin with don’t worry. Their presence is explained and I actually wish there was more of Death at times (Death starts to fade out the farther you get into the book), to really show the downward spiral of Stella and her Dust usage and in the same way explain why she continued to use.

Overall, this is a really good debut novel and for most of the book you do not think that you are reading one. Boley does not let up on the action, suspense or darkness throughout the book. There are times when I wish the stakes were a little bit higher (but I don’t want to give any spoilers). I look forward to reading what Boley puts out next and I better not have to wait long for book 2.


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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Rebecca Ross: Divine Rivals

In the first book in a duology Rebecca Ross shows the power of the letter:

Gods have awoken after centuries of sleep and they are at War again. Some hear the cry to volunteer to join while other are forced to. Iris' older brother Forrest heard the call to war and is now serving on the front lines of it. In order to try to hold the family together for his return, Iris Winnow takes a postion with the Oath Gazette, but what she does not realize that she has a rival for the colomnist position a hansome man named Roman Kit. In order to help stave off her loanliness Iris begins to write letters to Forrest, as she has not received any from him, and slips them under her wardrobe door, where they have started to vanish. Iris did not know where they were going, and hoped that they were going to Forrest, only to discover a letter had been written back to her one day by an anymous person. 

I have heard of Rebecca Ross and have been meaning to read her book A River Enchanted but somehow I ended up reading this book first and it really wants makes we want to move A River Enchanted up on my TBR list. This book was extremely well written that a reader just falls into the story and characters. I did not want to put this down, I found that the book was really enchanting and I enjoyed it more that I thought I would (I think I read this book at the perfect time for me when i was craving something a bit lighter) and I would say that it lives up to the hype that has been created around it. 

I think that people need to be aware that this is not a High Fantasy book, as how the premise is written I think a few people would make this mistake. I went into this book not really knowing what it was about, only that it was one of the best books from last year (at least according to Goodreads). 

I would classify this book in the fantasy light genre as while there are mention of Gods, and it is there war that is causing WWI, as well as using creatures to fight this war, there is very little interaction with them. The most mgical or fantasy based aspect we get is the enchated typewriters that Kit and Iris use to exchange messages. This book is also classified as Young Adult but it falls some place between young adult and new adult in my opinion just based upon the age of the characters and the subject covered. Though I don’t think that this classification should disway you from reading this book.

I absolutely loved the relationship between Iris and Kit, how they are rivals at the newspaper, are from two different classes and that they open up to each other in letters. I think what I loved most about the letters is how sincere they were in them, even when they didn't know who was on the receiving end of them and how those words could lead to something more. I appreciated that Ross gave equal time to their POV and further demonstrated how the same and different Iris and Kit were but their love of the written word was strong for both of them.

This is such a sweet and cute read that really draws you into the story and relationship of the two main charters. You’ll want to pick up the next book in the series right after that ending, I can't wait to pick up the next book in this duology.


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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Eve Kellman: How to Kill a Guy inTen Ways

In her debut Novel Eve Kellman, flips the table on Men who try to take advantage of Women:

Millie Masters has set up a hotline for women, Message M, when they feel that unsafe to get home. Millie sees the worst of men in these situations, looking to take advantage of women Night after Night. Sometimes she even sees the same guy over again and that the men will just continue to do the same thing night after night. Millie is sick of them getting away with it with no consequences especially when an assault happens close to home. Millie decides it's time to switch things up and take the law into her own hands.

This is Kellman's debut novel and I appreciate the premise that she has presented here. I mean you do not often get the read about female serial killer (in Fiction or real life) and you know you are getting something along those lines based upon the title of this book. I think that when you realize the men that Millie is choosing, the question becomes, can you really blame her for the men she decides to kill? And when does it change along the way.

I struggled reading this one and I don’t know why, I found I wasn’t in the mood to read it when I first started it. I will admit that the book picks up and gets interesting the further you go into the book it just take a bit to get there. There was a point at around the 3/4 marks where I fully said holy fuck out loud with where Kellman took a plot point. it was totally unexpected, and I was there for it. I think people will either love or hate the ending, but I was there for the ending as it was not your typical one at all.

This book was really hindered by having long chapters. I’m just not a fan of them and it just seemed like each chapter went on and on and on and didn’t really give readers a break to process what was going on. I felt like there were places that Kellman could have broken the chapters up a bit instead of forcing them on. I feel like most people prefer shorter chapters than longer ones.

Millie as a character is fascinating and the moral ground and questions that she asks herself, especially at the beginning are really interesting. It is when you find Millie later in the book where she sees that she may not be just killing for saving women anymore. I like that Millie really started out just wanting to help women get out of situations that are just uncomfortable to downright dangerous with her Message M number and side job that she has. It is this side of her life where she feels purpose and excels, and I feel like there is a job that she could make of this somehow.

I would have liked a POV from someone else in the book, I'm not really sure who maybe James, not at the beginning as we have not met him yet but later in the book would have been great. Just break it up a bit, and then once again this could have broken up the longer chapters. I just felt that the book felt a bit stagnant with only having one POV.

I will not deny that this was an interesting read and Millie as a character was truly fascinating. I think that you can tell that this was Kellman's debut novel with the chapter length and the overall flow of the book. But that last 25% of the book and ending made me happy that I pushed through on this one. I do look forward to seeing what Kellman comes out with next.


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