Book Review: Something is Killing the Children Volume 1

Something is Killing the Children

Book Cover

Title: Something is Killing the Children Volume 1 (Issues 1-5)
Author: James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’Edera (Illustrator), Miguel Muerto (Colorist)
Genre: Horror, Graphic Novel
Date of Publication: May 26, 2020
Publisher: BOOM! Studios


Synopsis

When children begin to go missing in the town of Archer’s Peak, all hope seems lost until a mysterious woman arrives to reveal that terrifying creatures are behind the chaos – and that she alone will destroy them, no matter the cost.

IT’S THE MONSTERS WHO SHOULD BE AFRAID.

When the children of Archer’s Peak—a sleepy town in the heart of America—begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories—impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see.

Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.

GLAAD Award-winning writer James Tynion IV (The Woods, Batman: Detective Comics) teams with artist Werther Dell’Edera (Briggs Land) for an all-new story about staring into the abyss.

Collects Something is Killing the Children #1-5.

Goodreads

My Thoughts 

Volume 1 of this graphic novel is just what the doctor ordered.

Hauntingly grotesque and gorgeous illustrations? Check.

Badass and inscrutable monster-slaying heroine? Check.

Mysterious mythos and hints at more complex worldbuilding to come? Check.

My only complaint is that this instalment isn’t nearly long enough. I need more Erica Slaughter and I am dying to find out what happens next.  Erica is mysterious and has a dangerous edge to her, and her big beautiful haunting eyes are quite creepy, fitting the tone of this graphic novel perfectly. She isn’t completely jaded and hardened, however.  I don’t want to say more at the risk of spoiling anything.  I will say that she is definitely a fascinating character that I look forward to getting to know better.

Volume 1 of There’s Something Killing the Children only scratches the surface of a fascinating and unique mythos. I’m very eager to dig deeper once Volume 2 is released.

Something is Killing the Children

This is recommended to those who are looking for an atmospheric, thrilling, and compelling story about a small town that’s being plagued by something that’s killing the children…

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Book Review: Chat Love by Justine Faeth

Chat Love

Chat Love

Title: Chat Love
Author: Justine Faeth
Genre: Romance, Humor
Date of Publication: April 1, 2012
Publisher: The Small Press


Synopsis

Lucia has the perfect life–a budding career, wonderful friends, and a great family. But the one thing she doesn’t have is a boyfriend.  Her twenty-eighth birthday is coming up and she still hasn’t found love. Her friends convince her to try Chat Love, an online dating service. She goes on an endless string of bad dates with the men she meets on this website, all the while trying to ignore the handsome jerk in the office who has his eye on her…

My Thoughts 

This is such a cute book! Lucia is a lovable protagonist, and I really wanted her to find love.  I fell in love with her love interest, who is charming, witty, and definitely sexy.  

This book was written before online dating became very popular, and it was fun to read about the stigmas that people had (and many still have) about dating strangers they meet on the internet.  At first, Lucia is very hesitant to try online dating, but eventually she folds after receiving pressure from her family, because her little sister and husband are expecting a baby. 

Lucia’s experiences dating on Chat Love were outright hilarious. Though, I was exhausted just reading about them! At one point, she refers to the dates of the week as Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The introvert in me cringed at that. Take a day off, Lucia! 

There was a part in the middle that required a serious suspension of disbelief–when characters don’t realize something that should be obvious to them because you know they’re not raging idiots–but I forgive this, because it’s a common cliche in romance novels.  Without these types of obstacles, the romantic leads would get together in twenty pages, not two hundred!

Chat Love

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a cute, funny, romantic read with Sex and the City vibes.

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* Thank you to the author for the ebook to review*

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Book Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read

Beach Read

Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Berkley


Synopsis

January Andrews is a romance novelist with a deadline. The only problem? She doesn’t believe in happy ever afters anymore. After her father and role model died, she found out that he had a mistress and a secret love shack on the beach. Broke and desperate for inspiration, she decides to move to this house that she inherited for the summer so she can clear it out to sell while writing her next bestseller. Little does she know, her college rival, literary author Augustus Everett, lives next door. He’s infuriating and judgmental and just as handsome as she remembers.  They both think the other can’t write in their genre, and they find themselves making a bet: he’ll write a happy ever after and she’ll write a literary masterpiece.  Whoever sells their book first gets the other to formally recommend it.  Of course, things are never quite so simple…

My Thoughts

Beach Read has an intriguing premise, and the delivery does not disappoint. In the opening of the novel, January is quite distressed after finding out that her father had not only been cheating on her mother when she had cancer, but that he had a secret house with his mistress. January’s boyfriend of seven years had broken up with her, because she’s no longer the carefree woman that he fell in love with. How is January supposed to write a light romance with a happy ending when she doesn’t believe in them anymore?

Gus is a charming ladies’ man, but he uses his charm to keep women at an arm’s length. He’s had a rough past, and it’s reflected through his preferred genre. After the two make their bet, they both have to assist the other with their “research” or “training” in what it means to write in each other’s genre. For January, that means a night out at the carnival, (which, of course, Gus finds mortifying), but for Gus, this means researching a suicide-cult.  

January and Gus are polar opposites at the surface, but it turns out that they have a lot in common once you dig past those top layers. 

As a genre writer myself, I felt that I related to January on a deeper level. That level of finding literary authors who are condescending and full of themselves insufferable. I completely understood January and how she felt about Gus during their college days.  I could almost feel the judgment and arrogance ooze off him during the early scenes in the book. 

I absolutely adored the story line regarding January and her father. Every day she’s confronted with evidence of the fact that he had a secret life.  The subplot of her coming to terms with what her father did is part of what makes this book so remarkable. Beach Read isn’t just about her budding romance with Gus, it’s about her relationship with her father and figuring out who she is and who she wants to be.

The only thing I didn’t quite like about this book is the fact that January is incredibly broke, yet she’s an author. Authors shouldn’t quit their day jobs until they have a consistent income from their books. Both January and Gus talk about how much they need their advances, but it’s never mentioned how much January is making from royalties off her previous books.  Perhaps she should be supplementing her income with freelance writing gigs? This feels nitpicky, I know, but it’s a trope I’ve seen quite often in novels, which is ironic, because you’d think that the authors of these novels would know more about the intricacies of the publishing world.

Beach Read

Beach Read is equally hilarious and heartfelt, and there are parts that made me laugh out loud followed by heart-wrenching moments of honesty.  Ironically, the title of this novel is Beach Read, but unless you want to be alternating between laughing out loud and crying while reading at the beach, this book is best read in the confines of your home. 

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*Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for the arc to review!*

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Book Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Title: The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Sky in the Deep Book 2

Date of Publication: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books


Synopsis

When she was just a child, Tova was found washed ashore by the Svell.  She was the child of an enemy clan, but she bore the marks of a Truthtongue–born with the unique ability to cast runes and see the future. Despite their fear and hatred of her kind, the Svell have used her power for their own gain, and now they plan to use it to inform their future conquests.   All Tova wants is to find a place where she belongs, and she wants nothing to do with the Svell and their insatiable thirst for power.

Halvard was just a boy in Sky in the Deep, but now he is a man, being groomed to lead his clan into peace.  But fate is far more complicated than he ever could have imagined, and he must do whatever it takes to save the clan he’s sworn to protect.

Language and Setting 

It’s rare that I talk about language or setting first for a book that is plot-driven, but Adrienne Young’s writing style is so phenomenal, that I fully believe that it is the reason why her novels are so popular.  

The world Young has created is so rich in detail, with elements of magic and myth blended into every aspect of her storytelling.  Each word she selects paints a finely-detailed landscape of this fantastical Viking-era world.  Everything is so beautiful, reading like poetry on the page, from her description of myths or visions to the bloody fight scenes on the battlefield. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the craft of writing, as I’m sure Young has something to each every one of us about metaphor and poetry in fiction.

Characters

I fell in love with sweet little Halvard in Sky in the Deep, and I was absolutely thrilled to see that he would be featured more prominently in this book.  His character remains true to the essence of the little boy we met in the first instalment in this series, but now he is a man, and he must lead his people during a time where the peace they’ve fought so hard to protect is at risk.  

Tova is a fascinating character, and I was consumed by her backstory. Hated by the people who took her in, her parts of this story can be hard to read, and I genuinely felt for her every time she was forced to cast the runes and read the future of the people who despised her and what she represented. 

The Girl the Sea Gave Back has lower ratings on Goodreads than its predecessor, Sky in the Deep. I think I know the reason. The plot of this book is similar to the previous, in that it’s about two Viking clans clashing and the boy and girl in the middle of it. The only problem with this book is that Tova and Halvard barely interact, and they don’t meet until far into the story.  I would have liked for them to have scenes together, where they get to know each other and fall in love in a more traditional way. That said, their love is quite fascinating to read, and for once I was okay with destined love/love at first sight in a young adult book, and didn’t feel like it was a cop-out in any way whatsoever.

Plot 

As mentioned in the Characters section, I would have liked for the two protagonists to have had more time together in this book. Or maybe, what I really want, is for the book to have been a hell of a lot longer. It was over too quickly, and I wanted to immerse myself even deeper into this world.

There are multiple flashbacks throughout the story, but Young expertly wove these scenes in with the rest, and I was never confused nor felt jarred when slipping from one scene to the next.  This is another reason why I think the book could have been longer, because while I loved the flashbacks, I often kept checking how many more pages were left in the book, being like “I NEED MORE PRESENT DAY STUFF”. Just to reiterate–I loved the flashbacks, I just had an intense need to find out what would happen in the present-day plotline.  

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

I recommend this book to those who want to immerse themselves in a lyrical, captivating story about Vikings, magic, and destiny.

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* Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ebook to review*

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Book Review: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Sister Dear

Sister Dear

Title: Sister Dear 
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Genre: Thriller
Date of Publication: May 26, 2020
Publisher: MIRA


Synopsis

When Eleanor’s father dies, she’s devastated to learn that he wasn’t her biological father. Since she has a terrible relationship with her mother and sister, she decides to track down her birth father.  Eleanor is envious when she learns that she has a half sister, Victoria, who has everything in life: the perfect body, the loving husband, a promising career, and a doting set of parents. Eleanor will do whatever it takes to take what’s rightfully hers…

My Thoughts

Sister Dear is a fast-paced thriller. Told in the first person, we’re privy to Eleanor’s thoughts, and I couldn’t help but relate to her on a deep level.

I think that is part of what made this book so darn distressing to me. I was very invested in what happened to Eleanor, and every time something terrible happened it was like a knife through my heart.  Every time she made a bad decision, I was like “Oh no, honey”. I had to put the book down a few times to pace and let out some pent-up frustration.

As the novel progresses, Eleanor’s mental stability begins to come into question. McKinnon’s writing style demonstrates this descent perfectly—with Eleanor’s intrusive thoughts and her outlook on the world in general.  The way that she interprets people’s reactions to her is heightened by her paranoia, self-loathing, and desperation.

The side characters in this book are also fascinating, though they can’t hold a candle to Eleanor.  Readers grow to love Eleanor’s half-sister almost as quickly as she does.  Lewis is the perfect boy next door, despite owning a gym (You’d think he’d be all muscle talk, but he’s much more than that).  Her mother is the type of monster that readers just love to hate.

The plot itself is very engaging.  While there are quite a few twists and turns in the story, the real strength of this novel lies in the shock ending. I won’t say any more, but this book is definitely worth reading if only for the slap-in-the-face of a conclusion.
Sister Dear

I recommend this book to those who’re looking for a gripping, twisted thriller, and to those who won’t mind not being able to look their own sister in the eye ever again.

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* Thank you to MIRA and the author for the arc to review! *

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Book Review: The Dilemma by B. A. Paris

The Dilemma

The Dilemma

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B. A. Paris
Genre: Thriller
Date of Publication: June 30, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Synopsis

It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

I want to preface this review by saying that I’m a big fan of B. A. Paris’ previous works.  Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back were gripping thrillers from cover to cover (Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to check out The Breakdown yet).  But I think that categorizing this particular book as a “thriller” or “mystery” does it a great disservice. This is not a thriller.  The Dilemma is a suspenseful family drama. If you go into this book expecting twists and turns in the plot as you often see in mysteries, you’re going to be very disappointed.  It is suspenseful, but it is not a thriller.

There are two twists in the novel, and the first is given away by the prologue. I’ve whined in the past about how every author these days seems to think that their novels have to have a prologue. The prologue in The Dilemma gave away the major plot development of the book, and really provided nothing of value to the story itself.

That said, this novel is incredibly suspenseful. It’s clear that Livia’s big birthday bash is not going to be the idyllic event that she’s planned, and the stress that the main characters are enduring seems to ooze off the pages. I was sweating buckets while reading, genuinely worried about how it would all go down.  The Dilemma made me incredibly uncomfortable, yet I could not seem to put it down.

The depth of the characters is definitely the strength of this novel.  They are so detailed, with such rich backgrounds, that it feels like they could leap off the page.  I felt like I understood Livia and her motivations more than I understand my own mother (Sorry, Mom!).

BA Paris has such a phenomenal writing style that she could write about going to the bathroom and I’d hang on to her every word.  I would have liked to have known that this isn’t a true thriller when I started reading, since it would have completely changed my expectations.

dilemma small

I recommend this book to those who enjoy a suspenseful family drama filled with secrets, lies, and uncomfortable birthday parties.

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* Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the arc to review! *

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Book Review: Monster She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson

Monster she wrote

Monster she wrote

Title: Monster She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction
Author: Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson
Genre: Non-fiction
Date of Publication: September 17, 2019
Publisher: Quirk Books


Synopsis

Weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. Meet the female authors who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales. And find out why their own stories are equally intriguing.

Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein; but have you heard of Margaret Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier? Have you read the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era? Or the stories of Gertrude Barrows Bennett, whose writing influenced H.P. Lovecraft? Monster, She Wrote shares the stories of women past and present who invented horror, speculative, and weird fiction and made it great. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V.C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Coltor, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). And each profile includes a curated reading list so you can seek out the spine-chilling tales that interest you the most.
Goodreads

My Thoughts

What a beautiful book, inside and out! Of course, I’m referring to the illustrations, but also the content. Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson have a witty and informative writing style, and this book is a must-read for any horror lover.

Monster She Wrote is broken up into sections, where like authors are grouped together based on what or when they wrote.  Each section has a brief foreword explaining the importance of the contribution of these women to literature, talking about the political and social climates in which they wrote, as well as the impact their works have had on later generations.  There are sections on the traditional Gothic authors, the women who penned ghost stories, “the women who wrote the pulps”, and much more.

Throughout each author’s biography, there are mentions of their works and the significance they had on the genre and literature in general.  I was impressed with how Kröger and Anderson managed to summarize these books in such succinct and intriguing ways that made me reach for my notebook to add yet another title to check out later.  The end of the section on each author provides recommended readings, both by the author, as well as by those who were influenced by her.  My to-read list has grown pages since picking up this book.

For example, (I picked this at random) under “Related Work” for the author Angela Carter, “Werewolf fans may enjoy St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Knopf, 2007), a story collection by Karen Russel about nuns, wolf-girls, and alligators set in the Florida swamps.” Um, yes please, add that to my list, thanks!

Monster she wrote

Monster She Wrote provides an excellent foundation on the women of horror and speculative fiction, and I recommend it to all readers and authors alike.

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Book Review: Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House by Janet Hill

Lucy Crisp

lucy

Title: Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House
Author: Janet Hill
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date of Publication: April 14, 2020
Publisher: Tundra Books


Synopsis

When Lucy Crisp takes a job at the local florist after graduating high school, she decides to apply to attend Ladywyck Lodge, an exclusive arts school.  She’s thrilled when she’s accepted, and her father buys a surprisingly cheap house in Esther Wren, a small town just outside New York City.  She moves into the house a few months before classes are to begin, but she quickly realizes that this is no ordinary house. As Lucy investigates, she discovers that her neighbours are not ordinary either, and the school that she’s been accepted into is definitely not an ordinary arts school…

Plot

This is a delightfully whimsical story. It starts off a little slow, but once Lucy has moved into her new home and the strange events begin to occur, I had a hard time putting this down!

The illustrations are absolutely stunning, and they match perfectly with what is being told in the story.  They all have a similar tone and feel, and they helped to paint a picture (quite literally) of the beautiful and quaint little town, the house, and the people in it.

Continue reading “Book Review: Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House by Janet Hill”

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Date of Publication: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books


Synopsis

Olive has always been the unlucky twin, but her luck changes when her sister and brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding and are unable to go on their honeymoon.  Olive decides to go for on their free vacation with her brother-in-law’s brother, Ethan, who she’s hated at first sight.  She expects to spend the entire beach holiday avoiding him, but things get a little confusing when her new boss shows up.  So she doesn’t get caught taking someone else’s free honeymoon, she tells her boss that she’s married to Ethan. But now she has to keep up the charade and pretend to be madly in love with this man she hates, all the while trying to remember why she hates him so much in the first place…

My Thoughts 

This book takes one of my favourite tropes (enemies turned to lovers) and brings a fresh new air to it. This book is laugh out loud funny, and there were a few parts that had me in hysterics.  The plot is fast paced, and the characters are absolutely lovable.

It was wonderful reading a romantic comedy where the protagonist is a woman working in the science field.  Olive is a scientist, and while it’s not a critical part of the plot, it is a part of who she is, and it’s brought up more than a few times. I loved this!  I am actually counting this book as my book featuring a woman in STEM for the PopSugar Reading Challenge.

I enjoyed the romance between Olive and Ethan quite a bit. While some of the plot “twists” are predictable (as is the nature of the romantic comedy, obviously they’re going to end up together. *Gasp* Did I just spoil the ending?), I didn’t mind one bit. For instance, it was obvious to me that Ethan didn’t think she was “disgusting” as she thought he did, otherwise this wouldn’t have made for a very fun or romantic read.

Another thing that I loved about this book was that it isn’t just about the romance. Olive does a lot of soul-searching over the course of the book, as she uncovers a fatal flaw in her outlook on life, and she works to overcome it. The book isn’t just about her falling in love with another person, it’s about finding out who she is and who she wants to be.  She grows as a person during the events in the book, making it so much more than just a romance story.

The Unhoneymooners

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a hilarious and romantic beach read this summer.

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Book Review: Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty

Book Cover Beauty

Title: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
Author: Robin McKinley
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Romance, Young Adult
Date of Publication: 1993, reprinted 2018
Publisher: Greenwillow Books


Synopsis

A strange imprisonment…

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Robin McKinley’s beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast. – Goodreads

Plot

I wanted to love this book, but it lacked for me in plot. The book concentrates on Beauty’s family life prior to moving into the castle to live with the Beast. This is the focus of the book, which I had not been expecting at all. I wanted to read about the castle and whatever mysterious magic goes on there, but this only took up the last little bit of the book.  While the events that unfolded in her home life with her father and her sisters were interesting, I couldn’t quite enjoy it because I was waiting for the real story. It almost felt like two books ideas were slapped together, when they would have served better as two separate stories.

Language & Setting 

The major appeal for this story is the writing style. Robin McKinley has an exquisite writing style, and the way that she describes the settings and the characters makes it seem like they could leap off the page and into the real world.

Characters

I had a hard time connecting with Beauty, even though she was an ordinary girl with a love for books. It might be an artifact of the writing style – when the writing focuses on style and beauty of language, I personally find it harder to connect with the protagonist.  While we frequently get glimpses into her head and what she’s thinking, I never connected with her on a deeper level. 

Unfortunately, her family was far more developed than any of the characters in the castle. We don’t get to truly meet any of the servants, since they’re invisible, yet it’s understood that they’re there. The Beast is somewhat of a caricature, and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why Beauty fell in love with him.  However, if Beauty’s time in the castle had made up as much of the book as the events leading up to it, I do feel that I would have had enough time to grow to appreciate the Beast and his idiosyncracies.

Beauty

I recommend this book to those who are looking for a different take on a magical medieval life, but aren’t expecting the story to exactly mirror the movie.  There is a much greater focus on her family than on her time with the Beast, and knowing this before reading the story might increase your enjoyment of it.

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