Book Review: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Crown of Feathers book photo

Crown of Feathers book cover

Title: Crown of Feathers
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Crown of Feathers book 1

Date of Publication: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse


Synopsis

Veronyka is a war orphan who was raised by her deceased grandmother and her older sister, Val. Veronyka and her sister are “animages”, and have the ability to communicate with animals.  This is not uncommon in the world they live in, but ever since the war their kind have been persecuted.  Val and Veronyka want nothing more than to become Phoenix Riders, like the heroes who fought during the war.

After a terrible betrayal, Veronyka flees from her sister and finds a sanctuary for her kind, a place where apprentices are being trained as Phoenix Riders. The only catch? If she wants to become a Phoenix Rider–to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become the hero she’s always dreamt of being—she’s going to have to pretend to be a boy.

Characters and Plot

It’s difficult to separate out characters and plot for this book, since there are several point of view characters, and each of their plotlines are heavily influenced by who they are.

We primarily follow three characters in this book. All three of them have fascinating story arcs.  All three of them overcome their fears over the span of the first novel in this trilogy and begin the journey of accepting who they truly are.

First off, there’s Veronyka, the protagonist, who escapes from her (let’s face it—abusive) sister to join the Phoenix Riders while masquerading as a boy.  Her storyline is perhaps the most engaging, as it is the main focus of the story.  I absolutely love her unadulterated adulation of phoenixes and her sheer will to do whatever it takes to become a Phoenix Rider.

Continue reading “Book Review: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto”

Advertisements

Book Review: Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose

Say You're Sorry book photo

Say You're Sorry Book Cover

Title: Say You’re Sorry
Author: Karen Rose
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: The Sacramento Series book 1

Date of Publication: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group


Synopsis

When a serial killer targets Daisy Dawson, he doesn’t expect her to fight back. But she does, and she manages to grab the locket he wears around his neck during the struggle.  This locket connects to a cult that Agent Gideon Reynolds of the FBI escaped when he was only 13 years old.  He is driven to find that cult and expose them, saving the women and children from their psychotic leader’s tyranny.  This serial killer is Gideon’s one tangible connection to the cult.  He’s assigned to Daisy to protect her from the killer and hopefully draw him out.  Daisy and Gideon have undeniable chemistry, and Gideon quickly realizes that Daisy isn’t as helpless as he thought she was…

Language

First off, I want to say that Karen Rose is an excellent writer. Everything she writes is wrought with tension, and she creates such dynamic and realistic characters that it’s hard not to grow attached to every single one of them, even minor characters.  This is the primary reason why I gave Say You’re Sorry a 4 star rating, even though I had several issues with the plot, pacing, and characters.

Continue reading “Book Review: Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose”

Book Review: Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox

Hometown Boys

Hometown Boys book cover

Title: Hometown Boys
Editors: Mary Maddox
Genre: Horror, fantasy
Date of Publication: January 21, 2019
Series: Kelly Durrell # 2

Publisher: Cantraip Press


Synopsis

Kelly Durrell returns home twenty years after escaping the monotony of small-town Morrison.  Her aunt and uncle were brutally murdered by her high school boyfriend, Troy Ingram, and he claims that he did it because she broke his heart twenty years ago.  Convinced that he’s lying, Kelly takes it upon herself to investigate the murders. Some things have changed in the last twenty years, but others have stayed the same.  The townies are still vindictive and look down on outsiders, which she herself has become.  Will Kelly she be able to find whoever she believes coerced Troy to kill her aunt and uncle before it’s too late?

Plot

This is the second instalment in the Kelly  Durrell series, but it isn’t necessary to read these in order. There was a brief mention of the climactic events in the last book, but I didn’t feel like I was missing any critical information.

Hometown Boys has a solid start, with a lot of action and intriguing plot elements, but it does lag a little towards the middle.  However, every time the story pace slows significantly, a surprising and seemingly random event occurs that propels the plot forward, sending jolts of excitement down my spine.  These twists and turns kept the pages turning, transforming the story into a compelling read.

Continue reading “Book Review: Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox”

Book Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In Book Cover

I Invited Her in book cover

Title: I Invited her In
Editors: Adele Parks
Genre: Domestic Psychological Thriller 
Date of Publication: September 20, 2018
Publisher: MIRA


I invited her in… and she took everything…

Synopsis

Melanie hasn’t heard from her college best friend, Abigail, in over twenty years. But when Abigail calls her up to ask for a place to stay as she divorces her cheating husband, Melanie is thrilled.  She invites her in with open arms, which–as you can probably tell from the book’s title and its assigned genre of “domestic suspense”–isn’t a good thing…

Plot

I was surprised by how slow this book started. I’m used to psychological and domestic suspenses starting with a bang – in the form of a prologue or a little taste of what’s to come – and then go through the monotony of introducing the main character and her humdrum life, easing the reader into the plotline, etc. While the “suspense” element wasn’t immediately apparent (and by “immediate”, I mean not even within the first 100 pages), the writing was compelling.  I found that I was curious to uncover what would happen next. However, the book is very slowly paced and character driven.  Not a lot of anything happens in the first half of the book.

As I said before, there aren’t  a lot of thrills in the first half of the book, and you have to really want to find the “thriller” aspect to even feel the slightest bit of suspense. Some chapters are from Abigail’s point of view, and she doesn’t come across as ominous or unhinged, especially in the first few chapters with her POV.  It might have added more suspense to not know what she was thinking.  Especially since it can be difficult to write someone’s point of view without revealing their motives or what their plans are.  That said, the end of her chapters tended to have a single line that made me itch for more. A single line that could be interpreted as innocuous or foreboding.  I chose the latter, because that made it a more interesting read.

There are a few plot twists, but they’re all quite obvious from the very beginning.  I won’t spoil them here, but if you are reading the book carefully enough, the twists aren’t even twists at all, but more like a natural progression of the plot.

I found the story line somewhat infuriating.  While Melanie is quite a normal person, I couldn’t relate to how she dealt with some of the things going on, especially later on in the book.  The plot grew more and more exasperating, which was partly because the twists were obvious, but also because of how slow paced the story was in addition to how nonsensical some of the characters were behaving.  And it wasn’t infuriating in that fun “Oh, gosh, why can’t they see what’s been in front of them all along!?” kind of way, more in the “Dammit, why are you so stupid!?” kind of way.

Continue reading “Book Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks”

Book Review: Wolfgang by F. D. Gross

Wolfgang

Wolfgang book cover

Title: Wolfgang
Editors: F. D. Gross
Genre: Horror, fantasy
Date of Publication: October 23, 2018
Series: Wolfgang #1
Publisher: Independently published


Synopsis:

Wolfgang is a nobleman who spends his days and nights purging the countryside of the undead.  But when he returns home after killing a nest of vampires, he discovers his wife dead, his town in ruins, and his son is missing. Desperate to find his son alive, he must fight a race against time, all the while killing the hoards of undead that are trying to keep him from his goal.

Plot

The book opens with a little preamble setting the stage for the story. It sort of reminds me of the sliding words on the screen of the beginning of Star Wars movies.  I think this will be very useful in follow up books in the series, so that readers can be quickly reminded of what happened in the previous books, so the the author can jump right into the plotline in the first chapters.

This novel reads like a rocket-fast paced version of Dracula (minus the epistolary style).  The story itself is quite different from Dracula, but the writing has a similar language and tone.  The plot plunges forward from the very first pages, and things are explained just enough so that the reader can follow along for this wild ride.  There are quite a few twists and turns in the plot, some which were predictable, and others were not.  

Characters

Because of the fast pace of the story, there is not much opportunity for scenes that are crafted solely for the purpose of character development. However, every scene is carefully planned.  F. D. Gross does an excellent job of giving us a clear understanding of who Wolfgang is, what his motivations are, and even showing some vulnerabilities. For instance, in the very beginning of the story, he has to kill an undead woman.  He does so, because it’s his duty, but he wavers at the thought of killing her child, even though the little boy is no longer technically living. This tells us so much about not only the nature of the undead in this world, what the plot will be like for the story, but it also tells us bucketloads about the main character.

Side characters are a little less developed, and I would have liked to have had some more scenes with simple conversations between the characters, to get a better sense of who they are.  Wolfgang’s wife dies very early on in the book, but we didn’t have much opportunity to grow attached to her. However, F. D. Gross does provide some flashbacks later in the book, which allow the reader to better understand how greatly Wolfgang loved his wife.

Worldbuilding

While the plot is fast-paced, every word is carefully selected and F. D. Gross crafts a well-developed and elaborate world.  He even describes what the undead smell like – cloves and burnt leaves, in case you were wondering.

Wolfgang

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of fast-paced plots, effortless worldbuilding, and old-fashioned vampire killing.

starstarstarstar

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

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: When it Will Rayne, It Will Pour by S. C. McCormack

When it will rayne book cover

when it will rayne it will pour book cover

Title: When it Will Rayne, It Will Pour
Author: S. C. McCormack
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Date of Publication: October 4, 2018
Publisher: Self-Published


Synopsis

Rayne Slater is a private investigator with a mysterious past. When she’s hired to infiltrate a lion-shapeshifter colony and isolate one of their members, Reese Donovan, she agrees, but only for the big paycheck.  She’s hesitant to be thrown back into a world that she escaped years ago, but this case forces her to face her demons.  When she develops feelings for her target, she has to make a big choice: and it’s not just between her client and her feelings, but about what she wants the rest of her life to look like.

Language

When it will Rayne, it will Pour is written in a noir-like style that I enjoyed immensely.  The text needs editing (at least, the version I read), but it didn’t trip me up too much.

McCormack employs seamless transitions between present day and flashbacks that flesh out the story.  The author provides just enough information about Rayne’s past to leave the reader eagerly anticipating more.

Continue reading “Book Review: When it Will Rayne, It Will Pour by S. C. McCormack”

Book Review: Lady Killers by Tori Telfer

Lady Killers book cover

Lady Killers Book Cover

Title: Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History
Author: Tori Telfer 
Genre: True Crime 
Date of Publication: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Harper Perennial 


Tori Telfer has compiled this compelling compendium that features female serial killers throughout history.  Each murderess is illustrated with an absolutely gorgeous pen-and-ink portrait done by Dame Darcy.

Telfer opens the book with a well-researched discussion of female serial killers. In 1998, it was infamously stated by an FBI profiler that female serial killers simply do not exist. This is clearly not the case. Telfer talks about how men in power have carefully constructed their own narrative around each of these female killers. Uncomfortable with the idea that a woman could kill in cold blood, they rewrite the story. For instance, infamous Erzsebet Bathory was a “vampire” or a “seductress”, when in reality she probably just enjoyed murdering people.  Even the names given to certain killers, like Nannie Doss, the “Giggling Grandma”, is meant to lessen the impact of what they did.  Telfer provides a critical analysis of why humanity is tempted to reason away the acts of female killers, and it’s really quite fascinating a read for those interested in sociology and psychology.

Telfer doesn’t just write about the murderesses, what they did, and the punishment they may or may not have faced for it. She delves into the historical context, providing information about the world that the women grew up in, which in more times than not, greatly impacts the decisions each killer made. Telfer dives in to the potential motives for each of the killers.  Some of the killers were trying to survive economically, and others could have been simply sadistic. This is likely the case for certain murderesses, like the aristocratic killers Erzsebet Bathory and Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova.

Some reviews complain about the book having excessive amounts of detail, but I must argue against this point. The detail provides critical information about what could possibly have motivated these women to kill.  It gives us the full picture. It’s what makes reading a book like this different from scrolling through a Buzzfeed article.  Readers can come to their own conclusions, because they know more than just a cursory amount of information about the situation. I personally enjoyed the little tidbits of information about each time period. For instance, how aristocratic women living in Erzsebet Bathory’s time period plucked their hairlines, so that they would have high foreheads. This little detail is something that will stay with me for a while, as a woman in 2019 with an unusually high hairline.  I would have been aristocratic back then. Sigh.

Some parts of this book got a little grotesque.  Telfer does not shy away from describing what some of the more disturbing murderesses were accused of doing.  She does not mute the effects of arsenic on the body. I’d had no idea how painful it was, having grown up watching movies like Arsenic and Old Lace, which romanticize a horrible poison so commonly used by women throughout history.

 

Lady Killers Book Cover

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime, but wants to know more about female serial killers.  As I said before, it’s highly detailed, so if you’re not interested in learning about the time periods that each murderess lived in, this might not be the book for you.  There’s a broad selection of women throughout history, including infamous killers like Elizabeth Bathory and Mary Ann Cotton, to lesser known killers, like Raya and Sakina, sister killers in 1920s Egypt.

*Thank you to Harper Perennial for the book for review*

starstarstarstarstar

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Lipstick Voodoo

Lipstick Voodoo book cover

Title: Lipstick Voodoo
Author: Kristi Charish 
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Kincaid Strange # 2

Date of Publication: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada


Kincaid Strange is back in this dark and adventurous follow up to “The Voodoo Killings”.

Since this is the second in the series, there are spoilers for the first book in this review!

Synopsis:

Voodoo practitioner Kincaid Strange is invited by her ex-boyfriend, a cop, to consult on a cold case that just might have been a paranormal murder.  The case is connected to her roommate, Nathan Cade, the ghost of a 90s grunge rock star.  Meanwhile, Kincaid must also navigate a new relationship with her new mentor, the ghost of a psychopath sorcerer who used nefarious means to coerce her into becoming his apprentice. Everyone has their secrets, but who can Kincaid trust?

World-Building

This book is captivating from its very first page. I absolutely adore the detailed world that Charish has created.  It’s similar to real-life Seattle, but very dark and swarming with ghosts, zombies, ghouls, and other mysterious creatures from the Otherside.  The amount of detail that Charish has put into engineering this world is praiseworthy. As a health sciences librarian, I almost died from excitement when she mentioned “PubDead”, the paranormal version of PubMed. Let’s be friends, Kristi.

A major part of the world-building is the scientific way that Otherside works in this series.  Discussions of binding ghosts and setting mirrors all have a very matter-of-fact tone, with detailed nuances.  Some pages read like a paranormal textbook, but with a little more sass, since it’s all coming from Kincaid’s point of view.

Plot

There are several plot lines in this story that are seamlessly interwoven.  I love how Charish blended effortlessly from one to the other, and they’re so interconnected it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Excellent storytelling.

Characters

Side characters in this book are also well-developed. Gideon, the mysterious ghost of a sorcerer, is quite intriguing.  This book gives us just enough information about his past to  give us a better sense of who he is, but he’s still an enigma.  

Since Nate is a ghost, he isn’t expected to grow as a person, which is something Kincaid comments on in the book. However, I noticed that he had a little development of his own, which I won’t reveal here, because it’s a spoiler!

I did find the character development for her love interest, ex-boyfriend Aaron, to be lacking. It seems like Kincaid makes a revelation about their relationship (or lack thereof) during the latter half of the book, but it isn’t quite addressed fully enough for my liking before the final pages. I suppose I’ll have to wait for the next book for this.  

Lipstick Voodoo

I recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in a dark fantasy with a badass female lead.  It has a very detailed world, but it’s not presented in a monotonous way.  It’s very similar in feel to Kim Harrison’s Hollows book series.  

starstarstarstarstar

*Thank you to Vintage Canada and Netgalley for the ARC for review!*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie book cover

Carrie book cover

Title: Carrie
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Date of Publication: April 5, 1974

 


 

Carrie has had a difficult life.  She’s chubby.  Her mother is extremely religious. The girls at school bully her.  But Carrie isn’t like these other girls. She’s different, and on prom night, when her bullies take things too far, that’s when she’ll have her revenge…

This book review includes spoilers! Read on at your own risk!

Continue reading “Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King”

Book Review: Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

Two little girls in blue

two little girls in blue

Title: Two Little Girls in Blue
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: 
Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator: Jan Maxwell
Date of Publication: 2006


When Margaret and Steve Frawley return home from a fancy dinner, they discover that their twin daughters, Kelly and Kathy, have been kidnapped.  The kidnappers are demanding a ransom far too high for them to afford. This novel follows the kidnappers, the investigators, and the Frawley family in the events that follow.

*Please note, I am reviewing the abridged audiobook version. I wasn’t aware it was abridged until partway through!*

This is my first ever Mary Higgins Clark book, and I have to say that I was surprised. It wasn’t what I expected.

We know from the very beginning of the novel who the kidnappers are. The novel follows them and the investigators searching for them.  While we know who the kidnappers are, we aren’t told who they’re working for. There’s still some mystery to it all. I really like this approach. We get to follow both sides of the investigation, while there’s still an unknown for the reader to try to guess.

Continue reading “Book Review: Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark”