The Death Of Mrs. Westaway By Ruth Ware #NewBook #Thriller #Mystery #Netgalley

📓 The Death Of Mrs. Westaway is a new atmospheric thriller from best-selling author Ruth Ware. I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. This review is spoiler-free 📚 😌

36373481

 

Title: The Death Of Mrs. Westaway

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

Date published: May 29, 2018

Page Count: 384

 

 

synopsis

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.”

 

My Review

Gypsy Caravan, Tarot Wagon, Seaside

 

The Death Of Mrs. Westaway is a mystery novel about dark family secrets that takes place in England, during November (the perfect dreary weather for a thriller). The story is told from Harriet’s perspective in present day, and by journal entries from the past. After her mother is killed in an accident, Hal takes over the family business reading tarot cards on a pier in Brighton. I became attached to Hal pretty quickly, and found myself hoping she’d be able to pull off the fraud of walking away with someone else’s inheritance. Mrs. Westaway’s family is a loveless group of people who barely have anything to do with each other. I especially enjoyed cranky Mrs. Warren who helped run Mrs. Westaway’s ancient mansion for many years. Her sharp, uninhibited tongue reminded me of Lady Crawley from “Downton Abbey”.

Tarot Cards Magic Fortune Telling Gypsy Es

The setting of the Westaway mansion, Trepassen, is my favorite character. I loved how the five-sense descriptions of the house helped me feel like I was there, causing the creaks and secrets to haunt my dreams after reading late into the night.

I kinda saw the twist coming, but I almost always guess the “surprise ending” for books and movies. The secondary characters were one-dimensional for me. I would have liked to have been given more opportunity to get to know Mrs. Westaway, and Hal’s mother. Mrs. Westaway seems like an entertaining character that would probably make a great protagonist for a prequel 🙂

There was some fact repetition and I feel like one more big edit could have polished this one to a 5 star read for me.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a suspenseful thriller that is a slow-burn, however, it will keep you turning the pages. I definitely recommend you pick up this new book by Ruth Ware.

About the author.jpg

“Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9013543.Ruth_Ware

Find her on twitter at www.twitter.com/ruthwarewriter, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ruthwarewriter or via her website – www.ruthware.com

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May Wrap Up [2018] #reading

I read 6 books in March:
2 Young Adult (Fantasy, Contemporary Romance)
2 Adult (Anthology/Fantasy, Mystery Crime Thriller)
2 Middle Grade (Fantasy Graphic Novels)

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I follow the Goodreads rating suggestions:
🌟= did not like it
🌟🌟= it was ok
🌟🌟🌟= liked it
🌟🌟🌟🌟= really liked it
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟= it was amazing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Title: Our Dark Duet

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Date Published: June 2017

Page Count: 510

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟 Our Dark Duet By Victoria Schwab #BookReview

 

 

 

32905900

Title: Some Of The Best From Tor.com

Author: Various

Publisher: Tor.com

Date Published: January 2017

Page Count: 667

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟  Some Of The Best From Tor.com 2016 #BookReview #Free #KOBO

 

 

 

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Title: Find You In The Dark

Author: Nathan Ripley

Publisher: Text Publishing

Date Published: April 2018

Page Count: 352

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟  New Thriller by Canadian Author #Findyouinthedark #Netgalley

 

 

 

10537195

Title: The Last Council (Amulet #4)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi

Publisher: Graphix

Date Published: September 2011

Page Count: 219

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10537195-the-last-council

 

 

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Title: From Twinkle With Love

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Published: May 2018

Page Count: 336

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟 New Teen Contemporary Romance #BookReview #Netgalley #FromTwinkleWithLove

 

 

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Title: Prince of the Elves (Amulet #5)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi

Publisher: Graphix

Date Published: September 2012

Page Count: 203

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2400981523?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

New Teen Contemporary Romance #BookReview #Netgalley #FromTwinkleWithLove

📚 “Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you. ”  📚

36373464

 

Title: From Twinkle, With Love

Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: Teen Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date published: May 22nd, 2018

Page Count: 336

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

A Barnes & Noble Most Anticipated Sophomore Novel of 2018!

Available in Scholastic Book Clubs starting Fall 2018!

An Indie Next Summer 2018 Pick!

One of Popsugar’s 10 Exciting Summer Releases!

synopsis

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36373464-from-twinkle-with-love

 

My Review

From Twinkle, With Love takes place in June, Colorado Springs, told from the perspective of sixteen-year-old Twinkle Mehra, who feels like an invisible “wallflower”.

A refreshing, modern, coming-of-age story about learning from mistakes and discovering your true self. This story has a diverse cast of characters, which is always nice to read. Sahil, the twin brother of Twinkle’s crush Neil, is my favorite character. He’s an adorable, ideal example of how young modern men should treat women.

I enjoyed the use of letters, text messages, emails, and blog posts to tell the story. It made for an interesting, quick-read, which is great for the hesitant reader.

Despite a few plot holes, From Twinkle, With Love is a light, funny,  charming novel for readers 12 and up (no sex, drinking/drugs). A great summer read 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

About the author.jpg

Author of light, bright, diverse YA. Hiding behind my coffee cup, eavesdropping on your conversations.https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14834224.Sandhya_Menon

http://www.sandhyamenon.com/

New Thriller by Canadian Author #Findyouinthedark #Netgalley

📓 Find You In The Dark, Canadian author Nathan Ripley’s début novel, is an Adult Thriller (Crime, Mystery).  I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review📚 😌

findyouinthedark

 

Title: Find You In The Dark

Author: Nathan Ripley

Genre: Adult, Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Publisher: Text Publishing

Date published: March 2018

Page Count: 352

 

 

synopsis

Martin Reese has a hobby: he digs up murder victims. He buys stolen police files on serial killers, and uses them to find and dig up missing bodies. Calls in the results anonymously, taunting the police for their failure to do their job.

Detective Sandra Whittal takes that a little personally. She’s suspicious of the mysterious caller, who she names the Finder. Maybe he’s the one leaving the bodies behind. If not, who’s to say he won’t start soon?

As Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder, Martin makes a shocking discovery. It seems someone—someone lethal—is very unhappy about the bodies he’s been digging up.

Hunted by a cop, hunted by a killer. To escape and keep his family safe, Martin may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever imagined.” Goodreads

 

My Review

 

Martin Reese and his wife, Ellen, have a teenage daughter named Kylie. Ellen’s sister is missing for twenty years. The serial killer charged with her disappearance is dead. After selling his tech company, Martin starts buying info from a dirty cop about missing women, trying to find his wife’s sister, and during the process he becomes obsessed with digging up the bones of murdered women. Find You In The Dark made me ponder the gray area between right and wrong, and ask myself just how far I would go to find someone.

The Ragman! Oh how I enjoyed his character. I wanted to read more of his dark, twisted, thoughts, motivations, and actions. What an interesting monster he is.

This is a slow burn, but somehow I found myself longing to read it, wondering what was going to happen next, and staying up way past my bedtime trying to figure out who Martin Reese really was. I now realize I love to read stories about people who live a secret life.

I disliked the cliché rich-man-not-paying-attention-to-beautiful-wife story line. Ellen is a spoiled, selfish woman. I didn’t care about her at all. She is overprotective when it comes to her daughter, yet doesn’t wonder what her own husband is doing on overnight solo camping trips.

The pace is slow for a thriller over the first half of the book, and I felt like the characters didn’t come to life until the last quarter. If you like a fast-paced thriller, this is not the book for you. However, if you’re into a slow burn with a sprint to the finish, then be sure to check this one out.

About the author.jpg

According to a note from the publisher on Netgalley, Nathan Ripley is the pseudonym of Naben Ruthnum, a winner of Canada’s prestigious Journey Prize for best short story published by an emerging writer.

“Originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, Ruthnum is of Mauritian descent.[5] He has a master’s degree from McGill University, where he wrote his thesis on the role of Oscar Wilde in the development of the ghost story in British literature.” Wikipedia

“Nathan Ripley is the pen name of literary fiction writer and journalist Naben Ruthnum. His stories and essays have appeared in The Walrus, Hazlitt, Sight & Sound, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other places. He lives in Toronto.” Fantastic Fiction

Nathan Ripley on Twitter

Some Of The Best From Tor.com 2016 #BookReview #Free #KOBO

📓 Some Of The Best From Tor.com is a collection of 25 stories, each with a beautifully illustrated cover, published in 2016. I stumbled upon this free KOBO ebook while searching for a book by Caighlan Smith, who has a short story in this anthology. Keep scrolling to see my rating for each story (P.S. quite a few were a 5 star read for me!)  📚 😌

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Title: Some Of The Best From Tor.com 2016

Author: Anthology

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror

Publisher: Tor.com

Date published: January 2017

Page Count: 667

 

 

 

My Review

 

“Clover” By Charlie Jane Anders 🌟🌟

“The Art of Space Travel” By Nina Allan 🌟🌟🌟

“The Destroyer” By Tara Isabella Burton 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Traumphysik” By Monica Byrne 🌟

“The High Lonesome Frontier” By Rebecca Campbell 🌟🌟

“Lullaby for a Lost World” By Aliette De Bodard 🌟🌟

“A Dead DJinn in Cairo” By P. DJeli Clark 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Breaking Water” By Indrapramit Das 🌟🌟🌟

“Autobiography Of A Traitor And A Half-Savage” By Alix E. Harrow 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

“The City Born Great” By N.K. Jemisin 🌟🌟

“Everything That Isn’t Winter” By Margaret Killjoy 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“The Weight Of Memories” By Cixin Liu 🌟

“The Maiden Thief” By Melissa Marr 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“The Caretakers” By David Nickle 🌟

“Your Orisons May Be Recorded” By Laurie Penny 🌟🌟🌟

“Meat + Drink” By Daniel Polansky 🌟

“The Three Lives Of Sonata James” By Lettie Prell 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“The Great Detective” By Delia Sherman 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Finnegan’s Field” By Angela Slatter 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

“The Weather” By Caighlan Smith 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Terminal” By Lavie Tidhar 🌟🌟🌟

“Her Scales Shine Like Music” By Rajnar Vajra 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“La Beauté Sans Vertu” By Genevieve Valentine 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“That Game We Played During The War” By Carrie Vaughn 🌟🌟🌟

“A Fist Of Permutations In Lightning and Wildflowers” By Alyssa Wong 🌟🌟

Places to get this book:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780765391957

https://www.amazon.com/Some-Best-Tor-com-2016-Original-ebook/dp/B01MS8EZ9X

https://www.tor.com/2017/01/10/free-ebook-giveaway-of-some-of-the-best-of-tor-com-2016-edition/

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/some-of-the-best-from-tor-com-2016

The Man Who Died #Thriller #BookReview #SpoilerFree #Themanwhodied #Netgalley

📓 I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.  📚 😌

The man who died

Title: The Man Who Died

Author: AnttiTuomainen

Translated from Finnish by David Hackston

Genre: Adult Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date published: May 1st, 2018

Page Count: 245

 

 

synopsis

“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.

With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” Goodreads

 

My Review

Setting: Hamina, Finland

 

Jaakko Kaunismaa: CEO of mushroom business. After finding out he is dying, he walked in on his wife cheating on him with one of his employees. Jaakko suspects his wife, Taina, she is poisoning him and decides to embark on an investigation to discover the truth. I often found myself chuckling to Jaakko’s dark sense of humor.

The other characters were pretty boring for me and lacked personality. This story focused more on plot than characters, which is often the case for thrillers. I couldn’t put it down and read it quickly. I just HAD to know if his wife was trying to kill him, what the guys from the new mushroom company were up to, and if the cop would figure out what Jaakko’s been up to.

The Man Who Died is a dark, odd, funny thriller about a quirky mushroom business man.

“Finnish author Tuomainen has come up with an irresistible crime comedy caper /…/ More than just a whodunit, but a gripping tale of self-loathing, investigation and desperate floundering /…/ Both a thriller and a dark laugh a minute journey that will keep you hanging on to the end. The story of a man investigating his own death has been done before but not with such gusto. ” – Crime Time (UK)

About the author.jpg

“Antti Tuomainen is the award-winning author of seven novels: A Killer I Wish, My Brother’s Keeper, The Healer, Dark as My Heart, The Mine, The Man Who Died and his latest – Palm Beach Finland. He has been called ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ by the Finnish press and his writing has garnered attention worldwide.

In 2011 his third novel The Healer was awarded the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel and has subsequently been published in 27 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, China, Iceland, Turkey and Greece, among others.

His fourth novel Dark as My Heart was optioned for feature film in 2013 and is in development at Making Movies Ltd., the production company behind the Finnish film sensation Black Ice. Dark as My Heart has been voted the best crime novel of the past decade by the readers of a Finnish crime fiction magazine. The novel was also nominated for the prestigious Petrona-prize in the UK in 2016.

His sixth novel The Man Who Died was published in Finland in September 2016. The novel has been optioned by Finnish production company Luminoir and is currently in development for feature film. Publishing rights for The Man Who Died have been sold to the UK, France and Germany, among others.

Antti’s seventh novel, titled Palm Beach Finland was published in September 2017 in Finland.

Antti has been a featured guest on numerous literary festivals, events, panels and book tours in the UK, Germany, France, the United States, Spain, Italy, Romania, Iceland, Norway, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland.

Antti was born in Helsinki, Finland where he lives with his wife. In addition to novels, he also writes short stories and magazine articles. You can find him easily on Facebook and he will be happy to hear from you.”

http://anttituomainen.com/

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) #BookReview #SpoilerFree

Crooked Kingdom, the conclusion to the Six of Crows duology, is an epic Fantasy novel that has the magic of Harry Potter and Sword of Truth, mixed with the friendships of The Lord of the Rings, the adventure of The Wheel of Time, and the sneaky, twisty plot of Game of Thrones. 📚

Crooked Kingdom

 

Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, LGBTQ

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date published: Sept 2016

Page Count: 546

 

 

synopsis

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.”

My Review

photography – READING UNDER THE RAIN

After hearing I didn’t need to read the Grisha Verse trilogy before reading Six of Crows, I decided to go ahead and give it a go. The first book of the duology, Six of Crows, was great, but Crooked Kingdom mashed together everything I love about all my favorite books.

Let’s start by talking about the beautiful cover, and unique red pages which clearly represent bloodshed and love. The maps at the beginning of the book help immerse the reader into this world. Crooked Kingdom is divided into six parts: Forsaken, A Killing Wind, Brick By Brick, The Unexpected Visitor, Kings & Queens, and Action & Echo.

Mohammed Arabey’s review of Crooked Kingdom

Angela Jones-Cuéllar on Twitter: "I'm so pumped for ...

Crooked Kingdom starts one month after Kaz Brekker and his crew left Djerholm. They have been back in Ketterdam, a city on Kerch island, for a week. Told with multiple perspectives, I enjoyed learning more about each character through another’s eyes.

The Six of Crows

Kaz Brekker, 17 year-old gang member of The Dregs, ruthless, resourceful, devious Leader of the Six of Crows, focused on getting revenge against Van Eck and Pekka Rollins. I love his witty sarcasm: “It was that or snap her neck and make it look like she fell down the stairs, Wylan. I think I showed remarkable restraint.”

 

 

 

 

 

Inej: 16-year-old tenacious, talented, and nicknamed the Wraith. She has a strong connection to her Suli heritage. To one of her captors, also a Suli, she said, “You are forsaken. As you have turned your back on me, so will they turn their backs on you.”

 

 

 

 

Jesper: 17-year-old carefree, comical, Grisha sharpshooter with a gambling addiction. Crooked Kingdom gives us Jesper’s heart-breaking story of losing his mother as a child. He moved to Kerch to study at University, but was drawn to the other part of town where he met Kaz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nina: 17-year-old confident, beautiful, Grisha Heartrender. In Six of Crows, Nina was able to make Wylan look like Kuwei by using jurda parem, an addictive drug that boosts a Grisha’s power. The withdrawal from the drug almost took her life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthias: 18-year-old big, tough, former Grisha hunter, in love with Nina. She helped open his mind so he could better understand the good of Grisha abilities. He helped her through the jurda withdrawal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wylan: Van Eck’s 16-year-old son, illiterate, with exceptional demolition skills. His father tried to have him killed, he ran away and joined the Six of Crows.

 

 

 

 

 

Other Characters
Van Eck: powerful, Ketterdam mercher (Wylan’s father).

Pekka Rollins: leader of the Dime Lions (another gang in Ketterdam) who swindled Kaz and his brother Jordie when they were new to the city.

Kuwei: Grisha Inferni. His father helped to create jurda parem, a powerful drug that enhances Grisha power, and now that his father is dead everyone wants to know where Kuwei is so they can gain access to the recipe.

Colm Fahey: Jesper’s father, jurda farmer.

Throughout Six of Crows I struggled to care about Wylan. Crooked Kingdom gave me everything I needed to add him to my long list of favorite characters. We get to see just how horrible his father treated him and it broke my heart.

“The letters from his father continued to arrive, once, sometimes twice a week. Wylan didn’t know what to make of them. Were they threats? Taunts? He stashed them in a stack beneath his mattress, and sometimes at night he thought he could feel the ink bleeding through the pages, up through the mattress and into his heart like dark poison.”

I will also admit that I wasn’t a fan of Kaz after reading the first book. Crooked Kingdom unveiled a new Kaz that I fell for.

“He was going to break my legs ,” she said, her chin held high, the barest quaver in her voice. “Would you have come for me then, Kaz? When I couldn’t scale a wall or walk a tightrope? When I wasn’t the Wraith anymore?”
Dirtyhands would not. The boy who could get them through this, get their money, keep them alive, would do her the courtesy of putting her out of her misery, then cut his losses and move on.
“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

Jesper + Wylan ♥ I love how Bardugo wrote about the attraction between Jesper and Wylan. It’s always refreshing to see LGBTQ representation in popular Young Adult books.

My one and only complaint is that there was too much romance for me. Nina + Matthias, Wylan + Jesper, Inej + Kaz…did they really need to pair up romantically? However, they are a group of teenagers, so it is realistic for them to pair up I suppose.

Quotes

“Sometimes,” said Kaz, “a proper thief doesn’t just take. He leaves something behind.”

“When fear arrives, something is about to happen.” – Inej

Suspenseful, surprising, and filled with action, Crooked Kingdom weaves important topics such as race, freedom, and slavery within a story that will keep you thoroughly entertained and leave you heart-broken, but satisfied.

About the author.jpg

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

http://www.leighbardugo.com/index1.html

https://twitter.com/Lbardugo

Book Review ~ Gemina (Illuminae Files #2)

📓 Gemina, the second book of the Illuminae Files series, is a Young Adult Sci-Fi thriller set in the future that takes place in space. If you haven’t read the first book, be warned –  this review is full of spoilers. 📚 😌 Both books are a compilation of emails, instant messages, security camera footage, pictures, and “regular” narrative.

Gemina

 

Title: Gemina

Author: Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Thriller

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date published: October 2016

Page Count: 659

 

 

synopsis

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.”

My Review

Survivors of the Kerenza attack on January 29th, 2575 fled aboard the Hypatia, Copernicus, and Alexander. Pursued by the Lincoln, a Beitech Industries spaceship, Hypatia is the only remaining ship. Reaching the Heimdall Jump Station is their only hope to escape and let the rest of the universe know what Beitech has done. According to a comment Jay Kristoff made on Goodreads, Gemina begins 5 minutes after Illuminae ends, 15 days prior to Hypatia’s estimated arrival at the Heimdall Jump Station (home to over 10,000 people).

Mikhail Malikov is the leader of the House of Knives. Living on the Heimdall, he and his nephew, Niklas, inject worm-like creatures into living cow’s brains to create an addictive drug called “dust”. Nik is Hanna Donnelly’s drug dealer. She is the Heimdall‘s commander’s daughter, and is dating the incredibly handsome Jackson Merrick. A highly trained crew hired by Beitech attack the Heimdall, planning to use the jump station to reach Hypatia, destroy all people and evidence of the Kerenza attack.

In a strange turn of events, Hanna and Nik find themselves having to work together to try to save Heimdall and Hypatia.

Hanna is a lot like Kady, the main character from Illuminae. I love reading about smart, bad-ass women like Hanna and Kady. Nik is the bad boy that you’d love to date, Merrick is the guy you introduce to Dad. As you’ve probably guessed Hanna and Nik end up crushing on each other. The slow-burn/romantic triangle is slightly annoying at times, but I was able to put it aside thanks to the relatively fast-moving plot. My FAVORITE character is Nik’s cousin Ella, a genius 15-year-old hacker.

Gemina is a fast-paced, action filled page turning thriller that made me laugh.

I didn’t like that we don’t read about the character’s from Illuminae until the 55% mark. Even though the mixed-media delivery of this novel does make this a fast read for a book with over 600 pages, there is a lot that could have been cut. Even though they are strong, female leads, Hanna and Kady feel like the same character. The way they talk in the emails and instant messages felt like it could be the same person. I also had a hard time believing 18 year olds could outsmart well-trained adult agents.

I rate this one a strong 3.5 stars. Illuminae Files had better characters, Gemina had a better plot, I’m hoping the third book Obsidio will give me both. I would not recommend the e-book version, it just doesn’t work very well with the book format.

In case you’re interested, here’s my review for Illuminae Files.

Whichwood (Furthermore #2) By Tahereh Mafi #BookReview #SpoilerFree

📓 Whichwood, the sequel to Furthermore, is a Young Adult Fantasy novel about a thirteen year old girl named Laylee who is overwhelmed by her fated task of washing dead bodies before sending them on their journey to Otherwere. Alice and Oliver (two characters from Furthermore) come to help Laylee. 📚 😌

Whichwoodcover

 

Title: Whichwood (Furthermore #2)

Author:  Tahereh Mafi

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Date published: November 2017

Page Count: 368

 

 

synopsis

A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.

Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.” Goodreads

 

My Review

This dark and tragic story takes place during Winter in a magical city called Whichwood, a mystical place connected by rivers and canals. In Summer residents travel by boat, in Winter they travel by sleigh over ice. The city smells of cinnamon-mint, and all you can hear is music and laughter. A girl named Laylee Layla Fenjoon lives far from the city, unable to hear the melody or feel happiness, she takes her anger out on everyone around her, and must somehow learn how to forgive others and herself.

The main character from Furthermore, Alice, arrives in Whichwood so she can fulfill her task of helping Laylee. I can’t figure out why, but Alice drives me right up the wall. She’s incredibly self-centered and annoying. Oliver’s character was flat and almost completely unnecessary. Laylee’s neighbor, Benyamin, is my favorite character. He’s a thirteen year old boy who’s always covered in insects – and can CONTROL all insects by speaking with them.

If the dead aren’t washed by a mordeshoor within 90 days then their ghost could break away from their body’s location and “steal skins from the first persons they could find”. We are on day 87, 88, and 89 – this fact creates a fantastic feeling of necessity, tension, and excitement that help to make this book a page turner.

I love how we get lots of little details that enrich the five senses. The idea that every mordeshoor is “born with two skeletons: one they wore under their skin, and another they wore on their back” is an outstanding detail that is super creative and unique.

I do have a major beef with the marketing of this book. I don’t think this is a Middle Grade read. Here’s why:

1. Laylee  has some very dark thoughts. “But even the strong and the wise and the ancient have faltered without compassion or companion, and while Baba had madness and Maman had nonsense, Laylee, in their absence, had locked hands with loneliness, darkness feeding darkness until all light was lost.” I know there are children who suffer from depression/anxiety (I was one), but I think there are many young readers who will find Laylee’s thoughts excessively dark.

2. There are some graphic details which I find more suitable for a Young Adult novel than a Middle Grade one. For example, when Laylee pulled the fingernails and toe nails off the dead bodies.

3. TV and movie ratings say that for children aged 7-12 the story can have bloodless violence. Yet, in Whichwood there most certainly is blood, and in fact the book says “a strange and bloody madness awaits”.  This story also has strange physical abnormalities, and self-reflection, which is more suitable for a Young Adult story.

Middle Grade is usually accepted as geared towards children aged 8-12 years old. I strongly feel that Whichwood is not fitting for a child that age. That being said, I REALLY liked this read and give it 4 stars.

Whichwood is a unique, dark tale about pain, depression, anxiety, but also about gratefulness, second chances, and compassion. I recommend this one to fantasy fans older than 15 years old.

About the author.jpg

She was born in a small city somewhere in Connecticut and currently resides in Santa Monica, California, where she drinks too much caffeine and finds the weather to be just a little too perfect for her taste.
When unable to find a book, she can be found reading candy wrappers, coupons, and old receipts.” Goodreads

New Middle Grade Book: Tournament Trouble (Cross Ups Book 1) #BookReview #SpoilerFree #CrossUps #Netgalley

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

Tournament Trouble

 

Title: Tournament Trouble

Author: Sylv Chiang

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Teen,

Publisher: Annick Press

Date published: March 13, 2018

Page Count: 200

 

 

synopsis

“An exciting new middle reader series from a debut author. All twelve-year-old Jaden wants to do is be the best at Cross Ups, the video game he and his friends can’t stop playing. He knows he could be—if only he didn’t have to hide his gaming from his mom, who’s convinced it will make him violent. After an epic match leads to an invitation to play in a top tournament, Jaden and his friends Devesh and Hugh hatch a plan to get him there. But Jaden’s strict parents and annoying siblings, not to mention a couple of bullies and his confusing feelings for his next-door neighbor Cali, keep getting in the way! Tournament Trouble marks the first book in a planned series by Sylv Chiang, a captivating new voice in middle reader fiction. With sharp dialogue and relatable characters, it chronicles the ups and downs of middle school with a relevant, contemporary twist. Accompanied by Connie Choi’s lively illustrations, Tournament Trouble invites readers into Jaden’s world, and will leave them eagerly awaiting his next adventure. Look for Book 2, coming in Fall 2018”.

My Review

According to the publisher, Tournament Trouble is the first book of a series expected to have 3-4 books total. The next book, Anyone’s Game, is expected to be published in Fall 2018.

Jaden is a likeable character who learns a practical lesson while gaining self-confidence. The characters have different races and backgrounds, Jaden, his family, and next door neighbor are Chinese, and Jaden’s friend Dev is Indian. This will enable children to see themselves represented in the narrative.

 

 

A fun, quick read for the whole family. Perfect for young hesitant readers who like video games.