Review: Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne #1)Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is the start to a new adult grimdark fantasy series. Gritty, violent and highly addictive this book kept me glued to the pages until the very end. The story begins with our badass MC, Tomas Piety, returning to his hometown after fighting in a long, brutal war. He brings with him a hodgepodge group of men, including his righthand ‘man’ Bloody Anne, and the mysterious child, Billy the Boy. Not far behind comes his younger brother, Jochan, with some of his men, returning as well. The two groups band together and set out to reclaim the territory and businesses previously owned by Piety that have been pirated during his absence.

This story has everything I am looking for when I open a grimdark fantasy. I want dirt. Lots of it. Dirt, grime, blood, stink, cussing, fighting and no mercy. Just me?

This book had all of those things in spades but it also had a lot more. It deals with some heavier topics that I think were handled really well; rather impressively in fact. For example, a lot of the men returning from war struggle with PTSD – I believe they call it battle sickness in the book – and it didn’t gloss over that fact; it discussed it, showed what that meant amongst the men and how they helped one another. It also examined the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse – the effects that has as an individual is growing into an adult. There are issues with grief, with guilt, and sexual identity. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few that I noticed and appreciated. That is pretty much all I want to say on the plot, as I don’t want to reveal anything else that may spoil the paced reveal of the story to anyone.

“All you want is more blood, and more fucking death, and it’s never enough for you, is it? You’ve become a fucking priest of bones!”

I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes grimdark fantasy; particularly people who may like stories like, The Song of Ice and Fire series, that have a lot of political intrigue in them and complex relationships. This story left off in the perfect place for the second book to start and trust me, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Well done, Peter McLean, well done!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkeley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing what other readers think of this incredibly dark and delicious story!

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Review: Nyxia Unleased by Scott Reintgen

Publication Date: July 17, 2018    |    Rating: 5-stars!!!!

Nyxia Unleashed is the second book in The Nyxia Triad. Just like the first book, I absolutely loved this and gave it FIVE well-deserved stars. This is a YA science-fiction novel that is incredibly inclusive and has a strong undercurrent of social commentary which I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed.

In this book, our MC, Emmett Atwater and the rest of the kids from Book One have now arrived on the planet they have previously known as Eden. Throughout their training, Babel, the corporation they work for, had taught and prepared them for meeting the ‘aliens’, who they called Adamites, of this planet. Once on Eden, the kids are assigned local emissaries that ultimately end up teaching them in the true ways of their planet, which they call Magnia and refer to themselves as the Imago people. They travel through the various communities of this planet meeting with the peoples and learning their history, political structure and immediate societal issues. The kids, disenchanted with Babel Corporation, after their excruciating training period, begin to realize that Babel’s goals are much more sinister than they had previously expressed. Without giving too much away, they must ultimately decide who and what they are willing to fight for.

What happens next will change the fate of worlds. We are genesis.

This novel is much darker than the first as the subject matter settles down and becomes more serious. Throughout the book I had an incredible feeling of something ominous just at the edge of the horizon. As the storyline began to unfold, I had no clue as to where it was leading. I loved learning about the Imago and experiencing the wonder of learning about their society, past and future. This story is an excellent examination of colonizing powers, indigenous populations and how people choose to treat other people.

Do we treat others with the dignity they deserve, regardless of where they come from?

There are some things a person should never stand by and watch…Pops taught me that much.

The above are thoughts of Emmett Atwater, our protagonist. Emmett is such a sweet, precious little cupcake. He is a great kid, raised but loving parents in the city of Detroit, where although poor, he never lacked for love or a strong kick in the backside, whichever he needed more. Seeing Emmett grapple with good versus evil, standing up for what he believes is right, overcoming adversity, is such an enjoyable thing to read. I loved watching him gaining strength and confidence throughout these two books and I am so excited to see where the third book takes him. He could lead a revolution, this one!

The other kids working with him are from all over the world – we really have everyone represented here – there are kids from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America, Europe, we have LGBTQ+ characters and we get to learn a bit about all of their perspectives; it’s a great thing to see in a YA book. We learn the most about them in Book One but I thought it was important to bring up again here for people searching for diverse representation in their books.

I’m an angel without wings. I’m a demon without fire.

The ending of this book was INCREDIBLE! I have no idea how I am going to make it until next April waiting for the last book in the series. (cue letter writing to publisher begging for early copy…) We are on the edge of a major precipice here – a battle of good versus evil – a battle where fates and worlds will indeed be changed. Are the kids on the right track? Have they made the right choices? Are they siding with the right people? I DON’T KNOW!!!! But I am incredibly ready to find out! If you like sci-fi, if you like diverse books, if you like books with a point, please, please, please pick up this series! It deserves all the love it can get!

Thank you so much to Crown Books for Young Readers for giving me the opportunity to read this book early. It was one of my most anticipated books of the year so I am very grateful!!!

Review: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

Publication Date: May 1, 2018    |    Rating: 2-Stars

Wicked River. What can I even say? Firstly, I waffled between a 1- versus a 2-star rating. Ultimately, I decided on 2-stars because it makes me feel bad to give anything a 1-star unless it has offensive or inappropriate content. This one wasn’t offensive it was just not my cup of tea. At all. This book and I just did NOT get along. The good news, I actually made it through the entire thing, so there’s that.

I knew within the first 30-pages that perhaps this wasn’t going to be the strongest story for me but I trudged on because I had hopes that it would get better. The premise sounds great. The execution of said premise, not so much. It kicks off at the wedding of our two main characters, Natalie and Doug, which was cheese-factor level TEN and had me audibly scoffing over the dialogue and lame characters. Then they head off on the their honeymoon, a trek into the wilderness on a hiking / canoe trip for which I feel neither of them was even remotely prepared for.

The main characters dumbass choices aside, we also have a psycho guy living in the woods whose odd perspective we get every couple of chapters. Then there is a 13-year old whiny girl, Mia, the niece of Natalie, whose perspective we also get which was completely disjointed for me from the rest of the story. Oh, yah, and there is this totally unrealistic side plot involving Doug’s childhood friends that contributes to the story as well.

I don’t know, for me, the whole thing was just a mess. I couldn’t stand Natalie. She was so weak. All she seemed to care about was ‘her husband’ – she admits to losing any friends she ever had because all she cared about was being with him. She could barely scrounge together two bridesmaids for her wedding and tells us they were literally the bottom of the barrel who would probably disappear again into nothingness once the wedding was over. She let Doug make all of her decisions and just goes along to go along, I guess. She was horrible – I wanted her to be lost in the woods.

Now, let’s talk about the term ‘her husband. This had to have been in the book 1,027,432 times. If I ever hear that again, I am going to punch the speaker in the face. This is not a quote but to give you and idea what I’m talking about, it would go a little something like this, ‘her husband forged ahead through the trees. Her husband’s arms easily broke through the branches so much better than hers ever could because her husband was so much bigger and stronger than she was. Natalie felt so happy that her husband would be willing to go ahead so that she could drift along unscathed behind him.’ If reading this makes you go, what? Yah, it’s like that. This book is 464 pages long and I think it could have been edited down to 300 if the term ‘her husband’ had been taken out.

I have no clue who I would recommend this to – maybe someone who doesn’t read a lot or is new to the ‘thriller’ genre; although, I am not even sure I would classify this as a thriller. There was nothing really thrilling about it. It kind of took the suspense out of it when the 4th part of a 4 part book is titled, Saved. Really? No other word could have been chosen to title Part 4? You get there and are like, ‘geeeee, I wonder if Natalie and Doug will be SAVED????’

I would like to thank the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I do always appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback. This one just wasn’t for me but as we all know there are readers for every story!

What’s the last book you read that you didn’t get along with? I want to know!  Leave a comment below or contact me through my social media links to the right – Cheers~

Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Publication Date: July 3, 2018    |    Rating: 5-glorious STARS

Riley Sager has done it again!! Thrilling from beginning to end. This one kept me guessing until the final pages!

When Emma Davis first went to Camp Nightingale she was late; her parents doing. Subsequently, she got stuck in a cabin with girls much older than herself. Luckily, the pretty and popular bunkmate, Vivian, quickly took Emma under her wing and she began to have a camp experience unlike anything the other girls her age were experiencing. Unfortunately, one night, on the 4th of July, her three cabinmates disappear, never to be seen again. That night continues to haunt Emma, even fifteen years later when we meet her. Now a successful painter living in NYC she continues to meld the haunting images of her camp experience into her work. Invited back to Camp Nightingale by the wealthy owner, Franny Harris-White, to be an art instructor, Emma begrudgingly accepts, thinking she can finally figure out what happened to her friends.

Once Emma returns to Camp she is reunited with many individuals who were also there her first time round; including the handsome Theo Harris-White, Emma’s crush from THAT summer. This story is darkly atmospheric and filled with mystery and dread. For me, Sager’s writing is so cinematic – as I am reading, the entire drama is unfolding in my mind with the perfect clarity of a movie – I felt the same way with Final Girls. His descriptions and feelings are so easy to follow and imagine and are definitely one of my favorite things about his writing.

As the story unfolds, there are multiple occasions where you think you know what happened all those years ago, but those thoughts are quickly dashed away by new information becoming available. The cast of characters was fantastic and past and present unfolded with such ease and excitement that it made this novel very fast-paced! I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this book – I loved it – would read it again and would recommend to any thriller or horror reader. I cannot wait to see what Sager comes up with next! You better believe I will be waiting for it and buying it on release.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton Press, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. It was a highlight of my year for sure and I greatly appreciate the opportunity!

Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Publication Date: March 20, 2018     |     Rating: 5-STARS!!!

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is pretty much perfection in my opinion. This book exceeded my expectations in every way possible. I went into this book knowing two things: prep school for girls/mystery. This book is so much more than that. The novel is replete with a gothic atmosphere that transports you in time and place into the storyline. It is the perfect blend of mystery/thriller with extra special paranormal goodness sprinkled the whole way through!

The main portion of the story alternates back and forth between 1950 and 2014, following different girls/women in and around Barrens, Vermont, and more importantly Idlewilde Hall. I do not want to say too much about the story itself, as I wouldn’t want to risk giving anything away to potential readers. Just know this – I put off reading this book for many months. I don’t know why – I can’t explain it – it just kept getting shuffled down the ole’ tbr. Now, I can say, I am physically distraught at not having read this as soon as I got it. Okay – that may be taking it a little far but I do wish I would have picked it up immediately. I honestly do not have even one constructive criticism of this. Because of that this will be a very short review: This book is incredible. This book wants you to read it. This book will keep you up nights after…read it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy to review. I apologize to you, as well as to myself, that I didn’t get to it until now. I am even going to run out and buy myself a copy so that I may read it again and share it with others – I love it that much!

Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Publication Date: May 8, 2018

5-stars!! 

I finished ‘Our Kind of Cruelty’ last night right before bed so figured I would take the night to consider what I had read before formulating my review. Here I am, the next morning, still trying to wrap my head around this book. Firstly, what a unique way of telling this story. Unique and impactful. Mike Hayes, our MC, and narrator of this story is unhinged and you get a front row seat to obsession. Verity, the object of focus, is a young lady you struggle throughout the book to understand; at least I did. Mike and V were involved in a long-term relationship which began while they were in college and eventually ended. This story follows that break-up and relives pieces of it through the mind of Mike.

How much of his thoughts are reality and how much are fantasy. The author did a phenomenal job of keeping you guessing. Is Mike as crazy as he seems? Is he creating a fantasy or she is feeding into his behaviors somehow. I absolutely loved the format of this book and how the author never let Mike slip from character. You are full force in this ‘love story’ from start to finish gaining insight into his infatuation with this young lady.

The culmination of the tale takes place in a courtroom where we see side characters, as well as both Verity and Mike, be questioned by attorneys regarding the exact nature and events of their relationship. I will admit even I was questioning Verity and her honesty at that point – which to me is humorous – an extension of how women can be blamed or treated with suspicion when it comes to a man’s behaviors in regards to her. Questioning the victim, blaming the victim, shaming the victim – these are all prevalent occurrences in our society – and I myself was guilty of it. I didn’t trust V, the whole way, even though I was witness to Mike’s mental fixation with her. I questioned what she was doing to fuel that fire. I continually questioned her choices: why didn’t she tell someone, her husband, the police? Why did she continue to correspond with him?

This was an incredibly intricate, mind-shaking story that gave me chills on the regular. I applaud the author for this effort – it is a truly distinct book for the thriller genre. I would highly recommend it. I hope my thoughts on this make some sort of sense – I am still boggled by this one. Thank you so much to Farrar, Straus & Giroux for providing me with the opportunity to read this book early and to provide my opinion. I cannot wait to see what other readers take from this one! What was the last book you read that really got under your skin? I want to know!  Leave a comment below!

Review: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Star Rating: 2-lackluster stars

Phew. Well, I made it through. I am glad this was so short, otherwise I would have had to DNF it and I absolutely detest having to do that. I really struggled with this one. It was so all over the place for me, just not my style at all. It was nothing like what I expected and I’m not sure what exactly the author was trying to get across. I thought, going in, that I did but my thoughts of a modern, girl version of Lord of Flies was completely off base.

The writing itself was smart but lackluster, ultimately leaving me so that I just did not care one hoot about any of the characters. I would have preferred a more linear narrative, possibly with vignettes of how that shared experience affected the girls later lives, to this disjointed, completely chaotic story. I know many readers will enjoy this, however, it just was not the book for me.  Disappointing.

Review: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Publication Date: April 5, 2018

5-stars!!!! – A tour de force of brutality & ambition!!!

I was so excited when I discovered that the Hogarth Shakespeare series was adding Macbeth to its line up. It is my favorite of all the Shakespeare tragedies and I was looking forward to seeing how Nesbo would give it a modern twist. I have never read any of his books before but had heard very good things. He certainly did not disappoint – this soared above even my highest expectations.

The action takes place in a drug and crime-ridden city in the 1970s. Drug dealers and local crime lords hold as much power and sway over the people as do the police and politicians. The whole atmosphere is dark and visceral; you can smell and feel the dankness and despair. You are instantly dropped into this world and admittedly, at first, I was a bit confused as you are right in the action and all the players are already there. However, it didn’t take long (about 15% on an e-reader) before the tale truly starts to take shape and for me, I was so engrossed, I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are true to their roots as Shakespeare created them and I felt that the main premise of the action was extremely well planned and executed. The modern versions of the plot points were richly imagined and expertly woven into the final narrative. Macbeth, so strong and weak at the same time, so influenced by his Lady, easily steered, brutal yet kind, haunted and driven. Ughhh, it was soooo good! No one in this town was safe once Macbeth and Lady were set on their ultimate drive to power – aspirations and political intrigue, love for one another, plagued by their pasts – their relationship was just so spot on, there is no better way for me to describe it.

Slytherin book recommendation all day long – I absolutely adored this book! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. I cannot wait for this one to hit the streets -everyone needs a dose of this! Shakespeare himself would be proud!

Review: Butterly Suicide by Mary Ann Loesch

Publication Date July 11, 2017

I couldn’t decide between a 3.5 or a 4-star rating for this book so decided to round up to 4 for Goodreads rating purposes.
Butterfly Suicide is a fairly heavy YA contemporary dealing with topical issues such as violence at school, bullying, marital discord, adultery and sibling abuse. The story takes place in a rural town in Texas and follows the perspective of two characters in the aftermath of a school shooting. The first is Stephen, the brother of the shooter.
The second is Monica, the sister of one of the victims, the shooters ex-girlfriend. The story picks up a few months after the actual shooting and deals mostly with how the family members of such tragic events deal with the consequences of those events – picking the pieces of their lives up and trying to put them back together. Stephen and Monica develop a relationship and obviously there are a lot of problems that arise due to that.
There were some issues with the plot, some details I didn’t find that believable and that they were put in more for convenience to move the story along. It was fairly well written though – especially the character of Stephen – I felt the chapters from his perspective were particularly strong. Monica fell a little flat for me – she didn’t have the depth of character that Stephen had in my opinion.
Overall, it was a compelling read and the ideas behind the story are important to explore – although not perfect, a very solid piece of YA fiction. I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Stowaway by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

‘Wherever you’re from, there’s always somewhere more exciting.’

Excellent – a rollicking, fun ride to the edge of the earth and back!  The story of Billy Gawronski is one that I had never heard before but I feel like now, it will be one that I never forget. A true tale of perseverance and adventure. Young Billy dreamed of traveling to far off places and saw his dreams become a reality when the infamous Admiral Byrd planned an excursion from NYC, where Billy lived with his immigrant parents, to the last unknown frontier of Antarctica. Billy was willing to do anything to be a part of this expedition – including stowing away – which is exactly what he did.

This book takes us on a journey to the far reaches of the earth filling in history, geography and science along the way. This is actually a fairly quick read for a nonfiction book – not as dense as many tend to be. Because of this fact, I would think this would be a great book for YA-readers, as well as adults. The Author’s Note at the end sealed the 5-star review from me. If you read this book – make sure you read all the way through. I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this amazing story!  If you love true tales of adventure I would highly recommend picking this one up!