Review: She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens #1) by Gytha Lodge

She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens, #1)She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

1983: Topaz. Coralie. Jojo. Benners. Connor. Brett.

Aurora.

When Aurora Jackson accepts an invitation to go camping with her older sister and her friends, she has no idea it will be her last night on Earth. The younger girl feels shy and out of place as the older kids get to drinking, drugs, dancing and more. The party goes late into the night and everyone basically passes out. In the morning, when they wake, the older kids find nothing of Aurora but her cold sleeping bag.

No trace of her is ever found and suspicions circle the group of friends for the next thirty years.

Present Day: A young girl on a camping trip with her family, stumbles upon the bones of a human hand in a small cavern at the base of a tree. Aurora has been found and so begins the cold case that may finally end up concluding what happened on that ill-fated night in the woods.

The small-town cop in charge of the investigation, DCI Jonah Sheens, knew the kids involved that night. In fact, when it happened, he was just a kid himself, at school with all the rest. Trying to keep his own past to himself, DCI Sheens and a great cast of fellow officers slowly unravel what happened to poor Aurora.

This gripping crime thriller is told in a format of alternating timelines. You get to see what happened on that camping trip in 1983 and the police procedural aspects of the current investigation. I thought the timelines were really well done and the pacing, for me, was perfect. I was so impressed with the fact that this is a debut novel. I hope that Lodge continues on with DCI Sheens character. I enjoyed him and the other officers he had on his team. I would absolutely continue on with this series, no question.

If you like police procedural and split timeline narratives, you should check this one out. Plus, it is always great to support new authors. Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to getting my hands on more Gytha Lodge books in the future!

Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual assault, drug use and emotional abuse.

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Blog Tour: White Stag Review by Kara Barbieri

White Stag (Permafrost, #1)White Stag by Kara Barbieri
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-STARS**

We are all monsters to something, somehow, someway.

As the sole survivor of a goblin raid on her village, Janneke is wracked with survivor’s guilt. This would have been bad enough, however, to make matters worse she is taken hostage by the raiding army and forced into a life of servitude at the hands of the sadistic goblin, Lydian.

Her life while with him is absolute hell. This is putting it mildly. We learn about this time through flashbacks but let’s just get the trigger warnings out of the way: sexual assault/rape, torture, body mutilation, and emotional abuse. If you are a reader who is sensitive to these topics, tread with caution. The descriptions of these happenings do pop up continually over the course of the story as they are a big part of Janneke’s character development.

After some time, Lydian grows tired of his plaything and for one reason or another gifts Janneke to his nephew, Soren. When the story begins for us, Janneke has been living with Soren for 100 years.

How can a human girl live that long? I have no idea. I never really understood the concept of time in this story. She is supposed to have been there for a hundred years but is still the same as when she first got there as far as outward appearance? She is still written as a teenage girl. It is strange. I think it has something to do with the location. The Permafrost. The magical land of the goblins.

Soon after the story begins, the current Erlking, leader of the goblins, dies and a new leader needs to be chosen to replace him on the throne. In their world, the way this is done is through a ‘stag hunt’. The magical White Stag is where the Erlking draws his power from, quite literally, during his reign.

Any goblin may become King by slaying the Stag. Hunting groups are assembled, alliances formed, and the hunt begins. Janneke, trained as a hunter since childhood, joins Soren on the hunt. They are both willing to do anything to ensure that Lydian doesn’t become Erlking. They are joined by a ragtag group of allies and the real adventure begins.

On the hunt, things are never boring, there is a lot of action and quite a few violent and intense scenes. New alliances are formed along the way and one of the best parts of the story for me was the various side characters. They added depth and humor to the story which was definitely needed at times. There really isn’t too much more I can say on the topic of the hunt without getting into spoilers, which I do not want to do.

Throughout their journey, Janneke and Soren’s relationship begins to change. The intensity of the hunt pushes them closer together and they begin to rely on each other like never before.

I really enjoyed their relationship. Soren is swoon-worthy for sure.

Soren, you might ask? Isn’t he a goblin? Yes, but keep in mind, these are not your standard goblins.

Oh no. These goblins are hot and are described more like Viking warriors. I found it helpful to picture this when thinking of Soren:

Not what you think of when you think of goblin? Yeah. Truth be told, it was a little jarring at first but I think, again, it has something to do with the magic of the Permafrost. At one point, Barbieri mentions something about their looks being an illusion. Then in another section, during a fight, you read of their illusion dropping a little and their true, more animalistic, form showing through.

Ultimately, I am not really sure how it all works as there was quite a bit of ambiguity with the magic system. Granted, maybe I just didn’t get it, but I do read a lot of fantasy and felt this could have been ironed out a bit more. Perhaps we will get more clarification of the world in the second book.

The conclusion is an absolute cliffhanger and I look forward to seeing how Barbieri continues this story. Janneke and Soren both had so much growth here and I am most interested to see if they continue to grow together in the future or if changing circumstances push them apart.

Overall, I enjoyed diving into the hunt and learning about Janneke and the goblin world. Was this book perfect? No, not at all. There were definitely some places that I felt could have been fine-tuned; some repetitive phrasing and unclear magical elements, etc. That being said, it is impressive that such a young author is getting this out there as a debut novel. The world is vast and complex and I think that Barbieri should definitely be proud. It draws you in and makes you want to learn more.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review, as well as including me on the blog tour for its release. I truly appreciate the opportunity and look forward to continuing on with this story in the next book!

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Top 5 Wednesday: Hyped 2019 Releases I Don’t Care About

Hey bookworms! It’s Wednesday and time for my first ‘Top 5 Wednesday’ post of 2019. Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that has a topic for each Wednesday of the month that bloggers, reviewers, BookTubers, etc., can discuss. This week’s topic is: Hyped 2019 Releases That I Don’t Care About.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, let’s just get out of the way that even if I don’t necessarily care right now about a given book, doesn’t mean I won’t care about it in future. Also, if you really care about any of the books listed below, please don’t take offense. It’s not that I think they will be bad and it certainly is no shade on these authors, just for me, they aren’t something I will be picking up anytime soon.

With that lovely caveat out of the way, in no particular order, let’s get into my list:

  1. King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo – This is a BIG one. Probably one of the most hyped books of the year. Leigh Bardugo is an incredible writer and I’m sure this book is going to be sensational. Someday, I will read this, however, I have NEVER read a book set in the Grisha Verse (Bardugo’s fictional world). I need to read the Grisha Verse trilogy and the Six of Crows duology before I can even think about picking this one up. The good news is that I do own them both, so I am set up to someday be reading this book. It just may take a while, therefore I give zero F*s about it now.
  2. Enchantee by Gita Trelease – This book has been all over BookTube for a while, since the ARCs went out a month or so ago. This book is set in late 1700s Paris and involves magic and stuff. I don’t know. I guess it is kind of a magical alternative history sort of story. I have read the synopsis multiple times and get bored after the first few sentences so just feel like this book and I wouldn’t get along. Seriously, after reading the synopsis like 5 times, I still have no clue what this book is about. Therefore, don’t care. Maybe after more of my friends read it and get their reviews up I will be tempted to pick it up. Until then, meh.
  3. The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renee Ahdieh – I don’t know, vampires. I just don’t care about a vampire story right now. Unless it is Dracula or anything written by Stephen King (i.e. Salem’s Lot or Doctor Sleep), I’m pretty much over it. I guess once some of my book friends read it, if they love it, I could be convinced to check it out. Currently though, my feelings on this are pretty, meh. Also, I have never read anything by Ahdieh, so that probably influences a bit as well.
  4. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – Again, as with Enchantee, the synopsis doesn’t even hold my attention, let alone reading a 400-page book about it. Something about a Princess who’s Father is killed and a soothsayer and some magic, I don’t know. The cover is GORGEOUS though so don’t be surprised if some day, regardless of my lack of interest now, this one ends up on my shelf. 
  5. The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare – Okay, now this one, I can see as being the most controversial but, in my defense, I have only read one book that takes place in Shadowhunter World, so I would have a long way to go before I could ever pick this book up. Therefore, because of that, this one is barely a blip on my radar. I have read, Clockwork Angel, which I did love and I do plan to complete that triology and then move on to The Dark Artifices. I will probably never read The Mortal Instruments series though. I just feel like I am too old for it and Urban Fantasy isn’t really my thing unless it is set in Victorian London or somewhere atmospheric like that. So, Cassie Clare fans, don’t hate me, I do like her writing and definitely want to pick up more from her in future, I am just not completely invested in that world yet.

There you have it, nerds. The hyped books I currently couldn’t care less about releasing in 2019! What about you? Did any of yours make this list? Are you angry with my choices? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Top 5 Wednesday: Most Anticipated 2019 Releases

2019 is looking like it is going to be an epic year for new releases. I have so many books on my tbr already that narrowing down all of them to a top 5 is a daunting task. I have decided to just focus on the first quarter of the year and only one genre to generate my top 5. The five books listed below are all being released sometime between January 1, 2019 and April 30, 2019. The genre I have selected is YA Fantasy. Without further ado, here are my top 5 selections:

  1. Slayer by Kiersten White (Release Date: January 8, 2019) – If you were ever a fan of the hit series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, you are probably aware that this book is coming out very soon. I was so pumped when I heard of this book’s existence. First of all, Kiersten White is a hugely popular author and this, a whole new story taking place within the Buffy universe, yes, sign me up! Side Note: ((aka super exciting news)) I was alerted today by the publisher, Simon Teen, that I actually have won a pre-release copy through a Twitter Sweepstakes I entered so should have a copy of this shortly! You better believe I will be reading it in January!
  2. White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri (Release Date: January 8, 2019) – The last child in a family of only daughters, 17-year-old, Janneke is being raised to be a male heir. While her sisters are training to be good wives and loving mothers, she is being taught to hunt and fight. After her village is attacked, Janneke, the only survivor, is taken prisoner by the evil Goblin King, Lydian. As she finds herself becoming more monster than human, Janneke begins to question who she really is and where she truly belongs. You guys, this books sounds action-packed and brutal and that is totally my aesthetic. Side Note: I am lucky enough to have been included in the Blog Tour for the release of the book so stayed tuned for that in the beginning of January!
  3. A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Release Date: January 29, 2019) – Beauty & the Beast retelling. Need I say more? I discovered Brigid Kemmerer this summer when I read her deeply moving YA Contemporary, Letters to the Lost. I was drawn in 100% by her writing and truly loved the story that I was told within those pages. I pretty much decided after that I would read anything this lovely lady produces. I have pre-ordered this and will most likely drop everything once it arrives and get to reading! 
  4. Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Release Date: March 19, 2019) – Speaking of retellings, I read Meagan Spooner’s retelling of Beauty & the Beast, Hunted, earlier this year and gave it a full and enthusiastic 5-star review. It was so dark and so twisted; as you know, also my aesthetic, that I was over the moon when I discovered Spooner had a new retelling being released in 2019. This sounds so good, you guys. Basically, this is a re-imagining of the story of Robin Hood. In this tale, after the untimely death of Robin Hood, his fiance, Maid Marian dons his green cloak and takes up his bow to fight for the people of Nottingham. Marian needs to become her own hero. In Hunted, one of my favorite aspects was how Belle was no longer a damsel in distress. She saved her own damn self and it was awesome. I know I am going to love this one just as much!
  5. Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (Release Date: April 2, 2019) – Firstly, let’s get out of the way right now, this book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. I love the stark white background and then the image of the majestic castle and the font with what looks like blood dripping down off of it. Hello. Heart eyes. I love you. The main tagline for this book reads: “A girl who can speak to the Gods must save her people without destroying herself.” Then she meets a boy. They must save a Prince. Danger lurks around every corner. There is an assassination plot. I mean, this sounds spectacular. I was so excited to be asked to take part in the Blog Tour for the release of this book. My post date is April 12th and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this one with you all. I am going to try like heck to hold out on reading this until March but truth be told, I don’t have the best will power when it comes to anticipated books and I already have a copy so…

Are any of these books on your ‘most anticipated books of 2019 list’? What is on your list? I want to know about the books you are most looking forward to next year. Leave a comment below or reach out to me on any of my social media platforms.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Everything’s Coming Up ARC’s

I have been so lucky to have received numerous incredible ARCs (advanced readers copy) to read this summer! I feel so blessed to have so many amazing stories to choose from. Below is a list of my the top ones I am anticipating for the next month:

1. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman – This book, which was released this past Tuesday, June 5th, is my current read. To say I am loving it is to put it mildly. I think of this book all day long while I am away from it doing serious adult things. This is a debut novel for Ms. Steadman and so far, I am impressed. The style of writing is very fluid and engaging. It follows one POV which feels a change for me – everything I have been reading lately seems to be multiple POVs – so I am happy to sit with this one character for a while and have her tell me her tale. Basically this one involves a young, perfect couple who in the midst of some financial and career hardships go on a dream honeymoon to Bora Bora. Once there they discover something in the water while scuba diving that will change their lives forever. I am almost halfway through this one and can’t wait to discover how it turns out.

2. Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier – This will be by next read – hoping to start it early next week – it releases on June 12th. I am so excited for this one. So many friends of mine in the book community have read this and absolutely loved it. I have seen many, many 4 or 5 star reviews from people whose opinions I really respect. I do not know too much about the story, which is how I prefer to go into Thrillers. From what I can tell, it is a story about three friends, one disappeared in high school and 14-years later her body is discovered and one of the others is arrested for it. The last of the three friends is a police investigator and I believe perhaps she unravels the truth. It sounds exciting – I am all about skeletons being dragged out of the damned closet so this sounds right up my alley!

3. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager – Riley Sager is the author of one of my favorite novels of 2017 – Final Girls – and this, his second novel under this name, is one of my most anticipated books of the year! My excitement level on receiving notification that I was receiving and ARC of this was skyhigh 10-out-of-10. This book is set to release on July 10th and I know I can get it read well before then. Since this is a Sager, I am anticipating an unreliable narrator of some sort and tons of twists and turns and edge-of-your-seat moments. This story also has a group of young friends that something happens to all of them but one. It has a summer camp setting – which will be the third summer camp book I have read this year – I live for this type of setting. Basically, the survivor of this summer camp debacle returns to the camp years later as an art instructor and while there, she plans to figure out what happened to her friends. I just know I am going to love this! Added bonus: the cover!!!

4. Nyxia Unleashed by Scott ReintgenThis is the second book in the Nyxia Triad series with a expected publication date of July 17th. The first book in this series, Nyxia, I just finished in April and gave 5-stars to…which reminds me, I need to post a full review for that! (stay tuned for more one that…) Anyway, back to Nyxia Unleashed…so, I was so excited to receive an ARC of this to continue along with the series. This is a YA-science fiction series that follows our protagonist, Emmett Atwater, as he travels from Detroit to space to compete for a chance to mine a miracle substance, Nyxia, on a planet called Eden. This series has a great cast of diverse characters, cool sci-fi aspects, mystery and a sinister corporation element. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes science-fiction; it’s a heck of a lot of fun and I cannot wait to see where this one takes us!

5. The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie – This is the first book in a new YA-science fiction/fantasy series that is set to release on August 14th. This one sounds really unique and fun. It is set in a future where the world is frozen and everyone knows the day they are going to die. Three teens somehow escape their death days and are forced to try to flee the planet in order to survive! I mean, does that sound exciting or what!? I am really looking forward to getting to this one – I really do not want to learn anything else about it before I start – I feel like this is definitely the kind of story where it is best to go in blind.

Do you have any of these books on your radar? What are your most anticipated releases of the summer? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below or visit me on my other social media channels – links to the side! Thanks for reading! xo

Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Bold, topical and completely riveting! Red Clocks took hold of me from the very beginning and never let up. It is honestly like nothing I have ever read before and is hard to describe, really. I received Red Clocks after making it my January 2018 Book of the Month Club selection. Hot on the heals of the recent success of The Handmaid’s Tale being adapted into a television series, readers every where have been prepared for a surge of feminist literature. This book is one of the most buzzed about new releases of that genre. I had to check it out and cannot express how happy I am that I did!

The novel follows 4 women (plus a historical 5th) who are all connected to each other through community and womanhood; these characters all grapple with difficult choices based on their sex/sexuality. I went into this book thinking that it was set in some sort of futuristic, dystopian world but it isn’t; it is very much a present day story but set up and delving into the possibilities of how very different our society could be if just one or two laws pertaining to female reproductive choices were changed. It was very raw, very real and not shy at all about challenging, often controversial, topics. I can definitely see a subset of folks who will not enjoy this book at all (although I haven’t seen any of those reviews yet).

If this is the quality of product we receive in a debut novel from Ms. Zumas, I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us. She shows such courage in bringing this story to us. I am definitely a fan of her work and will be reading any other books she may publish in the future. Bravo!