Review: The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle #1) by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1)The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m speechless.
Those last couple of lines gave me the deepest chill.

Naomi was once a missing child.
Now as an adult, her solitary focus is finding others who need to be found.
She remembers nothing of her life prior to being ‘found’. The only thing that is clear is that she escaped from a horrific situation.

Her current case is to try to discover what happened to little Madison, who went missing in the mountains while hunting for a family Christmas tree. Long thought dead, as how could a little girl survive alone in deep snow and freezing temperatures, Madison’s parents hold out hope that she is still alive.

What struck me most about this story is the overall tone of the writing. Obviously, Naomi is experiencing lasting effects from her early trauma. She is plagued with strange dreams and over time more and more pieces become available in her memory. We learn about her foster mother, Mary, and adoptive brother, Jerome, and their relationships.

There is a lot about this book that is heartbreaking but it is told in such a magical, whimsical way. It’s like all of the horrors of the real world packaged into a old-time fairy tale.

I can see how some people may not enjoy this as much as I did. It is a slow-burn and there is nothing about it that will keep you on the edge of your seat. However, if you love to sink your teeth into some good, solid writing with engaging characters, this book is for you.

There is a second book set to release later this year following Naomi and I absolutely will be reading it. This one leaves off in a perfect place to continue on with Naomi’s personal story and I am really looking forward to reading about what she ultimately finds.

Well done!

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Review: Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather RhapsodyBellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


**A quirky and oddly compelling tale**

Bellweather Rhapsody was like nothing I have ever read before. I really enjoyed it. It was 100% unique and read like a Wes Anderson film.

The setting is the Bellweather Hotel: large, a bit in disrepair and possibly haunted. The cast of characters: flawed, nerdy, dangerous and dramatic. The plot: a weekend music gathering for the most talented young musicians in the state of New York; obviously dramatics ensue.

Two of our main characters from the high school perspective are Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, a brother and sister duo, who are basically the novel interpretation of what would happen if Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel were brother and sister.

Aspirations and attitudes are high both among the kids and the adults. This was completely entertaining even though I can hardly form into words an accurate description of what I just read. There is a lot going on including murder, hauntings (both external and internal), disappearances, shouting matches, a love affair, self discovery, robbery and so much more.

I am so glad I picked this up. It was as random as this storyline and I’m down for that. I would recommend this for any music geeks out there – you know who you are. Be proud and read this book!

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Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleThe 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded.

The above line perfectly captures the spirit of the literary puzzle (aka. MIND F**K) that is The 7 1/2 Deaths o Evelyn Hardcastle. This book is bloody FANTASTIC!

Never have been so excited about being so confused whilst reading a book!

Turton is a Master. This was completely original and completely out there and completely compelling. I was so absorbed in every moment and….well, CONFUSED.

There is really not much I can say about the plot of this novel without getting all spoilery and stuff; something I am not looking to do. Go into this knowing nothing besides the fact that it is okay to be reading it and not understanding anything that is going on. The longer it goes, the more info you have and the more confusing it can become. It’s exceptional in its detail. I had so many theories, some panned out, others didn’t but I never stopped guessing, right up until the very end.

If you are looking for a completely unique mystery to get you through the holiday season, look no further! Stop right here! This is the book you need to read. I cannot wait to read more from Stuart Turton. I am already fangirling over him after one book. I love his ingenuity and style. Yes, I do! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me a copy of this to read and review. I am blown away!!!

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Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial KillerMy Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a unique novella following the perspective of a young woman, Korede, living in Lagos, Nigeria. Korede is a nurse and seems to lead a fairly normal life; she is on the straight and narrow, if you will. ‘Normal’ until you discover that Korede’s younger sister, Ayoola, kills all of her boyfriends and then calls on Korede to help clean up the mess!

“You’re a big sister now, Korede. And big sisters look after little sisters.” Apparently, this is the sentiment that Korede was raised with and now, no matter what her sister does, she feels obligated to PROTECT HER from everything. Protect her?!? The witch is crazy. She shows no remorse or empathy for the things she does. At one point, Korede muses, “I am more haunted by her actions than she is.” Yeah! No kidding!

I did fluctuate throughout the story between feeling bad for Korede for all the bullshit she had to put up with and being angry at her for not standing up to her damn sister. It was like every other chapter, like a seesaw. Ultimately I wish it would have gone a different way. I really was hoping Korede would make more growth as a character and fight back against the treatments and judgments laid on her. This is a novella though, very short, and I just don’t think there was enough time for her character to get there.

Overall, I felt the story was compelling, it definitely kept me interested and was unique. Thank you to the publisher, Doubleday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity and I know a lot of people will enjoy this little tale. I look forward to seeing what comes next from Braithwaite. I like her style!

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Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Publication Date: August 20, 2013

4.5 STARS!!!

Okay, it’s best if I get this out of the way immediately: this book is a total mindf*ck. There, I said it. I know that may be an uncomfortable proclamation for some but there it is. This is the best way for me to describe this book.
It is really good…like, really, really good. So creative, dark, gripping, it wraps you up in this world of Cordova and has you second guessing even yourself. Who is Cordova? In this story Cordova is an uber-famous film director; mysterious and untouchable – he is the shadow that looms over this entire book.

Our protagonist, Scott McGrath, is a fallen from grace investigative reporter who becomes fixated on investigating the apparent suicide of Cordova’s daughter Ashley. Through the course of his investigation he becomes involved with two young people, Nora and Hopper, who aide him in his investigation. The story incorporates mixed media sources such as past magazine interviews and articles, online forum posts, etc., which makes you feel as though you too are part of the investigation.

The entire book blends the line between fantasy and reality and the idea of what your mind can come to accept as truth even without definitive proof. I don’t even know if I am making sense right now but this book will do that to you!

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was absolutely perfect. His voice was Scott McGrath. The dialogue was so smart, I laughed out loud, I exclaimed curses when really scary stuff went down – I must have looked mad driving my car down the highway. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a dark story steeped in occultism and mystery. My rating of 4.5 versus 5-stars is because the ending didn’t quite work for me. I don’t want to say I was disappointed with the ending, I just wish certain elements of it had gone differently. Overall, this is a fabulous examination of the human psyche and a sick, spooky read!

 

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!

Review: Ugly As Sin by James Newman

Ohhhh, this book! Lovingly classified as ‘White Trash Noir’ this story shook feelings from me I didn’t know I could experience whilst reading! The story follows our protagonist, Nick ‘The Widowmaker’ Bullman, after he hits rock bottom.

Firstly, you may ask, what is white trash noir? That is a solid question and one I am not fully sure I can answer correctly. To me, ‘White Trash Noir’ is more of a feeling than a thing; if you read it, you will know it. I would describe it as gritty and tragic but oddly full of hope and humor as well. It feels real.

The story of Nick Bullman is beautifully moving – I felt such sympathy for him – he’s pretty much a good guy who had his outward ‘humanity’ stripped away from him due to an event completely outside of his control. Because of this horrific event his entire life is turned upside down and when we meet him, he is at the bottom of it all. I feel at its core this is a story of love, redemption and reconciliation. The writing style is fluid and compelling; it kept me glued to the pages. Ultimately, what I took from this book is if you can salvage anything from the ashes of your past mistakes, do it. Our relationships we form in life are what truly matter. They are what make life worth living. Well done, Mr. Newman, all the stars to you!

 

Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Yesterday I finished up listening to the audiobook of Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This book is the first of The Wayward Children series – the 3rd book, Beneath the Sugar Sky, was just released on January 9th so there has been a lot of buzz on bookish media outlets regarding this series. After listening to a few different booktubers proclaim their love of these books, and their excitement for the final book, I knew I needed to check it out for myself! (and I’m glad I did)

I decided to give this 3.5-stars but rounded up to 4 on Goodreads because for me it was closer to a 4-star than a 3-star read. My favorite aspect of the book was the incredibly bizarre cast of well-drawn characters. This is definitely a character piece. The setting for the book is Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.  Magical and dark, I loved hearing the different stories of each character’s times and travels prior to moving to the Home. There is a lot of great rep in this book and it just seems like a fun and comforting story for any young person who has ever felt misunderstood (which is probably all of us!).

I will continue with the series, as from what I have read, the books get better and better. I definitely enjoyed the author’s style, there just wasn’t as much action as I normally enjoy.

Cheers to the weekend everyone – this week has been exhausting! So ready for a book-filled next few days. What’s everyone reading this weekend?

Review: Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Expected Publication Date: April 2018

Firstly, hello bookworld! I have been very absent lately on what I believed to be a 1-week Christmas vacation that has since turned into a 2-week Christmas vacation.  Yes, you read right!  Unexpected 2-week vacation. Due to inclement weather I have been unable to get back home – part of the joy of living on an island!

Okay, back to the topic – Wonderblood by Julia Whicker! I finished Wonderblood late last night and needed to sleep on it before I could formulate my thoughts into a coherent review. Firstly, this is a debut novel for Julia Whicker and although this book did not blow me away, I would certainly be interested in other books (unrelated to this one) that she may write in the future. I enjoyed her writing style a lot which was not just agreeable but at times absolutely lyrical.

At the beginning of the book, literally the first 10 to 15-pages, there was some content that almost made me give it up. It did not grab me at all and in fact certain elements of it turned me off. It is an adult sci-fi novel that is set in a very gritty, very harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are triggers for abuse, child rape, sibling incest and/or sibling molestation; I could see this causing a lot of people to turn away very quickly from this book. If you can get by that, it does get a lot better and I am glad that I stuck with it.

The middle is where I feel the story is at its strongest, with political intrigue and an interesting “religious” system. The story does take place in a future United States, which has had its population decimated by a mad cow-like disease – this story picks up in the aftermath of that although we never learn too much about the chain of events prior to the current action. Quite generally, it reminded me of Mad Max meets The Road.

One of my biggest disappointments for this book was the lack of character development. I came away just feeling blah about all of the characters – there were none that I related too or even felt that I knew enough about to care for in any way. If this were a start to a series (I am not sure if it is slated as a stand-alone or a series), I would not pick up the second book, really because I just do not care what happens to any of these characters. Additionally, I didn’t feel like the atmosphere was strong enough to make up for the lack of character development.

Mainly, I gave this three stars due to the writing style of the author and the unique ideas included in the world she was creating – for example, I loved that the characters worshiped NASA space shuttles and had Cape Canaveral as their holiest of sites – but the execution overall fell a little flat for me. Please note, I was given a copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to read it, comment on it and am excited to hear what other readers think of this story!

Review: Peach by Emma Glass

Expected Publication Date: January 23, 2018

I received an early release copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, for the book, that is what I am going to be – honest.  I gave this book two out of five stars on Goodreads. This is unusual for me and frankly, hurts my heart a little bit.  I usually at least ‘like’ a book, finding some reedeming qualities within its pages. This book however was very disappointing and I cannot think of one compliment to give it.

The description sounded interesting and powerful; it is the story of a young lady who it appears is sexually assaulted. It wasn’t only the stream of consciousness writing style that I found let the story down, I understand there are times when that writing style can be very impactful, but you should still be able to piece together what is actually going on. This book was so strange that you couldn’t tell what was real and what was imagined by the main character, Peach. The other characters in the story were all so strange it was laughable.  The ending was so bizarre with the most insane BBQ happening, I am still shaking my head about it.  Luckily, it was very short so I made it through the whole thing. Overall, I found it confusing, disturbing and utterly pointless. I cannot imagine to whom they are going to market this book. I wish them luck.