Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill

One thing I need to learn to stop doing is jumping at a book because it has a gorgeous cover. Take, for instance, Ever the Hunted. Look at this cover and tell me it isn’t pretty:

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I saw this cover and immediately wanted to read it. It promised to be an interesting story. It was not.


Summary (Goodreads): Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.


Review: Everything you expect to find in a stereotypical YA fantasy novel is in this book. And that’s why it didn’t work for me. I like to see variation, something unique … and there was none of that.

In the beginning, the story showed some promise. There was a bit of excitement as the story started off with a bang. I could sense the desperation of Britta as she found herself in a dangerous situation.

But this excitement didn’t last too long.

I quickly grew tired of Britta’s character. For one thing, she repeats the same thing over and over again. Another thing is that she is seriously not smart. I hate when the author makes the main character unable to figure out even the most basic clues. Strong and intelligent protagonists are not a bad thing! In any case, Britta was unable to put anything together. She also seems incapable of thinking about anything other than romance because every other sentence was about how she had feelings for Cohen and whether he reciprocated. I mean, considering the seriousness of her situation, this may not have been the perfect time to wonder if he liked you.

And then came the special snowflake effect. Britta is a special snowflake. So, not only is she unintelligent and ridiculously infatuated, she is also special. And that’s supposed to make the readers connect with her.

I also thought the romance angle was nothing great. I know I’m someone who generally doesn’t like romance, but the last few books that I’ve read in the fantasy genre have had great romances. This book was not one of them. It was generic, featuring your stereotypical hot guy friend who the protagonist has a crush on. It didn’t do anything for me.

But the other major problem with this book is that there was barely any world-building. There is a war between two countries. But there is no detail into how this came to be, what the conflict is about, the political climate and the differences. The world in this novel was described with the bare minimum needed for the story to move along. And this is such a shame because fantasy novels really need to have great world-building for the story to shine.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with Ever the Hunted. It didn’t give me anything new and it was disappointing to see all of this potential go to waste. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

 

 

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Although I’ve heard of Laini Taylor, I’ve never read anything by her. I’ve seen loads of posts about her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and while I’ve been intrigued, I just haven’t found the time to get into it. However, I couldn’t resist this novel. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis was too good to pass up. So, here is my review:

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Synopsis (Goodreads): The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.


Review: THIS. BOOK. BLEW. MY. MIND.

I’m trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words and I’m struggling so much because all I can thinks is woah. It was that good of a read! I know that this book has been hyped up a lot, and I’m usually someone who finds that hyped reads aren’t as great as they are made out to be. BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE HERE. This book lives up to the hype and then some!

This book is so beautifully written. It is poetic, and magical, and everything you imagine when you think of fantasy. Regardless of whose perspective we read, the writing is haunting and emotional; there were so many instances where the words and the emotions they evoked tore at my heart. I was spellbound and couldn’t stop myself from reading this book.

The characters are fantastic in this book. They are unique and whimsical, yet easy to connect with. The relationships between everyone and the conversations were so believable and natural that it felt as if I was right there listening to it. I loved Lazlo and his goodness, his research skills, and his love of Weep. His simplicity made me smile and he quickly became a favourite character.

The plot for this novel is just so good. There is depth, there is complexity, and there is the right balance of action and world-building. I was able to predict the revelation that occurred in the end of this book, but that just made me even happier with the story; I don’t always need shocking twists and turns to keep me happy, just a well-developed story.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my experience of this book. It was fantastic and I am so glad I gave in and read it. I cannot wait for the next book in the series! I would recommend this novel for anyone who loves fantasy, and I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

 

 

 

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

I absolutely adored the cover of this book, and combined with all the hype surrounding this book, I borrowed a copy from my library right away. My mood these days is making me lean towards thrillers, so I thought this would be a great fit for me.

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Synopsis (Goodreads): Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.


Review: This book is uncannily similar to The Wife Between Us… but it’s not as good. If you haven’t seen my review of The Wife Between Us, check it out because I was raving about that one! It’s hard for me not to compare these two thrillers when they are so similar, but I will try to limit my comments to just my impressions of this novel.

The story is told in 3 parts. Part 1 is completely from Amber’s perspective, Part 2 is from Daphne’s point of view, and Part 3 is a combination of the two. I wasn’t expecting that the story would be split in this way in the beginning, but it soon became clear why. After just halfway through Part 1, I had already figured out the way the story was going to go. It was just too easy for me to put the pieces together. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even if it is relatively simple, if the story is written well it can hold my attention.

And it was written well. By this, I mean that the story was easy to read and flowed well. However, the story wasn’t interesting. It got tiring to listen to all the different ways that Amber infiltrated Daphne’s life. I get that the author (or rather, authors) was trying to set the scene, but it didn’t need to be this long.

When Part 2 began, I was excited to read from Daphne’s perspective. But I quickly became disinterested. Why? Well, I had the same dilemma of being told everything and shown nothing. I don’t know why this is suddenly a trend with novels, but I don’t like it. It gives the story less depth and keeps me less interested because I just can’t connect with the characters.

Now, I gave this novel a trigger warning because it has a lot of instances of abuse that might disturb readers. These instances are described quite vividly, which I didn’t mind because it actually made me feel some emotion. However, there was a big problem that I had with this novel, and I’ve been shifting between saying it and potentially spoiling part of the story or just keeping it to myself. I decided to go with the former option. NO ONE DESERVES ABUSE. Regardless of how bad a person is or how cruel, nobody deserves to be abused. It really bothered me that this novel tried to justify this and I just couldn’t get over that.

So my overall thoughts about this book? The Wife Between Us was better. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to give this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis (Goodreads): Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.


Review:  This is a story that could literally be about some of the scandalous news items we hear about everyday: a married politician or man in power who has an affair, and is then accused of rape. The story revolves around Kate, the prosecutor who is convinced that James is guilty of this crime, and Sophie, the wife who refuses to believe that her loving husband could do something like this.

This is not really a thriller, in terms of pacing or plot. There is no real thrill. Yes, the reader wants to know if James was actually guilty or not. But the story is about more than just that. It is about the abuse of power that we see happening around us all the time. It is about privilege and whether that allows someone to be exempt from facing the consequences of their transgressions. And it is about the people who are affected by one person’s selfishness.

I’m really glad that the story did not focus on James’s character. Apart from a few excerpts that are flashbacks to another incident in the past, James doesn’t really get a voice. Kate and Sophie are the alternating narrators of this story, and they each have their unique struggles with this case. I really liked that the author used this method to tell the story because it shifted the focus to the people that mattered most; usually in stories like this, the novel is focused on the accused and tries to make the reader feel sympathy for them. The author does not do that here, and does not excuse James for his alleged behaviour at all. There was a lot of complexity behind the emotions that both of the women felt and I really connected with them. I could understand why they reacted the way they did. I preferred Kate’s character to Sophie’s because I generally like stronger, more powerful female roles, but both women were well developed.

The pacing of this novel is slow, and that is something that readers should be aware of. In trying to explore these different issues, there is less time for a fast-paced story. There was also more of a focus on the British law and government, so if you are not familiar with the way things work there, this might be a bit confusing to read. While the pacing made sense in terms of helping the author achieve her goals with this story, I would have preferred a more high-intensity story.

To sum it all up, this was a very close examination of the effects that a high-profile affair and rape charge can have on people. I thought the author did a really great job of considering factors like preferential treatment, justice, consent, and privilege – all of which are factors in real-life cases like these. I thought that the pacing was a bit slow and perhaps, not all of the details were needed. But it was a good read and I am happy to give it a 3.5/5 stars! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author!

Happy reading ~

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave

Synopsis (Goodreads): Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken away his biological parents, robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason his father Logan, the detective who raised him, is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. The suspect, Simon Bowers, is killed by Logan’s partner Ben, whose intentions are murkier than expected.

After this tragedy Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: a new pair of eyes. But a mishap during the surgery leads to Joshua unknowingly getting one eye from his father, and the other from Simon. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what his eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. Memories, truths, and lies Joshua discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from. What else has he failed to see?

Meanwhile, Simon’s accomplice Vincent is bent on revenge, going after the loved ones of those involved in Simon’s death and Vincent is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.


Review: This was a novel that I was very excited to read because its premise was just so intriguing. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was!

What really made this novel for me was that there were a lot of themes that made up this story. It wasn’t just about cellular memory (which was a big component of the story) but it also deals with problems within the justice system, and the positives and negatives of vigilante behaviour. All of these themes gave the story a lot more complexity and depth, making it a more enjoyable read. There are also multiple POV’s used in this novel and that also helped make this novel fully fleshed out. The great thing about the different characters was that the author created strong, well developed connections between them; the different relationships were believable and ensured that important details were presented to the reader.

The story also had really great pacing and so many twists! There is something constantly happening, but it is all very well thought out and not random in the slightest; the author does a fantastic job of connecting all of the different events. Every time I thought I had discovered the plot twist of the story, the author would throw in another one! It just made it such a compelling read, and it increased the depth – and scope – of the story.

The only thing I did not like was the conversation style between Joshua and his new friend, Ollilia. It was hard to imagine them as teenagers because their style of talking was a little awkward, and I couldn’t sense the connection that the author was trying to create. This was the only connection that I felt wasn’t concrete in the whole story.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It lived up to its classification as a thriller and I cannot wait to read more by this author. I’m giving this a 4.5/5 stars, rounded to 5!

Happy reading ~

A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho

I’ve read many adult thrillers but not too many that are in the realm of teen fiction. I thought it would be interesting to see how the author takes this genre and makes it appropriate for this age group. Here is my review:

Fin and Betty have been best friends for longer than they can remember. Even when Fin moved to Manhattan, they continued to maintain their friendship, through phone calls, letters, and summer visits. They even planned to apply to NYU and become roommates. But then, Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out. The town believes that Calder was coerced into giving the confession, and Betty has simply run away. But Fin knows the truth: Betty is dead. She returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, no matter the cost. But Williston is a town full of secrets, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda.

This book was not a good idea. I know that this novel was created for a teen audience but I still had high expectations regarding the quality of the story. And this novel didn’t match my expectations. The story starts off interestingly enough, with Fin attending Betty’s graduation – sans Betty, of course, since she’s dead – and there is a commotion when a female student expresses outrage that no one makes mention of Betty. Through Fin, we are introduced to a whole host of characters, each more ridiculous and convoluted than the next. I didn’t like a single character in this entire novel. They were unrealistic and their motives were so obtuse that it just didn’t work for me. I felt that, for the level of seriousness of the case this novel was presenting, the behaviours of the characters were very juvenile. I also didn’t think there was much happening plot-wise; it was mostly Fin stirring up drama and accomplishing nothing, and then the ending rushed up to the forefront. It really wasn’t a satisfying conclusion because it made no sense. I wish I could talk about this in more detail, but I don’t want to ruin the story for those still interested in reading this novel. Overall, I found this to be an ill-conceived, and not well-executed story that was more about teen angst than anything else. It was quite boring and had an ending that defied common sense. Other reviewers mentioned that this story is based on an actual case; I cannot speak on that since I don’t know of any crime cases similar to the one in those story, and the author also did not make mention of anything. However, based on my experience with this novel, I’m giving it a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Abuse of any kind has been a topic that a lot of authors are writing about. It is a very sensitive topic that needs to be taken seriously and handled carefully. There have been many times when authors try to portray some scenario of abuse but end up over-dramatizing it to the point where it is no longer taken seriously. I really did not want that happening here, and I am happy to say that it didn’t. Here is my review:

Windemere School for Girls is an elite private school in America that boasts of its ability to nurture the young minds of its female charges. The school has various teachers, including Dr. Gregory Copeland, the chair of the English Department and everyone’s favorite teacher. Although he is married, he has its own agenda, namely teenage girls who are under his care. For years, he has been targeting girls – until a former student goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and 2 other Windemere alumnae who were Copeland’s students, these women unite to take him down.

I had recently read a book that dealt with domestic abuse and had not been too happy with the way the author had handled that subject matter. This author did not have that same problem. I felt that the issue of sexual abuse and abuse of power by authority figures was handled delicately and maturely. The story revolved around a former student who was interning at a newspaper and decided to share her incident through the news. This later led an investigative journalist, who was this student’s mentor, to help track down other women who had faced similar issues with this same teacher. The author really showed what investigative journalism is like. I also liked that the author did not shy away from difficult aspects of abuse. The story was also very real about the physical and mental damage that comes with abuse, as well as the negativity that comes when people accuse someone of perpetrating the abuse. It was very insightful. I will say that I don’t think this was really a story. From the way it was written to the actual events that were happening in the story, it felt more like a nonfiction book, which may throw off some readers. Either way, kudos to the author for doing a good job in chronicling sexual abuse in schools. I’m giving this a solid 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love books where the main detective is female. Most of the books I read have male detectives, and while I have nothing against that, it is refreshing to have a change every now and then. I was super amped to get this ARC, especially from such a well known author so here I go with my review:

Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD has worked hard to get to where she is now and she has done a lot to move away from her past. Miranda comes from Jasper, a town just south of Hammond, but she was notorious for her antics. Now that Miranda has earned respect in her position as an officer, she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the girl she used to be. However, when Miranda is called to investigate the murder of a beloved college professor, she finds a chilling piece of evidence: a faded newspaper article about a terrible night from her long-buried past. When another man turns up dead, one who is also linked to her past, Miranda finds herself a suspect in her own investigation. The most damning evidence against her is when her fingerprints turn up at the scene of the first murder. Now Miranda must try to win back the trust of her colleagues, all while trying to figure out who could be behind these brutal killings – before it’s too late.

When I was reading this novel, I kept getting the feeling that I was missing out on something. It felt like there might have been a prequel to this story, as the author kept hinting at close connections between the different characters in a way that made me feel as if there was more than what was being said in this book. However, it turns out that this is actually a standalone novel. This threw me off a tad bit because I kept feeling as if some of the relationships between Miranda and other characters was not explained as well as it could have been. The story itself was quite obvious; I had figured out the plot and the suspect very early on in the game. In spite of that, I kept reading because the author writes in a very engaging way and I found it appealing. Was this my favorite thriller in the world? No. But it was definitely not a terrible one. It had a good pace, a very good main character, and a few twists and turns to keep readers happy. There is a high chance that I will check out more books by this author in the future!

Happy reading ~

 

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a nonfiction novel in a long time and I don’t think I have ever blogged about it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden my reading range. I’m so glad that I chose to read this book because it was such a fantastic experience. Here is my review:

As World War I took its tool, hundreds of young women were employed at radium-dial factories to paint clock faces with a new miracle substance: radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was completely safe, the women used the “lip-painting” technique to do their job, happily surprised to find themselves glowing from head to toe by the dust that collected after a day’s work. With such a coveted job, these girls were considered to be the luckiest of all – until they all began to fall ill. As the radium poisoned their bodies, they found themselves battling not just their physical ailments but the working industry themselves in one of America’s biggest scandals.

I never expected a nonfiction novel to be so moving and gripping. I could not read this novel in one sitting; I had to take multiple pauses because it was just so emotional. I didn’t know much about this topic before I began reading. I had just thought that this was an interesting event that involved radium, a substance I’m familiar with through my course work. I got so much more than that through this book. The author creates a vivid story that looks at the lives of all of these women, full of their hopes and dreams and despairs. It shows all of the different people involved that either hindered or aided in justice being meted out. There was so much courage and strength portrayed here and the author made the reader care about every single woman mentioned in the story; they weren’t just names but real people that I could connect with. While the novel was definitely more in favor of the women than the radium companies (which totally makes sense!), I was happy to see that the author did take into account the reasons why the companies did what they did; it didn’t make me sympathetic to them on any account but it did make an attempt to give a more well-rounded picture of the scandal. This was a gripping story where I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how the women would get past each obstacle thrown in their way. The best thing about this story was the message of perseverance and hope and bravery that these women showed in every facet of their lives; they may have been dying but they wouldn’t give up on living and fighting. It made me feel so proud to see all that they accomplished even after facing such adversity. I can honestly say that I have never felt this emotionally invested in a novel before. What an amazing story and the author did such a brilliant job of making it relevant and appealing to the masses. This is definitely a nonfiction book you don’t want to miss out on!

Happy reading ~

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

I was drawn to this novel not only for its content but also because of the praise it was garnering from the literary community. I like to keep an eye out for books that receive acclaim, even if I don’t always find myself enjoying those novels. I do this because it gets me out of my comfort zone of thrillers or fantasy fiction. This story was definitely out of the ordinary for me but it was a riveting tale and I am glad I took the chance to read it!

A political move results in the Atlanta police department’s hiring of its first black officers in 1948. Just because they have been hired doesn’t mean they are accepted; the new policemen are met with deep hostility by their white counterparts and their authority is limited. They aren’t allowed to wear their uniforms when entering the court house, they aren’t allowed to drive a squad car or be a part of any investigation, and they can’t even use the police headquarters as their base. When a black woman who was last seen in a car with a white man turns up dead, no one cares except Boggs and Smith, two black cops. With pressure from all sides, they decide to risk their jobs and their safety to investigate into her death.

A fantastic novel, and my only regret is not having read it sooner! It was a compelling book that accurately portrays the tension between the white and black communities in Atlanta. While the novel uses the murder to further the plot, the story delves deep into the racist culture during this time period. I absolutely loved the writing style employed here; I could feel every emotion described in the book. This is a dark, gripping novel that leaves no stone unturned as it follows the secret investigation of Boggs and Smith. I’ve read many mysteries and thrillers, many crime fiction stories, but this one was a whole new experience. Beautifully written and thought-provoking, I look forward to reading more by this author. This is a novel you don’t want to miss out on.

Happy reading ~