Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

When I heard about this book, I thought it would be really interesting. I’ve been trying to read more books that take place in space because I’ve started really liking space adventures. When I went to borrow this book from the library, I was really confused to find out there were only 60 pages. Then someone told me that this was an excerpt that was released before the book and that the actual story was about 500 pages. I decided to try an audiobook format for this novel because of its length so some of my comments may pertain to the audiobook reading and may differ from those who just read the physical book or ebook. But enough blabbing, here are my thoughts:

31394234Summary (Goodreads): Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.


Review: Alright, well, I’ll be honest here: I did not like this book at all. The authors promised a lot … but I didn’t feel like they delivered. There was just so much that didn’t work with this book!

First of all, THE SUMMARY IS A LIE. Why do I say that? Because it paints a prettier picture of this book than it deserves.

First of all, the story is not at all about a badass group of females. It’s about Androma and her love story. The other girls on the Marauder are barely given a thought. In a story that has tons of different perspectives, only one of the girls is given her time in the spotlight – and her POV literally added nothing to the story. I never got a good sense of the other characters, never witnessed this close connection between them that apparently existed. It was definitely disappointing.

The story is also not that interesting. The entire premise is that Androma and her crew are supposed to rescue someone on behalf of a man who hates Androma and she must work with her enemy/former lover. This whole mission occurs by Chapter 36. The rest of the story is just flashbacks and dithering around as Androma and her lover/enemy work things out.

Did I mention that there are a TON of POVs? Because there are. A TON. And they just make for the most confusing thing in the world. I’m glad that in the audiobook version, they had multiple narrators to try and help keep all of the different perspectives separate but it was still extremely difficult. And again, I had feelings of complete apathy towards all of the characters and POVs. I just didn’t care about any of them.

I also had a problem with Androma’s character. She sucked. She was boring and whiny and not a “bloody baroness” at all. Her persona doesn’t make sense to me at all. She is supposed to relish killing and fighting. And yet, she spends most of her time mourning over the people she kills. She also is supposed to be fierce about her crew … but she obsesses more about her romantic interest. Her character was just not what I was hoping to get.

In the end, this novel just had too many negative factors to it. The plot was boring, the cast of characters had no depth, and the story fell into too many familiar tropes … but the tropes weren’t carried out well enough to justify that. I’m going to have to give this book a 1/5 star rating.

Happy reading ~

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Amber Alert by Dan Lawton

I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I am always happy when an author gets in touch with me and asks me to read their work. It’s not easy to write and publish a novel, and I definitely want to support writers wherever possible! I was super excited to receive this novel, which sounded like a very cool thriller! Here is my review:


Synopsis (Goodreads): Time is running out.

Nine-year-old Chloe Janis is abducted.

Abby, her mom, is now faced with revealing her dark past, hidden these last seventeen years, or losing her daughter forever. A cryptic message from a man she’d shoved into the dark recesses of her mind forces her into an impossible situation—revealing secrets best kept hidden or losing her daughter forever.

Secrets, deception, and betrayal surround the small town of Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania. All eyes are on the community, threatening to split open as yet unhealed wounds are probed. Fates will be rewritten and careers redefined. Everyone involved will confront their pasts if there’s any hope of Mifflinburg becoming a town at the heart of redemption and forgiveness.


Review: The plot for this story was quite strong and I really liked the direction that the story took. However, I thought that the writing style wasn’t the best fit for this story.

A child being abducted is not necessarily a unique story … but the way the author presented it here made it stand out in my mind. It was easy for me to follow along with the events that unfolded, and I got caught up in the thrill of it all. I liked that the plot had depth to it and kept you guessing as to the motives behind this kidnapping.

I also really liked the characters because every single one of them had something to contribute to the story. There were no useless characters, and I’m so happy about that because that is one of my biggest pet peeves. All of the characters had a backstory and the author definitely had them all fleshed out. I will point out that I didn’t like the main detective’s character. He had an off-putting personality, and while that may have been done on purpose, I thought that some of his actions and remarks were uncharacteristic of a police detective and that didn’t really work for me.

The one issue I had with this novel was with the writing style. Oftentimes, I felt I was being told rather than shown what was happening. When the character was giving their backstory or their inputs, I would much rather have not been told it straight to my face; I like to be led to the conclusions, not given them. When I’m told rather than shown, I find that it takes me out of the rhythm of the story and it can be hard for me to get back into it. I think that if the writing style had been edited to be cleaner in these aspects, it would have made the story even better.

Overall, this was a very interesting premise and a well-developed story. However, I don’t think the writing style was a good fit for this novel. Nevertheless, this was a solid effort, and I’m giving this a 3/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I have been so excited for this book! Ever since I saw the cover reveal for it, it has taken everything I have to wait patiently for the book to be released. Now, I finally got the chance to read the book! Here is my review:

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Fell in love with this beautiful cover ~

Synopsis (Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


Review: I have conflicting thoughts regarding this book. While I finished it in just a few days, this wasn’t a perfect story for me with an equal portion of things I liked and didn’t like.

First of all, I absolutely loved the premise. It was so dark and it played perfectly with my love of dark faerie tales.

But this story took a LONG time to get going. The story begins with Alice telling us how she and her mother, Ella, have never had a stable home because they’ve been running away from this bad luck that keeps following them. When Alice’s mother gets kidnapped, Alice is determined to find her. While this is a very noble endeavour, I was bored out of my mind. There were all of these creepy hints about the Hinterland, but nothing really full blown for the longest time. It got to a point where I was ready to pull my hair out if Alice mentioned one more time about how she and her mother were always on the run. The journey she took here was far too long and could have been shortened to make the plot more interesting.

Of course, a long journey means that Alice has to have a trusty sidekick – and in this case, it is Ellery Finch. I know a lot of readers of this book love Ellery, but I did not. I couldn’t connect with him because he just seemed too forced in his behaviour and I didn’t feel like I ever got to know him. Maybe this was because the reader’s view of Ellery is coloured by Alice’s perception of him (since the story is told entirely from her perspective) but he just didn’t live up to my expectations of the sidekick.

And while I’m speaking about characters, I also didn’t like Alice for a large part of the story. All she does is get angry over nothing and complain. Oh, and judge Ellery for being rich, even though his wealth is what is aiding them in their search for Alice’s mother. Eventually, this anger issue gets resolved but it took way too long and was really not that necessary.

I know it sounds like everything I have to say is negative. But there were some things I really liked about this story.

There were moments when we got to actually hear some of the fairy tales from the Hinterland. That was hands-down the best part of the book; I love reading dark fairy tales and the author definitely delivered. I only wish there had been more of these stories scattered throughout the story because it would have made it all so much more interesting.

When Alice actually gets to the Hinterland, I found myself enjoying the story a lot more. There was some really cool world-building, and you really needed to focus in order to figure out what exactly was going on. The story started to get whimsical and creepy, and it was what I had been hoping for from the beginning.

By the time the novel ended, I was feeling quite happy …. but I don’t know if it was necessarily enough to negate my feelings from the beginning of the book.

Overall, I think that this was a novel with a very interesting premise. I liked the dark fairy tales and the creepiness of it all. I do think that this novel ran a bit too long, especially in the beginning and it would have been more enjoyable for readers if that had been cut down. I’m going to give this a 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3 …. but I am curious to see if there will be a sequel to this novel, and would be interested in reading more by this author.

Happy reading ~

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

You have no idea how long I’ve waited to read this book. A LONG TIME. It’s been on my radar for a while, but I never got the chance to read it. I made it a part of my TBR list for January, and I’m so glad I got to read it before the month was up! Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage he could be.

More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King—because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.


Review: There are many reasons why I liked this book. One major reason is that I like unique story lines. The premise here reminded me of Room … but more of what would the child from Room have grown up to be like if the child had had a more violent upbringing when in isolation. And the story does an incredible job of showcasing the way that such a lifestyle would affect a child. Because of this unique situation, the reader gets this amazingly unique protagonist: Helena.

Helena was a character that I liked from the start. She isn’t spunky or funny or emotional. In fact, she is the opposite of those things. She is reclusive, with not too many social graces, and is more comfortable out in the woods than with her family. She is analytical and can come off as cold through the way she perceives things and the way she talks. But I liked that about her. It showed how her childhood had impacted her and made her the person she grew up to be. There are so many books where the main character has supposedly gone through some kind of difficulty in childhood but they don’t show any signs of that as adults; this is not the case here, and I loved it. Helena was damaged and that made her perfect for this story and for me.

The story, while told entirely from her perspective, flits from past to present. Helena recounts the things she learned from her father, and how she and her mother escaped him. Through these memories, the reader gets to see the unique “family” dynamic that Helena was a part of – and also, the way it was sometimes almost normal. It explained the conflict that she felt currently, having to hunt down her father because she knew he was dangerous – but she also loved him for being her parent. I will admit that not much happened in the novel until the end, which may have been a let-down for some people who were expecting a fast-paced high-intensity novel. This is definitely more of a character study – but it is a good one.

Overall, I’m giving this novel a solid 4/5 stars. I liked the premise, and I liked that the character stayed true to her background. I loved how the story flitted back and forth in time, and the ending gave me the satisfaction I was looking for. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a gritty character study.

Happy reading ~

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

When I heard about this book, I thought it would be just another thriller. I was so wrong! This thriller had me hooked and it was by far a favorite of mine, and a great way to close off the year! I can’t wait for you all to get a chance to read it in January! But for now, here is my review:

When 2 young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in Pennsylvania, a bounty hunter by the name Alice Vega is hired to find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied. With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.

This novel was definitely a success for me and I think this was mostly due to the character of Vega. She was such an interesting and unique character and she got me interested in the story. Vega is a woman who doesn’t express too many emotions, who is all about the case, and who does things in a badass way. I loved her dark and badass personality – it reminded me a lot of Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I really liked the way she interacted with Cap, who was another terrific character. The one thing this novel had going for it were the characters. All of them were just so unique and intriguing and I could never tell who was guilty and who wasn’t. I also really liked the plot: it was engaging and full of twists and turns. I think there were some points that were a bit more complicated than they needed to be, and that made me lose my focus for a bit, but the author was able to draw me back in quickly enough. Overall, this was a great thriller that I couldn’t put down. It had great characters, and a very interesting plot. I can’t wait to read more by this author and I would recommend this novel for anyone who is a fan of thrillers! 4.5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

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

I had previously tried to read a book by this same author called All is Not Forgotten. While its premise had been interesting, I found I couldn’t get myself to get through the novel. However, I thought that this novel of hers had a premise that was even more enticing and I was willing to give this author another shot. Here is my review:

3 years ago, the 15-year-old Cass Tanner and 17-year-old Emma Tanner disappeared. Now, Cass has returned – but without her sister, Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

I really wanted to enjoy this novel, and in the beginning, I did. This story is told from both Cass and Abby’s perspectives as they circle around the kidnapping and the events that led to it. But after just a few chapters, I found myself struggling to get through this novel. Maybe it was the writing style, or maybe it was the story itself. But I really didn’t enjoy this novel. For one thing, there is a huge disconnect between the character’s emotions and the reader. I couldn’t experience anything because I didn’t actually feel anything that the characters felt; I was just told the emotions. It’s a very weird experience to not have the characters actually experience anything firsthand but just tell you everything after the fact. And I didn’t like it. I wasn’t able to get into the story, and so, everything just dragged on for me. When I got to the ending, I realized why the author used this style to deliver the story; however, it really wasn’t worth the effort. I also found that the story focused too much on the whole narcissistic-parent aspect. I love psychology and reading about different personality disorders, but it got very repetitive very quickly. It made the reader lose sight of the actual mystery of what happened to Cass’s sister. And again, because of the writing style employed, I wasn’t able to emotionally understand the impact of having a parent with narcissistic personality disorder. All in all, this novel was a mess. There was an interesting thriller premise but the focus was really on reiterating this idea of narcissistic parents and not the actual disappearance of the sisters. But even with this focus, it never actually felt like the author got to the crux of the matter because the writing style caused this awkward separation between the emotional and factual aspects of the story. It was a struggle to get through this novel, and I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed with the way it turned out. If the author had made the characters’ emotions more vivid and had told the story in a different way, with an equal focus on the parenting style as well as the actual disappearance, I think this novel would have been a lot more appealing for me. For now, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Child Finder by Rene Denfield

I’ve seen this book literally everywhere and it has been getting rave reviews. A lot of people who know my taste in mysteries and thrillers have been recommending it to me so I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review:

Madison Culver disappeared when she was 5 years old, as her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their daughter, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator who specializes in locating lost and missing children. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope. Naomi’s search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too. As Naomi continues her pursuit, her discovery of the truth behind Madison’s disappearance uncovers her own nightmares, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. By finding Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

This novel messed me up in a good way. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have started it at midnight and finished it in one go, but it was too good to stop! The novel is told mainly from 2 perspectives: Naomi and Madison. Both have their own unique voice, and both made me cry. Naomi has a quiet personality but it is clear both from the author’s depictions and from the way the character acts that she is haunted by her past. Madison is an unbelievably strong and resilient character whose journey is incredibly painful to witness. My heart went out to both of these characters. I think that the author did a fantastic job in showing the cyclic nature of abuse and the trauma that can continue to haunt a person for the rest of their life. This was such a complex novel and it forces the reader to feel every emotion being described. Powerful does not begin to describe this story. My one criticism (and this actually did not ruin the story for me) was that this was more psychological than it was investigative. Naomi’s tracking of Madison was secondary and there really wasn’t much searching going on; everything was just conveniently laid there. But the characters, writing style, and message of the story more than make up for this. This is definitely one of my favorite books out there and I’m so glad I read it. 5/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I love dystopian novels and anything that is really full of creepy crawlies. This novel seemed like the perfect fit for me so I was super excited to read it! Here is my review:

In an unspecified future, the United States’ borders have receded behind a salt line, which is a ring of scorched earth to protect citizens from ticks that carry disease. Those that live within the zone are safe but are controlled by this common fear. Few have any real reason to leave the safe zone … except for the adrenaline junkies who are willing to pay a hefty price in order to enjoy what is left of nature. Among the latest expedition are a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; tech giant, Wes; and Marta, a simple housewife. Once they leave the safe zone, the group are at the mercy of deadly ticks – and in the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors. As alliances and friendships shift, the hostages must decide how far they are willing to go to get back to safety.

I really wanted to like this novel but I found I couldn’t get into it at all, and I had to add it to my DNF pile. While the story seemed interesting in its premise, I just couldn’t get interested enough to pursue this novel. The pacing was quite slow and that made it a bit harder for me to read because I really wanted to get to the good bits as fast as possible. I also didn’t feel any real connection with any of the characters; they just didn’t have enough for me to feel that emotional tug. I don’t really want to write too much on this review since I haven’t fully read the novel and others who have finished it would have a better idea on it, but for me, this novel gets a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

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

If you follow my blog, then you know I love dark, messed up stories. It’s not just about it being a murder mystery or a psychological thriller; I am in love with stories that freak you out and make you cringe in horror because they are just that insane and diabolical. That was what I hoped to get from this book. And I did. Here is my review:

Marion Zetland is a timid spinster in her fifties who lives with her domineering older brother, John, in an old and decaying townhouse. Her only friends are her teddy bears and the imaginary relationships she makes up at night. These are the only things that help her shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar. As long as she never has to go down to the cellar, Marion can live with the slight twinge of unease that comes from knowing about John’s secret. But when John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down there, she has no choice but to face the gruesome truth. And as questions are asked and secrets begin to reveal themselves, maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side …

This novel was advertised as a cross between Room and Grey Gardens. While I’ve never read Grey Gardens, I can definitely say that this is not at all like Room and making that comparison is a misnomer. In fact, it led me astray in terms of my expectations. However, that does not in any way mean that I didn’t like this novel. In fact, I loved it! This was a slow burning, tension-building story that seriously creeped me out by the end. If anything, I would describe this novel as more of a character study of Marion and John, told from Marion’s perspective. She talks about her life and how people view her as timid and plain. She talks about how much she depends on her brother, John, and how she never feels like she is good enough. She wishes for a great deal and in the beginning, she seems to have a simplistic mindset … but it becomes clear near the middle/end that she is much smarter than one might have thought. While there is never any doubt in the reader’s mind that John is the main villain, this story makes the reader question the responsibility and culpability of a “bystander” like Marion. The premise of the story reveals most of what this book about, but for once, that doesn’t bother me because the plot isn’t the real interesting aspect about this book; it is watching how Marion evolves and changes that is of real interest to the reader. To be quite honest, I think this is a really fantastic and dark read that looks at a horrendous situation in a very different light. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a slow but creepy book, and who is not wary of gruesome content.

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 ~