Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith – Children of Icarus #1

I actually received an eARC for Children of Daedala and was going to start reading it … when I found out that it was book 2 in a series. Now, I checked reviews and it seemed like everyone was saying it was imperative to read book 1 or else book 2 would make no sense. So … I searched and searched for Children of Icarus and finally managed to procure a copy. Here is my review of this book:

29065483Summary (Goodreads): It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.


Review: I honestly don’t even know where to start with my review for this book.

One of the things that I noticed right away when I received my copy of this book – and this is quite unusual for me to comment about – is that the cover and page quality is really really nice. The cover illustration is very dark but when you remove the dust cover, the same image is underneath and it has a very nice finish to it. I also loved the paper quality; it was thick and glossy and I felt really happy flipping the pages. Yes, I know, this is a weird way to start my review but I really couldn’t get over how awesome the book printing was … but now, let me get into the content itself.

Our protagonist in this story has no name. It is never mentioned. I actually really like this because it is an idea I myself had for a story that I wanted to write. The author overcomes the difficulty of having to reference a character with no name by telling the story in the first person narrative, which is quite smart since most readers also want to get to know the way the MC thinks and feels and this way you get two birds with one stone.

I really liked the idea of introducing mythological creatures to the story. I just wish there was more to them. There was also a maze runner vibe, what with the setting taking place in a labyrinth, which I really quite liked.

However, I didn’t like the story or the main character … or any of the characters, for that matter.

Let’s start with the story: nothing happens. Our protagonist, after surviving a harrowing attack, finds herself in the company of other survivors. And then nothing happens. All we read about is her observations of others and how daily life is among the survivors. Even when the story takes a turn towards something more interesting, it becomes bland as well. Literally, the ending is the most exciting part of the story, and the use of the word exciting is a bit of a stretch; I read it and felt absolutely nothing. I think my problem with the story is that I was expecting it to be heavily infused with mythology and for there to be tons of action. However, there really wasn’t much of that. I also think that the story had a lot of gore and violence to it, and a lot of it was unnecessary and quite sickening. And when I mean sickening, I’m referring to the behaviour of the characters.

Which brings me to the characters. Now, I really didn’t like the protagonist, and I found myself feeling both pity and anger towards her. She has no spine, no bravery, no strength whatsoever. She just sits there and lets things happen to her. On the one hand, I’m always saying that I want realistic character portrayal; if I were in her shoes, I would probably also be petrified and unable to do anything. But nobody wants to read about a character like that. There is a reason that authors write stories with main characters that have personalities; they attract readers and make the story interesting. In this case, our protagonist is the most boring and cowardly character I have ever read about. Literally, almost all of the problems could have been avoided if she had just spoken one sentence. But she didn’t. However, she suffered way too much for just that one mistake.

This is where the story really made me upset. The behaviour of the other characters towards the protagonist made me sick. I found myself getting really worked up and unable to read at times. In the beginning, I was just annoyed with how rude a few of the characters were towards our MC … but after the truth is revealed, I was just shocked at the way things escalated. There was no need for it to become that brutal and it was seriously messed up. I was not okay with it. I have no idea how I managed to push through that part of the book, and I’m glad it didn’t come up again. Consider this a warning about the seriously intense violence and brutality that the characters exhibit against each other. 

All in all, I was not very pleased with the book. I didn’t think the story was nearly as interesting as it could be and I hated all of the characters. To top it off, the scenes of cruelty and violence left me feeling very disturbed. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars. Since I went through all of the effort to get a copy of this book and read it just to read the sequel, I will be reading Children of Daedala. Let’s hope the story improves from here on out.

Happy reading ~

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Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

When I found out that this novel was inspired by the Slender Man attack, I was immediately interested. I know that sounds like there is something seriously wrong with me, but I wanted to know how the author would describe it in a fictional setting. This story takes place after the incident and the premise was just too interesting to pass up. Here is my review:


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Summary (Goodreads): How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?
At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels.
Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear…


Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Do I think this is a very unique thriller? Yes, 100%. Did I love it? Not entirely.

If you haven’t heard about the Slender Man trials, then let me give you a little recap: a couple of years ago, there was a lot of hype about this creepy character named Slender Man. 2 girls became so obsessed with it that they stabbed another girl, claiming that Slender Man told them to do it. This was the premise that sparked the idea for this book, but the author took it further than just the incident: in this novel, we read about the victim’s life in the future.

The novel started off great. I loved reading from Alice’s perspective. She is damaged, she is paranoid, but she is strong and refuses to be a victim. The author painted a very realistic depiction of a survivor and I wanted to get to know her. However, as the story progressed, I found I didn’t really like Alice as much as I had hoped. For one thing, she’s a blabbermouth. For someone who should trust nobody, she trusts EVERYBODY. Every other chapter involves her meeting a character, deciding to trust them with her life story, and then divulging every little detail, including things that could be used against her. I wanted to shake her and yell at her for this. YOU ARE BEING STALKED BY A PSYCHO!!! DON’T GO AROUND TRUSTING PEOPLE!!! She even ignores the advice of her dead father, who explicitly told her to not trust anybody. It was something that really bothered me with this story.

That being said, I did like the way the story developed. There were a lot of twists and turns and a lot of mysteries explored. I like that things unfolded in their own time; instead of having the reader try to tease things apart, the author let everything come out gradually. It gave the story a good flow and allowed me to just enjoy the story as it came to me. I liked the identity reveal of Mister Tender and the way things led up to the climax.

But it was the climactic point that failed me. Mainly because there wasn’t one. After all this build up, after all the violence, it ended very easily. It was just too simple after all of the tension that was evoked previously, and I just couldn’t feel satisfied by it.

Despite some of the negative aspects of this story, I think that it gives a lot of food for thought about sensationalism and victim fetishism. The story is about how everyone is obsessed with getting to know Alice, understanding her and seeing how she lives her day after her horrific incident. In a way, the reader is a part of that: I am drawn to the grisliness of her story, I’m fascinated by her character and how she behaves. It’s easy to see how I could become another “fan” of Mister Tender… except I would never stoop to that level of depravity and violence. In a sense, this theme of sensationalism also touches on issues with privacy. With the internet, there really is no such thing as having privacy and through Alice’s struggles, we see how hard it can be to remain anonymous. This novel also looks at abuse in a very unique way. There are so many different types of abuse that this novel considers and it is worthwhile to note that abuse doesn’t just manifest itself through physical violence; it can come from a loved one, too, and have disastrous consequences on one’s mental and emotional well-being.

Even though there were things I really didn’t like about this novel, I’m still giving it a fairly high rating of 3.5/5 stars. This is a very unique psychological thriller, with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers interested, so if you are looking for something new in the genre, consider this book.

Happy reading ~

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

The cover of this book was absolutely gorgeous and, combined with the intriguing premise, made it impossible for me to not pick this book up. Necromancers, zombie-like monsters…. what more could I ask for? I grabbed a copy from Indigo and set to reading.

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Synopsis (Goodreads): Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?


Review: My love affair with this book ended as quickly as it started. While the premise was interesting, the actual execution failed to impress me.

This story seemed like it would be fast-paced, full of action as Odessa tries to figure out what is going on with all of these Shade attacks. Instead, it is about Odessa battling her grief after she loses someone she loves. Now, I have no problem with her feeling grief. But the story doesn’t set itself up well for this scenario. For one thing, we don’t ever really feel the strong romantic connection between Odessa and her partner; it’s just something we have to assume is strong. There wasn’t enough time given to develop this relationship – and then he dies. The other problem with the grief scenario is that Odessa becomes addicted to potions in order to deal with the pain. With that, my hopes of a strong heroine were dashed. Given the reputation she has (according to what the book tells us), shouldn’t she be out there trying to avenge him? Why is she succumbing to addiction? My initial thoughts were that this addiction angle might serve a different purpose later on. It does not. It could have been cut out. And the worst part about it was that this took up almost 50% of the story. That’s right, 50% of the story is us reading about Odessa’s self-pity and gloom. All this for a relationship that wasn’t even fostered deeply in the book.

Not only did Odessa turn to addiction during her time of grief, she also used this time to throw herself into the arms of her best friend. Her need for physical comfort was a little … well, I didn’t like it. I would prefer if she had been a stronger character, or at least relied on her friends in a platonic way. But she chose not to do that.

Moving on from the huge grief aspect, I also thought it was completely bizarre that so many people were willing to throw themselves at Odessa. I couldn’t see the appeal. Was it her charm – or lack thereof? Was it some history that they had had previously, which the author had failed to mention? I just found myself perplexed by a lot of the character interactions, and really wished that the author had spent some time giving them more of a backstory so I could follow along. This lack of a backstory and lack of strong world-building really affected my ability to enjoy the story. There were random details thrown in that took me aback because there was no reference to it before that point, and suddenly, it became important. I like my stories to make sense and flow, and this novel didn’t do that all the time.

I also found that the actual fighting scenes were a bit dull. When the main character is a necromancer, I expect a lot more scary things to happen, and there just wasn’t enough action to keep me engaged. All the action scenes were over quite quickly and left me filling disappointed, like that scene in Breaking Dawn where Alice showed what could have happened if there was a war … but nothing actually happened (Twilight reference for the win!!!).

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this novel. It had the potential to be dynamic and crazy. While it maintained a fast pace, it didn’t have sensible character interactions and really lacked strong backstories and world-building, which would have made this a more engrossing read. Also, Odessa is a very needy character who can’t stop falling for other people while grieving for someone who was supposedly the love of her life. It was just too much. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

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 ~

All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert

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

Synopsis (Goodreads): In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.


Review: I went into this novel with absolutely no idea on how I would feel about it. I emerged from it thinking that it was quite an interesting read.

I really liked the premise of this book and the way events unfolded in this town. The story is told entirely from Ellsworth’s point of view, and he is quite a character. I think the author tries really hard to make him complex, but at times, it was a bit forced. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by Ellsworth and really liked him. There were many different characters who were introduced to the story, and it could be quite confusing to keep them all straight. However, all of the characters had backstories and vices that helped the reader make a connection with them. I did think that everyone’s constant positive regard for Ellsworth was a tad overbearing, but it makes sense in terms of the story.

I really liked the way that the story progressed. We start off with the emergence of this chapel, which has always been present, yet the people of this town have been unaware of it. But once they become aware, they cannot help but visit, enticed by the messages it gives them. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that this chapel is not a blessing – rather, it is curse. The frenzy that developed throughout this story was fantastic, and I really enjoyed every minute of the book…. until we got to the final climax. That’s when I felt disappointment. After all this amazing build up and tension and intrigue, the climax felt lackluster.

Even though the ending was not as great as I had hoped, the story itself was interesting and I enjoyed most of it. I wasn’t expecting it to make references to faith (totally missed out that it was labelled as Christian fiction) but the author made it work in the story. I would give this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

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

I really really like dystopian novels. It’s both frightening and exciting to think about what the world would be like if society as we know it collapsed and we were left in an extreme condition and had to survive. Any chance that I get to read a dystopian novel, I take it. And I got the chance with this one through NetGalley. Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive. But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.


Review: I really wanted to like this novel. But I didn’t. It wasn’t terrible by any standards, but it just wasn’t as gripping or unique as I wanted it to be. The story was pretty much like your average dystopian tale: there’s a girl who is learning to survive in a new environment and through a turn of events discovers that she is different and could potentially save the world. And there’s the love interest that conveniently comes along and becomes a part of the adventure. It’s something I’ve already seen so many times so it was hard for this book to hold my interest.32920273

Now, not everything was the same. For instance, Lynn is older than your usual teen protagonist – she is 23 years old and is no longer a child. But for some reason, her voice didn’t show the maturity of someone her age. I understand that she has been living only with her family for a number of years and has been isolated from others her age, but that doesn’t mean that she should have the maturity of a 16-year-old. The age factor might have been a unique feature of the story but since the author didn’t give her a mature voice, Lynn resembled every other teen protagonist from a dystopian story. It also doesn’t help that Lynn was bland. Even though the story is written entirely from her perspective, and the author tried to include snippets from her past to give her a more defined personality, I didn’t really get anything from it. She bored me and it was really hard for me to get through the novel.

The story was also different in that there were two parts to it: not only was there nuclear warfare that turned the world into a wasteland, there was also a disease that led to the deaths of many people. This was interesting … but perhaps not necessary. Only one of these conditions really mattered and got carried through in the story.

I also had an issue with the relationship between Lynn and Jax. There didn’t need to be one. There was no chemistry to be detected between the two and their exchanges were awkward and cheesy. I got no satisfaction from seeing them thrown together because they were both such bland characters. It didn’t help that all of the other characters in the story were also stereotypically portrayed. There was no nuance or depth to it at all and it made it really hard for me to enjoy this story.

In the end, I just didn’t enjoy this dystopian story. There were too many stereotypical elements to it for it to be unique and all of the characters had a one-dimensional personality. I’m pretty sure there is going to be a sequel to this story based on the way it ended, but I’m probably not going to check it out. Unfortunately, this book gets 2/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

Red Rising: Sons of Ares #1 by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown is the author of the Red Rising series, which consists of Red Rising, Golden SonMorning Star, and soon, Iron Gold. I actually read the first 3 books of the series and found them to be quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading the latest installment when it comes out. I had no idea that the author had decided to venture into the world of graphic novels, as well, but I thought it would be a great avenue for the story! Here is my review:

N.B: The story takes place before Red Rising. In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one’s caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red?


I would highly recommend reading this after you have read the Red Rising series. Although this is a prequel, it really expects you to know the Red Rising world in order to understand its implications. This is the story of how Ares becomes the face of the rebellion.

I really liked the art used here. It wasn’t as beautiful as some other graphic novels I’ve read, like Monstress by Marjorie Liu, but it was interesting and worked for the story being told. I loved how the text boxes were different colours depending on who was speaking: if it was a gold, the box would be gold, if it was a red or a green, it would be their affiliated colour. Not only did it serve as a reminder of the distinction between the different classes that are part of the world created in the series, it also helped the reader keep track of who was talking.

I really liked the backstory that was given for Ares. However, I don’t think this comic really added to the story. There was nothing really knew here that I wouldn’t have gotten from the story and the theme was the same one as in the series. I understand that the theme being the same was a unifying factor but there weren’t even subtle nuances to give it some depth. It was also too short to have the detailed back story to the rebellion that I was looking for.

Overall, this was an interesting medium to portray the series, but it wasn’t unique enough for me. I’m giving it a 3/5 for creativity and artwork.

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

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 ~

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

It has taken me a long time to get my hands on this book but I am so glad I did! I love everything about Peter Pan and I knew that this novel would be perfect for me, just by reading the premise. It reminded me of The Child Thief by Brom, which was also a really cool twist on the original Peter Pan story. Anyways, enough of my rambling, here is my review:

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups tHe brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

Peter lied.

I think the premise is pretty clear on what the story is about. But it definitely doesn’t give you enough of an idea of how GOOD this novel is! I devoured it in one sitting and found myself thoroughly creeped out (in a good way, of course)! This novel is a very dark retelling, with plenty of violence and manipulation to keep the reader interested. It is very easy to believe in this dark and twisted Peter Pan, and the author does a fantastic job of sticking to this personality and developing it as the story goes along. The story is told from the perspective of Jamie, the first Lost Boy. Jamie has always loved Peter but now, he sees that things aren’t right, that Peter is not who he thought he was. The author does an amazing job of showing this gradual deterioration in the relationship between Jamie and Peter; with this deterioration comes an increase in tension and an intensity in the violence and brutality on the island. There were many points in time when I was holding in my breath, waiting for the tension to abate. There are a lot of heart-breaking moments in this novel; the author really knew how to get the reader invested in the fates of the characters! In a way, this novel reminded me a lot of Lord of the Flies; there is this loss of innocence and complete breakdown of law and order, which is what leads to the disastrous and inevitable conclusion of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dark retellings!

Happy reading ~

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

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

Maybe there’s something really wrong with me, but I love books where the main character is seriously messed up. I like main characters who are potential psychopaths or sociopaths or who have committed a heinous crime. It’s not that I approve of those crimes, but I like to read from a very unique perspective – and what can be more unique than a villain? The first line of this story caught my attention and I knew I had to give this story a shot … so here is my review:

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

Oliver Ryan is a handsome, charismatic and successful author. With his devoted wife, Alice, they have written and illustrated award-winning children’s books. They have a comfortable life together – until one evening, after a wonderful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious. His subsequent beatings land Alice into a coma. In the aftermath of such violence, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

This is not a psychological thriller and if you are expecting one, you will be sorely disappointed. This story is all about character development – and I think the author is pretty clear about that from the description that was given. As mentioned by the blurb, the story is told from multiple perspectives – friends, neighbours, acquaintances, and Oliver all give their impressions. I think the problem with this novel was that the most interesting part of it was that first line. The story just didn’t have the juiciness I was expecting. The author puts in a lot of effort to make the reader understand Oliver’s character, and to a certain degree, I think there is success. There were times when I really did feel sorry for him and what he has gone through. However, there just seemed this disconnect between the power of that initial line in the story and the events and perspectives that followed it. I also really didn’t care for the other perspectives. They were really just boring, and the only person I really cared about was Oliver. In the end, this novel just wasn’t unique or interesting enough for my liking. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~