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 ~

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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 ~

Everyone Talks by Lee Child – Season of Stories

I feel like everyone has at some point seen Lee Child’s name – most commonly associated with a new Jack Reacher novel. I’ve always wanted to read something by him but I’ve never really taken the leap. I think the main reason is because I don’t know where to start. For instance, there are a lot of books in his Jack Reacher series and I don’t know if I should start right at the beginning or not; it just seems like such a daunting task! So when I saw that the latest short story from Season of Stories was by Lee Child, I thought this would be a good introduction to his work!

This short story is part of a collection of stories on Jack Reacher. In this story, a cop hears about a John Doe who has just come into the local hospital with serious injuries. When she goes to the hospital in order to ask follow-up questions, she discovers that the John Doe has a bullet wound. Knowing that there must be more to the story than just a bar fight, the cop asks John Doe a series of questions in order to get to the bottom of this mystery.

If you haven’t guessed already, the John Doe is Jack Reacher. I quite enjoyed this little story. It started off intriguingly enough and I wanted to know if the cop would figure out what happened. I really liked the writing style; it’s not too descriptive and the author likes to write short sentences at times, which really makes the reader pay attention to what is going on. Even though this was a short story, it had its fair share of action. The ending definitely took me aback, and it made me wish that this short story was longer so that I could enjoy the details more and have things be drawn out. I think that this story definitely did a good job of making me interested in the Jack Reacher series … so now, I have more books to add to my TBR list! I would definitely recommend people check out this short story collection by Lee Child, especially if they are fans of Jack Reacher!

Happy reading ~

 

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

I love fantasy fiction and when I heard that this is a brand new series coming out, I really wanted to get in on the action. It took me a while to get my hands on this book what with all the demand. But I finally did so here is my review:

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are trained to be deadly killers. In some, there are signs of the old blood, giving these girls talents rarely seen since the tribes made their mark on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones the skills of novices to deadly effect – it takes them 10 years to train a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But no one truly understands what they are dealing with when 8-year-old Nona Grey is brought to their convent, bloodstained and accused of murder. While Nona has escaped from the noose, she has made powerful enemies. Despite the security of the convent, her secret and violent past will come back for her. Beneath a dying sun and a crumbling empire, Nona must come to terms with her demons and become a deadly assassin if she is to survive.

The very first page starts off with a bang, and it got me super excited. The next chapter came along and it was just as cool. The author really knows how to capture the reader’s attention! The author also invests a lot of energy and time into world-building, which is greatly appreciated. Every time something new was described, it made me excited to see how the author would use that to develop the story. And then we got to the middle of the book. And I didn’t like it. While I’m a HUGE fan of Harry Potter, I don’t always like Harry Potter-like fiction. And this story started to show signs of becoming that way. For 75% of the novel, we watch Nona and her friends go to classes and train and learn things…. just like in Harry Potter. Granted there are episodes of action that are awesome, and Nona is a very interesting main character that is not at all like Harry Potter …. but the similarities were just too much. It kind of felt like a mash up between Harry Potter and Queen of Blood, both which I loved – as separate entities. In fact, I think I liked Queen of Bloods more than I liked this one. However, the story picked up near the end and the intrigue was back. I think what really made me like this book and stick through the boring bits was the fact that there were moments where I was on the edge of my seat and the amazing writing skills of the author. While this was not my favorite fantasy novel, I definitely liked it enough to keep an eye out for the sequel when it gets released.

Happy reading ~

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – Nevernight Chronicles #2

I loved Nevernight so much so that I bought it. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of this novel and I had to wait FOREVER to get my hands on it. But I did. And I kid you not, I put every other book aside so that I could devote all of my time to this novel. I even skipped out on doing work (sorry not sorry) to finish it and savour this amazing sequel. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is my review:

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church don’t think she’s earned it just yet. As she successfully completes one mission after the other, she finds herself no closer in her quest to kill Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo. And after a deadly confrontation with an enemy, Mia starts to suspect the allegiance of the Red Church itself.  When she finds out that Scaeva and Duomo will be making an appearance in the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia hatches a plan. She defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium in the hopes of reaching the conclusion level of the games and finally getting the chance to seek her revenge. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

This was one of the best sequels I’ve ever read. Usually, I find that in a trilogy, the second book is just filler. NOT THE CASE WITH THIS GEM! The darkness, brutality, and violence that made this story so believable in the first book carried over here. If anything, it was more intense than before! Mia is an amazing character and I love how sneaky and cunning she can be with her friends – and the reader. I love how she grows and changes, and I love that this novel showed a different side to her world than what we had seen in Nevernight. The gladiator battles were amazing, and I liked the new characters that were introduced. The writing style was just the same (meaning BRILLIANT) and it was great to see how the author flitted between past and present in the first part of the story. I think what really makes this story work for me is that the author doesn’t cheat the reader out of the experience. This book promises gore and then it delivers it. It promises an evolving and fast-paced story and that’s exactly what the reader gets. And there are so many surprising events that occur, which the reader could never have guessed and they just add to the intrigue and make you want to know more! Suffice to say, it was worth making all of the sacrifices that I did (like skipping work, and not studying or reading anything else). Now, I just have to wait in agony for the next book to be released!

Happy reading ~

 

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

What drew me to this novel was its interesting premise and the idea of a female gang leader. I love seeing powerful female protagonists in a novel so I was looking forward to this novel. Here is my review:

The Crenshaw Six may be small but they are making it up in the gang world in South Central LA. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six may appear to be led by a man named Garcia … but what no one has realized is that the gang’s real leader is Garcia’s girlfriend, Lola. Lola has mastered the part of submissive girlfriend, which allows her to be constantly underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter–and in many ways tougher and more ruthless–than any of the men around her. As the gang gets drawn into the high-stakes drug world, the gang will have to depend on Lola to survive.

After all the excitement surrounding this novel, it ended up being a bit of a let-down. I was expecting some crazy mind games, with Lola showing off her brilliance and ruthlessness. But Lola really didn’t seem that smart or tough. To be honest, she didn’t have much of a personality and so, I really didn’t root for her or care about anything she had to say. There was this young girl introduced to the story and that intrigued me but I didn’t like how Lola didn’t take the child’s abilities into account. The story itself dragged a lot and it was hard for me to focus. Overall, this novel just didn’t make me go wow. The story was alright with brief intriguing moments, and the awesome female protagonist really didn’t show up. I would give this a 1.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I have been very excited to read this poetry collection. I rarely, if ever, read poetry; I think the last poetry collection I ever read was by Shel Silverstein – and it was when I was in grade 3! Needless to say, my forays into the poetic scene have been long overdue and I decided to get into it with this book by Rupi Kaur, as it has been receiving so much praise… so here is my review:

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose that speaks about surviving. It is about surviving violence, abuse, love, and loss. It is about femininity and the ways one can be ashamed of it – and be proud of it. The collection is split into 4 chatpers, with each serving a different purpose, exploring a different pain. As we journey through the most bitter moments in life, the author shows us how we can still find sweetness hidden … if you are just willing to look.

My first thought was: this is a very short collection. Seriously, I read through it all in half an hour, and that is not a testament to my reading speed. I don’t know how long poetry collections usually are but this seemed unusually small in length. But as we all know, length doesn’t matter; it’s the content that counts! What I liked was that the author was unafraid to tackle difficult material like rape and abuse. There is a strong feminist voice in these poems, one that makes you proud to be a woman. I liked that the author talked about being comfortable in one’s own skin, because it is rare to find people who are. I also liked the hand-drawn pictures in the book. However, I don’t think that there was anything really special about this collection. Of course, the more voices that preach about loving-yourself-the-way-you-are, the better. But with all the raving reviews, I expected there to be something unique about Rupi Kaur’s interpretation and message. And there really wasn’t. There was nothing that made me connect with the poems, and while I could appreciate the sentiment, it just became too repetitive. I understand: love yourself. But how many times are you going to tell me that?! Out of all of the poems, only a handful really hit hard; the others were just underwhelming. In general, I just felt disappointed, which is really a shame because I hate being mean about someone’s art. Maybe I’m just too simple for poetry? Oh well, better luck next time!

Happy reading ~

The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek

It’s purely coincidental that I read this book right after reading The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. I had had both books on my TBR list for a while and it just so happened that I was able to get my hands on them both at the same time. I’m glad I did because it’s allowed me to see two different approaches to the same concept of sleepwalking.

Leon Nader used to have a problem with sleepwalking so severe that he would even turn to violence. After a great deal of psychiatric treatment for his condition, he was convinced that he was cured. However, one day, years later, Leon’s wife disappears mysteriously. Could it be that his illness is back? In order to find out how he acts in his sleep, Leon puts on a movement activated camera. When he wakes up the next morning and looks at the video, he is shocked by what he sees: his nocturnal self goes through a hidden door and descends into the darkness ….

This novel was definitely more consistent with the idea of a thriller. This whole novel is told from Leon’s perspective and it opens up with him waking up and seeing his wife, Natalie, whimpering and packing her bags. When he wakes up next, she is gone and he is convinced that he has done something to her. Right away, the author caught my attention. This novel can be quite confusing at times because it shifts between different points in time and you get a whole host of information and both the reader and Leon are trying to piece together what is real and what is a dream. This was definitely a very ingenious way of portraying this story; however, it sometimes made the story feel muddled and confusing. I still enjoyed the experience and the mystery behind it all, and the thrill factor was always present! One thing that I really liked that the author did was that he gave an explanation for everything in the end. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the last few chapters before the end explain quite a few misnomers that were present in the story to throw you off. This doesn’t mean that I liked the explanation per se but I appreciated the author’s effort to make the story make sense to the readers. Overall, I found this to be an interesting novel that kept the thrills high and the mystery engaging. I would give this a 3.5/5 stars because while I liked the ambitiousness of this novel, I didn’t really enjoy the conclusion or the confusing aspects as much as I would have liked.

Happy reading ~

Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry

I was promised a thriller. This novel did not deliver.

When Nora decides to visit her sister in the countryside, she is looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. Instead, she walks into a murder scene – with her sister as the victim. Stunned by this shocking discovery, Nora cannot move on. She takes it upon herself to find her sister’s killer, especially since her faith in the police has been shaken because of past events. Haunted by the murder and the secrets surrounding it, Nora begins to show sings of obsession…. until she becomes just as unrecognizable as her sister.

When I first started reading this novel, I was intrigued by the writing style. It seemed a bit dark and poetic, with many intricate details added in here and there. I found it charming at first. But it soon got old. After a certain point, I realized that the writing style did nothing to enhance the plot and the little details were a bit pointless. As for Nora, our protagonist, I strongly disliked her. She had no real personality and was severely underdeveloped and lacked a voice. I couldn’t care less about her and her memories of the past or her obsession. She had no real reason for going about things the way that she did, and while at first I wanted to figure it out, by the time I got to the middle of the story, all I really wanted was for the story to end. The plot moves so slowly that it put me to sleep; literally nothing happens. And the ending, while not what I expected, was not at all a good twist. Just because you explain why someone is the killer doesn’t mean it works! Overall, this is one of the most disappointing books I have ever read and I would not recommend this to anyone interested in thrillers or mysteries. At least it was short!

Happy reading ~

Sunrise by Mike Mullin – Ashfall #3

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

As soon as I finished the second novel in this series, I immediately began reading the final installment in this series. I just wanted to know how everything would end, because this is a really addictive book series. It also helps that all of the books are out and I know I don’t have to wait to read the next one.

The Yellowstone supervolcano had devastating effects on people everywhere. Now, after a year, the survivors are barely able to live. Communities are waging wars against each other, there are gangs of cannibals, and every force of authority has collapsed.  Only sickness, cold, and starvation remain. When it becomes clear that home is no longer safe and the adults are not coping with the harsh reality of this new world, Alex and Darla must forge a new community that can survive this disaster. If they fail, it could spell the end for the remaining survivors, their loved ones – and themselves.

This last novel redeemed the previous book and made me love the series all over again. It was well-written, well-paced, and well thought out. It was just done so well! Everything that I consider as marks of a good book were in this novel: there was great character development, a good writing style, a perfect balance of adventure and romance and suspense, and just an overall strong plot. I loved how kickass Darla was, I loved that Alex became a strong leader and developed skills of his own, I loved the various characters that were introduced and developed in this story. Every conflict that was introduced was an interesting one that raised a powerful issue, and it was dealt with effectively by the characters. While this novel may not have been as action-packed as its predecessors, it was still interesting and riveting. All in all, this was a series well worth reading, and I’m glad that this last book did not disappoint! If you are looking for a unique dystopian novel, then definitely consider giving this one a shot!

Happy reading ~