Book #87: Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar. 

When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists’ renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered — by crucifixion — in London’s Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out of all who answer an ad for a position with “some danger involved,” the eccentric and enigmatic Barker chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison. 
As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker’s peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London’s teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder.

I picked up this audiobook from my library because I was in dire need of a mystery and one set in Victorian London seemed right up my alley at the time. I was honestly expecting a mystery that felt like a Sherlock Holmes retake with different characters. That said, I was pleasantly surprised.

Barker doesn’t like to be called a private detective, but that is exactly what he is. He solves crimes from the more seedier parts of London and assists the police when it comes to a group of people that don’t necessarily trust the police completely. In the case of this specific book, Barker and his newly hired aide Llewellyn (our narrator) are assigned to help solve the murder of a Jewish man who looks like Jesus Christ.

What I liked about this book is that it addressed the relations of the British Empire with the minorities of the nation, such as the Jewish community or the Asian immigrants. Barker is heavily influenced by the Japanese culture and it shows in his day to day practices as well as the landscaping of his home. It is like this character embraces the downtrodden and misunderstood.

Which is actually further addressed in him hiring Llewellyn.

Llewellyn is not only our narrator, but he is a Welshman who has had a rather rough life. At first you think that he may be a Watson sort of character, and he sort of is, but there is a quality to Llewellyn that serves as a more modern voice for the reader. You can see the mystery unfold through his eyes and see just how interesting Barker is as a character.

What I really liked about the book was the discussion about religion. It talked about the practices of that specific grouping of Jewish people as well as the differences between the cultures and religions. It was a discussion that I could see being in the past as well as being relevant today.

No, this is not a Sherlockian type of mystery with a Sherlockian type of detective. Barker seems to deal more with the seedier part of town and helps the people who are less likely to have the money. If the two detectives were in the pub together, you would see that Sherlock’s clientele are more well-off and Barker takes care of the rest.

That said, this book was filled with action and I did like the characters. I do plan on continuing the series and am glad that the next few books happen to be in audio in my library. This isn’t bad for a beginner to a series and I can’t wait to see what else comes up.

Final rating: 4/5

Advertisements

Book #86: Forgotten Girls (Louise Rick #7) by Sara Blaedel

In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.

I can’t quite remember why I picked up this book, but I did like the idea of reading something set in Denmark, a place where I have family but may never actually get to visit. Add in that the book itself is a mystery and one about a person in an institution, and I mean, it makes sense why I would have opened the book.

That said, I feel I probably should have started the Louise Rick series at book 1. I’m not saying you need to read the other books to follow the story because you essentially don’t, but I don’t think I could relate to the protagonist as well as I could have if I had read the first book in this series first.

The mystery itself did have a few twists I didn’t see coming, but I feel it fell sort of flat near the climax. It felt forced for lack of a better term. Like, the author wanted to have a pivotal and emotional moment so pasted this specific scene in. And I understand why. The alternative may not have gone as well either. But, I don’t know, I feel that with the ending as it was, it probably wasn’t Blaedel’s best work and most likely not the best book to start with her as a new to you author.

That isn’t to say that this experience has turned me off to the author herself. No, I still want to read more of Blaedel. I also believe that there may have been something missed in translation. So, reading book one of the series may not only help me grasp the protagonist, but also help me with whatever reticence I am going through about this current book itself. All in all, I would read Blaedel, but this book didn’t really grab me all the way.

Final rating: 3/5

NERD BLAST: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare. 

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.  

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Praise for THE LANTERN’S EMBER

“[Houck] offers a fresh spin on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow…with some genuine surprises in store.” —Kirkus

“A wild and seductive adventure…a must-have for YA collections.” —SLJ  

AN EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1
CROSSROADS

Jack sat on top of the covered bridge in his favorite spot, his arm draped over his carved pumpkin. The gourd wasn’t his first choice to house the ember of his immortality, but then again, he’d never really been given a choice.
It wasn’t the first time he’d heard of foolish men who’d made deals with the devil. During every scary story he’d been told as a child on long winter nights, he’d clutched his covers to his throat imagining frightening specters, red demons, or wicked- clawed ghouls looming out of swaying shadows, ready to snatch up unmindful children and trick them with beguiling words. His imagination never came close to the truth. And he’d certainly never envisioned those devils walking earth as mere men, dressed as pirates, storing stolen souls in harvest vegetables.
The devil who’d conscripted him five hundred years ago was named Rune. Jack barely remembered the town he was attempting to save by negotiating with Rune, or the boy he’d been when he’d done it. Now all the villagers were long dead. But not Jack. He wasn’t so lucky. Instead, Jack was stuck in a monotonous job, the same job Rune once had. And Jack had the pleasure of looking forward to another five hundred years of doing exactly the same thing day in and day out.
It wasn’t like the job was too difficult. It was mostly quiet, but when it wasn’t, he did everything from exporting entire herds of gremlins, to clearing caves full of werewolves, to capturing a flock of Otherworld bats. Jack had even done the highly dangerous job of evicting a nest of half- breed vampires from an underground necropolis, entirely on his own.
Admittedly, the swaggering pirate Rune had come to Jack’s aid a time or two, helping him avert what could have been disasters. But Jack quickly learned he didn’t appreciate how Rune handled mortals. Too many of them died or went insane under his care.
Eventually, Jack ended up at his current assignment, a quiet New England town called Hallowell that butted up against one of the most boring, sleepy crossroads in the entirety of the Otherworld. Rune had probably thought Jack would complain about the placement, but the town was pretty, if small. There were plenty of large oaks and maples, elms and dogwood trees to offer him shade during the day. And in the fall the colors were beautiful. There was something to be said for a quiet life.
It was lonely, but Jack was used to being alone.
He was about to summon his horse so he could ride through the forest while the red, orange, and yellow fall leaves rained down upon his head, when he heard a noise.
“Must you sit all the way up there?” Rune groused, emerging from the covered bridge and looking up at him. Smoke trailed in after the large man, pooling around his polished boots and caressing his ankles with long fingers. Stepping forward, Rune peeled off black leather gloves and stroked his short, boxed beard, shaved in thin lines and curls. “Someone could get past you before you could intervene. Besides, I hate craning my neck to have a conversation.”
Jack shrugged. “I like keeping my pumpkin far from the road, so there’s no risk it could get trampled on. Besides, I’d hear someone long before they got close.” Jack’s pumpkin never aged or decomposed, but it could be broken, and that made his soul vulnerable.
“Yes.” Rune fingered his firefly- shaped earring, a far better choice of vessels for a lantern to hide his ember than a fat orange gourd. He smiled up at Jack. The shaggy hair that slipped from his careless queue hung down to his shoulders, dark, except for a white streak that fell across his eyes. “I suppose, then, that’s a wise choice.”
“What do you want, Rune?” Jack asked.
“There’s been a rumor.”
“About?”
“Your town. It would seem a witch wind is blowing and it’s coming from your crossroad.”
My crossroad?” Jack said, leaping down with his pumpkin and landing easily next to Rune, feeling thin and pale next to Rune’s sun- kissed tan and deep- V silk shirt. “Are you certain?”
All the lanterns were apprised when a witch wind blew. The Lord of the Otherworld gathered winds from the mortal world in a great funnel. Most of the time, the winds blowing through the crossroads were normal, but every so often, a special wind blew, indicating that a witch had grown strong enough not only to enter the Otherworld but to undo it completely. Unless the witch was captured and his or her energy contained, the Otherworld as they knew it could be destroyed. Only one witch was permitted in the Otherworld. She was trusted not just to avoid destroying it, but also to run it. She was the high witch, the Lord’s wife, and provider of all the magical energy in that realm. All others were a dreadful danger.
“There are whispers,” Rune insisted. “Whispers in the wind of a powerful witch. One much more skillful than any you or I have dealt with before.” Rune’s own light glowed brighter, his earring winking as his dark skin brightened showing the skeleton lying beneath.
Jack sighed. “You must be mistaken,” he said. “I’ve peered beneath the skin of every citizen of this town. There’s not a drop of witch blood among them.” He was relieved to be able to tell Rune the absolute truth for once. Hallowell was full of very content, happy mortals.
“It’s not that I’m doubting your abilities, Jack,” Rune said, giving him a meaningful look that made Jack wince. “I just need to verify it for myself. You understand.”
Jack waved his hand in resignation and Rune sent his firefly high above the town. It zipped back and forth, pausing occasionally while the lantern himself stared into space, seeing through the eye of his light. His eyes glowed with a silver sheen and then finally dimmed.
“Told you,” Jack said. “Do you think it’s possible she got the location wrong? You could tell the high witch to look again.”
“If a witch wind is blowing, you can be sure there’s a witch or warlock out there. Look, I’m just asking you to watch. Be on your guard. And, if you see something, let me know.” He clapped Jack on the back. “Don’t worry, son; if you can’t finish the job, I’ve always got your back.”
Jack frowned, bristling at the slight. “Fine. I’ll send word if I find any trace of a witch,” Jack said.
“You do that.”
Rune left and Jack was too distracted to head off on his morning ride after all. Jack sat thinking about how strange it was for a witch wind to blow in his territory three times. Most lanterns never even had it happen once, but he’d been there when witches were detected at both Roanoke and Salem. It didn’t make sense. Perhaps he was just terribly unlucky.
He was thinking about it all day as he walked the borders of the town, and into the evening as he settled down for the night on top of his bridge. The light flickered in his pumpkin and he turned it so he could trace the eyes with his fingertip. He’d long ago hollowed out the orange globe and carved a smiling face. His only companion on long days and even longer nights. It comforted him to see his ember’s glow in the pumpkin’s expression. The light warmed him, giving him hope that somehow, somewhere, there was a spark of freedom waiting for him, even if it was at the end of a very long, weary road.
Jack had just fallen asleep when he heard the thunder of hooves on the road leading to town. Summoning his black stallion, he leapt off the bridge and onto the monstrous horse’s back as it materialized from the Otherworld, nostrils steaming and eyes glowing with fire. The horse reared and Jack, with the pumpkin tucked beneath his arm, kicked the horse’s sides, and they galloped toward the road.
He stopped on the hill and saw a carriage, shiny and new, a fine pair of horses pulling it quickly down the path. Jack chose not to show himself, but sent a moaning wind that frightened the driver who glanced right and left and cracked his whip to make the team run faster.
Jack, the lantern, sat and watched as the carriage made its way to town. Just as it passed him, the curtain moved and a small, white face was lit by a moonbeam. It was a wide- eyed little girl, her brown hair curled in ringlets. She pressed her hands against the glass and her pink mouth opened in a circle as she stared right at him.

Copyright © 2018 by Colleen Houck

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she’s not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.

 
PHOTO CONTENT FROM COLLEEN HOUCK

WEBSITE: http://colleenhouck.com/
TWITTER:  @ColleenHouck
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3097905.Colleen_Houck
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ColleenRayHouck
INSTAGRAMhttps://www.instagram.com/colleen.houck/
PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/colleenrayhouck/

                              —Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

– 5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE LANTERN’S EMBER by Colleen Houck ENDS: NOVEMBER 5, 2018 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Book #85: Serial Killers: Rage and Horror 2 by Jack Rosewood and Rebecca Lo

Are you born a killer or are you shaped into one? 
How does one escape from his cell to start a 20+ victim killing spree? 
How incredibly evil must one be to murder over 24 children in less than two years? 
These are questions we will dig deep into as we investigate eight serial killers and murderers in this addition to Serial Killers Rage and Horror.

Serial killers both intrigue and disgust the average member of society, and many question why this is. Is it because they do seem such regular people in the daylight? Or perhaps it is simply because it is hard to fathom how someone can cross that ever-present line of what is right and what is most horribly wrong.

One of the most unusual cases in this book surrounds the murders of several women in Canada by a totally unique method, which may surprise you. Another, the story of Robert Hansen will terrify you. And the cases of the Atlanta Child Murderer and the Ogre of the Ardennes will sicken you to the core. But, once you start reading this book, it will be extremely hard for your curious mind to stop.

I received an Audible code through Audiobookboom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

I am big on true crime. I watch Investigation Discovery almost religiously and serial killers happen to be a favorite subject of mine. That said, I want to add that I do feel for the families who have lost someone to a horrible act like this or have lost someone and is still unsure where that loved one is. I can’t imagine the pain you go through on a day to day basis and I am sorry that you are.

In the case of this compendium of little known serial killers, I have to applaud Lo and Rosewood in making this book as clinical as possible. The facts are there and there isn’t any supposition. In the case of the killers themselves, they aren’t glorified. Only the facts are presented and I like that.

There are too many people (as I myself might be placed in) who glorify the killer and forget the victim. In the case of this book, a timeline is made with each victim named and though the reader may never forget the killers’ names, the victims are also presented. It is a hard truth of the serial killer that their victims are oftentimes only remembered in this way, but I feel both Rosewood and Lo present the facts in a way that doesn’t make the killers more than what they are: human monsters.

I found it interesting how there are so many killers out there who aren’t that well known. It is sobering and disheartening, but also brings to life that there is something unknown that makes people this way. The idea of further investigation and information gathering seems even more important as I listened to this book.

That said, I find myself wondering who else the authors found in their research. I am most likely going to find book one now.

Final rating: 3/5

BLOG TOUR: Finchosaurus by Gail Donovan

FINCHOSAURUS follows the adventures of Atticus Finch Martin, otherwise known as Finch. Finch’s dream is to uncover a dinosaur fossil and name a new species after himself—until he digs up a note in the fifth-grade class garden with the word HELP on it. He is determined to come to the aid of the mystery note-writer. But when the quest turns out to be harder than expected, Finch risks losing two things that he really wants—his best friend Noah, and a field trip to Dinosaur State Park.  

 

 

 

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Praise for FINCHOSAURUS

“…If it’s anything like the last (In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog), it’s worth discovering.” ―Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal

“An amusing, empowering tale that should appeal especially to middle schoolers with abundant energy.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Gail’s Previous Middle Grade Novels

THE WAFFLER
“A solid middle-grade choice—no waffling necessary.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The book captures the pains and pleasures of being both a twin and a fourth-grader.” —Booklist

WHAT’S BUGGING BAILEY BLECKER?
“Andrew Clements fans will enjoy this school story, too.” —Horn Book

“Bailey is emotionally authentic, with an individualistic voice and a strong streak of stubbornness, of which she is particularly proud.” —Publishers Weekly

“Purposeful in a lighthearted way but guaranteed to make your head—scalp and brain—itch!” —Kirkus Reviews

IN MEMORY OF GORFMAN T. FROG
“Middle-graders will celebrate as Josh learns to use his personal “pause” button to stop talking long enough to keep out of trouble. Obvious appeal, particularly to fans of Andrew Clements’s work.” —Kirkus Reviews  

MY REVIEW

I want to first begin with the usual. I received a copy to review for this blog tour by the publisher via Jean Book Nerd Tours. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

Finchosaurus is a cute book about a fifth-grade boy who just might be ADHD and has a serious case of dino love. Atticus Finch Martin, named after some book character (a personal favorite book of mine, to be honest)his librarian mom loves, is obsessed with dinosaurs. He’s so obsessed that he may be known as the kid who digs a lot and isn’t always focused enough for anything other than paleontology. When he finds a note, he puts his science-loving mind to work and begins a crusade to help the mystery note writer.

This book actually resonated with me. Though I never had to deal with focus issues in an ADHD sense, as a child I was enthralled with mystery (still am) and being stuck in the workings of my own mind (still am again). I understood Finch’s need to help and solve something, his need to be recognized outside of just the kid who can’t focus, and being a person with a passion that possibly took over every day (for me it is writing and it still does).

So, for my inner child, I could relate to the protagonist. I also learned something while reading this book. I saw how the parents struggled and how Finch struggled. How both parties just wanted some understanding, but got into a mess of miscommunication. As a mother to a child with ADHD, this book gave me a small glimpse of what it might be like for Bug. Reading this book reminded me that I need to be patient and maybe look at the world through Bug’s eyes. That maybe there really is something on the other side.

I should note that the terms ADHD or ADD aren’t present in the book. Finch’s fidgety ways and how he interacts isn’t diagnosed and nor is it a big deal in the book. This isn’t about a boy struggling to focus. This is a boy utilizing his gifts into doing something amazing for others while still being himself. I don’t know if Finch is a child with ADHD, but he acts similar to Bug and because of that, I assume he is. That said, this book doesn’t label the children, but instead gives an open view on how the children interact in the world.

My Bug is of the age that he knows he is just a bit more than his desk neighbor. I don’t want him feeling that he is a burden or unable to do the right thing because he has ADHD. I want him to be like Finch, a child with personal struggles but still true to himself and wanting to be more than what everyone sees him as. For that, Finch is a great role model for all children and I can’t wait to give Bug a chance at reading Finchosaurus.

Final Rating: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Gail Donovan is the author of the middle-grade novels The Waffler, What’s Bugging Bailey Blecker?, and In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog, which was named a New York Public Library Best Books for Children. She is also an author for the Rainbow Fish & Friends picture book series based on the bestselling books of Marcus Pfister. Donovan, who was born and raised in Connecticut, lives in Maine with her husband and two daughters, where, in addition to writing children’s books, she is a library assistant at the Portland Public Library.  

PHOTO CREDIT: TOM BELL

WEBSITE: https://gaildonovan.wordpress.com/

ENDS: NOVEMBER 5, 2018
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
–  10 Winners will receive a Copy of FINCHOSAURUS by Gail Donovan.

Book #83: The Crescent City by Lexi Ostrow

Isla Covington lost her entire world the night the Hellfire was unleashed. This might not have been so terrible, if she hadn’t been next in line to be Coven Priestess, and inherit more powers than any one witch should wield. Without her mother and fiance to guide her, she ran from her magic, from her home.

Noah wandered the Otherside, the spirit world, making certain Isla stayed out of harm’s way. He’d died of a sort once before and awoken as a Vampire. The second time he’d not had a failsafe. Death was not strong enough to separate the pair, even if he moved in the shadows unknown to Isla. He’d spent years ensuring she found herself, and did not take her life to be with him. Even if it meant torturing himself with what he could not have.

Isla’s godsons go missing, forcing her to return home – to return to her magic. The path leads her to a city of pure magic, and a witch who claims she can bring back the dead – for a price. All that stands between Isla and Noah is one tiny spell. A tiny spell which could destroy New Orleans.

I received a copy from the author for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

You may remember a book I reviewed previously titled the same and by the same author. And if you do remember, you may be thinking, “huh, is she reading the same  book all over again?”

The answer is simple: Yes and No.

That’s right, both are right. The first Crescent City was a part of the Kindle Worlds for The Vampire Diaries and specifically Bonnie Bennet. That said, once Amazon said goodbye to the Kindle Worlds, the story was ready for a new space. Taking advantage of this, Ostrow fixed up the book. She added details, change the characters, and gave new information for the world. The story is essentially the same, but there are more details that separate it from the other.

So, for that and the fact that I love reading Ostrow, I jumped at reviewing this one as well.

I actually liked this one better than the first. I liked the addition of a background that made the world unique and pulled me in. It made me want to see more of the world, to experience it, and to see the Hellfire in the works. I want to know if this is still an issue or if this is just the aftermath. I think we can bet that I want more of this urban fantasy world. I want to see how it differs from the original source material and am excited to see it works out.

The romance was there and it had just a bit more of an Ostrow flair that made me happy. The other one, though understandable, just missed what I like in Ostrow’s work.

All in all, I liked this one more than the other. I think it’s because it was more of Ostrow vs Vampire Diaries. She didn’t have to remain in the world, she was able to push out. That said, I now want more of the world. Hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Make it happen, girlfriend.

Final Rating: 3.5/5

 

Book #82: The Crown by Kiera Cass

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

The Crown starts right where The Heir ends with Eadlyn making a decision that dramatically cuts her number of suitors and thrusts her into a deadline for finding a partner to rule the nation with. In the process of this, she is pushed into the role of Queen and everything around her seems to be falling apart.

I actually listened to this audiobook a while back, but I can remember it enough to make a decision on it. Like The Heir, I liked it better than the other books that are set 20 years in the past. It felt more like a finale and the story itself wasn’t bad. You learn more about the male characters, are given a twist that makes you a bit happy for some of them, and overall it ended on a good note.

I will say that I found the romance a bit forced. I felt that there wasn’t enough time with Eadlyn and who she actually did end up with, but in the case of the nation, I felt it was a solid ending for the world. That said, this series as a whole (though I still have one last book to listen to) isn’t something to write home to. It definitely serves its purpose as a guilty pleasure. I definitely preferred Eadlyn’s story arc over the arc of her parents.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #81: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

The third installment in the all-new series from the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater is the third book in the Raven Cycle series. It starts shortly after book two ended. Blue and her Raven Boys are in the search for Blue’s mother who went underground to find Blue’s father.

In comparison to the other two, this book did advance the plot, brought to life the big baddie, but also wasn’t my favorite. It’s not that it was bad, it’s just not up to par with book 2 (I love you, Ronan!).

We see more of Blue’s personal struggle of school, family, and uncertainty of where she stands in her group of Raven Boys. In the process of that, we learn more about just what Blue is metaphysically capable of.

In all, it was a good addition to the series and I’m still in love with the world Stiefvater has crafted. With that, I only have one more book to read. It is bittersweet, but knowing she has another series set in this world gives me hope.

Plus there’s the SyFy channel show coming up soon!

Final Rating: 3/5

Book #80: Enhancer by Wyatt Kane

Ty Wilcox doesn’t really believe in superheroes. Then one is murdered right in front of him. 
Ty is just a normal guy trying to do his best. He’s single, stuck in a dead-end job with the most hateful boss in the universe, and struggling under a mountain of debt.

When he witnesses an impossible battle between two superpowered people, every instinct he has tells him to run. Instead, he becomes the owner of a device that can change his life in ways he can barely imagine.

All he has to do is survive for long enough to learn how to use it.

Warning and minor spoilers: “Enhancer” is an 18+ book intended for mature readers. It contains sex, violence, and nudity. It includes light gamelit elements, occasional bad language, and is set in a cyberpunk alternate future. Within its pages you will find attempted murders, actual murder, home invasions, kidnapping, fights, betrayals, destruction of property, random deaths that can be considered self-defense, a really malevolent boss who treats Ty very badly, and a monstrous bad guy who treats him even worse. Most importantly, you will find gorgeous superheroes and beastkin beauties who are comfortable with unconventional, polyamorous, harem relationships, and there are waffles on offer as well.

Read at your own risk.

I received an audible code of this book via Audiobookboom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

I should begin by saying that I’ve always wanted to try a Litrpg/Gamelit style book. If you don’t know what a Litrpg or Gamelit book is, it is basically a book that has the similar styles or schematics as an rpg or game system. In the case of Enhancer, a lot of the rpg style is seen in the way the main characters’ stats are shown in the electronic device that literally enhanced him from a typical human to something more.

The story follows a nerd everyman type of character. There doesn’t seem to be anything too special about Ty Wilcox and he basically lives his life to the least. What I mean by that is, he doesn’t really try to change his situation in life. He seems pretty stuck and, though not content at being stuck, doesn’t seem to do anything to get out of it or seems to decide to get out of it.

That is until he witnesses two superpowered humans fight and one dies at his feet.

The story is a pretty basic concept of an everyman being thrust into a predicament that he may have wanted to stay away from. However, there was enough about this world that Kane made this hero journey into something interesting. There was humor and the story itself did grab me. I loved the geek factor and references from anime that I’ve been a fan of myself.

I’ll admit that I was hesitant about the polyamorous twist in the book, but was surprised that the more adult scenes weren’t a focus and didn’t become graphic. Not that graphic would have necessarily bothered me, but I did like that the story itself was more important and that the relationships between the characters seemed to enhance (pun intended) the story.

In all, it wasn’t a bad story. It was a good beginning to a world that I wouldn’t mind revisiting. I would recommend this for the geek at heart, anime fan, and the person who likes the idea of electronics making the superhero.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #79: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

The last time I remember reading a Roald Dahl book was back in elementary school. I was reading, I believe, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I was having a horrible headache. I’ll be honest, at that moment I was turned off to Dahl. Just in reading him. Not in watching the movie adaptations.

My first experience with Matilda was the movie. Who doesn’t love a precoscious little girl who is a booknerd and can do amazing things with her mind? Well, I definitely loved her. Anyways, it wasn’t until recently that I decided to read the book as well as reintroduce myself to Roald Dahl.

For fans of the movie, you will definitely see that the adaptation is very close to the book. There were some differences where the characters are in the scenes that are only told in the book, but that doesn’t bother me either way.

I do wish the book was a little longer, but for a children’s book, it was awesome. It is definitely a book that every booknerd needs to be introduced to and maybe a book for the child who isn’t much of a reader (like my Bug, I think I want to have him read this book). All in all, I recommend.

Final Rating: 4/5