Tuesday, November 28, 2023

REVIEW: Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2) by Victoria Schwab

Tunnel of Bones
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Another fun adventure with Cassidy and Jacob. This time they're off to Paris, and now the graveyards are underground—the Catacombs! How creepy!! While there, Cassidy and Jacob accidentally awake a poltergeist, who can easily cross over the Veil to the land of the living. Mischief, Menace, and Mayhem reign as this poltergeist has been unleashed in Paris causing all sorts of destruction. And Cassidy will do everything in her power to send him on to his forever resting place... if she can!

Like the previous book in this series, this was a fun, fast read, lively and entertaining. Cassidy continues to be both a source of amusement and a very likeable, endearing character. Jacob is the perfect counterbalance to her impulsiveness, persuading her to think and plan before jumping in. Together they make a great team! We learn a bit more about Jacob's back story here as well, and as his hold in the real world is gradually getting stronger, I'm left to wonder where this will lead him in Bridge of Souls, which I'm sooo looking forward to reading next!

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Monday, November 27, 2023

REVIEW: City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

A fun, quick young adult read with ghosts!

Cassidy Blake can see ghosts! Not only is her best friend corporeally challenged (his preferred term), but since her near-death experience, she can also freely cross to and from the Veil, the in-between where lingering spirits reside. Considering her parents are ghost-hunting paranormal investigators with a new reality TV show though, that's not really all that unusual. When the family travels to Edinburgh, Scotland for the filming of the first episode, Cassidy and BFF Jacob are faced with a host of ghostly spirits, creepy locations, and the mysterious, menacing Raven in Red. With guidance from her new ghost-hunting friend Lara, along with Jacob's unenthusiastic support, Cassidy must do everything she can to stave off the Raven and avoid being swallowed the the Veil forever.

Cassidy was certainly a lively and fun character, always getting into mischief, as was Jacob. Her hands-on learning with how to deal with ghosts was hilarious! Victoria (V.E.) Schwab is a fantastic writer, and her extraordinary character development and world building really shines here. While this is a middle grade series (thus written under Victoria instead of V.E.), it was just as entertaining and fanciful as her adult (and YA) books, albeit a much faster read.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

REVIEW: The Eleventh Hour by Aminah Fox

The Eleventh Hour
My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Harry Potter meets the Sopranos! Hampshire, a magical borough in upstate New York, home to several noble families, and invisible to mundanes, aka non-magical people. A long-brewing war between the families has reached its pinnacle and courted death and destruction in it's wake. In a last ditch attempt to save her father and restore order, Hermione Mandrake and her half-brother Christian take up their grandfather's time trinket, with a plan to steal away into the past in order to redirect the future. But with enemies still on their tail, can they truly turn back the hands of time?

When I first began reading, I had difficulty staying engaged. The characters, even the MC, felt a bit flat and one dimensional. And I had a hard time keeping all the different families straight, not to mention all the children (and bastards) Alfred Mandrake fathered. Fortunately, the latter was rectified by a family tree of sorts at the back of the book, and I eventually came to realize that it wasn't as important to remember ALL the families, just a few key ones, which began to stick with me after a little while. By about the 30% mark, I was sold and began to enjoy the ride. The story itself was unique and magical, and if you like the thought of magical mafia-like families, waging war with wands and on dragon-back, then you should really enjoy this.

I did feel a few inconsistencies with the MC Hermione however. For example, supposedly she was no good at charms, yet she bested several magicians trying to abduct her, often taking on 2 or 3 at a time, after just a week or so of training. I also never really warmed up to her that much. It was hard to grasp what she was really all about. The only real feel I got from her was her devotion to her father and her family, but she felt a bit shallow beyond that. Fortunately, once they traveled into the past and the action picked up, I forgot about some of those things and became invested in how everything played out.

Thank you to NetGalley and 22nd Light LLC for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

#TheEleventhHour #NetGalley

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

The year is 1714 in France, and a desperate 23 year old Addie LaRue makes a deal with the darkness—a dark god, the devil, what have you—and in exchange for her complete freedom, she's also cursed to become utterly forgettable to everyone she meets. Unable to leave any kind of mark or the the world, or make any impression on anything or anyone she meets... she can't even say her own name! For 300 years she lives like this, ghosting through time, witnessing war, famine, and miracles all. Until the day she meets Henry and everything changes!

Wow, this is definitely one of the best books I've read this year! So much so, I didn't want it to end! But then again, it wrapped up so nicely (even if the ending did make me cry) that I wouldn't want to ruin it... but hmmm can you imagine what Addie might become if she were ever able to best Luc? That could be a righteous story right there! Anyhoo, this story was soooo unique, and soooo engaging, I simply couldn't put it down.

I really enjoyed the art descriptions and pictures at the beginning of each section, each related to a "spark" or idea Addie implanted to take root where memory couldn't. The writing was captivating and engaging, and Addie's story ran the gambit from happy to sad to even heartbreaking. I exhausted all of my emotions reading this book and was sad when it ended.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

REVIEW: Rabbits: From Hares and Jackrabbits to Adorable Pets by Tom Jackson

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

As a bunny mama to 4 adorable rescue house rabbits, I simply HAD TO read this book. Rather than a handbook on keeping house rabbits—I'd recommend The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman for that (or direct from Drollery Press here)—this delectable delight is chock full of large, full-color pictures and information on rabbit origins, various breeds, behavior, particularly in the wild, and other fun facts. Yes, even this long-time bunny mama and foster learned a thing or two about rabbit history, as well as the relationship between domesticated rabbits and their wild brethren.

With all the gorgeous pictures contained within, the hardcover edition (once released) would make a fantastic coffee table book, especially for bunny peeps like me. I also really appreciated that the author included pounds in addition to kilograms when talking about weight. As an American, I still have a hard time relating to kilograms, or doing the conversion in my head. :)

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Amber Books for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book for review.

#Rabbits #AmberBooks #NetGalley

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Monday, November 13, 2023

REVIEW: A Dark Roux by Blaine Daigle

A Dark Roux
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

A Dark Roux is a creepy, atmospheric gothic ghost story with a slow simmer. The action builds slowly but steadily as Rhiannon LeBeau and her brother Rhett revisit their family home in the Louisana bayou after the death of their mother. Plagued by chillingly realistic nightmares, Rhiannon can feel that things just aren't right back in the bayou, and as her memories of past horrors resurface and the ghosts and monsters come out to play, she realizes the sacrifices she must make to save her brother.

Setting a macabre tone that permeates throughout the story, the prose is dripping with ominous and eerie emotion. The author's language and word choice is perfect for setting the mood and scene of the bayou, and really triggers the imagination, allowing the reader to fully place themselves in the story. A slow burn but a real creeper... I loved it!

Thank you to NetGalley and Wicked House Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

#ADarkRouxANovel #NetGalley

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REVIEW: A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, #1) by Freya Marske

A Marvellous Light
My Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

It's England 1908 and young baronet Robin Blyth has just found himself appointed to a position in the Office of Special Domestic Affairs and Complaints, a job for which he's severely under-qualified. He didn't even know magic existed before today when now he's expected to "manage" it as well. Hmm... as if that wasn't bad wasn't enough, he's also just been inflicted with a curse by a group of mysterious men with fog for faces. Apparently they're looking for something they were unable to retrieve from his missing predecessor. Hopefully his new "special liaison" Edwin Courcey can help him make heads and tails out of all this!

A magical quest, a bit of mystery, and a touch more spice than I usually care for in my fantasy reads. That said, I still found the story engaging enough, and the character building of both Robin and Edwin was like slowly unwrapping layers. While I didn't expect all the steamy sex scenes as I'm generally not a big fan of the romance or erotica genre, at least it felt as if it was adding to the story—each of them opening up a bit more and shedding additional light on their character with each encounter—as opposed to just being there as a prop for sexy's sake.

Unfortunately, most of the other characters outside of Robin and Edwin fell a little flat. Hopefully, they'll be fleshed out more fully in later books, especially the Morrissey sisters and Robin's sister Maud.

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Thursday, November 02, 2023

REVIEW: The Witchwood Knot by Olivia Atwater

The Witchwood Knot
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Witchwood Manor is definitely more than it appears. For starters, it's inhabited by faeries in addition to humans. Winifred Hall comes to Witchwood Manor to be governess to the young Master Robert Murray, heir to Longfell, and to protect him from their otherworldly inhabitants. But Winifred holds secrets of her own, ones she must give up if she wishes to find the answers she seeks.

This is the first book I've read by Olivia Atwater and it definitely won't be my last! The world of Faerie portrayed here is dark and chilling; perfect for the spooky season over which I read it.

Before I even opened it, I have to say that the book cover is simply gorgeous. As an avid fan of the gothic, spooky, and anything to do with the Victorian era, it definitely called to me! The story telling was frightfully atmospheric and imaginative, while the characters were mysterious enigmatic. It was like peeling back the layers as I read.

While the main characters are different from those in her Regency Faerie Tales series, the world is the same. And while I didn't feel it was required to read those first, for those of you that did, the additional detail provided may have given you a bit more context on some of the characters mentioned here, along with more a more fully-fleshed background on the world itself. Am I going to go back and read the Regency series now? Most definitely! But not because I feel it necessary, only because I was deeply engrossed and taken in by this world and want to read more while I wait for the follow-up to The Witchwood Knot to be released.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

#TheWitchwoodKnot #NetGalley

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