Thursday, February 29, 2024

REVIEW: Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Starling House
My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

A spooky gothic tale about a sinister, old house, and the secrets it holds that haunt a small, down-on-its-luck Kentucky town.

After her mother dies in a horrific accident, Opal puts her own dreams on hold to try to make a better life for her younger brother, Jasper. Even if that means leaving her low-paying dead-end job to take a housekeeper position at Starling House, the secluded, ominous house that has been calling to her in her dreams. As she's "welcomed" into the run-down house by the strange, eccentric Arthur, the house starts to take on a life of its own, gradually revealing its secrets that have terrorized the town for ages. Can Opal and Arthur can get to the heart of the house and take down the sinister forces to save the town?

The story was fast-paced and engaging, with just the right amount of creepy. The world was unique and unlike other "haunted house" stories. I loved that the house was sentient and the way it attempted to communicate. I would've enjoyed getting to know it better. ;) Overall, a really good read that kept me engaged throughout.

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Friday, February 23, 2024

REVIEW: Three Kinds of Lucky (The Shadow Age #1) by Kim Harrison

Three Kinds of Lucky
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Petra Grady is a Sweeper first-class. While she doesn't have magic of her own, she has the uncanny ability to see and handle dross—the disruptive, magical waste generated by the Mages' spell work. Sweepers have always been treated as second-class citizens by the Mages—janitors put on this earth to clean up their mess. But fortunately, Petra's got a few other hidden tricks up her sleeve. Until her life is turned on its head by the sexy, exasperating Benedict Strom with his research project to render the Mages' dross inactive and innocuous, which just might make the Sweepers obsolete.

I've been a fan of Kim Harrison's books since the Hollows (Rachel Morgan) series, so I jumped on this book, hoping that some fresh blood and a new series would reignite my passion. I found there was a lot to like, along with a couple things I didn't.

Like The Hollows series, I thoroughly enjoy the complex, original magical worlds that Kim Harrison creates, even though I found this magic system a little harder to grasp. I kept mixing up the differences between the types of dross, which attracts the shadow, and how shadow comes to be in the first place. So yeah, if you're looking for complex, this is it! It wasn't as playful and fun as The Hollows—but then again, Pluck is no Jenks. But enough for comparisons... this is an entirely new series and from here on out, I plan to review it that way.

Before I go on about all the fantastic elements of this story, let me get out of the way a couple things that didn't jive with me: First was the fact that the lab was planning to test on live animals... and second,

Throughout the book, I really jived with the analogy of the Mages and their discarded dross to the gravely polluted world we live in today. Oblivious people leaving behind their junk while expecting others to clean up after them. It's that same sense of superiority and entitlement where it's always someone else's problem, not theirs.

As the main character, Petra is smart and resourceful, a kickass, take-charge kind of gal. The magical world she lives in, kept hidden from the mundanes, is complex yet intriguing. Her counterpart, Benedict, sounds yummy, and while the relationship between the two was initially fraught with tension, I'm anxious to see how it plays out given that her feelings towards him see-saw quite a bit throughout the tale.

That said, I did find the writing to be a bit sloppy with some inconsistencies and contradictory info, but that's probably just because I was reading an uncorrected ARC, so I'm assuming all those will be ironed out in the final draft.

Overall, a wonderful new world from the mind of Kim Harrison, and another kickass heroine to love. Looking forward to more!

This book releases March 5, 2024, but you can preorder it at Amazon, or enter for a chance to win one of 50 Kindle copies at Goodreads (giveaway ends 3/3/24).

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with an advance readers copy of this book for review. While I received it free of charge, the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

#ThreeKindsofLucky #NetGalley

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

REVIEW: Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands (Emily Wilde #2) by Heather Fawcett

Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

The second book in the Emily Wilde trilogy was a wild ride thru Faerie land.

Emily and Wendell travel to the Alps in Austria in an attempt to locate the door to Wendell's realm so he can return and reclaim his throne from his stepmother, who banished him so she could seize control of the realm for herself. But all does not go according to plan, and the two along with their friends get in quite a bit of hilarious trouble along the way.

I really enjoyed this book, even more so than the first. I'll be anxiously awaiting the final book in the trilogy, but OMG I think I have to wait at least a year for it!!!

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Monday, February 12, 2024

REVIEW: Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries
My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

The opening book in the Emily Wilde trilogy. Emily is a scholar and teaching professor at Cambridge University in London during the early 1900s. Along with her colleague and friend Wendell Bambleby, the pair travels to Norway on a research expedition to document a particular faerie species located in the area. Written in journal form, Emily records her day-to-day thoughts and actions, particularly helpful when she publishes her extensive encyclopedia documenting all known faerie species... in the hopes of becoming one of the foremost authorities on faerie.

Emily is a bit of an odd sort, very academic and not able to express herself or her emotions, while Wendell is always trying to get her to lighten up. Wendell is quite good looking and maybe just a little bit vain. Together, they make an oddly whimsical pair. I enjoyed seeing Emily write in her journal about feelings and thoughts she couldn't express in person. Overall, I really enjoyed the fascinating world created here and look forward to reading the next in the trilogy... coming up next!

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Tuesday, February 06, 2024

REVIEW: The Iodine Crisis by Lynne Farrow

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

This book was a real eye opener. It's amazing how good Iodine is for us, yet how badly it's been demonized over the last several years.

Iodine has the same molecular weight as bromide, chloride, and fluoride, and because of this it is often displaced in the body by these less than helpful minerals. Iodine is extremely important to both breast health and thyroid function as well.

If you've got any issues with your thyroid, or sketchy breast tissue, I'd definitely suggest you check this book out.

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Sunday, January 28, 2024

REVIEW: A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

A Power Unbound
My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Ahh the final book in the Last Binding trilogy. In this one, the main character focus now shifts to Jack Hawthorn and secondary to Alan Rossi. I really liked Jack's character, as I did the previous book; Alan not so much. He always struck me as a bit of a weasel, though towards the end of this, I began to warm up to him just a wee bit. The balance between romance and adventure is again about 50/50, like the first book, and like that one, I found my eyes glazing over the romance sections a bit. It's definitely not for lack of writing, imagery, or steaminess; the author is very good at painting a vivid picture and evoking emotion. I'm just not a huge fan of romance. Sorry, not sorry. So to that end, I liked book 2 best of the three where the balance was more 75/25 towards the adventure side.

That said, I enjoyed seeing the whole gang of characters we've gotten to know (and love in some cases) working together in this final installment towards a surprising but satisfying conclusion. Overall, I'd give the full series a strong 8 out of 10.

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Monday, January 22, 2024

REVIEW: The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed

The Butcher of the Forest
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

The Butcher of the Forest is a beautifully written dark fairy tale novella with a vivid and immersive world oozing with atmosphere. Part fairy tale, part horror, and a whole lot of fun, this was a quick and engaging read with a hauntingly seductive world to dive into.

Veris lives in a village on the edge of the North Forest, a place between worlds. Anyone who refuses to heed the warnings and venture in anyway, never returns. Veris Thorn is the only person to have ever ventured in and returned to the village alive, so when the Tyrant's children go missing, Veris is made to entire that horrible place once again to retrieve the his children. Will her second encounter with the faery beings of the forest's realm be as "successful" as the first, or will it end in utter ruin?

The Butcher in the Forest is due to be published February 27, 2024, but you can preorder it from Amazon now.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for providing me with a digital advance reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

REVIEW: A Restless Truth (The Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske

A Restless Truth
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

The second book in The Last Binding trilogy, A Restless Truth shifts the MC focus from Robin to his sister, Maud. And TBH, I liked this one better than the first. Perhaps it was the setting, or that the main characters were female instead of male... and I'm always partial to the female form. ;)

Here we find Maud aboard a ship from America back to England, having gone to warn and fetch a member of the Forsythia Club that an important piece of The Last Contract has fallen into enemy hands. Unfortunately, a menacing threat is on their tail, and Maud must do everything she can, including the recruitment of some new friends to the cause, if she's to help save the fate of all the magicians of England.

I like how this one seemed to move at a quicker pace than the previous, with more action scenes. There were still the occasional sexy scenes too, like the previous, but it didn't seem to distract from the story as much this time around. After I finished this, I knew I had to immediately read book 3 (well after one more ARC in-between from NetGalley) so I bumped up my spot in the queue at the library and now it's waiting for me once I'm done with my current read. Yay! :)

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