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review 2020-03-17 17:30
BORNE OF THE DEEP by Michael Patrick Hicks
Borne of the Deep (The Salem Hawley Series) - Michael Patrick Hicks

After the events in THE RESURRECTIONISTS, Salem Hawley is on a quest to find Al Azif, the mysterious grimoire stolen at the end of that book. Now, prepare yourself for a rip-roaring ride to Arkham!

 

In a horse drawn carriage on the way to find the book, Salem deals with racism and other problems. Even though he is a free man, he doesn't command much respect. Once he arrives at Arkham, he meets a mysterious woman named Louise LaMarche. Together they will have to face the most serious threats yet, namely, Dagon and the Deep Ones. Will he and Louise be able to find Al Azif? If so, will they find it in time to prevent Dagon and the others from overtaking Arkham? Lastly, will Salem and Louise survive? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

BORNE OF THE DEEP features some of the best battle scenes I've read in a long time. I thought a lot of blood was shed in the first book, but this one goes entirely off the rails. Salem is a brave, brave man to stand strong against what Dagon has in store. Fans of Lovecraft will recognize these names and see them brought to life more vividly than I've ever read before, and that includes Lovecraft's writing itself!

 

With a great historical background, and the integration of cosmic horror to boot, (most better than the original, [sorry, Lovecraft]), there is no way this series could fail to please or satisfy serious horror readers. I initially rated this 4 out of 5 stars, but after thinking about it overnight, I boosted my rating to the full 5. I couldn't have asked for anything more-other than the next book be released. Right now!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Kindle copies available now, just in time for social distancing! BORNE OF THE DEEP

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!* 

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review 2020-03-17 08:38
‘Twisted Secrets’ is the perfect escape room mystery for your quarantine reading: ‘The Breakfast Club’ + Agatha Christie + CLUE
All Your Twisted Secrets - Diana Urban

RELEASED March 17th, 2020 

Links to buy the book on via the author’s site - dianaurban.com

 

 

Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. They’ve been lured to a dining room and locked in with a bomb and a syringe of poison, along with a note instructing them to pick one of them to die….or they all will. The book retraces the events of the last year, flashing back to each character at times that reveal various connections between each of them and all kinds of twisted secrets. Who could have known how they were all connected and how will they choose who will die?

This is a smart contemporary, perfectly combined with mystery, a whodunit that keeps you guessing until the end. The cast of characters has been compared to that of ‘The Breakfast Club’ (only one of the best 80’s coming-of-age teen movies ever); the queen bee, the star athlete, the stoner, the loner, the valedictorian and the music geek cover just about all the usual cliques and stereotypes you’ll find in American high school. Over the decades of movies and books, they haven’t really changed that much but this story felt fresh.
As the teens’ stories are revealed through their past timelines, multiple themes are focused on such as bullying, mental health issues, drug abuse, and suicide. While this makes clear that these things could be triggering, I want to say how skilled author Diana Urban was in writing such complex issues into such a thrilling book. So much action happens over a relatively short period of time and in a small space with a lot of characters, and it takes some really crafty writing to pull that off. Having worked in film, and doing continuity on set, I pictured a lot of these scenes in my head while reading and marveled at how complex it is to write scenes like them to build action within such tight parameters.

If you like classic mysteries like those by Agatha Christie, this is a perfect read.
If you love the board game (or the super fun 80’s movie) CLUE, this book is for you. I really enjoyed the ensemble cast of characters.
If you need a book where the characters are feeling just as shut inside and claustrophobic as you during this virus quarantine, then this is definitely THE book for that. And you will pass the hours by way too quickly because this will just suck you in. The most fun to be had while ‘stuck’ in one (imaginary) room.

‘All Your Twisted Secrets’ is a brilliantly written, smart mystery that I couldn’t put down once I started it; I truly hope there’s so much more to come from Diana Urban! Easily a 5 star read.

 

ABOUT DIANA URBAN
Diana Urban is an author of dark, twisty thrillers. When she's not torturing fictional characters, she works in digital marketing for startups. She lives with her husband and cat in Boston and enjoys reading, video games, fawning over cute animals, and looking at the beach from a safe distance. 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/41443369-all-your-twisted-secrets
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review 2020-03-03 02:35
Damaged by Lisa Scottoline
Damaged - Lisa Scottoline

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was very good! This is the fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio but it reads as a stand-alone novel. This is one of those series where you can just jump in at any point. I have read a couple of the previous books in this series and consider myself a fan of Scottoline so I had a pretty good feeling that I would enjoy this one. I was pulled into this story from the start and was eager to see how things would work out. I am so glad that I decided to listen to this book.

The story opens with Mary taking on a new case. At the center of this case is a young boy named Patrick. Patrick is ten years old and lives with his grandfather, who means the world to him. Patrick has dyslexia and is not getting the services that he needs in order to be able to learn to read. He has also been accused of violence against a teacher's aide. Unfortunately, this is the beginning of the problems that Patrick will have to face.

Like Mary, I fell for Patrick pretty quickly. This little guy has not had things easy but he was still such a good attitude. He was frustrated with school but who could blame him. It was really hard not to like Patrick and his grandfather. Mary fought for them very hard and I loved her dedication to the case. I am not sure that most lawyers would go quite as far as Mary did but it did make the story interesting. This was a pretty complex case that seemed to get more involved as the story progressed. There were some pretty exciting moments and a few twists that I did not see coming.

Rebecca Lowman did a fantastic job with the narration of this book. I think that this is the first time that I have had a chance to listen to this narrator's work and I really liked her work. She has a very pleasant voice that I found easy to listen to for hours at a time. I liked the voices that she used for the various characters and thought that she did a good job adding emotion to the story. I would not hesitate to listen to more of her work in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. I really enjoyed this story and thought that it was emotional at times. I felt bad for Patrick and Mary and wanted to see good things happen for them both. I look forward to reading more of Lisa Scottoline's work!

I received a digital review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
This was very good. The book captured my interest right away and held on throughout the book. I was surprised by some of the twists that popped up along the way. I found it pretty easy to root for Mary, Patrick, and the other key players because they really were just good people. I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with the story.

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review 2020-02-25 10:18
'Red Hood' is a bold and bloody tale of female empowerment; the predator becomes the hunted, and toxic masculinity is left to die in the woods
Red Hood - Elana K. Arnold

The first word I thought of to describe ‘Red Hood’ is outstanding. It holds a potent message of female empowerment and gives us a whole new image of ‘Little Red Hiding Rood,’ and it’s coated in so much blood it feels like a murder-mystery. If just that makes you uncomfortable or woozy, you probably won’t be able to handle all the intense themes and topics* that author Elana K. Arnold weaves into this hypnotic coming-of-age tale. But if you love a brave story where cruel realities meet bold fantasy and aren't afraid to enter the woods, you should definitely proceed.

There are countless stories where women and girls are at the mercy of men, of predators, where they are abused and assaulted, and it takes a lot for retribution to happen. Sometimes it never does. They are stories that mirror reality and they are hard to read and hear because they are too familiar to many of us.
'Red Hood' flips that story on its tail, with Bisou discovering her birthright when she gets her first period at the light of the full moon on Homecoming night; she suddenly has the otherworldly power to fight and kill the predators she can now sense in the dark Seattle woods. Bisou can sense when the wolves, these broken boys, are attacking their prey, and she is compelled by her own past, her bloodline, to protect and save these young women, these girls, and go on the hunt.

With a story loaded with an emotional hot-button issue like sexual assault (and revenge-killing) in a social climate where the #MeToo movement is on everyone's radar, this book is sure to catch the attention of a lot of readers. And it will be the reason some have to stay away; that's fine, we know our limits.
There will be discussion over whether 'killing the wolf' (and whether an 'eye for an eye') is justified. But I liken this kind of justice to that of other vigilantes out there in our fantasy worlds, our superheroes, Batman, Arrow, Hawkeye. I have to wonder if this kind of vengeance is called into question further because it's a woman carrying it out and because of the connection to sex. And no, I don't think we have to answer how the 'boy became the wolf' because that's a whole other story, and not for Bisou's tale. We don't always have to answer where the evil comes from to know that we have to get rid of it.

I struggled to write this review, as I often have when a book really blows me away. I’d been lost for words since I read it, but thought about it a lot, and had somewhat pointlessly ‘written’ a review in my mind several times. I just want others to feel the way I did when I read it, clinging to every word.
Last year, it was ‘The Grace Year’ by Kim Liggett that did the same thing for me. Both books portray women finding their place, their truth, and their power, albeit through very different stories and means, but both left me feeling that women can change their circumstances, they can be emboldened and empowered, and that they are ENOUGH. 'Red Hood' is magical and profound. It's also an intimate tale of one girl's discovery of her tragic past and her personal power. And as I said, it's outstanding.



*Aside from sexual assault, murder, revenge-killing and rape, some themes and topics raised: sexual intercourse (including loss of virginity, and teen sex), drug and alcohol use, menstruation, abuse, bullying, suicide, self-harm, stalking, toxic masculinity, harassment. 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/46159058-red-hood
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review 2020-02-18 00:56
‘Beauty & The Beast‘ gets a new look in this YA romance reimagining set at an elite boarding school in the Colorado Rockies
Of Curses and Kisses - Sandhya Menon

Jaya Rao and her little sister Isha are Indian princesses, teenagers who end up at an elite boarding school called St. Rosetta's International Academy in Aspen, Colorado. Aside from Jaya's usual responsibilities that involve preparing her to one day take over the role of helming the 'Imperial House of Mysuru,' Jaya is fiercely protective of her younger sister Isha, who has recently fallen victim to a tabloid campaign released by someone in the Emerson family, British aristocracy and centuries-old rivals of the Raos. It's a rivalry based on a curse and superstition, centered around a stolen ruby, the perfect setup for a fairytale. In this modern reimagining of 'Beauty and the Beast' Jaya finds out that Grey Emerson, the young Lord Northcliffe, is also at Rosetta's and Jaya vows revenge for her sister, something that will require her to get this nobleman to fall in love with her just so she can break his heart.

 

'Of Curses & Kisses' was the perfect YA romance novel for me right now and since I'm not a huge reader of the genre, I'm pretty selective with these reads. This one piqued my interest early because of the boarding school setting (I just couldn’t resist) and the unique matchup of the main characters due to their backgrounds and ancestry.

Menon is a natural storyteller with a light and easy way of storytelling, and this novel is a perfect example of why she is one of the most popular names in young adult romance literature.

She creates many great setups for multifaceted vibrant characters and demonstrates the struggle to choose between family and ancestry, and the desire to grow up and become autonomous. As a lead character whose motives drive the storyline, Jaya’s connection to her sister is one of her most admirable traits, but because it fuels her revenge plot that revolves around her getting close to her male ‘rival’ Grey, she has so many conflicting emotions. She is confused by her real attraction to Grey, a brooding, sympathetic character (who calls himself a ‘Beast’) who she is supposed to ‘love and leave’ as it conflicts with her duty to marry an Indian boy back home.

I was frustrated that some of the friendships seemed a little shallow and although the strict conformity of Jaya was initially irritating, these elements made more sense as the story unfurled. I was aching for her to break out of the mold that she is trapped in, which her sister Isha has been able to do since they’ve been far from their home in India. I’m really hoping that in upcoming sequels about these two at Rosetta’s, Menon includes more of Isha and allows them both to blossom further.

While this might not be ground-breaking territory, I appreciate that author Menon has written a romance that teens on the younger end of the scale can read and appreciate, along with everyone else; the intimate encounters between characters don’t feel too over the top.

 

Whether you are a ‘Beauty & The Beast’ fan and are looking for new life to be breathed into the classic fairytale, or you know nothing of the original, this is a fun jaunt with a modern twist to boarding school in the Colorado Rockies. It offers international flair and light romance and is perfect reading for in between heavier books.

 

*Thank you to Goodreads giveaways for my early copy!

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/43985469-of-curses-and-kisses
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