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review 2017-03-13 18:33
Bad Blood
Bad Blood - Demitria Lunetta

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I pre ordered this ages before I requested a review copy from Netgalley. I must admit I pre ordered based on cover and the fact that the title is Taylor Swift song. I probably read the blurb at some point and forgot what it was about.

 

And to my immense surprise my Netgalley request was actually approved.

 

Possible trigger warnings for self-harm.

 

This was a fun book about a girl who’s visiting relatives in Scotland while at the same time having strange dreams about twin girls in the time of the Scottish Witch Trials. (I usually don’t like books where the characters have the same name as myself, but thankfully this was a first person novel so it didn’t grate on me too much). The main character Heather has some disturbing compulsions that make her carve intricate designs into her skin, which make her bleed.

 

At the start of the novel she’s been caught by her parents and been sent to a Wellness Centre for recovery. Which at least seems to be working, she’s taking meds, talking to a therapist and come home, and been allowed to go on to her annual vacation to visit her Aunt Abbie in Scotland.  With check ins with her parents and on line Skye sessions with her therapist.

 

Only the need to carve the weird designs into her skin haven’t really gone away. She’s got it under control enough to fool the grownups into thinking she’s okay when she’s really not. To be fair though, she knows she’s doing something wrong, there is something unexplainable about the way the sudden compulsion over comes her. But she can’t cope or do anything until the design is carved into her skin. It’s a weird intricate knot type design.

 

There’s a historical element to the novel telling the story of twin sisters Prudence and Primrose who lived in the 1700s. Their story starts with one of them being burned as witch. Their history is revealed to Heather in the modern day through her dreams. Once loving sisters learning the healing craft of their ancestors with the mother, things turn sour turning the twins into bitter rivals going deeper into magic they should not be messing with.

 

All this is having a big effect on Heather in the modern day. In Edinburgh with her aunt Abbie, Heather gets some bad news about her aunt, and also has to deal with the fact that her grandmother has dementia and has been put into a home. Not fun on top of increasingly frightening nightmares starring Prudence and Primrose.

 

Having been to Scotland every summer for years and years Heather has made some really good friends with some of the other teens in town. She gets to see them in the summer. They’re all quite excited to be together again, though initially Heather is a little disappointed the older boy she likes isn’t there that summer, just his brother Robby who she’s known forever is. They’re good friends, but there’s a definite spark between them that everyone but Heather seems to see.   

 

As the dreams get worse and worse, and a few visits to grandma reveal some surprising information, talk of witches in the family, something bad involving using blood for spells, Heather does some digging. And discovers some home truths she never knew.

 

It’s a good story with a great historical and some really good mystical elements. Some good teen angst added in and with an inevitable romance. My only real issue with this which is why it was a four star rather than a five star read was I found most of the characters very two dimensional. They were all likeable, but I didn’t get much of a sense of personality from any of them really.

 

The novel was exceptionally well written, so it didn’t really matter that the characters were a little flat, the history and mythology worked well, and the magic elements were well done and quite unique. There’s also a really good sense of place, the Scottish setting is brilliantly done. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Edinburgh and the Scottish countryside. Both modern day and historical it felt really authentic, beautifully written and easy to picture.

 

Despite a few flaws, it was a really good read and definitely something I would read again.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children’s for approving my request to view this title   

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review 2017-02-22 15:57
Highwayman - Craig Saunders
Highwayman - Craig Saunders

I admit it. When it comes to my reading, I'm a completionist. For better or for worse, I finish what I start. I can't remember the last time that my little idiosyncrasy has bitten me in the butt as hard as it did when I read Craig Saunder's Highwayman. So many times I wanted to quit this mismashed bore of a story. But no. I trudged on through the mud of staccato bursts of sentences, multiple points of view storytelling that seemed to lead to nowhere, and a hazy plot that was about as entertaining as watching metal rust. Was it all bad? Not totally, but close. There were, indeed, parts where he'd get the ball rolling and I'd start to get into it only to come to a screeching halt and a new chapter of mundane happenings would be in front of me. I'm sure there's a decent story somewhere in Highwayman. Maybe I don't get what Saunders was trying to create. But, what I read a tedious lesson in patience with no payout for my troubles. Sorry, but I can't recommend Highwayman to anyone.

 

 

 

2 Talking Deer out of 5

 

 


This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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review 2017-02-22 11:55
Review: Something In Between
Something in Between - Melissa de la Cruz

Review: Something In Between

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This was an interesting book, as it dealt with a tough issue, but I can’t say I actually liked the main character much at all.  This book is about a Filipino girl Jasmine, who has spent most of her life in America, she’s captain of her cheerleading squad, incredibly smart and when she wins a very prestigious award that comes with a college scholarship, she’s thrilled to pieces, only to discover to her horror when her parents make a shock confession – they don’t have green cards, they are undocumented.

 

I can’t even begin to imagine what that must feel like. Jasmine’s whole world is thrown into total chaos, there’s an immigrant reform bill going on as well that would be helpful, but it’s not doing so well. On top of that Jasmine meets a handsome boy Royce, who just happens to be the son of a very powerful Senator who’s supposedly big on anti-immigration.

 

With the deadline for college applications coming up, getting her cheerleading squad to Nationals, a new budding relationship, Jasmine doesn’t seem to know which way is up and which way is down. Her family are very close, which was nice to see, though her dad is a bit on the strict side.  They banded together to deal with the problems. There was a really good family dynamic, which was believable, Jasmine had two annoying little brothers who at the start of the book were loud irritating and got in the way, but the way the novel was written made them likeable (if annoying) characters. The parents had nicely formed personalities as well.

 

Jasmine herself, I didn’t actually like much after all. She was supposed to be one of these really nice, smart and popular types, but I found her pushy and condescending. I certainly empathised with her struggles as the novel progressed. I read the first hundred pages or so, then the second time I picked it up I finished it in an afternoon, I couldn’t put it down.  Naturally she’s struggling with her family situation, and it’s worrying her to no end – are they going to be deported?

 

They find out what options are open to them, and decide which route to go down.

 

Then there’s Royce, the rich boy she falls madly in love with. Royce at first appears to be your typical senator’s son – rich and charming, but turns out to be a total sweetheart. He was lovely, very considerate and nice and not at all what you tend to expect from the very wealthy background he comes from.

 

The class divide between him and Jasmine seems to be a big issue as the relationship progresses throughout the book. Royce claims he’s not affected by it. She’s the one with the issue. She makes big deals out of little things and whines a fair amount. Yes she’s struggling with something gut wrenching, but she’s not the only character with problems in the novel. Royce is offering her help but she’s too stubborn to take it.  

 

It was certainly an interesting read, if kind of predictable in the plot.  Jasmine wasn’t my favourite character, but I definitely would recommend this for a good read about a tough issue.  I did purchase a finished paperback copy.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin (UK) Limited for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-02-13 11:41
Review: Frostblood
Frostblood (The Frostblood Saga) - Elly Blake

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Initially I went into this one not knowing much about it. It was a bit of coverlust, really. Though rereading the blurb when my Netgalley request was approved it sounded like a generic YA fantasy, also sounding a bit too much like Red Queen (which I really didn’t like) though Frostblood wound up really surprising me. I didn’t quite finish it before it came out, but before I was half way through I purchased a finished copy.

 

The main character Ruby lives in a world of ice ruled by Frostbloods who are cruel and vicious. Ruby has a special power of her own, she can create and manipulate fire – she’s a Fireblood. Firebloods are hunted down by Frostbloods and either killed or imprisoned. There’s a big dramatic history between the two factions of why things are the way they are which is revealed as the novel progresses.

 

Sounds a bit generic, but the world building is surprisingly in depth with well thought out mythology and history and works well with the plot. Ruby is captured by Frostblood soldiers after an attack on the village near her home which results in a personal tragedy for her, driving her need for revenge. Rescued by local monks Ruby is given an opportunity to help them bring down the Frostblood king.

 

Not all the monks are happy to have Ruby with them – she is unpredictable, can’t control her powers and a dangerous liability. Ruby has to train to master her ability. With the help of Arcus, who comes across as one of the monks less than pleased to have her there. He’s mysterious, and quite rude and obnoxious. He and Ruby rub each other the wrong way. It’s kind of obvious immediately where it’s going but it’s delightfully shippy, and quite fun to get into their training and snide back and forths with snarking at each other. (I did find myself wanting to shove them together and yell JUST KISS ALREADY! As they sort out their true feelings for each other).

 

Ruby has her doubts about what she’s got to do, and learns a few things that she’s unsure about. There’s of course a prophecy involved, a few twisty setbacks, and one big ass plot twist towards the end that was really good and completely unexpected when the truth of Arcus’s real identity and his intentions are revealed.

 

Despite the fact that the plot is nothing that hasn’t been done before, the novel is exceptionally well written, the characters are all interesting and well fleshed out, a mix of good guys, bad guys and one or two you’re not quite sure about. Good solid world building with an interesting history and its own belief system of gods and goddesses which work well within the plot and ties up nicely.

 

A lot of fun. I have already pre ordered the sequel, and am really looking forward to more from this series.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-02-11 16:49
Dwelling - Thomas Flowers
Dwelling (Subdue Book 1) - Thomas S Flowers

The Suicide Squad is the name a group of adolescents from the 90's gave themselves after getting their hands on the comic book of the same name. Ricky, Maggie, Bobby, Jonathan, and Jake's lives were changed forever that September morning when terrorists rammed their jetliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Ignited by patriotic fever, the boy's enlisted to go fight in the desert. Their lives would never be the same. Ricky is killed in combat, leaving his now wife, Maggie, all alone. Jonathan lost a leg in the same attack that killed Ricky and suffers from PTSD and guilt for not being able to save his friend. Heavy drinking doesn't seem to help the PTSD or the haunting vision of the dark creature he saw just before rocket was fired at their Humvee. Bobby is now a homeless vet that brought back more than haunting memories, and it rears its ugly head when the moon is full. Jake is a minister that has lost his faith due to the nightmares that followed him back from Iraq. The war has shattered all of their lives and they can't seem to deal with it on their own. But the remaining members of the Suicide Squad are being called back to a mysterious house on a remote Texas prairie in the small town of Jotham. Do the answers they seek to rid themselves of their nightmares reside in the house, or are their current nightmares just the tip of the iceberg to whats about to come?

 

 

First and foremost, Dwelling is Book One of a trilogy and it reads as such. If you're trying to decide whether or not to give Dwelling a try based off of reviews like this one, keep that little nugget in mind. I've read a handful of reviews from people bitching that the writing was good but nothing was solved or wrapped up by the end of the book, therefore they hate the story. People, people. Do a little research. Yes, Dwelling is open ended. Yes, you'll have to continue to read the rest of the series to find out what happens. That's why they call it a trilogy. Why am I ranting here? Because, I think that Flower's has received some very unfair (and very silly) criticism for the way he wrote Dwelling. Look. It's a very good book. The writing and pacing is amazingly mature for a newer author. The characters are well fleshed out and their problems that center around PTSD and loss from the war makes for a compelling read. The fact that Flowers is a vet himself comes through nicely in his writing. It adds that dose of realism that many authors lack when they write about a place that they've never been to. Dwelling is shadowy and haunting that feels all to real when you're reading it. Yeah, there's some shades of Stephen King's It permeating through the story, but show me a chilling, coming-of-age tale that you can't compare to It? There's definitely a nod to King, but Dwelling is definitely it's own monster. I'm looking forward to jumping into Book 2 - Emerging - and continuing the saga of The Suicide Squad. Won't you join me?

 

 


4 1/2 Rocket Launchers out of 5

 


I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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