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review 2018-04-04 10:48
The Sacrifice Box
The Sacrifice Box - Martin Stewart

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

The blurb for this book immediately reminded me of some of the horror books I’d read in the early 90s—mostly Stephen King paperbacks my mother gave me, so this ‘80s + horror + kids’ combination is one I’ve known in quite a while, even though I haven’t read such books in at least a decade or more. I suppose watching Stranger Things also put me back in the mood for those, and so here I was, getting into ‘The Sacrifice Box’.

As far as horror stories go, a lot of the usual ingredients are here. Strange happenings. Kids who find they have to gather to stop something evil from happening (and they can’t tell their parents, because they’d just sound crazy). School life with its teachers, sports kids, and bullies and picking on a couple of the main characters, but all things considered, those pale compared to the real threat. A mysterious item with mysterious rules to follow, rules that get, of course, broken—madness ensues. Dead animals coming back to life to attack people. Noises at night. A tiny town on an isolated island. The Halley comet looming over it all, like a bad omen.

All in all, I liked the setting itself, although at times it ‘tried a little too hard’, so to speak. However, where the book lacked a lot was the characters. The main point of view is Sep’s, interspersed with chapters viewed through the eyes of a couple of minor characters, like Mario, the vet doubling as chippy owner, in whose restaurant Sep works; or Thom and Aileen, two older people who also opened the box and made sacrifices back in 1941 when the war was raging (the story’s set in the UK, by the way—it’s not always very clear, as the atmosphere feels very ‘US-like’). The problem is that, as far as the other four kids are concerned, I didn’t get more than superficial impressions about them. For instance, Lamb is the hockey player, lives on a farm with her father, and lost her mother when she was a kid, yet apart from that and from her anger at whoever broke the rules of the box, I never really ‘saw’ her, who she was, how she really felt, her fears, and so on; and in such a horror-driven story, with such a concept of a box into which a band of children placed items loaded with both good and bad emotions, childhood fears, hopes and feelings would’ve been a necessary element to play on for all the characters, not just one.

I also didn’t see the point to the bully. At first, I expected him to play more of a part—perhaps the kind of character who ends up completely crazy, starts muttering about having to ‘kill the evil’, grabs a rifle, becomes an impediment to the kids’ efforts to restore the order (it’s a bit cliché, but it’d have its place in such a plot). And then… It just petered out. In the same way, I would've appreciated more of a conclusion regarding the events and the box itself: the epilogue doesn't shed light on all the things that should've followed (how did the parents react, what about all the dead people, how were events explained officially, etc.). Here, too, some plot ends were left dangling.

Conclusion: A fast read, and rather entertaining in a superficial way; but the novel kept feeling like an attempt to surf on the “Stranger Things” wave, and didn't live up to the kind of books/stories it tried to be an homage to.

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review 2018-03-26 17:16
Midwinter Sacrifice / Mons Kallentoft
Midwinter Sacrifice - Mons Kallentoft

The snow covered all the tracks, as the killer knew it would. But it couldn't hide the victim, the man who now hung naked from a lonely tree on a frozen plain.

Malin Fors is first on the scene. A thirty-one-year-old single mother, Malin is the most talented and ambitious detective on the Linkoping police force, but also the most unpredictable. She must lead the investigation while keeping her fractured life on the rails.

No one knows the identity of the dead man. Or perhaps no one ever wanted to know. When all the voices of the investigation have fallen silent, Malin can rely only on herself and her own instincts. And as she follows in the frigid wake of the killer, Malin begins to discover just how far the people in this small town are willing to go to keep their secrets buried.

 

Probably actually a 3.5 star book for me. It’s getting much harder to fool me, now that I’ve read a fair number of Nordic mysteries and I really treasure the books that do manage to pull the wool over my eyes. Midwinter Sacrifice managed to keep me guessing until the last chapters, when it just kind of stuttered to the end.

I liked Malin Fors, the female detective main character. I could appreciate her ambition and determination to solve a case. There was a little too much emphasis on her “feminine intuition” for me, since I think both men & women use their intuition and that police officers especially rely on it, no matter which gender they are.

I also like Malin’s daughter, Tove. Unlike so many detectives in mystery fiction, Malin lives with her daughter and tries to be a decent mother. Malin’s struggles to decide what is reasonable as a parent makes her very real to me.

Although I probably won’t hurry on to the next book, I can certainly imagine that I will get to it eventually to see what the Swedish detective investigates next.

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review 2018-01-31 20:23
Ardere series Book 2
Mirror Sacrifice: A YA Paranormal Novel: (The Ardere Series Book 2) (Volume 2) - Margo Ryerkerk

Mirror Sacrifice hits the ground running with Sierra and Gavin traveling to London. Sierra has her work cut out for her with finding her place and training and on top of that, there's some jealousy over Gavin's ex. In the meantime, Gavin has to work with his ex to figure out what the Culpatus is up to and who is behind it. The story is fast paced and full of surprises. I was impressed with Sierra's growth in this one. She's learning to assert herself and stand up for what's best for her. I'm still undecided about the direction of the romance, so I'll wait to see what's next on that front. This is a continuing story, so I would recommend reading Fluidus Rising first. We do get some of the first book's questions answered, and while there is a main ongoing story, the conclusion is more open-ended than cliffhanger, leading into what's next for our heroine.

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text 2018-01-03 02:48
I Won 3 Audiobooks on Audible!!

I won 3 audible audiobook giveaways from J. S. Bailey.

 

1. Servant (The Chronicles of Servitude, #1)

2. Sacrifice (The Chronicles of Servitude, #2)

3. Ordinary Souls

 

+ I won 1-3 in the Servitude series previously!

Surrender (The Chronicles of Servitude, #3)

 

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I am very grateful to win this. I haven't been a member on Audible for a while and I've missed being able to get books on there. The reason we stopped is of course because of funds, like usual! It is one of the things we keep saying we're going to do again, but we keep forgetting.

 

This is the second giveaway for her books that I have won.I entered a giveaway for the same books a while ago and actually won the first 3 books in her Servitude series for my ereader.

 

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Previous to winning these giveaways, I met J.S Bailey at The Half Priced Bookstore and bought a physical copy of Ordinary Souls from her.

 

I'm excited to get to them in the new year.

 

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I feel bad because I've won two times, plus I've bought 1 book and I've yet to read any. It has just been a really hectic time and I am a mood reader. My husband is also interested in reading them, and now he'll be even more happy, because he mostly uses audiobooks!

 

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review 2017-11-06 17:46
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr

This was kind of a hard book to review, mostly because it almost falls between genres. It's classed as an upper Middle-Grade historical fantasy, which, that's not wrong . . .

 

I felt like it had more of a classic children's fiction feel to it. It's coming-of-age, and also a sort of epic hero's journey, straddling children's lit and YA in a way that's often done more by adult literary works. It touches on many 'big ideas': deformity, religion/society, acceptance, adoption, trauma, bullying, disability, purpose/identity, fate . . . The format is creative and unique. The story arc stretches from the MC's birth to age 14 and is told in omniscient third person varying with passages in verse.

 

I'm not sure if there was a meaning to the alternating styles; at some points, I thought the dreamlike verse passages were meant to show the MC's perspective in a closer, almost experiential or sensory format as an infant, a toddler, a mute child . . . but then that didn't necessarily carry through, so perhaps it was more to craft an atmosphere for the story.

 

The setting is the ancient Mediterranean, and the story picks up on legends of bull dancing. The world feels distinct, grounded and natural, without heavy-handed world-building. It's a world of gods and priestesses, sacrifice and death and surrender. Humans seem very small within it, and as a children's book, it's challenging rather than comforting. There's death and violence and loss, handled in a very matter-of-fact manner, so I'd recommend it for maybe ages 10+, depending on the child. It's not gratuitously violent or graphic, but it's a raw-edged ancient world where killing a deformed child, having pets eaten by wild animals, beating slaves - including children - and sacrificing people as well as animals to the gods is just part of life. 

 

I was very kindly sent a hardcover edition via the Goodreads Giveaways program, and the book production is lovely. It has a bold, graphic cover with some nice foil accents, a printed board cover (which I prefer for kids books due to the durability), fully illustrated internal section pages, and pleasant, spacious typesetting.

 

Confident, mature young readers will find this an engaging, challenging and meaningful read with an inspiring story arc and some lovely writing. Hesitant readers and very young readers will probably find it a struggle. I'd give it 5/5 as a product, 4/5 as a literary work and 3/5 as kid's entertainment.

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