Gravemaidens eARC Review

 

 

Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens, #1)

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GoodReads:
The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

Book Information:
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House
Pub Date: October 29, 2019
Formats: Hardback, Ebook, Audiobook
ISBN: 978-0-525-64782-9

Purchase Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US

[The purchase links above are Affiliated links, if you should purchase this book using one of those links then I will receive a small bit of money, but, this will cost nothing to you]

 

My Review

I finished my buddy read way quicker than I expected, I blame the author Kelly Coon for this. I was able to read the first eight chapters and have some semblance of self-control but after that, it was like I was gorging myself on cakes from the faerie realm, I could not put the book down.

Kammani was a really endearing protagonist, she had her faults, her passions, and the love for her family with her love of healing. And like any good big sister, she can be somewhat annoying and overbearing on her younger sister and brother.

Kammani wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, but the problem with that is that her Father has been just as tragically affected as the rest of the family and it has changed him.

I love that the characters were so real and flawed, no one was above making mistakes. There were so many moments where I was just holding my breath though because this is not only a great work of YA fantasy, it’s also got a murder mystery, AND YOU ALL KNOW HOW I LOVE MURDER MYSTERIES!

WHODUNNIT?!

This is mostly the question I was screeching through the novel.

Nanaea reminded me of how infuriating it can be to have sisters and though Kammani doesn’t always make the right choices, she makes them all out of love for Nanaea and her family. I loved getting to know more about both Nanaea and Kammani and the political intrigue in the palace made my dark little heart so happy! Not to mention the relationships that Kammani develops, the new friendships, well, it’s great and you really cheer on most of the characters, and there are times you’re just not sure who Kammani should trust.

Again….WHODUNNIT?

The fact that we’re not done with these characters is brilliant, the ending certainly had me lamenting the fact that I’ll have to wait to see what happens next.

Coon delightfully colors this vibrant world the characters live in, Alu just seems to come to life and jump right off the pages. She also doesn’t get too focused on small details, driving the plot and characters forward. \she also made me constantly hungry…seriously, where’s a damn honeycake when you need it??

Dagan was also a cute little cinnamon roll that I just wanted to protect half the time,m but the fact that he was always respectful of Kammani’s boundaries really made him such a great character, even when he thinks he’s pushed himself too far across a line, he’s quick to apologize and make amends as best he can.

[Disclosure: Nasu was my favorite, no regrets.]

I preordered this book because I mean, why wouldn’t I with a title like ‘Gravemaidens?’ But I’m super glad I did because I’ll be rereading this closer to the time of the second book’s release.

SO on that note, four massive cups of coffee from me for this amazing debut novel. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion!

 

About the Author

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Kelly Coon is a young adult author represented by Kari Sutherland of Bradford Lit, an editor for Blue Ocean Brain, a member of the Washington Post Talent Network, a former high school English teacher, and the author of two test prep guides, ACT STRATEGY SMART and ACE THE ACT.
Kelly was the test prep expert for About.com for seven years, and has been published with both Scholastic and MSN in the education arena. In the parenting realm, Kelly has been published in The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, ParentMap, Folks, and others sites, regaling tales of life in the trenches with her three boys. She adores giving female characters the chance to flex their muscles and use their brains, and wishes every story got the happy ending she’s living near Tampa with her sons, brilliant husband, and a rescue pup who will steal your sandwich. Gravemaidens is her debut novel.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Thriller Thursday

 

 

Hey Guys! So, I’ve decided that with all the thrillers I’ve been reading lately I will use Thursdays when I feel like it to highlight and recap/review some of my favorite thriller reads.

That being said, I am going to do TWO this week. Why? Because I can. It’s my blog. I do what I want.

 

 

Also I read both of these ARCs and LOVED them, and since they came out this month, I want to share them both.

**Thank you to the publishers, Point Blank – OneWorld Publications for the ARC of The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone and to Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of The Starter Wife. I received these in exchange for my honest review(s).**

First up?

 

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Blurb: ‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’ 

Tikka Molloy was eleven years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in an isolated suburb in Australia surrounded by encroaching bushland. That summer, the hottest on record, was when the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert. 

Did they run away? Were they taken? While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved. 

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home and is beginning to make sense of that strange moment in time. The summer that shaped her. The girls that she never forgot. 

Brilliantly observed, spiky, sharp, funny and unexpectedly endearing, THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – a perfect summer chiller with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart. 

My Review

 

Want an amazing summer thriller read?? This is pretty much it, I read this in a night, I couldn’t put it down and it was brilliant.

Three girls have gone missing, and in their wake they leave unanswered questions and one friend struggles I accept their disappearance. Going home again, will she unravel the mystery, will anything change after so long?

The ending to this is really what struck me the most. I won’t give anything away but it was not at all expected and Felicity McLean really impressed me. The story she weaves for us is quite the tangled web and in the end, there’s no black and white, just the facts as they are. I really love things that delve into the morally gray and better yet they have no clear answers. The point of this book wasn’t as much to solve a mystery as it was for Tikka to face her past.

The Van Apfel girls are all different and though they may all have blond hair, the similarities stop there. They are sisters and have to rely on each other more than their parents who are too embedded in their church and religion and only care about the daughters also becoming as ‘holy’ as they are. Except for the fact that our middle Van Apfel girl Cordelia who seems to attract her Father’s special attention.

Cordelia is complex, mature for her age and yet still ver much a young teenager (really a child at 13) and when you delve more into her own particulars you understand her more. I thought she was brilliantly written.

Even Ruth, the youngest, is so well fleshed out and McLean gives amazing descriptions for her (and the others). In fact as you read this, it’s hard not to imagine Australia, she paints a picture of the landscape and the suburbia perfectly.

McLean does a great job presenting all of the characters and describing what makes them all different, there are no hollow characters, even the side characters are given depth and everyone plays their part in this unsolved mystery.

Great debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us!

Content/Trigger Warning: Child Molestation/Rape (though not detailed, very very strongly hinted at), Child Abuse, death of a child.

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About the Author

FELICITY MCLEAN was born in Sydney Australia. She graduated at Sydney University with a BA in English and Australian literature and worked as a book publicist before embarking on a freelance career. Her journalism has appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Courier Mail and the Big Issue, among others, and she has ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. She lives with her English husband and two young children in Australia. THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is her debut novel. 

 

Next…

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Blurb:

Can you ever really know what goes on between a husband and wife? 

Claire Westcott tries to be the perfect wife to Byron but fears she will never measure up to his ex, Colleen. After all, it’s hard to compete with the dead. 

Colleen went missing eight years ago. Her body was never found but the police ruled it a suicide. So when Claire receives a phone call from a woman she believes is Colleen, it opens up a million terrifying questions. 

Claire discovers the couple weren’t as happy as they would have people believe. And now she’s worried Byron hasn’t been completely honest with her. 

There are secrets in every marriage, but Claire is about to find out that sometimes those secrets are deadly. 

My Review

I love creepy reads, and this, this was a brilliant and creepy read.

A true thriller with a fabulously well done antagonist. So, be prepared. There was a nice twist that slowly worked its way in, you may be able to spot it early on but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Laurin also doesn’t give too much away, at the end you’re still left wondering with a couple of questions and I absolutely love that, though, all the important things are answered so don’t worry about having an unsatisfying ending.

There’s something about having a character that you just can’t quite tell if they’re the hero or the villain that just makes it great, and Laurin gives you more than one character to wonder about! The little ‘cut’ scenes are brilliant as Laurin uses them for her own benefit, and continually manipulates the reader and I absolutely love that! I think it speaks for a writer, especially a thriller writer if they can twist and turn a story to their liking and throw a reader off track, even if it’s only for a moment. For those who read this sort of book more often it may be an easy guess for you, but I think you’ll still enjoy the read. I know I really did.

This was another book I consumed in a night, I actually tried to put it down too! I saw it was getting late, set the book to the side and turned off the light. 30 minutes later, I was still awake and wondering what in the world was going to happen next, so I made my way to the living room to finish the book without disturbing the husband with the light, and it was completely worth it!

I love that even the ‘good’ characters aren’t even that good, like McLean, Laurin is giving us this sort of gray area, and you’re left wondering ‘what could this person have done to make things better.’ Honestly, I enjoyed Claire as a character, and thought Laurin did a great job hashing her out.

Content/Trigger Warning: Violence, deaths, psychological manipulation, drugged drinks, stalking.

About the Author

 

Nina Laurin studied creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal, where she currently lives. She arrived in Montreal when she was just twelve years old, speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English but writes her novels in English. 
Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she’s always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea.

 

Alright there we have it! My first thriller Thursday! Both of these books are out now, so go check out your local bookstore/book depository/amazon/whatever you cool cats use these days!

Toodles!

 

Finer Things Review

**Thank you to Sandstone Press for sending me a copy of this book, below is my honest review in exchange for receiving the book.**

 

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GoodReads:

London: 1963.

The lives of a professional shoplifter and a young art student collide. Delia needs to atone for a terrible mistake; Tess is desperate to convince herself she really is an artist. Elsewhere in London, the Krays are on the rise and a gang war is in the offing. 

Tess’s relationship with her gay best friend grows unexpectedly complicated, and Delia falls for a man she’s been paid to betray.

Book Information:
Publication Date: 
27/06/2019
Format: Paperback
Length: 288
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 9781912240685

 

My Review

This was such a creative premise for a novel. I always love a good historical fiction but this grabbed me from the moment I glanced at the cover. But finding out it was basically a 1960s Female centered version with hints of ‘Ocean’s 11’? Oh I was all in. Disclaimer: This is way better than Ocean’s 11, and I refuse to talk about any movies from that after Ocean’s 12. They don’t exist in my world.

[Funnily enough my husband asked if the model on the cover was Joan from ‘Mad Men’ and considering that was focused on the 60s I would say they really nailed it with this cover.]

Wharton absolutely brings his A game to his debut novel, his writing is completely engaging and when I think of this book the first thing that comes to mind for me is ‘beautiful.’

The characters had so much intrigue to them, and the fact that he kept true to the time period of the 60s without taking away from the integrity of the characters just impressed me.

There was a whimsical air to Delia and I have to say she was my favorite, for being someone so utterly raw and from her roots she was like a changeling with a hint of the old ways in her superstitions.

Tess was complex and I think I would have wanted to see more of her but I was happy enough with how Wharton introduces her to us. She’s young, in London and trying to figure out who she is. Her story is also one that really resonates with the times. There was such a love of art and to see her blossom in her concepts of it was really great and her journey with Jimmy was one that I really appreciated at the end for all its difficulties and the heart aching truth of it all.

David Wharton gave a truly brilliant debut novel and I loved it, keep an eye out for this book and his future works. If you like a more ‘modern’ historical fiction or just a good fiction novel in general, I hope you’ll give this book a try.

 

About the Author

“David Wharton grew up in Northumberland and lives in Leicester, where he has worked in education for many years. He now divides his time between writing fiction and training English teachers. Finer Things is his first novel.”

 

Black Water ARC Review


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GoodReads:
I killed the boy…

Jig loves football and his dog, hates school, misses his granda and knows to lie low when his ma’s blitzed on the vodka and tablets.

He’s just an ordinary boy on the mean streets alongside Dublin’s Grand Canal. Streets that are ruled by Ghost and his crew. And now Ghost- inked, vicious, unprincipled- has a job for Jig.

A job that no one can afford to go wrong- not the gangs, the police, the locals, and least of all not Jig.

First off, thank you to BW Publishing for sending me a copy to read, I’ve been in a thriller mood the past couple of months so this fit right into my ‘mood.’ I’m giving an honest review in exchange for this gifted copy!

I would say comparing it to ‘The Wire set in Dublin’ was a really accurate comparison and if you love shows like ‘Law and Order’ or movies like ‘The Departed’ then you’ll probably really enjoy reading this, I know I did!

The pacing was great the whole way through, nothing was stretched out too long and the chapters were kept short and concise as to allow O’Keeffe to give us the whole picture of what was going on. You get the inside of Gangland feel, a great look at the Garda and those whose lives are affected by the gang violence, whether by contributing to it or being witnesses of information.

Jig was certainly my favorite character, the boy was only a product of his habitat and ‘nurture’ and I really just hated thinking about how many kids may have to deal with situations like that, ones they shouldn’t be in. But I also really liked how O’Keeffe didn’t handle Jig with ‘kid gloves’ as a kid growing up in that situation wouldn’t have many innocent tendencies that others might in other types of homes.

Shay was also a favorite of mine, I loved his story arc most probably.

This wasn’t really a character-driven novel, and that’s great considering the plot of this would have been bogged down otherwise, but, O’Keeffe is impressive and gives you a connection to the characters in a limited amount of time and does it so that it doesn’t feel rushed.

I wasn’t always a fan when the chapters might change part-way in, to another character’s situation but I thought it was done well enough that it didn’t end up bothering me and I got used to it but fair warning it could feel a bit jumpy if you’re not used to that.

The last 100 pages were just hard to put down, I needed to know what was going to happen, I felt like the clock was ticking and I was on the edge of my seat! Who was going to make it, who wasn’t, it was just making me push forward to know all the answers about the endgame.

There is extensive violence, and mention of drugs and alcohol given this is a book quite focused on at least a couple of gang members and so please remember that before jumping into reading this amazing book if this would be an issue.

Definitely 4/5 Cups of Coffee from me and would recommend to any crime or thriller fan! A great debut novel for the genre.