Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Dead of Night (Aftershock, #1) by Carlyle Labuschagne

Dead of Night by Carlyle Labuschagne | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

To be perfectly honest with you guys, it took me months to get into this book. I almost DNF it multiple times and even sat it down for half of the time it took me to read it. It's not that Dead of Night is a bad book by any means, it's just that it wasn't wholly my cup of tea and took me a bit of time to find my own groove within it. While it didn't click with me right away, I will say that by the end of the novel I was much more intrigued by where the series could, and will, head in future installments.

Which is why I'm excited to pick up the second installment in the future. Aftershock has the potential to only get better and grow from Dead of Night onward. Carlyle Labuschagne takes on an almost hypnotic tone as the story goes deeper and I really respect that--it takes a lot to tell a story and it takes a lot to improve upon it with every page.

There was a lot going on in a short amount of time that could have been developed a little more. I had many moments where I liked the world, the premise, the characters, but ached for just a little more in depth explorations on each. Dead of Night had a nasty of habit of dragging on or going too quickly; it became its own worst enemy for a portion of its time.

Review: Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.


Okay, okay--here we go: this was such a fun book and not at all what I was expecting! Although, I'm not sure what I was expecting to begin with. So, there's that. It's possible I picked this book because of its minimal but still cute cover, but we're not going to talk about that. Whatever it was that I had been expecting, was not what the book served me and at the end of the day I'm 100% okay with that.

I've only read one book of Jo Piazza's in the past and that was, of course, The Knockoff. Which was fun in its own right. I found Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win to be just a bit better and a lot smarter than The Knockoff but, ultimately, they are entirely different stories with entirely different meanings. Both are of the same vein and are quick, light reads to finish in one--or a few--sittings. Piazza takes a bit more of a political stance in her premise of Charlotte and I adored this quality.

(DNF) Review: The Woman Before You by Carrie Blake

The Woman Before You by Carrie Blake | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

This was one of those books that I just couldn't get into. I found the plotline to be tedious and the synopsis to be exceptionally misleading. Which lead to disappointment and one unfinished read. There's marketing a book in-correctly, and then there's The Woman Before You. She's really not who you think she is.

While I DNF this book, there's a chance that one day I will come back to it once I'm in a different state of mind. Now that I know it's less of a thriller and more of an erotic story, I may be able to give it another go in the future and embrace it as it was meant to be. Until then, I have to admit that the publisher really did an injustice to Carrie Blake based on synopsis and promotion as it is.

I could possibly get behind the characters and their highly unlikable nature in the future, but for now? The Woman Before You was a massive miss.

Review: The Space Between by Dete Meserve

The Space Between by Dete Meserve | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

This book was truly breathtaking. There's this quality to The Space Between that makes it impossible to step away from. I love the way it bends the mystery mold bit by bit, feeling final and classic. Meserve weaves a tale that is intriguing, smart and instantly classic.

The set-up is simple: a woman returns home to find that her husband is missing, a lot of questions and suspicion follow due to circumstances and revelations. It's a steady flow of sketchy backstories, secretive characters, human complexities and a marriage in trouble in more ways than one. Everything is intentional and well-thought out in terms of premise, and it never slows down. The Space Between feels very similar to other thrillers in the past but gradually tangles itself into something of its own, capturing the reader in its web of secrets.

Which makes it so, so enjoyable. You can almost feel where everything is going but it still manages to get inside your head and surprise you. Plus, the career of our main character is an added plus to the premise. I don't read many novels that feature an astronomer in them and I liked the vibe that it added to The Space Between. I know very little about the science behind it, but it's still a nice trait to add to a character.

Review: Royal Order by Leslie North

Royal Order by Leslie North | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Let me be honest with you guys: I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book and this review will be just as much of a surprise for me as it is for you all. I'm truly just winging it. At its core, Royal Order is a fun and familiar formula that will compel its audience.

It continues on Leslie North's highly praised Royals of Danovar series and, like all other installments, it stands on its own. I almost didn't request it because I wasn't closely familiar with the previous releases but something about Royal Order, and its promise, felt intriguing to me. Like, I couldn't not read it.

At the same time, I was a little concerned that the book would be too similar to others series in the same genre--like the Royally series by Emma Chase. It had its ties of similarity but Royal Order is certainly its own story and a pretty big and fun one, at that. I thought it had a lot of interesting moments--it's always fun to see a fictional monarchy and find out what their royal guidelines are--and built onto something special. It wasn't my favourite book of the year but it was enough to stir up enough interest in not only finishing it, but adding the other books in the series to my TBR list.

Review: 806 by Cynthia Weil

806 by Cynthia Weil | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

This book wasn't my cup of tea, exactly, but 806 is one of those rare instances of books about teenagers where they actually feel and sound like they are teenagers. It's refreshing and this year has incredibly been filled with releases in the genre that explore the teenage mind a lot more realistically. 806 is one of those novels that accurately portrays coming of age.

And to judge that, and base your review on the so-called childish antics would be both absurd and an injustice to the story that Weil is trying to tell.

Let's refresh. You don't pick up a book about a vampire and then complain that there is too much gore, so why pick up a book about young adults and scold them for being childish? It's weird and I'm never, ever, EVER going to get that trend. That being said, 806 is a solid release amongst contemporary YA fiction that will surely connect with its intended audience--it's fun, sprinkles of humor make it so that it's enjoyable for the reader and I definitely appreciate that. Weil seems to have found a good balance between humor and seriousness and you have to respect that, above all else.

Review: Flux by Orion Carloto

Flux by Orion Carloto | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

To put Flux in one word: WOW. I'm super late to getting this posted. A year late. And I've just reread the collection and realized that, somehow, I never finished my review of it when it was first published. Don't worry, I'm ashamed plenty enough for all of us and will be grounding myself, effective immediately.

In truth, about the delay, it was mostly because I was sick a lot last autumn and winter, and when I am sick I get foggy and hare-brained. Flux deserved a real review, anyways, and not a rushed or half-assed one like it might have gotten then. It didn't click in my mind that I hadn't gotten around to reviewing it.

Flux was like reading a shared diary between yourself and a soul-mate. A friend. A tangled series of thoughts and moments that make you come to life. It's the kind of collection that you absorb just as much as its words absorb you. Which sounds trippy, and maybe a little lame, in explanation but if you've read Flux you'll know exactly what I mean by it. It's smart and influential, captivating and honest.

Review: The Killing Type by Jane Corry

The Killing Type by Jane Corry | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

This short story just wasn't for me. I almost didn't finish it but I have a mad amount of respect for Jane Corry. I came across her work on accident but it was definitely one of those deliriously delicious and happy accidents. I love a good thriller and Corry provides readers with some of the best. There's a reason why her work is such a hit but The Killing Type was, sadly, not one of the many reasons.

Maybe it's less of the fact that The Killing Type is bad (it, on many levels, is not a bad story) and more of the fact that I am just not all that keen on short stories. Corry is one of my favourite authors in the genre but much like with my luke-warm reception of Gillian Flynn's short story The Grown-Up, this story didn't do much at all for me.

In-fact, I desperately wanted to both like and finish The Killing Type. In terms of premise, I adored it! I find the psychological elements, and the relationship between sisters, featured in it to be utterly engaging. Especially after having read Blood Sisters. But, it felt... underwhelming and not unlike a jagged puzzle piece trying to fit into a spot that it just didn't belong. I think that The Killing Type could have been a good story--if it was a full length novel.

Review: Inward by yung pueblo

Inward by yung pueblo | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There's something I have to get off my chest about reviewers, re: modern poetry. You don't get to decide what is or isn't poetry. You're entitled to not like a certain style, you're entitled to not like a certain author or collection, but you're not entitled to defining what makes poetry. This, and I'm sorry if this is shocking for you, is not a style that has just popped up: it has been here for decades. You're just being pretentious when you should just be expressing the simple fact that it is not your cup of tea.

(And that's, as the kids say, the tea.)

Now that I've got your attention, and likely earned a scoff or glare, let's focus on Inward, shall we? I was not familiar with this collection before it was revised, so this was my first experience with the poets work. As with all forms of prose, I found Inward to be a deeply personal experience that kept me focused on the thoughts explored throughout the collection and there were many parts in which I found myself especially captivated by. The fact that so many reviewers still try to use "it sounds like Tumblr" as an insult is boring, but Inward is not. You're reading someone else's inner most personal thoughts and it shows, and you feel it, and you keep going.

Review: Ghost Girl (Pure, #4) by Catherine Mesick

Ghost Girl by Catherine Mesick | Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.8)

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

There's nothing like starting a new series and binge reading it in just a few short weeks. You pick it up, you get so into it you're compelled to read ALL THE BOOKS as quickly as possible. Essentially, that is what I did with Catherine Mesick's darkly intriguing Pure series. I know, I know, I'm doing my reviews backwards--but I kind of have to, considering I purchased the other books and requested this one off of NetGalley. Bare with me!

Ghost Girl intrigued me on many levels. First, I did that thing we're not supposed to do: I judged it based on its absolutely stunning cover art. I'm in love with it! All that purple! Second, the description was just calling to me. It sounded like it was somewhere between Gothic Fiction and paranormal fiction.

What stands out about Ghost Girl, and the Pure series as a whole, is that it has this glimmer of uniqueness that many of its counterparts don't. There are many archetypes in it that are common. There are many familiar traits to the overall story arch. Catherine Mesick doesn't allow it to stick to the basics, though, and weaves a story that is just, ahem, pure fun. Which makes it work.