Wrap-up: February 2017

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I loved February. I got to read the books I’ve been dying to get my hands on. And my heart, psyche, and well, mind are all in revolt. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried. So here are the reads that kept me up past midnight!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Naturally, my first carnival book is, in fact, my favourite. Yes, Caraval has a insta-love feel to it, but the author makes a nice twist to it. The hype is real, so magically real, and I can’t help but gush about this book.

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A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kelley’s books are always instant buys and instant reads for me. I’ve read most of her work and probably own well over thirty of her books. I’ll warn you now: this book is dark and may trigger some readers. Kelley has an uncanny talent for writing complex and utterly intriguing characters. I can’t get enough of the series and hope to get my hands on the next instalment.

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I need a support group, stat. Please. King’s Cage is a vast improvement from Glass Sword. You can feel how much time and effort Victoria put into this book. It’s deliberately slow paced, yet it smacks you with intensely real emotions at the end. The sequrel cannot come soon enough.

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A poignant tale of a girl falling in love with the Goblin King and finding herself and her music in the Underground. I knew I had to read this story. Don’t expect anything similar to the Labyrinth. Wipe the slate clean and prepare yourself for this gut-wrenching love story. Highly recommended!

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Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

31338270A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Random House Canada

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Extent: 464 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


People disappear to Rockton so no-one can find them. But the trouble is people also disappear from Rockton. New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author and master of thrills Kelley Armstrong returns to Rockton for more page-turning suspense, following her #1 national bestseller, City of the Lost.

It’s winter in Rockton, a little town hidden deep in the wilds of the Yukon. The town exists for people who need to escape their pasts, though it’s not clear if those in hiding are victims or perpetrators. Or, when the lines gets blurred, maybe both. Ask Casey. She’s been used, betrayed, beaten. But she’s also killed someone. She moved to Rockton to help her best friend, Diana. Ex-best friend. Diana lied to get Casey to come with her; she used her and she almost got her killed. But Casey decided to stay anyway, to work as a detective alongside her new boyfriend and the town’s sheriff, Eric Dalton. Fresh off solving a series of grisly murders, Casey and Deputy Will Anders get stranded in a blizzard while they’re tracking a runner from the town. Seeking shelter in a cave, they stumble across a woman who’s been imprisoned in a deep well. Nicole Chavez–whom everybody thought had run away from town and died in the woods more than a year earlier–is alive. Barely. But she can’t identify her captor: she’s never seen his face.


Valentine’s Day seems like an appropriate time to post a review about a dark thriller. 😅

 

“I’ll die in this wasteland, buried under ice and snow.”

Welcome back to Rockton, a hidden town for people who need to escape their lives, whether or not they deserve that protection.

Four months have past, and, while tracking a resident who wants nothing more than to leave Rockton, Casey Butler, formerly Duncan, uncovers a woman trapped in a cave when she and Will Anders, Rockton’s deputy, seek shelter from a blizzard. What they unearth is far worse than a lost woman. She, Nicole, has been tortured and raped for fifteen months. The town’s people believed she died. Worst yet, Casey wonders if the captor is a Rockton resident. But how can she figure out who he is when some residents themselves are more than they claim to be?

This new instalment contains dark elements, like torture, rape, and murder. While City of the Lost also includes them, Kelley brings them to the forefront. She thrives in this setting. Yes, she’s a fantastic fantasy writer, but I see a hidden gem in her thriller series. I enjoyed this story. Each chapter layers on each other and builds up for an enthralling novel. But pay attention to each detail. I had to. I had my suspicions on who took Nicole, but Kelley surprised me with the level of detail in this story.

In City of the Lost, Kelley hints at probable corruption in Rockton. The town is flawed. Criminals buy sanctuary there. They’re vetted, but some slip through the cracks. Unfortunately the council creates more than just glaring loopholes; it opens up a dangerous environment for all residents. The problem with this scenario is that the Casey cannot determine if people are what say they are. And she, Will, and Eric, Casey’s boyfriend and town sheriff, try to protect their people when they’re often shackled by their environment. Basic forensics and policing are all they have.

Kelley throws a light on the council itself. You don’t see a lot of it in first novel. But the people involved in it are shady. Casey and Eric question if they can fully trust them or not. I hope to see more of these people in future books.

Kelley constructs a platform for each character to shine. Her writing pulls it off flawlessly. They’re the backbone of the book. She moulds the sequel into a character-driven treat for any reader. She also introduces intriguing new characters into the mix. But she also allows for her main characters to mature.

Casey has built her life in solitude. She finds no need to forge relationships with anyone. Having been gang raped, almost killed, and lied to by the only person she trusts, she believes living alone is safe. But in A Darkness Absolute, she gets the chance to plan for her future with Eric. She finally discovers what hope feels like. Will shows her that while darkness inhabits her, light still exists. Both characters redeem themselves in this secluded town and continue to do so every day. Redemption is a power drug.

I was rooting for her former lover in City of the Lost. But Eric and Casey grow into a strong couple. Hell, they’re bloody adorable. They offer a safe haven for each other. Eric hides his past because he doesn’t know how to confront it. Casey has run from hers since she killed her ex. But getting more backstory from the both of them is what makes me want to pick the book up again. They give each other balance in an already turbulent world. You get the opportunity to see them accept their past, or at least, learn to live with it.

Kelley offers you glimpses of humanity’s dark side, a place where you’d never want to venture. But she also shows you how people look for their redemption, how they struggle with their inner darkness, and how they ultimately fight back. She captures you from the first chapter and demands that you see the world in a new light. I can’t wait to head back to Rockton.

 

What do you look for in a thriller? Are you hesitant to pick up a thriller book if it contains dark elements? Let’s talk!

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Book Haul: January and February 2017

I’ve been waiting forever to buy these books. Ah! Okay, clearly I didn’t have a huge haul for these two months, but I’m giddy to see them in the mail.

January

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I’ve read a lot of raving reviews for this book. And each one just solidifies my need to buy Caraval. The story has intrigued me from the first day I heard about it. It is my first carnival-themed novel, so I wasn’t sure if I’d like. I was wrong. I love it. Caraval is one of my favourite books for 2017!

I’m tempted to buy a UK edition, too. The book designs are simply beautiful!

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February

91519King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Queen Victoria, you bless us with another enthralling story….And now I sound obsessed. Great.

I can’t wait for this book! I’ve been waiting for a good year or more. And while I saw the betrayal coming, Victoria’s debut novel just sparked something in me.

Victoria is an outspoken author, but that trait draws me to her books. And I hope that her views will translate into some interesting stories!

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24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I can’t get over that Sarah, aka JJ, expands on the Goblin King universe! And I’ve been drooling over this cover for months. I have huge hopes for Wintersong. And I love how she incorporates German folklore. She also draws a lot of inspiration from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, which is one of my most beloved movies. It contains layers and undertones in each shot, so I expect nothing less for Sarah’s debut novel.

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31338270A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Not too long ago, I finished reading City of the Lost, but I can’t even enough of it. Kelley weaves in these dark and twisted arcs that just hook you from the very start. This series is a departure from her fantasy realm, but she has touched on mystery, thriller, and crime in her other series, though. So I have a feeling this book will ignite a new love. City of the Lost is definitely one of favourites!

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Wrap-up: January 2017

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I’M BACK! Finally, I can blog full-time. 😌 I’ve been trying to catch up on my TBR pile on my shelf so I can be ready for the release of Victoria Aveyard’s King Cage and Kelley Armstrong’s A Darkness Absolute. And I have to throw in a little weirdness to boot.

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve fallen in love with this book. I adore Kelley’s fantasy work, and she’s known for that genre, but this series just brings an exhilarating twist to her repertoire. Her writing shines in City of the Lost. It’s one of her best works in the last few years, and I highly recommend. Kelley has a huge reservoir of stories, and you may feel overwhelmed. But the Rockton Thriller series steps away from previous characters and solely focuses on a solid psychological thriller. If you love her Nadia Stafford series, you’ll love this.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I cannot get enough of this series. Yes, there are some issues with the whole special snowflake syndrome, but, and I mean BUT, Victoria’s storytelling makes up for some of these problems, and she takes a new spin on that trope. Like The Hunger Games, Red Queen inspired me to take more risks with picking up YA books, and I’ll always be grateful for her work.

Reviews for both Red Queen and Glass Sword will be coming soon!

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Glass Sword has an X-Men feel to it with Mare, Cal, and the other newbloods (Reds with Silver abilities) looking to find, well, more of their kind. Mare and Cal try to deal with betrayal they never saw coming in Red Queen. And throughout the book, Mare struggles with herself, fighting an internal tug-of-war. Her transformation is hard to read. THAT ENDING. My feels can’t take it.

#freemare!

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The Boatman by Kat Hawthorne

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So my girl Kat hooked me up with her charming and dark little MG story revolving around a girl after my own heart. It has a dash of Coraline and a sprinkle of Tim Burton’s magic. Kat offers such a refreshing tale. I simply love this book.

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The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book looks wonderful in person. I read it back in late 2016, but it has always struck a cord with me. What is life? What is death?  The Oddity is one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking stories I’ve ever read.

I will always support small publishers. So if you want to do the same, go directly to the publisher and buy here.

Find my review here.

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Book Haul: December 2016

This month’s haul certainly isn’t big. But I’ve been dying to get my hands on these books. I’m not sure if I should have, since I’ve bought seventeen for Christmas. Did I say seventeen? Yes. And I still can’t fathom the number.

I hope these are great!

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong 26869354

Danya @ Fine Print (again!) got me into this series. I was a little hesitant with it, though. And at the time of buying, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Kelley has travelled down this suspenseful road before with her Nadia Stafford series. I love that she’s set City of the Lost in Canada. Many of her stories take place in the States. But when she weaves in a little Canadiana, I feel right at home. I’m almost done the book, and I definitely love it!

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 28374007.jpeg

I look forward to the sister dynamic in Three Dark Crowns. I’m also curious to see how the author plays off that and how it’ll affect each character. And I also love the fantasy part. How does the sisters’ ability change or hinder them?

I took a peek in the book, and I love the design! This book looks gorgeous. 😍

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0062421379Divergent Series Box Set by Veronica Roth

Thank you, Indigo Teen! I won this series through its giveaway. Yes, I haven’t read any of Roth’s work, since someone online decided to ruin the last book, but I’ve been hoping to tackle the series, though.

I’m starting to appreciate box sets more since I don’t have to wait until the next instalment. I hope this series is good!

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Wrap-up: December 2016

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December was a quiet month. However, reading threw me for an emotional roller coaster. Aall I want to do is grab some Kleenex, curl up, and ball until I have nothing left inside, then repeat the process. THANK YOU, LEIGH. I love you and your books, but you’ll be the death of me.

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS SERIES. My demon king is back and is hungry for more revenge. The gang has just lost its reward for breaking out a prisoner from the Ice Court. But how can Kaz outsmart the man who duped him? Dirtyhands with his scheming face always finds a way.

The ships! The ships have sailed, and I simply melted inside. 😍 How can I contain my squees? I can’t. Kaz killed it in this duology! And I can’t help but fall in love with Nina and Matthias. That ending destroyed me. I was a mess who couldn’t control her emotions. Why do you do this to me, Leigh? Why.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve just started reading City of the Lost, but I love it already. For a long time, I’ve been waiting for a great Canadian thriller. And naturally, Kelley writes it. She builds off every scene, and the next chapter is just creating more suspense. Kelley’s newest thriller will definitely be one of my favourites of the year.

Book Haul: November 2016

My poor and already full bookshelf. But I need more books. Scratch that thought. I need a bookshelf, not books. Uh, nope, that thought didn’t last three seconds. I’ll eventually get a new one. I think the suspense of reading these gorgeous books might kill me. Might?! Will. Definitely will.

22299763Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I’M NOT READY. I don’t want this series to end so quickly. Why? Why?! I need more people who feel the same way I do for this series so, at least, I can gush, cry over the characters, and not feel like such a possessive and crazily obsessed fan, or hopefully I can find more who think like me (thankfully I have Dana). The first book is just perfection mixed in six masterful POVs.

I can only hope for more stories of my perfect heist gang.

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20053031.jpgThe Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I will buy any book Ami publishes. I’m still waiting for the sequel of The Birth House. But seeing Moth again is such a great surprise! Moth, now named Adelaide Thom, has grown up.

When I found out Ami was publishing a new book, I wasn’t expecting to see Moth again. Now this book has a touch of supernatural, and  I’m always glad to get into that genre. Ami has a way to write an endearing, powerful female characters.

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rex-epub-cov2_origRex by Cody B. Stewart, Adam Rocke, and Mark Rogers

Oh look at it. I’m in love. It’s in my hands. FINALLY. I’ve seen some of the book’s birth through my friend Ellie, who is the publisher of Common Deer Press. And I’m so happy to see this book in the flesh.

You get a taste of E.T., Jurassic Park, and 90s scientific flare. I love how Rex gave me a little piece of my childhood back. You can find my review here.

Please, and I mean please, buy from small, indie publishers. The money made through direct sales will go to the publisher and authors, not a third-party seller!

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7ea7ea_e3a172eb0b7a42618cde0fc328529d09~mv2_d_1800_2475_s_2The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

It’s so much prettier in person. So much. The Internet and the ARC don’t do it justice.

Kat takes you on a cleverly twisted journey told through eloquent prose. She injects the consequences of right or wrong, fate, and genetic engineering. And just to keep you guessing, she then intertwines tarot card and its lure into the mix.

Check out my review!

Again, buy from indie publishers!

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25143847.jpgThe Boatman by Kat Hawthorne

I’ve been wanting to read this book since the first I heard of it in my Book Design course. So when Common Deer Press sent it with my Rex copy, along with The Oddity (which I wasn’t expecting either), I freaked.

Isabel is a girl after my own heart. This odd child not only sees dead things  but also has a cast of interesting friends: a talking ventriloquist’s dummy and a gentleman in the form of a spider named Monty, who wears a top hat. You had me at dead things, but you sealed the deal with a top hat-wearing spider. But to make things even more creepy, she creates The Boatman, who lures children to a sleeping illness.

I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this book! Thank you, Ellie! ❤️

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Witches of New York

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Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, is a weekly meme that showcases upcoming book releases that readers are eagerly awaiting.

20053031The Witches of New York

Ami McKay

Publication Date: October 27, 2016

Extent: 320 pages

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients.

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

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Why Am I Waiting?

Come on, it’s Ami McKay. Of course I’m waiting for her new book! She’s the creator of Dora Rare from The Birth House and Moth from The Virgin Cure. To date, she may have published only two books, but she has become a great Canadian author. And her books are always beautifully designed. They are a rare treat for any reader.

With The Witches of New York, I would love to see how Moth has adapted from a child prostitute to a woman who now calls herself a witch. How has she adjusted from her previous life?

Both of Ami’s books are rich in history and showcases strong women. Ami brings these quiet, yet profound, characters to the forefront, and she becomes a beacon for the unheard voice of women. I’m eager to read Moth’s new life in a world and a society where women have little say.