TBR Challenge 2019: Something Different

Lady KillersLady Killers by Tori Telfer

RATING: 3.5/5

THEME: Something Different – sub genre I don’t read all the time

WHY? If you have noticed with all my reviews and wrap-ups and TBR, I don’t really read non-fiction books. They really don’t draw me in as other genres, but when I came across this book, I just had to pick it up. To be honest, the intro of this book totally sucked me in and I just could put it down.

REVIEW: As I stated, the introduction of this book is what drew me to buy it. The historian within me drew me with the statement that author exploits throughout her book, Female serial killers have been present as long as male serial killers. Althoughout the book, our author states facts on how our society as a whole have turned a blind eye on all the female killers from our past. Each one with a gory story behind them.

Telfer used a variety of work to create a story for her readers on how and why each female killers committed their crime. Some out of self preservation and others because they are drawn to such horrendous acts.  She also focuses her attention on a wide variety of women from different social classes and from different eras to back up her initial argument, that the female gender is not without malice.  Although you can argue that some of these women are not taught from right or wrong, or their is a lack of nurture from their background, Telfer argues that some women use these misgivings as a reason to commit these crimes.

Another, point that she makes as to why society has forgotten these female serial killers, is because our society is still living with the notion that the female gender is of the weaker sex and we are subordinate to the male species. With this type of thinking many forget that women can hold strength and power within them that society does not see. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying these women are the ultimate feminist and that they should be praised as being the first of our gender, but what I mean to say is that because these women are not really perceived as a citizen, many forget that they exist. Therefore, authorities look elsewhere for the perpetrator.

It really was fascinating to see how so many woman got away with murder back then and maybe even now. I feel that many still use their femininity to get away with crimes, maybe not murder, but a lesser crime. I feel that this book opened a door for me on the non-fiction genre that I can get into.

 

 

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads): This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Review: I’ve had this book on my shelf since the year it was released. Year after year, I include it in my TBR, but never really get around to it. I’ve hear many opinions regarding this novel, however, many agree that the story is full of cliche. Before going into it, I had my reservations on people’s judgement only because I feel that a book cannot be as cliche as everyone says it is. However, I fear that I’m very wrong with my thoughts. I wasn’t impressed with anything about this book and the only reason why I gave it a two is because the ending is actually interesting. Not so interesting that I would continue with the series, but interesting enough that I was generous with the rating.

Truth be told, I wasn’t wowed by the anything in the book. Actually, I haven’t read a book that I was disappointed in this year as much as this one. When people claim that this book took aspects from other books to create Red Queen, they really weren’t that wrong. In different parts of the book I felt that I was reading certain beloved books that was previously released. Obviously I’m being unfair with my judgments because most books used other classics as guidelines for their novels as well, but for me I feel that Aveyard took the modern stories and re-worded it. I feel awful for thinking that way because I know how hard authors work on with their books and to them it’s their love child. The problem is I saw too much of other books in Red Queen.

Anyways, the other thing that I wasn’t happy about was the world building. I can’t really reprimand her for this as much as the cliche aspect of her book because she goes in depth in her next few books. However, I was confused on the whole technology part of this magical world. All along I thought that this novel is purely high fantasy, so I was a bit confused when techs was introduced. I’m not really sure if that’s the fault of the author, since that is my own perception and Aveyard can’t really help that my expectations are what they are. I guess you could said that Red Queen at least have that different from other fantasy novels, but it’s really not a plus for me. I also wished that she at least gave an explanation on how her world came about. She talked a lot about a great war and this new war, but doesn’t really go into much details about it. Are we suppose to assume that there was a wold similar to ours and had to succumb to a more medieval society because of the devastation of the first war, or is this a whole different world, one that Aveyard created. She kept giving hints of different outcomes to the world that Mare lives in and yet never really developed anything concrete.  Maybe if the world building wasn’t compromised I would have enjoyed the book a lot more.

As for the characters. I didn’t really get attached to any of them. I admit I enjoy the friendly sibling jabs, but that’s really just about it. Mare wasn’t that interesting and besides the fact that she has power, I felt like I was reading a copy of Katniss. I don’t want to compare, but really as I was reading Mare in action I can’t help but think that she’s a pale copy of the famous Katniss Everdeen. Even the other characters reminded me too much of other characters that I’ve read from other books. I can’t. I’ll just leave it as this and be done with it.

Unfortunately I won’t continue with the stories, which sucks because I have the second book, but I really can’t imagine myself liking the rest of the series. I wish that I could be one of those who really enjoyed the book because I really wanted to like it. I usually am a sucker for these types of book, full of cliche, but I guess there’s too much that I couldn’t handle it.

 

Jenn McKinlay Cozy Mystery Review

I’ve been reading a few different types of cozy mystery now and I know what I like and don’t like. There are some series that I’ve kept up with and there are some that through the years, the books just diminished. One of my favorite cozy mystery author that I have really enjoyed is Jenn McKinlay. I’ve read three of her cozy mysteries and although I haven’t finished all the books within the series, I have a good grasp on her writing.

When I read cozies, there are a couple of things that I look for that would make me want to stick to the series.  (1) the main character, (2) the mystery and (3) the minor characters. These components are my main focus when reading cozies, because I feel that without these aspects, the book just falls flat for me. All three doesn’t have to be within the series, but at least one must be present that would make me want to continue on with the series. For me, Jenn McKinlay’s books have all three of these factors.

The one thing I really enjoy about McKinlay’s novels are her main and supporting characters. She does a very good job in writing her heroines and the people that she interact with. Truth be told, her relationships are amazing in each and every book, not just romantically, but also the friendships that she forms. Some are long time friends while others are new found friends, and yet the kind of bond that each of the characters have with the supporting characters make the book a lot more fun. However, although these main characters have a good support system, they’re very independent in their own way. They do need their friends from time to time, but its clear that these women are strong and independent ladies in their own right.

It may seem that I read these books just for the characters, but in reality, the mystery aspect in her books are also well written. Yes, most are very straight to the point, but I feel that as the series progress, and her characters get more complex, the mysteries get a lot more interesting. Each book can be read on its own, but I feel that you must start from the beginning to really enjoy all the different characters in all three series.

Now If you’re just entering into the world of cozy mystery, I would have to suggest that you start off with her Cupcake Bakery Mystery. I feel that it’s a lot more light and fluffy in terms of the characters and the mystery, but if you want more gritty substance, then Library Lover’s Mystery is the way to go. I’m equally into both series, five books in, and I have to say that Library Lover’s Mystery is a lot more serious than the Cupcake Bakery Mystery, but I feel that both are equally well done. I haven’t really gotten into Hat Shop Mystery, since I’ve only read the first book, but if I have to judge from the first book of all three series, then I don’t find the Hat Shop as strong as the first two I discussed. That being said, I’ll still continue on with her Hat Shop Mystery because it has a good set of cast and the series seems interesting enough.

Unfortunately, Jenn McKinlays books are not without quirks.  As much as I hate to say this, Mckinlay’s books have love triangles in them. Not very heavy, but the concept is there and the annoying back and forth is also very evident in the books. Fortunately, the books doesn’t start out with this love triangle, but as the book progress, certain revelation enter into the equation of the love interest. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all these things will eventually end in the next few books, because I don’t really handle love triangles very well (meaning not at all).

As for my personal preference. I really enjoy the Library Lover’s Mystery a lot more than the other two series. I’m not saying that the other two are not as good, I just really enjoy the characters and atmosphere a lot more in Library Lover’s. Out of the three heroine’s, I also really enjoy Lindsey a lot more than Melanie and Scarlette. I feel that I can relate to her a lot more than the other two protagonist. Like I said, that’s my personal preference, but I think everyone should try out at least one of McKinlay’s novels. They’er light, fun and a very quick read. It’s one of those books that you can’t put down once you’ve started.

Series Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Jackaby: 4.5/5 Stars
Beastly Bones: 4/5 Stars
Ghostly Echoes: 4/5 Stars
The Dire King: 4/5 Stars

Series Rating: 4/5

DISCLAIMER: This is a series review therefore I might write something that may give away something, therefore, be warned. I’ll try my hardest to be discreet and center my review on the first book, but I will touch up on the others as well, especially the last book.

SYNOPSIS OF JACKABY (from Goodreads): Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

REVIEW:  When I first picked up this book I didn’t really expect much because the rating in Goodreads is not as high as what I tend to pick up. The one thing that really drew me to the series are to covers. I love everything about them, the color, the silhouette and even the titles of the books, but like I said, expectations, not really high. So when I finished the first book I was pleasantly surprised that I really liked it. The setting, the characters and the paranormal aspect of the novel. I know that its not technically original, but for me it was like a breath of fresh air. Before this book I was reading more mystery novels and even if this does have mysterious aspect, it was still different. I guess its been awhile since I picked up a good paranormal novel.

I’m very much a character driven reader and the fact that I enjoyed this book so much just goes to show you that I enjoyed all the characters in this book. The bad, the good and the ugly. I especially love Abigail Rook, I think Ritter did a great job in balancing strength and femininity in Abigail. Since the role of woman is very different in the 19th century, I think Abigail handled herself very well, even though its really not very realistic that she would have kept her virtue intact, I still love that liberating move on her part. You have to admit, not many woman would have lived with a young man in those days and still be respected in society. That being said, I think Jackaby has a very modern thinking as well. Not only did he give Abigail the job of assistant, he didn’t really let her gender define her status. He may be callus towards her, but I feel that his actions would be the same and kept her equal to Douglas, his previous male assistant. I enjoyed Charlie as well because even with all of Abigail’s modern choices, he still loved her for who she is and would never have changed her. The ending was very heart breaking for me, but that’s just me. Like I said, the characters in this book is very unique and interesting in their own way. I would have love to read more of them, but I think four books is a good move for Ritter to make. I really enjoyed the character development for all of them and each one grew with each passing book.

I don’t know if I’m in a Georgian Era mood, but I loved everything about the atmosphere in this book. Not very accurate in how women and men were portrayed, but I didn’t really pick this book up for its historical accuracy. I just really enjoyed Ritter’s writing. It’s very fast-paced and well explained. It did take me awhile to understand the magical world in the last book, but by the end of The Dire King, everything was explained. I think I would enjoyed more information on the Cane family and their ancestry, but maybe a prequel will suffice or even better a sequel/companion? Anyways, I would like to read something from this world again and to see more from the characters in this book. I don’t think the story line of Abigail and Jackaby will be any good, but something in the same setting would be sufficient. As I read each passing book, the world just got better and bigger. More characters were introduced and the story became more complex, which I think is amazing. Each novel contains a mystery that is solved at the end of each book, except for the last one when Ritter tied up all four books into one big mystery. I don’t really think you can pick up the second book and know what’s going on since you do need to have a background on each character and story line.

The ending of this book broke my heart. I don’t want to go into details about it, but my heart is shattered. I understand why Ritter did what he did, but it still doesn’t stop me from having the same conclusion. I did wish that there was a bit more at the end, but hey, maybe the author is drawing it out for a sequel. If I had to choose one thing to be added to this series, it would be to add more magical creatures. I really enjoyed that Ritter wrote about the less known creatures and was able to inform readers that there’s more than just mermaids,  vampires and werewolves out there. The Dire King just shows how much Jackaby’s world extend to and I was hoping that it was used in the previous books.

Anyways, I highly recommend this series. I think it’s not being talked enough in the book community and if there’s a chance that more people pick it up, I think a lot more people would enjoy it. I can’t emphasize enough that I would want to read more from this world, and from this author. I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeves now that this series is done. I know that none can be done with this story arc, but there’s potential in the rest of the world.

 

March Wrap-up

Happy April Fools!

I can’t believe it’s April now and Spring is finally upon us! Although it’s still cold here in Toronto, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyways, for this month I’m not going to be doing my wrap-up and tbr at the same time because I will be participating in the O.W.L.s Readathon for the whole month of April, so stay tuned for my TBR.

This month I read a total of 9 books, but mostly are cozy mystery books. They’re my guilty pleasure. So good! Out of the nine books, only two are from my TBR, I just didn’t have the drive to pick up the Muse of Nightmares. I will, just didn’t feel it in March.

Here are the books I read in March:

These are the two out of three books in my TBR. I really enjoyed both books and wrote a review for Our Dark Duet, here, along with its predecessor. The Dire King is also the last book in the series, therefore, I’m most likely going to write a review for the whole series in the future. I really enjoyed it and love every minute of this series. It’s not my favorite, but still a good ending to a great series.

These are the six cozy mystery novels I read for last month. As of right now I’m up to date with two cozy mysteries that I’m currently following, which is The Booktown Mystery series by Lorna Barrett and The Food Lover’s Village Mystery series by Leslie Budewitz. I think this year I’m going to try to catch up on some of the cozy novels series that I have pending. I’m a big fan of Jenn McKinlay’s series’ therefore I have all three of her series pending as of right now and I hope by the end of this year I would have caught up to her and her fast speed writing.

Evelyn Hardcastle

I guess The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is the anomaly for my March, it was neither a TBR or a cozy, therefore it gets its own mention. I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to be writing a separate review for this so I might as well discuss my thoughts here. I gave this book 4/5 stars because it was a unique read. I love how Turton made the protagonist move from one character to another, re-living the same day over and over again, but never really re-creating the same story. At first, it got confusing, but eventually everything tied up very well in the end. I can’t really say much about the protagonist and if he’s a reliable character, but you do see his progression throughout the story. I love the fantastical elements in this novel, although it wasn’t flush out as well as it should, it did create a sense of mystery on top of the one that needed to be solved. Definitely, a great read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy mysteries.

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So that’s it for my Wrap-up for the month of March. I think it was a great month I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have a better month in April.

O.W.L.s Readathon & April TBR

HP Crest

It’s that time of the year again, when O.W.L.s is upon us. So we must bunker down and study, study, study!

Anyways, for the month of April I’m going to be participating in the O.W.L.s Readathon hosted and created by Book Roast on Youtube. This is actually the second year she did it and my second year in participating.

This year, it’s a lot more elaborate and she even has a booklet that she created, from scratch, on different careers that you can choose from. Please check out her video on the readathon for all the information and the amazing booklet she created. Here, I will only be listing down my own career path, but I will include all the prompts that she has for each class/exam.

The Career that I chose is Auror and I have to pass my ‘exams’ for Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration in order to pass my career choice. However, I will still try to pass all 12 of my classes. Please be aware that only one book can pass for each course. 

Anyways here are the prompts for each course and the books that I will try to read for subject.

Ancient Runes: Retelling

sherwood

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner: It’s been awhile since I read Spooner’s novel Hunted and since I enjoyed that I thought it would be fun to check out this re-telling of Robin Hood

Arithmancy: Work written by more than one author

Toil and Trouble

Toil and Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood: I was suppose to read this last year for another readathon, hopefully for this one I’ll get around to it.

Astronomy: Star in the Title

Sky without Stars

Sky without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell: I know nothing about this book except that it was released last month and it has Star in the title.

Care of Magical Creatures: Land animal on the cover

Dark Prophecy

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan: There are ostriches on the cover, I’m pretty sure those are land animals. Plus, as a bonus there’s also a magical creature at the front.

Charms: Age-line read an adult work

Murder on Astor Place

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson: I’m still debating about this book because I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to like it, but I’ll just put a different cozy mystery novel if anything.

Defense against the Dark Arts: Reducto Title starts with an “R”

red queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: I’ve been meaning to get into this series, so I think it’s time I finally pick it up for this readathon

Divination: Set in the Future

undying

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: This is the conclusion to their Unearthed duology. I’m expecting great things.

Herbology: Plant on the cover

A most curious murder

A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Buzzelli: There are plants on the cover and that is why it’s in my list. If I find a book that I already own that has plants on it, it might get replaced.

History of Magic: Published at least 10 years ago

murder-of-roger-ackroyd

Agatha Christie: I’m going to be reading an Agatha Christie, not this book, but it will be a Poirot murder mystery. Anything over 10 years I usually turn to the classic.

Muggle Studies: Contemporary

copy cat

Copy Cat by Alex Lake: I’ll always try to read a thriller for anything contemporary. I’ve been meaning to read this book since last year but never got around to it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have enough time to get to this.

Potions: Next Ingredient Sequel

On borrowed Time

On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay: It’s a cozy mystery series that I want to get on top of for this year.

Transfiguration: Sprayed Edges or Red Cover

Aces of shades

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody: It’s red as you can see. Plus, I own the book, one of the few the actually red.

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So that’s it for my TBR. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to get to all of these, but the ones that I have to get to are for Charms, D.A.D.A, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration. Let me know if you guys will be participating in the readathon and which career have you chosen.

I’m super excited for April to start and Good Luck to all those who are taking their exams!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Book you though you’d Hate but love

top-5

 

This weeks Top 5 is self explanatory. Basically list 5 books that you thought you’d hate but ended up loving. However, these books that I’m going to list, I didn’t technically hate, I don’t really pick up books that I think I would hate, but rather I picked them up because I was intrigued and ended up really liking them. Anyways, here is my top 5.

HuntedHunted by Meagan Spooner

I’ve read books co-written by Spooner, but never really got a chance to pick one up with her being the sole writer. I picked this up thinking it would be an interesting read, even though it didn’t get high ratings in Goodreads, I actually really enjoyed it. I loved everything about it, the world building, the heroine, and the even the mild fantastical elements.

Jackaby by William Ritter

I’ve had this book on my TBR for so long. Although I didn’t have much expectation from it, I still wanted to check it out. Im really glad that I did because I ended up really loving it and even went as far as reading the whole series! Yes, I actually finished a series that did taking me 10 years.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Yes, I included the last book in the series because the first three books I was Meh about (ok, except for Scarlet), but when it all came together in this last book, I was totally blown away. I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. I know that everyone raved about this series, but never really loved it until I read Winter.

I Let you GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I’m adding this thriller because it’s one of the few books in this genre that actually shocked me with the ending. It wasn’t so different from other thrillers that I’ve read, but it’s actually one of the few that has gotten my dumbstruck. Like I said, I didn’t hate any of these books, but I never really expected the outcome of this book and was pleasantly surprise at the shocker.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

This book would come close to the hate part of this topic. I didn’t start out hating it, but when I was reading it, the first half of the book was so boring and I just wanted to be done with it, I was actually planning on DNFing it. I’m so glad that I stuck to it, because its one of those hidden gems that everyone should read. The ending of this book is so twisted and dark that I couldn’t help but love it in the end.

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So that’s it for my Top 5 this Wednesday. I’ll try to do at least one a month if I can, but I’m really trying to focus on more review for this year.