Owl and the City of Angels — Kristi Charish

27 Sep

owl_city

 

Publisher:Simon and Schuster Canada
Released: October 5th, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: ARC from publisher

 

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels…

From Goodreads

I prefer my urban fantasy with a bit of humour, a lot of snark and just a touch of romance. And I got all of these things in Owl and the City of Angels. This was a wild ride with lots of adventure and a heroine that doesn’t always play by the books.

This is the second book in the series and even though I didn’t read the first book, I wasn’t totally lost. There were some moments where I was a bit confused, but I actually like that. I really hate when authors completely rehash previous books in series. There was enough background about what happened in book one that I wasn’t struggling to piece things together but I also felt like if I had read book one, those short background sections wouldn’t have bored me to death.

Owl is a dynamic main character, not always 100% likeable but always relatable in some way. She can sometimes be a bit too independent and struggles with accepting help and also with trusting others. But this added to her character and the plot, because I also didn’t know whom she should trust. The other characters in the book are well-written and each brings their own dynamic to the story. And I have to take a moment to mention the cat. The cat was AWESOME.🙂

The plot was complex but not convoluted. The pacing was awesome and I loved the mixed of action and character development.

I enjoyed Owl and the City of Angels so much that I’m planning on going back and reading the first book in the series. And I can’t wait for the next book to come out so I can see what Owl is up to.

In a Dark, Dark Wood — Ruth Ware

26 Sep

 

 

darkwoodcan

 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Released: July 30th, 2016
Genre: mystery, thriller
Source: ARC from publisher

 

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

From Goodreads

This book was just delicious! Honest characters who don’t really know each other (or like each) stuck together at a house in the middle of nowhere and something happens. This is one of my favourite types of mysteries. It’s also the hardest type to review because I don’t want to give anything away.

Three quarters of this book had me on the edge of my seat. I knew something had happened but I wasn’t sure. The writing flicks back between after the event and leading up to it, leaving the reader feeling as unsure as Nora, the main character. I do feel that toward the end of the book things fizzled out a bit as far as the mystery goes but it wasn’t a huge letdown to me. It was the natural denouement of the story. It’s just that up until that point things were just so enticing that it was a bit of a jolt.

I’m fascinated by group dynamics (blame it on my sociology degree) and the way these characters interacted with each other just drew me in. No one is perfect, some of them are a bit on the crazy side and each one is dealing with their own baggage. This just added to the overall tension of the story and the mystery of what happened.

In a Dark, Dark Wood was a solid mystery, the perfect book for curling up with on a chilly fall night.

The Love that Split the World — Emily Henry

19 Sep

split

 

Publisher: Razorbill
Released: Jan 26th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

From Goodreads

I love, love, LOVE how this book starts. Right in the middle of the story, no preamble or backstory or lead in. Just BAM! there you are. Why this works so well is that it really gave me a sense of being off balanced, which is how Natalie feels for a large part of the book. Things are going on, weird things, and she isn’t sure why. Or even what sometimes. So the opening really put me in the middle of her feelings, and I just loved that.

The friendship between Natalie and her best friend Megan was spot on. As was the dialogue. So realistic and snappy and fun. But these two had a deep bond and that came across strongly, even during the moments of banter.

The timey wimey stuff was cool, too, although I have to admit I didn’t 100% understand it. And I’m not sure what happens at the end of the book. But I think that is more about me than the story or the writing. I tend to have a hard time wrapping my brain around that kind of thing.

Even though I was a bit unsure about the ending, I really, really enjoyed this book.

 

Waiting on Wednesday — Talking As Fast As I Can

14 Sep

new-wow

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

talking

 

 

 

My love of the Gilmore Girls knows no boundaries. Seriously. It is my religion. I absolutely ADORE this show. It’s a wee bit of an obsession. (Ask my hubs and he’ll say it goes beyond “wee”.) When Netflix officially announced it was bringing the series back for four ninety minute episodes, I cried. And not a gentle weeping with a tear or two. No, I am talking full on gulping wheezing crying.

So when I found out that Lorelai Gilmore herself was writing a creative memoir about all things Gilmore Girls I LOST MY SHIT. And there were more tears. And there may be tears as I type this.

I cannot wait to get my grubbies on this book. I am taking November 25th off to binge on all the new episodes. And you can guarantee I’ll be talking November 29th off to binge on this book.

The Serpent King — Jeff Zentner

13 Sep

serpent

 

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House
Released: March 8th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

 

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

From Goodreads

OMG this book. THIS BOOK. It started off nice and calm, an interesting novel about friendship, then a little over half way through it turned into one of those books that has you feeling ALL THE FEELZ and frantically turning the pages and talking out loud to yourself and wanting to take the author out for cup of tea to thank them SO MUCH for writing it.

I won’t go into the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything, and I generally don’t in reviews anyway, but this was one of the deepest and truest and loveliest and heart-wrenching friendship stories I have every read. And while there are other aspects to the plot, for me it was all about the friendship between Dill and Lydia and Travis.

I love when a book deals with emotions without being overly emotional and fake and that’s exactly what The Serpent King does. Zentner’s writing style is very quiet and honest, no big bells and whistles and I mean that as the biggest compliment. Big things happen, but he writes about them from a place of emotion and human connection and parts of this book just left me gutted.

I felt such a strong attachment to the characters in The Serpent King that I really, really wanted to know what happened to them after the last page of the book, and that really isn’t like me. But the story and the characters were so well and realistically written and I just felt like I was invested in their lives.

This was an amazing read and I can’t recommend it enough.

I’m baaaaaaaaack!

12 Sep

Hey, remember me? The book blogger who runs this blog? I used to post reviews and stuff? Yup, I’m still around. I just took a bit of a break from, well, almost everything but work for a few months. But I’m now getting back at it. So I’ll be posting reviews of books I get from authors, publishers and books I buy myself, starting tomorrow.  And probably some other bookish ramblings.

Happy reading!

Colleen

An Irregular Marriage — Margaret A. Westlie

25 Mar

marriage

 

Publisher: Selkirk Stories
Released: March 26th, 2016
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Ebook review copy from publisher

 

 

Isle of Skye, Scotland, 1803: Annie MacPhail is 18 years old and on her own. She has defied her parents and refused to follow them to Prince Edward Island. She is waiting for her sweetheart, Alistair, to marry her—but he is nowhere to be found. She has no home.

Belle, Alistair’s mother, takes her in as an apprentice. Belle says she is a wise women. The community says she is a witch. Under Belle’s guidance, Annie learns to be a midwife and a healer, but she also learns how to read the future in a crystal gazing ball.

Belle tries to disabuse Annie about Alistair. He is not very reliable and he may not even want to marry her. But Annie still believes in her sweetheart—until he returns and she learns the secret that Belle has been keeping from both of them.

Follow Annie and Alistair on their journey to Prince Edward Island after a very irregular marriage. Join the community of Prince Edward Island. Read An Irregular Marriage and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.

From Goodreads

I’ve mentioned this recently in another review, but it seems that I like historical fiction! I tend to shy away from the genre, but anytime I do read an hist-fic novel I really, really enjoy it. Such was the case with An Irregular Marriage.

I really loved watching the relationship between Annie and Belle bloom. Annie was lost in so many ways when she went to live with Belle and Belle really helped her to grow and come into her own. I love reading about female relationships where there is no back-stabbing and such. Where women actually help each other. And that was the case with Annie and Belle. They both helped each other in their own way and their closeness was wonderful to witness.

On the flip side, I didn’t enjoy the relationship between Annie and Alistair. It’s actually the only thing that I really didn’t like in the book. I think it would have been a stronger novel either without Alistair or if aspects of his story had been changed.

Because Bell is teaching Annie to be a healer, there were a lot of descriptions and mentions of natural medicines, which I really, really loved.  It was cool to read about the usage of different flowers and herbs. It’s something that I have an interest in, so it was nice to read about it.

Something else that was cool to read about was the food exchange and sharing that happened within the community. When Belle healed or brought a baby into the world, she was pretty much always paid with food or something else that she could use. I just loved the sense of community that was throughout the book, even though most thought Belle was a witch.

Westlie’s way with descriptions was just phenomenal. She painted great detail into her telling and I always felt like I was right there with Annie, sitting at the table have a cuppa. The dialogue was also spot on, the word choice and timbre really bringing the words of the characters alive.

I really enjoyed An Irregular Marriage and Westlie’s writing style. I look forward to reading more of her novels.