The Killing Game ~ By J.S. Carol – 4.5 Stars


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Thanks to NetGalley and Bookcouture for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

380 Pages

Synopsis: Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars. 

And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.

You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you.

He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.

If he dies. You die.

You have four hours to stay alive.

What would you do?

Holy Mother Of God! The Killing Game is the first book I’ve read by Carol, but after staying up way too late–again–because I couldn’t tear myself away, it definitely won’t be my last. This is the type of book that immediately grabs you and never lets go. It actually reads like a pulse-pounding action movie and I have to admit I was completely stressed out reading it. The characters are so well-written that I felt as though I was there, trapped in the restaurant with this madman while he played these horrific cat-and-mouse games with his victims. More than once I found myself fearful to turn the next page. The chapters alternate between four characters: JJ and Alex King who are trapped in the restaurant, and Rob and Seth, who are part of a news station covering the story. This gives you a well-rounded perspective of everything that’s unfolding. I actually welcomed the outside scenes because they provided a much needed respite from the tension inside the restaurant. As the body count rises, the mystery of why the killer is doing all this becomes a huge part of the story. He’s extremely unpredictable and it’s impossible to guess what he’s going to do next, let alone what his endgame is. There is more than one twist and I was actually surprised when the motive behind his actions was finally revealed.The only criticism I have is that I wish some of the characters had been a little more developed. I really liked JJ and Alex, and found myself completely invested in them emotionally, but Seth and Rob for the most part came off as your stereotypical tabloid journalists who would do just about anything to score a scoop. I also wish some some of the other hostages had a little more backstory, but honestly, the story is otherwise so well written that these are minor complaints. In the end, The Killing Game is a nail-biting thriller that I guarantee you’ll be hard pressed to put it down once you’ve started. I highly, highly recommend this to fans of thrillers and suspense novels. 

Spirit Day 2016



I didn’t realize what today was until I saw my friend Vinnie’s post at


For anyone who’s unfamiliar, the idea for Spirit Day began with one incredible teenager, Brittany McMillan, who wanted to take a stand against bullying and make sure young people who lost their lives to suicide would not be forgotten. Spirit Day was then started in 2010 as a way for people to support LGBTQ youth and to add their voices against bullying. Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday of October, during National Bullying Month, and is recognized as the most visible day of support for LGBTQ youth.


So put your purple on and please join in supporting these teens, not just today, but every day. No one should ever be made to feel so badly about themselves that the only way out is suicide.

For more information on how you can help please visit

By Gaslight~ Steven Price – 3.5 Stars


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Thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

752 Pages

Synopsis: London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a ghost, a fabled con, a thief of other men’s futures–a man of smoke. William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of a brutal detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead. His father died without ever tracing Shade; William, still reeling from his loss, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows. Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. When he receives a letter from his lost beloved, he returns to London in search of her; what he learns of her fate and its connection to the man known as Shade, will force him to confront a grief he thought long-buried. What follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and seance halls. Above all, it’s a story of the most unlikely of bonds: between William Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.

So first. Look at that cover. Doesn’t it just draw you in? That’s what initially captured my attention. Then, when I read the synopsis I though this was going to be the perfect read for me. While I did enjoy parts of it, I ran into a few problems. The first concerns the plot. The beginning immediately sucked me right in, and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the middle of the story. Then things slowed down so much that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish. I think this was partly because it badly needed some more editing. There really wasn’t any reason for this book to be over 700 pages long. If even a couple of hundred pages had been taken out this would have been a much tighter story. What also slowed things down for me was the author’s seeming disdain for punctuation. I feel a little hypocritical bringing this up because punctuation isn’t exactly my strong suit, but I don’t think Price used quotation marks even once. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but it made the story extremely difficult to follow at times, particularly when it was switching between time periods and people. I liked the characters and found them interesting, but what really kept me reading was Price’s vivid description of the various settings. Whether the characters were in South Africa with the dangerous Boers and their control of diamond mines; or Victorian London, from the ton’s beautiful drawing rooms to its opium dens and brutal penal system; or the ugliness of the American Civil War and the Underground Railroad–I felt as though I was witnessing events first hand. While the middle part of the book was slow, the pace picked up in the last part of the book and the ending was quite satisfying. Despite its issues, Steven Price truly writes in a beautiful and descriptive way which makes the historical periods he’s focusing on come to life. Because of this, I would definitely try a future novel by him. If you like historical fiction with a nice dose of mystery, you might want to take a look at By Gaslight.

Glitter ~ By Aprilynn Pike – 1.5 Stars




Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: October 25th, 2016

384 Pages

Synopsis: Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century–with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison. 

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play…blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.

Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.

But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret–falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls–is one risk she has to take.

I’ve always been fascinated with Versailles since I did a report on Marie Antoinette back in the 6th grade so I was quite excited when I saw that the popular YA fiction author, Aprilynne Pike was coming out with a new book with the Sun Court as the setting in a futuristic world. Sadly, while the world-building is intriguing, the main character, Danica, is simply reprehensible and in my opinion, by the end of the book, beyond redemption. I don’t mind having a protagonist who’s not pure as the driven snow. Some of you may remember from my review a couple weeks ago that I loved the serial killer Ryann in Kelly Charron’s Pretty Wicked. The problem here is Danica’s personality. She’s a whiny, impulsive, selfish-indulgent brat, with absolutely no moral compass. I understood her desperation to escape, but there are certain lines that you just don’t cross. I knew from the premise that her character was going to be morally ambiguous, but the author could have done so much more to develop her character. But, no. At the end of the book, she’s the same self-centered, ignorant girl that she was at the beginning, even after her actions cause two deaths. Saber, her partner in crime and eventual love interest, actually came off somewhat likable at first. While he’s part of the drug dealing scheme, it’s obvious from the beginning that he’s doing it against his will and the mystery is why? I loved that he had no problem showing his contempt for Danica and what she was doing. My problem was, when their passionate feelings ignited, it just wasn’t believable, because of his distaste for her. The secondary characters were cookie-cutter charicatures, and aren’t even worth  mentioning. The world-building is beautiful and imaginatively written which is the only reason why I’m giving this 1 1/2 stars. However, it’s just not enough to make up for the many other flaws. The ending makes it obvious that there will be a sequel, but I can emphatically say I won’t be wasting my time reading it. Overall, this is a book with a creative premise, but whose characters and plot are so poorly executed I had to really push myself to finish. While this was a huge disappointment for me, there are readers who liked it, so if you’re intrigued with the premise, as always, I advise you try it for yourself. 

The Rains (Untitled #1) ~ By Gregg Hurwitz – 4.5 Stars


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Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: October 18th, 2016

353 Pages

Synopsis: In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding.

Most of the kids they know have been dragged away by once-trusted adults who are now ferocious, inhuman beings. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen–and Patrick’s birthday is only a few days away.

Determined to save Patrick’s life and the lives of the remaining kids, the brothers embark on a mission to uncover the truth about the parasites–and what they find is horrifying. Battling an enemy not of this earth, Chance and Patrick become humanity’s only hope for salvation.

Before I begin my review, a word of caution: The Rains is not for the faint of heart. Some of the scenes are so graphic that they actually made even me a tad queasy, and I have a pretty strong stomach for blood and gore. But it also fits in within the theme of the story, so for me, it wasn’t generally a problem. For anyone who doesn’t recognize the author’s name, Gregg Hurwitz is a bestselling and prolific author of adult fiction written for the suspense/thriller genres. He’s one of my favorites, so I’ve been chafing at the bit since I heard he was going to try his hand with YAs, and The Rains does not disappoint. It’s a completely unique take on the popular zombie apocalypse trope, where the action takes off from the very first page and never lets up. This also is not your typical zombie story and that’s because of the very real and touching relationship between Chance and Patrick. I honestly just loved these two, but especially Chance. The chapters are laid out as “Entries” in a journal he’s keeping, so you get more of a personal look into his mind than anyone else’s. 15 year-old Chance and 17 year-old Patrick have already had to deal with the tragic loss of their parents before alien spores infect all the adults in their small town. They’re extremely close and Chance idolizes his good looking, popular big brother, but he also feels the pressure of walking in his shadow. While it would be completely understandable if he held some resentment toward his brother, especially as he also has a crush on Patrick’s girlfriend, Alex, he doesn’t. Instead, he turns inward, and is constantly trying to live up to his brother’s example. Patrick actually annoyed me a little in the beginning because he’s a little too perfect, but Gregg Hurwitz does such a great job at fleshing out his personality that my annoyance didn’t last long. The secondary characters, particularly the kids are equally well developed and I even felt a certain amount of sympathy for the local juvenile bully. The only disappointment I had was with the relationship between Patrick, Alex, and Chance. While there’s not much room for romance in this first book, there’s definitely some hints to a love triangle developing in the next book, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Hurwitz rethinks this. The pacing in this is absolutely insane! I started reading this about 7:00 last night and by about 10:00 pm, I kept thinking at the beginning of each chapter that it would be the last one and then I’d go to bed, but I just couldn’t stop reading. So, I was up until the wee hours of the morning because I just had to see the story through to its finish. The ending is a perfect cliffhanger in that it leaves me excited for the second book without being frustrated. I highly recommend this for older teens and adults who love science fiction and horror. If you’ve never read anything by Hurwitz, The Rains is a great book to start with. If you’re already a fan of his, this book will further cement your love of his writing.

The Incident Under The Overpass (The Traiteur Trilogy #1) ~ By Anne McLane – 3.75 Stars


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Thanks to the author for providing a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

225 Pages

Synopsis: It’s been fifteen months since Lacey Becnel’s unfaithful husband suddenly passed away, leaving her her to sort her feelings of anger, love, and loss. Her dead-end job, once a life raft, but now just endless days of boredom, leave her wondering where exactly her place in life should be. 

But when she awakens under an overpass near her home, next to Nathan–a man she met just hours before in the streets of New Orleans–she begins a journey of discovery that some might call supernatural. In the days that follow, Lacey and Nathan try to sort out the events of the evening, and it becomes clear that he might be the target of a murder plot, and she–somehow–have the power to heal.

Lacey uncovers a link both powerful and deep, a connection to her dead husband’s family and the traiteur tradition, a centuries-old faith healing practice. As she becomes more embroiled in Nathan’s danger, the more confused she becomes about her feelings for him. Will she ever fully understand her abilities, or will the danger surrounding Nathan bring things to an abrupt end?

I know. You’re probably looking at my rating for this wondering “what the heck?” The thing is, I’ve been waffling over whether to give this a 3.5 rating or a 4.0, so after three days of indecisiveness this is my compromise. First, I want to say that for the most part I enjoyed The Incident Under the Overpass. I liked Lacey and her droll sense of humor. Her character is made even more interesting as she’s not only dealing with these sudden mysterious powers, but also with the loss of her adulterous husband the year before. She’s been through so much which gives her a sense of vulnerability, yet at the same time she’s fully capable of taking care of herself. The secondary characters are well written, but my favorite is Tonti, her husband’s aunt. The scenes with her and Lacey are my favorites in the book. I also liked the setting of New Orleans, and I think Anne does a marvelous job bringing her native city to life. The fantasy aspect regarding Lacey’s sudden healing powers is written in an imaginative way, but leads to one of my issues with the story. There’s virtually no explanation as to how she may have attained these powers beyond that they’re somehow connected to her deceased husband and his family. I kept thinking right up until the end that there was going to be an “Ah Hah! moment, but there wasn’t. Another issue is with Nathan. I absolutely LOVED him, but in my humble opinion he wasn’t in the story enough. After the first couple of chapters, he just seemed to pop up now and then and because I liked him so much, this just wasn’t enough for me. And finally, my last problem is with the dialogue between the characters, which came off a bit clunky and stilted at times. It was just distracting enough that it slowed the otherwise fast pace of the story. Despite these issues though, I still recommend The Incident Under the Overpass, to readers who like urban fantasy. It’s a unique story with great characters and it stands out from many other books in this genre. I’m hopeful that some of the wrinkles I found in this first book will be smoothed out in the next. I will definitely be picking up the second book in this promising new trilogy when it’s released. 


The Big Book of Jack the Ripper ~ edited by Otto Penzler – 4.5 Stars


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Thanks to NetGalley and Vintage for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

752 Pages

Synopsis: Of the real-life serial killers whose gruesome acts have been splashed across headlines, none has reached the mythical status of Jack the Ripper. In the Ripper’s wake, terror swept through the streets of London’s East End in the fall of 1888. As quickly as his nightmarish reign came, Saucy Jack vanished without a trace, leaving generations to speculate upon his identity and whereabouts. He was diabolical in a way never seen before. A killer who taunted police, came up with his own monikers, and ultimately, got away with his heinous crimes.

More than a century later, the man from hell continues to live on in the imaginations of readers everywhere and in some of the most spectacularly unnerving stories, both fiction and non-fiction, ever written. The Big Book of Jack the Ripper immerses you in the utterly chilling world of Red Jack’s London, where his unprecedented evil still lurks.

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper is made up of a huge assortment of both non-fiction and fiction which makes for some fascinating reading. The first section covers the factual aspects of the case including: newspaper articles, statements from witnesses as well as ones by authorities and doctors involved in the case. Also included are some fascinating theories from some of the world’s most respected Ripperologists. Given what was done to the murder victims, this isn’t exactly easy reading, especially the autopsy reports. These chapters provide an intimate look at not only the crimes, but the women themselves and their poverty-stricken lives. While there’s not a lot here factually that’s new for readers familiar with these unsolved crimes, it still makes for some fascinating reading. The rest of the book features more than 40 fictional stories. Some are reprinted classics by authors such as Robert Bloch, Ellery Queen, and Marie Belloc-Lowndes. Others are brand new stories by contemporary authors like Jeffery Deaver, Anne Perry and Lyndsay Faye. Some are short stories, while others are novellas and even short novels. Despite its hefty length, the format is very easy to follow and you can easily put it down and pick it up hours later, without losing your train of thought. I highly recommend The Big Book of Jack the Ripper as a must have for anyone who’s fascinated by this unsolved crime. 

The Secret City (The Alchemist Chronicles #2) ~ By C.J. Daugherty & Carina Rozenfeld – 4.5 Stars


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Thanks to NetGalley and Atom for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

368 Pages

Synopsis: Locked away inside the fortified walls of Oxford’s St Wilfred’s College, surrounded by alchemists sworn to protect them. Taylor and Sasha are safe from the Darkness. For now.

But time is short. In seven days Sacha will turn 18, and the ancient curse that once made him invincible will kill him, unleashing unimaginable demonic horror upon the world.

There is one way to stop it.

Taylor and Sacha must go to where the curse was first cast–the medieval French city of Carcassonne–and face the demons.

The journey will be dangerous. And monsters are waiting for them.

But as Darkness descends on Oxford, their choice is stark. They must face everything that scares them, or lose everything they love.

Now this is a case where the sequel builds upon the the previous book and winds up being even better! Back in December, I gave The Secret Fire only 3.5 stars mainly because I didn’t care for Sacha and Taylor, and I thought the secondary characters needed much more development. Well, The Secret Fire addressed all those issues and was quite enjoyable. Sacha’s smugness and arrogance that irked me so much in the first book is gone here. He’s extremely supportive of Taylor and on more than one occasion, willing puts his life in danger to protect hers. Taylor, who I thought had absolutely zero personality has developed into a sweet, caring girl who has plenty of courage, but continually battles with self-doubt. Partly because of all the action taking place, their romance develops slowly and believably. Taylor is also immersed in her studies as she’s desperately trying to find a way to save Sacha before he turns eighteen. While she’s busy, Sacha is left feeling a bit like a third wheel, which is understandable given the circumstances. He has no powers, so he’s unsure of his place which leads him to be a bit reckless at times. By the first half of the story though, they’re back to working together. They’ve developed into such engaging characters I couldn’t help but cheer them on. Louisa and Alistair who weren’t well-developed in the first book, are the perfect supporting cast in this. You find out so much more about them, especially Louisa whose harsh personality is tempered this time around. Their relationship never takes away from what is happening with Sacha and Taylor. The plot continues from the original storyline and adds a new villain, who’s not really original, yet still manages to be interesting. The story unfolds at a very quick pace and the exciting conclusion leaves little doubt that there will be a third book. I highly recommend The Secret City to teens and fans of YA fantasy. I’m eagerly anticipating the third installment!