~ After suffering a miscarriage, Emma Scott and her husband John are traveling west to start over. As they’re passing through small town Cavus, Montana, their car breaks down, and taken with the friendly residents, and bucolic atmosphere, they decide to stay a few days. Maybe in this idyllic setting, they can try to save their failing marriage.
But, underneath its charm, Cavus is hiding an ancient evil which is now consuming everyone in its path. Soon only a small group of people including Emma and John stand in its way, but what sacrifies will they have to make in order to destroy a malevolent force that’s determined to move its battle far beyond the outskirts of Cavus?
I haven’t had much luck with the last couple of horror stories I’ve read, but Consumption had everything I look for in a good scare! Cavus on the surface is this sleepy little town whose sole claim to fame is it’s annual Black Squirrel Festival. Sounds cute doesn’t it? Well then you find out the true history behind this mining town, and suddenly things get a lot more creepy. The monster, known by the catchy moniker “The Feeder”, is an intelligent and ancient being which slowly takes over it’s victims by bringing out their darker selves and giving them a taste for human flesh. This is a highly original spin on the whole zombie mythos. And it’s not just after adults. Nope. It REALLY loves children.Thankfully one of the ways you can tell if a person has been infected is their extreme fear of dogs. This is because dogs are so pure of heart; which we all knew that already, right?
Poor Emma and John are just trying to make a last ditch effort to save their marriage when they stumble into this madness. They are saved several times by their sweet dog Maxie. Since I have a problem with cute pets being killed in the horror genre, I really appreciated that despite a couple of close calls, Maxie makes it. The other members of the intrepid band of heroes include: Jarvier, a young illegal immigrant working hard to help support his mother and baby sister; Star, a young teen who has lost her mother and now has lost trust in her father; Riley, the amiable sheriff; Izzy, Riley’s cute daughter; Bunny, Riley’ s rather weird aunt; and finally, Pill the elderly gentleman who has a journal belonging to his deceased wife, which is the key to their survival. As these characters come together, it’s fascinating seeing them move from distrusting one another to reluctant acceptance. The story builds slowly, but steadily as you get to know the town and its inhabitants. The chapters are told from different views, but in no way was this a distraction. Once Pill enters the picture and the journal entries unveiled, everything comes together. Consumption is disturbing at times both with the blood and gore, as well as the fate of some of the children. The only reason why I didn’t rate this 5 stars was because there were a few loose threads that weren’t completed. That said, this debut fully embraces everything fans of this genre want to see, and adds a unique flavor all of its own. Consumption has been billed for fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Sarah Lanagan. After reading it, I have to agree. Just don’t read it right before bed! As it’s under 300 pages, you’ll have a tough time putting it down!
I know I just did one of these on the Mighty Maleficent, but since I just reviewed Spelled, I thought I’d share this gem with you.
“There’s really nothing to fear but fear itself. And trolls. Fear and trolls. Oh, and I guess gigans and dragons too. And can’t forget wicked witches. Yeah, I guess there really is a lot to fear.
– Prince Charming –
~ Spelled, By Betsy Schow ~
I received this e-Arc from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 6/2/15
~ As the Crown Princess of Emerald, Dorthea has everything she could possibly want; including Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. Everything that is except for her freedom. When her parents try to force her into marriage with the unlikable Prince Kato, Dot rebels and makes an ill-fated wish that leaves her world in shambles. Now it’s up to her to make things right, all while avoiding the wicked witch who set things in motion and now wants to kill Dot.
Talk about unhappily ever after!
~ “Girl of Emerald, no man can tame. Burn down the world, consumed by flame” ~
Once again I picked a book purely based one the cover. Yes, this is a weakness of mine despite being burned in the past. Thankfully, overall, I enjoyed Spelled. Phew!
In the beginning 16-year-old Dorthea, or “Dot” is a complete spoiled brat, and it’s difficult to have any sympathy for her, despite her being trapped in her palace due to a curse hanging over her family’s heads. However, she evolves from pampered princess to strong, capable heroine and it’s quite fun to watch her transformation. With the kingdom in shambles after her ill-fated wish, Dot is the only one who can make things right. She’s accompanied on her journey by Prince Kato, much to her displeasure. It is definitely not love at first sight for these two! Kato is perfect though for the self-involved princess, and throws some much-needed cold water in her face, figuratively speaking. Kato’s been turned into a rather cuddly chimera thanks to the wish and this makes things even more interesting. While they start out disliking each other, as they embark on their quest, they actually bring out the best in each other. Their romance develops slowly and takes a back seat to the action much of the time, but that’s just fine. Also along for the ride is Rexi, a snarky servant who has no sympathy for Dot, and ha s some of the best lines in the book. She also winds up being Dot’s first friend which is sad, yet touching. When the curse kicks in, Dot becomes much more empathetic as she struggles with using her new powers. She’s terrified of becoming evil like the Gray Witch who has set these events in motion, and is now doing everything she can to kill Dot, including sending her demon puppies after her. Wait…what? Yep! You read correctly. There are evil golden retriever puppies that fly and pee acid. They’re still adorable though.
Unfortunately, this brings me to what I found problematic with the story. While the fairytale mash-up is cute and borrows from everything, including; The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, and even the tv show Once Upon A Time, the cleverness actually winds up being a little distracting. The same goes for all the puns. I felt the same way when I saw Shrek. By the time I was halfway through, I found myself rolling my eyes instead of laughing. However, as a first book in a new series, I think this shows a lot of potential. Hopefully in the next one Betsy Schow will lavish more attention to this marvelous new world she’s created and it’s intriguing characters, and not so much on cute one-liners.
Release Date: 6/2/15
~ They’re the last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.
As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.
After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane–but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.
When I saw this offered on NetGalley with that gorgeous cover. I must confess I thought “MINE!”. So, did the story live up to the cover? For the most part, yes. I now have a new book crush in the form of Simon Archer. Despite his being a bit of a ladies man, he’s also a gentleman. Plus he’s covered in druidic tattoos from which he draws his magic from. And, well, just look at him! He’s gorgeous! He’s also willing to sacrifice himself for the people he cares about. Once he teams up with Kate to track down her missing sister, and to discover exactly what the werewolves are up to it’s immediately clear that they’re perfect for one another.
Kate is the perfect heroine. She’s a brilliant alchemist who has no patience for polite society, yet has little problem moving among them. She’s also extremely patient with her unappreciative younger sister Imogene. And finally, Kate’s is the cooler head that prevails when other team members are prone to act rashly.
I’ve been having issues with romances in the last few books I’ve read, but the one between Simon and Kate was simply perfect. It slowly evolved through the course of the story, and it will be fun to see how it develops further in the next two books.
The monsters are truly horrible, especially the ones created by the book’s resident mad scientist. At the same time, the way they are written, you can’t help feeling a certain amount of sympathy for some of them.
There were a few things that stopped this from being an absolutely perfect read for me. First there’s Simon’s mentor, Nick. I really didn’t like him. He has several different magical talents, but doesn’t tend to be inclined to use them to help others, unless he’s bullied into it. Instead he prefers to spend his time drinking and gambling. He does however care deeply about Simon, and manages to redeem himself somewhat near the end of the book.
I also found myself conflicted regarding Malcolm. He’s a courageous and valiant fighter, but tends to see everything in black and white. His hatred of “monsters” and werewolves in particular clouds his judgement. This is especially apparent when a little werewolf named Charlotte attempts to help them. Malcom just cannot seem to get over his abhorrence for her kind, and this ultimately causes trouble for the team.The second book features him, so I’m hoping we’ll learn more of his backstory, and why he’s like this. His love interest is another team member who I loved. Penny is a mechanical engineer with a fantastic personality who isn’t afraid to kick butt. I’m thinking she’s exactly what Malcolm needs.
And there’s the story itself. The worldbuilding is great and it’s filled with plenty of thrilling adventure. The only problem was that after the first few action scenes they seemed to me to be quite similar. That said, the fight scenes were so incredibly descriptive, I felt like I was there. I also appreciated that Kate and Penny more than held their own. There’s a mystery involving Kate’s deceased father which evidently has a direct correlation to the larger plot. Although there’s a couple of things that are unveiled, the larger picture is simply teased at, and I found this to be a tad frustrating.
Overall, The Shadow Revolution is a worthy addition for fans of Alternate History, Steampunk, and Urban Fantasy. Even better, the next two books are being released the end of June and July, so readers won’t have long to wait to see how this exciting adventure plays out.
16-year-old Scarlett has lost both her parents but that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to clean-up crime in her hometown. When a little girl named Gemma begs her to find out why her older brother has been acting so strangely, her investigation leads her to a conspiracy involving cults, curses, and Jinn. When she discovers that her family has ties to this supernatural world, she realizes she may finally be able to solve her father’s murder.
There are so many things I loved about this book starting with Scarlett. This is the first YA book I’ve read featuring a Muslim American and I thought the author did a great job detailing the Islamic religion without having it take over the story. With her father murdered, and mother having died from cancer, she and her older sister Reem are left on their own. Intertwined with the current story are Scarlett’s childhood memories which are truly touching. My favorites are the ones describing Scarlett and her father reading One Thousand and One Nights together. These memories are so precious, she still keeps the book close to her. While Reem finds solace in Islam and working long hours at an inner city hospital, Scarlett graduates high school two years early and since she’s had little luck solving her father’s murder, she takes on cases with the help of a sympathetic police detective that which she has much more success with. She may be an orphan, but with her sassy, take-no-prisoners attitude, Scarlett never gives you time to feel sorry for her. She carries a blackjack for protection, and is proficient in martial arts, yet despite her tough exterior, she has a soft spot for vulnerable children and dogs. When cute, goggle wearing 9-year-old Gemma first approaches Scarlett with her concerns about her brother Oliver, Scarlett’s first reaction is to politely rebuff her. But then she discovers that Oliver has ties to another boy who committed suicide. As she starts investigating, she finds out that Quinn’s suicide isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, and suddenly she has her hands full with murderous Jinn worshipping cultists. Adding to the intrigue is that her biggest lead is a mysterious family relic, which she and her sister haven’t paid much attention to up until now. Scarlett and Reem are very close despite Scarlett having drifted away from Islam, while Reem has begun wearing a hijab. It’s obvious that they both have a deep respect for one another. Scarlett has persuaded her sister to let her put off college for a few years while she pursues her passion for solving mysteries. While Reem sees how being a PI has saved Scarlett from getting into far worse trouble on the streets, she insists they attend Friday prayers with together, but Scarlett in no way resents her. Indeed, it’s their shared Muslim heritage that helps keep them close. The secondary characters add even more layers to this wonderful story. Her mother’s best friend Delilah, a Jewish white woman, helps keep an eye on her, and her son Decker moves from best friend status to potential love interest quite sweetly. Detective Morales who investigated their father’s murder stays involved in their lives, as does Mook, who is Scarlett’s self-described “guardian angel”. While it’s Scarlett’s strong voice that takes the forefront, the other characters bring the story together. This is one of those rare books in which I actually found the characters more fascinating than the story. It’s not obvious if this will be a series, but I hope Jennifer Latham continues with further adventures. If you’re feeling nostalgic for Veronica Mars and you enjoy a light mystery with a diverse cast of characters, I recommend you try this. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
~ Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests, and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and it’s shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows–everyone knows–that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
While I didn’t like this quite as much as Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking Temeraire series, it was still an enjoyable, if slightly predictable fantasy. 17-year-old Agnieszka lives in a small village in a country that is similar to 16th century Poland. It’s a beautiful and picturesque setting except for the deadly Wood which literally comes alive and kills people in extremely gruesome ways. The story is told in the first person by Agnieszka, and relates her adventures, as she’s surprisingly chosen by Sarkan (the Dragon). Unbeknownst to the villagers, Sarkan chooses his young women, not for their looks but for the magic he senses in them. Agnieszka isn’t even aware she possesses any, until Sarkan begins training her. The early part of their relationship reminded me of Henry Higgins and Eliza Dolittle’s in My Fair Lady. Sarkan’s magic is more classic and sophisticated, while Agnieszka is gifted with “hedge-witch” magic, which is more steeped in nature. While initially scornful of Agnieszka’s gifts, she soon impresses him with the strength of her magic, and before long they are working together to save the kingdom from the encroaching Wood. I loved the way Novik brings her characters to life. Agnieszka is no stereotypical beauty. She’s admittedly clumsy, and cannot for the life of her keep her clothes clean. While she’s terrified of Sarkan in the beginning, it’s amusing to watch her rebellious actions, and the effect they have on him. When Kasia is taken by the Wood, Agnieszka moves heaven and earth to rescue her friend. Sarkan is arrogant, rude, and disagreeable, and the early scenes depicting the growing relationship between him and Agnieszka are at times hysterical. It’s clear that he’s never met anyone quite like her. Once they begin working together though, they make a formidable team, and it is only through their efforts that the kingdom is saved. About 3/4 of the way through, they become romantically involved, and I don’t think that it really added anything to the story. I don’t know if it’s me, but I’ve been finding this frequently in books lately. I found this relationship to be all the more annoying because I’m a little tired of young girls falling for centuries older men in fantasy. I honestly felt things would have been fine without any romantic entanglements. The story has plenty of action which kept me pretty much glued to the pages. My only disappointment was with the ending, which while ultimately satisfying, didn’t quite live up to the excitement of the rest of the story. Uprooted has been described as YA by some, but I’d feel more comfortable recommending this to adults, or NAs due to the graphic violence. It’s hard to tell if this is a stand-alone, or the first book in a new series, but I’d be interested in revisiting this new world Naomi Novik has created.