Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Book Review: Katzenjammer – Francesca Zappia

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Horror, Young Adult, Mental Health, Mystery

Review:

There was something heartbreaking about this story even from the first page. A shroud of gloom hanging over me, following behind like a shadow. A melancholy that stayed with me throughout the whole book. It takes exceptional writing to be able to project that solemnity through words and I think Francesca Zappia achieved that because this was a difficult story to write.

I could tell going in that Cat’s life wasn’t going to be easy, that there had to be a reason she couldn’t remember why she was trapped in school, why she and the other students were slowly transforming. There was an underlying symbolism between Cat’s lost memories to the horror in school, and things slowly come to light as you read on. How you can live the span of a lifetime in a heartbeat, how senseless cruelty can break you, how your mind shapes your world to shield you against hard truths.

I’m a person who firmly believes that the traumas you go through don’t give you the right to lash out at others and I don’t say that lightly, because I know what it’s like to be belittled, cut down to pieces until you’re nothing. But I also know that there are always consequences to every action, ripples and cracks that spread to break a person when you’re not strong enough to hold at bay the tsunami of water crashing to drown you.

I know many people won’t like this book. The events in this book are not easy or just, and a lot of people would hate the ending, but it was always going to end that way, and the author stayed true to the truths she was trying to convey.

Terrible truths that shape our reality and the world we live in. There are three sides to every story – yours, theirs and the unvarnished, unbiased truth. A lot of people won’t get that. This wasn’t a happy story but one that was necessary and needed to be told, one which took courage to write.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis: Cat lives in her high school. She never leaves, and for a long time her school has provided her with everything she needs. But now things are changing. The hallways contract and expand along with the school’s breathing, and the showers in the bathroom run a bloody red. Cat’s best friend is slowly turning into cardboard, and instead of a face, Cat has a cat mask made of her own hardened flesh. Cat doesn’t remember why she is trapped in her school or why half of them–Cat included–are slowly transforming. Escaping has always been the one impossibility in her school’s upside-down world. But to save herself from the eventual self-destruction all the students face, Cat must find the way out. And to do that, she’ll have to remember what put her there in the first place. Includes interior illustrations from the author.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Golden Enclaves (The Scholomance #3) – Naomi Novik

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Magic, Horror, Dark Fantasy

Review:

Orion Lake is an idiot. A big, fumbling idiot. Don’t get me wrong, I still like him. I still think he’s cute but he’s still a big annoying idiot. Anyone else who read The Golden Enclaves with me on this? Well, even if you’re not I still think he’s an idiot.

Just when the students of the Scholomance thought they’d gotten off scot-free, that the hard part was behind them, Naomi Novik throws us yet another curveball. Make that a dozen curveballs all hitting you at the same time so there’s no way to catch them all or time to run for cover. With this conclusion to the Scholomance trilogy, will El stay the course or finally step into the dark side?

Without giving away any spoilers, there were so many big excruciating, horrific revelations in TGE I felt bad for El who had to live through it all, endure all the pain and heartache. But we did get all the reasons why.

I have to admit that at times, it was annoying when the writing got too lengthy and wordy over scenes that could have been short and I was also a bit disappointed at the ending. I guess I wanted more ‘Oomph’ and a more deserving resolution for some things but I would still endorse the Scholomance series for its originality, fantastic storyline, and awesome characters.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Saving the world is a test no school of magic can prepare you for in the triumphant conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate.
The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out. Not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way. But it’s all we dream about, the hideously slim chance we’ll survive to make it out the gates and improbably find ourselves with a life ahead of us, a life outside the Scholomance halls.
And now the impossible dream has come true. I’m out, we’re all out–and I didn’t even have to turn into a monstrous dark witch to make it happen. So much for my great-grandmother’s prophecy of doom and destruction. I didn’t kill enclavers, I saved them. Me, and Orion, and our allies. Our graduation plan worked to perfection: we saved everyone and made the world safe for all wizards and brought peace and harmony to all the enclaves of the world.
Ha, only joking! Actually it’s gone all wrong. Someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in my stead, and probably everyone we saved is about to get killed in the brewing enclave war on the horizon. And the first thing I’ve got to do now, having miraculously got out of the Scholomance, is turn straight around and find a way back in.
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) – Naomi Novik

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Magic, Horror, Dark Fantasy

Review:

Senior year – now, what exciting new ways will the Scholomance come up with to make life hell for El and the other students? Sweeter yet, all the delightful ways to off you, make you kick the bucket, give up the ghost, go way of all flesh, croak, perish in the most excruciating of ‘accidents’ and eventually, rest in peace. You get the idea. 😉

In this second installment, El is put through further ordeals to lure her over to the dark side and turn her into the beautiful, evil sorceress that she has all the makings for. But our sarcastic, sassy heroine is determined to thwart all the signs leading to her dreadful destiny of reign of terror. I absolutely love her snarky attitude.

And we can’t forget our cute bumbling hero, Orion Lake, sending hopeful looks in her direction. The interactions between them just crack me up. It was even funnier this time around as they both tried to figure out if they were actually in a relationship or not.

The plotline got better, more complicated in The Last Graduate. The intensity level racked up, stakes got higher. By the end of it, I was in a shell-shocked state and of course, that is all the reason you need to devour this book.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.
At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) – Naomi Novik

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Magic, Horror, Dark Fantasy

Review:

Ever since I read Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik’s become one of my favorite authors. So of course, I follow all her new releases. The only reason I didn’t start A Deadly Education when it first came out is because I’m on a self-imposed Incomplete-Series ban. I still am — it kills me to have to wait for the last book in a trilogy/series so now I just hoard until the last book is out and I can binge-read. But A Deadly Education was so worth the wait.

Welcome to the Scholomance, a dark school of wizardry unlike any other, with monsters lurking at every corner—one second of inattention and you could end up really, really dead. I love this darker tint to wizardry, a grim outlook of magic and all the baggage that came with it. It was unique and fascinating with all its workings and dangers.

The main character, our beautiful sorceress-in-the-making, one Galadriel “El” Higgins, with her snarky point of view and her Wednesday Addams attitude, was a dark delight. She was such a myriad of contradictions and always, always fighting her own nature. She was a pretty amazing character. I loved all the insight into her personality, the little childhood stories which provided dark humor at times.

Now, onto her nemesis, the heroic, fumbling Orion Lake in awe of the dark sorceress. Oh my God, I found Orion just too cute with all his quirks. I enjoyed the interactions between these two a lot. And let’s not forget the side-characters who were compelling on their own.

I had a lot of fun reading this book! A Deadly Education is the kind of book that makes you love reading and that is the highest kudos I can give it.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.
There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.
El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Gallant – V.E. Schwab

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Gothic, Horror

Review:

Gallant wasn’t what I was expecting but that is not to say it was a disappointment. Far from it. In fact, from the first page, I was so invested in Olivia I needed to know what was going to happen next, and how her life would unfold.

I enjoyed the side characters a lot and I empathized so much with Matthew. I understood him, his frustration, his feeling of imprisonment caused by duty and obligation, the burden of responsibility, the grief of loss, the pain and guilt. I liked Olivia but Matthew was my favorite.

And is it weird that I found the Master of the House enigmatic? Creepy as he was, I was also fascinated by him. The ending wasn’t what I wanted but I can say that it was apt.

The measure of a good book, for me, will always be the author’s writing – masterful, interlocking words that bring to life the story so vividly in my mind that it allows me to live vicariously through the character. That is the best compliment I can give for Gallant.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn 

Synopsis:
Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.
Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.
Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.
Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Outsider – Stephen King

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: ThrillerHorror, Suspense, Mystery, Crime

Review:

Detective Ralph Anderson, in charge of an investigation of a horrific crime where all the evidence (fingerprints, DNA, security cams) pointed to one person, Terry Maitland, a respectable citizen. The thing was Terry had a solid alibi. Now a person who didn’t have a secret identical twin or a doppelganger couldn’t be in two places at the same time, or could he? There was a mystery here in what should have been a pretty open-and-shut case.

The Outsider was maybe number 10 on my TBR and I hadn’t planned on getting to it yet—you know how it goes when you’re a die-hard book dragon who, like a magpie with shiny things, gets distracted by other books. However, HBO released a TV show based on the book which moved the book up on my schedule. Continue reading “Book Review: The Outsider – Stephen King”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Bird Box – Josh Malerman

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Horror, Post Apocalyptic

Review:

I’m a big fan of Sandra Bullock so of course I watched the movie first and that’s how I found out about the book. The movie was excellent and at about the same time, my friend Drew @The Tattooed Book Geek gave the book a stellar review so of course that made me want to read the book even more.

The first thing that struck me about Bird Box was the easy flow of words. The author’s writing style was smooth and conveyed emotions and scenes in my head with a simplicity that made it a very enjoyable and fast read. Continue reading “Book Review: Bird Box – Josh Malerman”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy, Horror

Review:

Some stories reach out and grab you and refuse to let go. The Graveyard Book was one such story and my first journey into Neil Gaiman’s world. A young child’s entire family is killed and only the boy survives. However, the killer is still out there and determined to find the boy and erase him as well. Some angel must have been watching over the boy as he is found by ghosts and raised in a graveyard. They name him Nobody Owens and so starts the boy’s life.

Neil Gaiman’s writing was so good. From the first page, I enjoyed his words, the way the sentences flowed with an underlying wit that snuck up on you at times and made you smile and with an intensity for deep, grave moments that got to your heart and made you feel sad.
Continue reading “Book Review: The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) – Justin Cronin

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Horror, Post Apocalyptic

Review:

How do you end a story as epic as The Passage? When I started The City of Mirrors, I thought, surely it couldn’t possibly top the first two. Boy, was I wrong!

To recap: A couple of scientists come across a virus which can also cure any disease. One of them gets infected. Side effects—oh, just fangs,  a need for blood, an aversion to sunlight and the ability to infect many, many others with the same affliction. What does the remaining scientist do? Let’s bring it home, boys and experiment with it. Continue reading “Book Review: The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) – Justin Cronin”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Twelve (The Passage #2) – Justin Cronin

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Horror, Post Apocalyptic

Review:

After I finished The Passage, I dived straight into The Twelve. I was in the grip of The Passage Trilogy and I was obsessed with knowing what happened next in the story, especially with that title which indicated that this second book in the trilogy was focused on the twelve original virals. And boy was this a hell of a ride! Continue reading “Book Review: The Twelve (The Passage #2) – Justin Cronin”