Book Review: The Wicked Deep

Everyone has been raving about Shea Ernshaw’s The Wicked Deep, ever since it was first released early last year. I was finally convinced to give it a shot recently and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Sometimes the hype is actually deserved…

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the writing. You would never guess that this was a debut novel, as Ernshaw has such a wonderful way with words. I was constantly finding passages that I felt were speaking to me personally. And as a reader, there’s nothing greater than coming across writing that instantly connects with you. Another writing choice that I really appreciated was how Ernshaw would give us small chapters told from the sisters points of view, providing us a glimpse into what their lives were truly like before they were drowned by Sparrow. I’m such a sucker when authors choose to do little back and forth time jumps like this. It definitely adds more substance to the story and allowing us to see from more perspectives.

Other than the small time jumps into the past, the story mostly follows Penny and so we really get to know her over the course of the summer. She’s very closed off from the rest of the world, including the people of Sparrow. She sees her life on the tiny Lumiere Island as the only option for her future, as she takes care of her mother and the lighthouse. She also sees the curse of the sisters as justified punishment for the town, even as awful as it may seem. However, during the course of her budding relationship with Bo, she begins to open up. While Bo may be mysterious, he’s passionate and isn’t afraid to push Penny to her limits. I appreciated how they fed off of each other, especially considering their difficult personal histories.

Love is an enchantress - devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat..png

The only flaw with this book was that the plot twist fell a little flat for me. I had already guessed it very early on and was a little disappointed in seeing that I was correct. Now, I tend to guess a lot of mysteries or plot twists in novel, so this may not be as much of an issue for you as it was for me. I just really enjoy a twist that comes out of nowhere and I never see coming, which is few and far between. But with that being said, that didn’t ruin the story for me nor take away from my overall enjoyment. I still really enjoyed the journey and getting to learn more about the sisters and how their brief lives continued to affect Sparrow.

I think this was a really enjoyable debut novel. The atmosphere and setting really sold the overall plot and I could almost believe that Sparrow is a real town along the Oregon coast. But for me, the real beauty of this story was the writing itself. I think Ernshaw has solidified herself as an auto-buy author for me and I will definitely be picking up whatever she graces us with in the future. If you’re looking for an atmospheric mystery to curl up with on a cold day, I think this one is the perfect fit.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read The Wicked Deep? If so, what did you think of it? Were you able to figure out the plot twist beforehand? Did you enjoy the flashbacks? Do you plan on reading Ernshaw’s future novels?

Book Review: Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1)

As soon as I heard this book was being labeled as Anastasia-meets-Firefly, I knew that I had to pick it up. And I’m so glad I did. Ashley Poston’s Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1) was just the right amount of fun that will always keep my attention.

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

I really appreciated that the pacing of this book started off with a bang and never really slowed down. It kept my attention from start to finish. I have been struggling to want to read over the past couple of months, but this book helped get me back on a roll. I was even reading this instead of watching the football game… THAT NEVER HAPPENS. Poston’s writing is super engaging while being fairly straighforward, so don’t worry about it being either super flowery or technical. I know some people have a hard time reading science fiction due to the terms used, but this book isn’t bogged down by any crazy jargon. I never struggled to understand and visualize what she was writing about.

I really enjoyed each of the POVs that we get throughout this book. Ana is very independent and always getting into trouble. She isn’t afraid to face challenges head-on and I really liked that about her. Unfortunately, she’s always getting her android friend, D09, involved as well. D09 was probably my favorite character. I’m always partial to robot characters, as they tend to provide so much humor (see R2D2 & C3PO). It was also interesting to see how his personal story developed throughout the book. Then we had Robb, an Ironblood who carries some family baggage, and Jaxx, a Solani with a secret. These two are just too precious for words. I loved the back-and-forth banter and chemistry between them. All I want is for them to end up happy. And if I don’t get that, I will not be a very happy camper, lemme tell ya.

A moment of silence for.png

I didn’t really have any major issues with this book. The only thing that I wouldn’t have minded was if the romance didn’t take such a prominent place in the story. I love romance in my books, but I think both of the relationships would have benefited from a bit more buildup. But it was still fun and engaging, which are the things that I value most in a good book. Now, I don’t think this book will win any prestigious awards but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still appreciate it for what it is. I thought it was a fun twist on the story of Anastasia, without fully recreating it from start to finish. I like that there is enough originality to the story that what you will only be able to guess one small piece of the mystery.

If you’re looking for a good light and fluffy story, then I think Heart of Iron fits the bill perfectly. It was a good book to pull me out of my really long reading slump and I will forever be indebted to it for that, haha. But seriously, I do recommend this one if you’re not in the mood for anything to serious but just want to pick up book that will keep you invested until the end.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read Heart of Iron? If so, what did you think of it? Which POV was your favorite to read? Do you enjoy reading retellings?

Book Review: Antigoddess (Goddess War, #1)

I have never heard anyone talking about this book but when I read the synopsis, I knew I had to give it a shot. Greek gods fighting against each other in modern times? Check. Trojan War heroes being reincarnated? Check. Gritty urban fantasy courtesy of Kendare Blake? Check. So basically everything I could ever ask for in a book. And let me say, Antigoddess (Goddess War, #1) ended up being just as entertaining as I was hoping for.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

Kendare Blake really knows how to write dark stories and it definitely shows in this book. The action is fairly graphic and gritty, painting some not-so pretty pictures in your head. But I love that. It’s a bit more unusual in YA novels and I appreciate that Blake wasn’t afraid to go there in this book. I think that risk really paid off, as it mixes well with the urban fantasy genre. I also really enjoyed the overall plot of the story. It was an interesting twist to your typical story involving mythology. I think what was most surprising to me was that the story almost takes a turn into a retelling of the Trojan War, but this time focusing on the fight between the gods, with the human heroes being relegated to side characters (minus Cassandra).

Speaking of characters, the two main POVs in the book are goddess Athena and prophetess Cassandra. I felt like Athena wasn’t quite what I had always thought her to be – cold, fierce, and calculating. I understand why Blake wrote her to be more worn down and not as brilliantly minded, but I was a little disappointed none the less. I hope that as the series moves along, she will regain back some of that intelligence that she’s always been known for. As for Cassandra, I wasn’t particularly a fan of her character in the beginning. She was quite boring and lacked any interesting personality traits, other than being able to see the future. However, I started to enjoy her more as her character progressed in the story and she began to remember her past life. There were a few different side characters that I don’t want to say too much about without spoiling some surprises, but I will say that Hermes is probably my favorite character. He’s a little sassy and I felt that his overall personality felt true to how he is typically painted in different myths. I mean he is the god of thieves after all!

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I think my only issue with the book was that that pacing was a bit off, especially in the beginning. Each chapter switches between Cassandra and Athena which caused a few issues for me, as I found Cassandra’s chapters to be fairly boring. I was much more interested in the adventure Athena and Hermes were having as they traveled cross-country seeking help from other mythical beings. However, this was remedied once all of the characters finally got together midway through the story.  Once they get together, things begin ramping up really quickly and I found myself unable to put the book down.

Overall, this was a really fun and unique story. It is a bit graphic and dark, but I thought that made it mesh really well with the Greek myths that we already know. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I cannot wait to pick up the final two books in the series to see how it all ends. I foresee quite a bit of ass-kicking occurring and I am so ready for it.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read Antigoddess? How would you compare it to Kendare Blake’s other novels? What did you think of Cassandra’s character?

Book Review: Foundryside (Founders, #1)

I had only been hearing amazing things about this newest release from Robert Jackson Bennett, and since I’m such a fantasy-lover, I knew I had to try it.. And yes, the hype is real. It did take me a little time to get through this book but Foundryside (Founders, #1) was totally worth it.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

I really enjoyed how this story mixed Italian influences within the world-building. I always appreciate when fantasy worlds are drawn from the real world and inspired by different regions. However, I will say that the background information provided wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked. The information we were provided early on didn’t really explain enough and left me a bit confused. This was somewhat fixed the more the story progressed, but I still feel like there is room to improve in that area.

However, the plot was extremely engaging and fast-paced. You are immediately thrown into action from the very first page and it doesn’t ever seem to let up through to the end. I never felt myself grow bored while I was reading it and that is always something to be happy about when it comes to a story. This was probably helped by the fact that the story jumps around to different viewpoints to follow along all of the different storylines, which keeps you on your toes. I will say that the only time that I felt the story lagged a bit was in the beginning due to the lack of knowledge about the world so I was having to reread passages to fully grasp what was going on.

Acourt of mist and fury.png

As for the characters, this book has quite the cast of rotating characters including the main heroine, Sancia. Sancia is your typical independent thief and carries some scars from her childhood – both figuratively and literally. I really enjoyed her bluntness and sarcasm (which is so typically me, haha!), but I most loved her relationship with Gregor. Gregor Dandolo is the gruff moral compass of the group. He’s been a war hero and has returned home to Tevanne to set it right and bring justice to everyone equally. I loved how him and Sancia start off really rocky and constantly bickering, but then their relationship develops into almost a father-daughter type. I think they played off of each other really well. Then of course there’s Orso Ignacio, this rude but hilarious eccentric scriver, and his assistant Berenice. There is also another extremely important character but I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so he shall remain unnamed. 😉

All in all this was a really enjoyable read. I loved the unique concept of the magic system revolving around scriving. I also enjoyed all of the different characters and how the story bounced around between them all to help give you a full picture of all of the different moving parts. As I previously mentioned, the only issue I had with the story was the complicated and vague world-building that you start out with. Some questions I had were answered as the story moved along and we learn more about the world’s past, however, I do feel there is room to improve and expand upon this in future books. I definitely plan to continue on with the series. I can’t find wait to find out what will happen next to Sancia and the rest of the gang!

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read Foundryside? If so, what did you think about it? Were you confused about the world-building as well? Which character was your favorite?

Book Review: The Mirk and Midnight Hour

The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson was an atmospheric historical fiction retelling of the Scottish ballad, Tam Lin. I had never heard of the ballad before, which I think really helped me to enjoy the story even more since I was going into it blind.

A Southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest.
All collide at night’s darkest hour.

Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war—a war that has already claimed her twin brother.

When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy—one of the men who might have killed her own brother—and yet she’s drawn to him. But Violet isn’t Thomas’s only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds—keeping him alive—and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn’t been out of compassion.

Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.

From the author of Strands of Bronze and Gold comes a haunting love story and suspenseful thriller based on the ancient fairy tale of “Tam Lin.”

The Good

  • Atmospheric Setting – I love a good setting that almost feels like a character in the story. Nickerson does such a wonderful job bringing an eerie and almost mystical quality to the Mississippi countryside where the story takes place. I felt myself becoming so interested every time that she would describe the setting of the woods and river where the farm is located. I never thought I’d catch myself saying that I’d want to live in Mississippi, but this had me really close to doing so!
  • Unique Retelling – I had never heard of the Scottish fairy tale, Tam Lin, so this was my first introduction to the story. I always love getting to know fairy tales that differ from the usual retellings of Cinderella, Snow White, etc. The story was very interesting mixing the original idea of faeries with the magic-wielding Africans. I thought that was really interesting, especially with the setting being in the South during the Civil War. I would never have thought to retell Tam Lin during the Civil War, bringing the conflict from that to this story.
  • My Favorite Little Seeley – While I enjoyed Violet as the main character, Seeley is really where my heart lies. I found him to be so precious and interesting. I wouldn’t mind a sequel focusing on him. He was so sweet and I loved how obsessed he was with adventure books. I thought the relationship he built with Violet was very adorable and you could tell how he looked up to her. While Violet was really strong and independent, Seeley was still a young boy who craved attention and for anyone’s love. He must be protected at all costs!!!!
  • Eccentric Side Characters – While Violet is a fun main character, the side characters are who really shined for me. Like the lovable Seeley, the other side characters were all eccentric and interesting. I loved the scary old neighbor, Violet’s new stepmother and stepsister, as well her handsome cousin, Dorian. I felt all of the side characters were fleshed out and each had their own distinctive personality.


The Bad

  • The Romance – While I always enjoy a good romance, I thought this one was just a little too easy. It happened so quickly and with not enough focus on the buildup. I would’ve preferred Nickerson to spend more time showing us the interactions between Violet and Thomas, rather than glossing over it in favor of focusing on random things happening on the farm. I really think there was a missed opportunity there to truly build a believable relationship between the two. Instead, we were basically given an insta-love situation.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read the original Tam Lin story? Have you read The Mirk and Midnight Hour? If so, what are you thoughts on it? Which character was your favorite?

Hype or Like Friday – BOTM Review: Zodiac (Zodiac, #1)

This meme and Goodreads group were created by myself, Jill @ Rant and Rave Books, and Britt @ Geronimo Reads. To join our group and find out more information about what it’s all about, please go to our Goodreads page HERE.

The November BOTM is Zodiac (Zodiac, #1) by Romina Russell.



  • Answer the weekly discussion topic.
  • Optional: Discuss your chosen hyped book of the week.
  • Optional: Talk about your progress on the BOTM.


You know that feeling of amazement when you pick up a book and become so completely engrossed in its world? Well, that’s exactly how I felt while reading Zodiac (Zodiac, #1) by Romina Russell.

At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….

Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

The Good

  • AMAZINGGGG World-Building – Seriously, I cannot stop being blown away by how insane Russell’s ability to create this world is. Everything is so well laid out and explained. It’s incredibly intricate and detailed, with just enough background information to give you some history without overdoing it. Seriously, I can’t wait to explore more of this galaxy!
  • Imperfect MC – While Rho may be considered a “special snowflake” because of her abilities, I really appreciated that Russell constantly challenged that notion. All of the decisions Rho makes have serious repercussions, which raises the stakes even more. It was nice to see that she wasn’t making the right choice every single time, but mostly failing because she’s still only a teenager and doesn’t really know as much as she thinks she does.
  • Fast-Paced Plot – I can promise that this story won’t bore you. The action starts in the very first chapter and doesn’t stop until the very end. I didn’t want to put the book down because there was something constantly happening.
  • HYSAN!!! – Cocky, sassy, and smart? Yes, this is a love interest that I can definitely get behind!

She remembered thinking falling for him would be like falling in love with darkness, but now she imagined he was more like a starry night_ the constellations were always there, constant, magnificent against the eve.png

The Bad

  • Silly Love Triangle – Now, I am one of those weirdos who actually enjoys love triangles (come at me, bro!), but the love triangle in this story just didn’t work for me. Is it because I’m not really a fan of Mathias? Possibly. But seriously, if you’re going to write a love triangle then you need to write chemistry between the MC and both love interests, not just one.

Overall, this is a really fun read that I flew through. I plan to pick up the sequel in January because I can’t wait to see where the story goes next! Also, I definitely head cannon Hysan as bisexual. I don’t care what anyone else thinks! 😉

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars


Have you read Zodiac? If so, what did you think of it? Do you prefer Mathias or Hysan more? Leave a link to your Hype or Like Friday post in the comments!

Book Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I recently did a reread of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)I first read it back on its initial release and had completely forgotten about what happened, so I figured a reread was in desperate need before I continued on with the rest of the series. Luckily, it was just as fun as I remembered it being!

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I think by now most people are probably quite familiar with Meyer’s writing style as she’s not some debut author anymore. If you aren’t, Meyer’s strong point is that she can make fantasy and science fiction very accessible. She doesn’t let minute details bog down the story, nor does she churn out overly complex language to explain the world her novels are set in. I feel like a lot of times authors get so caught up in making their world unique that they can lose readers in the process. Luckily, this isn’t something Meyer struggles with. I don’t always want overly flowery language or massive paragraphs explaining the details, sometimes I just prefer things to be kept simple. And Cinder definitely keeps things simple and straightforward. THANK YOU, JESUS!

Can we talk about how high the sass level is in this novel? Every single character has at least one or two perfect comeback moments that I am just in awe of. Cinder is one of my favorite types of heroines. She’s sarcastic, strong-willed, but also has a really soft heart. I loved how strong her relationship was with her stepsister, Peony. You really could feel that she was willing to do whatever it took to ensure her safety. Prince Kai was a fun character as well. His sense of duty really affected his personal emotions and decisions, which I think helped elevate the stakes a bit because you were never sure what he was going to decide to do next. His and Cinder’s interactions were always so cute and witty. I am totally onboard with shipping these two! And Iko… How can a robot be so amazing and probs my favorite character? Because she manages to do it and she’s not even around for long stretches of the book! A robot playing dress-up is a scene that I never knew I needed until I got it. And it was wonderful.

She looked at them, at the three males who meant everything--more than eveRything. Then she SmIled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. -Lets go rattle .png

The pacing seemed very steady throughout the book. There were only a few sections here and there that I thought were a little slow, but nothing that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story. The last third of the novel was definitely on overdrive as different things begin to be revealed. I do enjoy a good cliffhanger as well, which Cinder definitely ends on. I thought it was done with just the right amount of tension that leaves you wanting more.

I loved that Meyer chose to go science fiction, rather than typical fantasy for this fairytale retelling. She gave us just enough of the original storyline and yet was able to completely turn around and make it her own. I think my only issue with this book is that I wasn’t at all surprised by the big reveal, nor were there any twists that I didn’t see coming. It was very formulaic in how everything was presented. However, I expect things to deviate more from the norm as the series moves along and I hope for higher stakes in later books. Overall, Cinder was a quick fun read that’s a solid start to this series.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read Cinder? If so, what did you think of it? Does this series get better with each book? Which character did you enjoy the most? Do you enjoy fairytale retellings?

Book Review: The Cutting Season

I had never heard of Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season when I first came across it on BookOutlet. It was the gorgeous cover that immediately grabbed my attention, coupled with that intriguing title, I just knew I had to buy it.

The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar cane fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it’s something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn’t know. As she’s drawn into the dead girl’s story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted.

A magnificent, sweeping story of the south, The Cutting Season brings history face-to-face with modern America, where Obama is president, but some things will never change. Attica Locke once again provides an unblinking commentary on politics, race, the law, family and love, all within a thriller every bit as gripping and tragic as her first novel, Black Water Rising.

The writing in this book was wonderful. Attica Locke is a screenplay writer and it immediately shows from the very first page. She has such a beautiful way of really setting the scene that instantly pulls you into the story. I was able to completely picture Belle Vie and all of the characters that considered it their home. The beautiful, yet somberness of the plantation was the perfect backdrop for this murder mystery.

The plot was very engaging. The mystery begins within the first chapter and never stops until the end. You’re constantly going back and forth trying to figure out who the killer is and what really happened as new information comes to light. I saw some reviews on Goodreads that had issues with how the mystery is portrayed, with Caren learning things from others rather than finding it out herself. However, this just made it more realistic to me because Caren isn’t a cop or detective, just a normal woman thrown into this awful situation. I’m pretty sure she discovered some things on her own too, so I don’t really get those complaints. Haha!

Aelin galathynius, queen of terrasen, knew the time would soon come to prove just how much she'd bleed for Erilea..png

I really enjoyed Caren as a main character. I thought she was a very complex character, full of opposing thoughts and feelings that you don’t often find in novels. Watching her navigate her relationships with her daughter, ex-boyfriend, and the many different employees on the plantation was so engrossing. I truly felt like I really knew Caren as a person by the end of the story. One thing that really stuck out was learning about her relationship with her deceased mother and how that tied in with her mixed feelings about Belle Vie. Locke did a wonderful job playing off the differences between Caren and her ex, Eric, who was raised in Chicago. You could really see how deep her Southern roots and traditions battled against Eric’s Northern pragmatism. If you’re from the South, you’ll laugh at how true this is. We just can’t help it, y’all!

Because this is an own voices novel, it sheds some light on the systemic race issues that have plagued African Americans within the justice system. However, I felt there was a lot more room for Locke to dive deeper into examining the issue. It seemed that she was just skimming the surface of it in the story, rather than really making it a major focus as the synopsis suggested. However, I do appreciate that she examined some of the history of the situation through Caren’s research into her family’s history and the disappearance of her ancestor from the plantation.

If you’re looking to diversify your reading a bit with an own voices story and are in the mood for an atmospheric mystery, I really do recommend this book.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read The Cutting Season? Do you enjoy reading mystery novels? Have you read any of Locke’s other novels?

Book Review: Meddling Kids

Okay, I will admit that this was originally a cover buy. I mean, just look at the gorgeousness of it! But either way, Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero was a really fun read and totally worth the money. Add this to the list of stories actually worth their amazing cover!

For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale comes a tour de force of horror, humor, and H.P. Lovecraft. The surviving members of a forgotten teenage detective club (and their dog) must reunite as broken adults to finally solve the terrifying case that ruined them all and sent the wrong man to prison. Scooby Doo and the gang never had to do this!

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids taps into our shared nostalgia for the books and cartoons we grew up with, and delivers an exuberant, eclectic, and highly entertaining celebration of horror, life, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

I think the biggest problem most people will have when they pick this book up, is going to be the writing style. Cantero gets a little crazy with his writing. You will notice immediately that he likes to make up his own words like, “tragichuckled” or “triviaed”. This isn’t really a terrible thing, it just easily gets annoying after a while. He’s also very fond of getting a little ambitious with his similes. I couldn’t the exact example that I was thinking of, but they’re quite easy to spot. If you don’t mind a kooky writing style and enjoy a little bit of silliness, then you’ll probably like this one!

If you’re looking for a diverse adult horror story, this is a good place to start. You have a lesbian Latina and boy with mental illness who suffers from hallucinations (I don’t believe it was ever classified as a particular illness). I can’t comment on whether the representation is good or bad, but I haven’t read of anyone having a problem with it. If you have, please feel free to share those issues in the comments!


I think each of the characters had very distinct personalities, especially Andy. However, I do feel that Andy’s intense feelings for Kerri that were constantly being brought up, kind of pushed me into not really liking her. It just seemed like any time that Kerri was mentioned, it was emphasized how beautiful she was or how gorgeous her hair looked (she’s a redhead). In the end, it was a distraction from Andy’s tough girl persona and made me find Kerri annoying. My favorite one of the group was Nate. I loved getting inside his head and being able to experience his hallucinations along with him. He had a dry personality and humor that I really enjoyed. As for Tim, well his love for the squeaky toy penguin is the stuff relationships are made of. WE HAVE FINALLY FOUND TRUE LOVE, FOLKS!

Plot-wise, this story so much fun! You’re immediately pulled into this mystery from the very first chapter. The story might feel a little slow before they make the journey back to Blyton Hills, but once they do, I couldn’t put my book down. You never know what’s going to happen next! It was just the right amount of spooky, suspenseful and fun. Sounds perfect for Halloween, right?!

While I did have some issues with the story, it wasn’t enough to distract me from enjoying this book. It’s one of those stories that you can instantly connect with, thanks to a nice helping of nostalgia (for Scooby Doo fans, at least!). If you’re looking for a fresh take on the adult horror genre, I definitely recommend this one.

Overall Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you ever bought a book because of its cover? Did the story live it up to it? Have you read Meddling Kids? If so, what did you think of it? 

Book Review: How to Hang a Witch

I don’t typically read horror novels, as they’re just not something that I enjoy – kind of like my feelings in regards to horror movies. I’ll be honest, I am a scaredy cat and so I would rather not put myself in that situation. However, when I first saw How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather at the bookstore and read the synopsis, I was immediately intrigued.

It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

The Good

  • Setting – I’m a bit of a history nerd. I love any place that has history coming out the wazoo, and Salem, Massachusetts? Yeah, that town definitely has some history. It really added to the plot and was able to give it that spooky edge, even for just only being the location for the story. Now I want to go there for a mini vacation in the fall. Who wants to join me in 2017?!
  • Pacing – I really appreciated that this book was solidly engaging from the beginning till the end. In my experience, debut authors can sometimes struggle with their pacing but I didn’t find that to be an issue for Mather. I never found myself bored and or struggling to make myself pick up the book. Instead, I hated when I had to make myself put it down! I just had to know what was going to happen next!
  • The Plot – This was the best part about this book. It’s quite obvious that Mather is well-connected to the entire Salem Witch Trials, as she is able to really mix some minor stories and details from that era within the plot. I loved how she was able to use the different causes of the Trials, and expand upon how they are still issues in today’s society. I think it made Sam’s struggles and own persecution within the high school and community much more real and terrifying. It’s extremely easy to see how something like that has the potential, at any moment, to return in modern society. And I even agree with Mather that a high school or small town would be the most likely arena in which to take effect.


The Bad

  • Samantha – In all honesty, I almost DNFed this book after the first chapter. As intrigued as I was in the plot, Samantha’s character was annoying as hell. I cringed almost every single time that she had an inner thought. And trust me, there were way too many of those in this book. I feel as though Mather was attempting to have Sam talk like what middle aged adults think 17 year olds talk like. Except Mather can’t be older than her early 30’s? So yeah, it was just really awful. And talk about a whiner… I wanted to slap Sam every time she had a poor-pitiful-me moment. Ugh, I hate those kind of characters.
  • The Romance – Jaxon was just too perfect, too much of the good guy. He was boring and I never felt like there was much of a buildup between him and Sam. Almost kind of instalove, because she thought he was OMG SO HOT the first time that she saw him. Plus, I was a huge fan of the dead guy. He was a sarcastic jerk, and we all know how I feel about that type. Yummm.

Overall, if you’re looking for a fairly fast read full of mystery, ghosts, and witches – then I think you will find How to Hang a Witch fits exactly what you’re looking for. It will never win an award for best writing, but it will surely entertain you on a cold dark night.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Have you read How to Hang a Witch? What did you think about it? Did you find Samantha as annoying as I did?