Review: Witches Unleased: A Marvel Untold Novel by Carrie Harris

Series: Marvel Aconyte Novels, Marvel Untold
Author: Carrie Harris
Publisher: Aconyte
Released: November 9, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Yay! It’s time for the next Marvel Untold novel! I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been actively looking forward to each and every one of these releases—especially Witches Unleashed by Carrie Harris.

Johnny Blaze, aka the Ghost Rider, just made a huge mistake. He unintentionally released Lucifer from his prison – Hell. Now he’s loose, and Johnny is going to have to gather up each piece of his soul to get him back where he belongs.

Enter the help of Jennifer Kale, Satana Hellstorm, and Topaz. Together, these four will take on Lucifer and stop him before his plans come to fruition – or else.

If you’re a fan of Ghost Rider, then you’re going to love the novelization of the Marvel character and all of the chaos he brings with him. Carrie Harris did a fantastic job capturing the core elements of his journey in Witches Unleashed.

I love the Marvel novels as they give us a chance to see new stories, but in a slightly different light (different forms of media can do that). More than that, it gives different authors a chance to shine. Gotta love that!

Anyway, moving on with the actual review now: I absolutely adored that they had Ghost Rider team up with three different (and relatively well-known) Marvel witches for this story. Obviously, the title made at least some of that fairly obvious, but I’m not complaining!

Witches Unleashed read like a fun adventure, with a bit of room for cheese, humor, and other antics to help balance out the every rising tension of Lucifer being on the loose.

Thanks to Aconyte and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Fantasy, Marvel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Verifiers by Jane Pek

Author: Jane Pek
Publisher: Vintage
Released: February 22, 2022
Received: Own (BOTM)

4 kitties

You see, this is why I love Book of the Month. It helps me find new books that I otherwise missed out on. In this case, it was The Verifiers, written by Jane Pek. This has got to be one of the most original novels I have ever read, and I sincerely look forward to reading more by this author (hopefully in the near future!).

Claudia Lin is one of those girls who grew up devouring mystery novels. As an adult, she’s struggling to find a balance between her desires (and her fascination with mysteries) and what her family expects of her.

This pressure is arguably why Claudia didn’t tell her family when she quit her boring job following a highly unique offer. Now, Claudia works for The Verifiers, a company that deep dives into online dating profiles. This job helps to satisfy her naturally curious nature until a real mystery falls into her lap. One she can’t walk away from.

“I bet somewhere inside there’s a custom-made dining table built out of reclaimed telephone poles and it costs more than a year of my rent.”

Man, BOTM knocked it out of the park with their March picks! Two of the books I grabbed (this and The Cartographers) are arguably the most unique books I’ve read in quite some time. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like The Verifiers.

The Verifiers is one part mystery, one part contemporary fiction, but honestly? That hardly does an accurate description for this book. There are many different elements happening within, including family drama/issues, the need to be oneself, and finding a job you love. Again, that description feels shallow compared to the book itself.

This book is quick-witted, funny, emotional, and thrilling all in one. It reminded me of the mystery novels I read growing up (which I’m sure was intentional, given Claudia’s love of the same), but with a twist.

The familial drama made the story heavier at times, but I think that weight was essential. It balanced nicely with Claudia’s humor and added a different intensity to the murder case Claudia was following.

In other words, The Verifiers had a delightful balance of events, characters, and story. I loved every minute of this book. I’m going to be adding Jane Pek to my auto-buy list; that’s how much I enjoyed this story.

Posted in BOTM, Mystery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A. Abrams

Author: Sami A. Abrams
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: December 28, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Buried Cold Case Secrets is part of the Love Inspired Suspense line, is a different tone than what I’m used to. It’s a refreshing change. Written by Sami A. Abrams, Buried Cold Case Secrets has a little bit of something for everyone. Well, at least all thriller lovers.

When she was younger, Melanie Hutton and her best friend were kidnapped. Melanie survived; her friend did not. Now Melanie is in a race to find her friend’s remains – and her memories. Doing so might just help solve the murder case at hand.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the killer will just let Melanie investigate on her own. That is where Detective Jason Cooper comes into play, as he still holds out hope for solving his late sister’s case.

Buried Cold Case Secrets is a Christian suspense novel, meaning that it is overall fairly light on the worst parts that can come with an intense thriller. Sometimes it is nice to take that break, so I was happy to give Sami A. Abrams’ work a chance.

Melanie’s story is compelling and heartbreaking. It is so easy to feel for a woman who has been through so much trauma, including losing her memory and her best friend. It’s impossible not to root for her.

Jason’s appearance was a surprise complication, but one that worked well in terms of fleshing out the whole story. There is something so real and human about the characters, and I really loved that.

I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised to see that Buried Cold Case Secrets was a Christian fiction novel. I’ll have to make note that ‘Inspired’ is the term for that nowadays. This is good to know – either to help you find more, or steer clear of. This is why I love finding new industry terms!

Thanks to Love Inspired Suspense and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Mystery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story Saturday: Target Practice by Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid #0.22
Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: September 2017
Received: Patreon

4 kitties

Next up on my InCryptid short story binge is Target Practice. Written by Seanan McGuire, this short continues the story of a young Alice Healy. And yes, she is just as stubborn and driven as any other member of her family.

Alice has always been fascinated by the world her family has always known. Even if her father would prefer that she had nothing to do with it all, thankfully, she’s a stubborn girl and thus did not take his advice (orders) accordingly.

This was a chaotic and fun-fueled short story. One that did an excellent job of portraying the differing personalities of all four Healy members, not to mention a Price and a babysitting ghost. It was just the right balance all around and is perfect for fans of the series.

Posted in Short stories, Short Story Saturdays, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Publisher: Daw Books
Released: November 9, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Nnedi Okorafor is back with another brilliant novel, Noor. If you’re a fan of science fiction novels that will actually make you stop and think – be sure to check out her works, including this most recent novel.

AO is a woman of many names – though she prefers the nickname. To her family, AO stands for Anwuli Okwudili. To AO, it stands for Artificial Organism – for that is how she has always felt. It’s also how she has always been treated.

AO was born with health issues; issues made worse following an accident. Now she’s heavily augmented, and most people around her fear the way she looks. This is the daily life of AO and the foundation for a new adventure, one that starts with everything going wrong.

The thing I love the most about Nnedi Okorafor’s writing is that she always manages to surprise me. Her creative energy is endless, as evidenced by all of the brilliant plots she has given to her readers. Noor is no exception on that front and should happily find a place of honor amongst the rest of her collection.

To me, Noor almost read like two entirely different books. Or rather, two parts of the same story. The first half of the novel sets the scene – telling us about AO, her life, and what her body has gone through.

Then, in a wash of blood and horror, the scene changes. AO is suddenly on the run, the setting changes. The social commentary also gets kicked up a notch – and it was already relatively high, to begin with!

Noor is, at its heart, a criticism of overreaching governments, capitalist interests, and corporate greed. I feel like these are tones that many readers can empathize with, especially with the help of Nnedi Okorafor’s writing.

Thanks to Daw Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin
Released: February 1, 2022
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Torture, hunger, control, betrayal, gore

4 kitties

I’ll confess: I put off reading I Must Betray You for a couple of months. Why? Ruta Sepetys’ last novel absolutely wrecked me, so I had to prepare myself for this latest novel emotionally. We all know the writing will be spectacular and thus hit us right in the feels as always.

The year is 1989 in Romania. Christian Florescu is a seventeen-year-old kid who should be spending his time worried about normal teenage stuff. Instead, he’s worried for his family, friends, country, and future.

This worry compounds when Christian finds himself on the raw end of blackmail. Now, he must become an informer, which requires him to betray everyone and everything he loves. Or he can lay down his life—neither sound appealing.

“This never knowing, it weakens us,” Bunu would say. “It’s a form of control. They know exactly what they’re doing.”

Wow. I don’t know how Ruta Sepetys does it, but her work is always so beautifully (and painfully) emotional and human. It is impossible to do anything other than feel for the characters in her story, as it feels like we’re transported in time, only allowed to watch the story as it unfolds.

I Must Betray You very much lives up to the high expectations readers like to have. It is brilliant, tense, and incredibly emotional. Likewise, it doesn’t shy away from the graphic nature of the events that occurred in 1989. Readers might want to consider themselves warned on that count.

The chapters were surprisingly short, yet that actually made the larger story more approachable. It was easier to take it in through these little bursts, giving our hearts a chance to recover before moving on to the next event.

Christian’s character is a solid foundation on which this story was built. I sincerely just wanted to reach out and hug the kid as he struggled his way through so many things. It’s hard to put into words how this story made me feel. At least I know I’m not alone in those feelings.

I think I Must Betray You may be my favorite Ruta Sepetys book (to date – give it time, and I’m sure I’ll fall in love with the next release. I always do), which is saying something. So please, go ahead and read I Must Betray You; you won’t regret it.

Posted in BOTM, Historical Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Dark Avengers: The Patriot List: A Marvel: Untold Novel by David Guymer

Series: Marvel Aconyte Novels, Marvel: Untold
Author: David Guymer
Publisher: Aconyte
Released: October 12, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

It’s here! The next Marvel book is here, and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Dark Avengers: The Patriot List is a bit of a long title – yet it is an evocative one for anybody paying attention. Written by David Guymer, it’s a quintessential Dark Avengers novel.

What happens to the world after S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers fall? Are they left to face the dangers of the universe without any heroes? Or does a new team step up? Naturally, in the Marvel universe, there’s always somebody ready to step up.

However, sometimes the person that steps up to the plate can bring quite the shock. Take the Dark Avengers. They’re Earth’s defenders now. Led by Normal Osborn, this is a team made up of villains, which begs the question? Just who (or what) are they trying to protect?

Dark Avengers: The Patriot List lives up to the name – this is a novel full of action, adventure, and just the right balance of dark humor. It’s perfect for any Marvel fan, especially the die-hard ones that can appreciate the nuance in the characters portrayed within these pages.

Okay, so you guys know that I’m a sucker for characters with sassy comebacks, right? Well, let’s just say that I absolutely adored how David Guymer wrote many of the characters in this book. Not only did they feel accurate to their comic book versions, but the sass! Oh, so much sass, and I loved every minute of it.

The action was extremely satisfying, which is excellent. I swear, half the reason I read Dark Avengers plots is to get a dose of action and carnage. So if that is what you’re looking for here, you will not be disappointed. Promise.

I should mention that you really need to have a basic understanding of these villains to appreciate their portrayal here. Guymer does not waste time holding hands, so I imagine it would be a bit difficult to dive right in knowing nothing. However, if you are a fan, you’re going to love what you find.

Thanks to Aconyte and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story Saturday: The Lay of the Land by Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid #0.21
Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: February 3, 2017
Received: Patreon

4 kitties

Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series is far from over, and I’m far from getting through all of her short stories! Next up on the list is The Lay of the Land, the first Alice-centric short in this world. Alice is the daughter of Fran and Jonathan Healy and a familiar character to those that have read the main series.

Alice Healy is a Healy through and through. This means that no matter how much her father tries to keep her safe and bundled away from the cryptids of the world, she’s going to head out into those woods and find them.

Keeping her safe and bundled up is a bit more of a challenge than he realizes, but boy, is it entertaining for us readers! While I feel bad for Alice (having to sneak around on her dad could not have been fun), I will admit that the levity was very much appreciated.

Even as a teenager, Alice is looking like the character we’ve gotten glimpses of here and there throughout the main series. I can’t wait to learn more about her.

Posted in Short stories, Short Story Saturdays, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Little Creeping Things by Chelsea Ichaso

Author: Chelsea Ichaso
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: June 2, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Fire death, bullying, suicidal thoughts

3 1/2 kitties

Chelsea Ichaso’s debut novel, Little Creeping Things, is one that instantly caught my attention – and I knew that I had to make time to read it! One part horror, one part psychological thriller, and one part murder mystery; this book has a little bit of everything that I’m looking for.

Cassidy Pratt has spent her whole life being bullied for a fire she doesn’t remember starting. To be fair, the fire did take a life, so she understands that what happened was not something that should be forgotten.

When a classmate goes missing, Cassidy feels like she should speak up with the information she has. But she knows how quickly the public can turn on somebody – especially her. She’s experienced all that first hand.

“I’ve spent the past ten years trying to erase this image. Fire Girl.
Trying to convince everyone – trying to convince myself – I’m not a killer.”

Okay, I’m not going to lie to you: the first thing that brought my attention to Little Creeping Things was that creepy little doll on the cover. I mean, come on! It’s so perfect for a psychological thriller, don’t you think?

Anyway, let’s move onto the actual plot, shall we? Little Creeping Things is a dark and twisty young adult thriller. It’s pretty easy to understand the conflict that Cassidy faces. She’s spent her whole life getting told one thing, and while it’s horrible, she has no memory of it. Even though she really should.

That alone would have been a strong enough promise for this tale, but Ichaso takes it a step further by throwing a missing person into the mix, which is shortly followed by another twist. It’s a lot to take in, yet it all worked together quite nicely.

Overall I’d say that this was a solid read, though I think the buildup was stronger than the actual conclusion. Still, I’m happy with the time I spent reading Little Creeping Things and would gladly recommend it to fellow readers.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Author: Ryka Aoki
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: September 28th, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Deadnaming, racism, abuse

4 1/2 kitties

If you pitch a book to me as being a blend of Good Omens and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, you just know I’m going to read it, right? Enter Light From Uncommon Stars, written by Ryka Aoki.

Making a deal with the devil is a tale as old as time. For most people, this saying is a metaphor at best. For Shizuka Satomi, it is very much the literal truth. She made a bargain with the devil: her soul in exchange for seven others.

Unfortunately, the deal is a bit more particular than that. It stipulates that she might provide seven violin prodigies, a feat easier said than done. Right as Shizuka was about to finally reach her goal and seal the deal on the seventh, a distraction by the name of Lan Tran enters the scene.

“Tomorrow is tomorrow. Over there is over there. And here and now is not a bad place and time to be, especially when so much of the unknown is beautiful.”

Light From Uncommon Stars was such an atmospheric and lovely read; words almost fail to describe it. This is my first novel by Ryka Aoki, and guys – I am absolutely in love. Consider this author added my ‘auto read’ list.

This novel gets a lot of love from me, as one main character is a transgender WoC, and the other two are sapphic WoC. Plus, the story is so beautifully human, despite the obviously very alien (literally) elements.

What really put me over the edge into loving this book had to be Aoki’s writing. My goodness, it’s stunning! Every sentence was so evocative and carefully thought out; you could practically feel the words resounding in your heart. I loved every minute of it.

Thanks to Tor Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Fantasy, Tor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment