#NetGalley #Review of The Insider by Craig Schaefer (@craig_schaefer) #Thriller #Mystery

 

Review

The Insider Cover

The Insider

by Craig Schaefer

Release Date: July 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Insider by Craig Schaefer from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in order to read and give an honest review.

I’m a recent fan of Craig Schaefer having been introduced through his book, Ghosts of Gotham, which I reviewed here. Although I haven’t read The Loot the first book in the series, however I found this perfect as a stand-alone as well.

In book two, Charlie McCabe is working with Dom and Beckett as part of the Boston Asset Protection Agency as a bodyguard hired on two separate cases.  The first case revolves around protecting an author and all-around narcissistic jerk, Lincoln Gable, who is on a promotion tour for his controversial book. The second case is a bit more complex involving keeping alive the prime witness, Hayden Cobb, a witness to a murder case involving three dirty cops known as the East Boston Three.  While under Boston Asset’s protection in a secret location an attempt is made on his life. To Charlie and crew it appears there is a leak somewhere in the DA’s office and rumours of a fourth dirty cop who could be the one trying to silence Cobb forever.  When a member of mob boss’s Jimmy Lassiter’s crew is falsely imprisoned as the hit man, he blackmails Charlie to exonerate him,putting one of her loved ones in danger. Running out of time Charlie is almost pushed too far.  Along the way there are so many intriguing and interesting players that show up at the race this book is definitely one wild ride.

I absolutely loved everything about this book, the strong, intelligent, resilient yet flawed female characters, the pacing, his twisty plot turns that draw you in and keep you voraciously reading until the end.  Filled with murder, mayhem and amazing plot twists which will throw you for a loop this is a fantastic book which I highly recommend!

 

#Book #Review of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians A Novel by H. G. Parry via #NetGalley #Fantasy #Historical

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

A Novel

by H. G. Parry

A Declaration of Rights for Magicians

Release date: June 23rd, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians
A Novel by H. G. Parry from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched,I loved everything about this book.

This book is unlike anything else I have read, this dark epic historical fantasy was complex and took a while to get into but was definitely worth it.   

Set in the 18th century, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is an alternate history of the times including the infamous French Revolution. The story features three interconnecting plot lines set in the Caribbean, Paris and London. There are multiple political events driven by a dark powerful entity whose endgame is shocking.  It’s thought provoking in so many ways as the characters are challenged with moral dilemmas surrounding issues such as slavery, classism, to what end are they willing to go to succeed and at what cost. 

To get to the basics of the story, we are witness to the alternate version of history where magic is strictly regulated. Commoners are forbidden to use it and are given magic dampening bracelets that burn if their powers are used and face imprisonment or execution for breaking the law.  Even to save a life, magic is forbidden to commoners, only aristocrats and nobility are allowed to wield their power without consequence.  The three plot lines were equally compelling reminding me of a game of chess with the characters being pieces moved along the board with a singular purpose invisible to the reader until the end.  

H.G. Parry introduces us to Fina a slave working on a sugar plantation under British rule in Jamaica. The slaves are mistreated, their powers bound by a potion so that they are under the plantation managers  complete control. In a brief period when her magic seeps through Fina hears a voice telling her to flee Jamaica in order to save her fellow slaves and join a slave rebellion on Santa Domingo.  Meanwhile in France, Robespierre is fighting for the rights of the commoners and their ability to use magic for the betterment of their lives and in London, a trio of politicians are working for the abolition of slavery despite it being heavily debated. Each character is well developed and deals with unique obstacles and the consequences of their actions.  There is so much going on in this book it’s difficult to capture it all in this review without spoilers. Bottom line I loved the book although, ending on a cliffhanger of sorts was surprising and I certainly hope we get a second in the series from H.G. Parry. 

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched, I loved everything about this book. This book is for you if you enjoy compelling, thought provoking historical fantasy with a twist!

#Book #Review of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare via #NetGalley #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

 

The Indigo Ghosts

by Alys Clare

Indigo Ghosts Cover

Release date: June 2nd, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare from NetGalley and Severn House Publishers in order to read and give an honest review.

intricately woven and well written plot contains twists and turns with intriguing historical details and authentic, multifaceted characters which make this a thoroughly enjoyable read

This is my first time reading Alys Clare’s work and I have to say I loved it! The Indigo Ghosts is different as it mixes mystery and history with a touch of the supernatural and teeters on the edge of being in the vein of Gothic literature. Although the third book in the series, having not read the first two I found nothing lacking in it as a stand-alone and found it quite enjoyable. 

Set in Plymouth in the 1600’s When his former Captain, Captain Colt calls Dr. Gabriel Taverner in to investigate strange occurrences aboard the ship he used to serve on. Sailors have been experiencing strange things such as blue ghosts and whispers from a malicious spirit. The crew are terrified when it appears stowaways had once resided in a small hold on the ship and left something behind, and as Taverner and Captain Colt explore the holds they find a small hiding space in which a small desiccated adult body is found nailed through the chest to the ship’s ribs.  When another body is found hidden in a waste barrel on the ship with his hands died blue the mystery takes off. There are intelligent arguments for and against the paranormal events melding science and mysticism and we go on a twisting journey with touches on vodou, trade routes, slavery and the Caribbean. 

The intricately woven and well written plot contains twists and turns with intriguing historical details and authentic, multifaceted characters which make this a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I will definitely be reading more of Alys Clare’s work! Entertaining read that I would highly recommend. 

#NetGalley #Book #Review Sea Change by Nancy Kress #ScienceFiction #Ecology #GMO

 

Sea Change

by Nancy Kress

Release date: May 22nd, 2020

Sea Change Cover

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(3.5) Rounded Up


I received a complimentary ARC copy Sea Change by Nancy Kress from NetGalleyTachyon Publications in order to read and give an honest review.

To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters …

This was the first work of fiction I have read from Nancy Kress. In the past I had read her non-fiction books on writing as part of a workshop I had taken and really enjoyed them.  I was really looking forward to reading this novella and although well-written in many ways, it just wasn’t what I expected.

Coined a bio-thriller, although interesting wasn’t as dynamic or “thrilling” as advertised.  The author bases an espionage story around the benefits of GMO’s over traditional agriculture but much of it felt like a huge info dump interspersed with an interesting mystery and very character driven story.  To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters.

The Protagonist, Renata Black is driven by her beliefs, all her life she has been championing for good, always looking for a cause even to the point of ruining her marriage to her Hollywood bound husband.   When her son dies because of a water issue attributed to agricultural run-off she makes promoting GMO’s her new mission.

Set in the future, an incident ten years prior involving an bio-pharmaceutical incident resulting the deaths of children causes major GMO companies to disappear and agriculture with pesticides and fertilizers to become the norm.  Looking for a cause to help her deal with her grief  of losing her son she joins “The Org” as operative Caroline Denton. The Org, a pro-GMO, ultra-secretive , underground organization is working to bring back GMO’s to reduce starvation and ecological disasters around the world. When not working as an operative as Renata she works as a paralegal for a lawyer prosecuting rape cases for the Quinault reservation, where her son passed away.

The story opens with Caroline getting to investigate a runaway  self-driving house blocking traffic and its operator/owner believed to be an Org operative is missing, and it appears to be the result of a mole in “The Org”. When a splinter cell gets raided and her name becomes known, Caroline/Renata is hunted by the government and labelled a terrorist.

The hunt for the missing operator, a case involving the rape of a Quinault teenager and her grief over losing her son are the plot-lines running through this novella, but they all felt overshadowed by too many info dumps revolving around GMO’s which in my opinion took away from the story of this short novella.  Reading is subjective and although I found Sea Change hard to immerse myself in, doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated by someone else.

 

#Book #Review of The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan via #NetGalley #HistoricalFiction #MagicRealism

 

The Age of Witches

by Louisa Morgan

Age of Witches Cover

Release date: April 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Although slow to get into it is a well-written, engaging tale that once you are into it is well worth the read

The third in an unconnected series from Louisa Morgan Age of Witches is brilliant as a standalone.  Following the interconnected lives of three descendants of Bridget Bishop, a witch executed during the Salem Witch trials we see the good, the bad and the ugly of the craft.  Set in the late 1800’s we are introduced to Harriet the kindhearted elder of the group who as a healer has set up shop in New York. She prefers to use the craft to help others. We also meet Frances, who grew up in poverty and was deprived of her power only learning of it when her mother passes away.  Angry with her station in life she uses her power to elevate herself in society, by bewitching a young widower and finally getting the finances and respect never afforded to her before. We also meet Annis, the young stepdaughter of Frances who fights against her stepmothers controlling ways, preferring her horses to shopping and socials. Annis, not a “proper young lady” wishes to become the “unthinkable” for a young woman, a horse breeder, hoping to build an empire of her own.  Frances has plans of her own, wishing to obtain the one thing that would elevate her in society, a royal title and will use her powers to ensure that it happens.    Harriet who has watched over Annis through the years after her mother, another Bishop descendant passes away, steps in to ensure Frances doesn’t get away with the unthinkable.  

When the opportunity to arrange a marriage with a young Lord in England in financial straits arises Frances begins to bewitch those around her to meet her goal.  Harriet follows them overseas knowing Annis is at risk and is still unaware of her powers.  When the young Lord James finally meets Annis, he finds it difficult to accept Annis’s unorthodox behaviour Frances becomes desperate and her power, perverse. 

 Although slow to get into it is a well-written, engaging tale that once you are into it is well worth the read.  Louisa Morgan does an excellent job and creating brilliant multifaceted characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses, showing kindness and compassion in the name of family which is the one thing I found prevalent in this book. All in all a brilliant book I would definitely recommend. 

#NetGalley #Book #Review The Body in the Garden (Lily Adler Mystery #1) by Katharine Schellman #Historical #Mystery

 

Review

Body In The Garden Cover

The Body in the Garden

(Lily Adler Mystery #1)

Release date: April 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Body in the Garden
(Lily Adler Mystery #1) by Katharine Schellman from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…Clever, complex, incredibly well-written and researched…

Set in Regency London, widow Lily Adler is returning to her old high society life as a reasonably wealthy and independent recent widow.  Without her husband or children, Lily is trying to carve a new meaningful life for herself in a society that once embraced her. Lily is not alone thanks to a strong friendship with her husband Freddy’s dear friend, Navy Captain, Jack Hartley.

While attending a friend’s high society ball she realizes that her social circle is fraught with scandal and secrets.   Lily overwhelmed with grief and the drama of the event takes a step outside for fresh air and hears an argument that ends in murder.  Shocked and overwhelmed by the events she is drawn to action when the case is swept under the rug and it appears that the victim won’t receive the justice he deserves.  Captain Hartley attempts to honour his friend’s memory by watching out for Lily which proves to be a constant and difficult challenge. Faced with the period’s misogyny Ms Alder boldly tackles the case with the help of Captain Harvey, and the young victim’s former fiancée Miss Ofelia Oswald. I have to say I’m also impressed by the way the author handles the misogyny, race and class issues of the time with sensitivity and respect.

Clever, complex, incredibly well-written and researched, this book keeps the reader enthralled and I have to say I absolutely loved it! Ms Schellman creates interesting, dynamic and real characters who have their flaws yet are likeable despite them.  The mystery plot itself though slow to build definitely does not disappoint.  With both friends and foes as suspects as well as corruption and treason at the highest levels, this book keeps you guessing to the very satisfying end. I’m looking forward to reading future books in this series!

#NetGalley #Book #Review The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley #MagicRealism #Steampunk #HistoricalFiction

Review

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

(The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2)

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: March 3rd, 2020

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley  Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

I am a huge fan of Natasha Pulley, she has such a unique and wonderful voice, her novels are always magical and mesmerizing. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the second instalment in her The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which as expected is incredibly well written, complex, completely unique and captivating. Although it definitely stands on its own I really do recommend reading the first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

We start a while after the events in The Watchmaker of Filigree. Thaniel Steepleton, Keita Mori and Thaniel’s daughter, Six and their Katsu their mechanical quirky octopus begin their adventure in Victorian-era London living their lives when they are asked to travel to investigate a ghost-infested British Legation in Tokyo.  Pulley introduces us to steampunk Tokyo, Hokkaido and even the infamous Aokigahara forest. Thaniel suffering from tuberculosis in the thick London fog agrees to accept the posting as an interpreter, while Mori returns to his royal home to use his powers to investigate unfortunately having to also face a past that he has worked hard to put behind him.

Slowly the Legation begins to see an increase in ghostly activity which seems to be plaguing them. Stranger things begin to happen when Pepperharrow, a woman from Mori’s past is called upon to honour a debt, Mori starts to change and seems incredibly distant.   When Mori goes missing, Thaniel and Pepper independently go to extreme lengths to find him.

This book has everything, the author introduces us to some larger than life heroes and villains in this instalment as well as introducing us to an interesting scientific plotline. I would highly recommend this book, Natasha Pulley has given us an exquisite novel, filled with characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world-building and beautiful, flawless prose that should be savoured and enjoyed.

#NetGalley #Review of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold #UrbanFantasy #Noir

Review

 

The Last Smile in Sunder City Cover

The Last Smile in Sunder City

by Luke Arnold

Release Date: February 25th 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold from NetGalley and Orbit Books in order to read and give an honest review.

In his debut novel, author Luke Arnold does a masterful job with The Last Smile in Sunder City combining urban fantasy with the noir detective stories of old.

When magic disappears from Sunder city it leaves behind its magical creatures, powerless and living life like an average human. When a former vampire, now beloved old and frail teacher goes missing our protagonist Fetch Phillips is hired to find out what happened to him.  Some say he turned to dust or ran away some say his dedication to his students wouldn’t let him just leave.  Fetch a self-destructive, alcoholic living in his detective agency office, spending his days trying to assuage himself of his guilt-ridden past put himself in peril trying to get to the bottom of it. When a student goes missing too, he feels even more pressure to solve the case.  Sunder City feels like a bit of a character in itself, a typical noir city fraught with seedy back street bars, brothels and greasy spoons with disgusting food but excellent coffee.

I wasn’t sure about this book when I started but I have to say I was carried away, the characters, the pacing, the writer’s voice, his twisty plot turns, completely engaged me. With an intriguing mystery and interesting backstory, this is a fantastic book I highly recommend! I will definitely look forward to Mr Arnold’s future books.

Boho & Bookish #BookReview of #VoodooShanghai by Kristi Charish via @PenguinRandomCA #UrbanFantasy

 

Review

VooDoo Shanghi Cover

Voodoo Shanghai

The Kincaid Strange Series, Book Three

by Kristi Charish

Release date: February 18th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Lipstick Voodoo (The Kincaid Strange Series, Book Three) by Kristi Charish from Penguin Random House Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

… fast-paced mysteries with an urban fantasy/paranormal twist but with plenty of intelligence, wit and dark humour, making this series quirky, fun and extremely entertaining…

I am a huge fan of Kristi Charish so I was thrilled to get to review the third and final (?) offering from her Kincaid Strange Series. I really have fun with this series, the books are definitely fast-paced mysteries with an urban fantasy/paranormal twist but with plenty of intelligence, wit, and dark humour, making this series, quirky fun and extremely entertaining.   

Our protagonist, Paranormal Practitioner, Kincaid Strange, is on the case again picking up where Lipstick Voodoo leaves off with Kincaid now working as Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s spirit’s, new apprentice. Although no longer working for the Seattle PD, Kincaid is getting her life back together and she is finding a moderate amount of success.  When her ex Aaron, asks for her help on an investigation in Portland, a case involving the ghost of who they believe to be Martin Dane, the White Picket Fence Serial Killer her newfound success in on the line. Something doesn’t sit right with Kincaid, she knows she is not being told everything and it’s making her a bit wary of taking the case but a young girl is involved.  When she receives a warning from the other side, her curiosity and sense of justice prevail and she pursues it even if it means her walking into a trap.  When she arrives in Portland she runs into more trouble than she expected, a magic bog, missing ghosts, zombies and witches just to name a few.

I love Charish’s female protagonist in both this series, Kincaid Strange and her Owl books
She writes strong, smart and sassy but also flawed female characters which make them easy to find empathy for and appreciate.  Although not a fan of zombies, in particular, Charish writes them in a fun way that enhances the quirkiness of her books.

All in all, a fabulous fun read but with one doozy of a cliff hanger at the very end which I really hope indicates we won’t be seeing the last of Kincaid Strange!  If you are looking for a fun, intelligent and quirky urban fantasy, this book is for you.

 

#BookReview Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara #CrimeFiction #missingchildren via #NetGalley

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

by Deepa Anappara

Release date: February 4th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara from Penguin Random House Canada and Netgalley in order to read and give an honest review.

“…atmospheric, intriguing story, with unique and sympathetic characters makes this such an incredibly engrossing read…”

Debut author and seasoned journalist, Deepa Anappara creates an atmospheric, heartbreaking and vivid portrayal of life in a basti when children go missing from an Indian slum. Bringing to light social issues, misogyny, religious conflict, police corruption, poverty, elitism and even a touch of folklore this book is more than meets the eye.

Obsessed with true-crime television, 9-year-old Jai dreams about becoming a detective.  When a classmate goes missing Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz decide to investigate when the local police are indifferent. “The Djinn Patrol” decides to look into the case but when more children are taken the case becomes much more than they bargained for and hits closer to home than they expected. 

Personally, this book is one that will stick with me for a long time.  The author brings to life vivid details in each and every scene, immersing the reader in the culture. Knowing that although fiction, much of the book is based on facts, is chilling.  The author also shares the tragic statistic that approximately 180 children go missing in India every day and that many never make the newspapers or are ever thoroughly investigated.

Flawlessly written,  atmospheric, intriguing story, with unique and sympathetic characters makes this such an incredibly engrossing read that I would highly recommend!