Book Reviews

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Dont Let Go

Title: Don’t Let Go
Author: Harlan Coben
Rating: ★★★★

This was my September 2018 Mystery Book Discussion group read at my local library.

The mystery starts out with a girl named Daisy and an Officer Rex who con people into getting drunk and arrested for DUIs, Daisy being the sleazy flirt and Rex being the cop to catch them. However, things turn south when the victim really conned them, and Officer Rex is found dead.

Detective Dumas is approached by two police officers asking him for help in the murder case. However, Detective Dumas quickly finds himself with a new investigation on his hands, involving ex-girlfriend Maura Wells, who disappeared fifteen years ago. Other people are starting to die. Will Dumas catch the murderer or forever wonder what the link between the deaths really is?

I really liked that this was a standalone book. I feel like most of the books we have been reading for the group have been parts in a series, and while they could be read as a standalone, there was always some aspect missing that the earlier books filled in (so I was left out). One thing I found was odd was how Dumas would talk to himself, but he was actually “talking” to his brother, Leo. I get it, a sign of grieving, but still weird.

And poor Hank! I just feel so bad for him 😦

What I loved about this mystery was the reader saw all of the different aspects of the story. We found out little, almost separate stories along the journey. But of course, nothing is ever not deliberate…and they actually helped piece the puzzle together. The pace was constant, capturing, and almost wish you asked for a follow-up novel (What?! Who said that?! Not someone who wishes every novel was a standalone). I loved how everything fit together and I wouldn’t change a thing!

BONUS: If you donate to some charities sponsored by Harlan Coben, you can have your name included in one of his novels! How cool is that?!

SEPTEMBER 2018 MYSTERY BOOK DISCUSSION

Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A + GIVEAWAY] The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick

IG Demon Blog Tour Promo cropped

Welcome to my stop on The Demon Race book tour! Thank you to Alexandria Warwick for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Front_Cover_TheDemonRace

Title: THE DEMON RACE
Author: Alexandria Warwick
Pub. Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Pages: 351
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

A race across the desert.

An unimaginable prize.

It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom.

When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness.

Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart.

In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay.


REVIEW

It’s called the Demon Race, and it does only take place every one thousand years. People enter because the prize is worth the risk of crossing the Saraj.

Namali is entrapped in an arranged marriage her father concocted. Upon this realization (and much sooner than anticipated), Namali is left with no choice but to join the Demon Race. Giving up her most prized possession and friend, she barters with a merchant to buy the necessities to enter the race.

She would enter the Demon Race. She would win. And she would wish this marriage away.

She soon discovers that things aren’t as easy as they seem, and are in fact, way more dangerous, but it is entirely worth the prize of freedom. Understanding that she will have to ride a demon across the Saraj, she quickly realizes that her soul may also be at stake. Can she win the race without giving herself up in the process?

And the prize?…What do you get if you win?

“The deepest, most hidden desire of your heart…A wish”

I love that this was a standalone novel. Nowadays, we see everything turned into a series, and this was a refreshing change. Not only that, but the idea was so unique and so unalike anything we have seen before. The reader gets a taste of romance, but it is not overpowering (thank you!). As we read, we see Namali grow as a character, and the messages were those we all should follow and strive for. This was a fast-paced, learning, and unique read that everyone should read!

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author pic 2 smallest

Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Demon Race is her first novel.

 

 

Follow Alexandria:
Website | Instagram


Q & A

Q: When did you first get the idea for The Demon Race and what was your inspiration for this novel?

A: I actually remember the moment pretty clearly. It was 2015 and I was in my last semester of university, sitting in one of my ecology classes and brainstorming, when I started thinking of the movie Hidalgo. That was the initial inspiration–a race across the desert. I’ve always been drawn to competitions because it’s an automatic high-stakes story, and I loved how the terrain would add additional obstacles for the characters.

 

Q: Did THE DEMON RACE have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: The soundtrack to the video game Journey by Austin Wintory really helped me picture the setting of the Saraj. It’s very eerie. It made me think of solitude and desolation, and I feel that the harmonies he used (a lot of dissonance) were a good reflection of how Namali felt traveling alone through the desert.

 

Q: What is your dream cast for THE DEMON RACE?

A: Namali would be cast by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani. In the novel, Namali does not believe herself to be beautiful, but I imagined her to have striking features as Golshifteh does. Sameen would be cast by Palestinian actor Mousa Kraish, whose features are rather boyish and open. And finally the merchant would be cast by Iranian-American actor Pej Vahdat. I always imagined the merchant to have sharper features, so Pej would portray him beautifully.

 

Q: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

A: Hmm. This took me a while to think about because I wrote the story so long ago. I would probably say the greatest challenge was believing in the story. So many people said no to The Demon Race, and it did take a toll on my self-esteem as a writer after a while. There came a time when I began to doubt my writing abilities, my abilities as a storyteller, because the story I wrote was not the story publishing was looking for. But even when I trunked the novel, I knew I couldn’t let it stay there. So I decided to say yes to myself, to this story, and give it a chance at being read by people who would hopefully understand Namali the way I did.

 

Q: What writers inspire you?

A: This is a great question! I find that different writers inspire me for different reasons. When it comes to the types of stories I write, about young women finding their own path and learning their strengths, Tamora Pierce, hands down. She was the reason I wanted to become a writer. When it comes to navigating the indie world of publishing, Elise Kova, as she managed to build her own success. In terms of writing craft, Marie Rutkowski (her prose kills me) and Maggie Stiefvater. And if we’re talking about writing characters and character relationships that are painfully slow to develop but are wrought with tension, well, that would be none other than C.S. Pacat!


GIVEAWAY

ENTER HERE


 

Book Reviews

Rule (Rule, #1) by Ellen Goodlett

RuleTitle: Rule (Rule, #1)
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Rating: ★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Three sisters. Three deadly secrets.

Only one can wear the crown.

Zofi: a Traveler. While trying to protect the man she loved, she killed Prince Nicolen. But someone knows her secret…

Akeylah: From the Eastern Reach. Tapping into Vulgar Arts, she planned to curse the man (“father”) who took care of her after her mother’s death, realizing too late she was actually slowly killing her real father, the King.

Florencia: Raised as a servant in the Palace. However, Ambassador Danton sweet-talker her into falling in love with him, while also tricking her into helping him find a grave secret that would kill many.

Someone knows all three secrets. Someone related to them is behind the threats. But who? Are they the only ones with a secret? Will the girls figure out who the blackmailer is before time runs out?

Looking around Goodreads and other blogger’s websites, this novel wasn’t a fan favorite. And honestly, I did like it, not love it. I thought it was even-paced and kept the reader wanting more. It was nice to see the perspectives of the three potential heirs. However, the only downfall, to me, was that I felt it predictable. But, then again, I’m always good at figuring out mysteries. I would definitely read the sequel when it comes out (I want to see if my predictions are correct)! 

The expected publication date is September 11, 2018.

Book Reviews

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars - The Moon-King

Title: Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King
Author: Alex Alice
Rating: ★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I didn’t realize this was the second book in a series, so I was curious to see if I could drop right in and be fine, or feel completely left out.

We start our story in the late 1800’s in Bavaria in a story of spacecraft. A couple suppose their children boarded the King’s Aethership, but it has been thirty-six hours since telescopes have lost sight of the craft.

The Aethership is the only hope of the King keeping his throne. Seraphin is convinced that his mother is still alive. But someone has stolen the regulator and the whole crew is at risk! Will they make it back to Earth or will casualties lie ahead? Or will something else entirely be discovered?

I absolutely adore the artwork! It is realistic and so descriptive. Also, I love the tidbits of science and fact the reader receives, which adds to the realism and makes you feel like you are learning something without even trying! I like how it started out with the current, went back in time, and the reader ended up after the beginning by the time the comic was over.

The expected publication date is September 4, 2018.

Book Reviews

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

7 1-2 Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleTitle: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder so the murderer won’t be caught.

Step into the world of Clue and modern day mystery dinner parties. That is exactly what The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is all about. Evelyn’s parents throw her a gala and invite all of the guests who were present at her brother’s death. 

Aiden Bishop is our protagonist who volunteered himself to finding the killer. But has he bitten off more than he can chew? Evelyn Hardcastle has been killed hundreds of times now while Bishop has been trying to solve the murder mystery. This time, he is closer than he ever was before. But someone is lurking trying to end Bishop’s chances of finding the murderer by slowly killing out each of his eight host bodies. Will he figure out the murderer in time? 

This idea was so original that I absolutely loved it! While a little slow at first, things picked up quickly. Without the threat of being killed and doomed to repeat history until figured out, I would’ve loved to be in Bishop’s place. I just love this idea and how it was incorporated because I’ve never seen anything like this before! Not only that, but it is a unique way for the typical murder mystery that constantly keeps you guessing, but has the characteristics of a murder mystery party with the aspect of everyone having their own secret that plays a part in the overall mystery. Definitely would recommend!

The expected publication date is September 18, 2018.

Book Reviews

Manga Classics: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Title: Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
Author: Crystal S. Chan
Rating: ★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was a little hesitant beginning this manga because the story is well-know, so it has a lot to live up to.

We begin the story in nineteenth century India where two wolves stumble upon a human baby they later name Mowgli. Along with Mother and Father Wolf, Baloo, the sleep bear, takes responsibility for raising Mowgli. However, Shere Khan, the tiger, wants Mowgli for himself.

After Shere Khan tricks the pack into egging Akela on to fight and impossible hunt, Shere Khan takes control and banishes Mowgli. Mowgli then finds friends with the monkeys and is later captured by them. What will happen to Mowgli? Will he keep true to his promise of skinning Shere Khan?

The manga is then proceeded by a series of short stories about The White Seal, Rikki-Tiki-Tavi, and Toomai. I probably enjoyed Rikki-Tiki-Tavi the most out of the three, but the other two were quite bland for me. While the original does include these stories, I felt them to be out of place in this manga…if anything, probably better left without.

I wanted to love this and had higher expectations since I have been enjoying the other Manga Classics so much. However, this one just fell short for me. The ending of the story of Mowgli left me unfulfilled and wanting more. While the addition of the three animal stories rings true to the original, I felt them to be out of place in this manga, and actually detracting from the manga as a whole. With that said, I do think that this would be great for someone younger since it is comprised of a bunch of short stories.

 

Book Reviews

Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1) by Bree Barton

Heart of ThornsTitle: Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1)
Author: Bree Barton
Rating: ★★★

Fidacteu zeu bighotz limarya eu naj.

Trust your heart, even if it kills you.

I received this in the July 2018 FairyLoot box.

Once upon a time, an arranged marriage existed between Mia Rose and Prince Quin. But unlike her sister, Mia could care less about the fame and fortune. All she cares about is seeking revenge against the Gwyrach (pretty much a witch) who killed her mother. Following the below Hunters’ Creed as a lifestyle:

Heart for a heart, life for a life.

Trying to avoid the consummation of her marriage, Mia plans to escape with her sister. However, her plan backfires and she is stuck seeking revenge with none other than her beloved betrothed. Maybe not everything is how it appeared to be?

The First Law of the Dujia
The practice of magic shall never be used by Dujia to consciously inflict pain, suffering, or death on her fellow sister, unless the Dujia’s own life is in danger.

The Second Law of the Dujia
The practice of magic shall never be used by Dujia to consciously inflict pain, suffering, or death on herself.

The Third Law of Dujia
In situations wherein the practice of magic is necessary, it is at the direction of the Dujia to determine the most equitable balance of power and act accordingly.

Along their journey, Mia starts to uncover secrets, not only pertaining to her mother’s death, but about herself. 

The people you love are the ones who hurt you the most.

Speaking of love, Quin seemed, to me, to have some romance connections with three other people, so I totally get how Mia would be confused. At one point, I definitely thought things were going in a different direction. Quin is one confusing guy and everyone seems to want him.

What

So, I kind of saw the ending coming, but kind of not. I’m not sure why everyone kept blaming Mia for both deaths? Obviously, she didn’t do it and how do people make out that she did? Like, what?!

But, with that said, I did like it this novel! Unfortunately, things only start to get interesting about 75% of the way through the story. After that, I was entrapped in the plot. Two of the deaths I did not see coming whatsoever! I’m curious to see how everything will turn out in the next book as we now have a lot of loose ends to tie up. 

JULY 2018 FAIRYLOOT