Category Archives: Mystery

REVIEW {37} The Diviners by Libba Bray

THE DIVINERS
SERIES: The Diviners #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Lair of Dreams #2 (Releases August 5th 2014)
AUTHOR: Libba Bray
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: September 18th 2012 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
EDITION: Hardcover, 578 pages
ACQUISITION: Own
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Review, 4 Stars, Libba Bray, The Diviners, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Ghosts
RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.98/5.00
WHAT THE COVER SAYS: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.


As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

MY THOUGHTS: Horror is not a genre that I typically read, and when this book came out, it was the setting – 1920’s New York City – that drew me in. Whatever I expected this book to be, it wasn’t. Immediately I was absorbed in Evie’s story from her small town life in Zenith, Ohio to her adventures in New York City and new friends Mabel, Theta, and Henry, while appeasing her guardian, uncle Will, and his assistant Jericho.
What I didn’t expect, were the multiple story lines. We followed Evie as well as Memphis Campbell, and even got other little side stories of the murders. There were tons of characters, but it was pretty easy to keep everyone and everything straight.
I am not the type to really read books that delve into the horror of murders. This book doesn’t spare too many gory details. 
I enjoyed the writing style, but felt the book was overly long. While it didn’t feel like it dragged too bad, I did find myself rushing through pages at some points.
The romance of the book doesn’t even occur until the end, and I didn’t feel it was very believable. Throughout the whole book Evie didn’t have any feelings whatsoever about Jericho, and even wondered what Mabel saw in him. But then suddenly she’s daydreaming about his sweaty muscles and kisses on her lips.

Overall, I will definitely be picking up the sequel because I am curious and interested enough and invested in the characters to see where the future takes them.

SIMILAR READS: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron | The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | Ask the Passengers by A.S. King | Fathomless by Jackson Pearce | Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride | Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama | Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys | The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan | Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {34} VENOM by Fiona Paul

VENOM
SERIES:Secrets of the Eternal Rose | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Belladonna #2
AUTHOR: Fiona Paul

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 30th 2012 by Philomel
EDITION: Hardcover, 435 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, Italy, 2 Star Rating, Philomel, Review
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.79/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.





MY THOUGHTS: I adore historical fiction. Anything set in Renaissance Italy really gets me excited to read! Unfortunately, I was let down by this tale. I found there to be some inaccuracies in the setting and time period, as far as what was occurring in the story. These parts didn’t detract from the overall story, however I can see some people turned off by it. While I did notice them, I would not necessarily say it ruined the book for me.

I had trouble connecting with Cass, the main character. I really didn’t feel anything towards her, or what happened to her. If you are a teenage girl of marrying age, engaged to someone, you shouldn’t be out traipsing about with another man, one of a lowly station at that. And – one who creeps around cemeteries at night, lies to you, keeps things from you, etc. I wasn’t a fan of Falco, at all. In fact, I really didn’t like any of the characters. I believe that they were well written, I just didn’t have any characters that I was interested in knowing.

The writing style itself overall was decent, but the story didn’t go anywhere for me. It was one of the slowest plotted books I’ve read, and that definitely affected the overall rating that I gave the book. You really don’t learn anything – except two things that are major factors in the book; who sent Cass the creepy letter and was at the Dubois party whom she danced with; and what Falco does for a living that was his “big secret”. As far as what the Order of the Eternal Rose is? No idea. Cass’s Fiance mentions it really quick in the few last pages of the book, but that’s it. I’m all for leaving some strings untied at the end of the first book of a series, but this one literally left everything untied, and I felt no satisfaction when I finished the last page and closed the book.

“How terrible it must be to be a member of the noble class. So many rules. Such restraint. You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the side of it’s golden prison.”

One thing that I did enjoy about the book, is the overall darkness and creepiness of it. It definitely had that going for it. I am curious to see how the series continues, but I don’t know if I’ll read the actual book, or just other blogger’s reviews. There could be potential if the plot picks up in the second book, and if there is more depth to the characters and some questions are answered.


SIMILAR READS: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin | Gilt by Katherine Longshore | Dark Star by Bethany Frenette | The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski

Happy Reading!

REVIEW {33} Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
SERIES: Throne of Glass #2 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Throne of Glass #1;  The Assassin and the Pirate Lord #0.1; The Assassin and the Desert #0.2; The Assassin and the Underworld #0.3; The Assassin and the Empire #0.4
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: August 27th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
EDITION: Hardcover, 432 pages
ACQUISITION: ARC from publisher/BEA
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Magic, Mystery, Romance, Adventures, Fairies, 5 Star Rating, Bloomsbury USA, ARC, Review
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.61/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUTAn assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

MY THOUGHTS: I am still completely awestruck after finishing this book. Being the second book in the series, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be just as good as Throne of Glass, but I have to say it was, if not better! There was so much action and suspense and mystery and romance in this one that every single page turbo-charged my emotions and left me with a wicked book hangover!
When I finished Throne of Glass I had marked Celaena down as my #1 Favorite Heroine of All Time. When I finished Crown of Midnight, that statement was confirmed ten times over. Everything that Celaena goes through would break any other person, but she is able to navigate it all with calm and grace. She is one of the strongest, most selfless people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.
Crown of Midnight really puts Celaena to the test. She is now the King’s Assassin, and is sent out on routine missions to take out any of the people he suspects are starting a rebellion against him. But, Celaena of course has secrets of her own – ones she keeps even from Chaol, her maybe-more-than-just-a-crush, and her first true, best friend Nehemiah. She’s still in an awkward spot with Prince Dorian, but luckily we see their friendship resurrected, and become even stronger.

All of the characters in this series are wonderful! They are so well developed that they feel truly 3D and real. Maas has no problem putting her characters in completely crazy scenarios and letting them live, die, figure out secrets, solve mysteries, you name it. This series has a little bit of everything (including a talking door knocker named Mort!) so no matter what your usual genre is, you’ll definitely be able to find something you love in this series.

One of my favorite things about this series, is that it goes places you are not expecting, and introduces characters you’ll be thinking about long after you finish the book. I cannot think of anything that I would change that happened plot-wise in the second installment of this series. Everything is so unique and different but ties together in the end. I cannot wait to see where book three takes us, because I know that it is going to be different from the first two books, but I think Celaena’s adventures are just getting started.  

This is one series that I already find myself recommending to people, whether they read high fantasy or not. It’s one that I do find myself thinking about weeks after I’ve finished the book. Maas is an absolutely incredible storyteller, one that I’ll happily read without a second thought.

SIMILAR READS: Deception by C.J. Redwine | Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Shadowscale by Rachel Hartman | Toxic City by Theo Lawrence | Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Happy Reading!

Save the Date {17} Forevermore by Cindy Miles

TITLE: Forevermore
SERIES: Stand-alone
AUTHOR: Cindy Miles
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: July 1st 2013 by Point
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Ghosts, Point Publishing, Cindy Miles, Forevermore, July 2013 Release
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: On a misty cliffside, mystery and romance await. . . .

Ivy Calhoun’s life has been turned upside down. Her new stepdad has uprooted Ivy and her mom, bringing them to live in an actual castle in the misty Scottish countryside. There are stone-faced servants and shadowy corridors, and the ancient walls seem full of secrets. Ivy is at once frightened and intrigued.


Especially when she meets Logan, a gorgeous, elusive ghost who has haunted the castle grounds for decades. Ivy is immediately drawn to him . . . but Logan is not the only spirit around. Something dark and deadly is afoot, and soon Ivy finds herself in mortal danger.


Is Logan exactly what he seems? Could his mysterious past be tied to Ivy’s present? And can Ivy stop herself from falling in love with him?

WHY YOU SHOULD SAVE THE DATE: Ghosts? Check. Romance? Check. Paranormal themes? Check. Added to my TBR Shelf? Oh yeah! This one sounds so creepy, and eerie, and gothic, and tragic, and beautiful all wrapped up in a pretty little package!! Already reaching over 4.30 out of 5.00 on Goodreads, the reviews are all positive for this gem!
Planning to read Forevermore? Let me know why or why not in the comments below 🙂
Happy Reading!

Review {22} Changeling

AUTHOR: Philippa Gregory
SERIES: Order of Darkness #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Stormbringer #2 (Expected Publication: June 4th 2013)
PUBLISHED: May 25th 2012 by Simon Pulse
ACQUIRED: Own
EDITION: Hardcover, 256 pages
CATEGORIES: 2012 Release, Did Not Finish, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Italy, Magic, Adventure, Mystery, Paranormal, Simon Pulse, Philipa Gregory, Book #1 in Series
RATING: DNF/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.14/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous – and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year – the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft – and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
MY THOUGHTS: I hate not finishing books; especially those written by one of my favorite authors of all time. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy any aspects of this short 256-page introduction to Gregory’s Order of Darkness Series.I could not connect to any of the characters; and I found the story line very difficult to not only follow in the beginning but not engaging or interesting at all. 
Events happen quickly at first, when we first meet Luca and read along as he receives his orders after being accused of heresy. We also meet Isolde, whose father has just died and she learns that she isn’t going to inherit his lands after all, because her dishonest, untrustworthy brother has altered (or lied) about the will and sends her to be the Lady Abbess instead. Once Luca arrives at the Abbey, things slow down incredibly. We crawl through the events of Luca questioning all of the nuns, we see how “odd” Isolde and her companion, Ishraq are, and we realize that there may be more to Ishraq than we first thought.

Isolde and Ishraq escape the Abbey, and when Luca decides that his work there is completed, he travels on to his next mission. That isn’t the end of his run-ins with Isolde though. When I decided that I was not going to finish the book, I was on page 180 (of 256) so you can see I’d made it quite far. This is the chain of events up to that point. There was nothing spectacular or incredulous to keep me reading until the end, which is why I made the decision to go ahead and mark this one as a ‘Did Not Finish’.

The writing style was not the same that I remember from past novels by Gregory, and I think that as well is partly why I wasn’t able to complete the book. I believe that it, too, did not feel like a YA novel. The characters, even though it is an historical novel, did not feel like young adults, and they did not feel very developed to me. The characters were flat and lacked any depth, in my opinion.

WHO WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO: Fans of Philippa Gregory and those who enjoy Medieval Period Historical Novels.

SIMILAR READS: The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges | Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame | Debutantes by Cora Harrison | Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb | Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philipa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (Now known as the War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.
Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visit her website at www.PhilippaGregory.com
Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens of The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.
A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.
Visit her Facebook page.

Happy Reading!
Laura

Review {21} Throne of Glass

AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
SERIES: Throne of Glass #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord #0.1, The Assassin and the Desert #0.2, The Assassin and the Underworld #0.3, The Assassin and the Empire #0.4, Crown of Midnight #2 (Releases 8/27/13)
PUBLISHED: August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
ACQUIRED: Own 
EDITION: Hardcover, 404 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Adventure, Mystery, Paranormal, First Book in Series, 5 Star Rating, Kick-Ass Heroine, Love Triangle, Suspense.
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.14/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:  After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she is bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigares, her search leads her to discover a greater desitny than she could possibly have imagined.
MY THOUGHTS: I loved this book from page one, and have given it the coveted Five Star rating… so you know not only did I absolutely LOVE it – but it’s also on my ‘Re-Read Shelf’ and my ‘Must Recommend to Everyone I Know Shelf’ as well!
I’ve only recently gotten into reading high fantasy, which if you follow my blog you’re probably well aware of. It’s also the disclaimer I usually start off any reviews for a fantasy novel with. An important part of a good fantasy novel for me, is the world-building. Maas has created an absolutely realistic, visual world that Celaena lives in and that the novel takes place in. She seamlessly weaves magic into the mix to create a world where it is forbidden to use. 
Too many factors bound up into one story can also create a sense of chaos, but Maas is able to combine themes of magic, fantasy, assassins, fairies, and duels into a story that is action-packed and completely unputdownable (even if that is technically not a word!)! 
I found myself thrilled at the mystery in who was killing the competitors, and was very happy to find it wasn’t predictable at all! Each turn of the page kept me guessing and guessing, and in the end I was quite happy with the way the story closed. It left enough loose ends while managing to also give enough closure to the first book in the series.
The characters in the book also make it a joy to lose a few hours within it’s pages. Celaena is one of the strongest, bravest heroines that I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with. Celaena’s definitely met her match in Captain Chaol Westfall; who isn’t immune to fleeting moments of jealousies when Prince Dorian begins spending lots of time with Celaena. And a friendship is formed when Nehemia, the Princess of Eyllwe meets her and prefers Celaena’s honest company to that of the girls of the court – as in Lady Kaltain. 
There are many sub-stories interwoven into the plot, including Celaena learning that she is much more than she ever thought she was, or would be! I have a very big spot in my heart for fairies, so when it’s learned that the first Queen of Adarlan was of fairy descent, I was so excited, and hoping to find out even more in future books about Queen and her connection to Celaena.
SIMILAR READS: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke | The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson | Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | False Memory by Dan Krokos
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas lives in Southern California, and over the years she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much coffee, and watches absolutely rubbish TV shows. When she’s not busy writing YA fantasy novels, she can be found exploring the California coastline.
Happy Reading!
Laura