Review: Sins of the Heart by Eve Silver (The Sins Series #1)


343180185 stars

Synopsis:

Dagan Krayl, the Underworld’s most powerful soul reaper, is the demigod son of the evil god Sutekh. He’s on a mission to find his murdered brother’s remains and resurrect him, but resurrection means that the secrets carried into death would be released and, with them, a war that could end gods and mankind alike.

Roxy Tam is searching for the same thing, but for completely different reasons. She means to make certain that the remains don’t fall into Sutekh’s hands, and that the soul reapers do not reanimate their fallen comrade. As a Daughter of Aset, Roxy is tasked with the protection of the human race, and if that means thwarting an all powerful soul reaper and making certain his dead brother stays dead, so be it. But when Roxy sees Dagan face-to-face, she realizes that she has met him once before—a meeting that changed her life forever.

Neither Dagan nor Roxy expects to join forces for the sake of mankind. Or to have their loyalties tested as they struggle against treachery, betrayal and the potent desire that threatens to consume them both.


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Ever read a book that just made you say ‘YES’? This is one of those.

This is the second of Eve Silver’s books that I’ve read, but the first in the Sins series. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book just by looking at the cover (we’ve already determined that I’m shallow that way) and I would have missed out massively. Thankfully I already knew that Silver is a genius, so I went ahead and read it anyway.

This book is a fabulous contemporary romance set in a world of ancient Egyptian mythology.

Roxy and Dagan are destined to be enemies but from the moment they meet, they’re drawn to each other. Dagan is a soulreaper and the son of Sutekh, the soul eating god of the underworld.

Roxy is a woman who grew up in the foster system, she wasn’t abused but she suffered the mild emotional neglect being fostered often entails. She’s determined not to put herself into the position to be hurt emotionally again, which means that she wilfully misses out on a lot of experiences in life.

Dagan is a wonderfully complex character too, he has a very unusual family dynamic but his love for his brothers is really moving. Though the brothers have little to no reason to care about each other given how their father has done everything he can to pit them against each other, they seem to have an unbreakable bond.

This book was a very elegant balance between horror, mystery and romance. I was absolutely enraptured by Silver’s writing style and couldn’t bear to miss a single word – the romance between Roxy and Dagan is so intense. I enjoyed knowing that they were certain to get together, it was just a question of when and how hot it was going to be.

The romance isn’t overpowering in this novel, similar to Seduced by a Stranger, the storyline doesn’t unravel once the main characters have seen each other naked. If anything, it ramps it up another notch.

The violence is blood curdling and doesn’t pull a single punch, the darkness is what makes the sex and romance pop. Hearts are torn out, literally and figuratively, and souls fed to demons. This is what I look for in a series and I suspect that soon this series will replace the Anita Blake series in my heart.

I just couldn’t get enough of the political intrigue and conspiracy in this novel, the rest of this series promises so much if the cliff hanger is anything to go by.
This book is the perfect choice for any fans of intense thrillers, mythology and hot and steamy romance.

Review: Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Published by Gollancz

5 stars

Synopsis:

As you probably know by now, I’m not usually a fan of YA but I made exception for this book on the basis of the author, mythology and sexy cover. To be honest, the only thing that even makes this book a YA is the young protagonist and absence of swearing and sex.

Obviously, Harris wouldn’t let me down – so here’s a tough as nails female protagonist with NO ROMANTIC INTERESTS! Nope, Maddy’s too busy saving the worlds from being destroyed for any of that nonsense.

There’s nothing condescending about this book, it complements Norse mythology perfectly and encourages you to go pick up a copy of the Poetic Edda to fill in the gaps. True to the original Norse myths, this isn’t just a story of valour and other typical Gryffindorian traits but also plenty of trickery (well it does have Loki in it!), doublecrossing and manipulation – Maddy is only 14 and new to these kinds of games so she’s on a steep learning curve once she throws her lot in with the gods.

My favourite character in this book, unsurprisingly, was Loki. He really does get the short end of the stick in all things. It’s in his nature to cause mischief and everyone knows it but they still keep him around to help, then they get pissed off when he starts causing mischief. He’s a very self aware character and doesn’t try to act against his nature, but is resentful that everyone else wants to change or kill him (which is fair enough).
This story is very much character driven and you have no idea who to trust, but best of all – there’s very little ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in this book as we know it. Instead, it’s ‘chaos’ and ‘order’, neither of which are inherently good or evil, which is a take that I really enjoy and identify with.

Mythology fans of all ages will love this exceptionally well written book, I can imagine it making a wonderful book to read together as a family if you have teens (or are a teen with parents who should read better books).

Also, go on Pinterest and look up Loki and his children – I’ve been lost in a spiral of amazing fan art for the past hour, the internet really is the best thing ever.

 

Review: Seduced by a Stranger (Dark Gothic book 5) by Eve Silver

 

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Published by Eve Silver

5 stars

Synopsis:

Destitute and desperate, Catherine Weston accepts the summons from her childhood friend Madeline St. Aubyn to attend her at Cairncroft Abbey, a place of secrets, lies and murder. Madeline’s health is in a poor state and she is terrified of her cousin, Gabriel. But Gabriel has quite a different effect on Catherine, stirring longings and desires she believed long buried.

Gabriel St. Aubyn is haunted by the horrors of both his past and his present, horrors he conceals behind a remote, unapproachable facade. He is drawn to Catherine, but is determined to protect her from the tragedies that yet have claws sunk deep in his soul.

Then a young woman is found dead, and Madeline’s ravings point to a link between this horrific crime and Gabriel—and Catherine must decide if he is a man worthy of her love or a sinister stranger determined to make her his next victim.

Note: All books in the Dark Gothic series can be read as stand-alone novels.


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This book was recommended to me by a great friend and I after reading this, I can say that I will be trusting her judgement in all things, for the rest of time.

This book blew my mind and has me fully committed to the gothic romance genre. It had all of my favourite things in a totally absorbing novel  – a gothic setting, Jane Eyre-esque banter between characters and a whole load of family secrets involving suspicious deaths.

Catherine Weston is a woman who like to keep her personal life private, she comes across as cold to most people but she is very compassionate and has a strong sense of integrity in all things. So when her old school-friend, Madeline, who once saved her life asks her to come to her, she heads over without so much as a second thought.

Gabriel St. Aubyn shares a home with his cousin, Madeline, and is instantly intrigued by their new house guest. Both Gabriel and Catherine are deliciously complex characters with even more complex histories and scars that they must overcome, which is where the fun is in any romance!

It’s a book of two halves, the first half focusing on the budding romance and relationships between characters and the second half explodes with a completely unpredictable murder mystery. Eve Silver is a genius when it comes to creating a mystery and giving nothing away, even to us seasoned ‘I can totally guess what’s going on’ spoiler geeks. I had no idea how the story was going to pan out, even three quarters of the way in and I wasn’t disappointed with the ending when it all became clear.

The story is set in the 1800s and is told in an elegant and compelling writing style, Silver has nailed the line between authentic historical language and keeping it interesting for the modern reader. It feels like it’s been too long since I read a book that had the right balance in this regard so it was very welcome, I set up a blanket fort on my living room floor in the evening and sat with my nose in the book until  I was done.

As my friend can attest by the messages I was sending her every 20 minutes or so, I loved everything about this book.

My favourite messages would have to be:

‘34% in, dialogue is jawdropping, I have no idea what’s going on but I know I love it’

 

‘They have done the naughty sexy times! Wooooooooo’

Which brings me on to: The Sex Scene.

If you’ve read this book, you know which one I mean. It’s perfectly written (the word ‘nub’ is never uttered) and has made all of the tension leading up to this point worthwhile, and better yet – the book doesn’t just devolve into constant sex from that point on and give up on the plot, which is a pet hate of mine when a book is marketed as anything other than erotica. The mystery holds strong right up to the end and the tension doesn’t instantly dissolve just because they’ve seen each other naked.

I’m delighted to say that I’ve signed up to review Eve Silver’s Sins series and it appears that she’s an incredibly prolific writer so I’m going to be stocked up on excellent fiction for a long, long time!

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Published by Random House UK, Ebury Publishing

5 stars

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


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**Thank you NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this title in exchange for an honest review**

YES! So much YES!

This book feels like it picks up at the end of a horror film, the bloodstained heroine survives a terrible ordeal and we join her 10 years later when she’s coming to terms with the fact that she’ll have to spend the rest of her life as a ‘final girl’.
Final girls are doomed to become media fodder every time a similar event crops up and the target of weirdos and fetishists, while they try to recover from the trauma of their past.

In this case, Quincy’s doing a pretty good job. She has an income, a strong relationship with her boyfriend Jeff and a future that doesn’t feature any more horror.

The synopsis of this book tells you what’s going on, so no need for me to add any more here or I’ll spoil the fun. I will, however, say that it’s nothing like anything you’ve ever read before. What I enjoyed the most is how Sager has written very complex and developed characters – everyone has a good and a bad side in this book, they’re capable of anything and that’s what keeps the tension going until the very last page.

Sager builds nail biting tension throughout this book, combining the art of the unreliable narrator and characters with everything to hide. I didn’t have a clue how this book was going to end right up until the final chapter and it was BRILLIANT.

Quincy is very easy to connect to as a main character, she’s understandably a neurotic mess after everything that’s happened but she’s moving forward and trying to keep herself together. She’s not a perfect human being, she’s a little too reliant on Xanax and red wide, and she has a fiery temper but she’s doing the best with what she has.

When Sam sweeps into town and forces her to dredge up the past, things start to get messy. The dynamic between the two characters is fascinating, it’s completely unhealthy from the very start but they’ve both survived the most unimaginable hell at the hands of other people and know that the other can understand them.

There’s not a hell of a lot else I can say about this book really other than that I loved it and hope that this author has more books up her sleeve along the lines of this one! She’s come up with an entirely original concept and, as far as I’m concerned, written the story in the best way possible.

If you’re a horror film, thriller or murder mystery aficionado: this book will rock your world. It’s the ultimate survivor’s story, which left me with that ‘you go girl!’ feeling at the end.

Review: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

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Published by Crown

5 stars

Synopsis:

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.


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**Thank you NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this title in exchange for an honest review**

I started this book just before Christmas and had to read it in small chunks ever since. It’s a tough read and broke my heart on every page.

I don’t normally read more than one book at a time but I needed to punctuate this book with some lighter stuff because it was dragging me down into depression. There’s a trigger warning for you right there: take caution in reading this book if you suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts.
This book is the heart wrenching memoir by the mother of a high school shooter. Sue Klebold was an ordinary mother, she was attentive and involved in her son’s everyday life but she didn’t pick up on the subtle signs which could have shown her what her son was planning.

This book explores that very fact, highlighting how difficult it is to see into the mind of another human being if they choose to hide something, in this case- depression. Dylan’s parents had no idea that he was suicidally depressed for years before he took catastrophic action, and I for one believe that there’s no way they could have known without specialist advice. Unless you’re looking at your loved ones and specifically for signs of suicidal or homicidal thoughts, how  would you spot those signs? How many of us look at children and wonder if they’re thinking about killing themselves or others?

I believe her when she says that Dylan was an empathetic and compassionate teenager. It doesn’t absolve him of anything that he did, but it does shine a new light on matters – a kind and thoughtful teenager can still do these things. Posthumously, Dylan has been diagnosed with various mental conditions which can never be definitively proven but seem very likely.
Klebold uses the term ‘brain health’ a lot in this book rather than ‘mental health’ and makes an excellent point: ‘mental health’ is made to sound so ethereal, as if any illness or diagnosis would be questionable. Whereas with ‘brain health’ is sounds more grounded in fact – we believe in high blood pressure and know that it could cause a heart attack, we should believe in chemical imbalances in the brain that could cause irrational behaviour too. It’s a purely psychological use of the term, but it makes a good point.

This book packs a hell of a punch and does discuss tragedy, grief, depression and suicide in great but essential detail. My heart broke for Sue (I don’t normally use authors’ first names, but this book feels so much like reading someone’s diary that you lose a bit of formality along the way) over and over again,

Sue Klebold has not written this book for financial gain, donating all proceeds to brain health charities. She hasn’t written it to protest her innocence or to beg forgiveness, she’s poured her heart out on a page to tell other people what the signs were that she’d missed in her own son and overall:

‘Anyone can be suicidal. Don’t assume that you and your loved ones are safe, so educate yourself and be aware of the people around you.’

Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

328602545 stars

Synopsis: 

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she has no choice but to return to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witches, and of a great book, in which her brother is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will her brother’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?


 

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**Thank you to Netgalley for a complimentary copy of this title in exchange for an honest review**

This book was all the best things that you can find in a historical fiction novel.

It immediately appealed to me because the 1600s witch hunting is a phenomenon that has always intrigued me, probably due to my own pagan leanings. This book was everything that I hoped that it would be and more.

Firstly, the book is told from the perspective of Alice, fictional sister of Matthew Hopkins the infamous witch finder general. It’s a story about the lives of women from the perspective of a woman, it talks about being at the mercy of the men in their lives and other factors which made them vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft.

Alice is an excellent narrator for this story, she’s a kind, educated woman who has lost everything she once future on. She’s returned home after the loss of her husband and is now at the mercy of her unstable younger brother who has moved up in the world in her absence. What makes her so perfect is that she is part of the proceedings while at the same time set apart from them so that she can see everything that’s going on.

Underdown is a storytelling genius, she’s a master of the art of subtlety and has found the perfect balance to make the language come across as authentic without being face meltingly dull as I’ve learnt to be wary of in historical fiction. She weaves in some of the possible psychological causes of the witch hunts, ranging from grief over the loss of a child, mental illness, fear and greed. The most interesting part for me was when Alice, even tempered narrator that she is, was jealous enough of another woman that she couldn’t fully disagree with her being accused of witchcraft.

This book kept my attention all the way through, the second half picked up the pace and shifted from ‘sad’ to ‘downright traumatic’ as Hopkins’ activities start to escalate and people just let him destroy the peace in their villages and torment their most vulnerable women. What makes it so harrowing to read is that the author has clearly done her homework on the history… which means that these events are based on a true story. Regardless of motive or the specifics, dozens of women were tortured, abused and hanged for witchcraft during this time frame.

If you like historical fiction or have even a passing interest in the 1600s witch hunts, pick up this book and read where it all began before the hysteria travelled overseas to Salem, Massachusetts. From this point on, I’ll be picking up anything written by Beth Underdown and relishing it!

Review: Aphrodite (Daughters of Zeus #4) by Kaitlin Bevis

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Published by ImaJinn Books

5 stars

Synopsis:

 

Being perfect isn’t easy, but Aphrodite is determined to live up to the ideal. So when Poseidon asks her to investigate strange happenings on several cruise ships, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Demigods are going missing, and no one remembers them having been on board. Aphrodite charms herself into the best room on the ship, prepared to investigate in style. Unfortunately, the room belongs to the one man immune to her charm.
Adonis.
When Aphrodite realizes that he could be the next target, her investigation gets more complicated. Worse, whoever is responsible for the missing demigods charmed the passengers and armed them with long-forgotten weapons designed to kill gods. When the ship goes dark, Aphrodite and Adonis have to work together to discover who is behind the mayhem before Poseidon decides their ship, and every charmed and armed human on it, are more trouble than they’re worth.


 

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**Thank you to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Hell. Fucking. Yes.

This book ticked all the boxes for me. It was exceptionally well written, had really well developed and complex characters and was so intense that in some places I forgot how to breathe.

This is the fourth book in the series and given how many references there are to the history of the characters, I think that I would probably have benefitted from reading the previous books (I’m going to have to go back to them now to make sure they’re as good as this one!).
The general premise of the story is that pantheon of Greek gods are having a reshuffle following the defeat of Zeus and are trying to get their lives back in order. While this is going on in the background, demigods are disappearing and the gods have decided that it’s about time they start investigating what’s going on.

Aphrodite volunteers to go to the mortal world and investigate. This involves getting to know some of the demigods that the gods have estranged for millennia, dealing with divine politics and trying to heal from what can only be described as PTSD after the death of Zeus and everything he did to her.

It’s the psychology of this book that makes it so intense, Aphrodite experiences extreme emotions throughout the book as a result of the trauma she’s suffered and at times it’s really hard to read. Difficult, but worth it.

Of course, that’s not the only great thing about this book- the action sequences are also well written and play out naturally rather than coming across like a cheesy film scene. The suspense, action and characters are artfully written and altogether blew my mind.
There’s a degree of romance in this book, but I think it’s more about passion, kindness and support between beings rather than love and sex, which is what makes it so fascinating.

If, like me, you’re a sucker for any book that brings mythology to life – especially one that doesn’t gloss over how messed up that mythology is, give this one a read.