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January 2018 Book Wrap-Up

January Wrap-up

Hello readers! Today I bring you my Book Wrap-up for January 2018!

I have given myself a goal of 75 books to read for 2018 (via my Goodreads challenge). Last year I tried for 100, but I sadly didn’t make it. So for this year, I made it more attainable for myself. Who knows, maybe I will go above and beyond 75. We shall see… 😉

As for January 2018, I read/reviewed 6 books, which I am kind of bummed out about. That’s it? Yikes. I need to step it up!

Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike

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Shatter follows up the incredible first book in this two book collection, Glitter. Though it doesn’t look like there will be a book three, I am wishing with all my might there will be. These books ROCK! This story blends present times and the 18th-Century, set with the corsets and big wigs! Our main character is Queen and living in the Palace of Versailles, but she is doing everything she can to get out. This book is packed with murder, jewels, backstabbing, and romance. I LOVE these books. ❤

The Healer by C.J. Anaya

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The Healer is the first in this series and it gets kicked off fairly well. I have read books two and three already (look for my upcoming reviews) and am currently on book four. I thought this was a great intro to what this series is really about, and I am still happily lost in the world this author created. Hope has the ability to heal people, but she keeps it a secret. But when two mysterious boys show up at her school who know of what she can do, her world drastically changes. We eventually learn that Hope is involved in a prophecy and that these two males are Gods. Let me tell you guys, swoon-worthy.

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

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This sadly wasn’t a big thriller for me. I am a HUGE fan of Amanda Hocking and will read just about anything she writes. So when I saw this on Netgalley, I NATURALLY did an instant request. Between the Blade and the Heart is basically about a Valkyrie’s and their purpose to send immortals back to the underworld. I wasn’t overly impressed with the result, and I probably won’t continue to read the series. Amanda usually blows me away with her fantasy stories, but this one didn’t. 😦

A Quiet Kind of thunder by Sara Barnard

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THIS is such a sweet story guys, definitely the first heartwarming read of 2018. A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi, a selective mute, and Rhys, a new student to Steffi’s school who is deaf. The story gives the reader a glimpse into the relationship that forms between these two characters, and the struggles they have in a world where most people can speak or hear one another. These two go through a lot together, and it was a truly endearing book to read. It was something different than what I had ever read, and I really enjoyed it.

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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AH! THIS!

I mean…what can I NOT say about this book? It is probably one of the most important pieces I have read in my life. No joke. It is a collection of five short stories, and each story spins a tale of a different kind of manipulative person. It ranges from manipulation of others for greed to manipulation for innocent attention. One story in particular really resonated with me; a story about a young man manipulating a young girl into thinking he loved her, but he was just using her. YANKS on my heartstrings.

This book, I strongly and seriously urge every one of you to purchase. You NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need to read this, your children…NEED to read this.

Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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Forlorn….eh. I couldn’t even finish the book, and I kind of wish I had just so I could have given a full review. This story is about angels and demons, so naturally i thought I would love it. However, I did not. There were too many holes, undeveloped characters, and a load of cheesiness going on. I couldn’t handle it. Not my cup of tea.

 

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Book Review: The Dream Machine

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Amazon.com – The Dream Machine: Book 6, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

~ Get the first 5 books in the series ~

Amazon.com- The Unearthed: Book One, The Eddie McCloskey Series by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Lost: Book Two, The Eddie McCloskey Series (The Unearthed 2) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Accused and the Damned: Book Three, the Eddie McCloskey Series (The Unearthed 3) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Hysteria: Book 4, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Traveler: Book 5, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Evan Ronan, for an honest review.

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery/Horror/Adult/Thriller

Plot: They’re watching her dreams…and seeing the future

At a remote federal facility, researchers are watching—literally watching—test subjects’ dreams on computer screens. Alison, a teenage patient, is of particular interest because her dreams seemingly come true.

Eddie McCloskey, paranormal expert, versed in the occult and in debunking bad science, doesn’t put much stock in dreams. He’s studied the paranormal literature as much as anybody, and he’s convinced there’s a perfectly good explanation for all dreams.

But when Alison dreams about a catastrophic accident and a terrible crime, the shadowy federal agents Eddie worked with in Oregon come calling again. Eddie and the feds are racing against the clock. Are the dreams predictions, or merely intimations of what might happen? Can the future be altered?

This is no ghost hunt, but they need Eddie McCloskey’s lateral thinking if they’re going to get the job done here. Because they’ll soon discover there’s something else, something even more sinister, about Alison’s dreams…
Opinion: Check it out guys, he’s baaaccccckkkk! It has been quite some time since I have had the pleasure of diving into the world of paranormal ghost hunter Eddie McCloskey. Oh, how I have missed these twisted and frightening tales! This is number SIX in The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series. I am LOVING the basis of this installment of the series, because author Evan Ronan has centered it around dreams and how they can be controlled. This my readers, is SO up my alley.

Eddie McCloskey finally feels like things are setting into place in his personal life. He is able to spend more time with his befriends Stan and Moira, and things couldn’t be better between Eddie and his girlfriend Sumiko. But when the Federal Agents that Eddie worked with (and almost died with) in Oregon start calling him about another job, his life starts to shift yet again. Eddie travels with Agent Manetti to a secluded base where patients’ dreams are being monitored, especially those of a girl name Allison.  Allison is suspected to be some sort of an oracle. She has had vivid dreams of natural disasters and shootings, and so far, each one has come true. When Eddie arrives, he is shown the most recent of Allison’s dreams, a horrifying car accident and a sexual assault. Now Eddie and Agent Manetti are against the clock to stop these events from taking place, and to prove that this young girl isn’t an all-powerful God.

I cannot express how quickly I got through this book, it captivated me THAT much. When I read the blurb for this installment of this paranormal series, I knew I was going to be hooked. Anything centering around dreams instantly pulls me in, and the fact that author Evan Ronan decided to base one of his paranormal/mystery stories on them got me crazy excited. The Dream Machine basically centers around this top-secret base where these patients are undergoing dream studies. The doctors are able to WATCH the patients dreams on monitors, and run tests on them to see what influences or effects their dreams.

There are two special cases in this high-tech “dreaming facility”, Allison and an inmate named White. White is a career criminal and was able to complete part of his sentence by assisting these doctors in their dream study, mostly because White is able to lucid dream (where a person is aware they are dreaming and can control the dream). Allison is quite a different case, in that she is a young teenage girl who is thought to be having premonitions of the future. When Eddie enters the scene, Allison has already had two dreams come true, a storm and a shooting, and two more that are waiting to happen, a huge car accident and a sexual assault.

Now if you have read the precious books in this series, you will know that Eddie is a paranormal investigator. Most of the time when Eddie is called onto a case, it isn’t a ghost or paranormal entity disturbing someone, it’s usually something more plausible. But in Eddie’s previous investigations, he has learned that some things truly just can’t be explained. When Eddie begins watching the tapes of Allison’s dreams, his first instinct is to debunk the idea that Allison is an oracle or some type of god that can see into the future. I personally found this idea to be really different, especially in a series that focuses more on the reality aspect rather than fantasy.

I of course don’t want to give anything away, but WOAH. I was NOT expecting the story to go in the direction that it did. I am kicking myself for not seeing the connection between these characters, but I like that it surprised me…that is ALWAYS a welcome trait in a book. All in all, I was pretty impressed with The Dream Machine. I loved that it centered around lucid dreaming and the idea that predicting future events may be possible. Plus, there was an epic shoot out at the end of the book that would keep anyone hooked, as well as some great characters that return to the story. Once again guys, you NEED try this series out! You will be hooked on Eddie McCloskey and his travels, trust me on that.

4-stars

 

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Book Review: Unborn (The Birthright Theft Series Book 1) by Daniel Gage

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Unborn (The Birthright Theft Series Book 1) by Daniel Gage

Goodreads.com – Unborn by Daniel Gage

Barnesandnoble.com – Unborn by Daniel Gage

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Daniel Gage, for an honest review.

Genre: Science-Fiction/Mystery/Suspense/Adult/YA

Plot:

“It’s nothing personal. You’re just part of the transaction.”

Cameron Briggs always wondered what the strange birthmark on his shoulder meant. For his entire life, it seemed he was never meant to be anything special, that is, until the day it happened. Something dormant inside of him awoke.

In the near future, birthright theft is on the rise, a vast network of dealers offering desperate buyers the chance to steal a more desirable next life. Their power and influence is absolute, with little standing in their way. However, unexpected anomalies in the process endow unique abilities to their victims who, once identified, are offered one chance – to save our world or destroy it, one Unborn child at a time.

With the truth shrouded in conspiracy, Emma Jennings, a troubled but strong-minded young agent with a defiant reputation, is determined to prove these crimes exist. But in order to accomplish her goal, she’ll need to find the one victim who can turn the tide of her war.

Opinion: OoOoOo yeah Sci-fi/Mystery lovers, I got a good one for you today! I have been waiting for a good book to get me out of my slump of multiple bad reviews, and here we are. This book has a “repo-man” feel to it, which was probably what got me so hooked on it. Imagine the chance to be able to switch your life for a better one; to start all over again, with the knowledge and experiences you have still being intact. Welcome to The Birthright Theft Series.

Birthright theft, the chance to turn your life of struggling and misery into something more. A chance to be born again to the child of a wealthy family, or perhaps even royalty, with every though and memory intact. The price? Just a small favor for the Dealers.

Emma Jennings has been working herself to the bone trying to catch Dealer X and his gang of birthright theft dealers, while also trying to prove that stealing one’s birthright is actually real. Countless showdowns and close calls in capturing Dealer X proves not enough, and Emma finds herself at risk of having her investigation shut down.  But then Emma finds herself a convict by the name of Cameron Briggs, who is also happens to be an unborn: a victim of birthright theft. Not only is Emma able to enlist the help of Cameron, but he proves to have an extraordinary ability that puts him on the same playing field as the dealers. Together Emma and Cameron work to take down Dealer X, all the while trying to save the birthright of a prominent royal family.

The idea for this story was ABSOLUTELY KILLER. I mean come on, being able to steal someone’s birthright with the memories of your other life still there? It’s like Repo-Man had a child with reincarnation, and out popped an epic series. As if that isn’t amazing enough, author Daniel Gage takes it farther by detailing what happens to the victims of having their birthright stolen. I assumed they would just be dead, right?. But NO! The victim, which they call an Unborn, is born an alternate life where literally EVERYTHING goes wrong for them. The two lives stay connected throughout their lifetimes, and as the Unborn experiences unfortunate events, the thief experiences wealth and riches. Honestly, the entire concept is extremely interesting. Though this might sound like a complicated concept for a story, the author is fantastic at making it easy for the reader to understand. I had no trouble keeping up, and the fluidity that this author has in their writing keeps the reader addicted and interested.

Let’s touch on characters Emma and Cameron. Emma is a tough, savvy, and career-oriented woman. She has a fierceness about her that I love, and her character never backs down from a fight. Emma’s life has been centering on catching Dealer X and his crew for some time now, and she keeps reaching dead ends. I liked that her character faced a TON of setbacks throughout this book, but she always pushed herself through it in order to complete what she started. Cameron has quite the opposite past, in comparison to Emma. He is a convict and is no stranger to setbacks and struggling in life. Cameron is also an Unborn, the victim of birthright theft. Though Cameron doesn’t know this until much later in the book, he begins to notice some changes in himself that he can’t explain. I really liked the character of Cameron, mostly because he had a good heart but was still a tough and rugged person. I think these characters work great together and show off two very different sets of people, and their chemistry is perfection.

For those of you who are looking for a hot little romance to go along with this creative story, you’re s**t out of luck. I kept thinking a steamy connection would be happening between our main characters, but NOPE. Honestly, it isn’t even needed. I have a hunch that these two will get together later in the series, but I am actually relieved that it didn’t happen in book 1. A romance would have just taken away from the main idea of this story, and that would have been a serious bummer. This book is amazing just how it is, so I wouldn’t change that for anything. One thing that I am on the fence about is how straightforward the writing is. What I mean is that the author gets straight to the point with everything, there isn’t an excess of fluff in sentences in paragraphs…which is great. But on the other hand, this would also be a great series to really pack the detail in. I think little bit more description and detail into some of the events would have only strengthened this story.

Though sci-fi based books have never been my main genre, I am loving that I am able to find some truly great ones. I just can’t get over how mind-blowing the idea for this story was, I’m addicted to it! I think the target audience for this series is probably adults, but I think a lot of young adult readers could really get into it. FINALLY a book I can write positively about! Great job Daniel Gage, you have gotten me out of my reading depression.

4-stars

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Book Review: A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Amazon.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

Goodreads.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

Bookdeopsitory.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

Barnesandnoble.com – A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, ABRAMS Kids, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .

Opinion:

WHEW! Listen up guys, because this is one book that NEEDS to be noted and fawned over.

“It draws you in. You twist your mind into new shapes. You start to understand Caverna…and you fall in love with her. Imagine the most beautiful woman in the world, but with tunnels as her long, tangled, snake-like hair. Her skin is dappled in traplantern gold and velvety black, like a tropical frog. Her eyes are cavern lagoons, bottomless and full of hunger. When she smiles, she has diamonds and sapphires for teeth, thousands of them, needle-thin.”

-The Kleptomancer, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell’s story begins at the young age of five, when she is found by Cheesemaker Grandible after falling into a vat of his curdling Neverfell milk. After rescuing her and taking one look at the young girl, Grandible notices the differences in the young child, covers her face with a mask, takes her in and appoints her as his apprentice. After some seven years later, Neverfell is accustomed to her life as a cheesemaker. But unable to remove her mask around other people or to leave the cheese tunnels, she finds herself fighting a curiosity about what lays beyond. Soon Neverfell’s opportunity to leave the tunnels presents itself, and she gets her first look at the world that she has been hidden from. But her freedom is short lived when her mask falls from her face, and what lies beneath is shown to the people of Caverna. Neverfell, unlike the residents of Caverna, is able to make expressions on her own without having to be taught. As word travels of Neverfell, she becomes sold to the highest bidder. Caverna is flushed with experts in dangerous and strange delicacies, and murder is just another game for the members of the court. Pushed into a world where Neverfell finds trust in the wrong people, she struggles to find a way to protect herself and to recover the memories that she feels may be lost forever. But most importantly, to find a way out of Caverna.

Caverna. Woah. This place is seriously vicious guys. Do you remember reading The Hunger Games and being introduced to the strange people in the capitol? These people were insane and followed bizarre fashion trends that made them both appealing and frightening. Trust me when I say, the capitol has NOTHING on the court in Caverna. These people are PSYCHOTIC. They create wines that have minds and temperaments of their own, cheeses that can explode upon a slight bump, and strange foods that have creatures trapped inside gelatin. Not only do they spend all of their free time trying to poison rival families or hire assassins, but they are unable to make facial expressions on their own. The higher up in society and the better-off you are, the more “Faces” you are able to buy for yourself. People of a lower faction usually are unable to have 1 to 3 faces, depending on their job titles.

How to prepare the perfect Cardlespray Wine:

“One hundred and three years…The grapes spoil if they are exposed to loud noises, so they are tended by a silent order of monks, and all the local birds are killed. The fruit can be harvested only at night during the new moon, and must be crushed by the feet of orphans. The barrels are stored deep in the earth, and only the softest, sweetest music is played to them, continually, for over a century. And after all this, the Wine is fit to be drunk…unless somebody throws it over a table.”

-The Grand Steward, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell finds herself caught right in the middle of the chaos that is Caverna. The people of the court are all trying to get her hands on her for personal benefit, she cannot remember her past, and there is a strange person labeled “the Kleptomancer” running around Caverna stealing incredible objects with no apparent motive. I felt so horrible for young Neverfell throughout this story, and it was honestly staring to feel like something out of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Her innocence started to become her downfall, and it was heartbreaking to see her trust in so many people that proved to be using her in a game much larger than her. Her character grows a great deal in this story however, and I really enjoyed who she becomes. She still has her morals and good intentions, but acquires a cunning and righteous personality by the end of the story. Not only does Neverfell work to help herself be free of Caverna, but she fights to free those who have no voice at all.

The writing in this story is AMAZING, and I can’t wait to start reading other books by Frances Hardinge. She writes with an amazing creative and descriptive style, and it almost feels like poetry after a while. She PERFECTLY set the scene for Caverna as being a dark and curious place, one that can both thrill and kill a person. I thought the entire idea for having a civilization underground was amazing, but one where the characters aren’t able to make their own facial expressions? GENIUS! I seriously couldn’t get enough of this story, and I am wishing it was a full-blown 20 book series. This is one of those stories you wish would make it to the big screen because of how dazzling it looks in your head, but one you fear they will completely ruin…like they usually do.

All in all, I LOVE this story! I have nothing negative to say, not one thing. I can’t help but give this book 5 stars, which I hope will lead to many of you going and purchasing this story RIGHT AWAY. It is the perfect amount of fantasy and science-fiction, and a great read that will twist your mind into two. This book is suitable for all ages, but the youngest I would say is Teens because the writing could get a little confusing for a younger audience.

5-stars

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Book Review: Private (Book 1) by Kate Brian

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Amazon.com – Private (Private, Book 1) by Kate Brian

Goodreads.com – Private (Book 1) by Kate Brian

Barnesandnoble.com – Private (Book 1) by Kate Brian

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction

Plot: Tradition, Honor, Excellence…and secrets so dark they’re almost invisible

Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan wins a scholarship to Easton Academy — the golden ticket away from her pill-popping mother and run-of-the-mill suburban life. But when she arrives on the beautiful, tradition-steeped campus of Easton, everyone is just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more gorgeous, and a lot wealthier than she ever thought possible. Reed realizes that even though she has been accepted to Easton, Easton has not accepted her. She feels like she’s on the outside, looking in.

Until she meets the Billings Girls.

They are the most beautiful, intelligent, and intensely confident girls on campus. And they know it. They hold all the power in a world where power is fleeting but means everything. Reed vows to do whatever it takes to be accepted into their inner circle.

Reed uses every part of herself — the good, the bad, the beautiful — to get closer to the Billings Girls. She quickly discovers that inside their secret parties and mountains of attitude, hanging in their designer clothing-packed closets the Billings Girls have skeletons. And they’ll do anything to keep their secrets private.

Opinion: OoOoOo…it’s starting to feel like high school again! I started reading this series when I was in high school, and my oh my was I HOOKED. I recently found this series again and figured I would relive the overly dramatic and pretentious characters that make up this wonderfully snooty tale. It’s the story we all know and love, a scholarship girl comes to a prestigious academy and chases after the rich and popular preps that inhabit it…and don’t forget the scandals!

Reed Brennan has just been accepted at Easton Academy on scholarship, and the chance to get away from her family couldn’t have come sooner. Coming from Pennsylvania and from a family that just barely makes it financially, Reed is about to enter a world where money and power is everything. Soon after her arrival at Easton, Reed comes face to face with the elite “Billing Girls” who have the entire campus wrapped around their fingers. Unfortunately for Reed, her first impression with the girls is anything but positive, and she finds herself in the firing range of the girls tormenting and dangerous requests. Determined to make a place for herself and enter Billings, Reed goes to extreme lengths to become accepted.

So let’s start with Reed, our wonderful main character. To me she feels…how shall I put this…desperate? I am constantly rolling my eyes at this girl for allowing this HORRIBLE girls to treat her like they do. They are VICIOUS. Though she did stick up for herself once or twice, the reader will constantly find her cowering down to Noelle and the rest of the Billings girls. Though when I do think back to what it was like in high school, I can understand her actions to a point. The need to be accepted among your peers, especially females, is crazy. Plus if Reed can infiltrate Billings, she will then have the world at her finger tips.

As Reed becomes consumed in the upscale lifestyle and mysterious Billing girls, she is also enraptured by the gorgeous Thomas. Thomas is surrounded by the popular crowd but it doesn’t take him long to start chasing after Reed. Thomas has a wonderful “bad boy” feeling about him, so it is no wonder that this is the first male character that us female readers will fall in love with. What becomes of their relationship is shocking, and this is where our story will truly pick up and start to become dark and twisted.

This series is PACKED with scandals and dirty little secrets. Think gossip girl, but at a boarding school where everyone just gossips to each other. Most of the characters in this story come from a lot of money and have family members that had previously attended Easton, making many of these characters “legacies”. With such money and power surrounding our main character Reed, it’s obvious that there is bound to be some trouble afoot. I guarantee that you guys will FLY though this Series. I am already on book 6 and I still can’t put these down. Though I would have LOVED to do a review of each book, which just doesn’t seem possible with how quickly I am devouring this series again.

4-stars

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Book Review: Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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Amazon.com – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

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Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/Mature Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Plot:We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Opinion: WHEW! What a whirlwind that story was! After becoming introduced to The Girl on the Train, I have been in a frenzy trying to find similar books. I came across Ill Will on Netgalley and HAD to give it a go. Let me tell you readers, I have so many STRONG and INSANE emotions rushing through me right now…I barely know where to start! This book is like a bad mushroom trip that feels WAY too real.

Thirty years ago, Dustin and his cousins woke up to find their parents brutally murdered in their home. Already flushed with loss at a young age, a life sentence is handed down on Dustin’s adopted brother Rusty who is blamed for the crimes. Now years later with children of his own, Dustin works as a psychologist in Cleveland. Soon a call from Dustin’s cousin brings panic into his life, as he is told that Rusty’s sentence has been thrown out and he is being released. Now Dustin begins to reflect back on the night that changed his life forever, and whether he and his cousins were right about testifying against Rusty and blaming him for the murders. All the while, a staggering number of male college students being found dead is making headlines. Though the police call the strange occurrences “accidental drownings”, Dustin’s new patient feels otherwise and suspects foul play. Could there be a link to this madness, or is Dustin slowly falling down a rabbit hole?

This is a truly interesting and dark story. There are tons of misleading twists and shocking occurrences, and the characters are truly gritty. Dustin is our main character and the reader follows him as he relives moments from his past, while also dealing with his present. One day Dustin gets a call from his cousin who tells him that Rusty, his adopted brother and the person who took the fall for the murders, is being released from prison. He is told that new DNA results were discovered which proves that Rusty couldn’t have murdered his new family. This brings a panic into Dustin’s life because now he is unsure if Rusty was the culprit of the crime, or if he was just blamed because of the things he had done in his past.

As Dustin reflects on his past growing up with Rusty, I was…how should I say this…COMPLETELY f***ing disturbed. There is some SERIOUSLY dark and grimy things that go on between these boys. Rusty can be described as a tough and hardheaded boy at an early age, and grows into a metal loving hooligan that likes talking about satanic rituals and even goes as far as sacrificing small rabbits. Dustin is a young an impressionable boy, and sees Rusty as his knight in shining armor. He proves to be a more than gullible child, and will allow his mind to be overturned by suggestions and hints by his older cousins and Rusty. In each flashback that these characters take the reader in, we are given glimpses of each characters flaws as a child and reasons why they could or couldn’t have been the ones to murder their family.

Another huge part of this story is Dustin and his patient Aqil. Aqil is a former police officer who has more than an obsessive and compulsive personality. He becomes fascinated by the mass amounts of local drownings of college males, and brings it upon himself to start investigating. As Aqil attends sessions with Dustin, Dustin starts to get wrapped up in the ideas and theories that Aqil presents him. Soon he finds himself spending all of his time with Aqil and latched onto the idea that there is a murderer on the loose killing these boys. The end result for these murders is truly…SHOCKING. I was so blindsided when this portion of the story was SOMEWHAT answered. Yes, in this book you will find that the author likes to leave you guessing.

For me though, I think the ending is where this story really shines. At first I wasn’t too keen on the fact that the ending didn’t completely tie everything together. I ended the book and thought to myself WAIT, what happened?? As it has now been a few days since I have finished the book, I have a different feeling towards the ending. I actually enjoy the fact of where the author took it, because there are so many actual cases where things end up in that fashion. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what could have happened, and I think you guys will too if you give this read a go. But honestly, the best part is knowing that you have no idea what actually happened. So touché Dan Chaon, touché. All in all, I am only giving this 3 stars because this book took me a LONG time to get through and because I was rather uncomfortable for most of the read. I prefer a thriller that THRILLS me, not a story that makes my skin crawl and forces me to put it down. It is an interesting story, but I could have done without all the in-depth sexual scenes.

3-stars

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Book Review: Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

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Devil in the Countryside is available for Pre-order, and will be available on February 15, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Devil in the Countryside (Of Witches and Werewolves) by Cory Barcaly

Goodreads.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Barnesandnoble.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Bookdepository.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural

Plot: Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Opinion: Once again, I am PLEASANTLY surprised with a book that is completely out of the genre that I usually read. This story was AMAZING! I found myself having immense trouble putting it down and doing adult things such as going to work, or sleeping. The writing is perfection. It gives the reader the necessary balance of description and detail, while also eloquently weaving a tale of fantasy and realism.

Based loosely on actual events that took place in Germany over a 20 year span, Devil in the Countryside transports the reader to 1588 as murders in Bedburg start to rise. Fear spreads quickly through the town as gruesome and mangled bodies are found in the countryside, and threats against protestant reform begin to plague the Christian ruled town. As Investigator Heinrich Franz looks into the murders, he enlists the help of a hunter by the name of Georg Stieghart who has a past of being quite vicious. This story also follows Father Nicholas Dieter of the church in Bedburg, and young Sybil Griswold who is the daughter of a wealthy farmer. While the investigator tries to hunt down the Werewolf of Bedburg, the church tries to fight off Protestants from overtaking the town and the minds of their people.

Though I gave you guys a little description up there, I’m going to explain a little bit more about these characters/events so that you really get the idea. Probably the COOLEST thing about this book is the fact that it is based on true events. In 1589 a trial was held for a man that was presumed to be the famous Werewolf of Bedburg, who was accused of murder and cannibalism. Shocked? Me too. The fact that these people actually thought that a man was turning into a werewolf and slashing bodies to pieces is just…beyond me. The again, this was also a time when everyone thought witches were casting spells and dealing in dark magic…and here I thought my generation was cuckoo.

Heinrich Franz is the investigator that is put in charge of finding out who/what the Werewolf of Bedburg is, and he seems to go to any lengths to make someone responsible. I really can’t pinpoint my feelings for this character. He is an evil and emotionally unattached man, but I quite like his ruthlessness and cunning behavior. He is the type of person that will do ANYTHING to close a case, especially if that means framing someone in the process. Georg Stieghart is truly my favorite character in this story. He comes off as a drunken idiot most of the time, but he proves to be a very strong-willed and intelligent person. As Georg seeks revenge for the death of his family, who he assumes is the Werewolf, he assists the investigator and helps him hunt the killer down. The relationship between these two characters is fairly comical. They both act friendly towards one another and share news that they have, but they also don’t trust each other and have their own agendas. I enjoyed how the story turned out for Georg and how his character makes a complete 180. He loses some of his savagery and turns into a truly upstanding person.

Sybil Griswold is the daughter of wealthy farmer Peter Griswold. Sybil goes through a lot of dark events in this story, and I commend her character for taking everything in stride. Not only does a dear friend of hers come up dead, but her father begins to force her into a marriage with a nobleman’s son who proves to be vile and pretentious. Sybil finds solace in her time spent with Father Nicholas Dieter, who is a priest at the church in Bedburg. Father Dieter seems to be the most developed character, and for me, the most interesting. He starts out being a very faithful and dutiful servant to the religion that he preaches for, but soon starts to open his eyes to what is going on in the world around him. The relationship between these two characters brings the romance factor into this story, and gives the reader a little light in this otherwise dark and gritty tale.

This story overall was fantastic! The events that took place were gruesome and unnerving, and I kept picturing a less theatrical Tim Burton setting of gray buildings and woeful expressions. Though I am not a big fan of reading a story with religion being such a central theme, it was obviously necessary to this story but it didn’t overtake the actual plot and events that the author was focusing on. I highly recommend this story to any reader that likes thriller/mystery, or to anyone who wants to dabble in a different type of story. I am REALLY looking forward to see what happens in book 2, hopefully it will come out soon!

5-stars

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