Categories
audiobooks Crime Thrillers

Book Review and Musings: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This week I read another backlist TBR book!  I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo back in college but really didn’t remember it.  What I can remember is talking about the book with my dad and being in complete disbelief that two people can read a book so differently!

So that’s my muse of the day: how do people read books differently, notice different things, focus on totally opposite aspects?

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Series: Millennium, #1
  • Author: Stieg Larsson (trans- Reg Keeland
  • Publisher & Release: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, September 2008
  • Length: 465 pg
  • Rate & recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes but maybe on audio if the Swedish pronunciations throw you off!

Here is the synopsis:

Murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue combine into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel, the first in Stieg Larsson’s thrilling Millenium series featuring Lisbeth Salander.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

What a book and mystery!! I liked the format of having two separate storylines, one for Blomkvist and one for Salander – each storyline was vaguely connected, while not necessarily related. Salander’s storyline established her history, personality, and potential, while the other introduced the magazine, plot, characters. Once the storylines merged the book never slowed down!

As a younger person I was so interested in the action and kick-assery, that I couldn’t believe my dad read it and was focusing more on the characters. Throughout the years for some reason Salander was a favorite character study of his, and I can appreciate that a little more now.

After Salander wrapped up her…troubles …for the time being, she was able to progress as a person emotionally as well as professionally and I think she had a great storyline. I don’t think Blomkvist would have gotten the mystery and link about hating women without her. He was the more static character but multifaceted too at least. Henrik also haha I loved that old shark.

Anyway – I think the Swedes have a certain distinct style of writing thrillers and mysteries that also incorporates a little more horror and grotesque than most other cultures. I read The Wolf and the Watchman maybe last year and the absolute horror story involved reminded me of the hatred and violence in this book. Men that hate women would have been a good title to keep😳. This book wasn’t just about a disappearing heiress – there was a corrupt sadist acting as a guardian of state Wards, biblical justifications for brutal torturing and murders in the past, a few romantic subplots, it was really a thriller once it got going. I wasn’t sure if the book wanted to be an investigative thriller or a psychological drama but it can be all of it, right?

Overall: I totally loved it, and I also was really glad for some reason that – now bear with me – anytime a Nazi pops up they are usually the criminal, but while the Nazi in this book was obviously a shithead – he wasn’t one of the main antagonists, more like some crazy old guy.

I had no freaking idea who the real criminal(s) were.

I also listened to a few chapters on audio and think Simon Vance is a great narrator. He took the guesswork out of the pronunciations and did fantastic voices.

My only gripe was literally the last paragraph of the book, why end it on a Misunderstanding? When that device wasn’t used throughout the rest of the book? I can’t wait to read the rest of these books!

Categories
Dystopian Literary Fiction Science Fiction

Book Tour & Review: Composite Creatures by Caroline Hardaker

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books (Caroline, Gemma, and Sam are good eggs!) for having me on the book tour for Composite Creatures, an exciting new book that releases on 04/13/21!  This is a low-key science fiction novel that is also a meditation on the future of healthcare ethics, growing up, growing older, and prioritizing what matters most

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

How close would you hold those you love, when the end comes?

In a society where self-preservation is as much an art as a science, Norah and Arthur Ratare learning how to co-exist in their new little world. Though they hardly know each other, everything seems to be going perfectly – from the home they’re building together to the ring on Norah’s finger.

But survival in this world is a tricky thing, the air is thicker every day and illness creeps fast through the body. And the earth is becoming increasingly hostile to live in. Fortunately, Easton Grove is here for that in the form of a perfect little bundle to take home and harvest. You can live for as long as you keep it – or her – close.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Composite Creatures
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Caroline Hardaker
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 04/13/21
  • Length: 400 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨  Yes for the patient readers

The Plot & Story: I honestly believe that the less you know going in about this book, the better.  Health in the UK is going drastically downhill in the future as the air itself causes cancer, the animals are all extinct, healthy life expectancy is pathetic… and the NHS is handing the reins over to a private company.   Enter an elitist group called Easton Grove, that promises health and happiness to those who can afford it, and pass all the tests.  

What exactly is this little bundle that Easton Grove offer?

Hardaker makes us wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait……and wait for it.  Most of the reveal happens towards the end of the book so I definitely recommend this one for the patient readers.  In the meantime we get a lovely meditation on life, losing one’s parents, falling out from our old friends, and co-existing with our chosen company.  This one takes a good hard look at life’s hardships.  The question becomes – is it worth holding out so long for the answers?  It took until the very last page but I think so.

The characters: I also think that the less you know about the characters, the better.   Norah and Arthur seem like a good pair, except it again takes a very long time for the book to reveal how they got together.  I liked Norah a lot and really, really hated Arthur until almost the end.  I think Hardaker did that on purpose though, she waited until page 400 out of 400 to make me forgive him, in that she also showed Norah as a “Composite Creature”

What does that even mean? Well – read it to find out

The World: Think of a slightly futuristic, overly polluted London with toxic soil, a sky with no birds, and a generally gray atmosphere.  The book creates gorgeous reminisces of the past through artwork and Norah’s memories of her mother.  I will give Hardaker endless Kudoes for the imagery in the book.  Hardaker is a published poet and I think that shows in her debut novel quite a bit.

Miscellaneous: One other cool thing I noticed is that RJ Barker (you know I always rave about The Bone Ships) blurbed the book, so that’s awesome.

The only thing that I really didn’t like was that Hardaker made us wait, for EVERYTHING.  She would mention a name, or a conflict, or a story, and give us absolutely no background until much later in the book.  Luke and Aubrey were good examples of this – I spent half of the book feeling like I missed something, but eventually I realized that we would eventually learn what’s going on.  I didn’t feel like these smaller reveals were necessarily worth waiting for though, which is where I docked the 1.5 stars.  I would have liked an occasional “bone” from the author.

Overall: Definitely recommend for fans of twisty, meditative books, mysteries, speculative fiction, sci-fi, and strong character builds.  


Meet the Author:

Author and poet Caroline Hardaker in her workspace. Caroline has published several books, including Bone Ovation.

Instagram: @angryrobotbooks – @caroluna_writes_stuff

Twitter: @angryrobotbooks | @carolinehwrites

More Information can be found about the author on her website:

https://carolinehardakerwrites.com/about-caroline-hardaker/


There is also plenty of book tour left, so make sure to check out the following hosts on Instagram or on their blogs! Thank you again to Angry Robot for letting me participate and feature the book!

graphic: list of book tour, blog hosts
Categories
Dystopian Fiction

Book Review: Minerva by Edith Pawlicki

Thank you so much to the other for my finished copy of Minerva in exchange for an honest review! This is a post-apocalyptic dystopian for new adults, maybe older teens,  that I think a lot of people will enjoy.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Minerva
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Edith Pawlicki
  • Publisher & Release: Indie, December 2020
  • Length: 372 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟sure if it sounds up your alley

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Action is driven by thought, thought is ruled by emotion, and emotion is controlled by Empaths.

Eighteen-year-old Minerva lives in a city of repurposed shipping containers, dependent on a hydroelectric plant for light and heat, while a nuclear winter blankets the world in snow. Hemp powder meals and patchwork clothes are a fact of life – as is human evolution. An unparalleled Empath, not only can Minerva sense emotions, she can read minds and influence thoughts.

Power has a price.

Starting with her mother’s postpartum depression, suffering has surrounded Minerva. But she has a core of steel, and to prove it, she joins the Guard like her dad. At first, Minerva loves the camaraderie she finds among the brash, strong Vitals, and she learns to use her Empathy defensively. Then two discoveries shock Minerva, and she starts asking hard questions.

The answers may cost her life.

This sounded amazing, so I readily agreed to read and review the book!

The Plot & Story:  the synopsis does a pretty good job summarizing the story. Minerva is graduating from the equivalent of high school, and despite what the society recommends for her as am Empath, she is going into the Guard.  I personally like stories where Underdog characters are training and beating the odds, so I enjoyed the parts that take place at the cadet academy.

There is plenty of action throughout the novel as well as a deep discussion of various ethical issues.  Almost immediately Minerva learns that one of the cadet officers is using his Empathy to Compel women, which opens up the story to a meditation on the slippery slope from well intentioned to evil, PTSD, trauma, consent, and sexual coercion.  

The Characters: Minerva is a great main character, she is learning to use her Empathy while dealing with a brutish training leader at the Academy.  I liked her cousin, Rex is like a big Labrador but also has a serious side.  There is a great group element among the group of cadets, and all of the characters contribute something meaningful to the story.

The villain…let’s just say the villain is multifaceted, and like an onion – Minerva just keeps peeling layers back to reveal who he truly is, and it’s a terrible but excellent story

There is also an enemies to friends to lovers element.. So… Yeah.  I shipped it.

The World: we are set in a post nuclear winter, somewhere in what used to be Canada.  We learned enough about the man made disaster to be content.  I envision a city of shipping containers and repurposed materials, strict rules and strict government, and man is it always cold.  The whole thing is surrounded by a defensive wall of snow that has been made over the years by the city.  Great imagery.  I liked that the setting directly contributed to the story and wasn’t just a backdrop for another story.  

Others:  I LOVE that the author created her own slang for the book, its pretty easy to follow but there’s also a glossary, which was awesome.  I also liked that the society chucked labels and just calls everyone Inda – short for individual.  It’s ridiculous how everyone today is so hyper fixated on labelling themselves – just be a good Inda.  I mostly docked a star for editing mishaps and 

I 100% recommend this book for anyone who likes post-apocalyptic settings, enemies to lovers, groups of found friends, strong family elements, ethics, or just a good story.


The author can be found at :

https://edithpawlicki.com/

Inatagram: @edithPawlicki

And the book can be purchased through Amazon at:

Categories
Fiction Historical Fiction

ARC Review: Legacy of War by Wilbur Smith

Hi everyone! I have been taking some time away from bookish media and just focusing on life, spring cleaning, and reading some older books from my home library!

Legacy of War is the 19th book in the Courtney series, publishing on April 15th, so it seems like a good time to chat about this amazing book.  Thank you so much to Bookish First and Zaffre Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Legacy of War
  • Series: Courtney #19 (**can be read as a standalone**)
  • Author: Wilbur Smith
  • Publisher & Release: Zaffre, 4/15/21
  • Length: 417 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of unapologetically gritty Histfic

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

A nail-biting story of courage, bravery, rebellion and war from the master of adventure fiction.

The war is over, Hitler is dead – and yet his evil legacy lives on. Saffron Courtney and her beloved husband Gerhard only just survived the brutal conflict, but Gerhard’s Nazi-supporting brother, Konrad, is still free and determined to regain power. As a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse develops, a plot against the couple begins to stir. One that will have ramifications throughout Europe. . .

Further afield in Kenya, the last outcrop of the colonial empire is feeling the stirrings of rebellion. As the situation becomes violent, and the Courtney family home is under threat, Leon Courtney finds himself caught between two powerful sides – and a battle for the freedom of a country.

This is Historical fiction at it’s best, and not for the faint of heart! I love Smith because he has absolutely no filter, and I will continue to read anything he writes. This installment happens after the end of WWII, and the hunt for Gerhard’s Nazi Officer brother in on. Meanwhile, in Kenya, the Mau Mau rebellion is starting and the Courtney estate tribes are right in the war zone. Are they loyal enough to resist the uprising??

To touch on the series: this is, I believe, the third and final Saffron and Gerhard book (or maybe they are more of a duology, I’m not sure) but there is enough background given to read the end of their story as a standalone.  Enough new things are revealed that readers new and old will be in love with this pair and the Courtney family.

This is an absolutely brutal and brutally exciting novel! All of the Courtney family books seem to have this gritty accuracy and I love them so freaking much.  There does tend to be some gratuitous violence and murder, but these sadistic things happened in real life and I think they add to the nail-biting-ness of the novel.

This book, like the rest, is fast paced and unapologetic (but Saffron and Gerhard do apologize in their own sweet ways). Between the hair raising race to track down Konrad and the methods of the Mau Mau – chopped up babies, anyone? I couldn’t put this book down! Real historical figures like Jomo Kenyatta, Dior, Wangari, and a few others are present as well. Some events and people are given fictional names but mirror real life events, such as the broad daylight assassination of a chief in his vehicle.

Leon is an amazing character as well and I loved his friendship with the Kikuru chieftain.  The Courtney family dynamics are so just wonderful. I was thoroughly choked up at the end of the novel but I think Smith brought this era to a wonderful conclusion.  I have to wonder though – with the WWII storyline at a close and the Courtneys in Kenya kind of on their way out…will there be more books?

Do you like histfic? Have you read Wilbur Smith!?

Categories
Fantasy

Book Review: The Day Star by W.N. Cleckler

Thank you so much to W.N. Cleckler for sending me the second book in The Wisprian World series, The Day Star! This is an epic fantasy series that is unapologetically Christian in nature, perfect for the Easter time of year. I am totally delighted by this book filled with cunning and gore, hope and hopelessness, war and betrayal, as well as found family, faith, friendship, and sacrifice.

Click here for my review for Book 1, Tears of Alphega

Quick Facts: 

  • Title: The Day Star
  • Series: The Wisprian World, #2
  • Author: W.N. Cleckler
  • Publisher & Release; Whisper Press,  12/25/20
  • Length: 402 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for those who like a healthy dollop of faith with their fantasy!

Here is the Synopsis from GoodReads:

Perfect love.
Ancient rebellion.
Overwhelming redemption.

The shattered heavens empower unlikely heroes to overcome the origin of darkness.

Before the spoken earth, Alphega treasured His whispered world, Wispria, from the heavenly realm of Agapia. Yet, after destruction of the Agapian Gate, by the Archeon leader, Lure, and his legions, Alphega wept tears of power over seven Wisprian companions. These survivors must discern when to use them, journey to find magical shards of agapate, and use their elemental abilities against the evil that seeks the stones. As the darkened world grows colder ushering in an age of ice, can these unlikely heroes overcome Lure before he reaches Agapia and enslaves The Wisprian World?

With a cast of fantastical characters, new adventures in undiscovered lands, ancient rebellion, overwhelming redemption, and perfect love, W.N. Cleckler’s fantasy series will have you unearthing a new world of possibilities in our ultimate origin story.

The Plot and Story:  I find it endlessly difficult to summarize these books!  Basically now that Lure has formed his armies, he is ready to march across Wispria to the main city and this book encompasses what I would call the first open conflicts.

The seven adventurers from book one also reunite and learn more about their destinies.  Vague prophecies don’t help so much, but they must discover how to use their gifts and agapate to survive, and fight back against Lure.

I felt some of the same disjointedness from book one in this novel as well, except it made more sense as we learn a lot more about each hero and Lure’s history on Wispria. I think the author realized where the holes in the World Build were and really shored it all up so the books can move forward!

I was certainly never bored though, there is just so much going on in the different storylines, and the battles were so exciting!

The Characters: The original seven tear bearers from book one are back, and we learn a lot more about their back stories.  Duolos became an unexpected leader, Pales and Animus became real people, and each character really has to accept their role as an uncelebrated ‘hero’ in this war.

I liked spending more time with each character and how they embraced each other as newfound family.

There is one new character, Kit, who deserves mention – Telle the unicorn took him under his wing to go accomplish side tasks, and I am extremely interested in his role moving forward.  There is so much juxtaposition of good vs evil in this book and Kit (a nephilim) vs the various depravities of the Dephilim are in as much contrast as the Archeon (angels) vs Archestokos (essentially fallen angels).

Themes: Really if you haven’t guessed yet, good vs evil is the main theme in these novels.  This splits beautifully into faith in the creator, trusting Him, free will and choice, identity, personal sacrifice, and obviously a soul crushing war as well.

Animus’ speech about heroes and family was absolutely everything

The World:  I’ve already described how intricate and well fleshed this world is, in both reviews.  The Day Star expands on individual kingdoms, weather, customs and highlights in individual regions, and some of the utter atrocities that Lure is committing. 

I liked Tears of Alphega quite a bit, but The Day Star truly takes the time to invest the reader in the world and characters.

Where did I dock a star? I hate to do it but this book honestly needed one more proof read.  Nothing too glaring but there were typos, inconsistencies in the narrator’s voice (most of the time when Alphega spoke to the reader directly, it was italicized – but not always. This was confusing). Additionally towards the start there were just a ton of commas, and intermittently words that I think were left when edits were made.

This is a beautiful book with gorgeous artwork, rich development, and so many intricacies.  I think it’s an absolute must for epic fantasy fans and Christian readers!