Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch

dark matter by blake crouchSeries: Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: July, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

*ahem* Uh, hello! Katelynn here. Yup, that’s all I’m giving you – because that’s all I was told to read (less, actually.. but I’ll be nice). Do yourself a favour and go into this one blind. 

… Trust me.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format: Hardcover
Started: January 26th, 2016
Finished: January 26th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 A big glass of whiskey. Or vodka. Just… something strong because HOLY FUCK, YOU GUYS!

“We’re all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto Plexiglass.”

Angsty, intricate, infinite, unexpected: I stepped into the world of Jason Dessen with no expectations and an open mind and was given the universe in return. There are some books that you try to stay ahead, to guess the ending and what’s around every corner, and there are some books that you just give up and enjoy the ride and hope for the best (this one). Sometimes you get the best, sometimes the ending isn’t the best but it’s right, and sometimes it’s both (also this one). “That’s a tad contradictive, isn’t it?” you may ask. And yes, indeed it is. It’s contradictive and also in total agreement with itself while managing to be exactly everything I needed when I opened to the first page.

So future reader, seeing as I refuse to tell you anything about what happens inside these perfectly pruned pages let me instead tell you more about how this book feels – how it sits in your soul and picks away at the rusty walls you’ve built up through misuse and extended periods of time in stale office cubicles.

Starting in on the first chapter is like the moment a movie or TV show piques your interest out of the corner of your eye when all you’re looking for is a glass of water. It’s the moment you catch the eyes of a passerby and for just a moment the world stops, and the moment when your stomach taps on the backs of your teeth when the earth drops out from beneath you on a missing stair. It’s standing on the edge of a cliff and staring down, wondering if the ground will hold and wondering what it would be like to after the jump. It’s staring up into a midnight crusted sky with weary but hopeful eyes, knowing you are even smaller than the poets say you really are. It’s the unknown and the known, it’s pain and hope fearlessly crushed together, and it’s love – simple and true. You stumble upon big bangs and black holes and wander through countless corridors, and then suddenly when a world of black and white starts to find a speck of colour from a rip in your finger –

– it ends.

At least the words do, but the thoughts and ideas and emotions don’t leave. No, they linger and swirl around inside like rich wine held by dainty fingers and thin glass. They remain. Gentle satin caresses and sandpaper kisses, Dark Matter is worlds of small moments that make all the difference to yours.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”

Thank you again and again, Ayesha, for recommending Dark Matter! ♥ I’m glad this review didn’t take months to write but it did take an entire pot of coffee and hours or procrastination.
…And cake. For breakfast.

Have you read Dark Matter? What books have left you with wordless emotions and images of feeling instead of adjectives and grammar?

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlSeries: Standalone
Genre:  Young Adult
Published:  September, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo | Audible

CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words…and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5   I would give it a higher rating if that were humanly possible <3
Format:  Audiobook
Started:  August 22, 2016
Finished:  August 23, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 wine… all of the wine.

“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”


– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Me before Fangirl: (except I was in a Eeyore onesie)

Me after Fangirl:

Well I know it’s been a while since I last posted on here – Katelynn’s been really keeping this afloat – & it’s not because I haven’t been reading, I think it’s just that I haven’t been inspired to write (that & some personal hard stuff etc.) But when I finished this book, I just couldn’t help but want to shout about it to everyone I could possibly reach – and the internet is perfect for that sort of thing.

It has been a long time since I last connected with a character on this level, maybe not even ever. Cath is emotional, panicky, obsessive, somewhat paranoid, anxious, and above all else – snarky, I cannot understate the snark, it was my favorite thing ever. Needless to say, I instantly loved her. It probably also helped that I could relate to pretty much all of her character flaws and hardships, I too will go extremely out of my way to avoid the human population due to my anxiety and stress levels, I’ve lived through the parent drama, I went through an obsessive fan fic phase and still to this day get emails from mibba (don’t judge me lol), I am way too dependent on my best friend/cousin who you all know & love so dearly, I get stuck in my head and rely on books to help me get out. Now that’s not all that Cath is, but I’ll leave it at that because you should really meet her for yourself (really – I insist). The rest of the characters too, by the way – I mean, there are so many amazing characters to choose from… I could literally gush forever.

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”


– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Fangirl was a fucking emotional roller coaster in the best kind of way, and Rowell’s writing made me feel like I was right next to Cath through all of the ups and downs. I felt everything she did, and I rooted for her the entire time <3

Right now – all I can think of is how I feel just like Cath did when she finally bought the eighth Simon Snow book – it’s all really over (there are literal tears in & falling from my eyes right now) <3 <3 <3

If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety issues, or you know, were a teenage girl at some point in your life, go read this right now! I hope you love it as much as I do! Now, if you would please excuse me I am going to go drink my feelings. Goodnight loves xo


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format: Hardcover
Started: December 24th, 2016
Finished: December 25th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 Red wine. In a big-ass glass. With a plate of cookies. Or cake.

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

Rainbow Rowell strikes again.

Actually, no – she slayed it. The only book I’ve read before Fangirl was Eleanor & Park which also left me reeling and infatuated, so Rowell is on my auto-buy list from now until forever. Luckily for me I have several of her books to catch on (including Carry On which I need absolutely right now) and if I haven’t recommended Rowell’s books to you before, I will from now on. Be prepared.

Fangirl is about Cath – the smaller twin entering first year of college with social anxiety and who spends as much time lost in her head as she can. The book is split into First Semester and Second Semester, and as we meet her twin sister Wren, her roommate Reagan, and her roommate’s boyfriend Levi if you don’t fall in love with all of them I think you need to read it again. Reading from Cath’s perspective was like stepping into a Febreeze commercial:

To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.

And if you didn’t connect with introverted and snarky Cath, there was the million-watt bulb Levi with floppy hair and God-like eyebrows:

Levi opened his smile up completely.
“Oh, put that away,” Cath said with distaste. “I don’t want you to get charm all over my sister-what if we can’t get it out?”

I can’t get enough of Cath. I can’t get enough of Levi. I want to dive into the world of Simon and Baz. I wish I could be blinded by Levi. I want to enroll in Fiction Writing. I’m having difficulties writing a review because I’ve been scrolling through page after page of quotes and can’t decide which ones I like more and which ones I want to print out and sew into my finger tips to keep forever. And even though I just finished, I already to want to open up to the first page and slowly feel myself falling in love with Cath and Levi and Reagan all over again, to feel the world change into poetry and beauty and sarcasm, and to feel the rest of the world blur and muddle as I sink down to the bottom of the ocean and read in peace with the biggest, most idiotic grin plastered to my face.

Rowell’s world building and narration are addictive. My hesitation to contemporary is redundant when it comes to a Rowell book because even though we follow regular teens and young adults (and there’s no elves or dragons on the cover), Rowell spins it into a mystical tale and makes mundane days seem magical. Her characters are rich and dynamic, and in Fangirl it felt like pieces of myself had been ripped apart and re-arranged into four magnificent characters. Each chapter gave me goosebumps and the ending was perfect and gentle and infinite.

“No,” Cath said, “Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

There isn’t much I can go into without spoiling anything, and to be honest I’m still having difficulty finding the right words to express just how much I think Fangirl means to me. It’s beautiful and warm and the perfect hug-in-a-book, and deserves to be paraded around town and adored. It makes our real-life Febreeze-infested life seem just a little bit more refreshing and less cloud-of-chemical-haze.

Let Fangirl take away some of the toxic for a while.

You deserve it.

Hex, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

heuvelt-hexSeries: Standalone
Genre: Horror
Published: April, 2016 (English)
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format: Hardcover
Started: October 11th, 2016
Finished: October 11th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 A big-ass cup of tea, perhaps Chamomile to calm the nerves. …and by tea I mean vodka with a hefty amount of ice.

“Tomorrow I’ll call a real estate agent. I’m . . . sorry you have to live with this, but . . . it’s not for us. We’re moving out.”
“I’m afraid that’s not going to happen,” Pete said softly. Now, Steve realized, even Pete didn’t have the nerve to keep his eyes on them.
At last Burt said, “What do you mean?”
“You said ‘your’ village ghost and ‘your’ witch earlier. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I’m afraid that starting tonight it’s your problem, too. She’s not going to let you go. You live in Black Spring now. That means the curse is on you as well.”
The silence that followed could only be broken by Robert Grim: “Welcome home.” His face assumed a morbid grin. “We have all sorts of great town fairs.”

There is something to be said for a good thriller – one that gets your heart pumping and your palms sweating, sticking slightly to the pages. When the tension grows and stews just under the surface of understanding until it suddenly grips you tight and makes breathing difficult, you know you have a good book. It took several days to get my emotions in check and determine how I truly felt about Hex. I’ve finally decided that my mental state at the moment and utter confusion and conflict would be the deciding factor that leaves me wanting to force everyone to read Hex that very evening.

After all, misery loves company.

In Grim’s humble opinion, the people of the Hudson Valley were ill-bred, loud, beer-swilling wife beaters and, worst of all, they lacked the common sense to take full advantage of their geographic location. To the east they had the Hudson to collectively drown themselves in, and to the south they had Bear Mountain State Park, where they could mate unashamedly with beavers and white-tailed deer and effectively implement their own extinction. But so far no one had seized these golden opportunities.

Stippled with humour, Hex is the perfectly balanced Horror Thriller we all should read. Katherine’s presence is unnaturally common and unsettling, but the matter-of-factness of the citizens throws the “Horror Thriller” title out the window. “Is she.. supposed to be in the living room with a tea-towel over her head? Did I read the back of the book wrong, and is Katherine a neighbour’s dog or something? WHAT IS GOING ON?!” But as you delve further and further into Black Spring we see the darkness that has spread deeper than just the witch, the animosity that permeates drawn curtains and GPS tracking, and the depth of depravity and hopelessness and cruelty gripping the town.

Beautifully paced and majestically presented, I both love and hate Hex for the same reasons. But any book that leaves you twitching in a cloud of conflicting emotions and jumping away from underneath your bed (even though you’ve already checked and yes, it was empty) was worth every minute and every page, and it would be a shame to dismiss Hex just because I’m not fully sure what just happened. So yes, I do recommend Hex. I recommend it with a large shot of vodka and a huge blanket to hide under and a flashlight to keep reading, because if Hex doesn’t keep you up at night you haven’t read far enough yet.

Just be sure to drop all your expectations at the edge of town,
…you won’t be needing them anymore.

Nice Dragons Finish Last, by Rachel Aaron

nice dragons finish last rachel aaronSeries: Heartstrikers # 1
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Published:  July, 2014
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible

As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons..


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format: Audiobook
Started: September 7th, 2016
Finished: October 10th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 Beer..? Maybe? What do dragons drink? I’ll have one of those.

This book, right here, is the perfect example why we need book bloggers. I may never have found Julius and Marci if I hadn’t read Danya’s absolutely perfect and inspiring review, and that would be a sad world indeed.

So please, do yourself a favour and make your week – read Danya’s review and then go find this book wherever you can. You won’t regret it.

If you’re in the mood for a hot bad boy rebel protagonist, the geeky clumsy female love interest that we all relate to in one way or another, and action scenes that would put your perfected Level 923098 WoW Paladin to shame – well, you may need another book. And that’s perfectly fine! Those tropes are awesome and unashamedly make up more than a few of my favourites, and needing other books is the never-ending struggle for bookworms (or bookdragons if you prefer). But what about a book where the protagonist is a genuinely nice guy, the leading lady is independent, smart, and snarky, and the entire book is about how hard and rewarding it is to be a decent human being in a world that has thrived on manipulation, negativity, and segregation?

My friends, I present to you the book you never knew you needed.

Julius is the black sheep in his family of powerful, strong, manipulative dragons. The only reason he hasn’t been eaten yet is by keeping a low profile and not getting in anyone’s way. Unfortunately a dragon mother is even less approving of their son in their twenties still living at home, which is why Julius finds himself sleeping on his sister’s couch in the city where dragons are shot on sight. Thrust on a mission to prove himself worthy of being a dragon over kibble he gains the help of Marci, the awkward and eccentric mage who stands up for what she believes in and those she cares about. The duo make the cutest team since Luna and Neville, and their personality is only enhanced by the beautiful diversity of secondary characters. Crafted beautifully and narrated to perfection by Vikas Adam I couldn’t get enough.

… That description was terribly lacking, but I don’t think I could stop myself from raving about all the good parts without giving anything away. So how about instead I tell you what it was like to listen to Julius?


Begin listening experience:

The bus rolls up in front of you. It screeches slightly when the driver pumps the break a little too hard. With only a slight mumble under your breath, you mentally prepare yourself for the rough ride you know will ensue as the bus slows and turns onto the main street pot-marked like a thirteen year old boy’s chin. ‘Of course the roughest road is the road without traffic. It’s cheaper to pay for buses to go four-wheeling than it is to repair the roads,’ you think, and you can’t help the groan that escapes your lips when you’re re-acquainted with your seat. Repeatedly.

The next stop on your urban safari welcomes a dozen more commuters. You usually avoid eye contact, but today is the day destiny clothes-lines you. You glance up, make eye contact, and feel your stomach drop. Carrying four duffle bags, a dog, a trombone, and a cooler that you suspect is probably full of bricks sleeping on a bed of rotten eggs (because that would be just your luck), your worst nightmare of a commuter shuffles down the aisle, narrowly missing a great-great-great-grandmother. You pray to the gods you’ve denied (or created, no judgemnet) for them to sit anywhere else but here! But despite the two empty rows (three now) they plop down next to you, settling only after with a grunt and what seems like an infinite amount of readjustments and butt shuffling that we all know really means, ‘Move over – I need the other half of your seat and you’re obviously in my space.’ Rude.

You shove your hand in your bag, desperately searching for your phone as panic grips your heart when your fingers brush against your headphones. The stars and heavens have aligned for this – the moment you remember an audiobook recommendation you blindly decided to purchase after twelve and a half cups of coffee. Bruising your ears in the process you are now equipped with the listening buds of joy and slam play (sorry phone). It’s instant relief as you lean further into the wall – now on 34% of your seat – and enjoy the cascading feeling of falling into the DFZ. Where a crumbling residential, urban cityscape, or wild forest that was waving from outside your window before is now a dazzling futuristic and magical city built on the ruins of a ghost town: aka. Detroit, Michigan. High end designer shops and sparkling marble fountains preening to the High-Class blanket the dark undergrowth of a dead city, rough and crude in it’s diversity and history. Also the perfect place for a dragon and mage on the run to hide.

Bus long forgotten and seat space down to 27.64%, you cackle in a moment of bliss. Hours have passed but you weren’t going anywhere interesting anyway; you must be somewhere around the half-way mark because it’s far too late for you to stop. Your heart bubbles and your hands gain a life of their own as you try to smush your favourite characters together, resulting in an expression of maniacal joy staring into space and soundless clapping (dreams of percussion stardom have never failed you). But do you care? No. Of course not! Not when you just really need them to, ‘KISS ALREADY!’ Even though shouting was a little unnecessary there’s no regrets on your 79% of a seat. You don’t even mind that you’ve come full circle and vaguely acknowledge the off-roading street you’ve turned back on to with a nod of comradery.

“Don’t tell me the Pigeon Whisperer dragged you into one of his stupid schemes.”

Oh Bob, you crazy, lunatic, fortune telling quirky dragon. The fondness grows in your chest as you snort derisively while secretly wishing you could find your own Bob (or pigeon). The last action scene may have found you acting and cheering far too animatedly in your 159% of a seat and you smack your elbow on the window. Which is still there, by the way.

With that last snort you now have your own row to enjoy the rest of your audiobook. Level up! 

End listening experience.


If you haven’t given up on this roller coaster of a review, high five for still reading! If I haven’t sold you on Nice Dragons Finish Last yet, you should really read Danya’s review. She’s far more eloquent and put together. Oh, and listen to the Audiobook snippet. If you’re not sold by then.. well.. how about The Graveyard Book?

You know you want to give Julius a chance to heal you. 😉

“Well, he’s not really my friend,” Julius admitted. “I don’t even know his real name, actually, but I was his healer in the game, and the bond between healer and tank runs deep.”

The Wishing Spell, by Chris Colfer

colfer the wishing spellSeries: The Land of Stories # 1
Genre:  Children’s Fantasy
Published:  July, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format:  Paperback
Started:  September 6th, 2016
Finished:  September 10th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
  A light crisp Moscato – chilled super cold, please! And maybe a cupcake with sprinkles. 😀

To Grandma, for being my first editor and giving me the best writing advice I’ve ever received: “Christopher, I think you should wait until you’re done with elementary school before worrying about being a failed writer.”

These are the first words you see on the third page of this beautiful little book, and I’m fairly certain can also be traced back to the beginning flickers of adoration I have for this treasure.

The Wishing Spell follows Alex and Conner Bailey, the adorable and completely opposite Sixth Grade twins who stumble into the Land of Stories full of every fairy tale imaginable from their childhood. Playing out as a children’s version of the TV show Once Upon A Time, the fairy tales are not as they appear in the books and have very different endings from what we’ve all known before. Written in an easy to follow and appropriate voice for the intended audience, it still swept me off my feet and I fell head first in love with this book.

“A villain is just a victim whose story hasn’t been told.”

Filled with adorable humour with both innocence and maturity, wonderful adventures that tease the imagination and dance with our inner child, and a unique perspective on classic tales, Colfer delivers splendidly and finishes perfectly. I cannot wait to one day own the entire series and share them with all my future nieces, nephews, and (perhaps) even my own children. Either way, all kids I know shall have a magnificent library with this series, and we shall all love them together.

“The world will always choose convenience over reality. It’s easier to hate, blame, and fear than it is to understand. No one wants the truth; they want entertainment.”

And uhm I’m sorry, but did you know that CHRIS COLFER NARRATES HIS OWN AUDIOBOOK?! AND IT’S PERFECT!

I’M SWOONING.


Bonus for anyone who remembers our Bad Romance May:

(Because Katelynn has officially broken)

Gazing around a perfect little stream ahead of them, to their amazement, was a herd of unicorns. They were beautiful: white with silver horns, silver hooves, and silver manes.
Conner’s forehead wrinkled, and his mouth dropped open. “Oh, jeeze,” he said. “That is the most obnoxious thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”
“I want to pet one!” Alex said, and ran toward them.
“Alex, be careful!” Conner said. “They could have rabies!”
“Unicorns don’t have rabies, Conner!” Alex said.
“You don’t know where those horns have been!” Conner called out.

*snickers* They may not, but someone else sure does. *maniacal cackling*

I obviously have not blocked the events of May from my memories well enough. I’m ruined.

Masks and Shadows, by Stephanie Burgis

burgis masks and shadowsSeries: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Published: April, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: August 10th, 2016
Finished: August 16th, 2016
Drink Pairing: Red wine – shiraz, or maybe CabSauv? Pretty much just wine.

Thank you to Lisa from Pyr (Prometheus Books) for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

I am absolutely fluffed. It was in the wee hours of the morning that I finally finished Masks and Shadows and there was only a sushi date with Kassandra that interrupted my reading. I was hooked around page 30 (flag page 273 and tell me that was not the worst time to stop!) right up until the end that I didn’t want to come. Waking up neighbouring siblings with gleeful squeals and gasps was a frequent occurrence that morning, and I wouldn’t have it any other way because this book is amazing!

Masks and Shadows is a beautiful amalgamation of V for Vendetta, Penny Dreadful, and Phantom of the Opera (*swoon!*). Burgis’ writing sings a tale full of deceit, lies, heartbreak, and love that flows across the pages with rich characters and obnoxiously decorated halls. The mysterious Carlo Morelli, an anomaly with an angelic voice, visits the castle of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy to socialize and share the gift of music at the same time as Charlotte von Steinbeck is staying with her sister (the Prince’s official mistress) during her year of mourning for her late husband. What starts as a tale of opera and tentative first steps ends in terror, magic, and disaster as the facades the castle’s guests built up slowly begin to crumble. Intricately woven and beautifully summarized, the plots and sub plots endued with magic bring out the best and the worst in our characters – both high and low born.

Burgis is a master at transitioning between the dozen or so characters while making each one of them unique and memorable. Where I would usually give up and stop caring, or would find myself at a complete loss as to who is who, I was following along ravenously without any doubt as to the intentions and opinions for each name that passes by. *standing ovation* I’m a little thick when it comes to names so for me to remember every one? A great feat, indeed!

 I fell in love with the characters, I fell in love with the world, I fell in love with the magic (both the magic of alchemy and the magic of life), and I fell in love with Burgis’ writing. Anytime I see Masks and Shadows in stores I will be sure to re-arrange the shelves to showcase this beautiful book so more people pick it up. I’ve been wavering over the rating from 3.5 to 5 and have finally decided that after two weeks of finishing the last page, as the only things I can remember about Masks and Shadows is how much I absolutely loved it, how beautiful it was, and how magical it was, I’m going to allot this as a 5 stars. 😀 So yes, please read and COME JOIN ME IN MY BOOK HANGOVER! ♥

Read the first chapter on Stephanie’s site and swoon, and then

Check out our latest giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Masks & Shadows AND an ARC of A Congress of Secrets!

The Fervor, by Xandrie Kovak

kovak the fervorSeries: Sinful Supes # 1
Genre: Paranormal Erotica Romance (so close but not quite…)
Published: August, 2016
Goodreads | ARC Signup on Kovak’s Website

EVERYONE KNOWS MONSTERS EXIST.
BUT SHE NEVER EXPECTED TO BE ONE OF THEM…

Thanks to her great- great-grandmother, loner Claire Sommers’ DNA results are succubus positive. To make matters worse, her college is forcing her into the Supernatural program. The last place she wants to be is in a room filled with ferals, vampires, and other monsters from her nightmares. The absolute worst thing she can imagine? Getting hit with her first fervor in the middle of said classroom. Especially in front of the new alpha of the Red Crescent pack, Lucas Masters.

With every Supe in scenting distance caught up in the pheromone frenzy, Claire realizes she’s probably not going to survive the night with her dignity intact. She may not even survive at all…

Thanks Grandma.

The Fervor is the sizzling first installment of the Sinful Supes series. If you’re a fan of dominant werewolves and dark suspense, sign up for the free advance review copy today.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Format: ARC E-Book
Started: August 27th, 2016
Finished: August 27th, 2016
Drink Pairing: Drink?! WHEN IS THERE TIME TO DRINK WHEN YOU CAN’T PUT IT DOWN!!?! (But pass me a rum and coke…)

Thank you to Xandrie Kovak for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

It’s not very often I go so quickly from being way to into a book and thinking I’m the perverted one, to stumbling back in mild shock and wondering “HOW DID YOU NOT EXPECT THIS TO HAPPEN?! *idiot*” and then continue to read  on shamelessly.

IN FACT! despite having an early 5AM start this morning I was still determined to finish this book, even if it was at 1AM. Shock factor or not I could not put this book down.

My morbid curiosity has been piqued and I cannot resist the chemistry and originality of the characters. Kovak’s dry wit and smooth, easy to read writing style and characters that practically walk off the page make it the perfect novella for when you’re bored and need something interesting that keeps the pages turning (TIP: unless you’re a fearless/saucy/flirty/brave/i-don’t-give-a-**** type of person, it’s probably best to avoid people reading over your shoulder. But that’s just my shy-reader/romance-noob’s opinion).

I have only one qualm with The Fervor and that is the ending – specifically with our leading lady and how she decides to end things (because, REALLY?!). However, my frustration is stemming purely from a reader’s hope for more and not from the author’s master plan. When I took a step back, I started to realize all the wonderful things this ending could end up leading too – probably more shock and frantic reading on my part. Oh gosh, trust me – if I could tell you more I would, but I dare not share any spoilers. Just know that I cannot WAIT for that sequel!

So do I recommend for my fellow devilish fiends or any other curious kittens looking to come to the dark side? If that synopsis above didn’t convince you well then –

Yes. Why, yes I do.

Another romance that I’ve enjoyed and recommend?!
*shock*
I couldn’t even hold back posting this review – SEIZE THE DAY!

Karina Whitt And the Gateway to Jinetha, by Viktoria Nikola

nikola karina whittSeries: First in the Series (?)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published: May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

Just when Karina, a Russian-American archaeology student, decides that this supposedly exciting archaeology dig in Israel is more boring than a Monday morning pop quiz, she discovers an artifact that turns her world inside out.

The diamond-shaped relic she finds releases a genie that looks like the girl next door—but looks are deceiving. Unfortunately Jinnie, as she calls herself, doesn’t grant Karina three wishes. Instead, she brings the news that Karina is the only one who can aid Jinnie in a life-and-death mission to save an entire civilization.

Suddenly Karina finds herself plummeting into a strange and perilous world called Jinetha. She joins forces with Jinnie to battle over control of an ancient energy source known as The Eye Of Divinity. On top of everything else, she learns that two mysterious guys from her archaeological dig are involved in this otherworldly mess. But can she trust either of them? Kalim, the local heartthrob who makes her knees weak, seems too good to be true. And she can tell that Lee, the Mossad operative, is hiding something.

Before she knows it, Karina is in way over her head. She’s not made of hero material. How can she possibly come through? But she has to at least try. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she didn’t. And the Jinetheans wouldn’t be able to live at all.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3.5 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: July 16th, 2016
Finished: July 18th, 2016
Drink Pairing: A nice hot cup of tea – something dark and spicy!

A big thank you to Viktoria for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Oh boy, did this book take me by surprise. When Viktoria emailed us asking if we were interested in reading Karina Whitt and the Gateway to Jinetha I was thrilled – as in jumping in my chair and doing the happy dance kind of thrilled. I’d seen her book floating around other blogs and Instagram and I’m a sucker for beautiful books (psst..! It’s also SILKY SMOOTH for all those book strokers out there. BONUS!), but then I discovered it was about archaeology, genies, and alternate worlds? Yes ma’am this was most certainly right up my alley! I couldn’t wait to curl up in a hole with blankets and pillows and air conditioning and disappear into Isreal and Jinetha.

Alas, enthusiasm only gets you so far until the book needs to take over. If I’m being completely honest it took me a while to really get into the story and the characters. I was completely lost in Israel having never been anywhere remotely close, nor do I know anything about archaeology except dirt and brushes and dinosaurs. It was vaguely like being pushed into a cold pool in a white dress. I wanted to know more about Isreal even though Viktoria does a great job of explaining it’s a really big pile of sand dunes and blazing heat, and I couldn’t find a single thing I had in common with the characters for the first half of the book. I couldn’t connect. I was beating myself up over it for quite a while waiting for us to get on the same page –

And then it happened.

This beautiful, soft, little book and I clicked together like long lost friends sitting down over a cold beer. It was Viktoria’s world building after leaving Isreal and the inclusion of brilliant secondary characters and their back stories that had me singing like a chickadee and giggling maniacally. I went from critic to fan in the blink of an eye and was left absolutely distraught that book two isn’t even a notion yet (please let me be wrong!).

But really, can we get back to the genie worlds, please?

Despite Isreal being the main reason I wanted to read Karina Whitt when I opened to page it, it ended up being my least favourite location (in the book!). Viktoria does a smashing job of making the dig site seem as both the most boring and the most important place in the world, but even a trip to the Red Sea wasn’t enough to keep me in Isreal. I was like a dog on a bone – one lick of magic and a trip with the Doctor and you’re hooked. A crack addict with an arm scratch. If we never went back to Earth I would be one very happy reader.

…And those secondary characters?

I am horrible for being overly critical on protagonists. Most of the time I find a trait that nags at me until the end of the book, effectively altering my opinion of them. But when you have other characters that help them, nurture them, and just make the reading environment more like a party in a bloodbath than a ninja assassination? *round of applause* I’m not going to spoil anything by naming names but I was falling head over heels in cackling laughter and shipping so hard I wanted to smush the pages together to try and reach the characters. *scratch*scratch*

(No pages were harmed during the reading of this book.)

So should you look for Karina Whitt? Yes, yes you should. It’s an adorable little YA Fantasy that took me by surprise and will hold a proud place on my bookshelf (I may even let friends borrow it – registration is open). Viktoria brings a unique perspective to intervention and the role, expectations, and responsibilities that come along with power. Following Karina through the worlds of the Genie makes me dream of the fan art these magical worlds could produce – the imagination and imagery keeps you drooling until the last page. So even with the slow start and the initial disconnection, I loved how this ended and cannot wait for the sequel.

Thank you so much, Viktoria!

And is there any future plans for book two? 😀

*scratch*scratch*

Stormdancer, by Jay Kristoff

kristoff stormdancerSeries: The Lotus War # 1
Genre: Fantasy
Published: August, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Format: Library Hardcover
Started: July 14th, 2016
Finished: July 15th, 2016
Drink Pairing: Can I recommend sake even though I’ve still never actually had it?

I’m conflicted with this review. I just finished mini-reviewing and rating Kinslayer and realized I never ended up reviewing Stormdancer. Which means instead of the shining, raving review you would have gotten before I’d read Kinslayer you’re going to have a slightly more critical look back on Stormdancer and the things I overlooked.

If you couldn’t tell from this glorious cover and Patrick Rothfuss’ excerpt, Stormdancer is a Steampunk fantasy set in feudal Japan. It was basically like reading an anime (that I wish was an anime) and I was in love. Kristoff weaves a beautiful story of a young girl with some bad-ass fighting skills and a rare talent that allows her to communicate with animals (in her head, of course. No Doctor Doolittle adventures here). The Shima Isles, divided by four clans – Tiger, Dragon, Phoenix, and Fox – and monitored by the Guild, is slowly dying under the strain of Lotus farming. The poisonous plant that sustains the entire nation burns and poisons the ground, making it permanently inhabitable to both plants and humans.

A country shroud in lies and deceit and repression, the revolution starts small but grows fast. Hiding her talent while trying to find the truth and herself in this coming of age story, Yukiko steals the stage and sets to the skies with Buruu – the impossible and magnificent Thunder Tiger.

But really:

“Wait,” he whispered.
But she didn’t.

Basically the book. Annoying? Yes. Original? No. Still enough to keep me reading? With enough sighs, yes.

What really got me hooked was Kristoff’s character and world building. Despite only being 16 years old, Yukiko is so awesome she had my head spinning. She is the daughter of the legendary Kitsune Hunter (proper title escapes me now) who is painted on rice-paper walls. But she doesn’t just rely on his name to make her famous – no no. She’s also as good of a hunter as him and works as one of the Shogun’s four master hunters. Colour me impressed.

And the wit? Totally my speed.

“He wants a thunder tiger, Akihito.”
“Well, I want a woman who can touch her ears with her ankles, cook a decent meal and keep her opinions to herself. But they don’t fucking exist either!”

On top of keeping track of dozens of characters, Kristoff also adds the element of animal personalities. The Thunder Tiger, Buruu, for example, quickly learns the art of sarcasm and humour but still has yet to learn why humans do with the lips and the spit and the touchy things (and then think about it for hours afterwards.. which he can hear if it’s Yukiko):

RAIJIN, TAKE ME NOW.
She shot Buruu a withering glance as he rolled over on his back and pawed at the sky.
HAVE MERCY ON ME, FATHER. TAKE MY WINGS. CHAIN ME TO STINKING EARTH. BUT THIS TORTURE I CANNOT ENDURE.
“Oh, shut it.”

My only qualm with Kristoff is his writing. Almost every other page my eyes would skim over the many long paragraphs to see if there was dialogue (sometimes nothing for three or four pages), or  what would happen next because I didn’t care about small details. I hate when I do that and it’s usually a sign that the author is either taking too long to get to the point, being too verbose for the world building required, or are going off on some random tangent that I don’t care enough about (personal opinion only).

He also spent too many words on world-building. Usually there’s issues of under world building but my goodness, after half a book I’m pretty sure I don’t need another four paragraphs to tell me how much the streets smell like shit and how everything has a red tint from the lotus smoke. I got it. I read it the first time. Twenty chapters ago.

Not to mention that his poetic narrative seems to be what most people are hung up on. And I understand, I do. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes poetic dialogue and prose actually diminishes from the beauty or simplicity instead of adding to it.

“Our troubles are but mayflies, rising and falling between the turn of dawn and dusk. And then they are gone to the houses of memory, you and I will remain, Yukiko.”

It can be a little hard to read, sometimes – that’s when you skip the line and keep moving. So how do you decide if you like his writing or not, when half the time you’re skipping paragraphs, and the other half you’re swooning over how beautiful it is?

…I don’t know either.

But all in all, the overly poetic prose and over detailed world building aren’t enough to keep me away from this series, nor is it enough to make me down rate how much I absolutely loved Stormdancer. Kinslayer is another story, but I’ll save that for another day.

ENOUGH NOISE. STAND ASIDE. I WILL GUT HIM.

Caverns and Creatures Series, by Robert Bevan

caverns and creatures 1

Series:  Caverns and Creatures # 1 – 4
Genre:
  Fantasy

Critical Failures: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Barnes & Noble
Tim and his friends find out the hard way that you shouldn’t question the game master, and you shouldn’t make fun of his cape.
One minute, they’re drinking away the dreariness of their lives, escaping into a fantasy game and laughing their asses off. The next minute, they’re in a horse-drawn cart surrounded by soldiers pointing crossbows at them.
Tim now has the voice and physique of a prepubescent girl. Dave finds that while he lost a foot or two in height, he somehow acquired a suit of armor and a badass beard. Julian’s ears have grown ridiculously long and pointy. And Cooper… well Cooper has gotten himself a set of tusks, a pair of clawed hands, and a bad case of the shits. He also finds that he’s carrying a bag with a human head in it – a head that he had chopped off when they were still just playing a game.
Shit just got real, and if they want to survive, these four friends are going to have to tap into some baser instincts they didn’t even know existed in their fast-food and pizza delivery world.
It’s fight, flight, or try to convince the people who are trying to kill them that they don’t really exist.
Meanwhile, a sadistic game master sits back in the real world eating their fried chicken.

Critical Failures II: Fail Harder: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Barnes & Noble
Finding themselves permanently stuck in this strange new world, the gang tries to make the best of it by finding the nearest tavern and getting shitfaced. The plan goes just fine until they lose Katherine and Chaz. They soon discover that they aren’t the first players Mordred has sent to this world.

Critical Failures III: A Storm of S-Words: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Audible | Barnes & Noble
Going back home was not exactly what Tim and the C&C gang expected. Trouble continues to follow them back to Gulf Coast Mississippi. Trouble… and a gnome… and an undead midget.

Critical Failures IV: The Phantom Pinas: Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Barnes & Noble
The adventure continues. Tim and the C&C gang face their most difficult challenges yet. Horses die. Eyeballs are eaten. People are urinated on. A god is born.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating: 3 / 5
Format: Kindle Unlimited
Started: May 27th, 2016
Finished: June 5th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
 Arrogant Bastard Ale – dark, bitter, and strong. …Kind of like Cooper, except not full of shit.

It’s a safe bet that we all know someone that plays Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe it was the weird kid in high school, your cousin from another mister; maybe you just read the D&D books or were you’re lucky enough to play yourself (you lucky thing, you). Regardless, if you don’t know what Dungeons and Dragons is..

what rock are you living under?!

The Caverns and Creatures series by Robert Bevan is a comical, and often quite crude, story about four guys who go from playing C&C with a strange Cavern Master found on Craigslist (mistake #1) to being in the Caverns and Creatures game. From a harmless tabletop game and beers to a flying arrow assault nightmare, Tim, Cooper, Dave, and Julian have to try and survive with the consequences of their character stats and a Cavern Master who’s hell bent on making their game-lives a living hell.

Charisma over strength? Probably not such a good idea, Cooper (but damn did that make a great story).

The first book is the best by far as books two through four become increasingly crude, trite, and absurd, but my curiosity got the better of me and I finished the series. Heck, if I come back to this in a year or two and there’s four more published I may even read those.

But honestly, just read the first one. It’s original (I think?), hilarious, and just the right amount of crude to give you a good laugh and think twice about what it’d be like to step into your character’s shoes. Or hooves. 😉