Final Girls – Riley Sager

30215662Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter was the soul survivor of a horror-movie style massacre that happened on a holiday with her friends. To her dismay, Quincy is dubbed a Final Girl by the press, and becomes an unwilling member of a very exclusive group with two other Final Girls, Lisa and Sam. Despite attempts by Lisa and the media, the three girls never meet. Desperate not to be defined by what happened to her, Quincy struggles to move on with her life. She has a successful website and a nice, lawyer boyfriend. All is going quite well, until the news that Lisa has been found dead, with her wrists slit. Until Sam turns up on Quincy’s doorstep and draws her back into her pain and anger. In a rollercoaster of events, Quincy finds herself under suspicion from the law, doubting Sam’s motives, and terrified by her own actions.

I spent about two thirds of this book thoroughly enjoying it but finding it pretty predictable. I thought I knew who was doing what (although not why), but WOW was I wrong. There are so many twists and layers, but they make perfect sense. Every mystery in unravelled in an unexpected but perfectly plausible way – it’s brilliant.

I actually didn’t like the characters very much – especially Quincy. She was quite wimpy and really annoying how she refused to tell anyone what was going on or ask for help, even though she had people she knew would be willing to help her. But considering her background I was able to forgive her for her silly decisions. I also didn’t like the amount of sexual content, but that’s just me (don’t worry, it isn’t overly graphic or unnecessary – I just don’t particularly enjoy reading about sex), but the things I didn’t like didn’t detract from the suspense or mystery at all.

Final Girls is a brilliant story: Clever and very well-written. The best thriller of 2017 (so far).

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

991197Persepolis is a must-read graphic novel, which tells the story of Marjane’s childhood growing up in Tehran during the Islamic revolution. It is a fascinating and shocking tale, as she faces the challenges of growing up in a country in turmoil, being sent far away from home at a young age, on top of the regular struggles of adolescence. Persepolis is a remarkably honest account of a rather remarkable life.

It is a truly eye-opening account of a life so different to my own. Marjane’s style is very candid and self-deprecating, which makes her character very accessible. I did of course read the English translation, so I can’t say much about her original writing, but the English version of the complete Persepolis is very well-written and easy to read. Don’t be put off by the fact that it is a graphic novel; there is still a large amount of text and the images really complement the story.

The artwork is simple and accessible, while every part of the story feels honest and relevant – there is no divergence into confusing history lessons or incomprehensible metaphors about thoughts and feelings that many graphic memoirs seem to have. Instead, the story is quite straightforward and comes across as completely true and believable, even to someone who has never experienced the things Marjane had to go through.

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Dream Waters – Erin A. Jensen

29445507Following the lives of some troubled characters living in a mental institute, this story deals with issues of sanity, reality, love and obsession. Charlie has been plodding along just fine in the institute, plagued by visions of other people’s ‘dream’ forms, but coping quite well considering. Until Emma arrives. A stunningly beautiful (ugh) girl with a mysterious past, who wants nothing more than to be reunited with her (obsessive and controlling) husband. Forming an unlikely bond, the two help each other through their problems, and Charlie takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of Emma’s mystery, despite the terrifying dragon that follows her and protects her.

The story is interesting and well-written. But there are many issues. Firstly – because of the cover and some of the reviews I’d seen – I thought this was going to be a YA book; it isn’t. That isn’t a criticism of the book itself, but I did struggle to get my head around that to begin with because I had to adjust all my expectations, so do bear that in mind. This book is not YA. Other than fantasy (and maybe a touch of romance), I’m not sure how else to categorise this book, but it is definitely more than just a fantasy novel. Secondly, all of the patients appear to have been committed fairly, and really do have psychiatric problems, so it’s hard to see how the series can progress. I have little desire for characters who seem to belong in a mental institute to be released, and these ones don’t have curable illnesses that they can recover from. Thirdly, Emma and David’s relationship is obsessive and borderline abusive. They are in love, which is nice, but it isn’t healthy and I struggled to watch Charlie be drawn into that. He was nothing but sweet and helpful, whereas Emma was selfish and cruel to use him and David is quite clearly a violent lunatic. I didn’t really enjoy reading about their relationship.

However, I did like Charlie, and I liked reading about Nellie and Bob. They were both sweet and likeable, and – in their strange ways – only wanted to help. I only wish Charlie had listened to them more. I did enjoy most of this book and it really is well-written, but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea and I probably won’t be continuing with the series.

I received a copy of this book from the author who was kind enough to gift me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown

32860254.jpgLoosely based on real events, The Witchfinder’s Sister is an atmospherical drama following Alice on her return to the home of her childhood after her husband is accidentally killed. She arrives to find things have changed dramatically, and quickly learns of her brother’s work finding and questioning witches. Alice does her best to thwart Matthew, and to help his powerless victims, but he won’t be stopped. All Alice can do is watch and wonder just how far he will go.

This story is heavy and harrowing. The plot develops slowly which, instead of being boring, adds to the tense atmosphere and realism. The most disturbing thing is that Matthew Hopkins did exist and, though this story is fictional, it is based around truth, with real victims and well documented trials.

I enjoyed the writing style. The language used is old-fashioned but very readable, and Beth Underdown sets the cold and harsh atmosphere magnificently. My only area of criticism is in Alice’s character, because I found her weak and repetitive. Some allowance can be made for her weakness, because in that day and age there would have been very little she could really do. She had little-to-no influence over the men, so the other women’s expectation that she could stop her brother was unfair. However, she was also so naïve and refused to believe anything anyone said against her family, even when it was staring her in the face. This was annoying.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The atmosphere and tension were near perfection in this story and the general content is fascinating, but other elements could have been better.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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American Gods – Neil Gaiman

31199020I had been meaning to read this book for a while, and finally got around to it in advance of the upcoming TV series. I actually read a new edition, illustrated Daniel Egneus, which is longer than the older editions of the book (so it’s taken me an absolute age to finish). The illustrations are dark and creepy and a fantastic complement to the story.

American Gods asks the question: what if all the gods that people have ever imagined are still with us today? We follow Shadow, a man who is released from prison a couple of days early following the death of his wife, as he is recruited by Mr Wednesday – a strange man planning a war between the old gods and the new. Along the way we meet a host of characters from both sides – including Easter, Ibis and Jackal, Technical Boy, and Mr Nancy – and watch as Shadow finds himself drawn right into the middle of a war between gods, full of impossible happenings (including the return of his dead wife, Laura).

It is, essentially, a road book. Shadow travels all over America following Wednesday’s orders, meeting strange characters and being followed by FBI-style agents, Mr World and Mr Town. Regular humans also come into the story along the way, making the whole thing somehow believable. It is a long and fantastical tale, but you will find yourself truly drawn in, and rooting for Shadow and the old gods, despite their many quirks and flaws.

There are two particularly great things about this book: the characters and the writing. There is such a massive mix of characters and all of them are special in their own way, and incredibly interesting. And Neil Gaiman’s writing is magic. Even if the story was bad (which it isn’t), Gaiman’s writing style would make it worth reading.

Finally, it does make you think, about gods and where they come from and where they go. What would happen if they decided to go to war, old vs new? Who would win?

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I Remember Beirut – Zeina Abirached

20901532This short graphic novel tells the story of Zeina Abirached’s life growing up in Beirut while Christians and Muslims divided the city in war. It is presented as a collection of memories, collecting shrapnel, getting a taxi to school because the buses refuse to make the journey, and seeking refuge in other countries from time to time.

The artwork is very simple, and all in black and white. The style of drawing helps to make the story understandable and enjoyable, and there is very little text at all (although not in a way that makes the story difficult to follow). This is my favourite graphic novel that I’ve read so far, because it is very to-the-point and not at all self-indulgent or full of irrelevant ramblings like others that I’ve read.

Although the story has the potential to be quite upsetting, graphic details of war are not included, making this an easy read. It is short and straightforward, but the details of a regular life in a place split by war are still moving and poignant.

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Esper Files: The Sky Cult – Egan Brass

51IQWoUaBHL__SY346_.jpgIn Book #2 of the Esper Files, the Institute faces opposition on all sides. A radical group known as the Anti-Esper Coalition have got their hands on powerful anti-Esper weapons, while a group of Espers calling themselves the Sky Cult have decided that Espers should rule over humans. Nathan, Freya and the rest of the team have to battle both sides, all while dealing with corrupt Lords, assassins and thieves. If they fail, the entire world will be at risk.

Now, I did very much enjoy Book #1. As I started reading this book, I did start to go off it a little. The story is good – very good actually. There is almost non-stop action and excitement, there’s magical powers, and there’s a very clear-cut good vs evil scenario. However, it is almost as if the author is writing something they wish they could watch on TV. The writing style is lacking the depth necessary for a really good book. I can’t pinpoint exactly what is missing, because the story is good, the characters are likeable*, the plot is exciting, and the steampunk and magical aspects are fun. But something is definitely missing.

*(I really liked the Phantom Thief and Red Cap in this book. They’re both fun and sassy, and I love a bit of ambiguity in terms of goodie/baddie role).

This is still a good book (probably about 3.5 on a star rating), and I will probably carry on with the series when Book #3 comes out. I’m just saying, it’s not the best.

Thanks to Inkitt for providing me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Cynthia Roberts Guest Post & Free Book!

Today, I have a special guest post for you from romance author Cynthia Roberts.cr

Cynthia is the author of a considerable collection of romance books, including contemporary, historical and suspense romances. She is a passionate writer, and I am very excited to be able to share this post with everyone.


Behind the Title
(Creation of a Love Story)
By Romance Author Cynthia Roberts

Creating romantic fiction has been a passion of mine, ever since I was old enough to understand the connection between the sexes.  I think I was twelve, when I wrote my first love story and like most young minds; I truly thought it was a masterpiece.

There’s another masterful connection that has been going on now for centuries, and that, is the one between music and literature.  There is a full alphabet of songs that have been written retelling a work of literature as far back as the 18th century.

“If I Die Young” by The Band Perry was based on a poem, Lady of Shallot.  “Love Story” by Taylor Swift is loosely based on Romeo & Juliet.  The artist Sting’s “Moon Over Bourbon Street” was based on an Anne Rice Novel, Interview With A Vampire.

More interesting though, the anatomy of a song has also within its lyrics a pretty fascinating back story as well.  For more than five decades, authors have been creating fictional pieces and bringing readers deep inside the lyrics.  I grew up listening to my mom’s collection of romantic ballads from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  Those lyrics have forever been embossed into my brain, I still sing along whenever I hear them.  Lyrics like those back then told a story, and they were so strong, and emotional, their affect were everlasting.

I have a library of love songs on iTunes I listen to religiously, while I write, as a source of inspiration and a tool that gets me in the mood and mind-set I need to be in.  It is from this list, I began to formulate a series of ideas, followed by cryptic notes on paper, and finally the creation of my Love Song Standards Series.  I made a list of the songs I connected with personally, whittling it down to thirty-five.  That number was quite overwhelming and I thought virtually impossible to create that many scenarios.  So, I chipped away at the songs and their lyrics, until I decided on a top ten.

I had made a commitment to myself to finish one book a month throughout 2016, writing a chapter every day, leaving me ample time to polish and edit each one.  I knew from the on-start, what I wanted my covers to look like.  They had to resemble each other in a way that would tie them together, but strong enough for them to stand on their own.  My designer Covers by Ramona did an exceptional job tying all my ideas together.

After Book 6, Chances Are, was completed, my brain was fried.  I took a short reprieve and switched it up a bit with a Romantic Suspense, A Pawn for Malice.  Happily, the first two books of my series received a 5-Star Readers Favourite Award, which ended my promotion efforts.  I was forced to take an extended break due to personal issues that had set me back both physically and emotionally.  My focus now is to both promote my series and finish the final four titles All The Way, It’s Impossible, Sincerely, and Unforgettable.

If you’re a lover of contemporary romance, please do check out my Love Song Standards Series.  I know you’ll be pleasantly pleased.  Buy links and descriptions are available on my website at RomanceAuthorCynthiaRoberts.com.  If you subscribe to my mailing list, we can stay in touch as to when the other titles are completed PLUS you’ll receive a complimentary copy of Book 1, Unchained Melody.  All that I ask is for you to please, please share an honest review at the online retailer you use most. It will help me dramatically towards promoting my book and the series.

Hugs from me to you. ♥

“This is definitely a novel that I would read again. It is going to stay on my bookshelf for a very, very long time.”  Readers’ Favourite.

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Thank you very much Cynthia for the post! I’d also just like to highlight the info in the last paragraph: if you visit Cynthia’s site and sign up to her mailing list, you can get a copy of Unchained Melody (Book 1 in the Love Song Standards Series) for FREE. And who doesn’t love a free book?

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading! ♥♥