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ILLUMICRATE April 2019 – Your Majesty & Descendant of the Crane | #unboxing #bookbox

So, by now everyone has received and cooed over their April Illumicrate boxes – I cannot see how you couldn’t when this box was AWESOME! Every single item in this box was perfect and Descendant of the Crane, the book fo the month, was one of the best reads of this year.

But let me show you some pictures, so you can see that for yourselves….

Now let me talk a little bit about Descendant of the Crane by Joan He because I am so full of feelings after finishing this gorgeous book. Needless to say, this was a 5 stars read for me, but what surprised me with this novel is the beauty of the writing, the unexpected twists and turns that kept on coming and the characters that feel alive in their goals and motivation against the backdrop of political instability. Hesina rises to the throne as queen and requests an investigation under her father’s murder, but things are never as they seem and this book is a journey of finding and losing oneself. The mystery, intrigue and magic blends beautifully under the penmanship of Joan He. This book was perfect for our Illumicrate Readalong on goodreads.

We need more of this world, we need more of Joan’s writing because I am a human addicted on her words.

What did you guys think of this box? Have you read Descendant of the Crane? Thoughts?

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Untamed Billionaire’s Innocent Bride by Caitlin Crews | #BookReview

Happy weekend, book dragons! What are you currently reading? I made a return to romance, because ya girl is kinda addicted to Mills and Boon… and discovered this little jem. The title is kind of corny, however the novel was surprisingly good.

“Dedicated personal assistant Lauren Clarke always does as she’s asked. Her latest task? To prevent a media scandal, she needs to find reclusive Dominik James – her boss’s estranged brother – and convince him to marry her! But in Hungary’s darkest forests she discovers more than just an untamed billionaire…Dominik’s brooding masculinity awakens Lauren’s long-dormant desire. Once they’ve exchanged their convenient ‘I do’s’, will innocent Lauren accept that their hunger can’t be denied…?”


Genre: Romance
Year Of Publication: 20/05/2019
Publisher: Mills&Boon
My rating: 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review copy via Netgalley – Thank you Mills&boon

I adored the chemistry between this two, there is no denying that sparks are flying whenever these two are on the page. Lauren absolutely rocked my world in her high heels and no-nonsense attitude and I had a lot of respect for her, being able to stand up like that for herself. Yes, she wasn’t perfect, bending to her boss’s wishes and whims, but she wore her flaws like an armor. The image of Lauren striding through the forest in her tall heels, ignoring the pain because she does not believe in flat shoes will forever be etched in my mind, and I wish I’d be a little more like her (unfortunately I like my flats because being comfortable is my thing).

Now Dominik is just like the big bad wolf come alive from the fairy tales and she’s his little Red Riding Hood. He’s got all the attributes of my favorite heartthrob: tall, dark and handsome, but his wit and attitude are a great added bonus. Dominik is not the usual type of billionaire, he’s living a simple life in the forest, away from people until Lauren arrives at his doorstep and he is too tempted of her to resist the offer.

I lapped this story up with so much hunger it’s unreal. I swore myself a long time ago that no more reading until late at night on a work night… well, that went out of the window because I couldn’t and didn’t want to put it down.

By no means it’s not a perfect book, I wished for the ending to be a bit more different, I wanted Dominik to be more active since he demanded so much of her, but in the end I was still happy, especially after reading that epilogue. I also reallllly loved the Red Riding Hood references and the dark vibes.

If you are a fan of romance, totally recommend this one!

Xoxo
Jane

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From The Shadows by G. R. Halliday | #BookReview

Good morning readers! How are you this fabulous Monday? I am back with a review of FROM THE SHADOWS by G.R.Halliday, the newest, hottest crime procedural in town! Set in the Scottish Highlands, this novel is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series. I am having it from good sources that the sequel is being worked on and I am very excited; this review is coming out a bit later because I was convinced that I had published it… obviously not…

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Year Of Publication: April 2019
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 432
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Harvill Secker for sending me an ARC of this novel for review.

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.”

From the Shadows is Halliday’s debut novel, but I was impressed how well it was executed and it did not feel like his first ever novel. The novel is following different key characters, including the killer, and although I am not generally a fan of multiple POVs, it was so well done I really enjoyed it. The set-up for this novel is perfect with it’s dark and atmospheric vibes which draw you in – I felt chilled to my bones.

DI Monica Kennedy is senior investigator on the murder case of a 16 year old boy who after disappearing from his home is found mutilated and tortured on a remote location in the Highlands. When another body is found fitting the same MO, the situation escalates and Monica has to find out the truth behind these murders and stop the killer from striking again.

I really liked Monica and it was easy to empathize with her, even if at times there was a little too much “underlining” of some of her flaws. Monica is a lone mother with a 4 year child, but also a professional trying to be the best at her job and keep the people safe. She has a past herself, but then everyone around her seems to be keeping secrets and she eventually unites forces with Bach, the social worker of another missing teenager who’s body was never found. Bach has his own demons to fight, but his passion for saving these kids is the motivator which keeps him going.

Halliday has a talent for writing good characters and knows how to set the scene for maximum impact. From the shadows is a brilliant debut tot what it seems to be an amazing new crime series.

Have you read From the shadows? What did you think?
Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: Toffee by Sarah Crossan | 𝘎𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘥. @KidsBloomsbury

I am not who I say I am.
Marla isn’t who she thinks she is.

I am a girl trying to forget.
Marla is a woman trying to remember.

Genre: Poetry
Year Of Publication: 2 May 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 416
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Bloomsbury for gifting me this copy! Opinions my own, as always!

Alison ran away from home and takes shelter in the shed of an abandoned house, but the house isn’t empty. In this house is where Marla lives, and elderly woman suffering with dementia and then they meet she confuses Alison with her friend Toffee. So Alison becomes Toffee, but who is Alison anymore…?

@Jane_Kelsey

The only way I can describe Toffee is to compare it with a piece of classical music, the pacing slowly building up to a crescendo of emotions, not letting the reader go until the last page. A riveting story about the dark aspects of being human and the power of friendship.

𝘎𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘥.

What Sarah has achieved is more than mere good poetry or making the reader cry, she opened up a difficult conversation about loneliness, domestic abuse, but also of the hope that one can find strength in the most unexpected places.

Toffee is one the most empowering pieces of literature that I have read in the recent years and hands down on my top 10 books of 2019.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother by Jo Giese | #BookReview

There have been a lot of reading out of my comfort zone this year, and I do not seem to tire. I feel quite lucky that I get to experiment with myself and push myself to read things that I normally wouldn’t read and discover gems along the way and Never sit if you can dance is one of them.

Genre: Non-Fiction
Year Of Publication: 23/04/2019
Publisher: She Writes Press
Pages: 144
My rating: 5 stars

“Jo’s mother, Babe, liked to drink, dance, and stay up very late. When the husband she adored went on sales calls, she waited for him in the parking lot, embroidering pillowcases. Jo grew up thinking that the last thing she wanted was to be like her mother. Then it dawned on her that her own happiness was derived in large part from lessons Babe had taught her. Her mother might have had tomato aspic and stewed rhubarb in her fridge, while Jo had organic kale and almond milk in hers, but in more important ways they were much closer in spirit than Jo had once thought.” [Goodreads Blurb]

Never sit if you can dance took me emotionally hostage and I found myself sinking into the memories of Jo and her awesome mother Babe. I was not expecting the depth of the emotion pouring from these pages so I was caught unawares. These lessons were beautifully written to encapsulate the essence of Babe’s life and the things she lived by.

Through Babe’s life lessons, we learn more about Jo and Babe’s life in an up-beat, friendly style even when things got tough. I couldn’t put it down and devoured it in two reading sessions and the ending almost left me in tears with the strength of my emotions. After finishing reading this I started thinking what I can do different, what I can do to live more in the moment, to express myself . It is difficult to express how I ended up feeling sad and uplisted at the same time.

Xoxo
Jane

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The Shoot Corpses, Don’t They by Stuart McLean ♥ | #LoveBooksTours

Happy Sunday! What are you guys up to this weekend? Anything fun? I finished reading The Shoot Corpses, Don’t They by Stuart McLean so I am putting the proverbial pen and paper to good use and write my thoughts on it.

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Noir
Year Of Publication: 13/04/2018
Pages: 302
My rating: 3.5 stars

Pat O’Hare is the only (living) private detective in Farrelton, a crime-ridden city still recovering from the ravages of an undead uprising. Pat is hired to find the missing granddaughter of a rich industrialist. But, what starts out as simple enough job turns into a fight for survival as he finds himself pulled into a deadly mystery where nobody can be trusted. Helped only by a trigger happy ex-cop and a washed up boxer with a pathological fear of trees, Pat has to use every trick in the book just to stay alive.
Caught between corrupt police, gun-wielding hitmen and a ruthless crime lord, Pat soon learns that the zombies are not the most dangerous creatures in town.

The Shoot Corpses, Don’t They by Stuart McLean features zombies and detectives which the perfect mesh-up in my opinion. Anyone who knows me can vouch for my love of zombies. The characters are funny and witty even with the zombs within touching distance. I really enjoyed reading about a world where the living are going on with their lives even with zombies.

The zombies adds an interesting backdrop to this detective noir setting and I am so here for it. There characters were hilarious, the twist and turn in this mystery/thriller novel kept on coming and I kept on turning the page because I needed to know and this novel kept me chucking all the way to the end.

Buy Link https://amzn.to/2W3k06H

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Author bio:

Stuart McLean (aka CS McLean) is a writer currently living in St Albans. He studied Chemistry at the University of Hertfordshire – although, this was back in the days when the Premiership was still called Division One and Hatfield was still a Polytechnic.
He was shortlisted for the first Margery Allingham short story competition, and was twice shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland short story competition.
Stuart was a finalist in the 2016 Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect competition, in which he pitched his brand of zombie noir to a largely bewildered group of panellists. He was also chosen as one of the 2018 Bloody Scotland Crime in the Spotlight authors, a platform to highlight new and emerging crime writers.When not writing, Stuart likes to play various musical instruments, all very badly; guitar, ukulele, trumpet and harmonica. But, not at the same time.

Down to the Sea by Sue Lawrence ♥ | #LoveBooksGroupTours

Hello, bookworms! Another book review for your today – I missed the original date then I was supposed to publish for the tour, I’ve not been around this weekend and all those alerts on my phone that I snoozed, didn’t help either.

Genre: Historical fiction
Year Of Publication: Feb 2019
Publisher: Contraband
Pages: 256
My rating: 3.5 ⭐⭐⭐

“Historical mystery set in Newhaven, Edinburgh with a dual timeline. One strand is set in the present day and the other in the 1890s, when superstitious fishwives blame a young girl for the deaths of their menfolk at sea, and she is forced into the Newhaven Poorhouse.”

In historical Newhaven, we follow Jessie who is sent to the poorhouse because of the mark she has on her cheek which branded her as a witch during those superstitious times. I could tell that there was a lot of research that went into this book and really appreciated how Jessie’s world came alive under my eyes. I am not going to say too much about it because I do not want to spoil anything.

The novel is told in dual narration/perspectives in two different time periods in Newhaven; one in the present day, one in the past. The novel is extremely atmospheric and I felt transported in the book, feeling what the characters were feeling. I am easily scared so I was concerned that I would be spooked by the contents, but rest assured that it’s nothing nightmare-inducing.

In the present day, during the 80’s, we follow a married couple who just purchased Wardie House with the intent to transform it into a high end caring facility for the elderly and I really enjoyed exploring these characters. I felt a lot more of a connection with them, maybe because it is more “present” day than Jessie’s.

All I will say about this book, as I do not want to spoil anything, is that it left me with a good feeling at the end. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the best read of the year, however there was dedication for the story and characters within the pages, subjects that mattered to the author. The plot twists were quite predictable, especially for a more seasoned reader, but I still really enjoyed it and recommend it!

Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: The woman in the window by A.J.Finn

I told myself that in 2019 I am not going to force myself to finish books that do not hold my interest; my TBR list is huuuuuge and I simply do not have time for it. Thanks goodness for audiobooks! So I picked The woman in the window as I love thrillers and wanted to read this one for sooooooo long…

Genre: domestic thriller
Year Of Publication: Jan 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 427
My rating: 2.5 stars, DNF.

The woman in the window follows Anna Fox, child psychologist suffering from agoraphobia and has not left her house in almost a year. I reallllly wanted to like this as I have a background in psychology myself and reading about a character is a similar background was very interesting, however I really struggled to care or to maintain interest and it was not the fault of the audiobook. I did enjoy the moments where she was talking about the illness, medications and diagnosis criteria.

The main problem with this novel is that it’s not very thrillery for a quarter of the book, instead drags on and on about how much Anna Fox is drinking, watching her neighbors and chats with other people online. I was supposed to feel an emotional connection to the main character, to feel her pain and root for her and whilst I did root for her, I found myself simply bored out of my mind. By the time the ungodly scream happens, I’ve been waiting for so long that I lost interest, put it down and now I have no willingness to pick it up. Maybe one day it will happen, maybe not.

The writing was good, it was articulate and expressive, but the plot suffered greatly at the expense of exposition and setting the scene. Nothing really happened that couldn’t have been written in a much shorter way and cut to the thrilling part of the novel which is what I was here for. Also, can we just stop with the unreliable narrator style of domestic thrillers!!

Have you read it? What did you think?

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