Review Rendezvous: 10/27/18


The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical fiction, fantasy, retelling
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 416
Publish date: October 2nd, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TSoKVTWhen Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.

I loved the spookiness of this book right off the bat. I also have not read a historical fiction in forever, so I enjoyed getting back into this genre. Honestly, this is the perfect book for Halloween time.

There’s a great blend of retelling and fresh, new content with the romance side. I did notice the attraction popped up pretty quickly, but it didn’t bug me too much overall. There is definitely a bit of the “I’m my own person, I’ll do what I want” attitude that may be a bit cliche for historical romance heroines. On the flip side though, it’s also nice that she’s not just a doormat that lets people walk all over her.

The beginning may have been a bit slow, but overall I think this is a really good read. It’s perfect to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and hot drink in the fall/Halloween season 🙂

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 8/11/18


The Steel Sentinel by Kyle Williams
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 292
Publish date: March 15th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon

TSSWar and Chaos bound together
Death is all alone
Life is lake and forest plenty
Peace sleeps with the bones

It all began with death, a mysterious woman, and a poem. The balance of the world is in jeopardy. The Guardians of War, Chaos, Peace, Life, and Death have all gone missing. The world threatens to tear itself apart and at the center.

There is Kyah.
An unassuming girl from a small village in Canada obsessed with the lore of our people. In the very oldest lore of our people, they tell of a child. A child who will rise up when the world is in its darkest hour.
And now, That time has come.

The world is on the verge of darkness and destruction. She has charged herself with finding the guardians and restoring the balance.

I’m always down for a good mythology story, so I loved getting into this book. There is a great balance of action and character building, which can sometimes get lost in stories that fall in the fantasy category. I highly enjoyed getting to know the character of Kyah, and could definitely relate and see a bit of myself in her.

Overall, I thought the pacing was quite good and really enjoyed the voice and style of the writing. The ending also grabs you and sets up further entries into the series very well. I look forward to future additions to this world.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 7/28/18


Losing Adam by Adrienne Clarke
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 217
Publish date: April 5th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Book DepositoryBarnes & Noble

LAWhat happens when the person you love most in the world suddenly becomes a stranger?

Adam and Jenny’s world is falling apart. Their dream of attending college together away from home quickly becomes a nightmare when Adam begins hearing the voice of the Snow Queen. Adam’s startling transformation from popular drama student into a withdrawn, suspicious stranger leaves Jenny frightened and confused. How can the person she loves most in the world suddenly become someone she doesn’t recognize? As Adam drifts farther and farther away into the Snow Queen’s mysterious world of ice and snow, Jenny believes she must fight to bring him back or risk losing him forever. 

Vividly narrated by Adam and Jenny, the struggle to understand the impact of Adam’s mental illness, forces both characters on a journey of self-discovery that leads to understanding about life’s uncertainty, the power of first love, and the pain of letting go. Drawing on elements of The Snow Queen fairy tale, Losing Adam is a unique combination of drama and romance.

This is a book that definitely deals with some heavier topics. I will admit though, it is good to have stories representing mental illness, because it is something that has been left out of many published stories for quite some time. The time of transition between high school and college is also stressful, so there are many things that stack on top of each other to give this story tension.

We see the split perspectives of Jenny and Adam. Jenny has to stand by and see her best friend slowly drop into a world that isn’t real. Having someone you care about lose to mental illness can be draining, disheartening, and hurtful, which Clarke portrays well. Jenny could b a bit needy and selfish at times, but overall her characters was well written. I did have a bit of an issue with the fact that she seemed to want Adam to get better for her own sake, for her happiness, instead of his however.

Seeing things from Adam’s point of view was also interesting. I personally do not have any mental illnesses nor do I know of anyone with them, so I cannot speak to the authenticity of the situation. However the prose was lovely, and it seemed like Clarke portrayed the illness well.

The only thing the really held me back from enjoying it more was the maturity level of Jenny’s character, but this was still overall a good book. I enjoyed reading it, and the cover art is also lovely.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 7/14/18


Valley of Time by Jeremy D. Holden
Book stats:
Genre(s): Science fiction, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 262
Publish date: November 5th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

ValleyMal Thomas only escaped with his life through a mixture of good fortune and divine intervention, after he and his eclectic team of cynical mad men and women were charged with promoting the alleged second coming of the Messiah, by Alfredo Baptiste, the world’s most powerful industrialist.

Having subsequently become famous as a best-selling author—as well as an unlikely spiritual leader—after having written and promoted a book about those experiences, Mal is now approached by another enigmatic billionaire with an equally incredible proposition.

Huw Hudson, the man often described as a modern-day Howard Hughes, wants to position his company, Space Rider, as the leader in commercial space tourism. He tries to enlist Mal and his team to help promote it, with one extraordinary twist: Hudson has evidence of an alleged UFO encounter, which he thinks could damage his business plans, and he asks Mal to investigate and manage the breaking news story.

Mal discovers a deeper purpose at work, as he crisscrosses Brazil, Miami, London, and Dubai in furtherance of Hudson’s audacious ambition, while being forced to keep an unbelievable secret from the FBI and even his closest friends. In confronting his deepest fears, Mal takes us on a journey that challenges the very core of our beliefs about space and time. 

This is the second book in a series, so fair warning there may be spoilers for plot points of the first book. Unlike my last review, you’ll probably need to read the first book to get a good back story for this one. There was quite a few references to past events and things that you would miss if you jumped in with this book first. Also, this book is currently free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so definitely go check it out.

This one had quite an interesting premise, and part of the draw for me is that I work with marketing as a blogger and influencer on social media. The idea of such a huge story being plausible was a little farfetched (I mean, how many supposed UFOs have there been recording sightings of?), but nevertheless I continued. The beginning was a bit rough, but the action did finally pick up a few chapters in.

While this does begin fairly similar to the first book, it quickly divorces from that narrative. I did like the fact that this is told in first person narrative. It’s much easier to get into a character’s head this way, and there is another layer of plot development that factors in with mysteries because you are limited to only what the protagonist experiences rather than being an omniscient observer.

There are quite a few pop culture reference which were entertaining, and there is definitely a lot of jargon included. Honestly, the way most of it was phrased however was not as bad as it could have been, and I was able to understand pretty easily.

For people interested in sci-fi and conspiracy theories, you’d likely enjoy this novel.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 7/7/18


An Eye for an Eye by Caroline Fardig
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, suspense
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 322
Publish date: January 23rd, 2018
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble – Book Depository

EyeEllie Matthews is tired of her fifteen minutes of fame. After consulting on a high-profile murder case a few months ago, she wants nothing more than to fade back into obscurity and resume her life as a mild-mannered college professor. But when a family friend goes missing, Ellie finds herself thrust back into the grisly world of crime scene investigation.

It isn’t long before Ellie’s young friend is found murdered and her death is tied to a previously unsolved case. Based on the cryptic poems left on the victims, the department soon realizes that the killer’s vendetta is against them.

It takes all Ellie has to push her personal feelings aside and partner with Detective Nick Baxter one more time. The duo must stop at nothing to catch a vengeful serial killer before it’s too late.

Potential spoiler warning. This is the second book in the “Ellie Matthews” series. Things discussed in this review may spoil plot lines in the first novel.

I haven’t read a non-young adult book in quite a while it feels like, so it was interesting to take a crack at this one. Technically speaking I fall into the target audience for the semi-new genre “new adult”, which encompasses high school grads through their early adult life. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy an actual adult mystery every once in a while. I confess to being used to YA, but the break is quite nice.

Ellie clearly wants nothing but to get back to her regular life in this particular book. She was convinced to assist on a previous case, dragging her criminologist skills out of the attic, but has a strong desire to leave that in the past and just be the professor she has become. Unfortunately, her friend is taken and later murdered, which forces Ellie back into the case.

I sensed some very Sherlock-esque skills in the detective work, and I do quite like mysteries so I enjoyed this one. Having a strong female character in the lead of a crime novel was a nice twist, reminds me of books like Riley Sager’s Final Girls. Technically speaking you could read this book as some kind of stand alone, but reading the first book before this one helps flesh out the characters and their past interactions so much more.

This book can get fairly grisly, and there are religious symbolisms involved, so have that in mind before you proceed. There’s also a fair amount of criminology terms, but honestly I didn’t find them too distracting or difficult to process. It definitely help build the world and give it a good grounding in reality.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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