Book Review: The Half Life of Valery K


Natasha Pulley

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 23rd June 2022
spoilers? yes

Goodreads

In 1963, in a Siberian gulag, former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov has mastered what it takes to survive: the right connections to the guards for access to food and cigarettes, the right pair of warm boots to avoid frostbite, and the right attitude toward the small pleasures of life so he won’t go insane. But on one ordinary day, all that changes: Valery’s university mentor steps in and sweeps Valery from the frozen prison camp to a mysterious unnamed town that houses a set of nuclear reactors and is surrounded by a forest so damaged it looks like the trees have rusted from within.

In City 40, Valery is Dr. Kolkhanov once more, and he’s expected to serve out his prison term studying the effect of radiation on local animals. But as Valery begins his work, he is struck by the questions his research raises: why is there so much radiation in this area? What, exactly, is being hidden from the thousands who live in the town? And if he keeps looking for answers, will he live to serve out his sentence?

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Book Review: The Collarbound


Rebecca Zahabi

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 12th May 2022
spoilers? none

Goodreads

On the other side of the Shadowpass, rebellion is brewing and refugees have begun to trickle into the city at the edge of the world. Looming high on the cliff is The Nest, a fortress full of mages who offer protection, but also embody everything the rebellion is fighting against: a strict hierarchy based on magic abilities, and the oppression of the Kher community.

When Isha arrives as a refugee, she attempts to fit in amongst the other mages, but her Kher tattoo brands her as an outcast. She can’t remember her past or why she has the tattoo. All she knows is that she survived. She doesn’t intend to give up now.

Tatters, who wears the golden collar of a slave, knows that this rebellion is different from past skirmishes. He was once one of the rebels, fought beside them, and technically, they still own him. He plans to stay in the shadows, until Isha appears in his tavern. He’s never seen a human with a tattoo, and the markings look eerily familiar. Despite his fear of being discovered, Tatters decides to help her.

As the rebellion carves a path of destruction towards the city, The Collarbound follows an unlikely friendship between a man trying to escape his past and a woman trying to uncover hers, until their secrets threaten to tear them apart.

A tale that questions fate and finds strength in not-belonging, The Collarbound hooks from the opening pages and will appeal to fans of magical, brink-of-war settings, like that of The Poppy War, and lyrical, character-driven writing, as found in A Darker Shade of Magic.

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Book Review: Renovated to Death


Frank Anthony Polito

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 31st May 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Real-life domestic partners and stars and producers of the new hit reality home renovation show Domestic Partners, bestselling mystery author Peter “PJ” Penwell and actor JP Broadway are enjoying work and life in their sleepy Detroit suburb of Pleasant Woods—until a suspicious death makes an unscripted appearance . . .

After a successful first season of Domestic Partners chronicling the renovation of their historic Craftsman Colonial, Peter and JP are taking on a renovation of a local Tudor Revival inherited by identical twin brothers Terry and Tom Cash. But linoleum floors and a pink-tiled bathroom aren’t the only unwelcome surprises awaiting inside the house . . .

Just as the show is set to start filming, Peter and JP discover Tom Cash dead at the foot of the house’s staircase. And when the police ruling changes from accidental death to homicide, the list of suspects grows fast. Could the killer be the crabby next-door-neighbor, the Realtor ex-boyfriend, the bartender ex-boyfriend, the other, much younger, ex-boyfriend, or even renovation-reluctant brother, Terry? And what’s that awful smell coming from the basement? Now Peter’s mystery writer skills, and JP’s experience as the former star of a cop show, will be put to the test—as will their relationship while they uncover the secrets of the house and its owners. With a killer on the loose, this is one fixer upper that may prove deadly . . .

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Wrap-up: March 2022

Wrapping up March late because, would you believe it, 12 days of work in a 14 day period is NOT good for your productivity! Who’d have thought it? Anyways… March!

The key:
🐝 = favourite
🕊️ = reread/rewatch/relisten
☀️ = 4 or 5 stars, highly recommend
☁️ = 3 or 4 stars, enjoyed/had fun reading
🌧️ = 2 or 3 stars, was alright/not for me but someone else might enjoy
🌩️ = 1 or 2 stars, bored out of my mind/it was awful

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Book Review: To Marry and to Meddle


Martha Waters

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

published: 5th April 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Marriage isn’t always smooth sailing

Lady Emily Turner should really be married by now, but with a dowry of her father’s debts, her only suitor is the odious owner of her father’s favourite gambling house.

Lord Julian Belfry is the second son of a marquess, but has managed to scandalise polite society with his acting career and the fact that he owns a less than salubrious theatre.

Crossing paths at a house party, they discover that a marriage of convenience might benefit them both: Emily can use her society connections to add some respectability to Julian’s theatre, while also managing to escape the dubious world of her father.

With differing ideas on the roles each will play in their marriage, and an on-the-run actress, a murderous kitten, and some meddlesome friends adding to the complications, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience might be leading to some rather inconvenient feelings.

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Book Review: Burn Down, Rise Up


Vincent Tirado

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 3rd May 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Mysterious disappearances.
An urban legend rumored to be responsible.
And one group of teens determined to save their city at any cost.

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.

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Book Review: That Green Eyed Girl


Julie Owen Moylan

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 14th April 2022
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

1955: In a cramped apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers, unable to reveal the truth about their relationship. They guard their private lives fiercely – until someone guesses their secret.

1975: Twenty years on, in the same apartment, Ava Winters is desperately trying to conceal her mother’s fragile mental state from the critical eyes of their neighbours. But, one sweltering July morning, Ava’s mother escapes.

Alone after her mother’s departure, Ava takes delivery of a parcel. The box is addressed only to ‘Apartment 3B’, and contains a photograph of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across her face.

Seeking refuge from her own crisis, Ava determines to track the owner of the photograph down. And, in so doing, discovers a shocking chain of kindnesses, lies and betrayals – with one woman at the centre of it all…

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Book Review: The Blood Trials


N. E. Davenport

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 23rd June 2022
spoilers? yes

Goodreads

It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.

Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials—a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that—if found out—would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time…

Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself—and one’s blood—is more important than anything.

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Book Review: The City of Dusk


Tara Sim

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 22nd March 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

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Book Review: The Fake Up


Justin Myers

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 7th April 2022
spoilers? none

Goodreads

TWO EXES. ONE BIG SECRET. LET THE GAMES BEGIN…

Dylan and Flo are on the rocks. Of course they are in love. Obviously they want it to work. But sometimes it feels like the world is against them. Their flat is falling apart, their friends never stop meddling and the obstacles keeping them from their dreams are insurmountable. Maybe they just . . . aren’t meant to be?

The break-up completely shatters them both. While Flo cries in her Mum’s kitchen, penning ballads about heartache, Dylan is forced to sleep on his best friend’s sofa and channel his pain into acting.

And, unexpectedly, their stars begin to rise.

Soon Dylan and Flo are on the cusp of everything they’ve ever wanted. There’s only one problem: they can’t be without one another, but their hard-won futures depend on their estrangement. Can they keep their relationship a secret from the world? Or has fate conspired to keep them apart for good?

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