A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Genre: YA Fantasy

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“The strength of the butcher bird is the strength of the Empire, for she is the torch against the night. Your line will rise or fall with her hammer; your fate will rise or fall with her will.”

I’m still not sure how I feel about this one if I’m being honest. There were some epic moments and fight scenes, but this one was muuuch slower and didn’t quite pack the same punches as the first 2 did.

I personally didn’t care for Elias’ POV at this point, and could have done without them. It kinda dragged the story down a bit.

Laia was kind of annoying, but I love her heart and determination.

The revelation she was given…let’s just say, I KNEW IT!

The Blood Shrike – Ahhh..my fave character! The one I’m constantly rooting for. Her POV was the star of the show for me. Even with her best laid plans, somehow the Commandant is always two steps ahead! It’s almost aggravating to watch.

The Nightbringer – The most intriguing character. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of havoc he unleashes.

Something happens in the last 30%, that was really the highlight of story for me!

Overall, I still enjoyed it and can’t wait for the finale!

Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. But she knows that danger lurks on all sides: Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power–regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path. 

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But in the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight. 

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender–even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.

Later by Stephen King

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Supernatural

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (4.5 stars)

“So yeah, I see dead people. As far as I can remember, I always have.”

“You get used to marvelous things. You take them for granted. You can try not to, but you do.”

After his last two releases being a complete disappointment for me, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this. I had been wanting to read it for months, but at the same time was hesitant. I even broke buying ban just to get my hands on it. Which by the way..totally worth it!!

For some, the ending will having you thinking WTF?!! And may possibly even ruin it for you. But for me, I can’t say I was surprised if we’re being honest. It had actually crossed my mind early on in the story.

The narrating was really what brought this book to life. It was kinda like A Christmas Story & The Wonder Years. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much, had it been written in third person.

The story is told by Jamie Conklin who can see ghosts (think the movie Sixth Sense), from the time he was a child until now.

I absolutely loved Jamie. There were times he made me laugh out loud. Liz, on the other hand..*shaking my head* I had a bad feeling about her from the start.

I have to say, this was one of the first stories I’ve read where I thought a character got what they deserved!

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine—as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

It’s been a while since I’ve roasted a book! This week, I present to you..

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Aside from the beautifully painted, eerie setting of a secluded sanatorium turned luxury hotel, there is nothing creepy nor scary about this story. As for the adrenaline rush and thrill ride: 2.5 out 5 🔥

The fact that this was a Reese pick, 1) I walked in with very low expectations, even though I’ve been wanting to read it since it was released on NetGalley..before it got stamped with her seal. 2) I’m not a fan of her book selections. I’ve only ever enjoyed 2 of her choices. I almost passed on this, just because it had her stamp on it. Don’t get me wrong. I love Reese Witherspoon on the big screen. Her book picks, not so much.

When I first started this one, it was a 4 star until I hit the 40% mark. At that point, things kinda fell apart for me and I just wanted to get to the end of the book!

The story weaves between Elin’s struggle to cope with her past and current events happening at Le Sommet. A large portion of the story is about Elin’s past, which makes for a slower paced read.

What didn’t work for me..

⁃ Elin. She was so inconsistent and one hot mess! Rather than feeling sympathetic, I actually found her irritating after the 35% mark. She spends a good chunk of the beginning focusing on her resentment towards her estranged brother and her trust issues with him, yet she readily hands over her findings in Laure’s disappearance so easily. She then asks herself stupid shit like “Would he ever have told me about the break if this didn’t happen?”, after the fact!

⁃ As a former Detective, Elin came across as more of a Rookie to me. Her reaction to the chain of events and the decisions she makes..they all felt like it was her first day on the job as a cop.

⁃ the story suffers from being longer than it needed to be. There were parts that dragged on leading to a very disappointing big reveal! It was the equivalent of getting excited to sleep with the hottie your of dreams, only to find out they suck in bed! Womp, womp. After all the wild goose chasing you do, the ending felt rushed. The motivation behind the killer was completely left field in my opinion. It didn’t quite match up with the whole story behind the sanatorium, which is what I was more interested in. The explanation and connections of what went down in this hell hole was brushed off very quickly.

What I enjoyed..

⁃ As I already mentioned earlier on: the setting. It was the perfect set up for all hell to break loose.

⁃ The adrenaline rush of encountering the masked killer and grotesque murders, were done really well! It’s too bad the rest of the story didn’t have the same effect.

For some, this book is really gonna hit the spot. But for me, it was overhyped and a bit of a let down.

Have you read it? Did you love it? Are you a fan of celebrity picks?

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . .

[Buddy Read] Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Genre: YA, YA Fantasy

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5 stars)

Officium adusque mortem. Duty unto death.

I buddy read this one with my pal Jonny from @jaunts & haunts. You can see how our chat went below.

This story started off very strong and was sitting at a 4 star rating, until I got to ch.17 & 18. That’s when things started to dwindle and drag.

What didn’t work for me..

⁃ too much filler at the 40% mark with missed opportunities. Everything just seemed to fall into place too easily and neatly! Like when Elisabeth arrives at Leadgate Hospital. Ugh.. this had the potential to be a great scene/event, but instead it lasted all of ten seconds with me rolling my eyes and saying, “Of course! How fucking convenient!”

⁃ Because of the fillers, the ending seemed rushed and didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It was kind of predictable.

What I enjoyed..

⁃ The library and grimoires! I absolutely loved that the main setting was in a library with books that came to life.

⁃ The characters. Silas stole my heart!!

Overall, it wasn’t perfect, but it was an entertaining read with a happy ending!

Buddy Read Book Rant:

Jonny: Oh my gosh, how much fun was this book Gigi! I think hands down this was the funnest buddy read to talk about while reading to date. Overall I had a really good time with the book, even though it had its cons here and there. How about you?

Gigi: I had a lot of fun reading this one with you too! I want my own Silas!! How do we get one?! 😜

Jonny: Hmm, bribery? Theft? Seduction? Shoot, I’d pay a hefty price for one.

Speaking of the demon, Silas really stole the show. This book definitely would’ve suffered without him. I love how he would serve tea one moment, then be ready to kill his enemies the next. Plus, he was very emotionally unavailable so he had this air of mystery to him that I really enjoyed.

How did you like the other main characters?

I thought Elisabeth was pretty strong as well. I liked how scrappy she was and also bold. I mean, she fought a Malefict in a nightgown. How crazy is that? She definitely gets some mad props there.

Nathaniel was something of an enigma with his magic and dark past, but he kind of paled in comparison to the other two in my opinion.

Gigi: I agree! Silas really made the story for me, eventhough he was a side character. I loved the banter between him & Nathaniel.

I liked Elisabeth as a strong female lead, and not afraid of anything! She was badass with Demonslayer! Made me wanna learn how to use a sword!

Any complaints I had about the book, were really in the storytelling. There were some missed opportunities in my opinion. There seemed to be quite a bit of filler after the 40% mark. I also felt like everything kinda fell into place a little too easily (i.e the events that took place at Leadgate Hospital) with the action scenes being short-lived.

Jonny: Totally! It’s funny how side characters can make or break the book. Kind of like M-bot in the Skyward series.

I loved their witty comebacks at each other too. It really showed how strong their odd relationship was, and there were several funny moments that really lightened things up where they were needed.

Yeah, I totally bought into her as a character, and I definitely want a replica of Demonslayer one day. It’s a gorgeous sword but also deadly, the best of both worlds.

I agree. Most of my complaints are with the execution of the writing, not the characters. I think some events or small resolutions in the plot came way too easy, especially with Leadgate Hospital like you mentioned. It was far too simple in my opinion and some of the details surrounding the girl Mercy were bizarrely convenient if you ask me.

As far as the action, I did enjoy it, but some of the scenes either gave too much detail or felt clunky. I don’t think there was a single fight/action scene that I felt 100% hit the mark, but it came very close in a few instances.

Ooo, can we talk about grimoires?

Gigi: Omg..yes!! The grimoires!! How cool would it be to be surrounded by them and be able to talk to them?

Creepy that some can unleash demons..no thanks! But I’m so down for a talking book!! Haha.

Jonny: Right! I lived for the grimoires and loved how the author gave them each so much personality. There’d be a snooty one here, a friendly one there, ones that sang, and then others would openly talk in spots.

Can I please be verbally destroyed by a book? I would cry, but they would be tears of joy lol!

There were definitely some creepy ones I would keep away from, like the one with needle and thread. Not messing with that one!

Wait, we should capitalize on the opportunity and make a talking book that comes in a variety of personalities. We’d be millionaires! They’d have phrases like “Hey, wash your hands!” or “Don’t manhandle my spine, creep!”

The grimoires aside, did you like the magic system in this book?

Gigi: We’d be billionaires if we came up with a book that could talk back!

Ooh, yes! I can do without the needle & thread one! Or the one that could scream. 😬

I actually thought it was interesting that the high demons were the source of the sorcerer’s power! I also liked the scrying mirrors, even though I don’t like mirrors in real life!

Jonny: Alright, we’re definitely going to have a pow wow about our business idea once this is all over!

Right? It’s those little touches to the grimoires that helped make the experience so much more. There were even ones with teeth! Better hope your book isn’t hungry when you wanna read it!

Me too. It’s an unusual source, but that made it refreshing. I’m just glad Nathaniel didn’t get stuck with a lame demon. Can you imagine? Like I summoned this demon and all I got was the power to make marshmallows fall from the sky.

I loved the scrying mirrors! They reminded me of Beauty and the Beast. That being said, they did have a creep factor to them because they’re not exactly the safest of magical artifacts.

Gigi: I was totally thinking Beauty & the beast too! “Show me the Beast!”

What did you think of the ending?

No spoilers. It felt a little rushed for me, but I did enjoy the happy ending.

Jonny: Yeah, and fun fact, the original Beauty and the Beast had even more magical artifacts than that. There was this awesome teleportation glove thing that was really nifty!

I liked the ending. It didn’t shake me to the core, but it was a positive end and it left me feeling happy as a result.

This author has another book that I’ve heard is similar to this one, so I might give it a shot sometime.

Overall this is one of my favorite books that I’ve read with you friend! I’m looking forward to more bookish adventures!

Gigi: Me too! While it wasn’t perfect, it was the most fun one we’ve read together where we gushed over the same parts, characters, etc.

We should definitely try horror next!! I’ve been neglecting my horror pile. 😜But I’m totally down for another Fantasy as well.

Can’t wait for our next read! Whatever that may be!! 🙌

Jonny: Yeah, I had a ton of fun gabbing, and that’s the whole point of having a book buddy. Thanks for keeping things so fun!

I’m totally game for Horror. It’s been too long!

Until next time..

Have you read this one? What did you think?

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Chain Of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA, YA Fantasy

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is my first Cassandra Clare novel that I’ve read. To be honest, I tried to read City of bones during my Twilight loving days, and just couldn’t get into it. However, I seem to have fancied this one! Maybe cause of the historical setting, and the fact that all the shadowhunters are gorgeous! I dunno. But I totally want my own Cortana!! Anyone know where I can get one??

My only complaint were the amount of characters thrown into this story. Now normally, I hate when a story is repetitive. But in this case, it actually worked cause of how many names there were. Maybe it’s just me, but it was hard to keep track of at times. But as a shadowhunter newbie, I had no issues getting into the story.

I’m a big fan of love triangles and this story was full of them! I really liked Cordelia! I was rooting for her the whole time! I just wish she’d stop denying her feelings for James. She wasn’t fooling anyone.

Grace, on the other hand. Not so much! I didn’t think too highly of her from the beginning, but I’m intrigued and want to know what her real deal is.

Matthew was another one I found myself cheering on. I wanna see him have a happily ever after and I’m just dying to know what his secret is!!

I enjoyed the alternating timelines between the present and past. It sets up this series very nicely! And the ending…omg. I can’t wait to dive into Chain Of Iron next!

Have you read this one? Do you have a favourite Cassie Clare book? Any plans to read Chain Of Iron?

Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.

But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.

[Blog Tour] Review & Excerpt: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“First, there was trust. Then, there was betrayal.”

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

If you enjoy:

  • Dual timelines
  • multiple POV’s
  • settings in 1790’s London

Potions? Poison? Murder? Yes please!! Every now and then, I love to throw historical fiction into my mix, and this one had me intrigued from the moment I saw the cover!

The dual timelines from past to present, and multiple POV’s was both done very well 👏 in my opinion. I particularly enjoyed Nella’s story and how she came about wanting to help women by ridding them of men who have wronged them. I mean, would you do it? If you knew you could get away with it? Tempting isn’t it?!!

Personally, I thought it was easy to get invested in the lives of all 3 characters: Caroline (present day), Eliza and Nella (past). I enjoyed their journey (even though it was heartbreaking) and thought this was a beautifully written story of womanhood and women trying to help other women.

Intrigued? Read an excerpt below👇

Nella

February 3, 1791

 

She would come at daybreak—the woman whose letter I held in my hands, the woman whose name I did not yet know.

I knew neither her age nor where she lived. I did not know her rank in society nor the dark things of which she dreamed when night fell. She could be a victim or a transgressor. A new wife or a vengeful widow. A nursemaid or a courtesan.

But despite all that I did not know, I understood this: the woman knew exactly who she wanted dead.

I lifted the blush-colored paper, illuminated by the dying f lame of a single rush wick candle. I ran my fingers over the ink of her words, imagining what despair brought the woman to seek out someone like me. Not just an apothecary, but a murderer. A master of disguise.

Her request was simple and straightforward. For my mistress’s husband, with his breakfast. Daybreak, 4 Feb. At once, I drew to mind a middle-aged housemaid, called to do the bidding of her mistress. And with an instinct perfected over the last two decades, I knew immediately the remedy most suited to this request: a chicken egg laced with nux vomica.

The preparation would take mere minutes; the poison was within reach. But for a reason yet unknown to me, something about the letter left me unsettled. It was not the subtle, woodsy odor of the parchment or the way the lower left corner curled forward slightly, as though once damp with tears. Instead, the disquiet brewed inside of me. An intuitive understanding that something must be avoided.

But what unwritten warning could reside on a single sheet of parchment, shrouded beneath pen strokes? None at all, I assured myself; this letter was no omen. My troubling thoughts were merely the result of my fatigue—the hour was late—and the persistent discomfort in my joints.

I drew my attention to my calfskin register on the table in front of me. My precious register was a record of life and death; an inventory of the many women who sought potions from here, the darkest of apothecary shops.

In the front pages of my register, the ink was soft, written with a lighter hand, void of grief and resistance. These faded, worn entries belonged to my mother. This apothecary shop for women’s maladies, situated at 3 Back Alley, was hers long before it was mine.

On occasion I read her entries—23 Mar 1767, Mrs. R. Ranford, Yarrow Milfoil 15 dr. 3x—and the words evoked memories of her: the way her hair fell against the back of her neck as she ground the yarrow stem with the pestle, or the taut, papery skin of her hand as she plucked seeds from the flower’s head. But my mother had not disguised her shop behind a false wall, and she had not slipped her remedies into vessels of dark red wine. She’d had no need to hide. The tinctures she dispensed were meant only for good: soothing the raw, tender parts of a new mother, or bringing menses upon a barren wife. Thus, she filled her register pages with the most benign of herbal remedies. They would raise no suspicion.

On my register pages, I wrote things such as nettle and hyssop and amaranth, yes, but also remedies more sinister: nightshade and hellebore and arsenic. Beneath the ink strokes of my register hid betrayal, anguish…and dark secrets.

Secrets about the vigorous young man who suffered an ailing heart on the eve of his wedding, or how it came to pass that a healthy new father fell victim to a sudden fever. My register laid it all bare: these were not weak hearts and fevers at all, but thorn apple juice and nightshade slipped into wines and pies by cunning women whose names now stained my register.

Oh, but if only the register told my own secret, the truth about how this all began. For I had documented every victim in these pages, all but one: Frederick. The sharp, black lines of his name defaced only my sullen heart, my scarred womb.

I gently closed the register, for I had no use of it tonight, and returned my attention to the letter. What worried me so? The edge of the parchment continued to catch my eye, as though something crawled beneath it. And the longer I remained at my table, the more my belly ached and my fingers trembled. In the distance, beyond the walls of the shop, the bells on a carriage sounded frighteningly similar to the chains on a constable’s belt. But I assured myself that the bailiffs would not come tonight, just as they had not come for the last two decades. My shop, like my poisons, was too cleverly disguised. No man would find this place; it was buried deep behind a cupboard wall at the base of a twisted alleyway in the darkest depths of London.

I drew my eyes to the soot-stained wall that I had not the heart, nor the strength, to scrub clean. An empty bottle on a shelf caught my reflection. My eyes, once bright green like my mother’s, now held little life within them. My cheeks, too, once flushed with vitality, were sallow and sunken. I had the appearance of a ghost, much older than my forty-one years of age.

Tenderly, I began to rub the round bone in my left wrist, swollen with heat like a stone left in the fire and forgotten. Thediscomfort in my joints had crawled through my body for years; it had grown so severe, I lived not a waking hour without pain. Every poison I dispensed brought a new wave of it upon me; some evenings, my fingers were so distended and stiff, I felt sure the skin would split open and expose what lay underneath.

Killing and secret-keeping had done this to me. It had begun to rot me from the inside out, and something inside meant to tear me open.

At once, the air grew stagnant, and smoke began to curl into the low stone ceiling of my hidden room. The candle was nearly spent, and soon the laudanum drops would wrap me in their heavy warmth. Night had long ago fallen, and she would arrive in just a few hours: the woman whose name I would add to my register and whose mystery I would begin to unravel, no matter the unease it brewed inside of me.

 

Excerpted from The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner, Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Penner. Published by Park Row Books.

[Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt] The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley has a lot to deal with on her first day back her from leave from the Serial Crimes Unit of Scotland Yard. After nearly becoming a victim of the vicious serial killer, The Jigsaw Man, just before he was put behind bars, she also has to contend with the subtle digs and microaggressions that come with being the unit’s only black female detective. Add a new trainee and a rocky marriage to the mix, and DI Henley nearly has a full plate. Until the first call comes in…

 Along the Thames, a fan of the Jigsaw Man and copycat killer has scattered two dismembered bodies along the shores like a jigsaw puzzle. When DI Henley sees one of the victims, a young black woman, is already being written off by her colleagues, she makes it her mission to solve the case, driving her to seek help from the original Jigsaw Man himself, Peter Oliver. Oliver, however, is determined to get to his copycat before Henley can, and sets into motion a series of events that puts Henley and her family in the crosshairs of two monstrous serial killers. 

If you like:

-police procedurals

-crime fiction

-thrillers

I haven’t come across any own voices in the thriller and crime fiction genre (which is sad to be honest). So I was more than happy to jump on this one.

I liked that the story opened with cut up body parts, found by different people. It was like watching an episode of Criminal Minds meets CSI. Definitely my kinda read!

However, I did find that some of the conversation between characters made for a slower read and took away from some of the storytelling.

I also found all the branding (i.e Bose speakers, beats ear phones, etc) and other small details to be unnecessary and awkward at times.

Overall, I thought the plot was well-written, which made it an enjoyable read!

Chapter Two

‘How long have we got until the tide comes in?’ Henley was facing the river watching the small waves crashing against the derelict pier. She checked her watch. Nearly two hours had passed since the first 999 call. 

‘I checked online, and high tide is at 9.55 a.m.’ Ramouter replied as he stepped around a half-submerged car tire, his eyes glazed with anxiety. ‘Low tide was at 3.15. Sunrise was at 6.32. A three-hour window for someone to dump whoever this is and hope that someone would find it before the tide comes in?’

‘Maybe,’ Henley acknowledged. ‘But for all we know it could have been dumped after sunrise or was dumped earlier upstream before being washed up here.’ She inspected the glass façade of the Borthwick Wharf, empty commercial spaces and work units that opened to the terrace and lacked security cameras. Henley doubted that the local council would have extended their own CCTV cameras to this part of the street. They had been neglecting this part of Deptford for as long as she could remember.

‘Has it been touched?’ Henley asked Anthony who had appeared at her side.

‘As far as I’m aware, it’s in situ. It wasn’t touched by the woman who found it. Matei, your builder, said that he hadn’t touched the legs but unhelpfully, it’s covered in his vomit. I had a quick look at the arms that were found downstream before I came here. From the looks of things, the treasure hunters may have prodded around a bit.’

‘There’s always one.’

The wind dropped and the air softly crackled with the electricity generated from the substation nearby.

‘We’re isolating the recovery of evidence to the direct path from the alleyway to the torso,’ said Anthony. ‘I doubt very much that whoever it was sat here and had a coffee afterwards.’

‘They may not have had a coffee, but if we go with Ramouter’s theory and the body parts have been dumped then whoever it was certainly knows the river,’ Henley replied. ‘We’ll let you get on. Ramouter and I are going to take a walk.’

‘Where are we going?’ asked Ramouter.

‘To meet Eastwood.’

‘And you want to walk it?’

Henley did her best to push aside her frustration when Ramouter pulled out his phone. ‘Google maps says that Greenwich pier is almost a mile away,’ he said.

‘Your body-part dumper isn’t the only one who knows the river,’ Anthony shouted out as Henley began to walk determinedly along the riverbank.

The gold scepters on the twin domed roofs of the Old Royal Naval College pierced the cloudless sky. The bare masts of the restored Cutty Sark completed the historical panoramic view that Greenwich was known for. It was a resplendent, whitewashed version of history that contrasted with the sewage that washed ashore. Henley stopped walking when she realized that she could no longer hear the sounds of Ramouter’s leather soles slipping on wet pebbles.

‘Where are you from?’ Henley asked, waiting for Ramouter to take off his jacket and loosen his tie. She moved closer towards the moss-covered river wall as the tide began to encroach.

‘Born in West Bromwich. Moved to Bradford when I was twelve.’ Ramouter tried to brush off the bits of mud that had stuck to his trousers, but they only smeared more. ‘Lots of moors, no rivers. Surely it would have been quicker in the car.’

‘This is quicker. Unless you fancy sitting in traffic for the next half hour while they raise the Creek Road Bridge.’

‘You know this area well?’

Henley ignored the question. She didn’t see the point in telling him that she could have walked this path with her eyes closed. That this small part of South-East London was ingrained in her. ‘Whoever dumped the torso would have taken this route. It doesn’t make any sense to come down here, go back up to the street level and then drive up to Watergate Street. Out of sight, below street level. Lighting would have been minimal.’

‘Body parts are heavy though,’ Ramouter tried to quicken his step to catch up with Henley. ‘The human head weighs at least eight pounds.’

‘I know.’ Henley pulled out her mobile phone, which had started to ring. She saw who it was and ignored the call.

‘Head, torso, arms, legs. That’s at least six individual body parts.’

‘I know that also. So, tell me, what point are you making?’ Henley waited for Ramouter to reach her before maneuvering him towards the river wall as though she was chaperoning a child.

‘I’m just saying that that’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around at three in morning.’ Ramouter paused and placed his hand against the wall, trying to catch his breath.

Henley didn’t openly express her agreement. She fished out a black hair band from her jacket pocket and pulled her thick black curls into a ponytail. She had forgotten how much energy it took to walk across the gradient slope of the riverbank. Worse, she felt mentally unprepared for the job ahead, with a trainee struggling behind her who had no idea this was her first time as senior investigator in almost a year.

‘It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?’ DC Roxanne Eastwood shouted out as Henley finally reached the first crime scene. ‘Morning, Ramouter. Not a bad gig for your first day.’

Henley had always thought that Eastwood actually looked and carried herself like a detective. Now, Eastwood was poised on the riverbank, the sleeves of her jacket rolled up with her notebook in her hand. She had come prepared for the river and was wearing a pair of jeans and trainers that had seen better days.

‘Morning, Eastie. How does it feel to be out of the office?’ Henley asked, her eyes drifting to a crime scene investigator who was putting an arm into a black bag.

‘I should be asking you that,’ said Eastwood, with a look of concern.

Henley silently appreciated the empathy and placed her hand on Eastwood’s shoulder.

‘But since you asked, it’s bloody terrible. I think I’ve got sunburn.’ Eastwood rubbed a hand over her reddening forehead. ‘Forensics are going to be wrapping up in a bit. Not that there’s much for them to do. Bag it and tag it.’

‘Where’s Mr Thomas?’

‘Ah, our illustrious treasure hunter. Last time I saw him he was heading towards the shops. Said that he needed to get some water for his dog.’ Eastwood shook her head, obviously not believing a word of it. ‘I’ve got an officer keeping an eye on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already uploaded pictures of his find onto Instagram.’

‘I want him taken back to the station. Ramouter can take another statement from him.’ Henley said it purposely so that Ramouter would sense she was in control. ‘If he’s like most mudlarkers, he would have been out here first thing this morning waiting for the tide to go out. Where exactly were the arms found?’

‘Just over there.’ Eastwood pulled down her sunglasses and pointed towards the foamed waves created by a passing river bus. The tide had already come in where X had once marked the spot. A sense of urgency filled the air as the river regained its territory.

‘Did he say anything else?’

‘Only that he found the second arm about three feet away from the first.’

‘It’s a sick trail of breadcrumbs,’ said Henley.

‘You’re telling me and before you ask about CCTV, there’re loads of cameras—’

‘But none aimed at this part of the river.’

‘Exactly.’

Henley’s mobile phone began to ring. She pulled it out and answered. After a quick chat, she ended the call.

‘That was Dr Linh Choi. You wouldn’t have met her yet but she’s our go-to forensic pathologist. She’s just arrived,’ Henley explained to Ramouter. She wiped away the sweat from the back of her neck.

‘So, we’ve got two arms, both legs and a torso,’ said Ramouter. ‘Where’s the head?’

Good question. Henley thought of the places between the two locations. A primary school, two nurseries and an adventure playground among the flats and houses. The last thing she needed was to find a head in the kids’ sandpit.

‘Can I have a quick look?’ Henley asked the assistant from Anthony’s CSI team, who had just bagged up the arm and was scribbling in her notebook.

‘Sure.’ The assistant unzipped the bag and pushed the plastic apart.

‘Fuck,’ Henley said under her breath. Her heartbeat quickened, her stomach flipped.

‘Oh,’ said Ramouter as he peered over Henley’s shoulder. One arm was covered with gravel. Slivers of seaweed criss-crossed old scars. The second arm. Slender wrist, the ring finger slightly longer than the index, broken fingernails. Black skin. Henley could hear Pellacia’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.

‘Too early to say if it belongs to the same victim or if it’s more than just one.’

‘Call DSI Pellacia,’ Henley told Ramouter. ‘Tell him that we’ve got two possible murder victims.’

Excerpted from The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson, Copyright © 2021 by Nadine Matheson

Published by Hanover Square Press

Nadine Matheson is a criminal defense attorney and winner of the City University Crime Writing competition. She lives in London, UK.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @NadineMatheson

Facebook: @NadineMathesonWriter

Instagram: @QueenNads

Goodreads

Havenfall by Sara Holland

Genre: YA, Ya Fantasy

My Rating: DNF @pg. 90 ⭐️⭐️💫 (2.5 stars)

I really wanted to love this one! After all, I have the ARC for Phoenix Flame. 🙈

If I have to try this hard to stay invested in a story, not only is it not worth it, but it’s time for me to call it quits!

Unfortunately, it was the continuous reminder of Maddie’s feelings and past (in every single chapter) that grew tiresome and bordered on to a painfully slow read. The premise is what had me going initially, along with the setting of the Inn and magical realms. But it wasn’t enough to keep me invested. It was easy for me to spot who the villains were. It was very obvious from the get-go.

As for plot..well, this was the ultimate downfall for me. It wasn’t a very plot driven novel, which is a no-no for me when it comes to Fantasies. I need my fantasies to be as equally plot driven as the character and world development is. This was really bland in all departments.

Nothing really happens until chapter 6, and even then, it slows right back down! 🤦🏻‍♀️

This one had so much potential..it’s too bad it didn’t shine through.

Have you read this one? Any plans to read the next instalment?

Maddie loves spending summers at her uncle’s Inn at Havenfall. But the Inn is much more than a Maddie’s safe haven, and life in Havenfall isn’t without its secrets. Beneath the beautiful, sprawling manor in Colorado lie hidden gateways to other worlds, some long-sealed by ancient magic.

When a body is found on the grounds, the volatile peace brokered between these worlds is irrevocably compromised. What’s worse is that Maddie’s friend Brekken stands accused of the murder. With everything she loves at stake, Maddie must confront shocking truths about the dangers lurking beneath Havenfall – and discover who she really is. 

A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

Genre: YA, YA Fantasy

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Loyal to the end”

“Even if it means my sister’s destruction. Even if it means a madman running the Empire. Even if it means I have to torture and kill my best friend.” “To the end.”

This is the first time I’ve ever thought the second book in a series was just as good as the first! It was equally as brutal, with just as much (if not more), going on. I said it in my last review, and I’ll say it again! I frikkin love Helene!! And love that we get her POV in this one.

My heart broke multiple times. Those who have read it, will know which parts I’m talking about.

I loved the surprises in this story! Especially with the Nightbringer!! I so did not see that coming.

And omg. I’m dying to know who Elias’ father is! I hope I get to find out either in the next book or the last one!

I’m also really liking Harper. I was intrigued by him early on in the book, and wanna see what his deal is.

Normally by now, I’d be taking a long break before reading the next instalment, but I cannot wait!!

“You are a torch against the night-if you dare to let yourself burn .” -Cain to Helene

Have you read it? What did you think?

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
 
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom. 
 
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike. 

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

The Push by Ashley Audrain of

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5 stars)

Even with the trigger warnings, I still wasn’t prepared for this journey. I purposely avoided reading reviews, because I think going into this particular story, less is more. The less you know, the better the enjoyment and reading experience you’ll get from the book.

I’m going to be completely honest, I initially had no intention of reading this one. I didn’t think it’d be my kinda read, but I kept seeing it pop up on my Instagram feed and it was selected in my buddy read group. So of course, I had the FOMO and decided, hey why not?! How bad can it be? While it wasn’t perfect, I’m glad I decided to pick it up, cause I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I will say however, I wouldn’t have pegged this as a thriller or even really suspense.

This was a very raw, emotional and dark portrayal of motherhood. We have 3 separate timelines and POV’s (Blythe, Cecilia & Etta). There were a couple of times I was a bit confused as to who’s story we were reading and what timeline were in, because it bounces back and forth between the present and Blythe’s childhood memories. I caught on quickly though and enjoyed it regardless. There were definitely times I found it hard to read since it dealt with child abuse, mental illness and loss of a child. It was a lot to digest and process.

I had so many things running through my head when it came to Blythe’s story, but I found myself rooting for her and believing her. Her experience as a new mom, really hit home for me. My first born was colic, cried 6 hours a day, hardly slept and wanted to be held ALL the time! It was incredibly exhausting and not what I envisioned motherhood to be back then. Having gone through PPD myself, I understood Blythe in those moments. However, I never neglected my child or went through a lot of the other things she was going through, so I couldn’t relate to it. But I definitely felt her emotions!

THE CHARACTERS

FOX- He was such a dick! It was heartbreaking to watch Fox be as dismissive as he was, and to do what he did!

MRS. ELLINGTON -I loved her and loved that she took on the motherly role that Blythe so badly needed. I wish we got to see more of what happened in her relationship with Blythe in the 2nd half of the book.

CECILIA & ETTA – I couldn’t stand these two women. They were just awful!

I was a little disappointed with Gemma & Blythe’s relationship. I was hoping for some drama in that department. I was surprised and irritated that Blythe never confronted her about the affair. Then what was the point of going through all that trouble?!!

THE ENDING..

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna spoil it. But you’ll either feel satisfied, or you won’t. In this case, it worked well enough for me.

I did think the 2nd half of the book stretched a little longer in some areas than it really needed to, making the ending seem a tad rushed. There were some missed opportunities that I would have preferred and love to have seen instead.

Overall, it was still a good read and one I’d say, is worth picking up.

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter—she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born—and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

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