#BookReview The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that I have been debating over since high school. Everyone I know from high school absolutely HATED this book (with a ridiculously strong passion) yet I had this feeling that I should read it anyways. After watching the 2017 television adaptation and LOVING it, I decided it was probably best to just bite the bullet and pick up this book. Of course, I had to remember to buy it to be able to read it and that took some time.

So, during this wonderous break from school and work I decided to indulge myself a little and pick up a book I REALLY wanted to read. Luckily, this book was within sight and reaching distance so I devoured it in under two hours. I binged this book SO HARD and it was SO WORTH IT.

If you’ve watched the television show, you know the basis. The show expands a lot more on the content (and changes some) but you’ve got the jist of the story. Offred is a Handmaid to the Commander and Serena Joy. Her “goal” is to get pregnant and give them a baby, and that isn’t going to well. So she hatches a plan with Serena Joy to be able to have a baby to get out! But… nothing ever goes to plan, and chaos ensues. That is the non-spoiler synopsis.

This book feels all too real even all these years later. It faces political, environmental and religious tones in such an amazing way that it really blew my mind. Margaret Atwood’s writing just adds to this story and gives it way more depth than I ever expected. Every little twist and turn makes me question who you can trust, if Offred is a reliable narrator (at times) and if this world can ever change. Unfortunately, you don’t find that last point out in this novel. The book ends rather abruptly and leaves me feeling cheated. I want to know what happens OH SO BAD. That’s the only reason I enjoy the television show just a little bit more – it expands a lot on the narrative and we will most likely get some kind of ending (eventually… it’s only at two seasons currently at the time I write this review).

You could definitely tear this book apart for “plot holes” – like… how did society crumble so fast? How could these women not over power some of these leaders? How did people let this happen? There’s so many questions that I want answered, but I don’t think that’s the purpose of this book. It felt like a warning tale, like 1984 by George Orwell or any of the Shakespeare tales. It’s a different take on society as a whole and is criticizing it in some way (and it’s also just really good fiction, let’s be honest).

My biggest flaw is how short this book is – I want more and I want to understand more. This world is just way too good, complex and big to not explore! I hear there’s another book coming out soon (oh please give us a sequel I want mooooore) but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Overall, this is a book that makes you think. I love books like that because I can sink into my chair (or couch… or bed…) and just let myself fall into the story. I escape this world and all of my worries and just take in this whole new world. I think Margaret Atwood is a seriously good author with ridiculous amounts of talent and I will for sure be looking for more books by her. Books like this make me SO happy that I love to read and have the time and ability too. Books like this make reading an absolutely breath taking hobby!

Seriously, if you love dystopian fiction, books that you can theorize and form conspiracies over or books that you probably would have read back in your high school English class- PICK THIS BOOK UP!

Five out of five stars.

 

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If you enjoyed this review (or book!) check out another you might enjoy: #BookReview Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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#BookReview Rogue Ever After Anthology Collection by Tamsen Parker, Hudson Lin, et al.

This final collection in the Rogue series has proven to be another lovely addition!

This LGBTQ+ book is full of sweet (and sometimes sexy!) stories. F/F, M/M, poly and more, with each having a different focus. Some of the stories center around politics, Hollywood and even just good, old-fashioned relationships.

I can’t get enough of these short stories, because they are so easy to slip into. They aren’t difficult to follow, they make me smile, and I just love these authors. Since every story is different, you get a really good mix of romance and erotica.

I focused on three stories from the collection, but all of them were marvelous.

Hudson Lin’s Ipso Facto ILU follows Jonny and Brandon, who are OMG levels of cuteness. Brandon is a political science PhD candidate and Jonny is a famous podcaster. Following their super sweet love story was such a treat! Brandon’s shyness and adorable nature made me love this couple oh so much! Throw in some funny lines about Zest body soap and Canadian references and you’ve got me totally engaged in this story. Honestly, it felt like a fan girl’s heaven. This story was definitely a 5 out of 5 stars for me!

Ainsley Booth’s Love Your Love was a lovely poly romance which following Win and Penny (and Tanya, you can’t forget about Tanya). Cute crushes, spooning and fun quotes about beaming and blooming flowers fill this little story up. I like Ainsley’s way with words – it somehow felt so elegant yet so natural! This story moved very quickly and felt a little shorter to me, but it was still super sweet. 5 out of 5 stars!

And to top it off, Tamsen Parker’s Starlet Struck shed some light on causes AND included some super sexy F/F romance. Archer and Hadley make one wild pair – an activist and a Hollywood actress. The characters bring up causes dear to their heart, like the Rivera House which helps homeless LGBTQ teens, and I have to say that made me respect this book even more! At the end, we get the hottest ending that will rock most erotica fan’s socks off. The tension that built up to that part made it even better than I expected! Five out of five stars!

Overall, this is a great anthology for romance and erotica lovers. It’s definitely an R rated book, but it’s worth the read if you love some sexy scenes.

Five out of five stars.

Thank you to Tamsen Parker for providing me a copy of this book to review.

 

Check out this anthology on:
Goodreads
Kobo
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Indigo / Chapters / Coles – Canadian Retailer

 

Check out my other reviews from this series:
#BookReview Rogue Hearts (Anthology) by Tamsen Parker, Amy Jo Cousins, and more
#BookReview Rogue Affair by Adriana Anders, Tamsen Parker and more!
#BookReview Rogue Desires by Tamsen Parker, Adriana Anders, Amy Jo Cousins and more!

 

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#BookReview Safe Landings by Kay Brandt

 

 

Safe Landings is a very strange title for a book as risky and erotic as this one.

This book is pure erotica. We start out with a woman who’s having an extramarital affair yet still seems to have a relatively happy marriage. Each page is filled with naughty comments, and eventually R-rated sexy material. But this book isn’t just all love scenes and sexy comments, there’s an epic plane crash that takes this book on a wild narrative.

It was honestly so refreshing to read a book that focuses on erotic content have an actual plot. I like when there’s a story to follow along that isn’t just a few people bumping and grinding on each other. The plane crash and the drama of the aftermath was a really interesting story to follow and I have to give some massive creds to Kay for writing it in. Plots like this switch the genre up and make it way more interesting the readers instead of having the same old, same old. The therapy, post traumatic stress, early retirement and life changes a traumatic event causes were all parts of this story. Even just a little bit of awareness is better than nothing, so I have to say I’m impressed on that note.

If you thought Kay Brandt was just an erotic novel writer, you’d be wrong. Seriously, if you had any doubts that she had serious writing abilities, this book will change your mind. This is only from 2015 so I can’t imagine how much better Kay has gotten over the years. I guess I will just have to find out when I read more of her books!

My favourite part of this book was the innuendos. Whether intentionally or not, they absolutely kill me. They had me laughing and giggling like a school girl. I suddenly felt like a kid again when someone said spell ICUP when some of the innuendos showed up.

If I had one negative thing to say about this book, it would be that some of the conversations didn’t feel “real”. They were very forced and didn’t seem like a normal person would have that sort of conversation. At least, I don’t have conversations like that so who knows! It wasn’t every conversation, it was only a few, but it felt very strange reading them.

Overall, this book is one hot, erotic story. If you want lots of sex scenes then this book is for you! Safe Landings also has a good plot line, so it’s not just smut, but it is highly erotic and R rated.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free form the author Kay Brandt in exchange for an honest review.

Find this book on:
Kobo
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Amazon.com

Check out Kay Brandt’s Amazon page, Twitter, Facebook and publisher Excessica.

You can also check out my review of another book by Kay Brandt!
#BookReview Hotwives and their Dirty Desires by Kay Brandt

 

 

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#BookReview The Last Straw by Ed Duncan

The Last Straw by Ed Duncan is absolutely ridiculous! In a good way, of course.

Fear not fellow reader, you don’t need to read the first book in this series to understand what’s going on in this novel. But if you want to, I totally understand why!

I started this book with low expectations (I started it around exam time and life had been already a ball of stress) and man, did I have no idea what I was in for. This book was far better than I could have expected and was worth every second. I’m almost annoyed with myself for not expecting it to be good, because it was far better than just “good”.

This thriller novel is fast paced, easy to read and never has a dull moment. It’s not too long, it has a good selection of quality characters to follow and it ends on a good note. The ending makes you feel satisfied if you don’t want to continue the series, but it also lets you know another book could be on the way (and my goodness, there better be another book and it better get in my hands ASAP, you feel me?).

Rico, a sweet guy with a “Dexter” like complex, doesn’t want to murder a teenager. When another man tries to make the hit and misses (hitting another person instead), the plot gets moving into many twists and turns. Paul and Rico’s intertwining story keeps the reader engaged and anxiously waiting to see if the killer will get justice. Along the way, a few side plots keep it interesting too!

Rico and Jean were my favourite duo in the story, but Paul, Beverly, Evelyn and the rest of the crew also have really good material to work with. I really want to read more about the mischievous pair of Rico and Jean in whatever way Ed Duncan can give us, because they are just way more interesting than the regular thriller characters I read about.

If I had to give some negatives about this book, it would be that there is some R rated content. Murders, violence and potential rape are all apart of the pages of this book but they aren’t graphic. This might limit the audience though, if the reader has triggers or isn’t into the adult book scene.

This book gets two thumbs up from me. I honestly loved this book and I didn’t want to put it down. The book helped me get out of a reading slump and actually had me annoyed that it was over so soon! Ed Duncan has a real talent and I hope he continues this series. If anything, I hope more readers find this book because it’s excellent quality. I would absolutely read more books like this in the future if I could get my hands on it.

Five out of five stars!

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

 

Find this book on: Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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More information about The Last Straw from Book Publicity Services:

The Last Straw is a thrilling crime novel by Ed Duncan. It is the second book in his Pigeon Blood Red series.

 

Synopsis:

 

It started with a run-of-the-mill carjacking.  An inner-city kid with no priors and no experience with a gun fumbled the ball, and the driver ended up dead.

 

A teenage girl witnessed the whole thing, and now a target has been placed on her back. The carjacker’s father, a notorious crime boss, is willing to move heaven and earth to prevent her from testifying, even if that means hiring a hitman to kill her.

 

Richard “Rico” Sanders, the best in the business, was his first choice for the job.  But there was a problem. He was a “killer with a conscience” and a killer with a conscience doesn’t murder teenagers.  The crime boss reluctantly turns to someone who has no such qualms, John D’Angelo. There was bad blood between him and Rico, so knowing that Rico had passed on the job, he eagerly accepted it.

 

Rico and the girls lawyer, Paul Elliott, form an uneasy alliance to try and protect her from the hitman. As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

 

Praise:

“This Chicago set thriller is a pacy read, written with an edge and style… For me, this is even better than the first in the Pigeon-Blood Red series and it does work well as a stand-alone… Ed Duncan’s series will sweep up fans as it goes along.” – Crime Thriller Hound

“The Last Straw is a Hugely Satisfying Crime Novel by Ed Duncan.” – Best Thrillers

“With danger looming in every chapter, The Last Straw is an action-packed and nerve-racking read. Duncan skillfully draws the reader into a complex web of characters… A few key twists within the storyline keep the reader intrigued in this fast-paced thriller…The Last Straw is an outstanding crime thriller…” – 5 Stars, Red City Review

ED DUNCAN The Last Straw

About the Author:

Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the third installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red series. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/

 

Readers can connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Photos from Kelsey at Book Publicity Services.

#BookReview My Little Pet Dragon by Scott Gordon

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My Little Pet Dragon is a unique children’s read full of fantastical fun!

I really liked the cover page with the CD art of the dragon on a skateboard. To me, that really stood out compared to other children’s books I’ve seen around recently. The entire book is continues to pack each page full of the awesome 3D art that’s on the cover.

Each page has just a few words on it and a 3D picture that matches the plot that’s carrying on.

I’d say the general age group for this book would be between 2 to 9 years old. The story is rather simplistic, but is extremely cute.

At the end of my copy, which was an eBook I found via BookBub, it has a story about how Scott got into writing. While I thought it was a touching story to include, I felt that it didn’t need to be in a children’s novel that a child might read themselves on a parent’s tablet or phone. As an adult I loved reading it, but it felt out of place (in my humble opinion). It is a motivational and inspirational set of words though!

The version I was reading also included lots of sneak peaks at his other books! While it does a great job advertising these books, it didn’t feel right sitting in a book that a child could be reading. You’re introducing them to a couple chapters and then they can’t necessarily finish it. As someone who has studied marketing, I understand the need to market and advertise your books, but it just didn’t mesh well with the way this book was set up. Maybe put sneak peaks as links at the end or on your website? Not in the book that ends up taking WAY more pages than the story itself.

The final bit (I promise!)… It asks to support the author on Patreon. Again, I totally understand the need to support artists and writers, but it felt out of place.

Overall, this book was really cute and I’d love to read more by Scott Gordon! I think he has lots of potential and he appears to have quite the catelogue!!

Four out of five stars!

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

 

Find out more about the author, Scott Gordon, on:

Goodreads – Scott Gordon

Scott Gordon’s Blog

 

If you enjoyed this review, give me a shout out on Twitter or my Facebook and let me know what other books you’d like to see on my blog!

 

And if you enjoyed this book, why not check out another you might enjoy? Collection 1: #TopTens – Children’s Fiction Part 1

#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Fantasy Reads, Part 1

It’s time for another collection of amazing books! This time around I am focusing on books that were full of fantasy. This is only part one of my fave fantasy reads, so don’t you worry if you don’t see your favourite! Let these 10 books fill up your TBR for the time being. These books are in no certain order, but I absolutely loved all of them!

Time to get started with my elevator pitches for these sweet, sweet novels!

 

1. #BookReview You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
I have loved Katie MacAlister since my high school years! I accidentally stumbled upon her in my local bookstore and ever since I’ve been infatuated with her novels. Her books are cute, silly, fun and full of ooey, gooey romance! This book series is my favourite of all of her books – Aisling Grey’s series! Aisling falls in love with a handsome Dragon named Drake, and hilarity ensues! If you’re looking for a fun yet fantastical novel full of romance, then this is the perfect book for you!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

2. #BookReview Bittersweet Symphony by Rebecca McNutt
Bittersweet Symphony was introduced to me by the author, fellow Canadian Rebecca McNutt. This book fell well into my wheelhouse – horror, fantasy and Canadian roots! And man, did this book not disappoint! If you’re looking for something a little darker, then following this New York set novel full of kooky occurrences will meet your expectations! If I had to pick one book to describe this book, I’d use “gothic”.

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

3. Omens and/or No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong
When you’re putting Kelley Armstrong on a list, it’s hard to pick just one book. I had a really hard time picking between these two books (because I absolutely love both of them) so I figured to add a “bonus” book to the list! No Humans Involved is Jaime’s story in the Otherworld universe. Women of the Otherworld is one epic series following strong, female leads who are witches, werewolves and necromancers. Jaime (the necromancer) has always been my fave and I have always been in love with Jeremy Danvers (the sexy, alpha werewolf) so I had to include it! No Humans Involved isn’t as cutesy as Katie MacAlister’s books, but it is a couple steps up on the staircase – it has lots of action, a splash of comedy, and some super sexy scenes. And then you’ve got Omens, which is a whole ‘nother ballpark. Cainsville has all sorts of weird and strange things going on, and is a little more R rated fantasy (and mystery). If you’re looking for some mystery in your fantasy novel, and something not so cutesy (but pretty dark), grab this book! I read these YEARS ago and I really need to jump back into these series soon, because I haven’t finished either and I love my fellow Canadian, Kelley Armstrong! Can you believe I missed the chance to meet her in my hometown years ago?!

Find these books on:
Amazon.ca – No Humans Involved
Amazon.ca – Omens
Amazon.com – No Humans Involved
Amazon.com – Omens
Kobo – No Humans Involved
Kobo – Omens

4. Quick Book Reviews: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
This list is just full of my old faves! Rachel Vincent was another author I stumbled upon in my high school years (just like Katie and Kelley) and I still love her! Her Shifter series started me out, but Menagerie blew my mind! This fantasy novel involves a carnival full of strange beings. The grotesque carnival puts these human “monsters” on display, but Delilah is a little different…
I’m disappointed in myself that I never picked up the sequel yet. When I got this book in my hands, I absolutely devoured the book. I was totally obsessed and needed to read more, but my local bookstores never got a physical copy in. Rachel Vincent is an author to look out for, whether you want some good old YA novels or some super eerie or romantic adult novels! Also, she’s been super nice to me on social media so I’ll root for her everyday of the week!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

5. Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Add Richelle to my “discovered in high school and still loves” list! Vampire Academy introduced me to her, and Gameboard of the Gods made me truly obsessed with her. I’m still angry this series was never truly finished, but it is worth the read! This fantasy series is for adults (a step away from the YA Vampire Academy universe) and it’s absolutely insane! Religion meets fantasy meets military. Add a pinch of romance, a dash of suspense and a barrel of action and you’ve got one of my fave fantasies EVER. Maybe, just maybe, if everyone reads this book she’ll FINALLY release the last one… Maybe? Probably not. But a girl can dream, right?!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

6. #BookReview Blood by Ruth Miranda
Blood is the first book in the Blood series by Ruth Miranda, but let this book be the placeholder for the whole series. Ruth Miranda approached me to read her books, and MAN AM I SO HAPPY SHE DID. This series is absolutely R-rated wild with vampires, fantasy and magic. She’s a genius and her writing ability is insane! If you want a really dark and gruesome story that is addicting, pick this book up. It does have some touchy subjects, so it’s not for the faint of heart. It 100% deserves a spot on this epic fantasy list!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

7. #BooKReview Fast Backward by David Patneaude
Time to switch it up a little with David Patneaude’s intriguing YA. Fast Backward mixes time travel with historical fiction together when Bobby Hasting witnesses an atomic explosion. The history of Germany, bombs and the amazing intelligence of teenagers is expressed in this book. I thought it was super cool and the time travel worked really well in this book. It’s light-hearted despite being about such a touchy subject. It’s well worth the read!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

8. #BookReview – Apocalypse the Memoir by CS Oliver
Zombies. Yes, I have finally included a book about zombies on the list! Apocalypse the Memoir is a sarcastic yet wildly addicting ride through Canada. It’s R-rated, it’s gorey, and it has some hilarious one liners you wouldn’t expect in a book about zombies! The sassiness of this book is at Level 500, so all of you sarcastic little bookworms will get a real kick out of it!

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

9. Quick Book Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Asylum is a creepy YA novel based in, you guessed it, an asylum. What makes this book even cooler is the fact that there are pictures in the book to give you some epic visuals. The book is full of horror and it’ll keep you guessing at every turn. I loved picking this book up because it’s the perfect mix of horror without the crazy R rated content. Sometimes, you just don’t want the excessive gore.

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

10. Awakened by Harley Austin
Federal agents, government conspiracies and thrills mixed with fantasy? Heck yes! This book is your typical adult thriller with fantasy entwined all throughout. If you’re looking for a book but don’t want to fully commit to a fantasy novel, then this book will give you all the thrills and more! I really enjoyed Harley Austin’s book and it’s a real treat if you want something a little different.

Find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

 

There you have it! 11 fantasy books to top up your TBR shelves. Have you read any of these books or authors before? Which was your favourite? What other fantasy books novels should I read and add to the lists? Also, what other lists do you want to see? Comment below and let me know!

 

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#BookReview A Cup of Redemption by Carole Bumpus

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If I had to describe this book in one word, I’d use the word “journey”.

This incredibly breath-taking tale by Carole Bumpus wow-ed me more than I can say in a few words. When I started reading this book, I just figured it was another Women’s Fiction novel that would be a great ‘on the side’ read to keep my mind off of my homework. Once I got into the book, I was instantly hooked and amazed at how Carole can weave words into the most beautiful and heart breaking tale I’ve ever read! It’s an Oscar-worthy book that is shockingly under-appreciated! Seriously, this is in my Top 10 reads now from how freaking fantastic is was!

A Cup of Redemption follows multiple generations in one family. Sophie’s Mother (Marcelle) has just passed and she is asked to investigate her family tree. She goes on this wild adventure about her heritage with her friend Kate, and enlists the help of some of her siblings. Along the way, we learn about the haunting past of her, her mother and her grandmother. These tales are seamlessly written and tie in with one another throughout the story. This book will break your heart, warm your heart, and then make you believe in familial love all over again.

There’s a splash of history in this book, since it goes over the World Wars and other historical events that occur behind the scenes (or during the scenes!) of the story. There’s a wee bit of romance, a whole lot of drama, and a splash of mystery as well! If you like fiction where the story slowly unfolds and everything comes into view, then you will love this book! The ending isn’t right out there, you have to learn through Sophie and the other characters what really happened in the past – and I loved that aspect. I’m glad the ending wasn’t obvious like some mystery novels.

I loved the characters and how they interacted with each other. Even when Carole is changing back and forth between the decades, she makes these characters lovable and feel real. At times, I could relate way harder to these characters than I ever expected to. That realism is what really sets this book apart from other stories like this. I almost felt like this could be a non-fiction retelling of a woman’s life. Seriously, it’s that good.

The downfalls of this book are as followed:
1. There’s a lot of characters to follow, and if you put down this book a few times like me – you might forget who’s who!
2. There are some plot points that don’t end up resolved, but they aren’t major ones. I would have liked a few more of my questions answered, but the story does come to a close so I guess that’s a bit of a positive…
3. This book can be quite…upsetting. There’s rape, sexual assault and other dark occurrences in the book that aren’t for the light of heart.

By the end of this book, I couldn’t put it down! I absolutely loved it! Even with the slow start, it slowly burned a hole into my heart and I absolutely need more by Carole Bumpus! If you haven’t picked this book up, seriously, get on it! I’m utterly surprised by how well this book connected with me and I want to make sure more readers are able to connect to books with this much talent in it!

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find this book on:

Kobo

Indigo/Chapters/Coles – eBook

Indigo/Chapters/Coles – Paperback

Barnes and Nobles – Paperback

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

 

Find out more about Carole Bumpus on:

Goodreads – Carole Bumpus

http://www.carolebumpus.com/

Twitter – @CaroleBumpus

If you enjoyed this review, give me a shout out on Twitter: @ReviewAlholic or check out my Facebook page: @BriarsReviews

 

While you’re at it, check out another book review you might enjoy! #BookReview Driving on the Left by Gail Ward Olmsted