#BookReview Chain Reaction by Tara Wyatt

If you’re looking for a slow burn romance with action and suspense woven throughout, Tara Wyatt’s Chain Reaction is the book for you!

Why didn’t I read this book sooner? Romance, a Canadian author, and a sexy man on the cover are three awesome traits of this book that make it a must have in my collection. This book has it all – drama, suspense, thrills, romance and some incredibly sexy scenes. Zack is mega hot, Alexa is a Hollywood star looking for something different and they are a match made in heaven! It helps that they’ve been pining after each other in secret for the past year.

This Bodyguard series seems to be centered on, you guessed it, bodyguards protecting a woman and then falling in love with them. It’s kind of the damsel in distress narrative, but with a little more ‘umph’. The duo seem to fall in love way too quickly, but it’s a romance novel so it’s easy to suspend reality on that front. But, the falling in love fast story line makes this book feel passionate and sexy. While it won’t work for all readers, it sure worked for me!

I liked Tara’s writing style – it was fast enough to keep me hooked, it was descriptive enough to make me feel like I’d been whisked away from reality, and it was easy to read. I found myself binging the whole book because I felt for Zack and Alexa and needed to know how it ended. She also wrote Alexa, a character with obvious flaws, really well. I honestly wanted her to have the happy ending she deserves. Buuuuut… yep, a but, I would have loved to have seen her past fleshed out a bit more. She’s a really interesting character who I want to follow more of. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be getting anymore epic side stories about Alexa and Zack (at least… not yet!).

The plot itself is exciting and full of soap opera like turns. Alexa’s Dad is a bad guy, and there’s many more reveals to come. Alexa and Zack decide to ‘fake’ a relationship to not tip off any of the bad guys, but we all know how well that goes in romance novels.

On a side note: This book was easily read as a stand alone. I had no idea what happened in the past books, even though the novel hinted at them along the way, but that didn’t affect the quality of this book. As a reader, I was able to nod along and follow the plot without needing to search up the prequels. I absolutely want to read the two previous books now because this book was just so darn good!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I can easily recommend this to romance lovers who like a little action mixed in with their story.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Kobo
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Check out Tara Wyatt on:
http://www.tara-wyatt.com/
Twitter – @taradwyatt

 

Looking for more romance books? Check out some others you might enjoy!
#BookReview The Inside Track by Tamsen Parker
#BookReview Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy
#BookReview The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

 

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#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes

The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes is honestly one of my new fave mystery books!

Canadian book? Check! Murder mystery? Check! Female lead who is realistic? Check! What more can a Canadian book lover, like myself, ask for?!

Roy Innes has crafted one amazing book that had me hooked to every word. I almost binged this book (you can blame all of my homework for that one) and I could barely put it down! Seriously, it was a real struggle walking away from this book!

James and Coswell work on identifying the murderer of a university professor, all the while dealing with gender biases. Throw in the RCMP, some very complicated relationships and twists and turns you won’t see coming, and you’ve got yourself a real hit!

There were times in this book where the speed slowed down and it dragged on. Despite the small pacing issue, I had no problems with this book. It felt like a standalone, it didn’t have a cliffhanger and it felt really smart. I’d absolutely read another book by Roy Innes any day of the week! I just have to get my hands on one of those suckers…

In general, the book doesn’t stand out or do anything that other mystery novels haven’t already. We have a female lead dealing with gender bias, an aging officer dealing with all the joys of getting old and the obvious “who dunnit?’ storyline that leads you one way then takes you another. You wouldn’t be able to see the ending coming since not all characters are introduced right away, but I still think it’s a fun ride. I absolutely enjoyed this book and want more!

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free via Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find out more about this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo

 

If you like murder mystery novels, you might enjoy some of these other books:
#BookReview And The Wolf Shall Dwell by Joni Dee
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Dog by Gary Corbin
#BookReview Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib

 

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#BookReview The Gift by Stephanie M. Matthews

The Gift by Stephanie M. Matthews was a horrific, thrilling treat!

This psychological, thrill ride of a novel showcases a unique take on religion. If Fae crazy? She’s hearing voices and a Gift from her grandmother has led her into some tempting and daunting situations. Will she get out alive? Will her friends survive? You’ll have to read to find out…

I was honestly surprised by this book – it had so many layers to it that I had to re-read a lot of chapters to really get the point (in a good way, of course). When you look at all of the aspects of this book, you get a real good idea of how talented Stephanie is. Christmas Day, German roots, bountiful landscapes, religious views and arts, and a dark yet intriguing writing style all creates a dark yet vibrant story. I kept getting pulled back into the book as I left it since I really had to know what was going to happen. This is one of the few books that I didn’t see the ending coming, which was nice.

Throw in a Frankie Valli reference, and I’m always game. On top of that, Stephanie is from Canada! It’s like this review was meant to be.

The genre of this book is hard to pick. It had a mixture of horror and thriller in there. I would recommend this book for at least 13+ if not an adult audience. There’s no crazy gore or R rated scenes, but the religion debate has a big influence on this novel.

If I had to summarize this book in one quote from the novel, it would be, “Sin is just what religious people call personal choices the church doesn’t like.” Seriously, that line gave me SHIVERS.

I don’t really have any negatives for this book, but I will say it’s a bit of a niche novel. It’s written beautifully, but some people might not like the themes. So, buyer beware (as always…) – research your books before you read them.

Overall, I liked this book. You could easily binge or set this book down, depending on your mood. I loved the prose and writing style Stephanie uses because it was absolutely perfect for the tone of this book. I’d love to read more from Stephanie in the future, because she’s clearly one talented author.

Four out of five stars.

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

 

You can find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo – Canadian Retailer

 

Find out more about Stephanie M. Matthews:
Goodreads
www.stephaniemmatthews.com
Facebook
Instagram

 

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*Photo courtesy of the author, Stephanie M. Matthews

#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

#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller

The Water War is an absolutely brilliant addition to the Milligan Creek series by Kevin Miller!

Can I just say, I am oh so frustrated with this series! Why did it have to come out when I was an adult?! I would have ate this book up as a child! This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time reading a book, and I truly mean that. It’s the type of book I needed as a kid – dosed in reality yet so full of hilarity!

This time around, the boys of Milligan Creek have a brand new resident to deal with – Fiona Pickleberrybush. Everyone loves this girl – she’s pretty and lounges around the pool all day with her sunglasses on. With everyone falling at her feet, Matt knows something is up and he wants his life back to normal. To try to get attention away from this girl and have a fun summer, the boys decide to play Assassin – a giant game of tag with water guns where you hit your intended target with water. Those who have their target hit are out of the game! The prize is determined to be a date with Fiona or Matt (or not Matt, in case you are wondering). And with that, the games are off!

This story is packed with relatable characters that feel real. These kids seem like they fit right in with my childhood and Kevin does a great job of developing them over the books. Matt’s character development is definitely the focus of this book, and boy does Kevin do it justice! Seeing Matt change over the book and the surprise ending, well, it impressed me!

Each kid in this story has their own personalities and quirks that make them feel like real kids. They are intelligent, resourceful, hilarious and written beautifully. Some of the quirks are more interesting than others, like the kids who like to “Moo”, but they still feel like real children and speak like children. One of my biggest pet peeves of children’s books is when the kids talk like adults. Yet, these kids feel like kids! Kevin knows how to make these characters and build them up over time.

I think this is a great quality series (from a Canadian author!) that should be read to all children! Put this book in school libraries, use it for reading buddies, use it for library events and spread the word around! There are few books out there that have so much fun packed into one little book AND have a great theme.

This book focuses on accepting others despite their differences, and that is a really big issue in today’s society. Having Kevin include that theme in a book like this makes me have a lot of faith for the next generations. If you haven’t read the first two in this series, I highly recommend it! You could easily pick this book up without reading the past two, but why would you?! This series just keeps getting better with each novel that introduced.

I 100% recommend this book to anyone looking for a lighthearted, fun, and inspirational read for themselves or their kids. Books like this show how powerful literature truly is. Unique stories like this are one of the reasons I love reviewing books!

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kevin Miller in exchange for an honest review.

 

You can purchase this book on:

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Find the other books in this series on:

Up The Creek (Book #1) on Indigo

Up The Creek (Book #1) on Amazon.ca

Up The Creek (Book #1) Amazon.com

Unlimited (Book #2) on Indigo

Unlimited (Book #2) on Amazon.ca

Unlimited (Book #2) on Amazon.com

These books are available with the Amazon Prime program too, at the time of writing this blog.

Check out my review of Unlimited: #BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller

Or find 10 more books I loved just as much as this book! Collection 1: #TopTens – Children’s Fiction Part 1

Check out Kevin on his website: http://www.kevinmillerxi.com/

 

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#BookReview Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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I have been yearning to read this book for a long time. Everyone I spoke to was obsessed with this book to the n-th degree, so I figured I might feel the same way once I read it.

I was highly mistaken.

I found this book to be slow moving and boring, even though it is well written. This book was just not for me (which happens, by the way. Not every reader has to like every book ever written). That being said, I still wanted to give it a quality review. For me, the stars are low – but keep in mind this book is still excellent and the idea was intriguing.

To keep the plot short: A boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his family was trying to move their zoo animals across the sea. Tragedy strikes, and now Pi (our lead) is stuck with Richard Parker (our cat).

I found that this story went in many different directions. At first, this story seemed to be all about animals and how Pi’s father ran a zoo. I thought there might be more information in regards to him opening a zoo in the future, or having some great story arc involving it. Unfortunately, this didn’t go very far. It seemed to just be an introduction into the character rather than making it an integral part of the story (except for the animals on the lifeboat, of course). Then religion is thrown into the mix!! Pi enjoys practicing three different religions and this causes strife with his family, and then the plot point is essentially gone. There could have been lots of room for improvement in this discussion further along in the book, but all we get is that Pi is “praying” a lot. To me, having all of these opportunities to follow through with these plot lines was a bit of a waste. Why just have these points as an intro to the character? Why not use them to your advantage?

I also found this book to be SO FREAKING SLOW AND BORING. It’s inspirational, but when it’s close to two hundred pages of “stuck on a boat, send help, I am praying, there’s a tiger, i need to drink water” over and over, it gets a little tiring.

When I look at other reviews and theories about this book, I understand the theme is about religion. You can pick your story to follow God – just like picking apart this book. There’s multiple stories to follow, and you can pick the one you like. I don’t know how I feel about this theme and the way it is presented, but it worked.

This book also has some gore in it, so if you don’t want to read about an animal being ripped apart in description then this book might not be for you!!

Pros:
1. The chapters are short – I like when books don’t make long chapters. Having a chapter that lasts one hundred pages tires me out. Having the opportunity to stop where I want to with a small chapter is a nice quality about this book.

2. The cover – The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It’s simple, it’s colourful and it gets to the point. I appreciate a well thought out cover.

3. Beautiful language – Yann Martel can present a scene well with his words. There are some moments in this book where I got lost in his choice of words.

Cons:

1. Slow and Steady doesn’t always win the race.

2. Religion. This seems like a bad place to put it, but I know many people who would lose their minds having religion be a theme in the book (some would have it as an AMAZING PRO). That being said, I’m putting it in cons because of the strife it may cause some readers. There’s also times I think that religion was mentioned to much, like the author was trying to hit us over the head with it. Just because you leave religion out for one page doesn’t mean we’ll forget about it!

3. The story drags with the same thoughts and concepts.

Overall, this book was not my cup of tea. It is beautifully written and was a unique take on religion I hadn’t seen before. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, but it didn’t bode well for me. I blame a lot of the really great reviews and everyone saying it was the best book ever to make me have such high expectations, but putting the blame on them really won’t get me anywhere, will it?

Two out of five stars.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

Check out Yann Martel on twitter! @WriterYann

Give me a shoutout on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

 

#BookReview Vi by Kim Thúy

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Kim Thúy’s beautiful short story, Vi, is a must read for fiction lovers!

I won’t lie, the fact that this book is so short was what drew me to it. I needed a quick read to keep me occupied while I was in a waiting room and this book was short enough to devour in one sitting. While this book might lack in quantity, it hits a real punch on the quality. I’m honestly surprised Kim is not a bigger author, because this book was mind-blowingly awesome. And yes, I am making mind-blowingly a word.

The cultural impact is probably the best part of this novel. Often, you can see silly cultural stereotypes in novels but this one did it right. You could tell Kim knew what she was talking about with the depth and nature of her words. It didn’t feel cheap or obnoxious, it felt oddly satisfying to read about another culture that was not my own. Watching Vi’s story take place over these pages was a fantastic adventure, since Kim wove her words so beautifully and made this story dance in my mind. I absolutely loved it!

I would have liked a better ending, I found it kind of “blah” compared to the rest of the novel. This book had me hooked and obsessed with Vi’s journey and then the end just fell…well, flat. I would have liked something more. That was my only real issue with this novel. It is a translation (and my copy was an ARC) so there were some weird sentences with the translation but that wasn’t a con for me. I moved passed those issues really easily when reading it.

Overall, this charming read is a great option if you want a story that will move you and impact your understanding of culture. I 100% recommend this book!

Four out of five stars.

I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

If you read this review, use the hashtags #BriarsReviews & #Vi on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

Check out Kim Thúy on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3152466.Kim_Th_y

If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview A Long Way Back by J. Everett Prewitt

Comment below with your most recent read!

#BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

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The Charming Predator is an addicting read for anyone who loves true crime.

Lately I have been in a reading slump (probably from all of those school textbooks I’m devouring…) and most of the books I should love I haven’t been able to connect with. Buuuuut, this book instantly hooked me during this time and appeared to be exactly what I needed.

This book is intriguing because it’s supposed to be “real” (I say supposed to because Lee MacKenzie apparently has numerous pseudonyms). Kenner Jones did exist and there are numerous stories about how he scammed a ridiculous amount of people (including his wife).

I find it an interesting phenomenon that this happens to people. It seems so out of the ordinary and soap opera like, yet I’ve met many people who trick and manipulate anyone they can. Reading it, I found I could see “signs”, but that’s with me knowing the end of this story – I know he’s going to manipulate her, it’s almost like a bad movie you have seen over and over. “Don’t go through that door” or “Don’t talk to that person” and so on…

I have so much respect for this woman, because this was truly one of the worst moments (or say…years?) of her life. Writing a book like this takes courage, and my goodness is it a good book. I find it well written, easy to read and one of the better true crime, life story novels I have read in a while.

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars for sure.

I got this book through a charity that asks for donations to local community charities in return for previous read ARC copies – so my copy was an ARC.

Did you enjoy this book? Why not check out another? Book Review: From Wedding to Funeral: Spouses who Murder by Mindy M. Shelton

#BookReview – The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

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The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

This action/adventure novel hits a home run in this genre and is a must read for those wanting a fast paced, adventure novel!

Normally, these types of books aren’t my thing but for whatever reason this book stuck with me and I could not put it down. I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t pick this book up early, because it was a fantastic read, leaving me to believe I absolutely need more Lori Lansens in my life.

This book isn’t just a survive out in the wilderness story – it has heart, a plot, and lots of backstory. There are definitely survival aspects, but it’s not just survival/wilderness porn. It’s a fantastic blend of action, adventure, suspense, mystery and a splash of romance (just a tiny splash). We follow our leads throughout the story revealing truths about themselves and developing their personalities and lives. It’s not cookie cutter or the norm, which is why this book is such a great read.

Why is it not a five star you may ask? There were definitely some slow/boring parts for me. There were a few times I put the book down and thought I might not pick it up, but decided that I needed to. Once you get past those few boring chapters, the book keeps chugging along at it’s fast pace.

This book has plot twists and turns that make it interesting – you think it’s going one way and then it swings in another – all while maintaining a PG/PG13 rating that I believe any reader will enjoy – not just adults, perhaps young adults too?

The book isn’t sensory in it’s description, but it’s well written that you can almost imagine yourself with the characters. I applaud Lori for writing this novel – it’s a fantastic read that I’ll definitely be recommending to fellow readers!

Overall, this fascinating novel is a truly spectacular ride! Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

#BookReview – Apocalypse the Memoir by CS Oliver

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Apocalypse the Memoir by C.S. Oliver

I am sad to say this book somehow got swept up into my house and disappeared for a while. I remember writing it down on my “to read” list and then being unable to find it. I went through all of my book shelves (there are many) and was annoyed and confused on where it could have gone. I gave up the search until I did a little spring cleaning and found it deep under a couch that didn’t seem like anything could have fit under it. Interestingly enough, I decided it was still in beautiful working condition and that my cats must have stolen it. So, many many reads later – here it is! My review of a book I’ve been dying to read for far to long.

This story centers around Indy, our 15 year old narrator who seems to be in a zombie apocalypse in Canada. It’s a humorous take on what seems to be a very common story now, but this book is unique. This book not only has crazy zombies, but a funny narrator, sassy side characters and an interesting back story.

This novel is brutal and definitely R-rated, but it’s fantastic in a sort of Deadpool way. While you’re cringing at the blood and gore, you’re laughing along with Indy’s thoughts and descriptions. The zombies aren’t exactly your typical slow moving, “let me eat your brains” zombies – they are nasty, predatory creatures that give you a movie-monster-esque vibe. I liked that aspect – slow moving zombies always seem kind of boring to me.

Bonus Points: Canadian cities (I’m a Canadian, what can I say?).

“Are hot dogs miracles?”

If that line doesn’t explain the whole book, I don’t know what does. Reading from the view of a 15 year old narrator, I can definitely say that thought is accurate. I am almost certain at that age that sort of thought would be randomly popping into my head.

This entire book seemed to be written with my sense of humour in mind. I don’t see all readers understanding it, but as I read along I couldn’t help but chuckle. I rarely find books funny, but I related with Indy, our main character, far to much. I really enjoyed her spunky thoughts and I wish more novels had narrators like her – different, odd and absolutely hilarious.

There were two “downfalls” to me for this book:

The biggest downfall of this book was that the conversations in this novel did not have quotation marks around them. That was probably the worst part of this novel – the story was fantastic, the humor was on point, but the lack of quotation marks threw me off a bit. To someone like me, it’s slightly annoying. To most readers? Probably not something that would turn them away from the book.

The second downfall or question I have – was this book all a metaphor? The first half of the book seems like an epic, film ready novel for a zombie dystopia/apocalypse. The second half seemed so interesting and more like a 1984 novel ready to be dissolved and taken apart in an English class. I loved seeing these two kind of smashed together into one book, but it gave me far to many questions. I want to march up to CS Oliver and ask so many questions… But maybe that’s a good thing.

Overall, this book is deemed worthy by me. I definitely want to read more by CS Oliver and I hope any more books created by CS are just as sassy and thrilling!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.