#BookReview Aftermath by Clara Kensie

Aftermath by Clara Kensie is a Young Adult novel following the “aftermath” of a teenage girl’s abduction.

This book was a hard read – it’s emotional, raw and enraging (at times). Clara Kensie has written one magnificent story in the form of a young adult novel. Honestly, it was written beautifully but the subject matter was so tough, serious and so full of pain.

The plot of the story is as followed: Charlotte was abducted by her “Keeper” about four years ago. Somehow, she gets lucky and gets her escape through some paramedics who found her in the “Keeper’s” attic. Suddenly, she’s thrown back into society and to a life that has changed. Her parents are divorced, her sister didn’t follow their “Dream Book” and her friends have all moved on. Her Mother wants her to go into hiding and never leave the house again while her Father wants her to become an international, superstar ambassador. All the while, Charlotte is trying to grasp how to be normal again once a man destroys your safety and sanity.

This novel is a YA. At first I struggled to figure out if it was, but it only hints and briefly talks about how painful Charlotte’s journey was. The R rated comments are very rare, and only said once or twice so the reader gets the point of what happens. I’d say this is on the higher end of YA though, because Charlotte was raped (and some more spoiler-y things happen that are some really tough pieces of content for potential thirteen year olds).

Clara made me really feel for Charlotte the entire time. I watched her journey and felt her pain. Somehow, she made me really connect with this family and understand why she did and said what she did. She made it believable, which can be very tough to do!

While the story is sad, Clara also brings hope into the story. It hides in the back like a shadow, but it’s still there. All around, this book is very powerful and a really good story to tell. It started out so rough for me and I wasn’t sure if I’d actually like it, but I did! Clara left so many bits and pieces that turned out to be clues to some of the story’s bigger plot twists. I didn’t see half of them, which is a feat all on it’s own. But it’s all there for the reader to unwind!

Overall, this book is utterly amazing! I’m impressed by Clara’s writing and by this story. It was emotional and gripping, but it is totally worth your time if you find this book. Seriously, it’s an amazing story and it’s important to hear.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo

 

If you enjoyed this review, check out some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview If We Had Known by Elise Juska
#BookReview Someone You Love Is Gone by Gurjinder Basran
#BookReview My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#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

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis is a fabulous romance novel.

When three sisters come back to Lucky Harbor to take over their deceased Mother’s former Inn, things go awry. The Inn is in shambles (both physically and financially) and the girls just can’t get along. We follow Maddie, a former L.A. resident who is running far away from her old job and ex, who seriously wants this Inn to get back on it’s feet. When she’s there, she almost runs over one sexy motorcycle rider who turns out to be more than what he says he is…

I really liked Maddie’s arc. She starts out as “The Mouse” and slowly works her way up to being a total bad a**. She has an attitude, knows what she wants and is working on making herself a stronger person. She absolutely deserves it after a trash of an ex. And lucky for her, Jax might be the man to help her realize love isn’t all that bad. Jax is sexy, a former lawyer and good with his hands (I mean carpentry… right?). He’s a character with lots of back story and isn’t the “perfect” man, which is why I loved him.

Oh boy! There is SO much going on in this book and I am SO frustrated it left on a cliffhanger. I need the next books in this series as soon as possible! I need to know what happens with Maddie, Chloe, Jax, Ford and every other kooky character from this series! Will Ford end up with Tara? I feel something heating up there. Will Chloe ever find romance during her asthmatic state (oh man, can I relate. I NEED HER STORY!)? Will Jax and Maddie end up happily ever after?! There’s so much going on and Jill has left me speechless!

If you like romance and drama, then this book is perfect for you! There’s a pinch of Christmas and comedy as well. Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed. I was expecting a boring, old, romance novel but I was left with an addicting, quick read that is making me absolutely desperate for more of Jill’s work. Seriously, it’s worth the read. The title is Simply Irresistible, and that’s just what this book is – irresistible.

Five out of five stars.

P.S. This book is TOTALLY R rated. It has some super sexy scenes that are not suitable for your PG-13 audience. Just an FYI for anyone looking for something totally contemporary – it’s not! This book gets hot and heavy!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

Check out some other romance novels you might enjoy:
#BookReview Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade
#BookReview Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
#BookReview The Inside Track by Tamsen Parker

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Christmas on Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Christmas on Mistletoe Lane was an absolute GEM!

I was craving some Christmas-y goodness during the back to school blues, and this book hit the spot! Annie Rains has written one super cute novel that is a definite must read for romance lovers! Especially if you love those Hallmark Christmas movies like I do!

Christmas on Mistletoe Lane is a soft, sweet novel that moves at a fast enough pace to leave the reader breathless. It’s a PG-13 novel (suggestive sex, no sexy scenes) that is packed full of romance, angst and Christmas delights! There’s also some lovely side plots that give it the Christmas magic we all need (ex. Helping out an ill woman so her family can have a Christmas).

The kooky cast of characters were chalked full of hilarity – The Krespos, Paris (a biker Santa), Kaitlyn and Mitch are just some of the wonderful characters I fell in love with. Annie made them all lovable AND realistic. Each character had their own flaws, but they weren’t depressing. The fact that I could easily read this book and see it totally happening in real life was awesome! It felt real enough and left me hooked to every page.

Let’s get down to business here: Kaitlyn used to live in New York and be a fabulous Interior Designer. When a famous man ruins her career and shatters her, she returns to Mistletoe Lane to her Grandmother’s old bed and breakfast. Her Grandmother recently passed away and left the ownership to her and a former marine, Mitch Hargrove. They work together to get the business back up and running, and slowly fall in love… Obviously, her Grandmother had more in mind for her than she realized!

This matchmaker side of the story was actually really cute! Sure, it’s a trope that is used often but Annie used it well! There were so many little hints along the way that pushed these two lovebirds together, and I’m so glad this book ended WITHOUT a cliffhanger. The story felt finished, but I’m sure Annie will be able to continue their story in part in the sequels.

I really enjoyed this book. Mitch was a “broken” man who slowly finds his way back to his home town (and into a new job, post-Marines). On the other hand, Kaitlyn was a strong-willed woman who’s working on getting stronger. Having these two together, bumping heads a bit, was a fun story! I definitely want to read more by Annie Rains in the future, especially this series! She makes a story full of ups and downs, but still utterly positive!

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check this book out on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo

 

Looking for some more romance books? Check out some of my other reviews:
#BookReview Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade
#BookReview The Gaucho’s Lady by Genevieve Turner
#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Romance Novels

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview Sex and Death Edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs

Sex and Death is a mixed bag of stories full of, you guessed it, sex and death.

This anthology features a large array of short stories. I say it’s a mixed bag because, like any set of stories, some of them are amazing and some of them don’t hit as well. What I’ve found is that it really depends on what type of reader you are. I really enjoyed some of the stories focusing on the family structure – George and Elizabeth by Ben Marcus, Fixations by Ceridwen Dovey, and Evie by Sarah Hall. The stories had me hooked and interested and somehow left me wanting so much more out of them. I wanted entire books for those stories! They were intriguing, well written and absolutely fantastic!

To highlight my three favourites:

George and Elizabeth follows George after his father died. He’s in the process of seeing a therapist and reaches out to his sister. He meets his Father’s ex-half-wife and participates in some situations that he might actually need therapy for. This slice of life story is crafted so beautifully that I wanted a full length novel of this book. George and “Pattern” (Elizabeth) are unique characters with a unique relationship. I need to find more books by Ben Marcus because he is just phenomenal at writing!

Fixations by Ceridwen Dovey follows Selene after the birth of her child. The difficulties of post-partum life and having medical procedures was really interesting to follow. Hearing Selene’s point of view about how the midwives think she has post-partum depression but really it’s from the physical pain of the childbirth was eye opening. I couldn’t pull myself away from this book! Yet again, Ceridwen Dovey has an addicting writing style!

Evie by Sarah Hall follows a romantic pair who dip into something new. Tragedy strikes during their slice of life, and a relationship will be tested. This story was just too darn short! I wanted to see the fallout of everything that was happening because Sarah managed to get me attached to these characters. It is absolutely amazing what some authors can do with their words!

All of the other stories were well written but just didn’t hit me like those three did. But, that’s the point of an anthology! There are many different types of stories around one topic (this one being sex and death). Honestly, the way these authors dove into mental health, sex, ambition, life, and death was truly incredible. Hats off to these guys! Despite every author having a different writing style, all of these books felt like they fit in and that they should be winning some kind of award!

Some of the stories end in tragedy, some feature happy endings and some are just… there. There are very short stories and there are longer stories. What Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs have done is craft a beautifully arranged anthology that definitely should be in more readers’ hands!

Overall, this was a marvelous read and I’m really happy I got the chance to read it! I’ve been staring at this book for ages while it sat on my shelf. I finally got the nerve to pick it up and devour it!

Four out of five stars! The stories ranged from one to five stars, but it’d be a shame to give it anything less than a four. As a complete set, this book stands out!!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Kobo
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Barnes & Nobles

Here’s some other books and reviews you might enjoy:
#BookReview Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Many, many years ago I saw this book at a local Wal-Mart and had one of those “OMG I NEED IT” moments. I bought this book, put it on a bookshelf, buried it in said bookshelf, and then lost it until I reorganized my entire house. When I reorganized all of my books I decided to put this book on the “Read Next” physical shelf. WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?!

Seriously, this book is an absolute GEM and I’m hitting myself (figuratively speaking) for not reading it sooner. It’s everything I love in a YA – potential love triangle, crazy fantasy, typical friend and families woes – and it has an epic cover! It was a home run! It hit it out of the park! It was the best YA book I’ve read in a good while! I loved every second of it! And gosh darnit I need the next book and I don’t have it!

On top of all of that, my friends have been telling me for years to read books by Jennifer L. Armentrout and THEY WERE RIGHT!

So, let’s get down to business….

The positives:
Gargoyles. Yes, you heard me right. FREAKING GARGOYLES. If there’s one set of monsters I haven’t read about in my reading life, it’s them! We have people who turn into gargoyles – so right off the bat I’m impressed because it’s something different. Then you have to throw in the demons who are the greatest foes of said gargoyle people. Now, before you get all excited over this, the gargoyles change forms like a shapeshifter so they do survive out in public. But, the public also know about gargoyles? It’s kind of confusing for me, but she makes it work.

I liked that this book had lots of romance and flirting it in. I love a good romance story! There’s just enough action and adventure to keep the plot going – so it felt like a good mix.

On an even brighter note, Jennifer has an amazing writing style and tone. I got addicted to this book SO FAST that it was unbelievable. I couldn’t put it down and it was almost making me mad! It’s a great story to binge! I absolutely want to read the rest of this series and whatever else Jennifer spits out of that brilliant mind of hers.

And then there’s Roth. He’s super hot, he’s funny, he’s slightly inappropriately and I love him. Zayne kinda bores me but whatever. We’ve got two hot guys and I have already picked my side! Also… Bambi. A giant snake tattoo demon creature. Yup, this book is that cool.

The negatives:
In typical YA fashion, the heroine is the master of the universe. She’s the special one everyone’s been waiting for. Am I tired of this trope? Yup. Did the story suffer because of it? Nope! So, essentially, it doesn’t really affect the story at all but I did get a little judgey because OF COURSE she’s the answer to everyone’s problem.

The virgin side of the story had me feeling cringy and icky. When your adoption/step father like figure starts talking about your sex life and not in a “Birds and the Bees” or “Stay Safe” kind of way, I always get creeped out. I get that’s apart of the prophecy in this story but… EW!

Additionally… there is a fair bit of slut shaming and women against women vibes. I hope that disappears in the next book but… ya never know.

Overall, I think this was a fun YA ride. I don’t take it to be some seriously, Oscar-winning drama book but I don’t think we’re meant to. It’s a lot of fun and whisked me away from my real world for a few hours.

Five out of five stars!

You can find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo

 

If you enjoy YA books with romance and fantasy, check out these other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

#BookReview I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan was a pleasant surprise!

I love books that let me inside another person’s life and culture, and I am Thunder met the bill! This book welcomes the reader into a Muslim and Pakistani lifestyle which is something totally new to me. I’ve seen the headlines, I’ve had classmates, but I’ve never been able to learn this much about a culture in one sitting. While this book is only ONE view in a Young Adult (and slightly dramatic) book, it was still truly intriguing. Hats off to Muhammad Khan, seriously.

This book does cause some waves in the reading community though – I’ve seen lots of praises and lots of criticism. So, I’ll just share my thoughts.

I like that this book follows one young woman’s story. Yes, it’s like a soap opera and slightly dramatic at times but isn’t all YA? Muzna’s story gives some fabulous insight into her culture (for example, the difference between a religion and the actual practices someone follows). Her family life, her thoughts, her trouble deciding what to do with her life and the effect it has on everyone felt very REAL. It felt like I was reading a book made for and by a teen – she wants to meet boys, she wants to impress people, she wants to try to have a life but do what’s best for her family too. I could totally relate to her in that aspect. She struggles with being a teenage girl trying to just BE a teenage girl.

Are there parts of this book that were rough and tough? Yes. I don’t fully know what this woman’s culture would be in an accurate depiction, so maybe this is all my views as a reader. Buuuut… her parents are HARSH. It seemed like no matter what this girl did that they weren’t proud of her. It’s no wonder that Muzna “acted out” because there was no way she’d ever please those parents. It was borderline abusive. I don’t think it was a culture thing… honestly, I’m certain it’s not supposed to be a reflection of their culture. Those parents were borderline abusive if not actually abusive. Like, show a little familial love? Or at least, don’t be cruel at all times of the day?

Extreme religion was also apart of this book, so let there be a trigger warning for those who might be bothered by this topic. I found it interesting to read, but at times it felt like everyone were quite extreme with their religious practices. I know there’s only so many pages in a book, but there could have been some “softer” practices or realistic ones. I know many lovely people who study and follow various religions who aren’t as “crazy” or as extreme as some of these characters.

If I had to list the good things about this book, they’d be the following:
1. This book showcases a different religion and a different point of view in a largely read genre. I like that YA has diverse books like this one floating around so readers can learn more about the world. Difficult topics like religion and politics should be brought into books (especially YA) so more people can learn and experience the world.

2. Muzna felt like a real character with real struggles. She didn’t feel out of place or goofy. She made me really feel for her story and want to know more about her.

3. This book can start wonderful discussions. It’s the type of book I wish we read back in high school. I could have picked apart this book and had some really great discussions with my classmates and teachers. Just think of a diverse class discussing their points of views on topics like these! Oh, it’d be an interesting time!

Overall, this book is a really well written book! Muhammad Khan has written a beautiful story that will introduce you to Muzna’s world.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check this book out on Goodreads!

Or check out another book you might enjoy:
#BookReview Gods in Oslo by John Plaski
#BookReview The Fencers by Geza Tatrallyay
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

 

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

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

Or follow my on Goodreads: Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads