ARC REVIEW: The Fire Child – by S.K. Tremayne

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Title: The Fire Child
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
First published: June 16th 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: July 26th 2016
Pages: 400
Rating 4,5qqq

“Maybe nothing could extinguish the yearning of human love; maybe it travelled on for ever, through the darkness. Like the light from dead stars.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and HarperCollins UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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The Ice Twins was on my list of most-anticipated 2015 releases, so as soon as I found out S.K. Tremayne was publishing a new psychological thriller I just knew I had to read it as well. And I have to say, The Fire Child didn’t disappoint. In fact, this story turned out to be even better than her first novel! There is no doubt S.K. Tremayne is excellent at setting a spooky atmosphere for her chilling and dark psychological thrillers. The descriptions of both the Cornish setting, the house and the events themselves really make it seem like as if you were right there with the main characters. And those months/days before Christmas definitely become spookier by the minute! The main characters are all well developed and I especially liked Jamie and Rachel. They are not perfect and not reliable either, but their stories are without doubt intriguing and work perfectly for many surprising plot twists. The plot itself is quite simple, but it’s the characters, excellent descriptions and spooky atmosphere that make The Fire Child into such a great psychological thriller. Trust me, you won’t see the ending coming! If you enjoy reading the genre, make sure to consider both S.K. Tremayne‘s thrillers. They’re worth it!

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It’s easy to say Rachel has had a difficult childhood, but everything seems to be falling into place when she marries dark, handsome and rich David. She went from a small flat in London to living in a huge and beautiful house in Cornwall… A house that has been in David’s family for a thousand years and even has its own name: Carnhallow. David still works in London, and only travels to Cornwall during the weekends to be with his new wife and his son Jamie. Rachel seemed to be getting along well enough with her new stepson in London, but things changed when she moved into the big Carnhallow house. Jamie’s behavior changes and Rachel’s perfect life slowly begins to unravel. He doesn’t seem to be over the death of his mother Nina (and David’s first wife) and both claims to see her ghost and makes disturbing predictions. Is it Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel for taking his mother’s place, or is he more traumatized that she thought? When Rachel starts digging into the past, she starts to suspect her new husband wasn’t telling the whole truth about what happened to his first wife…

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Now I’ve read both thrillers, I can easily say S.K. Tremayne is one of my favorite newly discovered authors. She is without doubt excellent at setting a spooking atmosphere, creating characters that are both intriguing and unreliable and describing the setting in such detail that it almost feels like you are right there in Cornwall. The Fire Child is well written, has well developed characters and is filled with many surprising plot twists. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, I can definitely recommed this one!

BOOK REVIEW: Rot & Ruin – by Jonathan Maberry

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Title: Rot & Ruin
(Rot & Ruin #1)
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: YA, Horror, Dystopia
First published: September 14th 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: July 25th 2016
Pages: 468
Rating 4qqq

“Often it was the most unlikely people who found within themselves a spark of something greater. It was probably always there, but most people are never tested, and they go through their whole lives without ever knowing that when things are at their worst, they are at their best.”

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Zombie stories are normally not really for me, but I’ve become less prejudiced after I finished and loved The Girl With All The Gifts earlier this month. So when I was browsing Riveted and saw I could read Rot & Ruin for free (until August 1st), I decided to jump right in. Especially since I have had this series by Jonathan Maberry on my wishlist for a long time in the first place. I’m glad I decided to give Rot & Ruin a go, because I ended up really enjoying this story despite my reservations for zombie stories. The dystopian worldbuilding is interesting and I liked the idea of the separation between the relatively safe town and the ‘wild’. The descriptions of both the zombies and the world itself are well done; the zombies are slightly humanised (especially by the older brother Tom) and that was certainly refreshing. There is a lot of action (and shouting!) involved in the story, making it into a fast-paced read and without doubt entertaining. Another bonus: there is almost no romance in Rot & Ruin, which is rare in a YA fantasy/dystopian series. Although I’m having the suspicion there might be more in the sequel… Because there sure were some pretty obvious hints at possible romantic developments and even a love triangle. I’m glad there wasn’t any in the first book though and the ending was quite satisfying (even though the final fighting scenes were not that credible). All in all Rot & Ruin is an interesting, entertaining and fast-paced zombie read that will appeal to fans of the genre.

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Benny Imura grew up in this zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America and doesn’t know any better; his biggest worry being his need to find a job before his time is up and his rations are cut in half. His older brother and zombie hunter Tom does remember the time before the First Night though… As he saw their father turn into a zombie in front of them and had to run with little Benny. Benny still feels Tom is a coward and when Tom offers him to be his apprentice, Benny refuses. But he cannot seem to get another job that interests him, so it seems like he will have no choice but to accept his boring brother’s offer. But when he goes outside for the first time to see how his brother does his job, he encounters a whole different reality. Benny realizes he has been wrong about a whole lot of things in life, including his brother…

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It kind of came as a surprise, but Rot & Ruin turned out to be another exception to the rule and I really enjoyed this zombie and action-packed story. It’s well written and the worldbuilding is interesting, and I liked the fact that the zombies are slightly humanised and the bounty hunters are the actual bad guys. The fact that there is almost no romance involved is a huge bonus as well… At one point I thought this was going to be a repeat experience of The 5th Wave (cheesy romance scenes ruining an excellent story), but I guess I was wrong. If you enjoy reading the genre, I can definitely recommend Rot & Ruin! The sequel is already on my wishlist.

ARC REVIEW: Environmentally Friendly – by Elias Zanbaka

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Title: Environmentally Friendly
Author: Elias Zanbaka
Genre: Thriller, Short Stories
First published: March 5th 2016
Publisher: E.Z. Entertainment
Finished reading: July 24th 2016
Pages: 19
Rating 3,5qqq

“They could’ve done this when he was still a guest at the psychiatric ward, rather than waiting for him to escape and unleash this shit storm on the city.”

*** A copy of this short story was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I always enjoy a good action-packed thriller even if it’s a supershort one like in the case of Environmentally Friendly. This short story written by Elias Zanbaka has only 19 pages, but has action scenes for a novella at least ten times that size. In fact, the plot would work great as a full length novel as well and the story left me wanting for more. The idea of this kind of ‘extreme’ therapy is definitely intriguing and I liked both the title and the ending. Enviromentally Friendly starts with a bang and you are right in the middle of the action from the beginning. It takes some time to figure out what the story is about, but there is no doubt that this short story has an impressive amount of action, suspense and plot twists. The prose is well written, very descriptive and almost graphic; it was almost like watching a movie instead of just reading it. There isn’t a lot of character development, but that is mostly because of the size of the story. Schaefer has a lot of potential though! All in all it’s a very entertaining, fast-paced and action-packed thriller with an interesting twist.

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After a traumatic experience, a war veteran has declared war on Mother Nature and plans to bring it to its knees. He is determined to destroy what caused his mission to fail in the past, and he is now chased by the LAPD in a great man hunt throughout Los Angeles. The veteran is dangerous and he is the number one target that night, but what the veteran doesn’t know is that he is actually part of something a lot bigger. Something that might help him finally complete his mission… And officer Schaefer is determined to do just that.

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While Environmentally Friendly is supershort, it does offer a lot for its size. This short story is fast-paced, well written and full of action; it’s detailed descriptions making it feel as if you were watching an action movie instead of reading it. The idea of ‘extreme’ therapy is intriguing and I would love to see a larger story focusing on that! But this short story is definitely worth reading if you enjoy action-packed thrillers.

Friday Finds #97 – July 29th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Babs Book Bistro and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: The Hired Girl – by Laura Amy Schlitz

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Title: The Hired Girl
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Religion
First published: September 8th 2015
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Finished reading: July 23rd 2016
Pages: 400
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“But I think the most important thing those books gave me was a kind of faith. My books promised me that life wasn’t just made up of workaday tasks and prosaic things. The world is bigger and more colorful and more important than that.”

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The Hired Girl was my latest TBR jar choice and quite a fortunate pick, since I already planned to read it for the When Are You Reading? Challenge anyway because of its historical 1910s setting. I normally really enjoy reading historical fiction, but unfortunately I wasn’t impressed by this story by Laura Amy Schlitz. Most people seem to love The Hired Girl though, so I guess this will be yet another unpopular opinion review… First things first, I can’t deny the historical setting is well executed and I liked that the prose matched the era. The descriptions and prose in general show that the author has investigated the era thoroughly and used the terms appropriate for the 1910s. This was probably the strongest feature of The Hired Girl, because the rest didn’t manage to convince me. While the first part is interesting enough (even though the first chapters are a bit dull) and the descriptions are great, the story takes a strong religious turn later on. I don’t mind religion in a story as long as it doesn’t have a strong presence, but in The Hired Girl it was just too much for me to enjoy. The fact that I didn’t like the main character in general didn’t really help either. I know a lot of people seem to love Joan, but she was too naive and later on even whiny for me to grow closer to her despite her love for books. During most of the book this unlikeable character still wasn’t too much of a problem, mostly because of the interesting historical setting. Unfortunately the last part of this story was full of strongly religious dialogue and cheesy romance; ending up ruining the reading experience for me. I know I’m in the minority for not enjoying The Hired Girl though, so you might enjoy this historical fiction story a lot better than I did.

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After her father decided that his fourteen-year-old daughter Joan can attend school no longer because she is needed at home, Joan has no longer an escape from the hard work at Steeple Farm. Her mother died years ago and her father and brothers don’t exactly treat her well; the dreams of her mother (and Joan herself) for her to become a teacher seem to have evaporated. How will she ever escape the neverending and dull work at the farm? Miss Chandler used to be a teacher and gave her a diary, telling her she should write to practice. Joan pours her heart out into the diary and decided to seek a new and better life for herself despite better judgement. Maybe escaping the farm, traveling to the city and working as a hired girl cleaning and cooking for a family will finally help her improve her chances of a better future?

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The historical setting and well researched descriptions and prose are without doubt the best feature of The Hired Girl. I especially liked the Rosenbachs and what they added to the story; the descriptions of their household were really intriguing. I can’t say I liked the main character Joan though. I understand she is still really young, but instead of endearing I found Joan mostly annoying, naive and even whiny at points. And then I’m not even talking about the romantic blabbering and strongly religious dialogue in the last part… I really wanted to enjoy The Hired Girl, but this novel just wasn’t for me.

WWW Wednesdays #101 – July 27th

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’ve only just started When We Collided by Emery Lord, but I have heard so many great things about it that I can’t wait to continue reading! I won’t be having a lot of spare time this week, but hopefully I will be able to finish it before the weekend.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I was able to finally finish was The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse. I can’t say I really enjoyed it. The first part was quite slow and I had problems with the prose. I also wish the story would have focused on the war itself… The Neverland descriptions were really entertaining to read though.
* I then read the Dorothy Must Die novella Ruler Of Beasts by Danielle Paige. This one was probably one of my favorite novellas of the bunch… Mostly because Ozma played a big role in the story and a new interesting character (the Nome King) was introduced.
* Next up was The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel, which made it to my list of favorite 2016 reads. Such a powerful and well written story! I can definitely recommend this one.
* I then finally finished The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, a book I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. I normally love historical fiction, but I didn’t like the main character Joan and there was too much ‘strong’ religious dialogue and cheesy romance in the last part of the story.
* Next up was the supershort, but action-packed story Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka. Without doubt an interesting and fast-paced read!
* I then read Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry for free at Riveted. Check out the website if you haven’t already; each two weeks or so they offer four new free titles to read online! (This one is available until August 1st). Rot & Ruin turned out to be a very good read, which I’m still surprised about because I normally don’t really like stories with zombies… But it’s well written and I like that there’s almost no romance (at least in the first book).
* The last book I finished is The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne, which turned out to be even better than her first novel. Well written prose, great descriptions that set a spooky atmosphere and many many plot twists… Recommended!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I will probably read my last pending ARC first: the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection by Barbara Venkataraman. It definitely sounds like an entertaining read! I also want to read The Bird And The Sword by Amy Harmon, but I might try Thunderlight by Adrienne Woods first. I really enjoyed the first book and since I’m in the mood for a dragon story this one sounds like a great choice. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier is still my newest TBR jar pick.

Teaser Tuesdays #104 – July 26th: The Fire Child

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Books And A Beat. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

After I enjoyed reading The Ice Twins earlier this month, I’m really excited to be reading S.K. Tremayne‘s newest thriller The Fire Child. And so far the descriptions are just as good as in her first book! She is definitely excellent at setting a spooky atmosphere and I love the Cornish setting. I can’t wait to find out more about Jamie and Rachel.

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My teaser (23%):

“The sense of loss throbs, in this study, like a reopened wound at the heart of Carnhallow. And I feel like I am the shard in the flesh. Renewing the hurt.”

What are you reading right now?