4 stars

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max BrodskyThe Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 29th January 2019
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars
Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather's footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people.

But the gods have stopped listening and Omat's family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left.

Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world...or save it.

I received The Wolf in the Whale from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

I heard about The Wolf in the Whale from Jes when she gushed about it on her Booktube channel, and I thought I should give it a go. It’s set in the wilderness of what will eventually become Canada. The main character is part of an isolated tribe that is dying out, and one day strangers arrive and mess stuff up.

The parts I most enjoyed about this book were the writing style and the setting. It was incredibly atmospheric, and the author drew me in with her prose. I loved the incorporation of three different mythologies – Norse, Inuit, and Christian. It all wove together seamlessly.

I’ve realised that I need to read more books about the pre-colonised Americas, because there is so much that I know little about. I’ve read quite enough Roman and Greek history books, I think.

I loved that the main character identifies as both a boy and a girl. That was a really nice inclusion, and it worked really well with the story. Their struggle to accept themselves was tough to read in the beginning, but it all came together really well in the end.

While I did really enjoy this story, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy the way that rape and assault were handled in this book. There was a lot of talk of rape, and I felt that at times the detail it went into was unnecessary. I’m not usually that put off by it, but I think the fact that it came up over and over again and I felt like I was being beaten around the head with it.

I also really didn’t enjoy the relationship in this book. The main character saw the love interest rapes multiple women in a sort of vision sequence, and yet they still fell for him?? After seeing all of that?? After being raped herself?? Nah. It didn’t fly with me.

Overall, The Wolf in the Whale is an intriguing and atmospheric read. I would go into it cautiously due to the things I mention above, but if you think you can handle it then it’s definitely worth picking up.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona BartonThe Suspect by Fiona Barton
Series: Kate Waters #3
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 10th January 2019
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

The Suspect is a lot more intense than Barton’s previous books because the situation was a lot more personal for the main character, Kate. The previous books were a lot more focused on the characters who were directly affected by the case, like the suspects (ha) and the victims. The Suspect, however, focuses a lot more on Kate and her journey, and her relationship with her son. I really like how this series is developing, as I like Kate as a character. Her insight into the world of journalism is intriguing and informative, and it helps that the author herself used to work in the same industry.

Despite all of that, there’s still not a whole lot of substance, as is usual with an adult thriller novel. It’s very much focused on the case itself instead of character development and emotional connections. That said, I’m cool with that. I knew what I was getting into with an adult thriller.

I’m not sure where Barton was going with the detective and his side plot. She seems to have tried to add emotion with his wife being terminally ill, but we barely see him or know him at all, so should we really care? It makes me wonder if Barton is planning bigger things for his character in future books in the series.

The mystery in this was absolutely tragic, and it had me hooked from the start. Barton always writes about such dark topics, and she always does a really good job with it.

I loved this book, and it’s definitely my favourite in the series so far. I hope Barton keeps going with this series because I’m really getting into it! And as a side note, Kate’s son is a complete brat and she should have left him in Thailand.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManusTwo Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 8th January 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone's declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous--and most people aren't good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Two Can Keep a Secret is such a meaty thriller. There was so much going on, and there were so many characters and relationships to wrap my head around. Because there was so much going on, I felt like there had to have been a lot of pressure on the author (and her editor!) to do a good job of it. And I think they did great! Two Can Keep a Secret flows incredibly well, and the suspense is real.

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Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko JeanEmpress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren't hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

Oh, this was a juicy fantasy book! I went into this expecting it to focus on the action during the competition where the future empress has to beat four challenging rooms, but it was so much more than that. The world building in Empress of All Seasons was excellent and was truly the most gripping part of the book. I loved it.

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Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Vengeful by V. E. SchwabVengeful by V. E. Schwab
Series: Villains #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 25th September 2018
Publisher: Tor
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there's Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn't know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

I’ve been waiting years for Vengeful along with everyone else and I am so happy to say that it was a hit for me. I love books about people with powers, and books about horrible people (who are supposed to be horrible, anyway) so Vicious was one of my favourite books back in the day. I’d been cautiously anticipating Vengeful because I wasn’t sure if it would be as good as the first book (it wasn’t) but it was actually pretty freakin’ good.

Now, I’m sure you all have some important and pressing questions about this highly anticipated sequel, so I’m here to answer them.

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