Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
So I absolutely ADORE the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. This series of portal fantasy novellas is thrilling and magical with all sorts of representation. You can find more of my reviews on the series here.  The last few books have come out in January, so I am always excited for the new year to hit so I can get my hands on the next installment in this series. Being that this book is pretty deep into the series, I don't want to give anything away by going into a plot synopsis.

This installment, book # 5, goes back to the sister characters Jack and Jill, who's door took them to the Moors, a land that's basically the stuff of black and white horror movies. Think vampires, mad scientists, and crazy lightning. Being a horror fanatic, I absolutely love this world and was excited to have more of it. 

Unfortunately, this is the first book in the series that I haven't given a 5 star rating. I thought the big climax scene at the end was rushed and I was disappointed at how quickly it came and went. It also seemed far too simple considering the build up. But please don't let that fool you: this book, and the series overall, are still absolutely excellent. This particular installment just didn't deliver quite as much as I was hoping for.

There should be three more books in this series, and I can't wait to see what additional adventures we'll get!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

I decided that in 2020 I wanted to read more adult books and less YA. Not that YA isn't awesome, I just found that I wasn't enjoying the genre overall as much as I used to. One of my favorite adult genres is the thriller genre, so I was eager to pick up this Danish crime thriller as one of my first reads of the year. The Tenant by Katrine Engberg takes place in Copenhagen, and follows detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner as they try to solve the case of young torture and murder victim, Julie Stender.

I've always enjoyed books about books, and an unpublished thriller manuscript plays a huge role in this story. It did start off quite slow, but after pushing through the first 100 pages or so I found that it did pick up a little bit. On the flip side of that, I found the ending to be rushed. The reveal was also quite complicated. I did appreciate that I wasn't able to figure it out, since I do find a lot of thrillers to be predictable.

I typically don't read a lot of police-centric thrillers because I usually find the detectives to be pretentious and the plot to be dry. That being said, I loved the duo of Jeppe and Anette in this read! I would have liked to have seen more of Anette's perspective, as the majority of this read was focused on Jeppe and his personal back story. I thought it was a little unbalanced, since he had so many personal things happening in addition to the plot. Maybe since this appears to be the first in a series following the duo, we will get more of Anette's story in the next book. You also got the points of view of a few other characters in this story as well, which helped give further insight into the case.

I don't think I've ever read a Nordic crime fiction before, but from what I've gathered from other people's reviews, they tend to have certain characteristics that are distinctive of the genre. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about them to determine whether or not this book is true to the genre! I can say that the writing flowed well, and I couldn't tell that this book wasn't originally written in English.

Overall it was a solid read, but there were those few things I thought could have been done better.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Scout Press for a finished copy of this read! The Tenant by Katrine Engberg releases TOMORROW, January 14th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This book was INTENSE. That's honestly the best word to describe All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell. Intense and dark and raw. Before I even hop into this review, definitely placing a huge trigger warning on this for rape/sexual assault. One thing I absolutely loved about this book was that it had a trigger warning for this right in the very first pages, as well as resources related to this in the back. This one is a YA contemporary with a few thriller elements mixed in.

Ava experienced something as a child that no one should ever have to go through, and she even has a large scar on her face as a result. Now seventeen, she is mostly content with her life: her tattoos, her best friend, and now maybe even a love interest. But when she stumbles across a body in the woods, Ava starts to be haunted again and her life suddenly doesn't seem as solid as she thought.

Again, this book was intense. It was beautifully written, hauntingly so, which really allowed the reader to enter into Ava's thoughts and stream of consciousness. This is an own-voices novel as well, with the author using her own personal experience as the basis for this story. I loved how this addressed rape culture, and Ava many times talks about how bad experiences happen to you, you don't make them happen (referencing how many individuals wrongly blame the woman for "inviting" rape by their actions). I appreciated the LGBTQ rep in this one as well. 

There's honestly not too much more I can say about this book, other than that if you are looking for a hauntingly real read that will stay with you, pick this one up.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to a rep at Harper Teen for sending me an ARC of this read! All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell is out now.

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I absolutely ended 2019 on a high note when it comes to reads. I didn't know anything about this book until my TBTB Santa (Katie!) sent it to me as part of my gift, and I decided to take it with me on my cruise at the end of the year. I am SO SO glad she sent me this book because it was incredible! Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau is the first book in a new series, The Beast Charmer series. It's a fantasy romance touted as Assassins Creed meets Fantastic Beasts, and that is spot on.

Leena is a charmer, a person who can charm and control wondrous beasts. Unfortunately, Leena has been exiled from her homeland and forced to sell some of her beasts to survive, something unspeakable by Charmer standards. Soon she finds that there is a bounty on her head for her actions. Enter Noc, the enigmatic head of Cruor and its assassins. Leena bargains with Noc, offering to capture beasts for him in exchange for her life. But things just can't be that simple.

I really enjoyed this read! I've mentioned on here before that I'm still slowly dipping my toe into the world of romance, having started with romantic comedies just last year. I don't read a ton of this genre so I can't be much of an expert, but I thought there were surprisingly few explicit scenes, which is perfectly fine in my book!

The plot was incredibly thrilling and I was so excited to pull this book out by the pool and on the beach on my vacation. It is told from two different points of view, both Leena's and Noc's, and I really enjoyed seeing their different perspectives on things. I loved all of Noc's brotherhood as well and they provided some fantastic comic relief. I definitely agree with the Assassins Creed meets Fantastic Beasts comparison, but I'd throw a little bit of Pokemon in there for good measure as well!

Interestingly enough, it appears that there is also a YA version of this book out, which I would assume removed the explicit language and sex scenes present in this version.

I'm so excited to get my hands on the next book, The Frozen Prince, when it comes out. I think this book definitely opened up my eyes to the fantasy romance genre, so I'm definitely going to be researching some more books along these lines to check out!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars