Tag: 3.5 Reviews

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

Posted February 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite WelshReviewer: Holly
The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh
Series: Sarah Gilchrist #1
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Audible Plus
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh's medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and perhaps worst of all her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city's ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St. Giles Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah's patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patients, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh's dank alleyways, bawdy houses, and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh's most lucrative trades, and in doing so, puts her own life at risk.

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, a beautifully drawn setting, and fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.

I chose this audiobook because the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, is lovely. I was browsing the audiobooks she’s narrated on Audio Plus and came across this one. I thought the blurb sounded interesting, and I’ve been in the mood for gothic mysteries lately. This novel is set in the Victorian era.

Sarah Gilchrist was sexually assaulted by a peer, and therefore “compromised”. As a result, she’s been sent to Edinburgh to live with her aunt and uncle while she attends medical school. She, and a handful of other girls, are the first female students studying to become doctors. Their plight is difficult, but Sarah loves medicine and truly wishes to help those in need. She volunteers her time at a low-end clinic for prostitutes, which is where she meets Lucy. Lucy, a young proustite, is pregnant and very upset about it, but Sarah sees a lot of herself in Lucy and can’t stop thinking about her. This is why she’s shocked and upset when Lucy’s body turns up as a dissection specimen a few days later. They claim Lucy committed suicide, but things don’t add up and Sarah begins to investigate. Her main suspect is none other than one of her professors, but as she gets deeper into her investigation, the more she realizes she may be in danger as well.

I enjoyed the narration, and the story was told well, but the main character, Sarah, made a lot of questionable decisions. She was forced to spend time in a Sanatorium after her attack because she kept blaming her attacker. Plus, the novel was extremely dark and depressing. Just when I thought things couldn’t be any more bleak, we’d be hit with another sad, sorry fact about the fate of women and their lack of rights in the 1890s.

I appreciated the strength of character it took for Sarah to stay on her current path, despite (or perhaps in spite of) the misfortunes she suffered in the past. But her blithely following said path without a thought to her safety or the consequences of her actions was frustrating. I wasn’t surprised by any of the revelations, but I did enjoy Sarah’s surprise, so I guess there’s that.

Though I enjoyed parts of this, I don’t believe I’ll continue with the series. Sarah didn’t endear herself enough for me to want to read more books from her point of view.

3.25-3.5 out of 5

Sarah Gilchrist

three-half-stars


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Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Posted February 17, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-GarciaReviewer: Holly
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Narrator: Frankie Corzo
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Horror
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . . From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Mexican Gothic was one of my most anticipated books of 2020. I loved the cover and blurb, and I was very anxious to get my hands on it. I requested a copy from the library and it took ages for it to come available. I ended up with the audiobook. I enjoyed the narrator, though I did think the audio was kind of slow. I eventually listened at 3x speed and that worked better for me.

This is a slow-burn horror novel. The first 3/4 slowly built the mystery and introduced us to the characters at High Place. I didn’t necessarily find this to be scary, but there was a definite creep factor that had me anxious to see what would happen next.

I didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on, and I eventually became impatient for Noemí to figure it out (and the end was a little over-the-top). Still, I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of some of the characters, like Noemí’s cousin and a few of the others, and I enjoyed the story overall, even if it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

While not quite the creepy gothic I was anticipating, I did enjoy this novel and look forward to reading more from the author in the future.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Shadow of Doubt by Hailey Edwards

Posted February 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Shadow of Doubt by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Shadow of Doubt by Hailey Edwards
Series: The Potentate of Atlanta #1
Publisher: Black Dog Books LLC
Publication Date: August 7, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 259
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hadley Whitaker is a liar, a killer, and a chocoholic, but she’s getting better about the first two. Or maybe she’s just getting better at them.

Some days it’s hard for her to tell fact from fiction, but only one truth matters. Goddess willing, she’s going to be the next Potentate of Atlanta. Even if it means playing nice with Midas Kinase, a shifter whose mysterious past might just be grimmer than her own.

When a bloodthirsty rogue begins hunting the city’s paranormals, Hadley ropes Midas into letting her work the case. But that rope starts to feel more like a noose as they come closer to discovering not only the rogue’s identity, but each other’s darkest secrets.

Hadley Whitaker has been given a second chance at life. She’s hoping to earn her place as the new Potentate of Atlanta. Her mentor, Linus, is staying with his fiancé in Savannah, so Hadley is working her first case alone. The case puts her in the path of Midas Kinase, someone connected to her old life – though he doesn’t realize it. Hadley is determined to keep Midas in the dark, and embrace this new chance at life she’s been given. But between Midas and the watch-dog he put on her, Hadley has a hard time keeping all her secrets safe.

Bent, not broken. That was me. I hoped it was me. I wanted it to be.

We first met Hadley in the previous series, The Beginners Guide to Necromancy. I don’t want to spoil things, so I won’t go into detail about her actions there. I will say, I didn’t love Hadley in the previous series, but I’m coming around. She accepts the mistakes she made and is working to atone. She’s suspicious of the actions of those who know how she came to be in the position she is, and I sympathized with her there. Not knowing if someone is genuinely offering friendship, or just doing so to keep you close and keep an eye on you must weigh on a person.

“You’ve got friends here,” he called to my back. “I’m not as pretty as Ford, but I care.” I didn’t slow to answer, because I wasn’t sure about Bishop either. The POA had stuck us together, much the same as Midas had volunteered Ford. Neither of them had chosen to work with me. They were both doing a job, and I was a part of that.

I really loved Midas here and I can’t wait to learn more about him. There were hints of his backstory that left me wanting more. I enjoyed his protectiveness toward his pack, but he was also a bit of a loner.

Neither Midas nor Hadley are interested in starting anything. Midas has accepted the beta position in his pack after his sister decided to form her own pack and left the city. He never wanted to be Beta and he’s struggling with the role. Hadley is trying to find her feet and get out from under the weight of her past, plus secure the position of Potentate. But they form a sort of friendship here that was touching. I enjoyed how neither of them willingly came to the friendship, but it sort of happened anyway.

Although there are some darker themes here, there was quite a bit of humor. I can’t say this was my favorite novel by Edwards, but I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

“Life isn’t black and white, Lee. There’s a whole spectrum. You can’t go through life colorblind.”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Potentate of Atlanta

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke

Posted December 31, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: To Dream Again by Laura Lee GuhrkeReviewer: Holly and Rowena
To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 1, 1995
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 342
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars

Beautiful widow Mara Elliot has only one goal—to save her London factory from the creditors. A no-nonsense woman of business, Mara has no patience with impractical schemes and risky ideas. But when she is forced into accepting handsome inventor Nathaniel Chase as her business partner, Mara has no choice but to go along with his reckless plans, plans which put everything she’s worked for at risk.

Nathaniel knows success doesn’t come to those who play it safe. Mara’s factory is the perfect place to transform his innovative ideas into reality, but his new business partner isn’t cooperating. The provoking beauty questions his judgment at every turn and fights his plans every step of the way, but she also sparks his desire like no woman he’s ever met before. Can Nathaniel convince her to trust him and follow his dream, or will he have to give up everything he’s ever wanted in order to win her heart?

To Dream Again is the story of Nathaniel Chase and Mara Elliott. Nathaniel and Mara become partners in a toy business that Nathaniel is funding. Mara’s late husband was supposed to go into business with Nathaniel but he died and left behind a loan that the bank called. Mara, who had been running her husband’s business for the last four years cannot pay the loan so Nathaniel comes onto the scene, pays the loan, and starts changing the direction of the business that Mara has been managing.

Nathaniel and Mara have a long road ahead of them filled with business drama, family drama, and chemistry that is heating the both of them right up.

Rowena: I didn’t realize that this book was as long as it actually is when I was reading it. I enjoyed this one but I didn’t LOVE it. There were times when I wanted to strangle Mara, times I wanted to kick Nathaniel in the nuts but I did enjoy their romance.

What about you, thoughts?

Holly: It felt like this book too ages to read, and now I know why. It’s a pretty hefty read. Like you, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. In the early parts of the book Nathaniel drove me crazy, but Mara got on my nerves later in the book.

I enjoyed their romance, too. I really liked how Nathaniel worked hard to get Mara to rise above her fears. Some of the best parts of the book were when he forced her to get out of her own head.

Rowena: Yes! I really liked seeing Nathaniel try to make things work with Mara, first professionally but also personally. I liked seeing him grow into his feelings for her too. Their feelings for each other came about organically so it felt natural and I enjoyed it. I liked that Nathaniel had Mara’s back at work and that they eventually became a true partnership. It took Mara a little bit to get there but when she finally does, I was glad.

I also really liked seeing the two of them together with Billy. The first time that Mara made Nathaniel take him to the showers, I laughed out loud.

Holly: I really liked that Nathaniel wanted the controlling percentage of the company, but he treated Mara like a partner. He looped her in on decisions and didn’t try to undermine her. That was nice.

That made me laugh, too. I loved all the scenes with Billy. He was a scrappy kid, but he had a big heart.

What was your favorite part of the book?

Rowena: A couple things come to mind. I really liked when Nathaniel took Mara and Billy kite flying. It was so obvious that Mara needed something outside of her work to keep her occupied. It was also super obvious that Billy needed something to smile about since his life was hard and with him being so young, I loved that Nathaniel and Mara were able to be there for him. It was a great day and I loved seeing Nathaniel and Mara’s playful side.

But I also liked the scene when Billy is fighting with his bully and Mara holds herself back from going to help him. She came so far from when she first met Billy and she was getting on my nerves so when we finally get here and she supports Billy by staying away, I was happy.

I also really liked when Nathaniel built the fire escape for her. What about you?

So there’s a lot to like in this book. The characters really grow into their own, but even with all of that, the story moved a little slow in places. This one gets 3.75 out of 5 from me. What about you?

Holly: I really loved that Nathaniel built the fire escape. He really paid attention to Mara and knew what she needed without her asking. I also loved when Mara stood back while Billy defended himself. She definitely came a long way.

There was a lot to like in this book. Mara’s plight as a woman in that time period hurt my heart, and at times I got frustrated with both of them, but overall it was a good story. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5.

Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Polaris Rising by Jessie Milhalik

Posted December 30, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Polaris Rising by Jessie MilhalikReviewer: Holly
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Series: Consortium Rebellion #1
Also in this series: Aurora Blazing
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

Tracy recommended this series to me. It took me several days to read it, but I think that had more to do with my current state of mind than the book.

Ada von Hasenberg fled Earth rather than be forced into a marriage she didn’t want. She’s been on the run for two years, until a Mercenary crew finds her and attempts to drag her back to her father. When the man she was supposed to marry turns up to “claim” her, she knows something is wrong. The son of a rival house, Richard Rockhurst was a good political match, but no one Ada wanted to marry. She escapes with the help of another prisoner, notorious criminal Marcus Loch, and sets out to discover why Richard is so insistent that they marry. It’s obvious he wants something, and Ada is determined to discover what it is.

I really liked the constant action, and I enjoyed how self-sufficient Ada was. She was capable and daring, which worked well given her circumstances. She as also extremely loyal to her House, despite how poorly her father treated her. All the von Hasenberg siblings are close, and she does what she does for them. But I still liked how she wanted to help her House. I did struggle with the romance. I never really felt like Loch and Ada connected outside of the physical. Frankly I was surprised when they made long-term commitments to each other. I didn’t feel like they were read for “I Love You” in any way. I also didn’t get a good feel for Loch away from Ada. The first-person narration worked against the story there. We didn’t see enough emotion or explanation for why he acted the way he did.

I did like the overall storyline, the secondary characters and the action. But parts of the novel felt unfinished to me. I’m looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Consortium Rebellion

three-half-stars


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