Shutter by Courtney Alameda

"Nothing monstrous was conquered with a kiss, nor by love. Evil went down by the trigger, overcome with bullets, shutters, blood, and courage."

After reading and loving Pitch Dark last year, I was excited to check out Alameda's debut for some more spooky goodness. Friends, while I expected to enjoy Shutter a lot more than I did, it was a creepy and enjoyable read for me. It's fast-paced and hauntingly atmospheric; Alameda has a way with words that is impossible to ignore. If you are a fan of spooky stories that deliver on the horror with imaginative detail, then keep reading because this book might be for you! Shutter is told in the third person perspective of Micheline Helsing, the one of the last descendants in the lineage of the Van Helsings, and I honestly was sucked into the book with its opening lines: "Call it a reaper's insomnia, but the dead wouldn't let me sleep at night. Everytime the sun went down, I swore I sensed them stirring, starving." There is something about the writing style that sets an almost noir mood with the words and painting the scene of my mind in black and white.

Obsidio (Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

BRIEFING NOTE: This is a fantastic end to one of my favorite series ever, chum. This is a trilogy that is excellently plotted into three acts and is never ███████ boring. If you haven't yet read Illuminae and Gemina , tread with caution as this review has spoilers for the first two books. ▪▪▪▪▪

"Every story needs its villain. And its hero. And its monster."

I am so sad that this amazing series is over, chum. If I am being honest, it took me almost two months to read this book because I didn't want it to end and was savoring every single page. I simply didn't want to say goodbye to the characters I had come to love, especially Nik.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

"But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray."

Friends, this book gripped me from the first page to the very last. Descendant of the Crane is a stunning debut fantasy that delivers on the "Chinese version of Game of Thrones" comparison that I've seen. This is a fast paced and action packed book that you cannot miss! The plot of the book seems simple enough: the king died mysteriously and his daughter launches an investigation because she's convinced it was murder and is determined to uncover the truth. But it is so much more than that. It turns out the truth is more than just with the king's death, but the 300 year history of the country following the revolution against the previous empire. The oppressed rose up to make things more equal for everyone... except for the sooths. I appreciated Hesina's sympathy for the sooths and the moral dilemma she faces while having to also not increase tensions and fear for her people.

"A dead king. A deceived populace. A truth seeker. Sounds like a story that could end very well or very poorly, and I want to spectate."

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon [Extract Review]

This review is my first impressions based on the first seven chapters that I was able to read in the early extract.


"All the world is a cage in a young girl's eyes."

I have been anxiously waiting for the publication of The Priory of the Orange Tree since it was first announced, and I am super excited to have gotten an opportunity to read the early exclusive extract (which is the first 7 chapters of the book)! I love adult fantasy, and once I learned that this was a standalone with dragons, I knew it was a book that I needed to read! While this was not the effortless fantasy read that I was hoping for, I am still really interested in reading the full book. I found the opening chapters to be lyrically written and instantly engaging. It was largely plot driven with the anxiety and fear of the unknown outsider's appearance, and the worldbuilding trickled in slowly. But after the first chapter I started getting increasingly more confused as more characters and perspectives were introduced. It took me quite some time to even realize there was a perspective and country shift, and it took me until about 50% or so to settle into the narrative style and really understand what was going on. This is definitely a "me issue" because I often struggle with multiple POVs, and unfortunately for me the eARC formatting really exacerbated my confusion for this one. (Again, I read an early extract and there often are significant changes made prior to final publication; the MOBI formatting issues are not something that will be present in the final book.)

Anna Undreaming (The Metiks Fade Trilogy #1) by Thomas Welsh

"A spark caught, and she felt something awaken. Something angry and defiant."

This is a book that has haunted me and my physical TBR shelf since May 2018. Anna Undreaming was the first physical book that I was sent for review and one that I have been really excited to read, but mood reading stinks. I knew in my bones that this was a story that I would absolutely love, and wanted to wait for the absolute right time to read it... and it just so happens that the right time was eight months later. I'm sorry Thomas, but this book was definitely worth the wait!

"Anna... in a world of dwindling light, you're a bonfire in the night."

This book is beautifully written and fast paced, an effortless and engaging read right from the first pages. Welsh has crafted a magical feeling world just behind the veil of our understanding, a world ruled where monsters roam.

"People experience Hazes... they don't see them. The mind rationalizes it all away."

Hazes are described as part of our world (I kind of think of them like the Fade in the Dragon Age games) and they are created, ruled, and maintained by Dreamers. Anything goes within their Hazes and "within the Haze the dreamer is God and can dream anything into reality. They can change the rules of existence, and they can make and unmake life itself." Think of it like Inception.