Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Note: This review was originally posted on my Goodreads in January 2019.

Goodreads: Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Panda Rating:


Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

2020 note: I was super excited to read this book because there was a helluva lot to be excited for and so I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t love it more. I know it’s a super unpopular opinion because everyone adored this book. So, JFYI, there’s an unpopular opinion coming right up! 😅 Also, soz it’s a bit of a chunky review!


I’m kind of torn on how I feel about this one. I was super excited to start reading it and while I did enjoy it— especially the world that the author created—I think the story just fell a bit flat for me. I’m feeling disappointed because I wanted to enjoy it so much more than I did. That said, with her debut, Natasha Ngan presents a wild fantasy that is not only rich in detail, but has a diverse and representative cast of characters and a very open narrative on sexuality and on sensitive issues such as abuse. There is action, politics, coverage of social issues such as discrimination and poverty, and there is also a blooming f/f romance. TW: violence and sexual abuse.

“We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable.

And there is a fire catching among us.”

We follow 17-year-old Lei as she is forcibly taken from her village to become an unprecedented ninth Paper Girl, where on her journey she discovers unexpected friendships and her first love, while also navigating the dark and harrowing experiences that come with being forced to be a consort to the Demon King.

Ngan stated that she wanted to tell a story that has diverse representation, one that more young readers can relate to, and I think she did a wonderful job delivering on that. Even though I’m not “young” anymore (lol), I thoroughly enjoyed reading a YA story that was so heavily influenced by Asian, specifically Chinese-Malaysian cultures, which also have many similarities to my own Indonesian culture. I found it refreshing to read a YA fantasy where I recognized words from my own native tongue and other familiar references from Asia in the text. I found that the cultural influences added an extra special element to the world building, which Ngan creates with a wonderfully bizarre fusion of human and animal forms, mixed with the rich spiritual beliefs and ritualistic practices from Asian cultures. Ngan’s writing offers such rich and vivid imagery that breathes life, not only into the characters, but into the surroundings, making it easy to picture exactly what’s being painted.

This was also the case when we encounter the ‘darker’ scenes in the story that involve abuse (sexual and physical). Although there was a CW/TW at the start, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a YA novel that’s as explicitly dark as this. If you’re okay with confronting and reading about these topics, then this book is suitable for you. Though I think that because Ngan is so open about it in her writing, it provides a good platform where young readers can gain an understanding, engage in discussions and explore these difficult issues in private or in safe spaces such as book clubs. Not only that, but I think the openness allows people to gain a sense of empowerment from the main character Lei—who ultimately chooses to not let what has happened to her define her life.

While Lei’s character was admirable in how she dealt with her situation, I have to admit that I didn’t really connect with her—which I think is perhaps the main reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I expected to. Yes, she’s undoubtedly brave for having stood up to the Demon King, but I also felt that (ironically) her character was a little helpless and lacked strength. Her emotions and actions were so dependent on other characters pulling her through and what I found really frustrating was that she would dive into these situations without any forethought into how it would affect others; especially if she failed, which she did almost every time. I know this is YA, and really, Ngan does a great job in capturing the internal coming-of-age struggles of a teenage girl and an even better job at capturing the struggles of a young woman discovering her sexuality. However, Lei’s character just didn’t latch on to me. In many ways, I see Lei as being so far from the typical ‘fierce, strong, warrior, self-saving heroine’ that YA fantasy is full of and this is definitely not a bad thing but for some reason she just didn’t work for me…

It was unfortunate that the majority of the Paper Girls and other characters experience little to no growth, save for one other Paper Girl, Aoki, who goes through just as much change as Lei. It was actually quite painful (in the best way) to see how Aoki’s character develops, especially in relation to Lei’s, and I can see her playing a much bigger and potentially more sinister role in the upcoming book(s). The next one is meant to come out towards the end of 2019 and Ngan will apparently make an announcement about the upcoming book’s title very soon. I personally hope that how I feel about Lei’s character improves or changes in the next book and that the pace of the story picks up a little bit. I felt the pacing was a bit slow for me at times and the climax I was anticipating towards the end, also didn’t hit that ‘satisfying’ spot for me.

But it really wasn’t all negative for me—even though maybe this review might make it seem so. I did enjoy this book, just not as much as I hoped to. That won’t stop me from picking up the next one though! I look forward to diving back into Ikhara and seeing where the story takes us next 🙂

Have you read Girls of Paper and Fire or is it on your TBR?

Review: The Ruins by Scott Smith

Note: I wrote this review in October 2018 but since this Top 5 Saturday was about plants/flowers on the book covers, I decided to share my review for this book (I honestly thought I’d already shared it before)!

Goodreads: The Ruins
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Panda Rating:


Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

*minor spoilers ahead*

We all know how much of a chicken I am, so while I did enjoy reading it, I know this isn’t something that I’ll be reading again! I’m writing this review directly after finishing it so I think I’m still feeling the lingering effects of the horror and nausea that were my constant companions for at least a good 50% of the book. I still find myself looking around in paranoia for any cracks in the wall and I’m keeping my feet lifted and well away from dark spaces, such as the one under my bed. Ya know, just in case there’s a killer plant/tree with acidic sap in its vines that will grab my legs and pull me under there to devour me.

I wanted to sprint through this book but the level of detail just wouldn’t let me. I would find myself trying to skim ahead but worried that I’d miss some important detail and so I’d force myself to slow down. I thought the pace at the start was good but towards the latter half of the book, as there was less “action” involved, the pace slowed down considerably. I also didn’t particularly latch on to any of the characters. I don’t know if it was intentional as the characters were on a beach holiday but I found that the characters were either extremes of passive and lazy or neurotic and overthinking and it didn’t make it easy to lend any sympathy. Although several times I did question how I’d react if I were in their shoes… Would I be the complainer? The proactive leader? The joker or the drunk? Or would I be the quiet one that decides that enough is enough and “get things over with” as quickly as possible? What would be my instinctive reaction?

While Scott Smith writes in a very simple and straightforward way, I found that sometimes his writing was unnecessarily detailed, to the point where I found myself really fighting not to skip ahead. I understand that Smith was trying to expand on the characters’ thoughts and how they were coping with their situation – the thoughts, rationalisations and emotions of a human facing imminent death (but being in denial about it) – but I feel that if much of this content was taken out, the story would still flow and you wouldn’t miss out on any crucial details. I have to admit that when we got to the end and still got no further information about this killer thing – how did it get there and how long has it been there? where did it come from? how many people had it killed? – I felt frustrated. Almost like I was robbed of this information with no chance of ever learning more. But I guess maybe that’s the appeal of these horrors?

I am personally not the biggest fan of horrors. I read this as a way to get into the “Spooky/Horror October” that many monthly reading challenges have centered on this month. I don’t dislike the genre but I just have a very, very overactive imagination that does not do me any favors when I’m trying to sleep at night. So although I don’t read them that often, I guess this book was filled with everything you’d expect from a horror – including plenty of blood and gore. I know that I’ll be imagining the scenes that played out in my head for at least days to come… Will I read another horror after this? Nope! Will I (eventually) read another Scott Smith book? Probably, yes.

Have you read The Ruins or is it on your TBR?

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Goodreads: Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
Panda Rating:

(Review posted from 2018)

From the bestselling author of The Lost City of Z, soon to be a major film starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller and Robert Pattison, comes a true-life murder story which became one of the newly-created FBI’s first major homicide investigations.

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And this was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.

As the death toll climbed, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled it. In desperation, its young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. Together with the Osage he and his undercover team began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

“Today our hearts are divided between two worlds. We are strong and courageous, learning to walk in these two worlds, hanging on to the threads of our culture and traditions as we live in a predominantly non-Indian society. Our history, our culture, our heart, and our home will always be stretching our legs across the plains, singing songs in the morning light, and placing our feet down with the ever beating heart of the drum. We walk in two worlds.”

I’ve said it countless times before but I’ll say it again: I’m not usually a nonfiction reader. I always have trouble getting hooked into the flow and most of the time I lose interest after 35-50% or it takes me forever (read: months or years) to finish a book. BUT that wasn’t the case with this one.

This book sucked me in from the start – big props to David Grann and his writing! I don’t know what to say about this book though. It’s… appalling and fascinating? It is a chilling and despondent portrayal of a very dark side of humanity. Reading the history of the prejudices carried out against the Indians left me feeling incredulous. I know it’s not an isolated history and it still goes on today, but I guess reading about the full extent of the injustices done and the perpetrators’ attitude of absolute right and entitlement to do so… Really brings back the time age-old question: who really are the savages here?

That said, this book is also a testament to the strength and perseverance of a peoples – to come through that Reign of Terror, although even generations after the time, not unscathed. I can’t even begin to imagine how it would be like to know that justice will never be seen for the family that was lost in such sickening and brutal ways.

Although I’m not in any way connected to America or this American history, it’s still sad to know that this dark period is not something that’s taught to younger generations – “lest we forget”. It’s so important to not forget this history.

Have you read Killers of the Flower Moon or is it on your TBR?

Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Goodreads: Sourdough
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism
Panda Rating:

(Review posted from 2018)

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.


When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

If Vietnamese pho’s healing powers, physical and psychic, make traditional chicken noodle soup seem like dishwater—and they do—then this spicy soup, in turn, dishwatered pho. It was an elixir. The sandwich was spicier still, thin-sliced vegetables slathered with a fluorescent red sauce, the burn buffered by thick slabs of bread artfully toasted.

I really enjoyed this book! Sourdough is full of quirky and endearing characters and situations that make you laugh and fill your mind with wonder. It also made me insanely hungry (2020 edit: reading that quote above already has me salivating!) and brought to life a craving for sourdough – although I’m sure the loaf that I dug into is nothing like the legendary Mazg one (unfortunately). What I liked about this book is that you can take it as lightly as you want to, but if you want to give it a bit more thought, there’s also some meat for you to chew on. It doesn’t go into very fine details, which I didn’t mind because in a book like this, you can easily over-describe situations, events and processes until you bore your reader to death. Robin Sloan definitely doesn’t do that!

I have come to believe that food is history of the deepest kind. Everything we eat tells a tale of ingenuity and creation, domination and injustice—and does so more vividly than any other artifact, any other medium.

Lois, the main character, is so full of life and energy. I could really relate to her thoughts in terms of wondering at being a part of something more; something significant and important. I think that’s what we all go through in our 20s, 30s (and well, some even longer), especially as we finish university and start looking for a job and try to find more meaning in our lives. To find that purpose and to chase after what makes us tick – what gives us life. Lois is so passionate and just dives into situations that come at her – which is the complete opposite of me and probably why I find people who can do that so admirable. That energy of hers was palpable and as I read the book, I happily soaked up her enthusiasm for everything that she was doing. It made me think about what I’m currently doing and whether I am just living in my own version of “General Dexterity”? It’s a big Maybe.

Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.

Of course, there’s also some magical realism sprinkled throughout the book, especially as you come towards the end when you’re kind of doused in it all at once. As someone who is very picky when it comes to magical realism, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it but I absolutely loved it! It’s another element of Robin Sloan’s writing that I loved because it’s not entirely out of place or unbelievable in stories where the characters and events are so full of quirkyness.

I read someone’s comment about his books that summarised them in a really simple but accurate way – just as Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was about a secret society for book lovers, Sourdough is about a secret society for food lovers. And who doesn’t love food (and books and secret societies)?! After reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that I thoroughly enjoy the way Robin Sloan writes and he has got a fan in me! Can’t wait to read more from him 🙂

Have you read Sourdough or is it on your TBR?

Review: Donut Disturb (Donut Disturb #1) by Melissa Williams

Goodreads: Donut Disturb (Donut Disturb #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

A STANDALONE romantic comedy from author Melissa Williams. A hot cop and a donut baker, what could go wrong?

It was a donut emergency. A dough or die moment. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. It would explain why, from the moment Baxter DeCavhalo comes crashing into my kitchen, I’ve been acting out of character.

Why I’m sharing secret donut recipes, licking frosting off fingers that aren’t mine, and falling for the off-limits neighbor. I know better, I need to be focusing on my bakery and my next donut creation…but there’s just something about Bax that keeps me coming back for more. It’s not the heat of the kitchen that’s getting to me, it’s Bax. And this slow burn is about to combust.

I was looking for a light and fluffy romantic comedy when I came across this book and it sounded just like what I was looking for. It didn’t hurt that it also has such a colourful and eye-catching cover! I was sold. Unfortunately, this book was not it and it didn’t work out for me.

The plot and character arcs felt very underdeveloped because everything seemed to happen off-page. There were many allusions to “something not being right” with the friendships and sibling relationships, and that’s even before we get into the police drama that stems from Bax’s work as a police detective. It felt like there was a lot happening in the story but at the same time, not much either, if that makes sense. There were no discussions to try to solve those “not right” feelings with her brother and her best friend, although something was clearly up. It all came across as very vague.

I also didn’t connect with our heroine or hero. Cassidy seems to have a history of being hurt and so has built up her walls; however, we never really learn about what made the walls go up in the first place. Again, hints of her history are dropped but we don’t get any details. Of course these walls end up being a barrier to whatever is going on with Bax, but after some not-very-nice hints from her best friend about her inability to trust anyone, Cassidy simply decides that she’s going to let Bax in… And she does it. Despite a rough meet-cute for our characters, Bax became very quickly “all-in” with Cassidy. He decides at one point during their second interaction that he wants all or nothing, and he’s going to make Cassidy realise that he’s serious about them. I didn’t get it. Yeah, she’s quirky and makes delicious donuts but… That’s it? Don’t tell me he’s all in, show me why! I felt very little chemistry between them and that made their steamy scenes also fall flat for me.

Overall, a fairly disappointing read. It just never clicked for me and that’s disappointing because I was expecting more… Even the part about the bakery, which I thought would leave me with endless donut cravings, didn’t even really do that… I’m glad that I did give this a try though–I don’t think I could’ve resisted such a cute cover for very long, but I’m also glad it was on Kindle Unlimited!

Have you read Donut Disturb or is it on your TBR?

Review: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Goodreads: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Panda Rating:

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife. 

I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf for quite a while now and have been excited to read it ever since I first heard about it. There’s a lot of hype around this book and while I did have some issues with it, overall I’m glad to say that this second-chance romance lived up to the hype for me!

Continue reading “Review: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) by Lyssa Kay Adams”

Review: The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs #2) by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Panda Rating:

It started with a lie. A night of blurred lines between a teacher and a student. I wasn’t her student, yet it was the single most defining night of my life.

I’ve never been the man she thinks I am.
Most people have no idea about the life I’ve lived or the words that ring true when it comes to me—still waters run deep. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a coed on the TGU campus who knows otherwise…because I’ve never corrected them.

The clock is ticking down, it’s Fourth and Inches with the ball inside the one-yard line and the focus is on me, The Guy on the Left. I’ve never felt like a football god, inside I’m…just Troy.

It’s time to set the record straight.
For my son, I‘ll find the strength.
In her eyes, I’m determined to gain redemption.
I will have them both, even if I have to take my eye off the ball.

YOU GUYS!!! I didn’t think I could love a character in The Underdogs series more than Theo… BUT I WAS WRONG!!! And who would’ve thought it’d be TROY to win me over?! Ugh, mY HEART, Kate Stewart!

Continue reading “Review: The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs #2) by Kate Stewart”

Review: The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs #1) by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Panda Rating:

Strike One – My mother named me Theodore after her favorite chipmunk.
Not cool, Mom.
I‘ve spent most of my life answering to Teddy, because I couldn’t make Theo work. Except for here. College. The place where all bets are off, and I’ve managed to redeem myself.


There’s only one problem, my new roommate, Troy, is football royalty and looks like he stepped off the set of an Abercrombie shoot.
Doesn’t matter, I cook a mean breakfast for his panty parade, and we get along well.
And anyway, this year I got the girl. And she’s perfect.
That’s right. Theodore Houseman, former band geek, now marching band rock star has finally landed the girl of his dreams. Everything is perfect.

That is, until Troy takes a good look at her.
I’m not going down without a fight. As a matter of fact, I’m not going down at all. As glorious as these days may be for my all-star roommate, Laney is my end game.
I may not know much about play strategy, but I’ve been the good guy my whole life. I’ve been listening and I know exactly what women want. Framed in a picture standing next to me, Troy may seem like Mr. Perfect, but he’s underestimating the guy on the right.

Spoiler alert: In this story, the underdog is going to win.

Brace yourselves for another gushing review friends because I LOVED EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE of this book! The itch to read this has steadily built since last week, so I finally caved and of course I have zero regrets. There were a few moments towards the end that frustrated me and made me angry because wow, talk about being very intense and out of character, but I can’t honestly say that it affected my overall enjoyment of this book. I literally devoured this in the span of a few hours and it was by far the best way to spend a Sunday cozied up under the covers while the rain poured steadily outside!

Continue reading “Review: The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs #1) by Kate Stewart”

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – #BookReview

Goodreads: Love Lettering
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid…

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late…

Oh my heart… I can’t even with this book and how it’s made me feel!!! I knew I was going to enjoy this but I didn’t think that I’d fall so hard and fast (after a slightly rocky start) for Meg and Reid, and their love story. Swoonsh, indeed! I literally just finished this book two minutes ago (when I reviewed this on Monday…) and my heart is still soaring and I don’t know if I’ll be able to write a coherent review but I’m going to try anyway!

Continue reading “Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – #BookReview”

Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine – BOOK REVIEW

Goodreads: Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake #3)
Publish date: 23 April 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publisher Thomas & Mercer for providing me a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

What would you do if you found out that your husband and the father of your children was a serial killer who tortured and brutally murdered countless women under the same roof you lived in? Would it be impossible to believe that you had absolutely no clue that all of this was taking place? What if you were implicated as a partner to his crimes? How far would you go to keep your life together and your children safe from the thousands of people who don’t believe in your innocence? That is the reality Gwen Proctor and her two kids have to live with. After escaping his clutches and saving her family, Gwen tries to create a life of normality for her children’s sake. However, try as she might, she is unable to escape the sick internet “vigilantes” that want nothing more than to see revenge for her ex’s crimes. Then one day, she receives a call from a frightened woman asking for help, which leads Gwen and her family to a remote forest town near Wolfhunter River, that turns out to be rotten to its core. As enemies come crawling out of the darkness from all sides, the fight for their safety and their lives begins once more.

Review

This is the third book in the Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine. Just as with the first two books, I simply could not put this down and stayed up late to finish it in the wee hours of the morning. Was the creep factor high? Definitely. But not so high that I couldn’t fall asleep after reading it.

This fast paced read delivers endless high intensity scenes one after another. Caine does an awfully good job at highlighting the depravity of human beings and often times it’s a little distressing to read about the extent of cruelty we so easily inflict upon one another–especially when we believe we are acting with justice. The author goes to prove the dangers of the “pack mentality” and how easy it is for strangers, and even those who were your friends, to turn with the tide against you. In protesting against someone’s innocence, others can come to think and act just as cruelly as the murderers themselves—“an eye for an eye”, and all that.

While reading I couldn’t help but shout in anger and grind my teeth in frustration at the situations Gwen and her family are placed in. My heart ached as they continually tried to find peace in a world that wishes them nothing but ill, and even death. One of my favorite things about this series is the strength of Gwen’s character. She’s smart, fierce, and although incredibly paranoid, she proves time and again just how far she’ll go to protect her family and the people she loves. She’s truly a badass that rises up time and again, when it would be simple to take the easy way out. Her children are also strong resilient characters as a result of having to deal with a life that has been so cruel to them.

The plot of Wolfhunter River was less straightforward than the first two books, with various storylines being introduced and the connection between them only revealed in the last 20% of the book. I actually felt that it was just a little bit too much to be plausible, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. You definitely have to pay more attention to keep it all straight though! It was gratifying to have some of my theories be correct—and I had many theories as I read! Rachel Caine does a great job intertwining the various storylines into jaw-dropping reveals and delivering a satisfying final showdown.

I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a good, quick, and thrilling read! Although I definitely think reading the first two books would be better than jumping straight into this one, you can still following along, as the author incorporates the backstory quite well; but you’d be missing out on a lot, and where’s the fun in that?

Have you read the Stillhouse Lake series?
Be sure to keep an eye out for when this book is published in April!