Book Review: The Inventress by Mary Victoria Johnson

The Inventress by Mary Victoria Johnson

A Young Adult Steampunk Mystery Novel published by Fire & Ice Young Adult Books (07/18/17)

Summary:

Kay Ross, daughter of one of the most hated families in England, hasn’t been able to make many friends. Domino is her only friend. Domino is the genius and the inventor, but she doesn’t always tell Kay all her secrets. Her new invention is going to be the grandest of them all, but she never gets to show the world. The same day Domino lets Kay in on her new security camera invention and lets Kay take her to a society ball, she is murdered. In order to figure out who is to blame, Kay will have to find out more about her own family history and what on earth Domino was inventing.

Keywords:

Steampunk, Mystery, Death, Murder, Friendship, Loyalty, Family, Rivalry, Inventors, Socialite, England, Past, Challenges, Enemies

My Review:

Slow to start, this story soon wound me up in its intrigue. I desperately needed to know what happened to Domino. The more that Johnson expertly showed me the past friendship between Domino and Kay, the more I was sucked into the story. Domino is more than just an inventor – she puts up with Kay and her moods. She would never harm anyone and doesn’t believe in weapons. Who killed Domino? And why? Kay will stop at nothing to figure this mystery out.

I absolutely love stories that have strong friendships and interesting character details. Kay is closed off from her world, choosing to become what those around her think she is – the same power-hungry money-hungry person as her parents.

The steampunk elements were subtle throughout the novel. They were woven into the details of the world. At times, I got a strong historical fiction vibe from when Kay had to dress up to go to society affairs, but for the most part the story centers around Kay and her need to solve Domino’s murder. Everyone is a suspect and the only clues left behind are Domino’s latest invention and a slow trail that keeps including Kay in the mystery.

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

This novel was published by Fire & Ice Young Adult Books on 07/18/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Mary Victoria Johnson’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Serenade by Heather McKenzie Blitz

Serenade
Heather McKenzie
(The Nightmusic Trilogy #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.

Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.

Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…

An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

This was it, now or never.

I gathered every single ounce of energy I had and steadied my mind to ignore the pain in my foot and the dizziness in my head. Then, with everything I had, I turned and bolted toward the dense forest. The darkness instantly enveloped me. I could see well enough not to run into tree trunks, but branches caught me at every turn. My head felt as if it was spinning like a top, but I forced my legs to keep going. I could hear the men’s voices yelling at each other in an organized manner.

I tripped and found myself on all fours. Get up, girl. There’s nothing wrong with you—get up…

I made it a few more steps before my head connected with a blue spruce, and then I collapsed in a pathetic heap. My arms were so wobbly I could barely wipe at the gash across my forehead. My body was completely failing me. I prayed to God that the dog would just snap my neck and get it over with quickly…

Human footsteps approached. I gulped in some air and tried to push myself up, but the world tipped on its side and I fell with it. Within moments, large hands had my wrists pinned to the ground. I struggled and fought with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.

“Stop fighting,” he said.

His voice created such confusion inside me. I kicked harder.

“Stop… please,” he begged.

His body pinned mine to the ground. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“Please, Kaya, trust me. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.” He leaned forward and pressed his sleeve to my bleeding forehead, dabbing and inspecting it closely while I had no choice but to gaze up him. How could this beautiful man be a kidnapper? It just didn’t fit.

“It’s just a scratch; no stitches required,” he said, voice trailing off as his eyes met mine.

We stayed like that for a while: me on the ground, him kneeling over me, and our line of sight only on each other—until an unmistakable sound broke through the tree tops.

“They’ll find me,” I said softly, wondering if Oliver was in the helicopter circling over our heads.

He positioned his arms under my body, and, in one graceful motion, he picked me up and into his arms. “Just don’t run. Promise me that, please. I’ll keep you safe. You have my word. Okay?”

He held me tightly—protectively—waiting eagerly for my reply with turmoil in his blue eyes. My whole body hurt, and admittedly, I couldn’t have walked another inch. The wolves or that beast would have got to me long before Oliver would have. I was at my kidnapper’s mercy, laying helplessly in his arms and falling harder for him by the second.

“I promise,” I said.

 

Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three, an aspiring painter, and a lover of animals, she is kept grounded by her husband at their home in Edmonton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Book Review: Green-Eyed Pursuit by Victoria Bastedo

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Green-Eyed Pursuit by Victoria Bastedo

A YA Mystery novel published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (05/04/2015)

Summary:

“Sometimes a thing has more value if it doesn’t come easily. And if you know your father before you know his history, you’ll have to judge him by his face and actions rather than by the trouble associated with his name.” (Kindle Locations 141-143).

Lucien, after discovering a letter written by his late mother detailing the existence of a father he never knew about, journeys to Seahaven with his best friend Rutherford and their schoolteacher Miss Pansy. After a 6 hour coach ride, they search all over town trying to find Amani Peale, Lucien’s father. They plan on matching eyes from father to son to prove parentage as both have startling green eyes. Eventually, the three are able to find Amani, but that is not all they discover in Seahaven. Lucien’s mother left the port town for good reason, to protect her son from the dark cloud of evil that surrounded Amani. There were those in the family and town who wanted to take over Amani’s inheritance and before Lucien was born, thugs roughed up Amani and framed him for murder. For 17 years Amani lay in wait, expecting the rogue to make a misstep so that Amani’s name could be cleared for good. Lucien gets caught up in Amani’s past as they work to create a new future together as father and son.

 

Keywords:

1905, Sea town, schoolteacher, absent father, inheritance, green-eyes, chase, family, love, loyalty, setup, suspense, stubbornness

 

My Review:

I adore Bastedo’s characters. She gives us a diverse assortment of them. You have Amani Peale, the estranged father who didn’t know he had a son and is valiantly trying to clear his name whilst building up his own fortunes outside of the family inheritance. Bremen is his loyal and trusty right hand man. Lucien is the boy who discovers he has a father as a near-adult and sets out to find him. Rutherford is his best friend. Miss Pansy is the schoolteacher who mothers them all. Beamish is the misunderstood upward-crawling family member whose opinions of Amani are less than nice. Finally, there is Clinger: the presumptuous bully from the docks. Bastedo’s characters are all very different in their personalities and their actions, although she has set some similarities between Amani and his son Lucien and between Bremen and Rutherford, the two buddies.

 

Though Bastedo sets her story in 1905, the writing style is lively if a bit dry. Her characters are stoic and don’t always admit to how they’re feeling. For Lucien, it’s his stubbornness that holds him back and keeps him from letting his feelings free. He lost his mother after all and doesn’t care to be mothered, subconsciously pushing away Miss Pansy’s attempts to care for him because she is in a way replacing the role of his late mother. Lucien is a fun character. Every time he is given new information that involves him and his future, he shows his aptitude for business and summarizing family legalities. His lengths at remaining stoic are hilarious, though he does display emotions when they are called for.

 

Though the writing and setting were somewhat dry to begin with and the action was slow to get the ball rolling, the story naturally found its stride and the secrets kept pouring out until the very end. I believe the slow to action start is quite appropriate for the setting of the story as 1905 was such a different time. Halfway through though, you won’t be able to put the book down as the drama accelerates and the action gets too exciting to let go.

 

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform 05/04/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

On the web

SnoValley blog

Victoria Bastedo blog

Book Review: Deadly Accounts (Agent Nora Wexler Mysteries) (Volume 1) by C.R. Wiley

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Deadly Accounts (Agent Nora Wexler Mysteries) (Volume 1) by C.R. Wiley

A Mystery/Thriller Novel published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (07/14/2014)

 

Summary:

Agent Wexler is new on the job, her aim at the range may not always be accurate, but she has confidence aplenty in her job as an FBI agent taking down the bad guys. Starting out her new career busting an internet perp who was harassing a woman online from New York, she soon is pulled to a crime so complex it’ll have them running in circles trying to find out who-dun-it. Up and down Seattle, Nora Wexler and her partner, the handsome war vet Travis Greer, will try to solve the future crime and murder of a lovely unassuming Seattle business owner. Every twist and turn of this story will keep the agents and readers guessing as more and more victims and suspects are pulled into the plot.

 

Keywords:

 Thriller, Cyber Crime, Identity Theft, Seattle, FBI, Female Main Character, Murder, Powerful Women

 

My Review:

Novels that show a great complexity and depth like this one keep the reader on their toes. True to the thriller genre, Deadly Accounts dishes up tension throughout every scene, and C.R. Wiley raises the stakes like a pro. Wiley gives us just enough characters to follow and a level of plot with enough subplots to throw us off the track while at the same time keeping us invested in the characters.

I thought it was an interesting technique to switch perspectives almost every chapter between the main character Nora Wexler and her partner agent Travis Greer, which allowed the story to open up in ways that sticking to one voice wouldn’t have. Travis gives us the seasoned agent’s perspective while Nora gives us the agent who has to prove herself and rise above the FBI’s glass ceiling. Nora is still the main character and I’m glad the story focused on her because she is an exhaustingly amazing character to follow. She is confident, but not egotistical. She doesn’t fall into the traps of a woman in a position of power. She is sturdy and strong and is able to pull out bravery and gumption when needed without jumping – too much – headlong into danger. She is a rookie after all, so everything can’t always go right for her, which is what makes for the great story.

Being a female FBI, especially a new agent, puts Nora in a unique position and shows the struggle females can have as law enforcement agents in the United States. Nora says so herself,

“You might think it wouldn’t , but you’d be wrong,” she said. “That’s the difference between you and me. If you make a mistake, you’re just having a bad day. If I make a mistake, suddenly there’s something wrong with my judgment and I can’t be trusted to make rational decisions. That’s part of the reason why women only make up twenty percent of FBI agents. I always knew it would be difficult to get in and get some respect for myself, but I didn’t think I’d blow it this early.” (Page 126).

Nora doesn’t let this fact get to her, or the fact that if she makes a mistake, she’ll be pulled back to a desk job and off the front line.

A good thriller is one that presents a plausible situation today and C.R. Wiley delivers. The perp in the book utilizes cyber technology to hack into people’s identities and to maneuver silently around the city. The agents must use their own skills against him and the way they do is so clever. In today’s world identity theft is a real threat and to pair that with murder makes for a downright scary situation. If the theif and murderer isn’t caught while the case is hot and the potential victim is still alive, he will disappear forever through the lives and identities of anyone. Wiley brings this fact up again and again to raise the stakes and create an exciting must-read novel that I would recommend to anyone who likes thrillers with a bit of mystery and murder that feature an up and coming female FBI agent.

This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 07/14/2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Cache a predator by M. Weidenbenner

cache a predator

Cache a Predator by M. Weidenbenner

A Thriller/Mystery Novel published by Random (01/07/2014)

 

Summary:

Young cop Brett will do anything for his five-year old daughter Quinn. If that means violating the protective order his ex-wife Ali took out on him, he’ll do it. If that means proving to the courts that Ali is an incompetent mother to gain full custody of Quinn, he’ll try to be patient and maintain his temper to do it. Brett’s fight to protect Quinn is made more complicated when they are both thrown in the middle of a crime where a vigilante is gruesomely targeting sex offenders: by hiding their wankers in local geocaches.

Keywords:

Vigilante, Sex Abuse, Thriller, Geocaching, Predators, Cop Father, CPS

 

My Review:

Cache a Predator has everything a thriller needs to make a fast-paced read that will pull at your heartstrings. I couldn’t put the book down. The characters are compelling and complex, with real motivations. Quinn will make you want to save her. Brett will bring you to his side. Ali will tug at your sympathy even as you want her daughter to be taken away from her care. The vigilante will make you take a second look at sex abuse victims… and make sure your door is locked. As this is a thriller with a who-dun-it context, I thought that by paying attention to every character I could figure out the ending, but it turns out the author was a lot more clever than I was and was able to surprise me with the climax.

The intro was setup in an intriguing way. Almost from the very beginning I knew what happy ending I wanted to see, where all ends would be tied sweetly together. I’m sure you’ll have some of the same yearnings, but you’ll have to read to find out if it all turns out the way you expect and desire.

This book blew all my expectations out of the water and although I picked it up for the geocaching element, I was not let down when I found out there was very little geocaching involved because the book was so thrilling and very well written. My only comment would be to cut out the last chapter.

 

This novel was published by Random 01/07/2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18192713-cache-a-predator

Website: www.randomwritingrants.com