The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron Review

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Synopsis: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

My Thoughts: This book contains a lot of things that I love…Vaudeville, mystery, illusionists, and a surprising twist. The story revolves around Wren Lockhart, a famous illusionist who was an apprentice for Harry Houdini. After a magician performs an illusion that results in the death of a man, the FBI gets the help of Wren to decipher what really happened on that day.

I am gaining more and more appreciation for historical fiction and I love the time period of the 1920s.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was transported to the 20s…I could picture the theaters and flappers and glamorous parties that were vividly described in the story.

The characters were well developed, although I didn’t care for Wren at first but she grew on me as the story progressed.

I absolutely loved the scenes from Wren’s performances…I always loved watching illusionists and felt like an audience member watching her perform her amazing feats. I love Kristy Cambron’s writing style…it is very fluid and descriptive. She is very gifted at pulling the reader into the story.

The mystery seemed too weak to carry through the entire book. I found the resolution to be a bit rushed. I also didn’t care for the romance…it was very predictable and had an insta-love feel that seemed very unrealistic based on the personalities of the characters.

Overall, the story was a lot of fun and a great escape. I would highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction and the world of illusions.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

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Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart Review

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Synopsis: Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she’ll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor’s body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor’s death is a tragic accident–until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

Cozy mystery fans will love this third installment in The Hidden Springs Mysteries series from an author who knows how to make small-town America sweet, sentimental–and a little sinister.

My Thoughts: Up until now, I had only attempted to read one other cozy mystery and I dnf’d it because I found it boring. I wanted to give the genre another chance so I requested this book to review. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that cozy mysteries are too tame for me.

The book started out great, with a death of a realtor in a large Victorian mansion. I love the setting and the characters…it takes place in a small town called Hidden Springs and everyone knows everyone. I also enjoyed the author’s descriptions of people and places, I was able to picture everything very easily.

Unfortunately, it dragged a lot in the middle and by the end I didn’t even really care who the culprit was.

I also found the procedures used by the police in this book ridiculous. I’m not an expert at crime scene investigation but I’ve watched enough crime shows to know that there are certain procedures that need to be followed (regardless of the size of the town). The romance in the story also felt as though it was just put in to satisfy those who want some romance in a story….it didn’t fit well with the plot and almost felt like an afterthought.

To be fair, if I liked cozy mysteries, I probably would have really enjoyed this book but I like a bit more grit and action in my stories. I would absolutely recommend this if you are a fan of cozy mysteries or stories about small towns.

My Rating: 2 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel Review

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Synopsis: After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

My Thoughts: It’s been 2 days since I finished this book and I still can’t get it off my mind. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more I’m disturbed by the content of this book. I would call this a “trainwreck” book…as I was reading it, I wanted to stop because of the twisted and disturbing nature of the content but for some reason I couldn’t look away.

This is not a feel good book, it was the opposite for me. I feel disgusted and frustrated and disturbed after reading it. With all that being said, I must say that this book falls into the unputdownable category for me. I devoured it in a few sittings, I needed to know what happened to Allegra and I needed to know how things would end. The writing style was very fluid, the characters were developed very well, and the book is full of several unexpected twists and turns. I think the fact that I have such an adverse reaction to this book is a testament to what a good writer Amy Engel is.

I don’t think this was the book for me…those familiar with me probably know that I am pretty conservative. This book had way too much vulgarity and graphic sexual content in it for my taste. I understand why it was there but I don’t feel that the author needed to go into as much detail as she did at times.

My Rating: This is one of the most difficult books for me to rate as I found it extremely compelling and well written but I can’t say that I liked it. Because of the unputdownable factor I rated it 4 /5 stars.

4 stars

I can’t in good conscience recommend this book to anyone as I really didn’t like the content but I will say that this is a book with a lot of adult content. If you like dark, disturbing, taboo subjects, you might want to try it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron Review

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Description: “My father had more than fifty children.”So begins the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. With her father wanted by the FBI for killing anyone who tried to leave his cult–a radical branch of Mormonism–Anna and her siblings were constantly on the run with the other sister-wives. Often starving and always desperate, the children lived in terror. Even though there were dozens of them together, Anna always felt alone.She escaped when she was thirteen . . . but the nightmare was far from over.A shocking true story of murder, fear, and betrayal, “The Polygamist’s Daughter” is also the heart-cry of a fatherless girl and her search for love, faith, and a safe place to call home.

My Thoughts: This book is a gritty and disturbing look into what life was like for Anna LeBaron, who grew up in a polygamist cult, under the rule of her murderous father Ervil LeBaron. If I could sum up my thoughts for this book in one lesson, it would be how selfishness and narcissism can destroy lives.

Anna’s childhood was spent moving from place to place, living in poverty with too many people in small places, and facing many tragedies. The book takes you to these places with Anna and as the reader, I  felt like I was with her, feeling the sadness, fear and uncertainty that she was facing…frustrated at how she was treated and neglected.

I appreciated that this book was real, the “nasty” stuff wasn’t glossed over and Anna was brutally honest about the struggles she faced in adulthood as a result of her childhood.

Anna LeBaron is a very strong woman and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to have read her book. I think it will be therapeutic to women who have struggled with issues in their childhood, particularly with their fathers. I highly recommend this book.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Auctor Trilogy by T.R. Wolf Review

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Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Addie Auctor’s mother is murdered by her father, she must confront many secrets that her family has hidden from her. The worst of these secrets is that Addie’s father, Donovan Hawthorne, is still hunting Addie because of an ancient blood feud between her mother’s family, the Auctors, and her father’s family, the House of Hawthorne. In order to be protected from the House of Hawthorne, Addie and her brother, Augustus, are sent to Initiation at an exclusive University, the Wicked Cabal.
Initiation is nothing like Addie expects. She is immediately separated from Augustus and thrown in with four complete strangers – Fallon, Maddox, Liam, and Tempe. Addie must try to forge friendships with her fellow Initiates while they solve clues, battle mystical creatures, and explore increasingly dangerous places.
Readers of all ages will love this adventure filled with suspense, treachery, and romance.

My Thoughts: I was a bit hesitant to read this book when the author contacted me because the genre is a bit out of my comfort zone but the cover of it convinced me to give it a try. I am very glad that I gave it a chance, it was a perfect book to read for someone who is just getting into fantasy…it has some fantastical creatures but the majority of the story feels more like a dystopian or adventuresome story.

I really enjoyed the story…the author was great at imagery and world building. The story is very atmospheric, I felt as if I was right there with the characters, trudging through the forests, caves, and obstacles of initiation to the Wicked Cabal.

There was a lot of suspense and the story was full of action and adventure. I found myself flipping pages quickly to find out what would happen next. The pacing was great…the story had 481 pages but I found myself at the halfway point in no time.

I wasn’t a fan of the romance in the story, it felt quite forced and ingenuine (but I rarely like romance in books). I also felt that the characters lacked a lot of common sense in many circumstances, which was a bit frustrating.

Overall, I was very pleased with this book and would definitely pick up the next one when it comes out, I’m very curious to find out what happens next. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy or who is interested in dipping their feet in the genre.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.