Review Round-Up: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson & The House Share by Kate Helm.

Every marriage has its secrets…

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late one night when she gets the call: her former college friend, the highly successful tech entrepreneur, Zach Grayson, has found himself in a situation he can’t pay his way out of. Currently incarcerated at Rikers on suspicion of murdering his wife, Amanda, Zach begs Lizzie to take the case. She’s the only one he trusts. Lizzie is initially reluctant to get involved. However, encouraged by her boss, she ultimately takes the case. The truth is, this high-profile, high-stakes case is a welcome distraction for Lizzie; an escape from an increasingly troubled home life with her alcoholic husband, Sam.

As Lizzie ventures to Park Slope to investigate Amanda’s charmed life and brutal murder, she meets with Amanda’s friends and also stumbles upon the dead woman’s journals. These journals detail in no uncertain terms that life as Zach Grayson’s wife was no walk in the park. Now that Lizzie thinks on it, there was always something ‘off’ about Zach, even back in college. Could it be that Zach is not so innocent, after all? And what of the scandalous partner-swapping party Zach and Amanda attended on the night Amanda died? Zach sure didn’t tell Lizzie about that! He’s a little loose with the truth, is Zach.

A smart legal thriller of secrets and lies, marriage woes and risqué soirées, A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight is a multi-layered mystery that will keep you hooked as it hurtles towards a surprising and ultimately satisfying conclusion.

Four Stars
Published May 5th 2020 by Harper
Received for review


neverhaveiever - Review Round-Up: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson & The House Share by Kate Helm.

You can’t outrun your past…

Amy Whey lives the kind of quiet suburban life that most people take for granted – but she never dared to dream of. Amy’s job as a diving instructor may make her seem thrilling and exciting among her group of friends, but in reality, all Amy wants is a quiet life with her family; her husband, stepdaughter, and adorable baby, Oliver. Like many protagonists in books of this type, Amy has a past she’d rather forget: a tragic event that upended her life and changed her world forever. But Amy has moved on with her life. She’s left her past behind. Or so she thinks.

When glamorous Angelica Roux shows up uninvited at Amy’s book club one night, Amy’s interest is piqued, though her friend Charlotte, organiser of said book club, is irked when Angelica hijacks the book discussion in favour of getting everybody rip-roaring drunk. Amy is sympathetic towards Charlotte’s plight, though she secretly thinks her friend is being a little uptight. After all, what’s the harm in a few drinks, a couple of party games, even?

Far from being a fun new friend, Amy is about to discover that Angelica is instead her very worst enemy, a living nightmare who knows all about Amy’s past, the terrible thing she did, and the lie she’s been living ever since. Angelica has come to town to ruin Amy’s life. However, Amy is not about to go down without a fight. She’s not about to give up on the life, and the love, she worked so hard to find.

A relentless game of cat and mouse, with multiple twists at every turn, Never Have I Ever is truly wild ride of a book. Guaranteed to keep you guessing!

3.5 Stars
Published September 3rd 2019 by Raven Books

houseshare - Review Round-Up: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson & The House Share by Kate Helm.
If it looks too good to be true…

Following a break-up with her boyfriend, Immi Sutton has been crashing on the sofa at a friend’s place, where she’s just about outstayed her welcome. Immi needs a new place – and fast. London rentals don’t come cheap and school teacher Immi is just about out of options when she sees an advert for a room at co-living community ‘The Dye Factory.’ It sounds too good to be true: reasonable rent, free groceries, daily yoga, and even a live-in housekeeper. Immi knows there must be a catch, but she’s desperate for a place, so she goes ahead and applies for the room. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Following an interview consisting of a roof-top party and a whole lot of gin, Immi, along with fashion photographer, Dex, scores a room at The Dye Factory. Immi thinks she’s finally caught a break, until that is, her new roommates start dying…

While the concept of The House Share piqued my interest, I ultimately found the story a little monotonous when it could have been a lot of fun, with a difficult-to-like cast of characters. Take Dex: he shares the narration with Immi, but his voice is entirely one-note, and I don’t feel he added very much to the story. Immi’s character is better drawn, but she is self-serving, standoffish, and difficult to like.

All that said, if you want a mystery that keeps you guessing, then The House Share could be one for you. I never did guess the dark secrets The Dye Factory was hiding behind its glossy façade, but then I like a plot twist that’s a little more grounded in reality than this one is. However, if you’re looking for a far-fetched, slightly off-the-wall tale, with a cast of characters you’ll love to hate, then you could do worse than this!
Three Stars
Published May 14th 2020 by Zaffre
Received for review

y0EBhqZ86p8 - Review Round-Up: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson & The House Share by Kate Helm.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.