Advance Review: The Time Collector

★★★☆☆41711272

I have such mixed feelings about this book. I loved the premise and I wanted to love the story, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The Time Collector focuses on a group of gifted individuals known as psychometrists. Psychometrists range in their strength, but all share the ability to discern the past of objects the touch. Our male protagonist, Roan West, is one of the most powerful psychometrists among their small numbers. Roan has become increasingly worried with the disappearances of several psychometrists across the globe, including one of his closest friends. Then arises the problem of Melicent Tilpin.

Melicent is a young woman scraping by as she tries to balance work and raising her teenage brother following their mother’s recent death. She’s also a psychometrist whose powers have newly awakened. After peering into the past of objects found at flea markets and antique swaps, Melicent find herself on Antiques Roadshow where her items are appraised for tens of thousands of dollars and she’s admitted her gift to the world. Upon seeing the video Roan rushes across the country to warn Melicent, hoping she’ll listen.

The greatest triumph of The Time Collector is Gwendolyn Womack’s skill as a writer. This book touches on phenomena like out-of-place artifacts (OOPArts), crop circles, and more as Womack spins a tale that spans all of Earth’s breadth and history. I went in with very little foreknowledge of many of the phenomena she describes, but I never found myself lost in the explanations – the world she creates is easy to slip in to and enjoy. Some of the chapters that I enjoyed most were those where as a character reads an imprint, you are transported back in time. From 18th century Vienna to South Korea on the cusp of The Forgotten War, these periods are captured with incredible realism that drew me in despite their intrusion into the main plot.

So here’s the caveat of all this: I just didn’t like the romantic aspect. I was pulled in by the tension between Melicent and Roan through the first half of their story, but once the romantic tension was dissipated everything seemed to lose momentum. I’m also seldom a fan of stories where two characters are fully in love in a matter of just days. I tried to see past it because there was so much else that I enjoyed, but it ultimately left me feeling a little disappointed as I finished this book. I’m certain The Time Collector will be the perfect read for many people, just not me. Continue reading “Advance Review: The Time Collector”

Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

★★★★★38819868

I’ve read some really kick-ass debuts lately. The Incendiaries was beautiful, Eight Lives was absolutely stellar, and My Sister, the Serial Killer knocked it out of the park.

If you’ve heard about this book, you’ve probably heard it described as “dark” and “funny” a hundred times. Well, it couldn’t be more accurate. Oyinkan Braithwaite has written one of the most twisted, delightful books I’ve read in a long time.

There’s no point in mincing words- Korede’s sister is a serial killer. Two of Ayoola’s previous boyfriends have died while with her, and when her most recent boyfriend turns up dead with a knife wound in his chest, Korede is summoned once again to clean up her sister’s mess. My Sister, the Serial Killer hooks you from the first page and refuses to let go. I think I pried myself away only twice, so I could sleep. The relationships in this book were truly fascinating and I was stuck by how real each character felt- their choices made me cringe, laugh, and shudder as I read on. This is both a brilliant thriller and a witty take on how far one will go in the name of loyalty. Continue reading “Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer”

Advance Review: Eight Lives

★★★★★43397089

David Tran is dead. The young doctor was poised to revolutionize immunology with his miracle drug, but just as the first clinical trial is set to begin, he dies under mysterious circumstances. Eight Lives begins in the aftermath as those close to Tran recount their intertwined histories, trying to piece together the truth of this tragedy, unprepared for the secrets they’ll uncover about the “Golden Boy” of Australian medicine.

Eight Lives is Susan Hurley’s debut novel, and what an spectacular debut it is. One of the aspects of this novel that captured me the most was the technical detail interwoven. Fear not, the impeccable pacing isn’t slowed a bit. Instead Hurley enhances every turn of the plot with expertise, her decades of experience in medical research shining through as she shines light on an industry so vital, but so little known.

But this is more than a thoroughly researched thriller, Eight Lives is woven together with incredible precision. The story is told from the perspectives of David’s sister, his childhood friend, his lab assistant, his long-time girlfriend, and a “fixer” employed by his investors. Their stories, though many of them have nothing in common besides their relation to David, come together elegantly. Each holds a crucial piece to the puzzle and it is a thrill to watch realizations coalesce between parties that are, at times, completely at odds with one another. The truth of David’s death comes together slowly and painstakingly. It took my breath away as the truth was finally realized and Eight Lives has been in my thoughts for days since I finished. I’m certain this is one of those books you’ll have to read twice to truly appreciate. Continue reading “Advance Review: Eight Lives”

Review: Short Stories by Steven Penny

This post post features reviews of both of Steven Penny‘s recent short stories, End of the Line followed by Eleventh Night.

★★★33795159

Meet Maeve O’Grady, just eight years old but already well acquainted with the harsher realities of life. Her workaholic mother and womanizing father fight incessantly despite their separation, but Maeve still loves them both equally. After another switching off between her parents, Maeve rides the train home with her mother. As she dozes, Maeve encounters a mysterious figure with more knowledge than he could possibly have.

End of the Line is a fast-paced story that shows the reality of a child living between two homes with parents that have only their child in common. My heart ached for Maeve, who was deprived of the ability to experience the world as the child she was. Instead, she spends her days performing a balancing act, trying to mediate the problems of the adults who were supposed to care for her above all else. The situation reaches a crescendo as Maeve is left to reflect alone as her mother sleeps on the train. Revelations come pouring out and the world turns on its side in a sinister twist that hits like a blow to the gut. End of the Line was published in January 2017.

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39863838★★★★☆

In the midst of the Troubles, our narrator meets the beautiful Sadie Murphy at a dance. Though they have only a fleeting moment together, her memory persists until they meet again, on opposite sides of a town divided. Decades later he recounts the memory of the woman he thought he’d marry over drinks at the local pub.

This story is very brief, but also quite touching. In the midst of conflict that was pervasive Northern Ireland, a love blooms between two people of heritages on either side of the Troubles. Despite knowing they were doomed, it’s hard not to get enthralled as their relationship blooms from acquaintances to lovers over a year. Eleventh Night was published April 16, 2018.

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I received my copies of End of the Line and Eleventh Night from Steven Penny in exchange for honest reviews.