4 star, adult

Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Image result for the death of mrs. westaway Harriet Westaway – better known as Hal – makes ends meet as a tarot reader, but she doesn’t believe in the power of her trade. If she did, what would the cards say about the choice that lies ahead of her?

When Hal receives a mysterious and unexpected letter bequeather her a substantial inheritance, she knows that it wasn’t meant for her because Mrs. Westaway is not her grandmother. Struggling with crippling debt, Hal is presented with a difficult choice: ignore the letter, or use her cold-reading skills to potentially claim the money and change her life.

After a loan sharks pays Hal a threatening visit, she decides to attend Mrs. Westaway’s funeral. she meets the family at Trepassen House, the Westaways’ country estate. Once there, Hal discovers more secrets than she could have ever imagined. There is something very, very wrong with this family, and somehow Hal and the inheritance are at the centre of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Death of Mrs. Westaway is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


4 Drink Me Potions


Never believe your own lies.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway begins as an almost innocent backdrop of a story. Classic rich grandmother leaving behind a massive fortune in a dramatic reading of her final will. However, the story (and mystery) is so much more than what can be seen on the surface. Behind layers of lies and deceit lies the story of a girl who has never known family, struggling to find her place in a world which seemingly has no place for her.

This mystery follows the life of our protagonist, Harriet (aka Hal), who was born into a poor life and tries to make ends meet providing tarot-reading services on a pier. This is important, as the tarot cards become the crux upon which the story moves along. It is completely fascinating and enthralling, as the whole mystery is almost like a lengthy tarot card reading on its own. As the suspense unfolds, each path is laid forward by the explanation of a different card, and this really gave the whole story a mystical element. Even if you don’t believe in such things, Ware really gives it life in this number.

One for sorrow, Two for joy.

Hal was raised by a single mother, who tragically passed away in an accident when she was eighteen, leaving her an orphan. Forced to take up her mother’s role in tarot reading with no family to turn to, her life takes a surprising turn when she receives a letter indicating she is a beneficiary in Mrs. Westaway’s will. As her crippling debt comes catching up to her, she is forced to go to Trepassen to find out what is in store for her in the Westaway family.

Preparing herself to attend her “grandmother’s” funeral, she does not realize what she steps into when she arrives. Behind every member of the family seems to be another door, with secrets of their past hidden. While every mystery may be like this, instead of a murder mystery, this story revolves more around the secret of Hal’s past – just how is she linked to the Westaway family? And will she be caught in her own lies as she tries to take a piece of the Westaway fortune with her to repay her debts?

The whole novel has a very ethereal quality and an air of mystique. It is impossible not to follow along the signs the cards give, and the omens given in the magpies as we follow Hal down the dark alley of her past. The overarching theme of mysticism and cold-reading are beautifully woven into the story, and spellbinding really is the word to describe this page-turner of a suspense. Definitely an enjoyable read – full of mystery even without revolving around a murder.

Overall Recommendation:
If you are into mysteries at all, and the suspenseful writing of a whodunnit novel, this book is definitely for you. This story features a young adult fighting her way through thick and thin, with only her tarot cards and cold-reading skills to guide her through. While understandably the whole art of tarot may be met with skepticism (admittedly for me as well), this book definitely paints it in a different light. Additionally, it really was well woven into story and really was the propelling force of the whole suspense. I definitely recommend this one!

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4 star, YA

Review: Legion by Julie Kagawa

Series: Talon Saga #4

legion -julie kagawaThe legions are about to be unleashed, and no human, rogue dragon or former dragon slayer can stand against the coming horde.

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all–dragons do not suffer human emotions–let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she’s capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante–the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.


4 Drink Me Potions


With increasing intensity and action on every page, Legion amps it up as our heroes descend on further chaos planned by the dragons of Talon.

For a series, I just wanted to say that it really doesn’t falter much. It’s consistently good, with a solid mix of suspense, unfolding plot lines set from the start, and new and old relationships changing and rebuilding into something better. Julie Kagawa, you continue to amaze me.

That being said, stuff goes down in this fourth book of Talon. St. George has no idea what abominations are coming their way, pure evil crafted from the depths of Talon, while our band of ever growing heroes have a dilemma to choose: stay and fight for their enemies or hide away until another day for survival.

Ever consistent in who they’ve become, Garrett’s sense of honour battles with Riley’s duty to the dragon hatchlings he’s taken care of for years. And meanwhile, long gone is the young, naive girl who just wanted to have a summer for herself before duty kicked in. In her place? A hardened warrior with a heart that still melted for those who never had the choice to live as they wanted.

The only thing that drives me crazy is Ember’s brother, Dante. I just want to shake him sometimes for the decisions he makes and the value he places on his own freedom by getting to the top. He’s been so thoroughly brainwashed and convicted by what Talon preaches that even the horrors he’s seen – and even done by his own hand ’cause it’s what Talon calls for – seems to unfaze him. Makes me think of the kinds of people out in our world that similarly are in such a position, and what it takes for redemption.

I’m not going to make this review long. I mean, at this point, I’ve kind of repeated myself many times on why I really enjoy this series. If you haven’t picked one of these books up yet, I highly recommend it!

Overall Recommendation:

Legion continues with seemingly insurmountable challenges for our mix of dragon and human heroes as they face what Talon has in store for the world. With plenty of fighting and continual romance between a certain dragon and ex-dragon slayer, there’s something for action and romance fans here that should keep the pace going until you’ve hit the very last page.

4 star, YA

Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

Series: Talon Saga #3

soldier -julie kagawaThe price of freedom is everything.

When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises.


4 Drink Me Potions


Soldier is everything its namesake calls for: action-packed, thrilling, sometimes ridiculously dangerous for our favourite band of rogues, but most importantly, features the past of one dear Garret Xavier Sebastian.

While the previous books focused heavily on dragons and rogue history, this one gave insight into how the Order of St. George – aka the dragonslayers – was run and more into Garret’s history with them. I normally think middle books are rather boring but Julie Kagawa has never really failed me yet when it comes to writing any exciting novel.

Betrayals, spontaneous escape plans and crazy quests for information to save the world continued to litter the pages of this book. And it wasn’t just in one location this time. While Riley and Ember were moving across the US, Garret’s off digging for information in the UK, headquarters of the Order. Globetrotting aside, let me just add that there were some Eastern influences here that made this story more diverse, although I kind of wish more could be expanded in that direction. I’m sorry for being vague but I don’t wanna be giving away too many tidbits!

But the true highlight of the plot was uncovering the juiciest bit of news: Talon may have some connections with St. George in the most unexpected place. To bring it to light and try to save the rogues (and the Order, of course)? Someone – ahem, namely a certain soldier ’cause who else is gonna do it – is going to have to risk everything to bring that info to the right people.

On the other end of the spectrum, romantic tensions are still ongoing. Ember and Riley’s dragon connection is finally given a name and definition. Does that bother me? Not at all. It’s becoming clearer to me that Garret is endgame, but I love Riley dearly and hope however it falls, he’s still got two good friends. Sorry Team Riley, but I think this may be less of a love triangle than you hope.

And as always, Kagawa ends off with an explosive finale that, compared to the other 2 books, spiraled into something that needs to be answered now! I certainly look forward to whatever may come next and hope my racing heart will be prepared for it.

Overall Recommendation:

As heart racing and spellbinding as the previous books in the series, Soldier definitely does not suffer from middle book syndrome. Diving into the heart of the Order of St. George, secrets come to light and lives are at risk as the band of rogues continue to fight for their freedom. With romance aplenty between Ember and the soldier or the rogue, this book ends on a bang that will leave you wanting to find out what happens next! I totally recommend you continue the series as it just never seems to disappoint!