Book Review: Haze: The Devil of Dublin

Title: Haze: The Devil of Dublinhaze
Author: Haze O’Hagen
Release Date: October 31, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads Synopsis: Dublin Ireland 2050. Cursed as a boy, now dreaded as the Devil. Join Haze O’Hagan on his quest for justice and redemption as he battles against forces he cannot understand or explain. God, no longer a necessity to prosperity became a hindrance in the eyes of many, causing Haze to grow up in a world where men through science could perform their own miracles. As technology became almost indistinguishable to magic, a new god was born: “Patrick Lynch” the father of neo micronisation. The Devil of Dublin is an epic tale of good vs evil, but within our telling, good and evil are not always what it seems. What defines good? What defines evil? Why does evil seem to prosper while the good perish? One man’s search for immortality awakens an ancient evil, forcing Haze to fight for freedom, identity, faith and love in this thought-provoking tale. As darkness plagues across the Emerald Isle, a light will rise to meet it. (Goodreads)

Haze: The Devil of Dublin is a fantastically unique novel. At its core, it is a story of good vs evil and how power influences that fight, but this novel approaches it in an intriguing way. Haze, the titular main character, is strikingly real in ways that one does not always see in books these days. He is a teenager, and though he finds himself with superpowers, he is STILL a teenage boy and that is felt in his characterization.

The world building is intriguing. The story is set in 2050 Dublin and the futuristic setting is well built around the already established city of Dublin. I am by no means a science minded person, so I cannot comment on if the science-y aspects of the story check out in any way, but they were intriguing. I liked the inclusion of the game Rush, even though I did feel like it threw off the pacing of the story a little bit.

While I did enjoy the story, the writing style was a little off for me. It was a bit blunt and straight. Maybe it comes from reading too much epic fantasy, but I do like a bit of flair in descriptions. For lack of a better term, I believe in “show, don’t tell” and this book told more than showed. There was good dialogue and humor throughout the story and that kept this fantastical novel feeling real.

At the end of the day this is a solid debut novel. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes books that are a little bit Science Fiction and a little bit Fantasy, with an examination of power and how it influences people.

An eBook copy of this novel was provided to me by the author. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and were not influenced. Thank you to the author for the opportunity to read this novel.

[Book Review] Secrets of the Tally

Book: Secrets of the Tally by Halie Fewkes
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Review type: Very light, generic spoilers. Main plots twists are not divulged!
Goodreads Synopsis: [HERE]

Secrets of the Tally by Halie Fewkes is a fast, intriguing read about a girl name Allie who has lost all her memories and must blindly navigate her new, dangerous world in search of who she once was. Very quickly we learn that old Allie had quite a few secrets from her friends and family and that new Allie needs to figure them out soon before the danger of these secrets catches up to her.

The hardest thing about memory loss stories is balancing the internal struggle of the main character to determine who they really are and not letting the frustration from the lack of missing memory resolution affect the reader. For the most part, this story managed that. There were times where I got just as irritated as Allie about her not being able to find her memories. However, I feel that that there was just enough of what I’m assuming was old Allie’s original personality to keep her feeling like a solid character. New Allie finds out just enough of who she used to be, through others telling her, to form who she wanted to be now. Her growth over the course of this book is noticeable and fairly well written.

Allie is by far the most developed of the characters. And while she is the main character, I would have liked to get a better feel for the rest of the cast. Allie is very strong willed and confident, which I think is good in this story. Having a female main character who can fight for herself is always welcome. She is determined to uncover her own buried secrets and fights to find the truth.

There is a beginning of romance in this story with a character named Archie, but it is never overwhelming and it avoids the dreaded “insta-love” trope. They become friends and Archie proves integral to Allie finding out more of her past. I won’t go into exact detail to avoid full spoilers, but I will say that I didn’t predict the twist of Archie’s true identity.

My main complaint about Allie, and many of the other secondary characters in her age range, is that they felt a bit immature. There was one moment where Allie lashes out at an annoying character, Jesse, and she just yells “I hate you!” I flashed back to me being 13 and yelling this at my parents and then cringed at how immature I was back then. I don’t remember it ever explicitly saying how old Allie is, but I think she guesses herself to be about seventeen. And while seventeen isn’t exactly the pinnacle of maturity, I feel like some of the things Allie and her friends say and do, border on a much younger teen’s reaction. And I’ll be completely honest, this could just be the opinion of an old lady. I think I might be a bit outside the age range to really, truly get into the mindset of these characters. So take that all with a grain of salt.

The world building in this book is fairly good. Not too heavy handed, but I felt there could have been some more explanation of Dincara. The background of the humans and the Escali, the vicious and almost human looking “bad guys” of the story, was interesting and I look forward to learning more about them in upcoming books. I am also excited to learn more about the Epics, which considering the next book is called, Catching Epics, I’m sure I’ll get my wish.

While there was a lot of intriguing bits in this book, I do feel like a lot of it was set up for the next book. That being said, I am really looking forward to continuing with this series. There were definitely some plot twists towards the end that caught me. I’ve read the synopsis to the second book and it sounds like the story gets turned up to 11.

You can find out more about Secrets of the Tally and Halie Fewkes at secretsofthetally.com or https://www.instagram.com/haliefewkes_author/.

This book was provided to me from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and reviews are completely my own. Thank you again to Halie for letting me read this book!

The Confectioner’s Guild: The book directly responsible for me re-watching Great British Baking Show…again…

The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana
Publisher: Live Edge Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Rating: 4.5/5
Spoiler Warning: No major spoilers revealed. One, very minor reveal of a character’s intentions.

Okay, before I start screaming about how much I loved this book (because y’all, I LOVED THIS BOOK), let me first give you the synopsis snagged from GoodReads:

A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.

Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake.

Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover who framed her or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her. But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the guild master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate.

If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.

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I have literally never requested a book through NetGalley as fast as I did for this book. YA magical murder mystery with a handsome inspector? My hopes rose like bread dough in a proving drawer. Oh gosh, no, that was bad and will be the only baking simile I attempt. Needless to say, I was expecting a lot from this read.

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And this book delivered!  It has been a long time since I’ve had so much fun reading a book. I’m fairly certain I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading it. Though there are small bits a darkness, this story was light and fun and an absolute delight.

Wren Confectioner is a slightly sassy orphan girl who goes from an underappreciated apprentice at a baker’s shop to a journeyman at the Confectioner’s Guild AND gets accused of murder, all within the course of a couple days. There is a lot to love about Wren: she is confident in her skills as a baker while also being humble, she knows what she wants, and she has a mysterious back story. She is not an all knowing, perfect main character and that makes her seem real. While she can hold her own against the flirtations of the extremely handsome Hale, she makes mistakes and learns from them. My one issue with Wren is her age…16. You’ll understand why that is problematic in a minute…

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Let’s move one to the main men of the book, Lucas and Hale. Don’t be alarmed, this book is no love triangle. Lucas is tall, lean, and dark (lord help me, he has slightly graying hair, gray eyes, is an inspector, and lives above a bookstore. SIGN ME UP FOR LUCAS!). Hale is taller, broader, brighter, and described as virile. We are told Lucas is around 20 and while we don’t get an age for Hale, he is always described as a man, so I’m going with 20s for him as well. Remember when I said Wren was SIXTEEN? I honestly felt she was more of an 18 year old, but her character was written to be 16 because ALL YA female MCs are 16.  I had to ignore the age thing so I didn’t feel too cringe-y when Hale came at her with his flirtations or when I accepted that Lucas was wanting to court Wren instead of me.

26BRNqyHdCgrRPyWk(Me, when I read about Lucas)

There were a fair amount of other characters in this book so I won’t go into each of them, but the core cast was well fleshed out. I think Sable was probably the most intriguing and relateable of the bunch. I hope we learn more of her backstory as the books go on. The secondary cast of characters were a little less realized and I’m hoping that is just because we’ll get more of them in future books. But everyone felt real and beneficial to the story.

Outside of the characters, we’ve got some stellar world building and a nice mystery to solve. I felt like I had a pretty firm grasp on the world this book is set in. It took me a hot minute to figure out the Guilds and how they worked with the politics of Alesia. There is definitely set up for more story outside of the Guilds in future books. I liked the mystery aspect of the book, though I think avid mystery fans will figure things out sooner rather than later. For me, I try not to figure out the “whodunit” aspect of stories. I tend to enjoy reading mysteries more if I just roll with the main character on their investigation.

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And now for the ending of the book…

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Kidding, I’m keeping this spoiler free. Mostly, I just wanted a reason to use that Great British Bake Off gif because it is in fact the perfect description of the ending of this book.

At the end of it all, I love this book. Love, love, love it. This book has reminded me that even though I love tragic, dark stories, there is something to be said about fun, feel good books. Especially ones with handsome inspectors.

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Visit the author’s website, claireluana.com, for more information about pre-orders, pre-order swag (!!!), and her other books (which I’m probably going to go buy all of now)!

This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley at my request. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.