Dyalatov Pass Group Camera Shot

Review: Return to Dyatlov Pass by J.H. Moncrieff

Right off the bat, I need to preface this by saying that I love the Dyatlov Pass mystery. I’ve listened to podcasts on it, read non-fiction books about it, and if Return to Dyatlov Pass can get your interest in the Dyatlov Pass mystery going? Great. I love the idea that it’s going to be introducing new people to this. And for the most part, I don’t mind the way that they treated the mystery itself.

This was a bit of an edgy book, so I’ll put my content warnings down at the bottom of the post to avoid spoilers.

Return to Dyatlov Pass follows the adventures of a podcaster, Nat McPherson, as she investigates the mysterious deaths of nine Russian students in 1959. These students, in the prime of their lives and with a ton of mountaineering experience, disappeared during a trip through Dyatlov Pass and when a search party was mustered, all they could find was the brutally mutilated remains of the students.

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Review: The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

The Gilded King has a lot going on.

From the very beginning, the book is set in a world that has been taken over by zombies and vampires thanks to some sort of apocalypse. The Gilded King is set in a post-apocalyptic world where only one civilized city seems to have remained run by a noble class made up entirely of Vampires. The city they live in is blue and safe, and everything beyond the boundaries is red and dangerous. The book unfolds itself from two key points of views. One from Julia, our human protagonist and Cameron (referred to as Cam throughout the book), our vampire protagonist. From these two main characters, we learn about the city of Blue and the dangerous world outside of it.

From Julia, we see how humans are treated in this society. The human world is separated into Servants (the lowest of humans), Attendants (next rank of humans that are basically also a vampire’s personal blood bank), or Candidates (the worthiest of humans, ones that might be given the chance of becoming a vampire). Candidates are the only humans who have a chance of becoming nobles.

Julia, a teenager, is our eyes and ears for the city of Blue. While at first, she’s completely averse to the way humans are treated in the city of Blue, that all changes when she meets a young noble named Lucas.

From Cam, we learn about what the world outside of the Blue is really like. Outside the city walls is a place of vampires gone rogue and an unstoppable virus that affects vampires and humans in entirely different ways. There is a war that’s been building up for centuries as tensions against the vampires rise. Cam is how we see the war as it’s raging and how it will change the game for the humans who have been able to survive so far.

In the Gilded King, Information and key plot points are sprinkled throughout this first book so that the reader is left piecing information together bit by bit. It’s not immediately easy to understand how the city of Blue came to be and what exactly the Red outside of it really is.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Lots of stories drip feed their readers lore and background about the world that they’re in.

The problem with the Gilded King is that the characters are built in a way that makes them feel one-dimensional.

I won’t go into exactly why since that’s spoiler heavy. Inevitably though, there isn’t enough to leave you intrigued about the characters by the time the last chapter and cliffhangers of the book are presented. The end of the Gilded King makes it clear that it was written to keep the reader waiting for book two.

Beyond complaints about the characters, it was strange to be reading a book centered around vampires in 2018 when the fad feels like it’s fading. The Gilded King was released six years after the last of the Twilight movies and a year after Vampire Diaries had ended. Aren’t we collectively tired of vampires yet? Wasn’t The Mortal Instruments fantasy’s last-ditch attempt at making this particular subset of the genre cool again?

These fads are cyclical, they’ll come back around, but focusing on vampires now is a little old-fashioned. I’m conflicted. I feel like I’m being too critical in my judgment of the first book in this series. I hope the second book surprises me, but I’m not sure what The Sovereign series will add to the genre.

Although I wasn’t a fan of the way the plot was spread out in the Gilded King, I can appreciate the way the author sprinkled key plot points and new lore developments throughout the book. Cam’s back story isn’t just handed to you and the book makes the reader work to piece things together. If you want to understand the city of Blue and what in the heck is happening in the Red surrounding the city, you need to put the work in.

In the end, the Gilded King is fine. It’s just fine. Maybe I’m exhausted by the idea of vampires. Or maybe I had to work too hard to piece together all the information strewn throughout the book. But by the time I reached the last page of the Gilded King, the cliffhangers left by the author didn’t matter enough to me.

There was so much story to be set up in the Gilded King, so much lore to establish without giving too much away that the characters felt incomplete even when it was over. I suppose since this is book one in a series of however many, this was meant to set the scene rather than involve you.

Every fantasy genre book you pick up will have its own rules and lore to learn and figure out. I don’t have a problem with that. Except with the Gilded King coming in just under 288 pages, focusing so much on the environment meant something would be left lacking. And in this case, unfortunately, it’s the characters. I will say though, that the cliffhangers at the end of the book are great. They’re a real ‘oh snap’ moment.

It’s fine. It’s just fine.

2.5 / 5

See y’all for The Silver Queen (Sovereign #2)!

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Gilded King by Josie JaffreyThe Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey
Series: Sovereign Series #1
Genres: Fantasy, young adult

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In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do

Dracula's digs

Dracula is the Classic Horror Story Everyone Should Read

Bram Stoker
Horror, Fiction
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I used to have a lot of wacky ideas about Dracula. I knew vaguely that it was an older novel (written in 1897 by Bram Stoker). In my imagination Dracula skulked in the shadows and said “I vant to suck your blahd” in a cartoonish accent.

To me, Dracula was about as frightening as the Count from Sesame Street. I always ignored the novel because I thought it would be boring. And that just goes to show how badly I underestimated the Gothic Novel.

Classics are classics for a reason and Dracula surprised me from the very beginning by not being a straight-forward vampire narrative.

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Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark thrills us with the tale of the Golden State Killer

The Golden State Killer is Michelle McNamara’s Target in I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Michelle McNamara
True Crime, Non-fiction
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
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The Golden State Killer is well known by now.

Infamous for committing over 50 rapes, dozens of burglaries, and at least 10 murders, the Golden State Killer remained uncaught for decades.

Once known only as the East Area Rapist or Original Night Stalker (EARONS), the man was a legend. There were many reasons for that, but the biggest one was that he somehow had never been caught.

Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark brought a renewed public interest to this case. True Crime is in its heyday right now and this book shot to the top of the New York Times’ best seller’s list.

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Try Herding Cats When Life Feels Like Too Much

Herding Cats
by Sarah Andersen
Humour, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Graphic Novels
Herding Cats (Sarah's Scribbles, #3)
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[[I was given a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.]]

The world is absolutely @%#$&% and sometimes it might feel like there’s no saving it.

For me personally it was such a rough year that I had to stop blogging about books and I slowly stopped reading the further we got into the year. It wasn’t because I didn’t love the books or that I didn’t want to do these things, but the outside world was so overwhelming that it felt flat out impossible to focus on my creative endeavours.

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Small Treasons refuses to give us our monsters

Small Treasons
Mark Powell
Literary Fiction
Small Treasons
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From the outside looking in, there was no reason to be worried. Tess Maynard lives with a loving husband, with three young children, and they’re living the suburban dream. But her family has started to notice that something’s off. They keep insisting that she’s depressed, but Tess doesn’t know how to explain that what’s driving her isn’t depression, but obsession.

All over the news is beheadings, bombings, and terrorist plots. How could Tess do anything else, but witness the passing of the world?

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Angels and demons and baristas, oh my

The Seraphina Series
Sheena Hutchinson
Paranormal Romance
The Seraphina Series (Seraphina #1-2)
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[[I received a free copy of all these books in return for my honest review.]]

Listen, I’m not going to beat around the bush. There are giveaways and stuff, so if you’re interested in this novel at all, I’d recommend you go back and look at the giveaway post. Otherwise, let’s go on a ride.

I had the feeling that the Seraphina series wasn’t going to be in my wheelhouse when I started reading the first few pages and it only got worse from there.

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The Thirteenth Gate by Kat Ross – Review

The Thirteenth Gate
Kat Ross
Historical Fiction, Fantasy
The Thirteenth Gate (Dominion Mysteries) (Volume 2)
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It’s the Winter of 1988 and a doctor suspected of being Jack the Ripper, murders a man before disappearing from the asylum that held him. It’s up to Lady Vivienne Cumberland and her companion, Alec, to hunt down the most dangerous man they know. There’s more to the world than we’re allowed to see and in Victorian London, they’ve started to take precautions against the supernatural elements that threaten their world.

But Lady Vivienne is walking a dangerous line and one wrong step could upset the balance between worlds, throwing the Thirteenth Gate wide open to create hell on earth.

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TS901 by Stacey Rourke – Review

Stacey Rourke
Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Ts901: Anomaly: Rise of the Rebels
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Tainted water for the good of the people. Fluoride and vitamins to sustain the health of the human race. Added ingredients to extend and elevate the quality of life. All good things, right?


Thia Kelly has been changed by the TS901 chemical in the world’s water supply. Now, forced into hiding with the other inflicted outcasts, she struggles to survive as her powers emerge.

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