ARC Mini Review – This Wicked Fate

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this sequel because I didn’t really love the first book, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.

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ARC Review – Dark Farm

Author: Dean Raven

Publication Date: May 5, 2021

Length: 443 pages

Read Date(s): May 10, 2021 – May 13, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis

Wizards, gods, monsters, reanimated dead things … and this is just the beginning.

A family of campers has been slaughtered and Sam Morgan from the government’s National Security Office is scouring the Six Hills for the killers.

In nearby Quorn, trainee fire officer Kane Gates struggles to come to terms with his own family tragedy. And now he has to battle the sinister sorcerer Wilfred Waite, who is bent on corrupting his brother and unleashing hell on earth.

When the headstrong Arika Livingston appears in Quorn to investigate reports of a dragon attack, Kane finds himself with a valuable ally. But what is Arika’s real agenda? And what is her connection to Sam Morgan and the Dark farm?

The horrors lurking beneath the Dark farm will bring the feuding brothers together and begin a chain of events that will threaten not only Dylan, not only our planet, but existence itself.

How deep into a world of horror will Kane descend to protect his family from evil?

Dark Farm is a supernatural adventure, a thrilling rollercoaster ride into a universe of wizardry, magic, horror, gods, cosmic terror and a looming apocalypse, that has at its heart the fragile relationship between two brothers.

Dark Farm Book One in the epic series, Bringer of the Dark

In the far reaches of the universe, the primordial Kragn Z’garh Khrl’ur plots its long-awaited return to Earth. It has help from ancient cults, opposed for centuries by the might of a supernatural society, and now new and unlikely heroes are emerging to lead the final battle.

My Review

***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of the book. The following review consists of my honest opinions and reactions to the book.***

This book was a roller-coaster ride of family tragedy, wizards, zombies, and destructive gods. The pacing was often pretty intense despite the book being over 400 pages. I kept wanting to turn the page to see what would happen next. The plot was interesting and left me with a lot of questions and excitement about the next book. The story was ambitious and attempted to cover a lot of ground in one book, but, overall, I thought the author did a great job weaving the parts of the story together to create a gripping, cohesive narrative with fascinating world-building and engaging twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. That being said, parts of the story were repetitive at times, and I think there may have been a less circuitous way to reach the same outcome by streamlining the story some. I also would have liked to see the events of the first third of the book have more of a direct tie-in to the ending given how long was devoted to the family tragedy faced by the main characters at the beginning of the book.

I loved so many of the characters. The two brothers, Kane and Dylan, were both well-developed, and their backstory was explored in great depth. I enjoyed seeing their distinct personalities at play as they both coped with family tragedy in different ways. They also both experienced tremendous character growth throughout the story, which felt organic and true to the nature of each boy’s characteristics, as well as the situations in which they found themselves. The wizards in this story were also some of my favorite characters simply because they were so deliciously evil. I enjoyed every part of the story that had them in it because their perspectives were just so outrageously villainous. There weren’t any characters I didn’t like, but there were some secondary characters who had what should have been impactful moments, if only they had been utilized and developed more before that point.

The level of horror and grotesque imagery utilized in this book was superb. The author was able to help me create truly repugnant pictures in my head of the zombies and monsters, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I’ve seen elsewhere that the gods and monsters in this book are based on Lovecraft’s writing, but I did not need to read any of his work to understand or enjoy this story. It stands well on its own, and the reader learns about the gods, magic, and history of the world alongside the main characters at a steady pace as the book progresses.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. The characters and villains were fantastic, and the setting seems deep in lore, which is barely scratched by this first book. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I cannot wait to get my hands on future installments.

Book Review – The Lost Apothecary

Author: Sarah Penner

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Length: 320 pages

Read Date(s): May 7 ,2021 – May 9, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis

In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.


One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating exploration of women rebelling against a man’s world, the destructive force of revenge and the remarkable ways that women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

My Review

This book defied my expectations. I picked it out thinking it would be a dark book about murder and betrayal filled with suspense and intrigue. While those things were present to some degree, the book was so much more. It was first and foremost about how to pick yourself up after a devastating breach of trust and move forward without being held down by the past or consumed by a desire for revenge. It tackled a few other powerful themes (overcoming trauma, oppression of women in the past and present, uncovering the truth of oneself and disentangling that truth from societal expectations) and did so poignantly. The prose was easy to read and well-written, and I enjoyed the author’s style of writing, especially the ease with which she helped me enter the internal world of these characters and their struggles.

This book consisted of two parallel stories, one happening in the 1790s and the other in the present. I loved the story of the apothecary living in the 1790s. The two main characters of this part of the story, Nella and Eliza, were well-developed, and I enjoyed seeing their friendship blossom. They were definitely an unlikely pairing, but the differences between the characters and how those differences affected their interactions was a big part of what made their story endearing. The backstory of Nella and her journey throughout the book were sad, yet riveting, and kept me hooked on the story. The ending was not what I expected, but I loved it. I think one of my favorite quotes from the book sums up Nella’s story so well:

Healing by way of vengeance. But no such thing existed; it never had. Hurting others had only injured me further.

The story of Caroline set in the present day was also interesting, but I didn’t like it as much as I did the story of the apothecary. It seemed to drag at times, and I found myself questioning how easily she found information and solved different parts of the mystery. Despite these drawbacks, I thought the adventure itself was a great device for the self-exploration present in her story, and I enjoyed feeling like I was solving the mystery of the apothecary alongside Caroline. I also related to the self-exploration aspect of her story and the ease with which one can lose oneself in the rat race of life and the expectations that others place on us. The distinction this book made between being happy and being fulfilled, and how one can be one without the other, really made me stop and think about my own life.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction who also enjoys reading about transformative stories. The characters feel like real people and undergo a lot of growth throughout the book. People just looking for a book with lots of murder and darkness will probably be disappointed, but there is some of that here as well. I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good

Author: Timothy Zahn

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Length: 432 pages

Read Date(s): April 28, 2021 – April 30, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY!

I’m excited to review this book today. It feels like I waited an eternity for this next book in the Thrawn Ascendancy series to be released. I started reading it almost as soon as I picked it up on release day last Tuesday. Scroll below to see my spoiler-free thoughts on the book!

May the force be with you!

Goodreads Synopsis

Thrawn and his allies race to save the Chiss Ascendancy from an unseen enemy in the second book in the epic Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Thrawn’s latest triumph still rests newly on his shoulders. Despite leading the Chiss to victory and bringing glory to the House of Mitth, the true threat to the Ascendancy has not yet been extinguished. Their foes do not send threats or ultimatums, or mass ships on the edge of the Chaos. Their weapons come cloaked in smiles and generosity: Gifts offered freely. Services granted unconditionally.

Across the Ascendancy, seemingly inconsequential events could herald the doom of the Chiss. As Thrawn and the Expansionary Defense Fleet rally to uncover the enemy plot, they discover a chilling truth: rather than invade Chiss capitals or pillage their resources, they strike at the very foundation of the Ascendancy, seeking to widen the rifts between The Nine Ruling Families and the Forty Great Houses below. As rivalry and suspicion sow discord among allies, each warrior must decide what matters most to them: the security of their family, or the survival of the Ascendancy itself.

My Review

Thrawn is one of my favorite Star Wars characters. So, to say I was excited for this book doesn’t even begin to explain the anticipation I had for this release. I picked it up on release day before it even got to the shelf at Barnes and Noble; I took it off the cart holding the books being stocked that day. All in all, the book met my expectations and was a really great read.

There were so many things to like about this book. The writing style was engaging and kept me glued to the page. I enjoyed the overall story and the level of mystery surrounding the villains that slowly unfolded over the book. The tying together of seemingly disparate threads is something that Thrawn, and by proxy, Zahn, did so well here. I enjoyed seeing this take on destroying the enemy from the inside because I was never quite sure exactly what the plan was until it all unfolded. Then, in hindsight, it was perfectly obvious. My only complaint about the plot is that it seemed somewhat low stakes for the second book in a trilogy, especially with how the crisis in the book was resolved. I expected the ending to be much more dramatic than it turned out to be.

The characters were well-rounded and interesting. There were many returning faces from the first book in this series, including Admiral Ar’alani, Thurfian, and Thalias. Although, only Thalias had a large role to play throughout the story. Thurfian was more in the background until the very end of the book, and Admiral Ar’alani was largely sidelined. Even Thrawn was missing from a great deal of the story, which is one of the few things I didn’t like about the book. In their absence, though, several new characters were introduced. I especially enjoyed meeting Lakinda and seeing the major conflict of the book play out from her perspective. What is more important? The pride of one’s unit/family or the overall survival and success of the entire society and way of life. It is a compelling question, especially when set within the environment of the Chiss society.

There was so much information in this book about the Chiss Ascendancy and way of life. It expanded on the lore in big ways by showing how people outside of the military live. The book also provided more detail about the structure of Chiss power and the strengths and weaknesses of their social hierarchy. Being the Star Wars nerd I am, I loved getting all this new info and am continuing to geek out over it. The ending of the book also foreshadowed some future big reveals about the history of the Chiss and potential ties to events from the last Thrawn trilogy. Needless to say, I’m already biding my time until the last book in the series comes out next year!

Overall, this book was a fun read that provided an interesting mystery, new villains, and a ton of information about the Chiss society. I was somewhat annoyed that it sidelined some of my favorite characters and didn’t have the dramatic impact I expected from the second part of a trilogy. However, I also greatly enjoyed the new characters and information along with the teases for future stories. Therefore, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars. If you are a fan of Star Wars or Thrawn, I definitely recommend it.

Have you read Greater Good yet? What did you think?