Provided for Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Milly, Aubrey and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised…and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Many thanks to the author, Penguin Publishing, and to The Write Reads on Twitter for providing this book for review. Thank you!

You know what you did…

Those five words were the last each of the four Story children heard from their mother before disinheriting them. Those five words, written on a single sheet of paper, one for each child. Five little words and then nothing. Not for over 20 years.

The Cousins is the latest book by Karen M. McManus, author of the equally thrilling One of Us is Lying. Again we are met with secrets and lies. Of half truths and where what lies on the surface is on the beginning. And where even those who proclaim innocence aren’t as innocent as they might seem.

The Cousins is told from a variety of viewpoints. Not only are there chapters told from each cousin’s point of view, there are also several chapters from summer/fall of 1996 – just before the four Story children are disinherited. I will not say just who narrates those particuar chapters, just that their addition gives some very good insight as to why what happened did.

The main characters of The Cousins are the three cousins themselves; Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah. I found them all to be quite likeable. Each is a well rounded and well thought out character. Written in a believable manner where like almost every one else, they too have something to hide. Each one is a product of the background and upbringing and their actions through out the novel reflect that.

My only real complaint was while the main characters of the three cousins were well rounded, the same could not be said of the secondary characters. I honestly would have liked to have seen more of the original Story children as older adults along with the flashbacks that we see them in. The same can also said for the grandmother, I would have really liked to have seen more of her aside from the very brief glimpses we are given. While I understand that McManus could only include so much background before inundating us, I still would have liked to have had a least a little more.

In the end though, I enjoyed reading The Cousins. I found it to be a very entertaining read and had a good time trying to put the puzzle pieces together just as the cousins themselves were trying to do. Readers who have enjoyed McManus’ other books will enjoy this one and those who are new to her work should definitely give it a try. It was a fun read and I look forward to going back and reading more of her stuff.

Provided for Review: Under the Lesser Moon (The Marked Son #1) by Shelly Campbell

“Dragons once led our people across the wastelands, away from storms, and toward hunting grounds.”

That’s what the elders say, but Akrist has squinted at empty skies his whole life. The dragons have abandoned them, and it’s Akrist’s fault. He’s cursed. Like every other firstborn son, he has inherited the sins of his ancestors. In his camp, he’s the only eldest boy left. Something happened to the others. Something terrible.

When Akrist befriends Tanar, an eldest boy from another tribe, he discovers the awful truth: they’re being raised as sacrifices to appease the Goddess and win back her dragons. The ritual happens when the dual moons eclipse. Escape is the only option, but Akrist was never taught to hunt or survive the wastelands alone. Time is running out, and he has to do something before the moons touch. 

Thank you to Mythos & Ink Publishing for inviting me to this tour and for providing the book.

Trigger Warning: Physical, mental, and emotional abuse; Drug abuse; Sexual abuse; Violence towards an animal; Violence towards a child/children; Murder

Under a Lesser Moon is the first book of Shelly Campbell’s series The Marked Son. Set in a unique world that is part Stone Age and part fantasy, it follows young Akrist and the unique struggles he faces. As a first born son he is an outcast, looked down on by everyone in his clan, his only concern is to try and survive. When another clan joins his and Akrist meets another first born son like himself he learns a terrible truth – first born sons are raised only to be sacrificed when the two moons meet.

Dear reader, I won’t mince words – Under a Lesser Moon is a very dark book. The world that Akrist and his clan lives in is not a friendly one. Survival is a day to day struggle with the possibility of death at every turn.

As dragons are an important part of the story, some might compare Lesser Moon to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Unfortunately, this is not an apt comparison. A better comparison would be to compare Lesser Moon to Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series.

With Under the Lesser Moon, Campbell has created a new world that is both cruel and beautiful. The characters are well fleshed out and though some of them are not the nicest of people, their actions and ways of thinking are not out of place in the land they inhabit.

As much as I enjoyed reading Under the Lesser Moon, this is not a book I would recommend to everyone. There is a good deal of dark subject matter and there are some scenes that could be triggering. Older readers and readers that are familiar with Auel’s Cave Bear books will likely enjoy this new series. For every one else, proceed with caution but also dare to step out of your comfort zone.