Month: February 2022

Book Review: The Devil Pulls the Strings by J.W. Zarek

My main thought after finishing “The Devil Pulls the Strings” was….”That was a lot of FUN!” This is definitely an enjoyable read, has a little of everything…action, excitement, secret societies, fantasy, mythology, magical realism, romance. I enjoyed every moment of this story!

First of all, main character Boone Daniels is great. He is instantly likeable, and I found myself rooting for him from the very beginning of the book. What I found interesting was that the author found a way to get me very invested in Boone, and feeling like I knew him, even though fairly minimal time was spent on his backstory. Perhaps Mr. Zarek is a member of a secret society, and has magical powers of his own? This would not surprise me.

However, virtually everything else surprised me! This book provides non-stop action and plenty of unexpected characters, events, and reveals. Something new was always happening, and I was always discovering the next new idea right along with the characters.

I particularly enjoyed the way the writing style changed based on the scene. Some parts were written traditionally, but this alternated with a more staccato style that gave a sense of urgency to more intense scenes. I also appreciated the updated take on the Baba Yaga legend. I very much look forward to seeing what’s next for Boone and company in the next installment!

So. Much. Fun!

P.S. I will never think about hailing a cab the same way again!

P.P.S. I’d be happy to beta read the next book if the author wishes to contact me through this site.


Book Review: The Girl Who Could Breathe Underwater by Erin Bartels

I was initially drawn to this book because it is about an author who is having trouble writing her next book after the success of her first. I enjoyed that aspect of the story….one cause of writer’s block, the author’s attempts to move past it, and how she eventually found her voice again. However, there is SO MUCH more to the story.

I loved the way the author deftly interwove Kendra’s present-day story (writer’s block, revisiting her childhood retreat, working with her German translator) with the story of her childhood past in a lakefront cabin in Michigan. Both stories are beautifully told, and I awaited new developments in both timelines with equal anticipation.

There is so much attention to detail, both in plot and description, that I felt like I could actually see the world through Kendra’s eyes. Kendra herself is a likeable main character, and I appreciated the way the worked through her past with honesty and an open mind. I found myself truly invested in the outcome of her stories, and was pleased with the endings of both timelines.

One note: This story deals with sexual abuse. Nothing is graphic or gratuitous, and I felt that the topic was handled with sensitivity and integrity. However, if this is a trigger subject for you, please be advised that it is part of the story.

Definitely five out of five slices of perfect Provolone!