A Note About Mini-Reviews
I’ve never done mini-reviews before, so I hope this goes well. First, if you are interested in my reviews of the Three Dark Crown Series, see the following links: Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Throne, Two Dark Reigns, and Five Dark Fates. Additionally, here is the link to my interview with Kendare Blake, posted yesterday.
No pressure, having Kendare Blake’s All These Bodies and the soon-to-be-released Champion of Fate (Heromaker #1) as my first mini-reviews. I will provide the summary of each per normal. However, the mini-reviews will just be that- mini. I won’t break it down as much as other reviews. They will both be spoiler free. However, since Champion of Fate (Heromaker #1) is the first book in Kendare Blake’s new series and doesn’t release till September, I thought this was the best way to go. Hopefully, there will be more of these types of mini-reviews in the future. But for now, it is my first! 😊
All These Bodies By Kendare Blake- Summary
Goodreads Summary: Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.
Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained but with no blood anywhere.
September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first, she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.
Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap or that he would be pulled into the investigation when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.
As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?
All These Bodies By Kendare Blake- Review
This is that story, her story. Taken down in the pages that follow. When we found her that night, in the middle of all those bodies, I didn’t know who she was. I thought she was a victim. Then I thought she was a monster. I thought her innocent. I thoguht her guilty.By the time she was finished it would change the way I thought, not just about her but the truth. Tell the truth and shame the devil. I always thought that would be easy. But what happens when the truth you are faced with, also happens to be impossible?
At the time of All These Bodies release, I was provided an ARC. However, I have since bought it and the audiobook.
There is so much I want to say, no, yell about All These Bodies. But I promised a mini-review, so I will keep it as brief as possible. First, I know I’m a fan of Kendare Blake. If you are reading this, I imagine you know about Queen Mirabella (my queen, picture below) and my love for the Three Dark Crowns (see reviews above). Having said all that, I am screaming that All These Bodies is one of the most underrated books on Goodreads (a link to the Goodreads page is provided, with the summary). It runs a pretty close neck and neck with Three Dark Crowns. This is surprising for three reasons.
- Well… My Queen Mirabella.
- This is out of Kendare Blake’s lane.
- As a matter of my sanity, I had broken up with the thriller genre in the young adult category (not adult- I’m trash for adult thrillers).
- I decided to read All These Bodies right before driving from Colorado Springs to St. Louis. This was not a good idea. When you read it, not if, you will find out why. 😉
MY Queen Mirabella. Well, if I’m being honest, I belong to her. I am a mere peasant in Her Majesty’s Royal Court.
The fact remains that this book got me. Surprisingly, there are some connections between All These Bodies, Three Dark Crowns, and Champion of Fate. For one, Kendare Blake loves to murder everything. It is a bloody wreck, and I’m here for it. There isn’t any holding back. Whether she is talking about bees or writing about people? If you can’t handle the blood? Get out of the book.
No, I am not repeating the same quote- it differs from another part of the book.
Tell the truth and shame the devil. When I started that seemed like an easy thing… Find out what really happened, because the truth is the truth. Except it isn’t, is it? Facts, maybe. But the truth is our own. It’s tied up with belief. And belief is harder to hold down.
This is Catherine Hale’s story. It isn’t that easy, though; that is where Kendare Blake’s writing shines. She gives you all the information and all the facts. At the beginning of the book, she even tells you Catherine Hale’s fate. But the rest is up to the reader to decide. Is Catherine a victim? Murderess? Liar? Delusional? Psychopath? The reader has choices to make on what to believe. Blake spins Catherine and her story in a way that will keep you between empathy, fear, and always unease. Yet, even when you think you might have figured out your lens of the story? One last bomb explodes to blow your carefully pieced puzzle apart.
One last note. One of the significant issues readers had with All These Bodies was that it wasn’t written from Catherine’s point of view. This makes perfect sense to me. I suppose there is an option to tell it from both Michael’s and Catherine’s points of view. That was just the choice made.
However, to say it should have been written strictly from Catherine’s point of view wouldn’t have worked. Catherine has one setting and one point of view from prison. By writing it from Michael’s point of view, you can get a lens into the town and the numerous supporting characters. Readers get to see what is happening, all the pieces of chess that are moving around Catherine, in the town, nationally, and through the media. Doing this through Michael’s eyes makes sense because he becomes the one closest to Catherine. This allows for it all to string together.
Ok. Hope, as a mini-review (agree or not), that worked. If you don’t like All These Bodies?
Ok. I’m kidding. Kind of. 😉
<Drum Roll, Please>
Champion Of Fate (Heromaker #1) By Kendare Blake- Summary
Thank you to HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books for the Arc of Champion of Fate, which releases September 19th.
Goodreads Summary: Behind every great hero is an Aristene. Aristene are mythical female warriors, part of a legendary order. Though heroes might be immortalized in stories, it’s the Aristene who guides them to victory. They are the Heromakers.
Ever since she was an orphan taken in by the order, Reed has wanted to be an Aristene. Now, as an initiate, just one challenge stands in her way: she must shepherd her first hero to glory on the battlefield. Succeed, and Reed will take her place beside her sisters. Fail, and she’ll be cast from the only home she’s ever known.
Nothing is going to stop Reed–until she meets her hero. Hestion is fiery and infuriating, but what begins as an alliance becomes more, and as secrets of the order come to light, Reed begins to understand what becoming an Aristene may truly cost. Battle looming, she must choose the order and the life she had planned or Hestion and the one she never expected.
Champion of Fate (Heromaker #1) By Kendare Blake- Review
Are you excited? If you are? Get more excited. If you aren’t? Get the hell excited because Champion of Fate (Heromaker #1) will have you begging for more.
Let me get this out of the way. If you like slow-burn, well-grounded romance? You will love Reed and Hestion. As most know, I’m not the romance person in the room. But it was slow enough not to make me skip parts, yet I believe strong enough to grab lovers of the friends (maybe frenemies) to lovers’ path.
Reed smiled at her mentor’s teasing. How many times had she heard the caution? Over your immortal years you will love many heroes. But be on guard against the first one.
Now, let’s talk about Reed because, OH MY GOD, how I loved this strong female character. Her journey is about destiny versus making your own path, which I love. See my rambling, drooling review of There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool for another example (destiny vs. free will). Also, she completely reminds me of the bad-ass Araya Stark. She has a sense of duty that often pulls her in polar directions. However, she stands firm in the face of loss, heartbreak, and bleakness. She shows strength, but that isn’t to say she isn’t vulnerable. It takes her time, but she gets there and then finds strength in her vulnerability. <- Was that convoluted? Maybe a little.
I asked Kendare Blake about this in my interview, linked above.
The Aristene Order is well-crafted and original. This magical order of females has all the fierceness of the Valkerie while not taking sides. They are ordered to make a pre-ordained person a hero. Sometimes, it pits members of the order against each other. Doesn’t matter. Once they know who their person is, they are forever connected to them, and if they succeed? They immediately depart. I should note here that most of the main cast is female, and each has a story to tell. The diversity in their beliefs and what they choose is extraordinary.
So much of the order, so much of glory, was blood.
Within Reed’s journey, there is a time jump very early in Champion of Fate. This is a brilliant move. The training and trial pieces of Reed’s journey with the Aristene still come through. But it doesn’t get bogged down in that piece and the usual tropes that come throughout that period. Furthermore, utilizing this time jump keeps it from feeling like an actual first book. The pace doesn’t stop. Plenty of background is given. You don’t lack that information because of the jump. However, it enables Blake to keep the action throughout the training, trials, and battles relentless.
There is so much more in Champion of Fate, but again, I promised a mini-review. Plus, it isn’t out till September. So, I’m going to stop here. But please, please make sure this is on your fall TBR.
Ok, how did my mini-reviews go? What could I do better? What did I do well with? Have you read Champion of Fate or All These Bodies? If not, are you planning to read them? Let me know all your thoughts!