Stacking the Shelves: 3/6/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!

Received for Review:

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
A maidservant with forbidden magic and a captive princess team up and presumably upset the balance of the whole world. I’ve been looking forward to a new book from Tasha Suri! Thanks to Orbit for the eARC!

Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews
New grimdark fantasy with an awesome cover. That’s really all I needed to know, but the synopsis did sounds pretty cool – a general, a mage, and seven deaths? I’m going to pick this up mostly blind – just thought it looked cool! Thanks to Solaris for the eARC.

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
Zimbabwean magic in Edinburgh, bewitched children, and an occult library made this an irresistible temptation! Thanks to Tor for the eARC.

Mastermind by Andrew Mayne
I honestly did not expect a return to the character of Theo Cray… but here we are and I’m so here for it! It looks like Theo will be teaming up with Jessica Blackwood (from another Andrew Mayne series???) for an adventure that seems to lean a little more supernatural than mundane. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for the eARC.

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and Dark-Elf by William Schlichter
This sounds completely amazing! Set during the Prohibition, a dwarf detective must investigate a string of murders and find the killer before he’s next. This is quite short, with only 220 pages and sounds like quite the adventure! Thanks to BHC Press for the eARC.

My Purchases:

My recent audio purchases are quite the varied lot. Obviously I couldn’t resist A Court of Silver Flames and I can’t wait to share my review – it’s going to be a fun one to write! I also picked up the YA scifi Aurora Rising and most recently The Alienist. 

Decided to treat myself to a few hobby-related (cooking and plants/botany) books. I am really enjoying The Drunken Botanist and find it an informative yet pleasurable to read book with lots of fun facts and even recipes. I haven’t really checked out The Flavor Equation or Plants that Kill yet, but will soon!

Dark Pattern by Andrew Mayne – Review

Cover- Dark Pattern

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Series: The Naturalist #4

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 318 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0


Dr. Theo Cray is on the hunt for a killer nurse, and redemption, in a mind-bending psychological thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Naturalist.

Dr. Theo Cray has a legendary mathematical knack for catching serial killers. Until his exposure to a mind-altering pathogen knocks him off his game. It has upended an investigation, destroyed his reputation, and left him to question his own sanity. One person still trusts him to finish the job. His former professor Amanda Paulson is helping point Cray down a logical path to his prey: a nomadic health-care worker whose murder spree stretches back decades and whose victims number in the hundreds.

Never more desperate to save innocent lives, and to save himself, Cray follows each new lead around the world. But with his own grip on reality slipping away, Cray knows that to follow the pattern of an elusive killer, he must also confront his own dark side. In those dangerous shadows, he can find what he’s hunting. For Cray, venturing into a world without reason is going to be the most frightening journey of his life.

Contains spoilers for Murder Theory and Dark Pattern – read at your own discretion!

Theo Cray is back again, just trying to live his life and hopefully not turn into a crazed murderer when his frontal lobe (or whatever) turns to swiss cheese. His version of normalcy lasted about twelve pages and then he was off on a search for a serial killer nurse. 

Theo really hasn’t changed drastically since the first book, though he’s gotten much more comfortable doing illegal things to get answers. He’s rash, cocky, and just doesn’t take no for an answer. He gives me secondhand stress and embarrassment due to his actions. It’s a little ridiculous to be honest but I just can’t stop reading these books!

Like I said, this time Theo is after a killer nurse but instead of doing all his research and being more low-key about things he makes himself look like an idiot and starts pointing fingers without a sufficient amount of research and evidence. He jets off to the Caribbean to investigate a lead, finds a body (he’s great at that), and basically gets kicked off the island. Theo’s somewhat erratic and by the end of the book I just thought, “this guy’s gone off the deep end”. I thought for sure he’d gone completely mad and was on the verge of a murderous rampage thanks to the contagion he may have been exposed to in Murder Theory, but then you this huge twist right at the end. Now I can’t wait to see if there will be further Theo Cray stories! 

If you want a twisted, stressful book with pseudo-science and serial killers definitely check out this series. It’s certainly not for everyone but it stands out and is nothing if not memorable. Theo isn’t the most likable of main characters, but dang, if you don’t end up feeling for him anyway. I will say, this is not the strongest book in the series – that title goes to The Naturalist and Looking Glass but each is unique.

Currently Reading: 1/27/20

Cover- The Guinevere Deception

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

I’ve been pretty hyped about this book since I came across it last year and it still took me a month to get to it once it was released! Better late than never!




Cover- Dark Pattern

Dark Pattern by Andrew Mayne

Ohhh boy. I needed some time to mentally recover from the last of the Theo Cray books so I didn’t immediately jump on this one upon release. I’m an hour or so into the audiobook and loving it thus far.

Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne – Review

Cover- Murder Theory

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Series: The Naturalist #3

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 318 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0


The desire to kill is becoming contagious in this riveting novel of conceivable mad science by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Naturalist.

Computational biologist and serial-killer hunter Dr. Theo Cray receives an off-the-record request from the FBI to investigate an inexplicable double homicide. It happened at the excavation site where a murderer had buried his victims’ remains. In custody is a forensic technician in shock, with no history of aggression. He doesn’t remember a thing. His colleagues don’t even recognize the man they thought they knew. But an MRI reveals something peculiar. And abnormal.

What on earth made him commit murder?

After discovering that a mysterious man has been stalking crime scenes and stealing forensic data, Cray has a radical and terrifying theory. Now he must race against time to find a darker version of himself: a scientist with an obsession in pathological behavior who uses his genius not to catch serial killers—but to create them.

The latest Theo Cray case is somewhat unlike the others. Theo is called up when a forensic tech working the Toy Man site goes missing and two others are found murdered. What seems like it should be obvious (a double murder) turns out to be far more complicated than anyone could have imagined and leads Theo on a search across the country. Could someone possible create a pathogen that could turn someone into a murderer? 

This book had such a wild premise and is veering further into the pseudo scientific realm than previous books have. It’s fiction, so that’s totally fine and it does bring up some interesting ideas, but I liked it a little more when it wasn’t as sci-fi. I mean, for a second I thought we were going to veer into the territory of fungal zombification and stay there. I will say, that this change did keep things fresh and for the most part, unpredictable so the series has managed to avoid becoming repetitive. 

I still can’t get enough of this series and Theo’s abrasive personality, willingness to flout the law to solve crimes, and the escalation. It just gets so crazy and stressful by the end of the book and this particular conclusion left the read with heavy implications of what may come next. Obviously I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment later this month just to see what happens and if there will be a fifth book.

Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne – Review

Cover- Looking Glass

Published: March 13, 2018

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Series: The Naturalist #2

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 316 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0


Professor Theo Cray caught one of the most prolific serial killers in history using revolutionary scientific methods. Cut off from university research because of the shroud of suspicion around him after the death of his former student and the aftermath of catching his quarry, Cray tries to rebuild his life but finds himself drawn into another unsolved case.

The desperate father of a missing child, ignored by the authorities and abandoned by his community, turns to Theo for help. The only clues are children’s drawings and an inner-city urban legend about someone called the Toy Man.

To unravel the mystery behind the Toy Man, Theo must set aside his scientific preconceptions and embrace a world where dreams and nightmares carry just as much weight as reality. As he becomes immersed in the case, he discovers a far-reaching conspiracy—one that hasn’t yet claimed its last victim.

Theo Cray is back at it again. After his narrow escape from the serial killer Joe Vick in the previous book, Theo takes on some slightly less dangerous work with the government, though that is quickly derailed. Theo is contacted by the father of a boy who went missing years prior, and though he accepts that his son is probably dead, he hopes Theo can track down the person that took his son. The only thing there is to go on is an urban legend of someone called the Toy Man.

Though initially reluctant, Theo quickly gets sucked back into hunting another killer with little regard to his own safety. He takes so many risks and it totally stresses me out yet I cannot put these books down once I start them! The books aren’t very long – audiobooks run around 8 hours and I think the print editions are right around 300 pages a piece – so if I chose to do print over audio I could easily finish one of these books in a day. That being said, the audio format of these books are great. I love the narration and it really adds to the tension of the story and helps bring Theo’s inner thoughts to life. 

I enjoyed Looking Glass slightly more than I did The Naturalist which I think was largely due to the fact that we now know Theo Cray and what he’s capable of. He’s a brilliant (ridiculously brilliant) computational biologist and he uses semi-legal (sometimes illegal) methods to get his information. He’s had his introduction already and the reader has a vague idea of what to expect from him in terms of how he handles cases. The great thing is that yeah, he’s kind of a Mary Sue with his brilliance but he DOES mess things up and he gets himself into some pretty bad situations.  Theo Cray is by no means entirely perfect and he struggles with his own inner demons – he too loves the thrill of the hunt, he just hunts the killers. 

This book was epic and the author added the same high-stakes tension that he pulled off so well in the first book.  I enjoyed this so much that I’ve already listened to the third audiobook as I type this review and am eagerly awaiting the fourth book, Dark Pattern, which will be released October 15, 2019.

Currently Reading: 9/2/19

Cover- The Harp of Kings

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Oh my gosh – first Juliet Marillier book!!! I’ve really been looking forward to reading this and decided it would be the perfect thing to take with me over the holiday weekend. Where I could, of course, not actually have time to read it so now I’m reading it this week.

Cover- Murder Theory

Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne

Now that I’ve finished up Dark Age, I can move on to the next Theo Cray book. Because I like books that stress me out apparently. This series is completely addictive because you just never know what Theo will do next, but it will definitely sound like a terrible idea.

Stacking the Shelves: 8/17/19

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Received for Review:


Many thanks to Tor for sending over Kingmaker by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes, Death Goddess Dance by Levi Black, and Earth by Ben Bova. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ll be reading any of these since two are series I’m not up-to-date on and Earth is not one I’m particularly interested in. These will be donations that I’m sure will make someone else extremely happy!

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

I’ve been enjoying the Great Library series and have been looking forward to this newest installment. Many thanks to Berkley for the finished copy.

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Finally, I’m getting around to a Juliet Marillier book!! I’ve had one of her books on my shelf for ages and another on my TBR but I never seemed to have the time to read them. Now I’ve got a brand spanky new release so I’ve got no excuse! Thanks to Ace for the finished copy.


Orbit sent over some really cool new releases recently as well!

Jade War by Fonda Lee

More gang wars, more politics, more drama. The first book in this series was pretty cool and this one has great reviews thus far!

Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri

This is an interesting sequel – it doesn’t focus on the main character of Empire of Sand, but rather her younger sister who is now an adult. I’m curious to see if the two books will kind of come together or something.

Raging Storm by Markus Heitz

DWARVES! This book sounds really cool, but it’s the fourth book in a series that I’ve never read so I’ll probably donate this one as well (it was sent to me by mistake).

Cover- Turning Darkness to Light

Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan

I REALLY liked the Memoirs of Lady Trent series and this is going to be about her granddaughter! The synopsis has buzzy words like conspiracy, rebellion, and war, so honestly I just couldn’t resist. Many thanks to Tor for the eARC.

My Purchases:

I picked up some great audiobooks in the last month and it’s been hard to get my regular reading done. Looking Glass was a tense read and I could’t help but to pick up Murder Theory shortly after. I ended up getting Beneath the Twisted Trees on audio because I’ve enjoyed the previous books in that format and it helps my schedule out tremendously. And one of the most exiting – DARK AGE! Dang, I feel like I’ve been waiting on this book forever and I was almost nervous to pick it up for fear that I wouldn’t be into it… I was wrong. It’s SO HARD TO PUT DOWN!

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne – Review

Cover- The Naturalist

Published: October 1, 2017

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Series: The Naturalist #1

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 380 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0


Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.

As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue… or Theo himself. Racing to stay one step ahead of the police, Theo must use his scientific acumen to uncover the killer. Will he be able to become as cunning as the predator he hunts—before he becomes its prey?

I SPENT SO LONG GOING “GET A LAWYER IDIOT AND STOP TALKING” throughout the entire book and the whole thing was rather harrowing and I just couldn’t stop listening, so that was definitely a plus. This was also a delightful departure from my usual fantasy or scifi reads. I find it refreshing to stray into different genres from time to time and always enjoy these new finds.

Theo Cray is a computational biologist working on research in Montana, minding his own business when he gets pulled into a murder investigation as a prime suspect. A former student of his, one Juniper Parsons, was found dead in the woods and while Theo is initially suspected it turns out to have been an unfortunate bear attack. OR WAS IT? Theo has reason to believe that there’s actually a sadistic and clever serial killer in the area who’s been active for decades and he’s determined to prove that Juniper’s death was not the work of a killer grizzly.

This was an intense story and man, Theo Cray stressed me out. He was CONSTANTLY on the brink of getting himself arrested or looking like a lunatic in front of important people. Heck, I thought he was crazy for a while myself. Theo and even the side characters were really well written. Everything about them was plausible, from motive to character flaws to dialogue.

Like I said, this was a thrilling read and I liked the characters and the overall mystery quite a lot. I plan on continuing on with the series this year though perhaps not quite immediately. I admit, I was almost expecting a supernatural element to this book because the synopsis made it sound as if the murderer could have been a not entirely human monster. Rest assured it was not supernatural, just a good old fashioned murder thriller.

Currently Reading: 3/4/19

Cover- The Naturalist

The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

This book series came highly recommended from some fellow bloggers so I decided to check out the first book. It sounds like an excellent blend of science, suspense, and mystery. This should be a prime way to break up all the fantasy I’ve been reading lately.




Cover- Kellanved's Reach

Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont

I love the Malazan world and as it happens, the Path to Ascendancy trilogy has been my absolutely favorite of ICE’s contributions thus far. It looks like this was released in late February in the UK, but the US release date was pushed back until April which was rather annoying to many US readers. I think most people ended up ordering from Book Depository based on all the social media posts I’ve seen!