Browsing Category

Book Review

Book Review Review

BOOK REVIEW: The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Published by Zando on September 13 2022
Genres: Thriller
Format/Pages: Hardcover, 256 pages
Available Formats: Hardcover, Audio, Ebook
Buy on Amazon
Warnings: Details in dead bodies/autopsies, Death/Murder

Rating: 2 out of 5.


A thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads.

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.


When I first heard Alaina from Morbid, I had immediately preordered it. I mean, she is an autopsy technician who wrote a murder mystery book?! Sign me up!

However, after months of waiting and my excitement grew, I was disappointed with the read.

The best way I can think of to describe these characters are that they were very stereotypical and exaggerated. There was a lot of potential for deep character development, but the characters are very flat with nothing to really connect or emphasize with.

Even for the characters that I thought I had some sense of their motives, some of the ways they were introduced were vastly different than just a page later. For example, one of the victims near the end went from being super ditsy and drunk in a bar to someone who knew what amalgamation means.

“You’d be surprised how many secrets the dead have told me.”

– Alaina Urquhart, The Butcher and the Wren

Most of the dialogue did not feel natural or like what someone would actually say:

“I really am sorry about the cream. I know you hate it when I leave the empty container in the fridge like an asshole,” Leroux asked sheepishly.

While I like dialogue that helps move the plot along, I think it is extremely overdone to the point where it was a bit distracting.

“What book was that? I’m looking for some good mindless reading.” said to a book that randomly fell out of a messenger bag. I get that the character was trying to make awkward small talk, but seriously?

On that topic, there were so many scenes where action was laking, notably in regards to where someone is location wise. I found myself asking, “hold on, when did that happen??” so often I lost count.

One page he would be watching from some monitors watching their conversation, the page flips and suddenly he is hiding in the bushes right next to them. I reread that page about 10 times trying to find when he moved, but it was never explained.

“But now Cal’s crooked smile haunts her once more”

– Alaina Urquhart, The Butcher and the Wren

Now, this book is not all negatives. The basic plot was intriguing and kept me reading – the twist surprised me (to be fair I’m always surprised).

I thought the dual perspective was an interesting addition. Although I think it could have been portrayed better I liked the contrast between the two storylines.


Characters: 3
Setting: 2
Writing: 1
Plot: 3
Enjoyment: 2


Overall, I wanted to love this book but I was quite disappointed. If you are wanting to read it, I would say read it, but if you have no prior want, I don’t think you’re missing anything.

Book Review Review

BOOK REVIEW: Nightbooks by J. A. White

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Series: Nightbooks #1
Published by: Katherine Tegan on July 24th 2018
Genres: Horror, Fiction, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: Library
Format/Pages: Hardcover; 320 pages
Available Formats: Physical, Audio, Ebook
Buy on Amazon 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


“A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.

Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.”


I’m not going to lie, the cover of this book is what originally drew me to it. The summary is what made me need to borrow it from the library right then and there. Magic, witches, scary stories, fairytales, what more could you even ask for? And let me say, I was NOT disappointed.

Overall, I loved the characters. I think just about anyone who picks this book up can find a bit of themselves in Alex. He is curious, constantly asking “what if? and is excited by stories (especially the scary ones). Even when he is kidnapped by the witch, he is amazed and intrigued with everything happening. Definitely see myself here!

“‘The other kids,’ Alex said, twisting his nightbook in his hands. ‘They play with dogs. I play with what ifs‘”

– J. A. White, Nightbooks

Nightbooks reads very much like a middle grade novel or a collection of scary stories to read around a campfire, which I love. The inclusion of the stories in a handwritten font added to this feeling. Additionally, I found that showing the notes from Unicorn Girl to add much to the story more than just telling what she said. Personally, if it did not include these details, I don’t think the book would have had the same impact to me.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Although I’m not the biggest fan of clichés (they get old fast), this book does it well. J.A. White almost overdoes it to add to the story, not as the whole substance of the book.

I think I would have adored this book if I read it in middle school. It deals with friendship, companionship, and courage as well as the struggles with creating things.

“If scary stories are the sweet dreams that lull her to sleep, then courage, friendship, compassion – those are the nightmares that will wake her up.”

– J. A. White, Nightbooks

Alex is tasked with writing stories during the day, but he had major writer’s block. Writing advice (that beginners and experts alike can learn) is sprinkled throughout. These bits can also be applied to anything where you are creative as it deals more with the obstacles and self doubt that stops you.


Characters: 4.5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Enjoyment: 4/5

“Every sentence is a learning experience – no writing is ever wasted.”

– J. A. White, Nightbooks


I would recommend this book to creators and people who love stories. And those who enjoyed Coraline… it has the same vibes!

%d bloggers like this: