Sunday, September 27, 2020

Nancy Warren: The Vampire Knitting Club

In the first in a series Nancy Warren takes readers to Oxford where a knitting shop seems to be the hub for paranormal activity in town:

Lucy Swift travels to Oxford to escape from another bad relationship and just feeling like she has no direction and purpose in life but she know that her Gran will make her feel better and set her on the right path. Lucy is shocked to discover that her Gran is deceased and has been for three week, but Lucy is sure that she just saw her down the street. Lucy discovers that she is her Gran's sole heir to her shop Cardinal Woolsey's a knitting shop and that should keep her busy as she tries to process everything that happens. But it turns out her Gran just cannot stay away. Gran is very much alive, well Undead, a Vampire and the Vampires of Oxford have been using Cardinal Woolsey's as their knitting circle meet up. From Gran Lucy finds that she she did not die peacefully but cannot remember what happened only that her dying was not an accident. Lucy is determined to find out what occurred and she's about to discovery more about herself in the process.

I know this is not my usual read, but for the sake of Halloween Bingo I read one of these cozy mystery books a year and they quite fun and a nice change from what I usually read. I can sum this book up as a pretty cute read with a side of murder that occur. I also think that you can tell from the cover that the vampires within this book are not the scary blood sucking type. Actually you find out pretty early on they have a side hustle to get their blood supply and really a vampire knitting club, I guess who doesn’t have more time than the vampire to learn how to perfect the art of knitting. What I liked that Warren did though was not all the members of the club were old (when they were turned) and female, there were a few men in there as well. Additionally, I think that Warren did a good job in trying to throw as many suspects or red herrings as she could as to who the killer actually was, I did find myself changing my mind a few times, but was able to figure it out. Nevertheless, Warren does a good job with the mystery aspect.

I liked that there wasn’t any romance in this book. I mean it is hinted at that there may be a triangle in the future but this was much more about Lucy trying to adjust to her Gran’s “death” and trying to find out who did it. So minimal relationship and romance which is strange for a cozy mystery but appreciate it.

Warren does try to do a lot in this book, so a few things are missed along the way in regards to background as to some of the characters and not really fleshing out the main ones there. If I were to read farther in this series (there is always next year's BINGO) I would want a bit more substance to the characters.

So this is an easy read, that is cutesy as you have vampires who spend their undead years perfecting their knitting skills. So if you’re looking for a cozy Halloween read this one is for you.


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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Megan Goldin: The Night Swim

Megan Goldin's main character Rachel Krall takes the readers to the courtroom of a rape case, where she is about to discover there is also a murder within their midst:

Rachel Krall has created a successful podcast, Guilty or Not Guilty, in which she reopens cases to find new evidence to find a new suspect or to free an innocent person. When she able to free an innocent man in her first season there is an outpouring of people wanting her to take on their case, it can be disheartening to have so many people needing help, but she is now on season three and making her way to her new case. However, one note left on her windshield as she was heading to the place for her next podcast gets her attention. Her name is Hannah and she is sure her sister was murdered 25 years ago, and the murderer will be in the courtroom rape trial that Rachel is attending. Rachel as first does not take Hannah's case but with more notes and information emerges Rachel finds herself investigating and finds out that Jenny Stills tragically drowned in a swimming accident. But things are not adding up the more she looks and the rape case Rachel is creating her podcast for has polarized a town. The questions remains will there be justice for all the victims? 

Wow, I truly enjoyed this book, I did not want to put it down. I think that Goldin does a great job of creating the two story lines that are equally interesting and one does not take away from the other. This may be as book really is part mystery and part courtroom drama, as each day Rachel sits in on the rape case so she can create her podcast. The other interesting thing is that Hannah believes that her sister's killer will be in the courtroom as well, so that has to Rachel analyzing everyone who is there as well from Judge to jury. This creates two interesting plot bu also intersect the crimes that are 25 years apart, which is not only creative but a really smart idea.

I'm a sucker for a book that takes place in a small town as there are always secrets and typically the socioeconomic divide that occurs in this towns. And both are well on display within this book, both the rape case and Rachel's investigation into Hannah's sister's death, there may be 20 years between them, but some things never change. I will applaud Rachel when she does her podcast that she tries to stay neutral on all fronts of the trial that she is covering, as the town of Neapolis shows, there is nothing more polarizing it seems than a rape case (well maybe mask wearing).

When I started reading this book, I realized that it would be a perfect audio book listen because of the different point of views as well as the podcast that Rachel creates. The chapters tend to alter from Rachel to Hannah to Rachel's podcast, so the story is well rounded with the information that the reader is receiving. So if you are able to, I would recommend to read this one through an audio book format, you will not be disappointed with it.

I love a surprise and I will say that I did not see the twist or who the killer is coming, so that always gets an extra point from. Make sure you have nothing planned when you start this book you're going to want to read it in one sitting. I know I'm going to be checking out Goldin's other books.

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Nicholas Sansbury Smith: Allegiance

This is the sixth book in Nicholas Sanasbury Smith's Hell Divers series, and in order to understand this world you are going to need to read the previous books, there is no picking up this series part way through; Hell Divers, Ghosts, Deliverance, Wolves and Captives. Also this series is Amazing and I cannot recommend it enough.

Nicholas Sansbury Smith takes readers back to last habitual place on Earth, but the search for other survivors has only just begum:

The War for the Metal Islands is over after a long bloody battle, Xavier Rodriguez is the new King of the Island and his goal is to merge the Sky people with the Cazadores but this is easier said than done, their culture are very different and not all of the Cazadores are happy with the new ruler. X needs to keep a sharp eye on his back or there could very well be a spear in it. X has also given the Hell Divers a new mission to locate and rescue any other survivors that might be out there. While their cause may be a noble on, gruesome discovery shows that they are not the only one searching for survivors. In a race against time, X must secure his place as King and the Hell Divers have to try and find those who need their help before others got to them first.

Six books into this series and Sansbury Smith still is able to have me on the edge of my seat the whole time. This book has a lot of action scenes within it, but I also found the political sides really interesting as the Sky people and X try to navigate through their new situation and fortunes. From start to finish Sansbury Smith has your attention and does not let go, as this book will have you reading way past your bedtime. Honestly six books in and he is still able to achieve this is amazing.

As you can tell from the cover part of this book takes place in Rio de Janeiro but there are a few story lines that occur throughout the book. Additionally each story line has several different character point of view which really rounds out each story. This may seem like a lot of points of view but we are now six books in to this series and while there have been some deaths along the way (some of them major, yes that includes this book too) we know the characters that have points of view in this book. The main three story lines exist in the air, on the metal island and on the ocean, they do cross over at times, but they are the main themes and missions throughout.

Just when I think that Sansbury Smith has piqued with his creativity he surprises me again, from skin wearing robots to two headed snakes, there is never a dull moment within this book or series for that manner. You do not know what he is going to pull out next or what new Hell creature is going to rear its Ugly head.

I like how Human Sansbury Smith makes X within this book. He is called the immortal for his trek across the wasteland that is Earth and defeating the previous King, but X struggles with many aspects of being a King and the decisions that need to be made. He truly wants to do what is best for the Sky people and Cazadores but does not know how to do this.

This is one of my favourite series out there and with each book that comes out Sansbury Smith keeps me not only entertained and invested in the characters but on the edge of my seat the whole time I'm reading. Not many authors can say that they do that six books in. I can't wait for the next book to come out.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Lucy Foley: The Hunting Party

Lucy Foley takes readers to a remote mountain stay, where friends gather but one of them is about to be murdered:

During the Christmas/New Year break a group of friends from Oxford takes a break to an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands, an old hunting lodge that has been converted into a luxury stay. The only people on grounds this time of year are the manager and the game keeper, both who has secrets and something they are running from. On December 30 a huge blizzard hits the lodge stopping all in and out travel, the guest and workers are snowed in and may be for some time, however, they have been assured they have enough food in order to wait till the storm passes. Two days later, on New Years day, one of them is dead. There is a murderer amoung those who are at the lodge, and all of them seemingly have a reason to commit such an act.

This book does a lot of things right but I think where Foley really excelled in the format that she chose to write this book in. There are multiple points of views, not just the guest but the manager and games keeper as well. This offers a well rounded story, most of the characters backstories as well as their feelings about the others. There is not just one opinion of a person but many. This helps the reader feel as if they are part of the group staying at the lodge and start to form their own opinions about the characters.

I felt that Foley was able to keep the suspense throughout the book, as you know a murder is going to occur as this is how the book starts out but you don't know who is going to be murdered or who the murderer so it is a fun ride to see how these events play out. The multiple points of views keeps you guessing about who will be murdered and who the murderer is likely to be and you will probably change your mind a few points along the way.

This book really explores how much people change over time and how some people want nothing to change while others just want to move on and love the person that they have become. Sometimes it is hard to keep those friends you have had forever as people take different life paths, no matter how hard you try to hold on to them. This is probably the most common theme throughout the book.

This is the first book I have read by Foley and I really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading another one of her novels.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Marie Lu: Warcross

In the first book in the a series Marie Lu takes readers to a world where everyone lives for an online game called WarCross:

WarCross entered the internet gaming scene ten years ago and now it is not just a game it is a way of life for most people. Everyone logs into the game several times a day or never really leaves the game at all. Emika Chen is working as a bounty hunter to make mends meet but the bounty hunting business is a competative one. Emika is also a computer hacker and she has figured out how to steal some of the most sought after weapons in the games. Emika dares to hack into the WarCross Championships and she succeeds but also accidentally glitches herself into the game. Convinced she is going to be arrested or kicked off of WarCross for life, she is confused when the creator of the Game Hideo Tanaka wants to meet her and ends up offering her a PI job as well. Her task is to uncover the security problem and threat to the Championships and to stop it at all cost, but Emika investigations uncovers an even more sinister plot that could change the world as she knows it.

This is the first book that I have read by Marie Lu and really only the second book that I have read that was really video game/online world based. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I thought that Lu did a good job of setting up the world, characters and the whole world's love aka obsession with WarCross. Once again it is a video game that is more than just a game, it is a way of life for everyone. Even Emika does most of her PI work through War Cross and has a very unique ability to track people using it.

Emika is a fun character, though her age shines through many of the decisions she makes and her ability to be distracted by Hideo. However, I like her intelligence and her ability to think outside the box even within the realm of War Cross. This is probably her greatest asset that she has, she totally see the world differently than other. She also has an amazing ability to process a large amount of information in a short amount of time, also a great quality of a PI who mainly uses computer information.

This book is an interesting mix of many of the popular YA novels out there and takes elements from each. You will find yourself thinking as you read, oh that is very similar to this book and oh I like how she adapted that element to fit here. I do not mean any of this in a negative way, just Lu has found a way to emerge several of the ideas and plots of these books into one place.

The one aspect that I thought took away from the overall interesting story was the relationship between Emika and Hideo. I questions if Lu really needed it in there in order for Emika to complete her job as a PI for Hideo. Truly it served as more of a distraction than anything else, maybe that was deliberate, but I wish that Emika spent more time doing her job or preparing for the games than getting to know Hideo better.

I enjoyed my venture into Warcross especially some of the twists that Lu threw in along the way (though I did see most of them coming), and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Kelley Armstrong: Watcher in the Woods

This is the fourth book in Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, so to completely appreciate, the characters, plot and the town of Rockton, you need to read the previous three books: City of the Lost, A Darkness Absolute and This Fallen Prey. 

Kelley Armstrong is back with another Rockton book and this time is seems like Rockton's secret may be out:

The town of Rockton is supposed to be a secret, but there are things that need to be done to protect the residence. This means Casey approaching her own estranged sister to help one of their residences that was injured badly in a gun fight, but bringing her there has to be a secret, as that is how Rockton survives. However, word seems to have gotten out about Rockton, when a US Marshal shows up demanding one of the residences. Casey and Dalton have to figure out no only who he is after, stop him from taking them but how the Hell did he find out where Rockton was located. Nothing is ever boring in a town full of not only victims but criminals too, many of whom will stop at nothing to make sure the US Marshal isn't after them.

I always have high hopes for this series and have enjoyed every book so far, but I will say that this is my least favourite book in the series. I found that the beginning was very exciting with the Marshal sniffing around town, and trying to figure out who he is there to take back south, but then the middle really slowed things down and then bang the ending was faced paced again. I guess for me I think that the middle just felt like a lot of filler and no substance. I wish a certain event had not taken place so quickly and there was more of a cat and mouse game to be played. When I have read other books in this series, I never wanted to put the book down. It was always I'll just read one more chapter one more page to see what happened next, where this book I was okay with putting it down.

I really liked the Marshal aspect within this book, I think it was really clever and why wouldn't some of the residence within Rockton have people coming to look for them. Some of them have committed horrible crimes. It was really interesting to see how the residence of Rockton reacted to the knowledge that there was a Marshal hunting one of them down. I know there are the main players within Rockton that we have readers have gotten to know from the previous book but you really don't know everyone, so it was nice to see some new residences show their faces. 

I will say that the addition of April, Casey's estranged sister, to the town and story was just brilliant by Armstrong. I'm so happy that she found a way to bring her to Rockton and to have her and Casey interact with each other, and man is there some comic relief in there. It also shines more of light on how Casey was brought up which does round her out more as a character.

So we're four books in and this is my least favourite of the bunch, however, does that mean this is a bad book? No, I just don't think it lived up to the previous three. I still love this series and characters and totally recommend this series to people, all the time. So I'm totally looking forward to book number 5.

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Deborah Wilde: Blood & Ash

In the first in a new series, Deborah Wilde introduces readers to Ashire Cohen, Human, Private Investigator and all around bad-ass:

Ashire Cohen has made a name for herself as a human private investigator in Vancouver and with the skill she has acquired over the years, she should be able to find a missing teenager. What she was not planning on was the mother lying to Ash about her abilities and ending up getting hit in the head, which revealed and disfigured a tattoo that she had on her head. A tattoo that Ash knew nothing about. The tattoo was preventing Ash's true powers from surfacing and she seems to be the only one who is able to see a deadly ghostly creature. So not only does she have to contend with new magic powers, a weird ghostly creature and there are a string of missing magical inclined teenagers that appear to be connected; All of Ash's skills, new and old, are going to be put to the test.

Ever since Ilona Andrews ended her Kate Daniels series I have been looking for a replacement series that had similar elements to it, and I think that Wilde succeeded on several fronts within this book; with her characters, magic and fast paced plot, even without the world possibly coming to the end. The investigation that Ash is hired to do is at the forefront of the novel, but there is also a personal mystery that she has that seems to be intertwined so it was a bit more complex than I was expecting. There were also some darker elements and scenes within the book that I was not expecting but was glad that Wilde added them in.

My absolute favourite part in this book is Ash, she is crude, crass and kicks ass with or without having powers. I like that she has been trying to make a name for herself as a private investigator, even though the top jobs tend to go to someone who has magic. This makes her not only smart but resourceful too. She also has some flaws, not really good at relationships, and well has a poor relationship with her parents. Ash is also extremely loyal to the clients that she has in this book and will stop at nothing in order to solve where the missing teenager has gone.

It was interesting to have the powers that people now have be linked to the Jewish religion, and I'm pretty sure I understand how magic came about in the world, and how/why certain people received magic and other do not but I will say I may need a refresher in the next book. I like that the magic one gets is linked to childhood, for example if they feel invisible, if your magic kicks in you'll probably end up with the ability to become invisible. This means the magic is not only linked to genetics but also nature as well.Makes you wonder what some people were experiencing within this book to achieve their powers.

You know from he beginning of the book and the first interaction between Ash and Liam that there was going to be something there in the future. I just wish it would have been in a future book, farther down the line, let their nemesis thing they have going on play out a bit more. I mean they have some great banter between the two of them. I like that they are in different positions within society and how they both use that to their advantages and use it against each other as well. So basically the romance moved a little bit too fast for me.

This is the first book that I have read by Wilde and I enjoyed the characters, world and plot that she introduces within this book. I look forward to picking up the next book in the series.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

Alex Michaelides: The Silent Patient

In his debut novel Alex Michaelides introduces readers to a woman who refuses to talk about the death of her husband:

Alicia and her husband Gabriel seem to have the prefect life, perfect marriage. She is a famous painter and he is a famous photographer. But their perfect life is about to be shattered when on evening Gabriel returns home late and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, After that moment Alicia has not said a word. Alicia's refusal to talk or give some sort of explanation as to what happened has put the whole night into mystery and even brings up the question as to whether she actually killed her husband. Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who has waited a long time to get to treat Alicia, and when a position within the hospital she is staying at opens, he jumps at the chance. Theo believes that he can be the one to make her speak, to find out what really happened that night, but the search for the truth may very well consume him.

This book received a lot of praise last year and even won a 2019 Goodreads award plus it was hyped as a thriller novel so I knew I would be reading it. Not going to lie I am in the minority with my review, I just found the whole book rather dull. I will admit that I did not guess the twist in the end (which is always high praise from me) but I was pretty bored along the way. I just kept waiting for some type of progress to be made but it basically just happens with a sudden burst in the end. I don't think that you can tell that this is a debut novel with the writing, writing style and format, I think what is lacking, in my opinion, is the ability to create suspense and thrills using techniques to flesh out the atmosphere.

I think there is supposed to be suspense built in, as we help Theo try to uncover if Alicia did actually kill her husband and if she did why but I just never found it there. It has a cat and mouse feel of it as Theo chases the answers that Alicia refuses to give, but it is much more of a mental cat and mouse game. I think the psychology aspect and this mental game that Michaelides uses and develops throughout the book was really well done and interesting, I just did not think that it was enough. Honestly, I think the most suspense that occurs is when Theo is convinced that his wife is cheating on him and decides to follow her one night.

And I have to ask Why that ending? It was a very interesting as it still leaves room for lots of assumptions to come, maybe that was the point, but I think after investing so much time into the book and the overall slowness of it that the audience deserved something more.

This is the first book that I have read by Michaelides and there were some aspects within the book and Michaelides' writing style that I liked, it just lacked the overall feel of suspense and thrills that I was looking for. However, I would try another book by Michaeldes.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Rosaria Munda: Fireborne

In her debut novel Rosaria Munda takes readers to a world where whomever controls the dragons controls the world:

Lee and Annie, from different castes in life, are both orphaned during a brutal revolution that changed their world but now anyone has the ability to be a dragon rider, not just the Dragon Born. Present day and they are both rising stars of the new dragon rider teams that have been formed, the only problem is that none of the Dragons have the ability to breathe fire yet. Lee is also hiding a secret, he was supposed to be killed the day the revolutionaries came to his home but he was spared, Lee is Dragon Born. This secret needs to be kept if he values his life, especially when rumours start that there are other Dragon Born still alive and looking to retake the throne. Lee must choose the family he lost or the regime he now believes in and Annie has to decide whether she should protect the boy she loves or become the savior her country needs.

What I appreciated in this book was that you could not tell that this book was Munda's debut novel. It was written and laid out like a seasoned author and I personally was shocked to find that it was her debut. Munda has some fairly complex characters and relationships within the novel, and while the plot in itself is fairly straight forward I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I found this book was much more about character development, internal struggle and political moves that there were times that it was a bit slow, but I was okay with Munda wanting to get all of this right and laid out. If you are looking for a book that is full of fighting dragon scenes you will be disappointed within this book. I do wish that there was more of an explanation about how the dragon riders are chosen by the dragons and what goes in to forming their bond. There is a bit of this in a flashback but nothing really descriptive about the process, so I hope to learn more about the dragon and dragon rider bond in future books.

There are two main narrators for this book Lee and Annie, who due to the revolution they find themselves to be orphans and at the same orphanage. There were many times within their youth that Lee protected Annie and she is eternally grateful and loyal to him for it. I like that Munda took the time to establish backstory for both Lee and Annie as well as the revolution that put them in the positions they are. Additionally, by having the two different points of view we get different perspectives on the current regime as well as their interactions with those who survived from before. Lee and Annie are also two very different characters and personalities so seeing how they interacted in the same scene or scenario was also very interesting. With that said Munda does not rehash each event that occurs from each characters point of view there is a bit of overlap to show a different preservative but then the story move along to that character's next action.

I guess my one main complaint about the book is that there is a somewhat typical love triangle or maybe triangle with another person offshoot? I don't really think that it added anything to the story by having it there and certain feelings could have been there without the addition of the third person, so I kind of feel like it was just thrown in there as hey that's what you have in YA novels these days. Maybe it will play out or be more important in the future but right now I do not think that is was needed

I really enjoyed Munda's debut novel and like the world and characters that she has set up, plus the political aspects really ramp up as you near the end of the book so I am very excited to read the next book in this series. Once again, really well done Debut novel.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

Angela Marsons: Child's Play

This is the 11th yep 11th book in Angela Marsons' DI Kim Stone series, and I highly recommend it. All of the books are unique and interesting and there is only one or two that did not live up to the high standards that I have set for Marsons' as an author. You also need to start at the beginning as the characters are shaped throughout the books; Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines, Dead Souls, Broken Bones, Dying Truth, Fatal Promise and Dead Memories.

D.I. Kim Stone and her team are back and the killer really is a Child at Heart:

Kim Stone is summeded to a very disturbing scene. An older women tied to a swing with barbed wire, with an X cut into the back of her neck. The victim is a retired child psychologist, who was known for taking on tough cases and tough case studies. Then two more bodies are discovered with the distinctive X mark as well as having a history of working with children. Kim and her team are on the hunt for a serial killer, one that appears to have links to gifted children. Could Kim and her team finally met their match. This is a game of Cat and Mouse you do not want to loose.

The best part about this book was that I was not able to figure out who the murderer was. I went back and forth between many people within the book and I can say by the end of the book that I got it wrong. Trust me, I do typically figure books out before the end of a book, it's my super power, but I did not see this one coming. Marsons is able to achieve this through her well thought out plots, storytelling and really having the reader in the thick of the investigation with Kim and her team. It is very rare that something is kept from the readers and when it is it is to add suspense to the book. Marsons' is a master of red herring and really showing what detective work is like, following the evidence set before them and where this information leads the investigation.

I do like when there is more than one case occurring within the book as I think that speaks to how detective work occur, you never really have one case on your desk. I just wasn't a fan of Penn going off on his own back to his old squad, even though I get that he was in charge of the case that is now before the courts. Really that whole case could have been a whole book to itself. I did like that it showed more of Penn as a character and the squad that he came from and how much he was appreciated there, but how he feels he is more at home with Kim's team. I just felt that as a whole that Penn story was very disjointed from the other characters as it only involved Penn and no one else.

One Character that I really with there would have been more Alison Lowe in this book. I like her preservative, her constantly reading her coworkers, as well as how she pushes Kim's buttons, constantly. I get she cannot be in every book, but I actually thought she was going to be a permanent member of the team after the last book and I missed having her there. Though I will admit I did like the addition of Tink, add some overeager cheerfulness to the mix and I look forward to see what Kim does with that in the long run, if she is allowed to stay (Please let her stay Marsons).

Well 11 books in and I'm still a huge fan of this series and Marsons's work. It takes a lot to have a reader stick around this long and to keep each book refreshing with new mysteries to solve. Does this have some similar elements to some of her other novels, Yes, but Marsons' creativity with the plot and mysteries makes it new once again. I always look forward to reading her novel and I am looking forward to book 12. 

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Suzanne Collins: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Suzanne Collins, takes readers back to near the tenth Hunger Games, where President Snow, is anything But:

The once mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, well it had been hard times during the war and every year since the Snow family fortune was lost along with District 13. However, Coriolanus Snow has been given a chance which could help secure not only his but his house's future. He and his classmates will be the mentors to those who are chosen during the reaping. The mentor whose tribute wins will have their future set out for them and money to support it. Snow does not get the most favorable pick, a female from District 12, but he is determine to win at any cost even if it means breaking some rules, especially once he gets to know his tribute outside the arena and begins to get feelings for her. Can he help her enough so she can win so that they both can get their happily ever after.

I really enjoyed this book but due to the fact that it is a Hunger Games novel, I believe that people will either love or hate this book because it is very un-Hunger Games. Sure the Hunger Games exist in this time, but they are not the extravagant event that we see later and the reader does not have first hand account of what is going on in the arena. This book is much more of a political based one, in which Snow is trying to preserve himself and his family not only his family but the Snow legacy as well. Snow is trying to portrays that everything is fine in his life but the reality is that they are extremely poor and it is up to Snow to bring the family fortune back, which is a lot of weight on a teenagers shoulders. Therefore, Snow is forced to manipulate those around him to make sure they perceive him in a certain way, find out information he can use to his advantage and yet still be liked by his peers and teachers as these will be his cohort for the rest of his life.

I enjoyed that this book was solely told from Snow's point of view. You can see why he became that man he is in the other books, as well as, his growth in character and how some personality traits never really change from when one is younger. You also discover additional reasons as to why he truly did not like Katniss even from her name. I am sure that Snow saw a lot of Lucy Grey in Katniss. The only point in the book that I wish there was a change in point of view was the end, I wish there would have been something from Lucy Grey's point of view maybe in an Epilogue or something like that, I just needed something from her in the end. I don't know exactly what but something.

Speaking of Lucy Grey, she is a very interesting character but we only get to see her from Snow's point of view, so things are just a bit clouded, jaded and maybe a bit idolized at times. I think Lucy Grey knew what she was doing on several occasions throughout the book and is just as manipulative as Snow. She knows how to work her image and crowd to get those around her to like her and help her, so I was questioning her motivation throughout the whole book, besides her need to try and survive the arena.

As stated above I liked that this showed a very different hunger Games and that it was not always the event and it was not something that people from certain districts strive for.  It is really Snow and his classmates who first start to shape the Hunger Games into an interesting event that everyone in the Capital wants to be part of and the realization that no one in the districts really watches it. It is interesting some of the ideas that everyone comes up with and the ways to incorporate them into the area.

I enjoyed this prequel to the Hunger Games Trilogy. I am okay that it was a bit slower pace at times as this was more of a characterization of Snow in a novel and that there was next to zero first person action that Snow partakes in. I think if you are interested in Snow as a character you will enjoy this book, however, if you are looking for another "Hunger Games" book you may want to pass on this one.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Peter Swanson: Eight Perfect Murders

The latest book from Peter Swanson shows that what you post on the internet can come back to haunt you:

When Malcolm Kershaw first started working at Old Devil's Bookshop he was in charge of the online blog and one of his first posts were books that contained what he believed to the books with perfect unsolvable murders. However, Malcolm gets a huge surprise when an FBI agent enters his bookstore to question the list that he made. She is convinced that someone is using his list to get away with murder and it seems that she is not the only one interested in Malcolm, the killer is out there watching him, knows his history, his secrets. To protect himself Malcolm has to find the killer before he makes his way through the list and exposes everything Malcolm has worked hard to achieve.

STOP!!!!! If you are planning to read some of the great mystery reads from some of the greats just STOP and not read this books as there are spoilers to all of these book:
1. The ABC Murders
2. Strangers on a Train
3. The Red House Mystery
4. Malice Afterthought
5. Double Indemnity
6. The Drowner
7. The Secret History
8. Deathtrap

So even if just one from above is on that list read it first before you read this book. I wish I had known going into this book which books he was talking about and while the narrator does warn of spoilers you don’t know the books until you're already invested in the book.

This is the second book that I have read from Swanson (first book was Her Every Fear) and this book far exceeded the first book that I read by him. The stories are completely different, which I appreciated, and I just found this book way more interesting in main character and story. This is the first bookstore murder that I have read in a long time and I really enjoyed myself. There were a few muddy points along the way, mainly with the FBI/Malcolm dynamic in my opinion (their interactions just seemed odd, almost forced. I know that Malcolm is roped into working the case by the FBI but it was the writing that felt forced) but I really enjoyed the story and it will keep you guessing until the end. I personally did not see all the twists and turns that Swanson throws at you so that always gets bonus points from me. 

I think one of my favourite part of the book is the narration of the book. I like that it is told from only Malcolm's point of view. This works for this book due to the fact that he is the expert in the books from the list. You as the reader also get to know Malcolm really well and the kind of character he is, as well as learning that he has more than one secret in his life and you as the reader are not only trying to solve the murders but also Malcolm's secrets as well.

While this book is extremely clever from start to finish, does it bring anything new to the Mystery genre? No, but it is a good read from start to finish, I just wish is hadn't ruined some books that I had not had a chance to read yet.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Kiersten White: The Guinevere Deception

Kiersten White brings the reader to the tale of King Arthur, but this is not quite the tale you know:

Princess Guinevere comes to Camelot to wed a stranger, King Arthur, but she feels likes she knows him for Merlin has told her much but not quite enough at the same time. You see this Princess Guinevere is an imposter, she has been sent to Camelot to help protect King Arthur from the magic that was thought to be banished has returned. Now Guinevere is tasked with not only becoming Queen, but hiding her magic as she does her best to protect Arthur and Camelot from unseen dangers and people. However, Merlin had a habit of not telling her everything and some of the deceptions he kept have deadly consequences.

I really enjoyed this book and different adaptation of King Arthur that White decides to take. I will admit that I only know the basic story behind this tale so beyond the basics I am not well versed into the entire story and how much liberty she takes with it, but personally I'm okay with that. I like that White modernized the tale I know but kept it in medieval times feel of a world and did not attempt to bring it to the present or future, I think it would have been strange for what White wants to accomplish in this book. I also like that she took liberties with some of the characters as well, for example Guinevere is not the true Guinevere but the imposter, hence one of the deceptions within the book. I also loved the twist with Lancelot as well.

Guinevere is an interesting character, women but also a teen as well. She very much knows her duties and her magic and has lots of confidence in herself for the most part, but she is unsure how to interact with others. The only relationship she has had is with Merlin, so entering into a relationship and eventual arranged marriage with Arthur she does not know how to handle the emotions that she feels. This is also true when there is another Man who also has interest in her, she does not know what she feels and how to handle the emotions. This is also compounded as the more she uses some magic, some of her memories are taken away from her, so she cannot always rely on her mind. Wish I knew more about Guinevere's magic and what she is able to do, but what we see so far in this book is very interesting.

I will admit that this book is a little slow to start as White sets up the world and Guinevere as a character, but it does pick up the further you read into the book. I look forward to picking up the next book in the series.

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