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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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Kim Michele Richardson: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Kim Michele Richardson takes the readers to a small town, where it is one woman's desire to bring the joy of books and reading to the people of Troublesome Creek:

In 1936 in Troublesome Creek, KY lives 19 year old Cussy Carter, who is last female with the rare Blue People Ancestry. She only has her Pa to keep her company so she decides to join the Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky. Riding across the treacherous mountain ranges rain, shine or snow to deliver books to her patrons, she is determined to win them over and show them the amazing information and world that books can bring people. The more she visits and the farther she travels she slowly creates a network of friends. But hardships are part of Cussy's life and even though she makes many gains with her patrons, many people in Troublesome Creek see Cussy as problem, devilish for her blue skin and would stop at nothing to sure her of her "problem".

Now this book may seem like a fantasy to begin with as the main character Cussy, aka Bluet, is blue skinned, but assure you this book is based upon a rare condition known as Argyria and is caused when silver builds up within the body. The skin will appear blue especially the places that get the most sun exposure. Now that we have determined this book is not a fantasy one, I just have to say, I Loved this book. It was a great story centered around Cussy and her just trying to live her life the best she can as a Blue but also trying to spread the amazing ability of reading to those who are unable to get to town to read or need help learning to read. You get to see throughout the book the amount of lives that she touches, changes and how just delivering books, any type of books, she has made those people's lives better, and Cussy relishes each time she is able to achieve this.

Cussy is a beautiful character, strong in both mind and will, she tackles so many obstacles through her life, and only makes herself better for it. Even when she gets beaten or is afraid she gets back on her mule each time she makes sure to get the books to those she knows will bring the people joy. She is selfless throughout the book, and though her Pa may not like it, it is who Cussy is.

This book truly highlights the racism that people experience for being different, and in this case a different color. Cussy is seen as inferior to those around her, and that her blueness must be caused by something unnatural or devilish (this is what one character believes and believes he can beat it out of her). There is heartache after heartache, test after test in this book by the white characters and Cussy's amazing character shines through it all. Honestly, you think more cannot go wrong for her and yet there is always a new low that other people can sink to in order to put people down. Unfortunately, there are many points within this book where the same rhetoric is used today or some of the same beliefs, maybe not toward the Blue people as it is a known medical condition, but towards people of color and visible minorities.

I really enjoyed this book and the story that Richardson weaved with the research she has done on Argyria disease as well as the book providers of this time. I highly recommended this book, it is a amazing story.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Grady Hendrix: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Grady Hendrix takes readers to Charleston, where a quiet suburb is about to get the most unexpected visitor: 

Patricia Campbell gave up her love of nursing in order to have a family and support her husband in his career choices and now she feels like that she does not have much of a life outside of her house. This changes when she joins a book club with other mothers and wives from Charleston and they have one big obsession, true crime and mystery books. However, mystery is about to come to Patricia's house when a new neighbour moves up the street, Patricia is attacked outside her home and children begin to go missing from the poorer neighbourhood are going missing. Are all these events related or has Patricia been spending too much time reading books for her book club, one thing is for sure she did not the answer she was expecting.

This is the first book that I have read by Hendrix and I am excited to check out some of her other works as I liked this book, even though it wasn't quite what I expected. When I started seeing reviews for this book as a great horror novel I expecting it to be more horror and less details of a southern wife's life at home. So the book does start out slow as we get to know Patricia and why she is so unhappy with her life, and her striving to find a way to change that, this is actually an aspect or theme throughout the book. I really do wish there was more slaying vampires and less debating whether or not Patricia is crazy, mixed in with doing some house work and talking about husbands. There is a bit of detective work that is done by Patricia but it is disjointed throughout the book especially with the time jump.

Patricia is a house wife who tries to do it all and I hate to say it but she is portrayed as a typical house wife who is looking for a little bit of spice, adventure, mystery, something in her life. This is what leads her to the book club but also what leads her to befriend the new neighbour who moves down the street. Patricia is a strong character and a great mom who really puts everything she has to keep her house in order and protect her children, so you cannot not like her. Does she makes some not so smart choices, sure but we are all human after all (well most of us, as you never know as this book highlights). As this book is told from Patricia's point of view we only get to know the other characters, mainly those from the book club, from her point of view but they are all fairly similar.

I liked Hendrix's take on the Vampire was very traditional blood thirsty and preying on the unsuspecting and weak. I like the hussel that he takes from town to town, it was just unfortunate for him that some people live a long time too. It really is an art that he had perfected. It was interesting to also watch what ailments the Vampire has and how he gets around them, as well as his strengths, the last scenes are really horrifying (enjoyed every minute of it).

I know that Hendrix was going for a 90s feel in this book but I felt like it was set in the 50s as it seemed that all of the women were house wives and were expected to take care of their house, children and husband. None of the characters worked outside of the home, which I believe was more of what happened in 90s (even in the south) plus all the housework etc, and there is really no mention of the technology of the 90s that makes me think this is the time period its based in. Not going to say that all that house cleaning doesn't come in handy, but the book just lacked the 90s feel to it.

Although this was not quite the book I was expecting, I still enjoyed the ride that Hendrix takes the reader on. This book is well written, well thought out and the horror scenes that do occur are downright frightening. Looking forward to checking more out by Hendrix.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: You Are Not Alone

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen show that you are not alone when you're surrounded by "friends":

Shay sees a tragedy happen right in front of her, a woman commits suicide. Shay cannot understand what happened and why this woman would do this. Shay finds herself thinking about it all the time and this leads her to attending the victims funeral. What Shay was not expecting was to meet her friends and for them to want to get to know her. Shay is a bit of a loner and has a hard time making friends, but it seems this tragedy has lead her to a new type of life. However, the friends have a different idea of what they would like to do with Shay's life.

This is the second book that I have read by this duo and I am extremely impressed. Although they are both in the psychological thrill genre, they had a completely different plot and story line compared (The other book I have read by them is Anonymous Girl). They do a have a bit of a formula surrounding the psychological aspects and manipulation of one of the characters, but this is achieved in different ways was still very interesting the second time around. I will also say that I wasn't sure which avenue Hendrick and Pekkanen were going to take at the beginning of the book when Shay first meets the Moore sisters. Honestly in a way Shay would have been an asset to their team, with all her data searching knowledge and abilities, if they did not need her for other reasons.

Shay is a puzzle of a character to me. There were times where I just could not follow her thought process at all, but I guess that is why she was so easy to manipulate throughout the book as all Shay really wants is to be accepted. You realize this through the continued stats that she writes in her notebook about what she is thinking about and more than one are about friends. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to reach through the book and shake her, tell her to think straight and to think her plans out. She truly was a perfect mark for the Moore sisters. She is a likeable character, just a frustrating one.

I liked how Hendricks and Pekkanen took the time to explain how each individual came to be a part of the Moore sisters team and how they would do anything at all to protect each other. It was also interesting to see how far back Moore sisters began their manipulation of everything around them. The whole team is pretty amazing and scary at the same time, when they set their mind to something, well when the Moore sisters set their minds to it, as they manipulate everyone.

There was a little bit of a twist at the end, but it was not Earth shattering or anything like that. I actually wished the book had ended differently, not so clean cut and predictable. 

I really enjoyed this book by Hendricks and Pekkanen and I recommend I would recommend it to people who like psychological thrillers books that are not police or courtroom related. The storyline was interesting and it was interesting to watch all the manipulations play out. I look forward to see what they come up with next.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Shruthi Viswanathan: Ink & Arrows

In Shruthi Viswanathan debut novel she shows that people from two different walks of life can fall in love:

Rae is Suveri whish means she is an artist that has the ability to ink magical tattoos. A talent that is looked down upon, yet sought after as well. Bitter about the death of her father she attempts to get revenge but fails, however, she is saved by the Archduke Sebastyen who not only frees her but offers her three wishes in order for her to teach him the Suveri secrets around the magical tattoos. The two are nothing alike yet both are seeking something, one revenge and the other power and maybe something more, maybe love.

Alright, I told myself this year that I would try to read a few books that were outside of my comfort zone and usual genres. I had great success with Katherine Center Things You Save in a Fire (highly recommend) and had high hopes for this book as well but I am sorry to say this is my second DNF this year. I mean I really really tried with this book, I made it to 70% in my kindle but I just couldn't read it anymore. There was just so much lacking in this book and I could only tell my self something would develop later so many times. So lets break this down.

The good is that Viswanathan had an interesting premise that I thought had a lot of promise. The book is described as a Fantasy Romance book but it was Rae's ability as the Suveri that I thought was really interesting. Rae has the ability to create magic tattoos that can give the bearer different strengths and ability. See very interesting. Also the cover of the book is well done, it is what drew me in to read what the premise was about.

Alright, I will admit back when I was just getting into reading I read a lot and I mean a lot of romance books. I used to alternate between a mystery and romance genres, so I get so of what needs to go into a romance book to make it have a somewhat interesting story and that is chemistry between the two main characters. Whether they love or hate each other or a bit of both there has to be something there, some sort of emotion, Rae and Sebastyen have none. Rae states she hates him for what happened to her father, but never really shows that hate (side note, he was not the one to kill her father). She seems to learn that she actually loves him but this is after they are apart for more than a year (and we don't even know what is going on with either of them in that year as Sebastyen is away at war and Rae is just there but has a change of location while he is gone). I just don't understand how those feelings materialized while they were apart . They seem to have conversations off page, as they never really seems to talk when they are together, its more about what they are doing than what they are saying, so I struggle to see how a bond between them is formed. I guess the one emotion I do see is from Sebastyen and that is in the form of obsession more than anything else. But all in all not only is their chemistry flat, them as characters is flat as well.

The world building is not there, I have no idea why the Suveri are looked down at and why the tattoos are frowned upon, but that doesn't stop the warriors/generals from getting them. Sebastyen always seems to be at war, and why they are at War I have no idea why other than his father wishes it. Honestly I know nothing of the world that Viswanathan was trying to create.

Every aspect that I look for in a book whether it be in the genre I read or not, was just not happening in this book which is a shame as the premise was really promising. I cannot even recommend this book to those who like the romance genre, because the romance/chemistry/connection was not there throughout the 70% of the book I read. Oh well hopefully the next book I read off genre will be better.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

John Marrs: The Passengers

John Marrs shows the true danger and fear behind driver-less cars:

Self driving cars have been made standard in the UK, you can no longer drive yourself. These vehicles have been found more safe and reliable than regular vehicles. Everyone has been assured that they are completely safe and even safer when the act of driving is taken out of their hands. But then eight people enter into driver-less cars for possible their last time. Six were chosen, two were random and their vehicles have been hacked. They are now heading to the same destination, where only one individual gets to survive and who gets to decide who survives? The public of course as the whole event is broadcast world wide and everyone's secrets are about to be exposed.

Well what a trip (pun intended), to the not so distant future. This book has you go through so many emotions over the span of a two and a half hour car ride it is insane. I really enjoyed this book, it was fast paced due to the time constraints on the cars, therefore, the plot has to fast as well. This book will have you asking yourself who would you choose to die? Would you play the Hacker's game? It was almost like you were participating in the book. And oh reveal after reveal, twist after twist, its really hard to predict what is going to happen next, which I really enjoyed. I was able to figure some of it out, but not even close to all of it, which makes this book even better in my opinion. 

You don't really get to know any of the characters that well even the main ones, you just get glimpses of who they are, especially the passengers in the cars. This is completely deliberate by Marrs as he wants you/the characters within the book to choose based upon the facts that the Hacker presents. However, when it comes to Libby we get a bit more character development as we not only see her in this snapshot of time but also some of her history with driver-less cars but overall I don't think she is completely fleshed out as a character. There is one character that I absolutely despised was the social media expert, all he cared about was what was on twitter or what hashtag was trending. Honestly, I feel like he is the future of some people where all they care about it the online aspect and not even acknowledging that there are people in real life. His nonchalance when people are killed was just crazy to me, but all he saw was where the next trend was heading. I think this was also a deliberate character creation by Marrs, as a way of saying look where we're heading now.

One thing that puzzled me was why were the six chosen, there were eight people but two were random taxi cabs so those were left up to fate. I mean we all have some sort of skeleton in our closet, maybe not to the extreme of the people shown here, by how and why did he choose them. I mean there are quite a few factors that the Hacker would have had to predict in order to pull all of this off on this specific day. I get that we put lots of things on social media and it is only going to grow but I do not think he could have predicted certain events that swayed people for and against a person in the vehicle. So on that front a few things do not really add up.

Not going to lie, I liked the idea of driver-less cars before I read this book, now they scare the crap out of me. Nope, No Thank You, I will continue to drive myself thanks. See this is how this book has affected me. This is the first book by Marrs that I have read and it will not be the last.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

BR Kingsolver: Night Stalker

This is the second book in the series, so you will want to read the first book Shadow Hunter, its a really good read and highly recommend it, to understand the basic elements and characters of this book.

BR Kingsolver is back with the next installment in her Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill series and this time is it the Vampires think Erin holds the key to the city:

Erin just wants to attempt to find out what a normal life is like, but it seems like that is going to have to be put on hold, when a new Vampire shows up in town and believes that Erin is the Key to taking the city. Minus the fact that Erin and the vampire have crossed paths before, Erin has to watch her step every bit along the way to hope that the Illuminati do not discover that she is still alive. Erin's going to need all her skills and her friends at O'Grady's in order to come out of this feud alive.

I enjoyed this book but I do not think that it was as good as the first. This book followed a similar format and lacked some of the imagination in the plot that occurred in the first book, the only real difference in this one is that the Vampire politics that were somewhat dealt with in the first book are now front and center here. And as in the first book, people want Erin to help solve their problems, she says No and then she ends up being pulled anyways in one way or another. If you read the first book this will all sound so familiar.

I still like Erin as a character, and we get to see even more of her extremely cool ley line magic and some additional moves that she has. I felt that Erin became a bit too acclimatized to her new friends and city. I miss they mystery that surrounded her and what she can do, she just seems too willing at times to show it off. Her love life is the exception to this acclimatization, the romance that Kingsolver attempted to have within this book is laughable but I feel like it was on purpose as Erin has never had a boyfriend before. If it wasn't on purpose, then yeah I just don't know then.

I really enjoy the world that Kingsolver has built very the past two books, and that it is even expanded upon within this novel. I like that they are separate and try to hide from the humans, but you can tell this is becoming more and more of a struggle for them. Plus I love Grady's, honestly I want to go have a pint of something from there.

Where Kingsolver also excels in the creation of her secondary character. There are so many different types of paranormals within this world as well as a whole bunch of personalities that any of them could be featured in a spin off series. Like one about Sam before he became to owner of O'Grady's for example, that could be Epic.

While I do not think that this book was as good as the first (really the first blew me away as it was so unexpected), I still enjoyed reading this book. I like the characters and world that Kingsolver has created. I'll be picking up the third book in this series.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Mary Kubica: The Other Mrs.

Mary Kubica is back with another psychological thriller where a move for a fresh start is not what the family gets:

Sadie, her husband Will and their two sons move to a small town island in Maine, where the only way on and off is by ferry. They are moving there as Will's sister committed sucide and they need to take care of their niece who they do not know and they are needing to get away from Will's other Mrs. They think that by leaving Chicago and her behind that they will get the fresh start that their family needs. Then just a few months in living there, there is a murder up the street and everyone is a suspect, especially the new people who just moved into town. Sadie finds herself drawn into the investigation, trying to figure out what happens, but she has this every present feeling that someone is watching her and that she has the most to lose.

I have read quite a few books by Kubica now and I think that this is my favourite book so far and I think this has to do that the plot within this book was much more complex than the other books that I have read by her. I think part of this is that she has changed up the format a bit. All of her previous books that I have read had two time frames that were slowly getting closer and closer together, where this one is all in the same time frame, except for one of the characters is from the past. In this book there is the murder up the street, the death of her husband's sister, inheriting a grieving niece, Sadie and having the feeling that her husband is still cheating on her and well the police suspecting she has something to do with it all. There are a lot of facts to sift through and this is further enhanced with the multiple points of view, which I enjoyed.

There are three main points of view; Sadie, Camille and Mouse, and they all add something different to the story. But at the same time they all present the same thing that they want, love and acceptance. Sadie wants to be loved by her husband, Will, and be the only woman in his life, which she is sure she is not. Camille wants to be loved by Will and be the only woman in his life and will go to great lengths to achieve that (see the similarity there) and Mouse a young girl just wanted to be accepted and loved by her step mother, but that seems impossible. I think my one problem with the multiple points of view was there were times where they gave too much away that I was able to figure out the vast majority of what the big twists were going to be. However, I still enjoyed the intricate ride that Kubica takes you on. Oh and its in a small coastal town where gossip is a job i swear, what more could I ask for.

This was a great book and I highly recommend it if you like the mystery and psychological thriller genres. I was really impressed with the plot that Kubica created and I think her novels are getting better and better. I look forward to see what she comes up with next.

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Leigh Bardugo: Ninth House

Leigh Bardugo takes the reader to Yale where the secret societies will do anything to achieve power:

Galaxy Alex Stern is not quite the same as the rest of the freshman class at Yale, as Alex never even finished high school, lived a life of shady drug dealer boyfriends, was a druggie and has survived a horrific event, but Alex is nothing but a survivor. She gets a second chance to have a different life and it includes a full ride to Yale, but the second chance has some extra work that Alex will have to do. Alex is tasked with monitoring the activities of the secret societies of Yale to make sure the rituals do not go wrong from paranormal forces. Alex is the perfect for this job as she has a special ability, one that she has tried to run from most of her life, but now she needs to embrace it to help keep everyone safe.

Alright I'm just going to lay this out there, I LOVED this book, I can see why it was getting so much hype last year and is one of my favourite reads so far this year. I have never read a book by Bardugo before (I know this may be shocking to some but I don't venture into YA that often) and this book was simply amazing, blew me away. It it dark, gritty, has a very grey world feel to the words and doesn't shy away from any of these traits. There are some disturbing instances and scenarios in this book that involve drug use, rape, murder and Bardugo does not simplify them or sugar coat them either, which I applaud. I will admit that it is a bit slow to start and it can seem a bit confusing especially where and how the book starts and you try to keep all the houses straight, but it does all make sense, you just have to get past that first initial bit. It also at times feels a bit pretentious but lets admit that this book is based in Yale, so I think a bit of pretentiousness is expected. However, as we get to know more about Alex, her past, her abilities and when she stops trying to fit in at Yale and be herself the book really takes off.

Alex has a troubled past and this stems from her ability to see ghosts and have unforgettable and unforgivable encounters with them when she is young. Alex turns to drugs to numb everything, not just her pain but her ability to see them. One day she wakes up in a hospital bed supposedly OD where she gets an offer she cannot refuse. Alex does try to adapt to this new prestigious role that she is given, but I love when she just says fuck it and does it her own way. Alex is smart, resilient and turns out to be a good friend, which is not a trait you are expecting when you first meet her. I like her ability to get things done, she doesn't like authority and goes ahead with what she believes is right even if it is against "orders". Alex's past has truly shaped her, from her experiences to drug use she is a strong ass woman that is for sure.

This is a contemporary set novel novel with paranormal set into our day and age. So the technology, current events and Yale feel like they are very now. I think that Bardugo did a good job of mixing the contemporary and paranormal and if you like the skull and bones type of aspects/conspiracies then you will like this book too. It really takes the secret societies or houses to the extreme, as people are willing to really do anything to achieve power and I mean anything.

I'm extremely excited to read the next book in this series, and cannot wait to see where Bardugo takes it as there are many things left unsolved with this one. I hope that Bardugo continues along with the darkness she created in this book. For me this book deserves the hype that it has been given, and if you haven't had a chance to check it out you should.

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Friday, April 17, 2020

Riley Sager: Lock Every Door

Riley Sager takes readers to New York City, where if something seems too good to be true it normally is:

June Larsen has a new job opportunity, she is to become the newest apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattans greatest and most mysterious landmarks. But the mysterious, tall tales and legends do not scare June, she is just happy to have a fairly easy job to help get her back on her feet. Sure there are a few odd rules like no guests and you must spend every night in the apartment, but who would want to leave this beautiful building. However, when June starts to get to know one of the other apartment sitters, something seems off and all she wants to talk about is the Bartholomew's dark history. The very next day she goes missing and June knows this is not a coincidence. Now June needs to put together Ingrid's reasons for disappearing and she finds that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing.

Sager's books seem to be popping up on all of my social media feeds these days and all of them have had rave reviews so I knew that I was going to give him a try, as his books seemed right up my ally, and lets just say it did not go quite as I expected in both good and bad ways. But I will say my review is probably in the minority of this book.

I'll start with the good, Sager uses one of my favourite formats to have the story unfold, with having two timelines getting closer and closer to each other, as you want to find out why Jules is what seems to be running for her life into the street. I love this type of format as it always piques my curiosity and having just tidbits from the "future" to keep me reading. Plus it was like June was telling her story of how things came to be which I liked as well. I also think that Sager did a great job with the setting of the book, you felt like you are in Manhattan and experiencing everything with Jules. I also likes Jules as a character, she is caring about everyone, whether she knows them or not, smart and is constantly dealing with her problems the best she knows how. You understand why she needed to take the apartment sitting job at the Bartholomew.

I had really high expectations for this book and maybe if I had not read this book after Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key, I might have felt differently, but I just felt that the creepy atmosphere that Sager was trying to achieve throughout the whole book just didn't occur. Yes, the last quarter of the book is disturbing and suspenseful but that was the first time that I felt that throughout the previous 3/4 of the book. This lack of suspenseful feeling or feeling of urgency really made the book feel rather slow. I mean we know something has to be up with the Bartholomew and really you're not going to predict what is going on there (which I totally appreciate) but it was super slow getting there. I mean the parts that were supposed to be suspense full just lacked luster. Even all the missing people/previous house sitters, I just never really felt the urgency or the overall threat, maybe that was the point? Maybe's it due to the fact that we only had June's point of view and her lack of wanting to share the burden of her thoughts and research with anyone else, I'm not sure, but there was just something missing there to create the creepy or suspenseful atmosphere/moments that I think that Sager was looking to create.

This book just didn't meet my expectations, and I will admit that they were set pretty high. I would try another book by Sager, as I think he has the ability to tell a story and to bring the suspense, chills and thrills that I was expecting from this book but didn't get. So overall, this book is a good read and the last quarter does make it worth the read.

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Kelly deVos: Day Zero

The clock was always ticking and Kelly DeVos takes us to Day Zero, once all the time has run out:

Jinx Marshall did not have a regular childhood. She spent all of her free doomsday prepping a drilling. Her Dad never let her have a days rest or a regular childhood it was all about being prepared. When her parents divorce and her mother remarries, Jinx thinks that she can take a break, have and easy normal life from now on. But all the training comes in handy when a building explodes right next to the one she, her brother and step sister are in, she is able to get them all out alive. However, this was not some random attack the world is about to go through a huge change, one that only a few saw coming, and Jinx just hopes that she has trained enough to help keep her family safe.

Wow, i'm not quite sure where to start with this book, there are quite a few things that I liked about it, the pace (super fast and right from the start), dooms day, some pretty good action scenes that I was not expecting and the overall plot in the story but I struggled with the main character and some of the political avenues. I get that she is a teenager and I tried to forgive that as I read the story but there were a few things about her that just irked me especially as she is really the key to everything.

With that said I am unsure whether I am supposed to like the main character, Jinx, or not. She has some great qualities like taking care of her younger brother, Charles and there are times when she's great to have in a stressful situation, seems to have some fighting abilities but for most of the story I found her to be whiny, selfish (which I guess can be good when the apocalypse is happening) and not smart most of the time aka being distracted by boys. There are multiple times she forgets what her Dad taught her and I feel like if you ran doomsday preps for YEARS of you life you would not forget so many things so easily. I mean when she is taking it easy after her mom and dad split and no longer having to do drill every day she is planning video game campaigns, I feel like that is something that is directly related to her dooms day prepping training. I actually thought that MacKenna was a more likable character (which I did not think would happen at first as she comes off as the spoiled rich girl with entitlement kind of vibe) as at least she stayed true to herself and her ideas and beliefs and wasn't afraid to question everything.

I found the political setting of the book a little confusing, and I don't think the full history of how the USA got to this state is fully explained. I get everyone is for Everyone’s for Rosenthal, but why? And why is it so bad to have a change in government. I mean Ammon Carver does start to sound like a nut bar  but it sounded like the people in the USA wanted to move back to a capitalistic market and away from a more socialist or communist one? I think? Honestly i'm not 100% sure at this point. I mean I like a political intrigue in a book but it needs to be well laid out and explained for me to get on board with it. I'm hoping maybe a bit more will be explained in book number 2. Maybe have Dr. Doomsday explain a few more things and what Carver was thinking as they used to be friends and why he had helped him before this point.

This was an interesting Doomsday, literally zero day, zero hour, type of book that basically start  you running from the beginning and you are looking to catch up about what is going to happen next. I think this is where deVos lost me a bit as I struggled to understand the political landscape of this book and where the USA was before a new president took over. That said I think that deVos has something here and I would check out the next book in the series.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Alice Blanchard: Trace of Evil

A small town is about to be rocked by a murder of one of their own, and everyone in town is a suspect:

Burning Lake is an interesting town that has connection a sordid past with hanging witches, and this fact means that witchcraft and forming a coven is something that the locals, mainly teenagers, drift towards. Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective who handed the Missing Nine, nine people who have disappeared from Burning Lake over several years and with each new detectives who is promoted they give fresh eyes to the decade or older cases. However, Natalie is about to be handed one of the toughest cases that would fall onto any detective's desk, the murder of someone you know and the wife of a cop, Daisy Buckner. As the investigation deepens Natalie gets more suspects the more evidence that is found and the risks get higher and higher.

While I was reading this book, I was totally convinced that it was a debut novel, I was surprised that it was not. While the plot and main character seemed laid out there were some what I think basic details missed that would have changed this book from a good read to an amazing one, aka The Devil is in the Details. This book would have been such a stronger book and story if Blanchard would have done some extra research about police officers, their culture and some general forensic information. Even a google search would have helped her with these details. So I guess i'll deal with the no so good first and then get to the good.

First off, police do not carry pagers any more, everyone has smart phones and that is what they would use if you are on call. Police Department will issue the officers a work phone for this purpose so there would not be a rotating pager for whomever is on call that night. Can you think of how many times a rotating pager would get lost? Second, if you take a bullet in your vest you will have to replace that vest as it has been compromised, you would no longer be safe if you were to take another bullet to the vest. Sure you can keep it but it would have to be replaced as it would be no longer safe to wear it but it would probably have been needed to be taken into evidence first as part of the proof about the shot as well as to obtain the bullet out of it.

Thirdly, there is a lot of emphasis on time of death. Time of death is the least precise forensic out there, there are too many factors that can affect when a person was killed. Simply asking the coroner or pathologist when the person died shows a lack of research, they cannot narrow it down to hours, more like days. Additionally when Natalie enters the house and states that she could smell the dead body, this is not true, decomposition of the body where a smell occurs does not normally happen within the first few hours of death, it begins two to three days after as it takes a bit for the bacteria within your Body to start breaking it down for food which in turn releases gas. I was able to find most of this out with a basic google search so I feel that Blanchard could have done that as well. Blanchard did get more to the right track when she started to try and figure out what Daisy had done that day and who had seen her last but this is later in the book. Lastly, you as a police officer always always secure the suspect(s) and scene first, yes you can save a person if they need saving but once that is done after you secure your suspect(s), if you don’t there is still a risk to you and the victim that could lead to even more dire consequences. You don’t know what other weapons that may arise by you not securing them. I feel like this aspect is common sense.

Alright now to the good part. WOW, what a plot and story, I did not have everything figured out till the very end, there were too many suspects in this small town where everyone and everything and everyone are interconnected. God, I love small town books and Burning Lake is no exception. I appreciate that Blanchard kept this book to one murder, one who done it, with the historical cases also being investigated. i think sometime the plot and book becomes too muddied with so many homicides that all interconnected and even though there was only one recent murder to investigate that didn't mean I was able to figure everything out, it was a great twisty, did not see that coming ending, which is always amazing when that occurs.

Burning Lake is an interesting town and it has the reputation for burning (though the actually hung them) witches just like Salem did and the town uses this as their “claim to fame”. This also means that people dabbling in witchcraft is a common theme amount the youth and this creates a whole different avenue if investigation for the police department. This book is set in our time in our world so the whole witch thing is more wishful thinking but it does not mean that people, mainly teens, aren’t willing to try a spell or two, however, witchcraft needs to be considered with every crime that is committed. This adds an extremely unique perspective in this book and one that I have not read before outside of the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal genres. It appears that Blanchard did so research on witchcraft as she talks about symbols, knots, spells and what those spells hope to achieve and I found it all very fascinating.

Natalie is an interesting character, she’s smart, know how to play the game and really caring about her family and those who shew grew up with. Even the lady who had a psychotic break and ends up on the street, Natalie is there if she needs help. It never seems like Natalie gets exhausted with trying to juggle all her cases and family life, she just keeps going and going with little sleep, so maybe she is a super human detective. There is a hint of a romance to come, it kind of became redundant throughout the book (oh i've liked him forever, maybe now will be the time he makes a move ect) and I don’t think the book or plot needed it as it doesn't really add anything to the murder investigation or story.

Don't get me wrong, overall I enjoyed this book. I feel like Blanchard likes the idea of writing from the point of view of a rookie detective but lacked the knowledge or research about police, police culture and investigations to really pull some of this book off. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the plot and story that Blanchard laid out in this book and the small town setting. I would read another book from Blanchard and if she were to release another book featuring Burning Lake and Natalie.

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