Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Riley Sager: Home Before Dark


Riley Sager takes the readers along for a journey with a woman who has to face her past in order to move forward:

Twenty five years ago, Maggie and her family were forced to flee a house that they were convinced was haunted by an evil spirit. You may have read about it in the book, House of Horrors that Maggie's father released soon after they fled the home. This means that Maggie did grow up in a spot light a bit, seen as a survivor of a demonic house. Maggie thinks that it is a bunch of lies and it is not what she remembers about that time at all, though to be fair she does not remember much. When her father passes away and leaves her Baneberry Hall, she wants nothing to do with the house, she just wants to put some modern amenities in it and sell it to the highest bidder. But stepping into a place that she has not been in for 25 has consequences. When strange things begin to happen around the house, Maggie begins to think that everything written in House of Horrors may have been true.

This is the second book that I have read by Sager and I really enjoyed this book a lot more than Lock Every Door. I found that there was more suspenseful throughout the book instead of just the last eighth of the book. Sager really shines with the suspense and mystery aspect in this book and he has you going back and forth with what is happening in the house. I read this book after The Amityville Horror, late last year and I will say that Home Before Dark played out in a very similar fashion to this book, minus the priest involvement, and you could tell that there were certain ideas that Sager took from that book and placed in his, which I am okay with. I think it even made sense that he use The Amityville Horror book to shape what is wrote in House of Horrors, as that is what the book is compared to in this story. And really when it comes to a ghost or evil spirit based book, there are only so many new ideas that one can come up with to create the atmosphere that one is looking for in the book.

I liked that Sager had two points of views throughout the book with one of them being the book that Ewan Holt wrote when Maggie was a child. This added the context as to why Maggie hated the book and wanted to just be rid of the house that has followed her throughout her whole life. I enjoyed that the book revealed more of the oddities/strangeness/atmosphere that they experienced in the house as it also gave context as to why certain things were happening again and you wonder what will the spirit bring back next. The Polaroid picture aspect was truly terrifying that is for sure, I am also not sure I want to have my record player plugged in any time soon "She is 16, going on 17", I don't have that record but still no thank you.

I liked Maggie enough as a main character, but I found that this book was much more plot driven than character driven especially given the POV within the book.

This is the Sagar book that I was expecting when I had heard so many great things about his books. He weaves suspense and a creepy atmosphere throughout the book and I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to pick up another book by him.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

CW Lamb: Young Blood

CW Lamb takes readers to the future where those who have all the power and money, want something more, they want to live forever:

Girls keep disappearing from the streets and all of these girls were waiting for their results from a special test that will help set up themselves and their families for the rest of their lives. Detectives Ethan Walls and Rachel Edmunds think they have found a link between the missing girls, but the link leads into the territory of the Haves section in their city, which is full of corruption within their police force. They want to make sure that no more girls go missing, but the Haves have a special need for the girls and they will stop at nothing to make sure that their supply never dwindles.

This book started out strong but became a fizzle by the end. To begin with this book had a very Altered Carbon feel to it, which I really liked as I loved the first season of that show (I tried the second season but it wasn't as good as the first). You see the similarities in the have/have not, those who have it all wanting to live forever/endless power and the lack of respect the police department gets. This is where the similarities end, there was very little action or even detective work in the book. It felt like Lamb was trying to do too much with the book at once instead of having a sci-fi detective thriller and/or mystery.

I liked all the different points of view though I do not think that both detectives needed to have one as they didn't really add any new information to the story that the other could not have told to the reader, other than the mutual attraction between them. I think my favourite POV were that of the scavengers who lived on the fringe of society, only taking things from the streets that they need. There is quite a bit of jumping between the POV so if you are not one that likes more than two or three POV you will not like this book as there are around seven by the end of the book. I didn't mind the jumping around so much as it gave different perspectives within the society and did help round out the story.

I wasn't a fan of the the romance that Lamb put in the book. It felt forced, cliche and just put in there to have it in. I mean it did not add anything to the story (other than the detectives constantly stating how tight the others clothes were), did not enhance anything, it was just well they are cop partners so they must have an attraction to each other as they are both good looking so they should then form a romance.

Overall, the book was okay, bordering on boring at times. I thought there would be more action. It felt that the farther I read into the book the more Meh the book became. I was looking for action, spice, grittiness, connection, something, to bring more life into the story. I think Lamb had an interesting concept here, just wasn't executed how I wanted it to be and this is maybe due to the Altered Carbon feel I got right off the bat, that I wanted it to be similar to that.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Eileen Cook: The Hanging Girl

Eileen Cook takes readers to a small town where one girl is trying to change her life with her “paranormal abilities”.

 Skye Thorn has been giving Tarot readings to help make money so that she can move to New York after high school. Though it seems whenever she makes any money to save there are always bills around the house that need to be paid. But now her "psychic" abilities are being used to help find a missing teenager from her high school, the problem is, is that Skye has inside knowledge of the kidnapping. The job was supposed to be easy and no one was supposed to get hurt and Sky would have enough money to start a new life. But things quickly spiral out of control and Skye realizes she is leagues with those who will go to great length to get what they want.

This is a high school type of drama book where an influential and popular girl from school goes missing and overall I found the plot was good, held my attention and I was excited to see if I had figured everything out right. I can say that there was a twist that I did not see coming, so that always get bonus marks in the end from me. Additionally, although this was a YA novel I appreciated that Cook did not feel the need to have a love or relationship interest for Skye, it would have muddied the story I think.

I liked Skye as a main character and the insecurities that she has with herself and home life especially when contrasted with her best friend, Drew. It is interesting how one mistake that Skye made when she was young (understandable too considering her home life) is what really holds her back in life, with no one willing to take her seriously till now. Skye is really ashamed of her mother and the abilities that she believes that she has but at the same time is willing to use said abilities to manipulate others.

The ending was not what I expected and I think it is one that you will either love or hate. I personally liked the path that Cook decided to end the book with, not your norm that is for sure, but that is why i liked and appreciated the path she took.

This is the good read that had some unexpected twists and turns along the way. If you are looking for a YA mystery read be sure to check this one out. I look forward to reading some other novels by Cook.


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Peter Hackshaw: Ever Winter

In his debut novel Peter Hackshaw takes readers to a world where the latest Ice age has taken over the Earth:

Earth has become a desolate place of snow and ice; only those with the strongest will be them human or animal will survive. Henry and his family have been able to survive on the tundra by themselves, never interacting with other people. That changes when a stranger enters their home, a predator who is only looking to take. This starts a new journey for Henry and his family as they have one more threat they need to deal with in order to survive.

Loved this book and what made it even more great was that this is Hackshaw’s debut novel. This was a dark dystopian read but also a coming of age story. I feel like Hackshaw was able to tell an interesting and harrowing story that will have you wanting to read this book in one sitting. It really does grab a hold of you from the very beginning and just a warning there is some darker events and images within this book that very much fit the time that it is placed in.

I have not read any dystopian books where it is the next ice age we are fighting for survival of the human species with. I liked that Hackshaw understood that the greatest enemy in this world, probably other than the cold, are Humans and that humans turn to baser needs when faced with challenges, like “Meat is meat” and you have to be some form of brutal to survive. Henry and his family are surviving on ice in the traditional Inuit way (even though I am pretty sure they are Scandinavian in descent), which I found very interesting. I cannot comment on whether how they hunted or built their home as accurate, but it sounded to me like Hackshaw did some research to authenticate these aspects of the the story.

Henry is a great character who you root for throughout the book. The book is mainly told from his POV but we do get some chapters from his sisters every once in awhile as events of the book unfolds. I liked that it is mainly told from his point of view and does not jump around too much as this makes you as the reader become invested in him and his struggle, both mentally and physically.

There are few things that were stretching it a bit with the fantasy aspect, like guns still being able to work and things like that, but we do not know when the ice age hit the Earth so there could have been some extra technology that was created to make guns and certain electronic equipment come to life after many decades. Also I am not sure about the Cave aspect that is introduced later in the book, I'm not sure if it is needed or if Hackshaw is setting something up for a later date but it just felt out of place with everything out going on in the story.

This was a great read and something different for my in the dystopia genre. Hacksahw told an interesting story, that could ring true, who knows when we are due for the next Ice Age. I highly recommend this book for those who are looking for something a bit different in the dystopia genre coupled with a coming of age story with darker aspects. I look forward to seeing what Hackshaw comes up with next, I hope it is another journey.

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lisa Jewell: Invisible Girl

Lisa Jewell takes readers to a street where nothing is as it seems and the disappearance of a girl is about to occur:  

Saffyre has seen more tragedy than most girls her age, which leads her into therapy with Roan. But Roan has decided that after three years, their therapy sessions need to come to an end. Saffyre does not think that this should occur, she forms an obsession of Roan, wanting to follow him, still have a connection with him. This leads her to his street where he lives, seeing his family, his life, his lies. All is not well on the street where Roan and his family currently live. Owen lives across the street from Roan and his family. Owen is a loner, lives with his aunt, and has been accused of sexual misconduct at his work. The stage is set for tragedies to occur, but what truth is the correct one? Are perceptions always what they seem? And what happened to Saffyre?

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority of this one but I was bored throughout this book. I just felt like nothing was happening or there was this big build up to finding out what happened to Saffyre but it just seemed like it was taking forever to get there.

I mean I finished the book so that is something but it was a stretch to do so. I kept hoping that it would get better but it never did. I see Jewel’s name constantly and how great her books are. This is the first book I have read by her so maybe there is a better one out there but this one just didn’t work for me.

I like that there were three POV, with two been in the present and one in the past. I don’t mind books where the past voice is slowly getting closer to the present time. I feel like this normally adds to the suspense within this book. I also liked that two voices in the present were very different from each other and each added something to the story. I found Saffyre’s parts (past POV) a little disjointed and not sure why we needed so much detail from her.

I just found that that this book was predictable and nothing truly happens, so overall I felt there was a lack of suspense in the book, when I knew there was supposed to be some. I’m hoping someone can recommend another Jewel book for me, as for as often as I see Jewel’s name I feel like this book did not do her justice.

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Marissa Meyer: Archenemies

This is the second book in Marissa Meyers Renegades series. You will need to read the first book in order to understand the plot and relationships in this book and whose side everyone is on. Also the first book is a great read and I highly recommend Renegades.
Marissa Meyer is back with the second book in her Renegade series, and the Super Hero  stakes have never been higher:

The Anarchists have a second weapon but it is up to Nova in order to secure it, which mean that she has to go even deeper undercover within the Renegades to get it. The Renegades have also been working on a secret weapon, one that will give them power over all prodigies and make them judge and jury in many cases. What happens when you give someone even more power? They take advantage of it and it is up to Nova to try and set everything right.

This book does not miss a beat from the first book in the series. It picks up right where it left off except for Nova seems to be even more entrenched in the Renegades work and way of life. She is trusted now more than ever due to the events in the first book. This leads to one of the best things in this series is the ever constant feel of suspense. You never know when something is going to lead the renegades to find anarchist or the reveal of Nova’s secret and man do things really pick up on that in this book. It will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

Nova is a fantastic character, she is one of the main reasons why I enjoy this series so much. She has unique abilities, nothing flashy and she still gets the job done better than others. But what is most interesting about Nova is her ability to be a spy and her struggles with feeling, dedication to family and what she believes is right. Plus she is still a teenager and trying to put together those hormones and feelings too, and though Nova feels confused about it sometimes I never felt she is a winy character.

Adrian, who has the other POV in the book, has one of the coolest powers that I have ever read or heard about a super hero having, really it is only limited to his imagination and he can create. The whole tattoo thing is a cool twist and I wonder if it can work on other as well. Adrian as a character though is a little lack luster when you compare him to Nova. He is not as sure of himself and I question throughout this book why he just doesn't tell everyone about the Sentinel before it's too late. Also his point of view seemed to repetitive at times with him continuing to question should he tell his Dad's about the Sentinel or does Nova really like him, it just fell short of the things that Nova was having to deal with.

I wish that we would have had more interaction with the other characters on the team, both sides. They seemed to have fallen off in this book when compared to Renegades and they are all interesting characters. Meyers kind of replaced it with more with Adrian's Dads but they were kind of boring to tell you the truth.

I still love the creative aspects that Meyer has brought to this series and world with the powers that the protégées have. It is easy to see in this book how power can corrupt those who have it and not everyone deserves to have powers but who should be the one to decide that? Very interesting subplot within the book.

This book is as good and I might saw even better than the first book in the series as Nova has really found her stride as a spy. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Lily Sparks: Teen Killers Club

In her debut novel Lily Sparks takes readers to the Teen Killers Club camp, where they learn to be the best assassin they can be:

Signal was often seen as the weird outcast Goth from the trailer parks for most of her life. When she is convicted of the brutal murder of her ex-best friend Rose, it is discovered she is a Class A: the most dangerous and manipulative within the criminal profile. This designation means that she has no chance to appeal her conviction or any chance of parole. She will spend the rest of her life behind bars. When she is given a chance to avoid prison for the rest of her life, she signs up for a secret program: Teen Killers Club. Here she meets other teens who are also Class As and it is clear she does not fit in at all. This raises the question, Did she actually kill Rose? Signal has more immediate problems on her hands before she can figure out what happened the night of Rose's murder, she has to survive camp and there are people and forces that do not want that to happen.

I really enjoyed this book, I did not want to put it down. It was a lot darker than I thought it would be and was a refreshing take on the train teens to be assassin books. This is a camp set book but instead of learning how to tie knots, scratch that they probably learned how to do that, they receive tasks of best way to dispose of a body and some are better than it than other. Additionally, they are not all the same, each has a different set of skills and skill sets that can be used to kill people so it was nice that the characters are not redundant of each other.

This is a group of misfits for sure but some how they all complement each other and lets be honest some stereotypes are mixed in there as well, but I think some of this is society perception especially around Signal with er Goth look, I mean how can she not be a killer unless she is a Goth. But as the story continues the stereotypes are broken down and something new has appeared, the Class A type of people. Although that all the people within this group are Killers, they have killed before, you still feel for them as you find out their backstory and who they killed. You begin to root for them as this is their chance at a second life as a class A there is not other option for parole or appear of your convictions.

Signal stands out amongst the rest of the Class A as the "camp". If you know anything about the psychopathy scale of any kind, you can clearly see that does not have a lot of the traits needed to fit. She is pretty naive (especially towards boys, but she has been incarcerated for most of her teen years so this is to be expected), squeamish towards blood and well tried to be everyone's friend or help other people at camp without something to gain for herself. And it is this lack of fitting in that leads to the mystery of the book, if Signal did not kill Rose then who did? I can honestly say I did not figure the mystery out in this book, you go back and forth between people and even Signal herself. It was an interesting well thought out mystery, and once again I DID NOT FIGURE IT OUT (craziness here).

I could have done with the whole love triangle aspect, but at least in this case it did not take away from the overall story and actually had a purpose. I cannot think of how Sparks could have achieve the type of loyalty between the members of the love triangle without it being love based, it's just not my favourite aspect that you often in YA and New Adult books.

One aspect that is not quite explained in the book is why it was decided to have people classified along a psychopathy scale. I mean there are people high up in a corporations that would test as a class A as described in this book, and it did not seem like these people were affected by the classification. However, this could be due to class, money and power, not sure, it not completely defined here. Additionally, the teens talk about how some people want all Class A's rounded up, maybe that is a plot for a different story?

I was Wowed to find that that this was Sparks' debut novel as the writing was great, the plot interesting and the character really fleshed out. This book was unexpected and one that I highly recommend that you pick up especially if you are fans of New Adult Mystery/Thriller genre. Cannot wait to read the next book that Sparks releases

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Deborah Wilde: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter

In the first in a series, Deborah Wilde shows what happens when someone unexpected is chosen to be the next Demon Hunter:

Nava has always been second twin to her brother Ari and for the most part she has been okay with that. Living the life that she kind of wants, she only really cares about her brother. So when she accidentally steals the dream that he has been training hi whole life for, she's a bit of a mess. Partner that with she is now expected to hunt and kill demons, she finds herself with something she never really wanted, responsibility. Nava has to figure out how to be a demon hunter and fast, as her life and those she loves depends on it.

I enjoyed the overall premise of this book and it was darker at times than I thought it would be. This is the second book that i have read by Wilde and while the first book I read from her had some sex in it it was nothing compared to this book. It was basically constant sex or Nev thinking about having sex or how sexy a guy was. I applaud Nava being all about her sexuality as a woman and not being ashamed of if, I just felt like all the sex was taking away from the overall story.

 Nava is a fun character, I already mentioned the sex thing, but she is also a person who is lost in life when her love of dance is no longer possible due to injury. She is also seen as the less favoured child in the family has her twin brother Ari is the one who is supposed to be the new hunter. Nev channels all this disappointment in her life into her snarky attitude and once again sex. Nev is a fun character to follow throughout the book and she does have some great sarcasm that unfolds.

There were some twist and turns throughout the book that I did not see coming and I think that Wilde shines in her ability to not only have some interesting Demons and their powers, but also how the powers of the Hunters are developed when their powers emerge. It appears that most of the Hunters are damaged in some way and it is based upon this as to what power/ability that they receive. This imagination also makes it interesting to see how the battles between the Demons and the hunters play out, as there are some abilities that are better suited than others for taking on a Demon.

I had a fun time reading this book. It was a bit different from what I normally read in Urban Fantasy and I enjoyed getting to know Nev and this version of Vancouver. I'll probably continue on in this series when I need a break from everything else. Recommended to those who like Urban Fantasy romance novels with a darker side.

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Monday, January 4, 2021

Rachel Hawkins: The Wife Upstairs

Rachel Hawkins takes readers on a journey where a small subdivision Birmingham, Alabama has its fair share of secrets

 Jane arrived in Birminham to make some changes in her life, well basically start a new life. Jane becomes a dog walker for many of the families in the neighbourhood which allows her to left a few trinkets here and there that will not be missed, I mean a girl cannot get buy on just dog walking. But things change when she meets Eddie Rochester, a recently widowed man, his wife drowned in a boating accident. Jane thinks she has finally hit it big, and is finally getting what she deserves in life, but as much as she wants to trust Eddie and those around her, something continually has her one edge. Her past may be catching up with her, but the future poses questions now too. Jane has always trusted her gut and looked out for herself, can she learn to trust Eddie as well?

Alright confession time guys, I have seen many reviews point to this being a modern reworking/retelling of Jane Eyre, well I never read Jane Eyre so my review will be based on not comparing it this classic. (I know I should probably read it some time, but so many books too little time, and often I find i cannot get into period books). So as I have not read Jane Eyre, I really enjoyed all the twists and turns that Hawkins presents throughout the book. You know basically from the start that something is afoot, but Hawkins keeps you reading on to discover what twist she has in store next for you. I also appreciated the small town feel of the book, where everyone know everyones secrets and gossip is a form of currency out there, where the people can buy anything they like.

I liked the duel perspectives of Bea and Jane and that Hawkins decided to keep Bea’s POV chapters short as well there is not much to elaborate on in her state in the story, when the story takes place. Plus we do get quite a bit of background information about Bea from Eddie as well as Bea's friends and the bit of journaling that she does as well, so I feel like you get to know Bea.

Jane is an interesting character, she is all about what getting what she feels like she deserves in life, even that means stealing it. This is why for her dog walking within a high end neighbourhood fits the bill as her has access to wealthy people who will not miss some belongings here or there. So there are times it is hard to root for Jane, as she is a thief and really does not seem to want to work at achieving anything but wants it handed to her. This is based upon her growing up in crappy foster home or foster home, but really to me this was an excuse, I almost see Jane as a sociopath at times. So Yes she is interesting but do I root for her, not really.

I wish the ending would have been different but I cannot say how i would have wanted to end. I feel like the ending was nice and neat in some ways but in other not, there was just something off about the whole thing.

This is the first book that I have read by Hawkins and I really enjoyed the story and characters throughout. I look forward to picking up another one of her books.

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