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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