Thursday, June 29, 2023

Sarah Pekkanen: Gone Tonight

Sarah Pekkanen shows the length a mother would go to in order to protect their child:

It has always been Catherine and her mother Ruth. Ruth ran away when she was pregnant with Catherine as a teen and had been kicked out of the house by her parents or so Catherine thought. Catherine is ready to move on with her life and to live her own life and create a career for herself. Ruth has not been honest with her daughter, and it turns out that Catherine is not the person that Ruth thought she was. But Ruth has been protecting her daughter her whole life and will do anything to keep her by her side, she needs to keep her safe. 

I have only read Sarah Pekkanen when she is co-author with Geer Hendricks, so I was interested to see what Pekkanen was able to do on her own. This a good domestic suspense book but you need to get through the slowness of the first 30% of the book. In that first 30% you're really kept waiting as to what Ruth (Ava) ran away from when she was a pregnant teenager and why she has kept running ever sense. In the first 30% I found that Ruth's life before were the more interesting parts, the present day were more just depressing with Ruth being diagnosed with Alzheimers. Once you are past the 30% mark, things really start to pick up as more and more information is revealed.

This book is all about manipulation, and manipulation not only between Ruth and Catherine but also the other people in their lives. If you enjoy manipulation and the lengths that people will go to in order to get their way and spread lies, then you will enjoy this book.

There are some aspects in the book that really raise the concept of nature vs nature as you learn more about what Ruth is running from as well as the upbringing that Catherine has had. I kept coming back to this question as I read further and further into the book and even more so towards the end. This is also a worry for Ruth as well, for more than one reason. 

This book was good, I enjoyed all the secrets that Ruth and Catherine were keeping from each other, and it is a bit of a different take on domestic suspense as this is between a mother and daughter instead of husband and wife, which is what we normally see. I think that Pekkanen did a good job working with the story and like I said above the manipulation is on point.

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Sunday, June 25, 2023

Annette Marie: Three Mages and a Margarita

In the first in a new Urban Fantasy series Annette Marie has a human stubble headfirst into an underground magic world:

Tori, is down on her luck, she just got fired from another serving job and she is once again struggling to make ends meet. Her luck seems to be changing when she finds a flyer that has a job for a bartender, that's on the wrong side of town, but Tori is willing to take anything she can take at this point. Though she felt really thrown off trying to enter the bar, once the gig starts, she finds her groove and puts a few patrons in their place. But during her shift there are a few questioning things that happen and showing up for her second shift it turns out that Tori is the only Human in that bar.

This is the second book that I have read by Marie recently and it is the first book in the overall Guild World that Marie has created. The world building is not intense and I think that there is more to come as this really is a human stumbling in to the Urban Fantasy world and after the complete shock of the world existing but trying to figure out the world consists of. I personally enjoy a human stumbling into a new world, I think it adds a different dynamic as Tori is really a fish out of water.

I like Tori as a character, she has a temper and does not take anything from anyone. Now this does hinder her ability to hold onto a job, but it does create some entertaining senecios. Tori has a past and we get a glimpses of it in this book and i think more will come. Tori seemed almost superhuman at times, especially with an umbrella, that makes me wonder if there is something urban fantasy underlying in her heritage. And there are the times with the magic card as well, that makes me think that there is more than it seems.

I did the audiobook version of this book and it think that Cris Dukehart did a great job and I would listen to more audiobooks with her narrating.

I'm getting some vibes from this book that it may be heading towards a reverse harem type of trope, not sure if I will stick around if that is true. I think it will have to do with if this affects the overall plot of the books or is just something more on the sidelines.

This was a fun urban fantasy read, that there may not be anything entirely new here, but Marie puts her own spin on a few things that it does not seem to copy of other books I have read. This book was fast pace that is sure to keep you entertained from start to finish. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.


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Monday, June 19, 2023

Darynda Jones: A Hard Day for a Hangover

This is the third and final book in Darynda Jones' Sunshine Vicram series, so you will need to read the previous two, A Bad Day for Sunshine and A good Day for Chardonnay to understand the running story throughout the three books as well as the relationship between the characters. Plus, they are fund reads, so win win.

Darynda Jones is back with the third (and final) book in her Sunshine Vicram series, when a hike leads to a string of missing women:

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram would like to have one day that is peaceful and easy and just get some regular work done (which does not include chasing a racoon around the station). But the fates have something else planned for her when a woman's body is discovered by a hiker, thankfully she is alive but has been badly beaten an assaulted. Sunshine will do everything she can to ID this victim and catch who did this too her. He daughter Auri wants the same things and decides to do some sleuthing on her own. These actions lead to Sunshine and Auri to come to the attention of the would be murderer with deadly consequences.

I read this book a bit ago and I cannot remember it that well but what I do remember I enjoyed it. (this is why i have to write my opinions right after i read or during) but a few months have passed and I didn’t write a review I've completely forgotten about it....oops, and what really happened. As I write this review more aspects have come back to me but lessoned learned write things down right away. The main aspect I do remember was the whole bus scene at the end really did have me on the edge of my seat, even though you know Jones is not going to let anything bad happen, right? That was a nail biter time in the book and had me sucked in, you will not want to put the book down at this point.

Personally, I think there was something lacking in this book, at times it felt a bit rushed that Jones knew she had to wrap quite a few things up but still wasn’t able to get to everything. I found that I did not enjoy this book as much as the previous two. I think the whole secret society thing is not well played out and needed more explaining and more involvement in the story if it was supposed to be such a big deal. I mean nothing was really truly affected by that society especially in this book in regard to the missing women which means that it didn’t really serve a purpose, therefore, didn't need to be there.

As the final book of this trilogy everything does wrap up nicely and FINALLY Sunshine figures a few things out, what we have all known and been waiting for since the first book. I'm not sure if all of Sunshine or Auri's stories are over and I wonder if Jones will do a YA spin off series from this one featuring Auri. I think it would be a smart/fun idea, maybe once she is a bit older and attending college and crime happen there kind of thing.

So overall a fun book and fun series that has some laughable moments as well as some mystery to keep you entertained throughout the book. These really are easy reads and nice palate cleansers for some of the other books i read and i would read another contemporary series by Jones (before this I had only read part of her Grimm Reaper series).


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Sunday, June 11, 2023

Michelle Min Sterling: Camp Zero

In her debut novel Michelle Min Sterling show's the length people will go to in order to survive:

Climate change around the world has made many parts of the United states uninhabitable but many believe that salvation lies farther into the Canadian north, where an American is building a new community of many secrets. Rose just wants a better life for herself and her mother and is willing to do what it takes to make that happen. When she is offered a job, as a Bloom, to spy on the leader of the builder of the Camp in exchange for her and her mother to be taken care of and given citizenship to the floating city, she knows she will take it. Grant is determined to flee his family and go somewhere where they will never be able to find him. When a job at a new remote community college offers him a job he knows this is his out. What he finds is that the collage is no even close to being completed and he is there to teach the Canadian workers instead. Is this life in the North that holds the future to human survival? Only time will tell, but even new towns have secrets.

I wasn’t 100% sure going into this book, I was on the fence based on the premise whether I would enjoy it or not, as I found it a bit vague. For a debut novel I think that Sterling really captured something here. I enjoyed her perspective of where the world is going and while a lot of it is doom and gloom there are those points of hope, especially around White Alice and their ability to survive. This book had points where it was character driven and plot driven, and I found this aspect changed throughout the book. I did not mind this as it kept the story moving forward but I think it did slow the overall pace of the book.

Some may critique the in-your-face aspects about this book about climate change, but i think it is just a point we all need to get behind. Yes, the planet is changing but at what rate, scientist differ in this aspect, but I think we can all say that the planet and climate is changing. I have also read reviews that this is a climate feminism book that men suck and created all the climate problem, all I can say to those is get over yourself. There is a male main character in the book who is trying to escape but also do better (sorry small rant over).

I was able to figure out how Sterling was going to bring the three storylines together, but I still enjoyed the ride to get there. There were some aspects at the end where Sterling didn’t take the easy way out and it did becomes a question of who is going to survive, which I appreciated. Sterling also left the book a little open ended, and I would be interested in seeing if Sterling chose to continue the story even in a novella aspect. 

Everything really does come down to sex but in more than one way. Sex for pleasure, sex for control, sex for power, sex to create life, but you cannot read this book and not realize that this is a main theme of it as well. Now while it may be a main theme Sterling does not go into any detail, so if you are looking for something spicy, this is not here.

As wildfire are burning all across Canada right now, I think that shows that Sterling is pretty on point on her description of what could come and those needing to flee farther and farther north to escape the changes in weather to try and find some semblance of habitable environment.

Just like Draft dodgers for the Vietnam War, more and more American want to move farther North into Canada where the land is more habitable and still has seasons other than Hot and Hotter. So, they start to buy up what land they can. I think this is a very real prospect not only for habitable land but water as well. Canada has the most freshwater lakes in the world. I will say if the US became desperate enough to need the resources/land of Canada they would probably just Take It. It would be more than the White Alice Mission they would just walk across the border and claim Canada, as really what is Canada going to do, they don’t have any military to stop them.

Dominion Lake is a real place but it in British Columbia not in Alberta so I was confused when it was referred to as "Wild Rose County" which is something that is very Albertian.

I enjoyed this book and the perspectives that Sterling presented. Even though the book was slow at times I wanted to see what would happen and how Sterling would bring it all together. I would read another book by Sterling whether she decides to continue this story or craft something new.


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Monday, June 5, 2023

Alex North: The Angel Maker

Alex North asks the question of what would you do if you could change the future of not only yourself but other as well:

Katie Shaw has always been told by her parents that she needs to take care of her younger brother Chris, but on whim as a teenager she decides to do the opposite of what is expected of her and leaves her younger brother to walk home alone. This choice changes everything in both her and Chris' life as Chris is a victim of a random attack. Many years later Katie still struggles with the guilt of that day, even though Katie has lost contact with Chris she receives a phone call that he is missing and in trouble. Meanwhile Det. Laurence Page is investigating a gruesome and confusing death of a professor who taught about fate and free will. This murder leads back two historical cases, the attack on Chris and a Serial Killer.

This is, shockingly, the first book that I have read by North. I am not sure why I have not picked up his previous books, especially the Whisper Man, that was making the rounds a few years ago, but I think it was one of those things where i will get to it eventually.

This book was book was good, just good. I can say that I was expecting more from North with just how popular his books have gotten since 2019 and i was let down a bit. I thought this book was going to have a darker and skirting horror feel to it based upon some of the reviews I had read about the book. I don’t really think there are truly any that disturbing parts, as North never really goes into detail of what goes into making an Angel. Really the whole Angel part of the plot is more of something more of a side plot that is never fully explored and really this is not a fast-paced book, so suspense/thills aspects are lost due to it. It really is a slow burn throughout, there is no real drama or that much sense of urgency by the end, as everything comes together, makes sense and it is rare for an author not to take the easy way out.

My favourite aspect of this book is the complexity of the plot and how it was planned out and put together. North has the plot lines and people intersecting throughout the book and even throughout time. I cannot fault North for his ability to tell a story, but this is one that you will need to keep track of everything from the multiple POV and shifts in time as well.

The knowing the future aspect / word of God is downplayed for the most part as the events have already been written there is not much emphasis put on this point other than coveting the book that holds the information. And I fell like there was an opportinity lost here.

So, this book was good but not great in my opinion, as I had higher expectations for this book. However, North's ability to tell a story is on full show here and due to that fact, I would read another book by him.


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