Categories
Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

The Resting Place (ARC Review) by Camilla Sten

Thank you so much to Minotaur books for the free advanced copy, all opinions are my own!

I thought I was done with finishing books this year, but The Resting Place is such a quick, twisty thriller, that I started it at 8pm last night and finished this afternoon!  I read it in two sittings and have no regrets.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Resting Place
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Camilla Sten (tr. Alexandra Fleming)
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, 03/29/22
  • Pages: 336
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of twisty, cold weather, locked door type thrillers

Here’s the synopsis:

Deep rooted secrets.
A twisted family history.
And a house that will never let go.

Eleanor lives with prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face. It causes stress. Acute anxiety.

It can make you question what you think you know.

When Eleanor walked in on the scene of her capriciously cruel grandmother, Vivianne’s, murder, she came face to face with the killer―a maddening expression that means nothing to someone like her. With each passing day, the horror of having come so close to a murderer―and not knowing if they’d be back―overtakes both her dreams and her waking moments, thwarting her perception of reality.

Then a lawyer calls. Vivianne has left her a house―a looming estate tucked away in the Swedish woods. The place her grandfather died, suddenly. A place that has housed a chilling past for over fifty years.

Eleanor. Her steadfast boyfriend, Sebastian. Her reckless aunt, Veronika. The lawyer. All will go to this house of secrets, looking for answers. But as they get closer to uncovering the truth, they’ll wish they had never come to disturb what rests there.

I tend to really love thrillers by Swedish authors, they have the cold weather, creepy atmosphere, with intermittent violence thing down PAT! The synopsis reads a bit roughly to me but overall the book feels like a great translation.

This is a locked door thriller, taking place on the recently discovered family’s estate in the Swedish countryside. In the winter.  It has all the cliches like a creepy house, severe storm, power outage, cars not working … but there are also many parts that I didn’t see coming, including who the heck the antagonist was.

The book starts off by jumping around in time a lot, and it was almost off putting, except that it quickly splits into simply Eleanor in the present, and Anushka in the past.  I liked the dual storyline as it swaps between the thrilling events and unravelling mystery in the estate, and the past, where the old secrets slowly unwind.

Eleanor isn’t a particularly likeable character, but I liked the theme of standing up for yourself and overcoming trauma.  I was rooting for her to come out safely either way.  I really didn’t like Sebastien at all, it seemed like he should have been the rational one and kept his head, but it served to show Eleanor’s strength that she ended up holding everyone together.  That characterization did a lot for the story.  The aunt had a bit of an arc, mostly showing another coping mechanism and how trauma affects people differently.

Eventually all the secrets come out. It’s a bit of a sad story, about mental health and wealth and doing whatever it takes to maintain a certain image.  I had parts figured out or guessed before they happened, but the ultimate shocker had me stumped yet again.

Lastly: in typical Swedish fashion, there is a bit of gore and death and violence, but not very much really.  There are a few graphic descriptions of bodily injuries that added to the chilly overall atmosphere.

I’m not saying the book is perfect, but anything I read in two sittings gets 5 stars from me, I hope other thriller fans enjoy it equally!

Categories
audiobooks Paranormal Suspense Thrillers

End of Watch (book & audio thoughts) by Stephen King

I know there’s not much that I can add to the King review canon, but here are my thoughts on End of Watch! I fully recommend this series and book to anyone looking for unlikely heroes, great character arcs, and low-key creepy vibes that increase in this final book.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: End of Watch
  • Series: Bill Hodges Trilogy, #3
  • Author: Stephen King
  • Publisher & Release: Scribner, June 2016
  • Pages: 448
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ yess for thriller and mystery, paranormal fans

Here’s the synopsis:

The spectacular finale to the New York Times best-selling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers

2017 Audie Award Finalist for Fiction and Best Male Narrator

In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney – the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him in the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend, Jerome Robinson, and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding supernatural suspense that has been his best-selling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

This is a really satisfying end to the trilogy.  It can stand on it’s own but I highly recommend reading them all, and in order, or the audio books are absolutely phenomenal as well (but you all know I just LOVE Will Patton).

Brady Hartsfield is back, and King finally found a way to weave the supernatural / paranormal into this one.  He does so in an utterly creepy way too, with Brady developing telekinesis due to experimental drugs and using it to orchestrate mayhem and suicide through handheld game consuls.  Brady really isn’t as smart as he thinks he is though, some of his mishaps had me laughing.

The title tells the reader what’s coming at the end, and it’s revealed pretty early on. That storyline is definitely sad as hell but it also lets Holly and Jerome shine on a new level.  One of my favorite aspects of the trilogy has been these unlikely heroes with their unlikely friendship, and Bill Hodges being the elderly, unlikely hero that holds them together.  All three had the chance to shine in this King left us no doubt that Holly’s gonna be ok.

Exciting, tense, sad, hopeful, fast paced – are all good describing words for this one.  I liked the pacing and how it kept connecting back to prior books.  King wrote a lovely authors note at the end about suicide prevention too that would lift anyone’s spirits after the ending.  I have also enjoyed the picnic scenes at the end of each book and was glad that End of Watch included one as well.  It gave the characters some final emotional closure

What I really want is a Holly and Pete spinoff book or series – I know that If It Bleeds is at least a short story but I hope he writes more.

Here are a handful of my favorite quotes: 

Things can get better, and if you give them a chance, they usually do.

One foot in the grave, the other on a banana peel

It’s about how some people carelessly squander what others would sell their souls to have: a healthy, pain-free body. And why? Because they’re too blind, too emotionally scarred, or too self-involved to see past the earth’s dark curve to the next sunrise. Which always comes, if one continues to draw breath

And the funniest one …. “Darker than a woodchuck’s asshole”

I definitely highly recommend this series on both book or audio format if you are looking for a great detective, suspense, thriller series.  Will Patton, as always, adds something special to the narration and will creep you out even harder singing the fishing hole song!

Categories
Fantasy Romance Young Adult

A Far Wilder Magic (ARC Review) by Allison Saft

Thank you so much Wednesday Books for the free early digital read of A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft!  All opinions are my own!

This is a solid and enjoyable follow up to Down Comes the Night, Saft’s debut, although I found pretty similar issues in the two books. It makes me think that *breaking the action for yet MORE fairly repetitive inner monologue* is simply the author’s writing style and while I have thoroughly enjoyed both of her books, I don’t love being thrown out of the action as such. I also have a few content issues to be discussed below – although don’t worry, I’ll also mention all the good parts!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: A Far Wilder Magic
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Allison Saft
  • Publisher & Release: Wednesday Books, 03/08/22
  • Pages: 384
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ yes for fans of slow burning, romantic books with low fantasy elements

Here is the synopsis:

A romantic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Erin A. Craig and Margaret Rogerson, about two people who find themselves competing for glory – and each other’s hearts – in a magical fox hunt.

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist―yet. He’s been fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, and his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret. She begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt―if they survive that long.

In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away.

A Far Wilder Magic is a solid, atmospheric story, set in a world with an interesting mix of modern and old fashioned elements. There is mystery, alchemy and magic, sexual tension out the wazoo, and a deadly fox hunt.

The time period confused me a bit, it wasn’t steampunk but the rich had cars.  There was alchemy but also electricity.  Guns were the weapon of choice, and there were tenements and factories in the cities.  One age of immigration and innovation maybe, where old and new tended to mix was what I pictured, in s place like Dublin.  It was clear that the racial and religious lines drawn were Catholic, vs Irish and Jewish (I’m 99% sure), although they had other names and different religious objectives

There was not a ton of actual magic, although the Hala causing destruction and mayhem was interesting.  I liked that the Hala didn’t shy away from people.  The other magic involved the alchemy, but more as a natural talent that could be honed through study.  An alchemist and sharpshooter had to enter the hunt together – and I again think she could have done more with the magic, but I liked what was there.

The characters are sweet and I liked them.  Wes was my favorite because he stood up to the bullies and found it within himself to become a great alchemists, despite his multiple failures and implied dyslexia.  He hid all his vulnerability behind a wall of good looks, and I liked his character arc.

Margaret took a bit longer to crack, and I questioned quite a few of her choices like to let a strange teenage boy live in the manor, despite how much she needed help.  Margaret also crumbled or stood down in the face of religious and racial bullying, where Wes stood up and was more fed up with taking it.  Both are fierce characters in their own way, and I guess when you put the opposite sides of a coin together … You get a coin.

The book had good themes like overcoming prejudice, standing up to bullies, as well as believing in yourself, trusting others, not giving up, found family, and living your own life vs. staying in a parent’s expectations or shadow.

**I really liked the book, I just wish that the author wouldn’t interrupt action scenes for two pages of inner monologue that we know already. Let the action end first or it’s a very jarring shift in momentum**.

She did it at one crucial point where an animal was injured – you’re telling me the characters paused assisting the animal to sit and debate monologue for so long? Or at the end of the fox hunt she broke a critical scene for … more monologue.  I will be honest that it took some skimming to get through those more repetitive parts.  I would have liked to see more from the fox hunt itself too.

There was quite a bit of action though, from sabotage to run ins with the Hala and training for the hunt.  There was also a snarky horse, which I can always appreciate!

Content wise: again this is young adult, and I will die on the hill that characters don’t need to go from first kiss to no clothes in one scene, ever. It’s not what I would want my kids reading.  Also PLEASE stop this trend of characters shacking up before the big end scene, it’s neither necessary nor something that all teens want to read in every fantasy.  There is some other content regarding touching oneself, a teen girl reading smut, condoms (I imagined the book takes place in the time when only the rich had cars, and modern technology was newer).  I already touched on the religious and racial bullying, which is a good theme to confront and seems well handled, and a bit of gore. Amazon says age 14-18 but I would STRONGLY say 16+ for parents, regarding sexual content.

All in all, again, I truly mostly enjoyed this one. It’s a good book for fans of atmospheric, slow burn romances with low fantasy elements.  I would recommend for 16+ and new adult readers 

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Winterlight (Book Ramblings) by Kristain Britain

Hi guys! This post is something that I am just writing for me, myself, and I, and for anyone that wants to talk love and spoilers! When I reread the series prior to the final installment I would like to go through and write about my love for each book

If anyone doesn’t know, Green Rider is truly my favorite book series ever and I am beyond honored that Kristen Britain soft-yes’d me on joining the Sunday Brunch series! She shouted me out on Facebook and I literally died a little bit!

Anyway – feel free to read the quick facts and synopsis, but then I would probably stave off unless you have read Winterlight and want to talk theories with me!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Winterlight
  • Series: Green Rider #7
  • Author: Kristen Britain
  • Publisher & Release: DAW, September 2021
  • Length: 848
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 😭

Here is the synopsis:

This seventh novel of the Green Rider series follows the adventures of messenger, magic wielder, and knight Karigan G’ladheon as she fights to save king and country from dark magic and a looming war.

After her capture at the hands of Grandmother and the Second Empire, Karigan G’ladheon is making halting progress towards recovery. Karigan takes on increasingly dangerous missions, haunted by the specter of her torturer, Nyssa, and sinking ever further into the mire of her recollections of the past and the losses she’s sustained.

Meanwhile, the forces of the Second Empire are moving on Sacoridia and their primary target is a vulnerable garrison that guards a crucial mountain pass. Faced with new fatherhood and a country on the verge of war, King Zachary sends a contingent of soldiers and Green Riders to the pass–but his own recovery from the events of the north is not yet complete either.

Reunited with her fellow Riders at the pass, Karigan takes on a leadership role, but quickly finds that the Riders are not as she last left them. As tension mounts and war draws ever closer to the heart of Sacoridia, Karigan must discover what it truly means to be a Rider and a hero of the realm–and what sacrifices must be made to truly heal from her past.

Overall, after a disappointing read in Mirror Sight and Firebrand, Winterlight was a throwback to the earlier Green Rider books and just blew the past few efforts straight away.

Let’s start with the cover: that scene had me in TEARS, she is just a hero in every sense of the word and that she finally reunited with Condor was everything.  Even better was Fastion leaking a tear out on the hill when he saw what was happening!

The title – where it fit into the story – omg, Firebrand and Winterlight – I think the two titles are foreshadowing since Karigan is now royalty and obviously Firebrand is what the Eletians call King Zachary

“…my name is .. Sad Ice Light?”

– The real question is obviously, why did Jametari do that? What did he see? In an earlier scene where various future scenarios were playing out (p.247), the only future displayed for Karigan was that she would become a sleeper …

Skipping to the end, what suffering did the gods speak of? That ties into the sleeper theory, or the burning witch idea that that horrible priest threatened Karigan with.  I wanted more from the priest and Estora storyline too.

We still don’t know what Estora saw in Karigan’s Mirror Eye either, I wonder if it tied into her pushing them together towards the end?  I miss the Estora of the earlier books where she was just a girl in mourning, although she won me over as the Rose queen in this book.  I think she has redeemed herself and shown she is capable of being a great leader and queen on her own right.  P.S. that scene with them riding out and Karigan wearing the Rider Princess armor! Lol she named the horse Pumpkin!

More crazy things was the history of the Weapons, that magic free room in the castle depths.  I couldn’t believe that the Weapons WERE the scourge, how dark.  I also found myself supremely sad when many of our favorite Weapons (Ellen 😭) fell to the Lions at the battle.  It was uplifting to have Karigan and Zachary fighting back to back though.

Another overall favorite aspect was how Winterlight brought home so much Green Rider history and favorite, memorable moments, while still introducing plenty of new history and lore as well.  Remember the nightgown clad ride when Karigan was called? Hey, so do the soldiers.  When she first went through the tombs? Even bringing Tegan through the tombs this time felt special, as the horses were bobbing their heads to Lil and we experienced a rider without the ghostly connection’s reaction to the tombs.

I feel like I love the tombs, poor Agemon dealing with the horses walking through!

What else … Oh yes, all the new riders and their abilities!

Connly was being a dick but I get it, I think Karigan will be promoted again when they get Laren back.

OH YEAH WHAT THE HECK, WHERE DID STEVIC GET ALL THESE SPECIAL “SKILLS” from?? Is our favorite dad going to become a hero in this one as we discover his secret past?  Was all the silence and backing away from Karigan’s raising some secret wartime PTSD? I need to know!!

The end killed me too, the Beryl and Alton scene finally had me absolutely sobbing.  I always wondered what Alton’s end game was going to be, and now I think he’s going to become a fallen hero in the final installment.

Other than the history being brought back, my other favorite thing about the book was how it emphasized that no matter what she’s been through, Karigan at her core is still a strong, funny, relatable person.  Those scenes after the battle towards the end where everyone was regaining their strength and the Green Rider family was catching up again, I liked that lull to show their resilience.  It didn’t last long but it was meaningful.

Oh lord, Ghost Kitty eating the guy’s head *barf*

Anyway – anyway – anyway – these are the things I want to remember going forward –

  1. Gods – karigan’s endgame/suffering?
  2. Estora + priest – what happens with both of them? Do they turn evil together maybe?
  3. Alton lives?
  4. Zachary and Karigan – maybe we finally get resolution
  5. The Eletians – where does K as royalty come in?

I can NOT wait for the end, I never want it to come but I can’t wait 😭😥😍😢😕❤🐴

Categories
Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction

Far Sweeter Than Honey (Book Thoughts) by William Spencer

Thank you so much to Dart Frog Books for the finished copy of Far Sweeter than Honey: searching for meaning on a bicycle by William Spencer.  All opinions are my own!

I was so excited to read about Spencer’s trek from England to India via bicycle.  This is the perfect book for someone itching to travel right now and I thought that it had all the elements of a good travelogue – interesting people to meet, descriptive scenery, food and culture, and of course personal reflection.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Far Sweeter than Honey
  • Author: William Spencer
  • Publisher & Release: Dart Frog Books, December 2020
  • Length: 302 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of travel, culture, memoir

Here is the synopsis:

This is the true story of a young man’s epic bicycle journey from England to India. Traveling more than eight thousand miles, he encounters all manner of adventure, from the curious company of a butterfly in the wilds of Iran to the aftermath of a coup in Kandahar, Afghanistan—from navigating the foreign yet welcoming Muslim world, where he learns the basics of Islam, to the journey’s end in mystical India, where he arrives at an understanding of what it means to be free.

William Spencer establishes himself as a writer to watch in his debut book, weaving masterful storytelling and cultural insights in a page-turning adventure.

Spencer gives detailed and immersive descriptions of the countryside and cities, including weather, wind, and road conditions.  Whether a bucolic French countryside or the middle eastern desert, I thought he took excellent notes.

The journey originally happened in the late 1980s, and I wonder what was changed since then! Even though some elements may now be outdated, it was extremely interesting to read about the culture and culture shock, customs and people that Spencer encountered.

I heavily enjoyed the Turkey through Pakistan chapters the most.  Spencer met, for example, a college student at Damascus university taking an English lit course – and when talking about “popular authors”, none were familiar! The culture shock also came through as Spencer and his friend, Rudy, had to navigate different customs and hospitality norms, from how to act towards women to how much skin to cover.  Another image that stuck with me was the author sitting on the bank of Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water in the bible, and someone was waterskiing on Christmas eve!  I can see where his expectations and reality would have totally clashed in those situations.

Spencer was struggling to reconcile the western ideal with the eastern reality, and it gave me some things to think about too.  I liked that he could say like OK, my impression on these locals is adding to their impression of Westerners, and that’s important.  Especially in those middle eastern chapters, I found the author becoming more likeable in my mind as he started accepting things as they came.

I also really, really liked the longer Pakistan chapter at the end. I had a doctor friend from a northern region (I forgot where) and he showed me tons of videos and told stories from home, and I could definitely feel some of that regard from the expats that Spencer wrote about, even in the 80s or early 90s.

The last thing to mention is that photos and sketches from the journey are included! The photos are mostly of people, while the sketches are of scenery, trees and such, and I think they added a lot to the story.  The only thing that mystified me was how long it took for Spencer to just accept the fact that there is both good and bad in every culture! One cheating merchant or unruly group of kids would sour his mood towards an entire region, even where most experiences were positive, then he would swing back again when the next good thing happened.

That said though, the book was a great mix of hardship, positive and negative, and I think a great portrayal of the journey.  There is absolutely no way in today’s day and age that one is going to visit half of these places and I loved getting a glimpse of the foreign countries.

Definitely check this one out if you like travelogues, memoirs, new ideas and cultural exploration.  It’s a slow ride but totally worth it

Categories
Fantasy

Lady’s Ransom (Book Review) by Jeff Wheeler

I was too overwhelmed to read Lady’s Ransom as an advanced copy, but it worked out for the better! These books are so hard to put down that it was nice to switch between book and audio, and the narrator was made for Claire’s voice.

Is Claire one of my favorite Wheeler characters ever at this point? Heck yes.  Is Ransom equally amazing in this one?  Well – he had his moments but honestly I felt like this one finally gave Claire her spotlight, even though I wanted still more from her.

My reviews of the series so far:

Knight’s Ransom

Warrior’s Ransom

 

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Lady’s Ransom
  • Series: The First Argentines, #3
  • Author: Jeff Wheeler
  • Publisher & Release: 47 North, September 2021
  • Length: 459 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ If you can put the series down at this point, who are you?

Here is the synopsis:

In kingdoms at war, alliances are made to be broken in a thrilling novel of magic and dark conspiracies by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Warrior’s Ransom.

Ransom Barton and his wife, Claire de Murrow, have arrived in Legault to reclaim the title that was Claire’s birthright. Claire intends to rebuild a war-ravaged palace to its former glory and to teach Ransom about the magical history of their new home. But when Ransom is summoned to return to King Benedict, his loyalty to Claire is tested. Fealty prevails, however questionable the king’s motives.

The ambitious Benedict, who controls his late father’s dominion, must prove his might. The warriors of the East Kingdoms have disrupted the trade routes, weakening every kingdom in their path. Benedict’s plan is to fend off a coming war through strategic alliances. But it’s Ransom’s post to keep the king’s allies―as well as his poisonous enemies―in line, even as Benedict’s defense may be inviting further chaos.

As the king’s power grows and Ransom’s rise in the council is secured, a shadowy conspiracy threatens to destroy everything Ransom has worked to build. Now torn between allegiance to the woman he loves and duty to king and country, which will Ransom choose?

As if Ransom hasn’t been tested enough, now Benedict is waging war on the Eastern Kingdoms.  How can he be loyal to both his wife and home, AND to Kingfountain, both of which need him more than ever?

The plotting and intrigue and tested loyalties go so far above and beyond in this installment that I think I just read the book nonstop.  The pacing very rarely slowed down and I don’t think I was bored once

What I really liked was how Wheeler took a deep dive into the lore of the Fountain vs the older lore of the Aos Sí.  Ransom and Clare had to reconcile their religious tolerance and I do think that the legends are birthed from the same place.  It was nice to have those legends make sense and be related to events in the books too, as to not just have random stories thrown at the reader.

The glimpses into the future were great too because it linked Ransom to Owen and Evie, even though hundreds of years came in between them.

Speaking of children – omg the family life, omg.  Wheeler never writes about family life but I just loved Ransom’s dad pride and how the little ones kept getting up to antics. It was hard seeing the family separated but I imagine life is such for kings and queens.  I think that despite having violent tendencies and being a potentially gray character at times, having kids seems to have tamed Ransom’s temper a bit.

Queens – Claire – what can I even say, I wanted to see the warrior queen leading her army.  It was lovely seeing her claim her birthright and having Ransom there to help rebuild.  It’s hard to talk about her without spoilers but Claire definitely saved the day in this book and had the best character arc.  Her strength and cunning and loyalty all came through and she shined here.  I liked Tenthor too, his antics were something else.

Battles, action, lore, antics, plotting, treason … I have to mention James Wigant too, I never thought I would respect him as a character but he had me hooting and hollering at the end of the book, I was SO GLAD that that entire sequence happened.

Let’s upset this wedding!

-The Duke of the North p. 419

Again it really surprised me that that scene was so touching to me but I loved it.  I also liked the scene with Constance teaching Ransom how to pray in a more traditional sense, I am curious to see if their storyline is truly used up now.

Overall: I do have the advanced copy of book four, and am dreading reading it because of how it ends.  I almost wish the synopsis was a little less descriptive!  Jon-Landon is a brat and a shit and ugh I need a break before reading about him as king.

Lady’s Ransom is the phenomenal third book in The First Argentines series and I do truly recommend the Kingfountain books to anyone interested in knights, lore, intro to fantasy type reading

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

Michael Bennett #1&2 – How does he stack up to the other JP detectives?

In my quest to sample the different James Patterson (& company) detectives this year, I read the first two Michael Bennett books recently. Now have to ask the question – how does he stack up against the others? First I will give the synopsis of the two books, then give a run down of my general feelings.  I gave both books 4 stars and recommend for JP fans and fans of family centered detectives!

Step on a Crack – Michael Bennett #1 (James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge – published February 2007 by Little, Brown, & Company)

Patterson and Ledwidge introduce a new hero in an exciting thriller set in the heart of Manhattan. NYPD detective Michael Bennett is concentrating on getting his family through a particularly difficult Christmas: he and his 10 adopted children are facing the loss to cancer of his brave wife, Maeve.

But a major crisis calls him away: the funeral of a former First Lady at St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes horribly awry when men storm the church and take hundreds of attendees hostage. Michael is asked to try to reason with a sinister man named Jack. Jack releases all but the most famous people, and makes his demands: he wants several million dollars from each celebrity hostage, including the mayor, a popular comedic actor, a beloved talk show host, and a pop starlet. Once Jack starts killing, Michael realizes he’s up against a truly diabolical foe. Patterson has a knack for creating genuinely likable heroes, and Michael fits the bill.

As readers rapidly turn the pages to learn how the tense hostage drama plays out, they will also be sympathizing with Michael as he faces the agonizing loss of his wife. Totally gripping and downright impossible to put down, this is a promising start to a potential new series.


Run For Your Life – Michael Bennett #2 – by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge – published February 2009 by Little, Brown & Company

A calculating killer who calls himself The Teacher is taking on New York City, killing the powerful and the arrogant. His message is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences! For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York’s elite, it is a call to terror.

Only one man can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Mike Bennett. The pressure is enough for anyone, but Mike also has to care for his 10 children-all of whom have come down with virulent flu at once!

Discovering a secret pattern in The Teacher’s lessons, Detective Bennett realizes he has just hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history. From the #1 bestselling author comes RUN FOR YOUR LIFE,

Both books are definitely exciting, typical JP style, fast reads, short chapters, all of the above that he is known for.  Let’s see what sets Michael Bennett apart and how he stacks up:

First – the family life.  Bennett reminds me a lot of Alex Cross in that he is an absolutely fierce dad that would do anything for his kids.  Bennett becomes a widower at the end of book one and I freaking love, love, love, the family dynamic which includes his crazy Irish dad Seamus, nanny, and of course the totally mixed bag that is 10 diverse foster/adopted kids.

Bennett as a cop: he’s competent, he follows probably most of the rules, and isn’t afraid to throw his life down for the job if needed.  I think it’ll be interesting reading forward to see how he recovers mentally from the loss of his wife and if it affects his career

Love interests: thankfully Bennett is still loyal to the wife and then her memory in the first two books.  I loved how they made the most of their time together, it was cheesy but honestly felt like couples goals.  Bennett doesn’t have a partner or a go to person either so I can’t comment on his professional relationships

The cases: Bennett’s specialty was hostage negotiation, and both books ultimately deal with hostages.  The first in a big way, the second in smaller detail. I thought both books were exciting, quick reads, and pretty interesting case wise

The bad guys: ok, I have to admit that while the antics were real, the bad guys were probably the biggest struggle I had with the books.  The ‘clean man’ in Step on a Crack felt so unrealistic upon the reveal of who he was, even while it was a trip to try to guess his identity.

In Run for Your Life – I did like the villain, quite a bit, and found the whole thing entirely pulse pounding, while his motivation and reasoning ended up feeling iffy at best.

Overall: these are good reads, check them out if you like Cross and JP for sure.  I love them as palate cleansers in between more intellectual reads

⭐⭐⭐I rank the JP detectives in this order so far⭐⭐⭐

  1. Alex Cross
  2. Michael Bennett
  3. Jordan + MacDonald (NYPD Red)
  4. Lindsay Boxer (WMC books)

I did briefly check these out on audio, and they were a mixed bag. I like the sound effects. One narrator reads Bennett & Co, while the other reads the villain. I think they’re good audiobooks for driving or when you don’t need your whole brain, but I enjoyed reading more.

Categories
Fantasy Paranormal

Forging A Nightmare (Book Review) by Patricia A Jackson

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the finished copy of Forging a Nightmare, and for the opportunity to interview the author for the book’s tour! All thoughts are my own

This is my book review post though and I want to focus on the book itself, although the interview can be found at https://onereadingnurse.com/2021/11/28/4884/ for those interested!!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Forging a Nightmare
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Patricia A. Jackson
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, November 2021
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Rate & Recommend:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for fans of horse centric and urban fantasy, those interested in supporting BiPoc authors!

Here is the synopsis: 

FBI agent Michael Childs is tasked with tracking down a serial killer with an obsession for victims born with twelve fingers and toes. But he discovers something much more startling about himself…

The only link between a series of grisly murders in New York City is that the victims were all born with twelve fingers and twelve toes. These people are known in occult circles as the Nephilim, a forsaken people, descendants of fallen angels.

After a break in the case leads to supposedly killed-in-action Marine sniper Anaba Raines, Michael finds the soldier alive and well, but shockingly no longer human. Michael then discovers that he is also a Nephilim, and next on the killer’s list.

Everything Michael once thought of as myth and magic starts to blur the lines of his reality, forcing him to accept a new fate to save the innocent, or die trying.

There is a lot to unpack in this book! Let’s start with the lore and world building.  Jackson begins in modern day Earth, where a body is found desecrated by symbols and the FBI is called in to investigate.  From there she spins a story of angels both risen and fallen, biblical lore, tieing in other mythology, that takes the reader on a literal horseback ride from Hell to Heaven and everywhere in between.

I felt like I missed some of the significance of the lore since it had a very academic feel to it at times but I did truly enjoy the journey.  The four horsemen of the apocalypse’s story was brought to life and they were definitely my favorite characters as well.

You want snark, strong women, diverse casts, a little romance and a little heartbreak, and more snark to boot, these are good characters for you.  I think I liked Wyrmwood the most, also it was cool to meet the other angels of lore.

Let’s talk about the horses – Anaba is a marine, and from what I can tell human souls are taken and tortured, forged to become Nightmares.  These demonic mounts will do anything for their riders and had a quite interesting storyline too.  I think I might have been sobbing when Anaba rode a character to heaven, then turned around and ran back to hell.  I liked the Marine character too, it translated well into tbe role she played.  There was a lot of other horse centric material too that I enjoyed, including Michael (the main character) as a jouster.

There are a few things worth mentioning though about why I docked a star.  It was hard to tell how much time was passing as events unfolded.  There were so many major battles, life and death scrapes, and I lost track of how many times Michael died or nearly died. It lessened the punch and for a book that felt like it spanned years… I think it was a few weeks, max.  It took a bit to get the story rolling too and was pretty disjointed at first, although it definitely smoothed out.

I should talk a little more about the magic and other characters too! I liked the abilities of the horsemen and their nightmares.  The book was also seriously funny at times, like when Michael tamed the Leviathan and named it Harvey.  Tiamat, Loki, Lilith, and others make appearances too.  Additionally, the author isn’t afraid to make you cry!  I think my favorite part, other than the lore and horses, was the wide emotional range of the book.

Pardon my jumbled thoughts but as I said, a lot to unpack.  I hope you guys will check out the book if it sounds up your alley!  All Angry Robot books can be purchased directly from their website now too!

Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction Young Adult

Cinder (Book & Audiobook) by Marissa Meyers

I have been mostly mood reading this month, and I ended up finally grabbing Cinder by Marissa Meyers.  I am so late to the party with these older books. I have been seeing them everywhere for years and I guess late is better than never?

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Cinder
  • Series: The Lunar Chronicles
  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Publisher & Release:  Feiwel & Friends, January 2012
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes for fans of fairy tale retellings, YA, sci-fi, fast paced books, snarky princes, and villains 

Here is the synopsis:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

So I finally, finally started The Lunar Chronicles. I saw a lot of criticism for the poor world building but honestly, I don’t come to fairy tales and fairy tale retellings for world building and I think it would have slowed the book down immensely had Meyer taken the time to explain how Earth got to cyborgs, spaceships, and magical terrorists from the moon.

That said, oh my god, Cinderella with cyborgs

This book was fun! Don’t read into it too much – Cinder is a cyborg with a vicious step mother and one out of two step sisters is also a jerk. She loses a foot instead of a slipper. The handsome prince, Kai, is snarky and funny.  The book really does stay fairly true to Cinderella too but there are enough twists and turns and terrible things, as well as a vastly different ending, that I never felt too bored or too able to predict the story.  Minus the big twist – that one I got straightaway.

There are darker themes of oppression and war, plague, medical testing and death too.  In 2021 I don’t really want to read about death plagues and quarantine, but in 2012 I think this would have been an amazing book for me.  I liked that the Meyer took those darker turns too though, she’s not shy, and I just LOVED who ended up being the silent hero at the end. 

Happily ever after? No, not quite, Cinder is going to have to work for it

I liked Cinder, Iko, and Kai as characters, and the doctor too.  There is plenty of banter and snark for days.  The series villains are introduced – the Lunar Queen has mind control capabilities and is hellbent on war with Earthz whether or not she caves prince Kai into marriage.  I assume we are done with the stepmother but gosh did I want to smack that woman.

I docked one star because a tad bit more micro world building wouldn’t have hurt the plot.

What I really don’t like are the new cartoon covers, but I love the old ones.

For fans of: YA sci-fi, romance, retellings, fast paced books, and everything above.

A brief note on the audio: at slightly over 10 hours, narrated by one of my favorites, Rebecca Soler – this is a highly recommended audio from me. Rebecca is great at the robotic voices. Soler is probably a name recognized by most since her repertoire is insane, may be recognize her from the narration of the Caraval series, Seafire, Ashlords, some James Patterson books, and so many more including Renegades and Heartless, also by Meyer. By Macmillan audio

Categories
Fantasy Fiction

The Present (ARC Review) by Geanna Culbertson

I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing! You guys may have seen me posting about this book already, as I participated in the cover reveal before and shared my first impressions!

It took me forever but I finally finished The Present. Leading up to the holidays, now seems like a perfect time to share about the book.

Are you looking for a cute and meaningful take on a classic Christmas story? This is an adult (but with clean content) retelling of A Christmas Carol

So there is an agency of ghosts that Scrooge people every winter. The goal is to help the people who have lost the spirit of Christmas and goodwill to redeem their souls before they squander the gift of life

You can also search the author, Geanna Culbertson, on my website as I have reviewed a few of her Crisanta Knight books, and also featured an interview!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Present
  • Author: Geanna Culbertson
  • Publisher & Release: BQB Publishing, 11/3/21
  • Length: 527 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐ yes for fans of slow burning holiday stories and A Christmas Carol

Here is the synopsis:

A mystical agency exists that is responsible for creating Christmas Carol scenarios with preselected targets every December.

Employees of the agency work in either the Past, Present, or Future department and each year they are assigned a person on Earth in need of being “Scrooged,” as it were, so that person can reform and embrace the potential for goodness, love, and humanity they have in their hearts.

Frost Mason has worked in the Present department for almost a century and this Christmas is her 100th soul to save. The problem—Frost’s belief in the miracle of Christmas and what her agency does has started to fade because while many people commit to reforming after the “life-changing” experience of being Scrooged, human beings rarely change permanently and Frost has watched countless former Scrooges backtrack and return to their old ways once time has passed.

Frost must find a way to deal with her disenchantment over humanity’s potential to change while also working with her team to save the soul of this year’s Christmas Assignment: a young, up-and-coming political star running for governor.

I have to say that I was immediately sold on the synopsis! The author is known for morally rich, clean fiction, and I knew I wanted to read this one.

What I liked most about the theme was the idea that no matter what, it’s never too late to save yourself. It’s a great concept and so full of the Christmas spirit. Other themes include the importance of family, having loved ones and letting people in, friendship and more, including found family in a big way.

The book is funny at times, featuring baby reindeer and good cheer, and also sad at times as we watch Jay’s family life fall apart.

The best part is definitely the world building and magic. I love her envisioning of the ghostly realms and magic of christmas, which becomes a physical thing. The North Pole and even the headquarters of the CCD are well imagined and described. It’s a bit of a shock for the readers and the ghosts alike to learn about their afterlives and fate, and in all it’s again a great concept. Elves, penguin, reindeer, Santa and family, plus Spectre One and all the other ghosts – you will get lost in this magical world.

The characters are great too, Frost is redeeming herself as well as her Scrooge and it was a hard parallel. There are Claus’ and friends and a dog too. I liked the Child ghost that Frost was Paired with, their team was so mismatched! Jay tries to be likeable, I had mixed feelings but never truly disliked him.

So… Why only 3 stars? The hard part for me was that I think for adults, the level of breakdown and analysis into the moral points went way past what is required. It became repetitive and drawn out, bogging down the book, and I ended up in the 3 star range. The author does this in her middle grade/YA books as well and I think I was expecting less, not more in a book meant for adults where generally we can come to our own moral decisions with less prodding.

That said, I truly appreciate the jolt of christmas spirit that I received because I needed it.

Recap:

Holiday magic ✔ cheer ✔ baby reindeer ✔ Dickens Quotes ✔ more ✔

Definitely a slow burn but worth it in the end, and I recommend for anyone looking for a wholesome Christmas story!