Categories
Contemporary Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews Paranormal Thrillers Young Adult

September Unblogged Book Thoughts

I normally don’t do wrap up posts but I read quite a few books in September that I don’t plan on reviewing in depth, so here is a super quick summary of my reading month! If anyone searches for the titles at least it will show up somewhere now 😂

September:

1) Dreams of the Dying ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- I took the time to read the appendices and extras and therefore counted it as a September read.  Review here. Also the author is doing an extra special Sunday Brunch Series this month 😍

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2) Loves of Shadow and Power – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ review here. A good adult Asian mythology. Author Edith Pawlicki also did a wonderful SBAIS interview here!

3.  The Diviners by Libba Bray – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ loved it.  A fantastic audiobook. Review here

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4. Ringlander: The Path and the Way by Michael S. Jackson – ⭐⭐⚡ so I was part of a book tour for this one and truly just didn’t understand more than the bare bones of what was happening due to lack of background, plus the editing really ruined it for me. The book was a good idea though and did have some high points. I interviewed him for my tour stop and never posted a review.

5. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I really wanted to review each of these individually but it became too hard without spoilers.  Plus I binge read them so they all melded into one another.  Book 3 finally brought things together and I have a lot more respect for each of the queens.  Katharine is actually not a bad queen crowned and the others are each pulling their weight now.  Love all the plotting and sub plots and more plotting, plus lore and legends

6. On the Winds of Quasars by T.A. Bruno – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ this series is definitely my top sci-fi pick of the past two years. Only good things to say

7. The First Christmas by Steohen Mitchell ⭐⭐⭐⚡ – a different perspective on the nativity, stripped away the Christian lens to present a real/magic realism. Review here

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8. Speechless by Ava Cates ⭐⭐⭐- the author hates me for this one but I just can’t read books where high school kids go from class to class anymore. The editing on the Kindle version made it hard for me too, it was hard to tell chapter breaks and such. I think a little more supernatural background might have carried it for me but the details were slow coming. Either way this is a quick, high school age appropriate read with deaf rep. I think younger readers will love it!

9. The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg ⭐⭐⭐ I know I have been writing up reviews for the rest of the books in this series but this third installment was my least favorite so far. The chemistry and banter totally carried the book since I really didn’t think the case and con were as interesting as the others. They lost me on the fake sunken treasure scheme and trying to understand how it worked. They had a point about men and shiny beepy consoles though 😂 I just love O’Hara’s dad and his fixation with weaponry, but overall this one fell flat

10. The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I am actually going to blog this one next so hold my thoughts. It’s a beautifully wonderfully dark YA debut that made me so sad but it’s perfect for fall

11. Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐ haha ok I really liked what she did with the ending. Each queen finally bucked up and put their big girl pants on and did what they had to do for the island and the people.  We finally got some main character deaths and I am more or less onboard with who Blake chose to off vs. keep alive! She commented on my Instagram post too so that’s amazing!

 11.5 The Young Queens by Kendare Blake – I liked the novella a lot! It was good to get more background into the raising and separations and early lives of the queens.  Mirabella and Luca stole the show in this one, I would have seen them in a totally new light having read this novella before the books. I would either read it after the second or third if it were me again

Categories
audiobooks Thrillers

The Chase (Book thoughts) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

These books are so much fun. I always liked heist books in the fantasy genre, but they are really good too in the contemporary setting.  I think if anyone reads The Heist and finds it too ridiculous, give the series one more book because The Chase is more streamlined and I thought it was better overall!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Chase
  • Series: Fox and O’Hare, #2
  • Author: Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
  • Publisher & Release: Bantam, 2014
  • Length: 320
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fun and a fun audiobook as well

Here is the book blurb:

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, bestselling authors of The Heist, return in this action-packed, exciting adventure featuring master con artist Nicolas Fox and die-hard FBI agent Kate O’Hare. And this time around, things go from hot to nuclear when government secrets are on the line.
 
Internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox is famous for running elaborate and daring scams. His greatest con of all: convincing the FBI to team him up with the only person who has ever caught him, and the only woman to ever capture his attention, Special Agent Kate O’Hare. Together they’ll go undercover to swindle and catch the world’s most wanted—and untouchable—criminals.

Their newest target is Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff and the ruthless leader of a private security agency. Grove has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, a crime that will torpedo U.S. relations with China if it ever becomes public. Nick and Kate must work under the radar—and against the clock—to devise a plan to steal the piece back. Confronting Grove’s elite assassins, Nick and Kate rely on the skills of their ragtag crew, including a flamboyant actor, a Geek Squad techie, and a band of AARP-card-carrying mercenaries led by none other than Kate’s dad.

A daring heist and a deadly chase lead Nick and Kate from Washington, D.C., to Shanghai, from the highlands of Scotland to the underbelly of Montreal. But it’ll take more than death threats, trained henchmen, sleepless nights, and the fate of a dynasty’s priceless heirloom to outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

Fox and O’Hare are all across the world from Scotland to Montreal in this one. They are trying to nail a retired White House chief of staff, who is involved with some absolutely heinous international criminal activity including funding of multiple extremist groups, practically starting or at least encouraging civil wars, and art theft.

Willy and Boyd are back as well as a new member of the crew named Joe, a computer hacker, and it’s a great group. They are all good humored people who need the money.  Boyd in the pancake suit was… 😂

It’s exciting, dramatic, there are plenty of explosions and danger and things gone wrong.  The heist itself was pretty brilliant, but also had much higher stakes than the first book.  I love these little pageturners.

Kate and Nick are working out their dynamic now, and it’s both exciting and funny at times.  They have amazing banter. The scene in the hotel hallway had me cracking up when she was *definitely not* peeking through her fingers at him.

Overall I think the dialogue and banter carries these books a long way, even with all the excitement going on.

Don’t forget Jake and the senior citizen Army veterans swooping in to save the day again, I hate to say but I think they are my favorite characters so far!

A quick note on the audio- Scott Brick does a great job keeping things entertaining! Definitely recommend these on audio since it doesn’t require a ton of brain power to follow, they are good driving books! It was released in 2014 from Random House Audio, running just about 9 hours!

From butt cheeks to Hellfire missiles I definitely think that fans of FBI Thrillers, heists, comedy, and any other fans of the genre should check these books out!

Categories
Adventure audiobooks Fiction Thrillers

The Heist (Book Review) by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

This is another one of those backlist books that I don’t always blog about, but I have decided that it’s important to share joy and I really freaking enjoyed listening to this book on Audio!

This is an adult series where the FBI ropes an agent and a conman into performing heists and cons together in order to nail bad guys that the FBI probably couldn’t get to by conventional means.  I knew that I liked heist books in fantasy, so I figured why not try it in a contemporary setting!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Heist
  • Series: Fox and O’Hare, #1
  • Author: Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg
  • Publisher & Release: Bantam, June 2013
  • Length: 320 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend:  Yes for some summer fun

((The audiobook is from 2013, Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, about 8 hours long and narrated by Scott Brick))

Here is the bookblurb from Amazon:

From Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels, and Lee Goldberg, bestselling author and television writer for Monk, comes the first adventure in an electrifying new series featuring an FBI agent who always gets her man, and a fearless con artist who lives for the chase.

FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare is known for her fierce dedication and discipline on the job, chasing down the world’s most wanted criminals and putting them behind bars. Her boss thinks she is tenacious and ambitious; her friends think she is tough, stubborn, and maybe even a bit obsessed. And while Kate has made quite a name for herself for the past five years, the only name she’s cared about is Nicolas Fox—an international crook she wants in more ways than one.

Audacious, handsome, and dangerously charming, Nicolas Fox is a natural con man, notorious for running elaborate scams on very high-profile people. At first he did it for the money. Now he does it for the thrill. He knows that the FBI has been hot on his trail—particularly Kate O’Hare, who has been watching his every move. For Nick, there’s no greater rush than being pursued by a beautiful woman . . . even one who aims to lock him up. But just when it seems that Nicolas Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: he convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working side by side with Special Agent Kate O’Hare.

Problem is, teaming up to stop a corrupt investment banker who’s hiding on a private island in Indonesia is going to test O’Hare’s patience and Fox’s skill. Not to mention the skills of their ragtag team made up of flamboyant actors, wanted wheelmen, and Kate’s dad. High-speed chases, pirates, and Toblerone bars are all in a day’s work . . . if O’Hare and Fox don’t kill each other first.

This was my first Evanovich book, and I was kind of expecting to see a little bit of Monk in it too since Lee Goldberg is the co-author.  I didn’t get that vibe except for the ridiculous plot in general, and I think that he might have contributed some of the funnier bits?

The plot is absolutely ridiculous but it made for a fun read, or listen.  The action is extremely fast paced and Scott Brick is an entertaining narrator.  I don’t think you need 100% brainpower to listen to these books either which is a huge plus since I usually listen while driving!

The characters are amazing;  Kate OHare is an ex-navy seal (I don’t think that is realistic but it makes for a good story) and Nick Fox is a brilliant con artist that Kate has been chasing for years.  Pairing them up creates all the tension and humor you would expect from that situation.

The other members of the heist team are funny too.  There’s a hilarious lady who likes to drive just about anything with a motor.  Fox creates hilarious fake names for them while traveling too.  My favorite character though was Kate’s dad, he was (I think) a Marine? and they keep joking that he can kill someone 16 ways with a pair of tweezers and it’s probably accurate.  Him and another senior citizen ex-military swooped in and saved the day in the best fashion ever, but I also just liked his relationship with Kate.

All in all: recommending if you are looking for a fast paced, light read, and can laugh about the ridiculous plot and take it for entertainment value and a few laughs.  I wouldn’t call it in any way shape or form a literary masterpiece but it made me happy!

Have you guys read anything by Evanovich? I think it worked in my favor that I haven’t read any Plum books and can’t compare them!

Categories
Crime Mysteries Suspense

Unholy Murder (Book Review) by Lynda LaPlante

Thank you so much to Bookish First and the publisher for my finished paperback review copy of Unholy Murder!  Thankfully I remember most of the British slang I had to look up whilw reading Judas Horse, so this was a fairly smooth reading experience!

This is my first read in the Tennison series, though I have liked her DS Jack Warr books quite a bit.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Unholy Murder
  • Series: Tennison, #7
  • Author: Lynda LaPlants
  • Publisher & Release: Zaffre, 08/19/21
  • Length: 416 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend: Yes for fans of crime drama

Here is the Book Blurb:

A coffin is dug up by builders in the grounds of an historic convent – inside is the body of a young nun.

In a city as old as London, the discovery is hardly surprising. But w hen scratch marks are found on the inside of the coffin lid, Detective Jane Tennison believes she has unearthed a mystery far darker than any she’s investigated before. However, not everyone agrees. Tennison’s superiors dismiss it as an historic cold case, and the Church seems desperate to conceal the facts from the investigation. It’s clear that someone is hiding the truth, and perhaps even the killer. Tennison must pray she can find both – before they are buried forever…

In Unholy Murder, Tennison must lift the lid on the most chilling murder case of her career to date . . .

A coffin is unearthed at a dig site attached to an old convent, and the police are called in case there is a body inside! Has the ground been de consecrated? Who would kill a nun and why? Tennison and DS Boon end up having to solve a murder that must have happened at least 25+ years ago.  I didn’t realize that these books take place in the 80s, once Jane took her typewriter out of a cupboard I kind of went “ohhh so that’s why these guys don’t have cell phones!”

There was a lot of interesting information about the church, sisters vs nuns, convents and burial rites in the book.  Lots of different theories tying into the murder(s), one of which was that the builders were involved. Or was it other nuns? A local priest? The Bishop had done some serious, serious cover ups in the past so the plethora of potential suspects and theories kept it interesting for me.  The church looks real great in this one but it was interesting to see internal politics in play.

Most of the theories had some grain of truth in them too, and LaPlante keeps me turning the pages for sure. It was a good mystery but not so much of a thriller, I think the “crime drama” or mysery genre fits it well. I would have never guessed who either murderer was.

My main issue with the book was that I just really didn’t like Tennison very much. I do wonder if reading the prior books would help connect to her more though.  None of her personal relationships seemed realistic. The book happened over a fairly short period of time and Jane was practically in love with a guy she had just met and shagged one or two times. She is a good investigator but needs to learn to work with the team – it was a little bit satisfying that she had gotten reprimanded for keeping things to herself, and then someone died as a result – like maybe she will learn to trust in the future finally?

I think Barnes, Boon, and Stanley were my favorites, they all had a turnaround related to their jobs and came up big at the end.

Definitely recommend this author for fans of crime dramas, she is a great writer as far as keeping things flowing and interesting

Who is your favorite crime drama author? I think I like British crime dramas more than American ones

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews Thrillers

Kiss the Girls, Read the Books (Review and Other Thoughts)

In between ARCs and requests, I have fallen back on some older,”fluff” reads this month.  I don’t always blog about them but I have a few things to say about the community right now and this review is a good gateway to that.

Not that James Patterson’s early books are fluff – ten years ago they were way way WAY too graphic for me, but now I just freaking love the danger, edgy violence, crazy serial killers, and all the psychology that Patterson crammed into those early Cross books.

Before the review I just want to say that there are plenty of things that bar access to literature – money, poverty, education, geographical location, random sociopolitical issues, transportation, books that are banned and unavailable in some regions, out of print/rare books ….etc etc etc.

The one thing I firmly believe is that PEOPLE are not an acceptable barrier.  Guilt should not be a barrier.  Read what you want, whether it’s romance, liberal, lgbtq, conservative, religious, fantasy, wizards, or even James Patterson (who gets so much hate! Like why!).  Don’t let hate stop you! I had someone tell me I must be stupid for reading him and – I just laughed, scrolled on, and said “well they’re missing out but that’s their choice”.  This is what bookstagram has devolved into! Literary snobs and the woke mob mentality are both wildly unacceptable to me but I’ve long since learned to just. keep. scrolling.

Point is – read books and enjoy your short time on Earth because hate, guilt, ostracism in any form is not an acceptable barrier to literature. 


Crap now that I typed all that I don’t care about the review anymore, but here it is:

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Kiss The Girls
  • Series: Alex Cross #
  • Publisher: originally Little, Brown and Company, 1995
  • Length: 464
    • Rate: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 not for the squeamish

Remember two years ago I was going to read the Cross books in order like I started to with the Prey books? 

I am an utterly shameless JP freak and I love these early books. This is easily one of the ones that would have made me cringe as a teenage or new adult reader but now … sign me up.  Casanova is a serial kidnapper/murderer/rapist hunting the Chapel Hill, NC area. The Gentleman Caller is another serial killer on the west coast and appears to be getting sloppy. Alex Cross’ niece goes missing and all of a sudden he is thrown into this insane jurisdictional kerfuffle to catch one or both of these men that appear to be either cooperating, competing, or worse

Action packed, graphic, truly scary, and you know that (once again) I totally picked the wrong bad guy, although I was closer than I usually am.  I love the constant feeling of danger, fast pace of the book, and how much Cross loves his family.  The psychology is interesting too, and there is plenty of it.  Cross got a little more vulnerable in this one too which was nice to see, a character progression from Along Came a Spider.

Docked one star for the creepy description of Casanova, Patterson got a little weird there describing the 🍆 and even for the 1990s, it seemed like poor taste to put that into Cate’s point of view.  I damn know that that poor women wasn’t thinking “oh my, what a large and bright 🍆 he has” …. … Bright? What like a lightbulb? Flashnight? Rudolph the red nosed penis? 😳 l*rd almighty.

Cate was such a bad ass though, so tough, she got away and saved the others.  She’s one of my favorite Cross side characters out there.

It was even weirder listening to Michael Kramer say it because he narrates the Wheel of Time books and I just couldn’t stop laughing every time he said “tick cock”.  I think I was in actual tears when the “Hickory, dickory, cock” line happened.  Is that the most quoteable thing from this book? I really gave it a very strong four stars!

I do recommend both the Cross series for thriller, detective, psychological thriller fans, and Michael Kramer as a narrator if anyone is into audiobooks.  He can be a little hard to understand but I just keep him at 1.25 speed and

Heck I’m sorry this was the longest post ever, stay tuned for more ARC reviews and current reads this week!


From the book blurb:

From the Back Cover

This time it’s personal for Cross. The most elusive of killers has abducted Cross’s niece, Naomi, a talented law student. Only such a devastating blow could bring the detective back – this time to the Deep South, where old slave prisons are buried in the forests, and houses of horror can disappear as in your worst nightmare. Naomi’s kidnapping rips Alex Cross away from his kids and his jazz piano and sends him south with several questions burning in his mind. Why did the police wait seventy-two hours before beginning their search? And what is the head of the FBI doing at the scene of a small-town crime? Meanwhile, somewhere out there Casanova is living a secret fantasy. In his private hideaway, the world’s greatest lover has assembled seven of the South’s most extraordinary young women for his personal use. It’s an accomplishment he can share with only one other soulmate – and that’s definitely not his wife back in suburbia. But Casanova doesn’t count on the exceptional abilities of one of his harem – or having Alex Cross as a nemesis.

Amazon
Categories
Fantasy Thrillers

Comfort Me With Apples (ARC Review) by Catherynne M. Valente

Thank you so much to Tordotcom for the ARC of Comfort Me With Apples!  I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own! 

The editorial letter states that the book is extremely hard to describe because of spoilers, and that we just have to read it. I completely agree with this! I definitely really enjoyed it and recommend for a short, fast paced fall read with tons of atmosphere

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Comfort Me With Apples
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Catherynne M. Valente
  • Publisher & Release: TorDotCom – 10/26/21
  • Length: 112 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 for pretty much anyone, it crosses genres!

Here is the book blurb:

A terrifying new thriller from bestseller Catherynne M. Valente …

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…

But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

Other than the book blurb, I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself because the whole thing leads up to the twist! The book lives for the twist.

Sophia is happy, living a perfect life in a perfect community called Arcadia Gardens. The book almost immediately starts introducing some fairy tale elements, but the reader has no idea what direction the story is going in. Is it a fairytale retelling? A fantasy? A new legend? Something out of folklore or mythology? A combination? Why is Sophia finding bones in the house and cracks in the facade of her existence?

With beautiful imagery, a mystery to solve, a general sense of unease, and a deeply atmospheric fairytale tone of voice, definitely you just have to read this one to find out exactly what is going on in Arcadia Gardens.  

It lists as a domestic thriller, fantasy, mythology.  I think there’s something in it for most readers, and it’s so short that it can be read in one sitting on a breezy October afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

The Therapist (Book Review) by B.A. Paris

I am endlessly grateful to St. Martin’s Press for the finished hardcover of The Therapist by B.A. Paris! All opinions are my own!

I know I started this month strong with review content but I broke my brain with overtime and barely sleeping, and backed off on additional screen time for a bit. I posted this book to Instagram almost two weeks ago near it’s release date and I am catching up on full reviews now!

Press kit contents for The Therapist, out 7/13/21

Bookish Quick Facts:

  •  Title: The Therapist
  • Author: B.A. Paris
  • Release: St Martin’s Press, 7/13/21
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for fans of psychological suspense!

Here is the book blurb:

The multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapista powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem… 

So I read Bring Me Back recently by the same author, and The Therapist absolutely blew that book out of the water. Alice and Leo move into a wealthy gated community called The Circle, and soon enough Alice gets mixed up in a murder investigation. There are noises in the house at night, little strange things happening, and all the neighbors are suspects.

I really enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on, and how the killings were linked. I got the Who but not the How or Why, and still thoroughly enjoyed the journey to get there. There was also a little bonus twist of trying to figure out who the actual therapist was, and discovering Alice’s biggest, darkest secret.

The characters do play a huge role in this one too.  I didn’t dislike Alice but she isn’t the most likeable character, and she really could stand to see a therapist herself after the death of her sister.  Leo is Alice’s fiancee and seems to almost immediately start messing with her.  The neighbors are a clique already and you’ll just have to meet them as you read.

I docked one star for the he-said-she-said getting a bit repetitive, and I would have liked to see a little more of the psychology throughout the book.  There was some though, and what I really liked was the pervading sense of danger I felt for Alice once the book got going. This is generally a fast paced book that I can recommend for fans of psychological thrillers and suspense books. 

And the pages smelled excellent 😂

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

The Photographer (ARC Review) by Mary Dixie Carter

Another day in July, another great book!

Thank you so much to Minotaur Books for the advanced readers copy and press box for The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter! I believe that I won this in a Shelf Awareness giveaway and am duly grateful and read it as soon as I could!

My favorite thing about ARCs is when there is an author or editor letter! In this case, even before reading the book, the executive editor had me excited for it! Her letter to the readers exuded genuine excitement and I really believe that every book deserves an editor to gush like so!

My main takeaway from the book is this question: in the theme of creating the images and digital content that we want to see, versus what we want others to see … What are we actually creating?

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Photographer
  • Series: N/a
  • Author: Mary Dixie Carter
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books, 05/25/21
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟for psychological/suspense fans!

Here is the book blurb from Amazon:

Mary Dixie Carter’s The Photographer is a slyly observed, suspenseful story of envy and obsession, told in the mesmerizing, irresistible voice of a character who will make you doubt that seeing is ever believing.

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene―in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.

^ And oh WOW can Delta manipulate photos  I would definitely not want anyone with those skills taking pictures of me or my family!!  It was so interesting to read about the programs and ways that light and photography can be manipulated.  I am not sure how much is real but I’m sure there is similar technology out there.

This is just such a delightfully strange book.  It reminded me immensely of One Hour Photo – remember Robin Williams creeping out those parents but he was just a sort of creepy, really lonely old dude who was probably harmless?

In contrast, Delta Dawn is the high profile photographer of the elite and wealthy in this novel.  I don’t think she is intending harm but she is one of those memorable, strange, “just why” type of characters that makes me wonder what deep-rooted issues she has from her childhood.  There are hints about it, such as growing up in Disney housing with busy parents and living a very fictitious childhood, bur I really just wanted to know WHY!

A character remarks that Delta could in fact have a very wonderful and normal life, but that’s not what she wants.  (P.S. what actually happened to that character)?? She is pretty and smart and an absolutely elite photographer, but that wouldn’t make a good suspense novel now would it?

The complicated dynamic of the Straub family was interesting to see as well, there was a lot of dysfunction that allowed Delta to come in and start manipulating.  I liked how much detail was paid to the old dog in the house too, I just wanted to hug the poor dude.

Anyway- definitely recommend this one to lovers of psychological suspense, suspense in general, and anyone looking for a quick moving summer read.  The twist wasn’t huge but it did the trick for me to come to a solid 4!

Categories
Paranormal

Shadow Stained (Book Review) by Rachel Hobbs

Thank you so much to Rachel Hobbs for reaching out to respond to an open interview call for my blog! While that feature will be coming later this month, I also read and reviewed her debut novel Shadow Stained!

At least as we speak, the novel is available on Kindle Unlimited and I found it to be a well formatted and compatible copy!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Shadow Stained
  • Series: Stones of Power, #1
  • Author: Rachel Hobbs
  • Publisher & Release: Nielsen, 03/05/20
  • Length: 360 pages
  • Rate & recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of paranormal, demons, etc!

Here is the book blurb from Amazon:

For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.

When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.

Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.

The Plot & Story: This is a paranormal adventure for adult readers, where a young woman and her stone of power inadvertently draw the attention of a demon lord. This escalates into a fullscale invasion of Earth and exciting battle of the most powerful demons in the realm. There is also this ongoing back and forth of whether or not the demon lord and girl will ever just get together already. I still am not sure on that point, I honestly thought it was going to be a paranormal romance (but it isn’t thankfully).

It’s an interesting and quickly moving story. I don’t read very much in this genre so it’s pretty new to me in general.

The characters: the demon, Drayvex, is everything. He is such a sociopath and total egomaniac but has a small amount of cinnamon-roll filling inside, and man does he HATE it! His dialogue and monologue, alongside the plot itself, carried the book for me.  It helps that he has a darkly attractive human form.

Ruby is not a bad character but she has no fighting prowess at all, no clue what’s going on, and can’t defend herself. She wants to stay and fight demons even though she’s almost died multiple times and Drayvex has to keep rescuing her.  I think I would have liked her more if she wasn’t so entirely helpless.  Ruby is some kind of witch or cursed, or something, but the most paranormal thing that happened to her before Drayvex is that she is drawn to occult objects at garage sales? I would have liked to know what this is all hinting at, since it is known to other characters that she is special but the reader gets no indication as to why.  Which means I’m reading book 2.

I really just want more Drayvex.

The side character demons created some funny moments as well. The lower level ones are not very smart, and sometimes created a three stooges feel.  I loved the little chef demon 😍

The Worldbuilding: The descriptions of the demon world were very well done. I loved the twinkling red stars and red sands, as well as the description of the throne.   With a new world like that I want to know what it sounds, smells, feels like.  I want to be standing at the foot of those black mountains! I got small European village vibes from the time on Earth, with plenty of rain.  

Misc: With a tad more to make me care for Ruby and one more round of edits, I would really enjoy this snarky duo.  One thing I want to say is that Drayvex reminded me of the Monty Python skit “The Many Uses of the Word Fuck” – it’s a noun, an adverb, lol.  In an adult novel this is fine and I did love his personality.

Overall I think it’s a solid debut, and I plan on reading the next in the series! Would recommend for fans of paranormal, demons, and snarky bad boy characters

Categories
Fiction General Fiction Literary Fiction

We Are the Brennans (ARC Review) by Tracey Lange

Thank you so much to my partner Celadon Books for the advanced copy of We Are the Brennans! This is a complicated family drama that explores life in a large Irish family, the effects of shame and secrets, poor decisions, and how much love holds everyone together at the end of the day.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: We Are the Brennans
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Tracey Lange
  • Publisher & Release: Celadon Books, 08/03/21
  • Length: 271 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🍀🍀🍀🍀 Sure for fans of family dramas

Here is the Book Blurb from Amazon:

In the vein of Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest, Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans explores the staying power of shame—and the redemptive power of love—in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.

When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.

Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together

The synopsis does a fantastic job of summarizing the story.  What happens after one generation’s morals and misgivings seeps down into the lives of their children?  Is running away the answer to a terrible event, and what will it take to bring everyone back together?  I think the author drew a lot on her own family experiences to make this story work, I don’t feel like it’s something that can be well written without growing up in a large Irish family yourself.

The characters are really everything in this novel.  Mickey is the father, suffering from early dementia, and it was always his job to take care of the family.  The mom is now deceased but I got the impression that she made up a lot of medical ailments for attention, to the point where it nearly ruined Sunday, the daughter’s, life.  Shane is the youngest child and has some kind of developmental disorder that took up even more of the siblings’ time and attention, but they all rallied around him as kids. 

Now as adults, Sunday took off to California in a hurry, and the two remaining middle brothers (5 siblings total) as well as Sunday’s ex, an adopted family member more or less, are left to shoulder the family responsibility.  They are also managing near financial ruin while expanding their pub business. Enter Sunday coming home in the midst of all of this after a drunk driving crash …. and you have the beginning of We Are the Brennans.

I think the staples of Irish family drama are secrets – check.  Shame – check.  Irish Catholics covering up bad decisions – check. Maybe some undercover or shady business – check.  What set this one apart to me was the strength of the characters, the sibling bonds, the size of the hearts capable of forgiving and moving forward together after the secrets are aired… and who inadvertently saves the day at the end.   The writing is also very smooth and flows well from chapter to chapter despite the different view points, and I do like how each character’s voice is so distinct.

The ending left a lot of things open to interpretation but the main storylines were wrapped up – and this may be added in the final copy but I think it could have used an epilogue.  Give us a glimpse of how everything settled 10 years down the road.  Did true love or duty win out? Did everything work out for better or for worse?  How did the one little boy make out with the family changes? I don’t mind having these questions at the end but I would have 5 starred it with an epilogue.

Celadon puts out some very distinctive literary fiction, I would recommend for fans of family dramas, general fiction, and literary fiction!