Review | One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus | Released May 30, 2017 by Delacorte Press | Rating: star-rating-3 | Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Mystery| Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. 
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. 

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? 

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

One of Us Is LyingHigh school can be such a bitch.

Even more so when you have someone pulling a Gossip Girl and sharing all your secrets with the world.

I liked this book. I’m very particular about which YA books I’ll read – I’m not a fan of YA romance at all – but I did enjoy this book.

I’ll say this about it, if you love mysteries and thrillers but YA isn’t really your thing you may want to pass. But if you don’t mind the high school setting this is good mystery.

 

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Review | The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Hunger by Alma Katsu | Released March 6, 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons | Rating: star-rating-4 | Genre: Fiction, Horror, Historical Fiction, Mystery| Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere.

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck–the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history.

While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions–searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand–evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves “What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased…and very hungry?”

The HungerWell, damn this is a good book!

I don’t really know what else to say about it. Ok, I take that back. The only thing that’s keeping this from being a 5 star review is that there wasn’t a fall out of your seat, jaw dropping moment.

Aside from that, I was immediately hooked from the first. The Hunger is a great twist on the tale of the Donner party that makes for sheer suspense. I highly recommend reading this book. I already want to read it again!

But don’t take my word for it. Take Stephen King’s:

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Review | The Thirst by Jo Nesbø

The Thirst by Jo Nesbø | Released May 9, 2017 by Knopf | Rating: star-rating-3-and-a-half | Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Fiction | Amazon | Goodreads

SynposisThe murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue—fragments of rust and paint in her wounds—leaves the investigating team baffled.
Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene.

The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger.

But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away. 

The Thirst (Harry Hole, #11)See the source image

If you didn’t know, I love the Harry Hole series. I own almost all the books (and I’m very picky about which books I’ll actually buy; I usually check out from the library), and have read a few of them multiple times.

The Thirst is book 11 in the series and I so wanted to love this book. I was mildly disappointed by Police (the 10th book in the series) and was hoping that The Thirst would bring back the thrill and suspense of Phantom, The Leopard and The Snowman. Which, this book did, up until about a little over halfway through the book.

My main hang up with The Thirst is that it’s too long. You think the book has reached it’s natural conclusion and then it keeps going. There’s one more twist (which to me wasn’t super twisty) before it ends. I could have done without the last few chapters, or some chapters in the middle could have been removed instead.

Overall, I liked the book. I didn’t know where it was going for most of it and enjoyed reading it until the last several chapters, which became a bit tedious. I probably won’t read it again, but I’m glad I read it.

 

Review | The Girl Before by JP Delaney

The Girl Before by JP Delaney | Released January 24, 2017 by Ballentine Books | Rating: 3.5/5| Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction | Amazon | Goodreads

The Girl BeforeThis book is the exact reason why you shouldn’t get a “smart” house.  Image result for scared gif

As far as thrillers go, The Girl Before is one I would recommend. Yes, it is vaguely reminiscent of some other thrillers I’ve read lately, but it’s paced well and held my attention.

I will say that I have slightly mixed feelings about the books female characters, Emma and Jane; their development, attitude/outlook and overall believably. This definitely wasn’t enough for me to dislike the book or stop reading. I won’t go into much further detail to avoid spoilers, other than to say it would be nice to read a book with more fully-formed, multidimensional female characters. I think, at times, this book tried, but just missed the mark.

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The long and short of it – it was a good, quick read. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat and there are no jaw dropping moments, but it held my attention and I enjoyed it.

SynopsisPlease make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive – and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant – and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street, she is instantly drawn to the space – and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror as the girl before.

 

Review | Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King | Released June 3, 2013 by Scribner | Rating: 4/5 | Genre: Crime, Mystery, Fiction, Thriller | Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)Man, I love a book that has literal jaw dropping moments!See the source image

This is only my third Stephen King novel after The Dark Tower and Sleeping Beauties (the later of which I highly recommend!) and I loved it.

Granted, I am a total detective/murder-mystery novel junkie, but this book is fantastic. I “read” a lot of my books via audio books while I’m working. Sometimes this is problematic. Sometimes, I find I’m focusing more on work and miss key points in the story, and sometimes the book is sooooo gripping that I find I’m not actually working but just sitting like an idiot, listening in shock, or wonder, or awe.

Mr. Mercedes is one of those books that proved to be an issue listening to it while working. I was so engrossed that I found myself zoning out and just listening to what was happening and not actually working – this really doesn’t happen that often and I’m usually able to focus on both work and the book so I use this as a measure of a great read.

In short, this book was gripping, engrossing, and thrilling the entire way through. It should be no shock that Stephen King, knows how to get into the mind of and create a twisted killer antagonist and create an interesting protagonists.

Review | The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz | Released June 28, 2016 by Mira | Rating: 3/5| Genre: Romance, Mystery, Fiction | Amazon | Goodreads

SynopsisWhen Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it’s property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

The Bourbon Thief

How many books have you read where you have an actual WTF! moment? For better or worse, if a book can make you gesture wildly while reading it, it’s doing s o m e t h i n g!

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I started this book and was instantly hooked. I love a good family mystery/dark secrets story and this has it all and then some. Usually, I am not one for much of any romance in books, and I didn’t even mind it in here. Reisz knows how to write a steamy story that has chemistry jumping off the page. Not to mention, a plot that keeps you guessing and grappling the whole way through.

Here’s the bummer. There’s a big shock moment. I won’t go into detail about it but it’s there and I was not a fan. Honestly, it’s the big flaw in an otherwise awesome story. I finished the book, but my excitement waned quite a bit after this WTF moment.

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Because of this, I gave the book barely 3 stars. It would have been a wonderful story, a great story except for that left turn.

Review | Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

2 stars

Lotto and Mathilde have it all. They’re both enigmatic and dazzling with the perfect marriage and they’re the perfect couple. But every marriage has two side and nothing is ever as it seems on the surface. Told from the point of view of both Lotto and Mathilde, the truth that lies under a marriage is never what it seems.

I really, really, REALLY wanted to love this book. I started it four different times (I’ve been reading this since 2015) and finally was able to be gripped by it, only to be let go unceremoniously and suddenly.

Ultimately, it will remain unfinished for me. I made it 3/4 of the way through but can’t bring myself to care at all about Mathilde and her point of view. She is an unlikable and unrepeatable character, which may or may not be the point. In any case, her side of the story left me restless and bored.

Review | The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

Gripping thriller that leaves you wondering, ‘where exactly is this going?the whole way through.

This is the first book I’ve read by Kate Moretti and I enjoyed it. While it isn’t a heart pounding, edge of your seat, roller-coaster ride, it’s a book that keeps you guessing and offers a lot of food for thought.

While the book starts off a bit slow, I was soon engrossed and left constantly questioning which direction the story is going. Moretti creates a group of complex characters; disgraced high school teacher Nate Winters and his wife Alicia, who’s struggling coming to terms with their young autistic son. Fellow teacher, Bridgette, whose husband passed away a year ago and Lucia, the high school student who accuses Nate of indecent behavior and suddenly goes missing. None of these characters are perfect. They are real and fragmented. At times unlikable, but nevertheless relatable in one way or another.

{Guest Post} Review | The Handmaid’s Tale

38447The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood | Published: 1985 by McClelland and Stewart | Rating: 4.5/5 | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Classic Literature

 

 

A dystopian novel that is set in the “near future” in what was formerly the United States. Government has been overthrown by a Christian theocracy aka a theocratic military dictatorship and women have lost ALL rights… which is putting that very lightly… And honestly not all of the men have many rights either as they are also held to, though much more loosely or with more rights overall, the moral dictates of the Giliad regime.

Told through the 1st person accounts of whom we know as “Offred,” which is quite literally of-Fred, and her flashbacks to her life before the overthrow of the government as well as her time spent during the indoctrination period in which she, and other “handmaids,” are spoon fed all the information needed to become docile, unquestioning, unthinking handmaids. Their duty to provide a child to their “commander” and his wife during a sex ritual, which the wife is present for… Um so yeah, yay public sex acts in a very closed minded Christian society…

The book, which was written in 1985, eerily sounds like the Christian Radical movements of current times as they push for more and more “Christian” and “moral” precedence, as they see it. Placing blame on one religion, Islam, for their problems and then forcing their Christian beliefs down everyone’s throats for their own benefit. For myself reading the novel I could very easily imagine the fanatics of today taking their beliefs and pushing us into some semblance of the society written about in this book… So needless to say it was freaking horrifying for me as a female and a liberal who thoroughly believes in every person’s right to their own person, human rights and the like!!!

Overall it was a very good, if not somewhat disturbing, read at how things could be when taken over by a group of religious zealots. I would recommend this book and especially for a group or class where open discussion can happen. There is a lot there to discuss and dissect. It would be a really deep one to get into and I, myself, would thoroughly enjoy the discussions possible there.

The book ends with an epilogue of sorts which is actually a class discussion in the year 2195. We can glean that the Giliad society is no longer governing and the history is being discussed much like we would hear in a college class today about ancient history. The professors and the students alike lightly mock the society, in that educated sort of way, as who could fathom such archaic ideas of thinking.  I could easily see this as a current history class in which we would similarly look so lightly on things such as feet binding; how backwards and unthinkable, but all the same it did happen and exist for those people who found it very real.

The book brought up some interesting thoughts for myself, personally, and I hope this book will do the same for you. At least get the wheels turning anyway! Read the book, because I said so!

Kisses until next time,

(Gotta try to end this on a light note alright)

Celia

 

 

Review | Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

9780316176484_custom-471ca800e5fe1258f2d4059059b24d8c1d95a7ba-s6-c30Life After Life by Kate Atkinson | Released March 14, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Genre: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction | Amazon | Goodreads

 

Life After Life is the third book I’ve read this year. (I’m slowly catching up with my reviews. Please await with baited breath!) It is also somewhat of a genre departure for me, as I tend to read mostly detective, murder/mystery, suspense/thriller novels. Life After Life, however is more of a historical fiction with some elements of Science Fiction in it.
Allow me to explain…

Spanning between 1910 and 1967, Life After Life tells the story of Ursula Todd. Ursula was born and then dies before drawing her first breath. Ursula Todd is born again. Throughout her life, Ursula will die numerous times. Each time, she’ll live again, going back to the catalyst to try another path until she gets it right.

I ‘read’ this novel via audio book, which may be part of the reason I had a hard time with it. The book was a slow start, before getting somewhat interesting (albeit somewhat confusing as well) towards the middle before falling flat once again. There wasn’t really much of a climax in the sense that there really wasn’t a edge-of-your-seat moment(s) in the book.

I confess, I only finished this book out of necessity – because when I don’t finish books, they tend to stick around in my brain, continually surging to the front, making me wonder how they end, even if I am not completely in love with the story. I need to know what the payoff is. I’m not entirely sure what that was supposed to be for this book. I suppose, I might have appreciated this book more if this were the type of book I read more often or I thoroughly enjoyed intense introspection after reading. I don’t.

As I said before, I generally read thriller/suspense novels which usually come with a heart-racing, edge-of-your-seat climax. This book had none of that.

Life After Life did give me pause for some slight existential philosophizing, so if you’re into that kind of thing, you may enjoy it. Overall, I wasn’t blown away or caught up in rapture with this book (which is how I prefer my books FYI). I didn’t find myself giving the actual story too much thought after finishing it, which to me, is not a good sign. And while I appreciated the writing style, the plot in itself just wasn’t enough to mesmerize me. 2.5/5.