Monday, March 19, 2018

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake, #1)Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Content: Strong Language, Some gruesome killings

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—

I think my bad streak with mystery thrillers may be over! I actually liked this one quite a bit. The main character was likeable and so were her kids. I felt a lot of sympathy for them. It wasn't perfect but it was good. What I liked most about Gwen was how much she loved her kids and would do anything to protect them. I liked that she was able to reinvent herself from Gina, an average woman who never had to think twice about the evils in the world, to Gwen, a savvy woman, who despite the fact that she wasn't crazy about using a gun, learned how and became really good at it because she saw that it was necessary. I do feel like she contradicted herself a bit on this subject, but at least she knew that it was the best way to protect her family. And she becomes a fierce protector.

The plot twists were pretty obvious to me, but most of the mystery thrillers I read are that way so it didn't make me like the book any less. Still it would be nice to read something that actually surprised me. What I disliked about the book was the fact that Gwen trusts a couple of people too easily, and also that she defeats the killer way too easily. I felt like there wasn't nearly enough of a struggle there. Other than that, this was a good read that kept me reading right from the opening line. I probably would have preferred if this book had been a stand-alone, but the sequel isn't a bad idea. I do wonder why it ends up being a trilogy though. I guess I'll find out.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 16, 2018

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson World - Complete, #15)Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content: Some mild cursing, a mostly off page sex scene

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

Burn Bright was an enjoyable read. I liked the direction the story took, even though I predicted who the traitor was pretty much right away. As usual I enjoyed learning more about Anna's Omega ability and how it works. And I love Charles and Anna together and the way they complement each other.

This time around we learn more about the wildlings, in particular the artist, Wellesley. I liked reading the chapters about him and his past the most. Another enjoyable character in this book was Asil. I did feel like the story dragged in a couple of places, and I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I enjoyed the last book in the series, but overall it was nice to revisit Charles and Anna and this world in general. Patricia Briggs has become one of those authors whose books I look forward to every year. I love her writing style and the fact that she can somehow make an Urban Fantasy feel like a warm and cozy read as well.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jar of HeartsJar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Content:  Lots of Strong language, Rape, Attempted Rape, Sex

Georgina, known as Geo, is a 30-year-old rising executive when her world comes crashing down. Her high school boyfriend has been identified and arrested for a series of serial murders, including Angela, Geo's best friend in high school. Angela disappeared without a trace at 16 and her body has just been found. Now Geo is under arrest for helping her then-boyfriend cover it up. And it's one of her other close friends from high school, Kaiser Brody, who arrests her.

Everything turns on what really happened that tragic night back when Geo and Angela were high schoolers. Everyone thinks they know the truth, but there are dark secrets buried deep within other secrets, and it may be too late for anyone to survive the truth.

Maybe I should just give up on reading thrillers. Yet again I found myself not enjoying one of them. The people in this one were too twisted for me. I need someone I can actually like in the books I read, and there was absolutely no one in this book that I could like. I wanted to like and sympathize with Geo, the main character, and Kaiser, her former friend turned police detective, but they were both too messed up for me. Kaiser less so than Geo. Kaiser is mainly guilty of not being able to get over his high school love - an unrequited love I might add - which happens to be Geo. I will never understand people who can't get past their high school love interest. I doubt many people at 35 would still be pining over someone from high school, but it happens way too often in novels, and that's the case here in this one. Kaiser makes some poor life choices because of this stupid fixation he has always had on Geo, including having an affair with a married woman.

The title of the book comes from a mason jar that was filled with cinnamon hearts - a gift to Geo from her 21 year old boyfriend, Calvin. It was an apology for hitting her. To Geo that jar symbolized the end of her teen innocence, but in reality her teen innocence ended before that. It wasn't the moment the jar was given to her, or the reason it was given to her. It wasn't the moment the jar was emptied of candy, or the events that occurred at that time. It was the moment Geo, a 16 year old, chose to dial the number a 21 year old man wrote on the back of her hand. She dated a 21 year old man behind her father's back and got sexually involved with him. I get that she was only 16 years old and she really wasn't equipped to handle the situation she found herself in, but she still made the choice in the first place to date someone she knew wasn't good for her. She still made the choice to hide the relationship from her father who loved her and whom she had a good relationship with, and it all began partly because she wanted to one up her best friend - because she felt like she was always in her shadow - and partly because he was just plain hot. That's stupid teen girl logic for you.

We go back and forth from past to present in the book and I didn't like Geo any more as an adult than I did as a teen. I honestly didn't care what happened to her, especially by the end of the book after we find out all the horrible little details of what happened that night when her best friend Angela disappeared. I can't say that I liked Angela either though. She was pretty unlikable herself, so nothing that happened to her or any of the other characters bothered me all that much. And when I stop to think about the fact that this book involves three rapes and an abusive relationship, among other things that would normally be difficult to read about in a book, I think that says a lot about how unlikable I found these characters. There was one attempted rape near the end of the book that I found really disturbing, because of the persons involved (that was just sick) and that's all I can say so that I don't spoil anything.

Overall this book reminded me of one of those true crime shows on the ID channel where the teen gets involved with an older guy who manipulates and abuses her, and her good judgment goes out the door from the moment she meets him. I've seen a few that could actually be this book. I prefer to spend my reading time with characters that are redeemable; that I can sympathize with.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for giving me a copy of this book for review.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)Red Sister by Mark  Lawrence

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: Strong Language, Talk of nuns sharing beds

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of Sweet Mercy Convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

I know practically everyone has the above quote in their reviews of this book, which means normally I would steer clear of using it, but I couldn't help myself, it was a great opening for the book, and I loved it.

I need to admit here that I had originally decided against reading Red Sister. I had heard Mark Lawrence's books were pretty dark, so I decided it probably wasn't for me. But it ended up being the book that was chosen for my fantasy book club this month, and so I read it. And I'm really glad I did! I ended up really enjoying this book and it wasn't nearly as dark as I thought it might be. Sure, it's set in a really rough world where there are some despicable people, and there is some blood and gore, but it wasn't over the top. Most of the characters were easy to love and I'm always a sucker for the kids at the magic/battle school plot.

The idea of the convent training assassins reminded me a little of Grave Mercy, and although I enjoyed both books a great deal (Grave Mercy is still one of my favorite YA books), that is really the only comparison. This one is written for adults and I would say the writing is superior here, and this is much darker. Others have said this reminds them of Harry Potter for adults, but besides the fact that they are at a school the books really have nothing in common. They don't even have the same feel to them.

If the book has a weakness it's that Nona and the other novices feel older than they are. I kept picturing them well into their teens instead of 10-12 years old, but for the most part I was able to overlook that. There were too many things to like and, for me, they all outweighed that flaw. The friendships between the girls, and the different personalities of the Sisters were two of my favorite things about this book. And there was a bit of humor that would creep into the story from time to time that I appreciated as well. This is the first book in a series, and I'm looking forward to reading the next one. I'm hoping it won't be a long series though. I really enjoyed this book and wouldn't mind reading a couple more books, but I don't want it to wear out its welcome.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 3, 2018

BiomeBiome by Ryan Galloway

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre:  Sci-fi, Dystopia
Content: Clean

Inside the gleaming domes of Mars Colony One, seventeen-year-old Lizzy Engram and her fellow cadets work to make the Red Planet habitable.

And every Sunday night, the doctors erase their memories.

Week by week the procedure is carried out. Until one morning, Lizzy wakes with all of the missing memories inside her head. And not just her own, but the memories of every cadet on the planet--

The whole time I was reading Biome I thought it was a stand-alone, that is until I got to the giant cliff-hanger of an ending. That probably explains why I didn't see the ending coming. For the most part I enjoyed this, although there were times the main character came across a bit slow to me. There were times she was confused by what another character was saying to her, but I didn't think what he was saying was confusing at all. There were also times when I didn't like her all that much, but I have to say that I was impressed that the author actually wrote a teenage character that eventually sees her own faults and is able to humble herself enough to apologize for her shortcomings and make changes to herself.

I think the biggest flaw in the book is the fact that the main character is able to evade capture so easily when there are cameras almost everywhere. It never really felt like she was in too much danger. There was also some teen romance drama that became mildly annoying, although I liked that this book didn't get too deep into the romance. The best part about the book was probably the ending, although I really would have loved if this had been a stand-alone. Because of that ending, there is no way I will be able to pass up the next book. I really need to know what happens next. In a way this reminded me slightly of The 100. If you enjoy sci-fi dystopian novels give it a try.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The ChoiceThe Choice by Jake Cross

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Content: Lots of strong language, brutal killings

‘You’ve got to help me,’ she pleads.

On a wet road in the black of night, Karl Seabury is driving home to his pregnant wife. Suddenly, caught in his headlights in the middle of the road is a woman shaking with fright.

Lately, it seems more often than not, I strike out in the mystery/thriller/suspense genre. The premise of this one sounded really good to me. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. My biggest issue with this book was that the characters kept making choices I thought were foolish. I also found it hard to believe that a crime lord would ever be anywhere without multiple body guards. I think he would have excellent security in and around his home, even if it was a seldom visited vacation home, so I just couldn't buy that this crime lord was killed so easily in his own home.

As for the characters, the main character, Karl was a weak character that grew stronger as the book progressed. I ended up liking him much more by the end of the book. Karl's wife, Katie was the most likable character, but stupidly stubborn at one point. As for Mick, the killer (no that is not a spoiler, we go into this book knowing who the killer and his henchmen are pretty much from the beginning), the author seemed to want to drum up some sympathy for him, but I had no sympathy for him at all. I also wasn't crazy about the amount of time spent in his point of view. I don't mind spending smaller amounts of time with the villain in a book, but for me, too much of this book was spent with the killer and his henchmen. Then there was the crime lord's wife. I also had little sympathy for her because she was complicit in the things her husband did.

There was a twist in the book of course. I did not really figure it out before the reveal, although I had my suspicions. I do feel like I should have and I think most people probably will. There had to be at least a little bit of mystery here, and since we go into the book knowing the killers names and reading things from their points of view this was a welcome twist. It however, was obvious to me what lay behind the killer's motivation, but not exactly how or why it all happened.

Lastly there was way too much cursing in the book for me. Too many F words and C words used. It got old. I know this won't bother a lot of people, but it bothers me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for giving me a copy of this book.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson

My rating: Zero stars. I didn't get very far into it.

Category: Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy
Content: Strong Language, An adult has sex with an underage girl 
(could be more but I didn't read the whole thing)

This was our book club read for February and I tried but didn't get very far into it. Right off the bat the writing style annoyed me. Why drop the first word off your sentences? This was just not what I was expecting and just not for me.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince.

Not one person in the book club liked this book. I think we all may have just zeroed in on that opening line in the book's description and thought it sounded interesting. Personally I know I would rather the book had just stuck with the Pizza Mafia theme - it sounded kind of kooky and fun. Instead the whole premise ended up being way too unbelievable even for a fantasy/sci-fi type book.

I ended up getting all the spoilers from my friend so I wouldn't have to finish the book. I have to add that I have a huge issue with the way a 15 year old girl is portrayed in the book. Needless to say, this was a disappointing read.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader

View all my reviews