Saturday, May 27, 2017

Inherit the Stars (Inherit the Stars, #1)Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Space Opera


 
LOVE AND LOYALTY. As the youngest daughter of the House of Fane, Asa lives every day of her life in honor of both, for herself and her people.

Asa Fane is desperate to save her oldest sister, heir to the family empire, who is in a coma after an accident. So desperate that she secretly takes her other sister's place in an arranged marriage. Little does she know the consequences of her actions will result in her finding out a secret about herself that could ruin the alliance and any chance her planet has of getting the food they so desperately need.

I liked this book. I can see why some people wouldn't as it is light on the space adventure and focuses more on politics and relationships, and it's even lighter on those than it could have been. I just really enjoyed reading it anyway. I think the one thing that really bothered me about this book was the fragmented writing style.

I liked the characters and the slow build up of the relationship between Asa and Eagle. I thought their romance was rather sweet. Asa is 16 and impulsive. She doesn't always think her actions through. I could have found her annoying because of this, but I liked her anyway. She is fiercely loyal to those she cares about and I thought she was very brave.

Inherit the Stars was a quick, easy read and a nice break from heavier novels. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14)Cold Days by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy



***This review contains a spoiler for the previous book in the series*** 


Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…


As usual for a Dresden book Cold Days has some surprising twists. I'm not sure how I feel about all of them. This one did seem to drag on at the end. It was still highly enjoyable even with my little complaints, but I guess I was expecting more character and relationship development in this one than we got. Especially since the last book Harry went around as a ghost and everyone thought he was dead. I understand that a book series needs to have things shaken up from time to time to keep it fresh, but I can't help missing the sub-basement, Mister the cat, and even the blue beetle. For me, they had just become staples of a Dresden book. Can you tell I don't deal well with changes?

That being said, I am not opposed to all of the changes and will even, I'm sure, get used to the ones I don't particularly like. It will just take time. Maybe I'm feeling exactly the way Harry does. I guess I was just expecting to be over it by now and to have moved on more. I would also have liked more progress in the over-arching plot. This was one of my least favorites of the series, but it still wasn't bad.



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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Fine Gentleman (The Jonquil Brothers #4)A Fine Gentleman by Sarah M. Eden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance


 
London barrister Jason Jonquil has spent his entire life working to establish his identity as a gentleman, a man of refinement like his father and brothers. But when fiery Spanish beauty Mariposa Thornton walks into his office, he finds himself losing his grasp on his dignified character.

A Fine Gentleman is the latest book in the Jonquil Brothers series. This one is about Jason, the twin brother of Corbin who was featured in the last book. This one takes place simultaneously with the last book and there are a few brief over-lapping events that I enjoyed revisiting from Jason's point of view. I also really liked getting to visit with Phillip and Sorrel in this book, and there was more time spent with them than I thought there would be.

In the beginning Mariposa really annoyed me and I thought the act she was putting on was really unnecessary, especially after she had secured Jason's services, why keep insulting him? I never thought Jason had anything to apologize for concerning that part of the book. For a while there I wasn't expecting to like this book much at all. I thought it would be my least favorite of the whole series, but as soon as Mariposa dropped the act she began to grow on me and I ended up liking this book quite a lot.

One thing I really appreciated about this book is there were very few contrived misunderstandings between Jason and Mariposa. Sure there were some during the time Mariposa was acting, but that was a little different. Notice I said very few, as in there was still a little bit of that. There were a couple of times when Jason acted pretty silly over getting close to Mariposa and his developing feelings for her, but it was not too annoying. Anyway it was a nice change from all the other books in this series that seemed to include a lot of that sort of thing. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series and if I had to guess I would say it will be about Stanley who is off in the war and whom everyone was worried about in this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Covenant Communications for giving me a copy of this book.



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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance


 
When I picked up A Discovery of Witches I was hoping for a good, non-cheesy paranormal romance (yes those do exist) I enjoyed the whole mythology of the story. I thought it was interesting the way vampires were tied to wolves in behavior, but mostly I thought this book was disappointing, and also annoying.

For me this book kind of broke down into three parts. First there is the whole historian aspect. While we are in this part of the book the lead female, Diana spends most of her time researching old manuscripts. When she isn't doing that she's running, rowing, and doing yoga. She pretends she isn't a witch and doesn't practice witchcraft because of some things that happened in her past, except of course when she wants to get a book off the shelf, which didn’t make much sense. Mostly this part of the book is ok except there are way too many details that could have been edited out of the story.

The major complaints I have about this part of the book would be first, the yoga scene. Yes, the Vampire in this book takes his lady friend on a yoga date. Imagine it, a whole room full of vampires, witches and daemons...doing yoga...to Rocket Man. This was not meant to be funny. I'm sure I will giggle to myself and shake my head anytime I hear the song Rocket Man from now on. After that scene I honestly wasn't sure if I could take the book seriously.

Second, the other complaint would be that Diana throws on drab clothing and doesn't bother with makeup, then has the annoying habit of thinking about how plain and unattractive she is. There is one point when she looks in the mirror and notes how much she looks like her mother and then wonders how her mother got her pale eyebrows and lashes to stand out. Well Diana, it's called makeup, surely you’ve heard of it? If a woman is perfectly happy with herself without makeup and dressed in drab clothing, that's fine with me. Just don't do those things and then complain about the result.

When we get to the second part of the book we have the vampire history and lore. We are whisked away to another place and it almost feels like another time because it's so isolated. I have a slight issue with the consistency of the main character in this part of the book. The main character is no longer into running, rowing, and yoga. I get that rowing is out of the question because of where they are, but she doesn't even seem to think about it or miss it, not the running either. In fact she doesn't do those two things for the whole rest of the book, and barely any yoga either. It just seemed to be such a big part of who she was in the first part of the book. Instead now she is suddenly a horsewoman. I wouldn't have a problem with this if it had been mentioned before as part of who she was.

I did begin to enjoy the book more at this point though, mostly because it was less tedious. I enjoyed the glimpses into the past lives of some of the characters. A lot of Matthew's history is uncovered here. I wanted to like Matthew, and sometimes I did, but throughout the book he tells Diana what to do, makes decisions for her without telling her, and keeps secrets from her that are relevant to her and to their relationship. He basically treats her like a child. He isn't the only character in this part of the book that does this to her though. There is the housekeeper at his place in France (And by the way, why would a vampire want to spend her whole life being a housekeeper?) that does it too.

***Minor spoiler here. If you don't want to read it skip down to the next paragraph. Matthew and Diana eventually declare their love for each other and make an oath that, in vampire society means they are married. There is a very nice romantic scene that begins and then suddenly I'm sitting here blinking, not believing what I've just read. After getting married and all kinds of foreplay Matthew says they aren’t going to have sex? Did he really just say that? After that whole romantic scene that appears to be leading up to it? I cannot believe any woman would put up with this. None of his excuses or reasons make much sense either. No man in his right mind would do this and it continues this way throughout the whole rest of the book.

When we finally get to what I think of as the third part of the book, we are in America at the house Diana grew up in. This part of the book almost feels like watching an episode of Bewitched or reading Harry Potter with the enchanted house and all the ghosts and spells. I actually liked this section of the book the best. I wish the whole book had been like this. As it is I didn't really think this part matched the tone of the rest of the book. The worst part about this section of the book is that we now get Diana’s aunt also treating her like she is a child. She tells Matthew when they decide to go for a walk outside that Diana needs to put on warmer clothes. She doesn't even tell Diana, she tells Matthew like she's a child and he's her father or something. I mean really, the woman is 36 years old! She doesn't need other people to tell her how to dress or when to eat or when to sleep. This stuff happens constantly in this book. There are times when Diana pushes back over these things, but then we are back to the same behavior all over again. Throughout the book Matthew tells Diana that she is brave, that she is like a lion, that she is willful, but I don't see it. She just lets everyone push her around and tell her what to do. One other nit-picky thing is when we discovered Diana was a horsewoman in the last part of the book, she says it's because she grew up on a farm around horses, but the whole time we are on the farm not one horse is mentioned. I think Diana is just good at what she needs to be good at for whatever is happening in the story.

So to sum it all up, I liked parts of this book, but I thought it was overly long and needed to be edited down. I thought the personality and interests of the main character should have been more consistent throughout the story. It kind of felt like the author wasn't sure what kind of book she wanted it to be as feel of the story seemed to change from one location to the next. Also I'm tired of rude alpha type males in books that think the women they love are helpless and boss them around. I will not be continuing on with this series.



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Monday, May 22, 2017

Ghost Story (The Dresden Files,  #13)Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy


 
***Please note that this review will contain spoilers from the last book in the series.***

To save his friends—and his own soul—Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...


This one was so good! Ghost Story starts right where Changes left off with Harry roaming around in a place that is between life and death, where he observes his friends and promptly becomes worried for them. The main thing I wanted from this book was to find out who shot Harry in the last one, and of course I also wanted to find out how he was going to be brought back to life, because we all know this isn't the last book in the series, and we can't have The Dresden Files series without Harry. Let's just say I didn't see that explanation coming.

In the last book Harry did a few things that surprised me all on behalf of his daughter and he continued to surprise me in this book as well. Ghost Story in general was a little different from the rest of the series, but I liked it, it really moved me. As always I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.



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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The HistorianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal




Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written...

The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions...

A feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.


Um, was I reading the right book? Because I got none of that from this story.

While I like books that are rich in historic detail, I found that The Historian had too much of that in it. I began to feel like I was reading a history text book at times. I got really impatient and wanted to have the story move along at a faster pace. For me it seemed like every time the book would pick up pace, it would get bogged down again by another history lesson. The history parts were essential to the book and some of it was interesting, but there was just too much rambling on and on...and on. It was a very long book, over 900 pages. I don't necessarily mind very long books. I've read quite a few of them, but I didn't feel like this one needed to be so long. This book needed more editing for sure.

Another thing I disliked about this book was the fact that every time something exciting started to happen I would get disappointed because it ended all too soon. At one point there were bad guys after two characters and then the point of view switched right in the middle of it. When we get back to the two characters they are somewhere else and no explanation is given to how they got away. It felt like the bad guys in the book were there to just 'mug for the camera' so we wouldn't forget they were there and then leave so we could get back to all the history.

Also the whole reason behind what is going on in the book was ridiculous enough to be funny. I truly cannot believe that is why Professor Rossi was taken and all those mysterious books were given to people.

On the up side, I do think the idea of Dracula being real and alive, and the main character finding out she is descended from him was a good idea. It just should have been way more exciting than this. This was an incredibly boring and disappointing read.



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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Changes (The Dresden Files, #12)Changes by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy


 
Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden's lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Susan is back and she has a big surprise for Harry in this one. If you've read the synopsis then you probably already know what it is, but if you haven't I would recommend not reading it so you don't spoil it.

When Jim Butcher titled this one Changes, he wasn't kidding. There were lots of changes, some of which I don't think I was quite ready for. I was shocked by some of the choices Harry made, and although I understand why, I have mixed feelings about them.

As in all of the Dresden books, this one was loaded with action. So much action, that for me I have to sit back and take some deep breaths when it's all finally over. I was stunned by the ending and hoping Jim writes the next book quickly, because it is going to be torture to have to wait a whole year to find out what really happened.



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Friday, May 19, 2017

The Marsh King's DaughterThe Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Psychological Thriller



'I was born two years into my mother's captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn't have adored my father.'

The Marsh King's Daughter is the first book I've read by this author and I must say it was a very compelling read. I love it when I get pulled into a book from the very first page like I was with this one. Based on the description and tag lines, I was expecting a bit more of a thriller here. It was more psychological than thriller, although it did have its moments, especially towards the end.

Helena is married with two daughters and she's been keeping a secret from everyone, including her husband. Helena was born into captivity. Her father was the infamous Marsh King, the man who abducted a 14 year old girl and kept her there as his 'wife' and after Helena was born kept her there too in a remote cabin away from civilization. Helena wasn't aware of any of this as she grew up, not until she and her mother escaped when she is 12 years old. One day on the way home from an outing Helena hears on the radio that her father has escaped from prison and immediately fears for her family's safety. The book alternates between past and present as Helena tells us her story.

"I won't tell you my mother's name. Because this isn't her story. It's mine"

I appreciated the fact that this wasn't Helena's mother's story and that I wasn't privy to the horrible things she went through any more than her daughter was. The details of rape and most of the beatings were left out of the story. I don't think that I could have read this had it been from the mother's perspective.

I think the author did an admirable job of showing what it would be like to be raised in captivity (even though Helena didn't know she was) and the psychological effect it has on her and on her mother. The way her father shaped who she became, the way he turned her against her mother, and the way her mother was almost invisible as a person to her was hard to read at times. There were times when I wanted to hate Helena because she idolized her father and felt next to nothing for her mother, but I could understand why so I couldn't hate her. Even as an adult though, sometimes her thoughts about her parents infuriated me, then I would have to remind myself that she was psychologically manipulated as a child and so her view was inaccurate to an extent even as an adult. In the end though it did seem like she finally understood everything the way it really was.

I liked the ending of the book and the showdown with her father was good and had its thrilling moments, but it felt a bit rushed considering how much time was spent on the backstory. I felt like the past, even though it was essential to the story, actually took over a little too much of the book. Overall this was very good though and I recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons for giving me a copy of this book.





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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey, #1)Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery



 
"Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."

These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer.


Silent in the Grave was a fun historical mystery read. It was a bit slow for the first 160 pages but after that I had a hard time putting it down. I loved the witty humor which reminded me slightly of Gail Carriger's books and had me laughing out loud a couple of times.

I really wish some of the aspects of Brisbane's character that were introduced would have been explained and explored more in detail. I was left feeling a little confused about him for a couple of reasons. ***Some minor spoilers here so if you don't want to read them skip down to the next paragraph. Brisbane has the sight which I took to mean he is psychic, through dreams it seems, but then near the end we find out he was an old man and a cat at different points in the book. So how did he do this exactly? Did he disguise himself as an old man and look through the eyes of the cat somehow? I just wish the book had told us.

One other thing is that this book has the most non-descriptive kiss ever! I wasn't even sure what had happened for a while. That was a little disappointing considering how Brisbane was written throughout the book. The writing just kept me waiting for some sort of romantic scene to take place and when it finally did there was no detail at all.

Mostly this was very good and I plan on eventually reading the next book in the series.



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy


 
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.


After a rocky start I finally finished Snow Like Ashes. The paragraph where the protagonist, Meira acted like a silly school girl over her sparring opponent's good looks annoyed me. For a while she pretty much got weak in the knees over any good looking shirtless male which resulted in some eye rolling on my part. Plus there was an unnecessary love triangle that really got annoying at one point with the two guys sparring. Once I got past the nonsense though I began to enjoy the book a lot more.

Eventually Meira grows up and we read less about good looks and love triangles and get to more important things. Meira's kingdom has been taken over, the people enslaved by a neighboring one. The book really takes off when Meira is captured. Her character takes on a more serious, responsible tone, and realizes how selfish she has been while most of her people are suffering and dying in work camps. This is the point where I began to like her. A bit more explanation about the world and the reasons behind the kingdoms being Season and Rhythm would have helped me understand what was going on in the beginning though, as it it not explained much at all.

One thing I really liked in the beginning was that Meira wasn't good at everything. She wasn't very good at hand to hand combat, but excelled in throwing. I liked that Meira's weapon of choice was the chakram, a weapon that hasn't been prominently portrayed in any of the other fantasy books I've read. The chakram in this book seem to be heavily patterned after the ones in the Xena TV show. The one on the cover looks just like it, and while this is a fantasy novel, I kind of wish the chakram had been more realistically portrayed instead of being given the Xena treatment (e.g. returning to the thrower like a boomerang, the handle in the middle; real chakram were not like that). Here's a look at some real ones.

description

Unfortunately later on in the book Meira seems to suddenly get good at all types of combat, from crossbows in ranged combat, to cross bows in close combat, to knives, to whatever is available. She very unrealistically defeats opponent after opponent later in the book. For me that was the only drawback to the latter part of the book though.

I do feel like this story could have been brought to a conclusion at the end of this book. It would have made a great stand-alone. Instead, of course, we are left with one big thread still hanging so that we have to read another book. In the end I enjoyed this book, but not quite enough to give it 4 stars. I want to know what happens in the next book, but at this time I don't feel compelled to read any further into this series.

You can read more of my reviews at https://writingsofareader.blogspot.com/



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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Texas Gothic (Goodnight Family #1)Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal


 
Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds...

This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.


When I read the opening line of this book "The goat was in the tree again" I knew this one was going to be fun. I just loved Texas Gothic. It wasn't anything spectacular, it wasn't super creepy like I thought it would be, and it wasn't anything new, but I enjoyed the characters, the mystery, and the setting. Plus it was just so darn funny at times. Mostly I think I loved that this book paid tribute to Nancy Drew and a little bit to Scooby-doo as well, two favorites from my childhood.

I had previously read Rosemary Clement-Moore's The Splendor Falls and really liked it. It was what led me to add this book to my to-read list. At this point I'm a huge fan of hers. I really enjoy her writing style and the fact that she writes teens and Young adults as self-aware and not just immature. The kooky Goodnight family was just plain fun to read about. I enjoyed the relationship Amy and Phin had as sisters. The romance was light and didn't take over the book, and I really liked Ben a lot. This could be a stand-alone read, but it does have a companion book that centers on Amy's cousin Daisy. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.



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Monday, May 15, 2017

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia



The world in this book consists of two types of people, red bloods and silver bloods. The red bloods are the commoners and serfs who are looked down upon by the silver bloods. The silver bloods have special powers. Mare Barrow is a 17 year old red blood who steals from other people to help her poor family out. Her family doesn't approve of what she does and she feels like she has let them down because she has no talents or skills with which to earn money. Her younger sister is the one in the family who they have their hopes pinned on. She is apprenticed to a seamstress and has the potential to one day do well for herself and her family.

All reds get conscripted into the war unless they have a job and those are hard to come by unless you have a marketable skill and someone to train you. Unless a person is well trained they usually die in the war, and her friend has been a fisherman's apprentice until that fisherman dies unexpectedly. Mare sets out to help him before he is conscripted. What happens after this is what sets the whole story moving in a different direction, one that leads to Mare finding out something about herself that could possibly save her people.

My friends have given Red Queen mixed reviews. Some have really loved it, others not so much. I ended up liking it but not loving it. Despite certain flaws that I found in the story I found it extremely hard to put down. I typically don't care for dystopias that much, but this one read like a fantasy. I initially thought it was going to be an old world type fantasy so I was surprised at the mention of electricity and vehicles and air ships. It was like reading a fantasy with modern elements to it, which doesn't always work for me, but here it did.

There were lots of betrayals in this book and a twist that I saw coming from pretty much the beginning, but there was a time while reading that I questioned whether or not I was right about it. There were a couple of times I thought Mare should have trusted and listened to Julian more. And she should have been given more information about certain people earlier on. This was one aspect of the story that annoyed me.

Also, there were a couple of things the Red Guard did that didn't make a lot of sense to me. If they were going to sneak into the palace and assassinate people, why not just kill the royal family? I also thought it was really far-fetched that they would trust a certain person that they trusted because of who that person is.

This was a nice escape for me, but in the end I've decided not to continue on with the series. There just isn't enough about it to distinguish it from many other stories I've read.



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Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Man in Lower TenThe Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery



Written by Mary Roberts Rinehart, "the American Agatha Christie," this was the first detective novel to crack national bestseller lists. According to The New York Times, "[Rinehart's] literary distinction lies in the combination of love, humor, and murder that she wove into her tales … She helped the mystery story grow up." The Man in Lower Ten was Rinehart's debut novel, and it remains a thrilling tale of homicide, mayhem, romance.

Attorney Lawrence Blakely is on a train bound to deliver some important papers to a client. While on the way he ends up switching train berths with another man who mistakenly falls asleep in his. The next morning that man is found murdered and the murder weapon is found in the berth that Lawrence was sleeping in. That's all I'm going to say about the plot setup because the whole switching berths thing becomes a little more complicated than that and you really just need to read it.

I found this picture of a train berth from the early 1900s that I imagine is just like the ones described in the book. It even shows the nets that passengers would put their personal belongings in.

description

This is only the second book I've read by Mary Roberts Rinehart and I liked it quite a bit. It seems a lot of people say this book is weak compared to her later books, but having previously read The After House I can say that story-wise I prefer this one. That's not to say that this one wasn't without its faults and I can see just from reading the two books how her writing improved over time. The dialog in this one was tedious to follow at times, and at a couple of points it was hard to follow what was happening. I also wasn't all that crazy about the romantic aspect of the book. It was a bit too insta-love for me and I really couldn't see why all the men were so crazy about the lady in question as she lacked personality. Thankfully that was a small part of the story.

The best part of the book for me was while they were on the train. After that there is a lot of running here and there to try to solve the mystery. The mystery itself was pretty good, but I never felt like it kept me guessing. From the very beginning there was no question in my mind as to the fact that the killer was one of three people, simply because of one particular item that was found that proved to be key evidence. In the end the solution to the mystery felt rather anticlimactic. I would like to read more of Rinehart's work because I feel like I just haven't yet read her at her best.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Dover for giving me a copy of this book for review.




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Friday, May 12, 2017

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction, Mystery


 
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old.


This is more of a women's fiction/ chick-lit type novel which is not a genre that I normally read and I probably never would have found it and read it on my own if it were not for it being a book club pick. Despite that I loved this book. I found it almost impossible to put down. It was the added bit of mystery about what Alice forgot and why she turned out to be the kind of person she was that kept me interested.

There was a lot I could relate to in this story. Some of the things that happened in Alice's marriage were a lot like some things that have happened in mine and probably a lot of other peoples, so on a personal level I could really relate to quite a few things. I even found myself in tears once! I especially liked the part about love at the end of the book. About how a relationship that survives all those things is a real love and not the ones that are new, untested, and euphoric.

I did think the way Alice lost her memory was kind of stupid. I mean who falls off an exercise bike? But that's probably the worst thing about the book. I recommend this if you like books about relationships.



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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Murder in the Bowery (Gaslight Mystery, #20)Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery



The latest Gaslight Mystery finds Sarah and Frank Malloy searching for a connection between a murdered newsie and a high society woman with dangerous habits.

What was a young society woman doing slumming in the Bowery? That's what Frank and Sarah want to know after her body is discovered there. In the beginning Frank is hired to find a missing 13 year old boy but he and Gino end up trying to find out if there is a connection to the death of the young woman. This murder mystery ended up having quite a few twists and turns and I was surprised that it kept me guessing about some of them.

The subplot of Sarah establishing the hospital that was started in the last book progresses here and I like what this could bring to future books in the series. It reminds me a lot of what Hester does in the William Monk series by Anne Perry. I liked the talks that Sarah and Malloy had while in their private sitting room. They added a bit of playfulness to the book and gave us a tiny bit of insight into the romantic side of their relationship. I would have liked a little bit more though. I also enjoyed the historical details about the newsies and the newspaper strike, and the orphan trains that were included in the book. Overall this was a good addition to the series.



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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Girl With All the GiftsThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Horror

  

Melanie is a very special girl...

The description of The Girl With All the Gifts doesn't really tell you what it's about. I had an idea of what I thought it would be about when I read the description, but I was wrong. By the time I actually started reading it however, I had looked at reviews and knew that ahead of time. I have to say I really enjoyed the first part of this book. The beginning when they were in the compound was a lot better than the rest of the book. Once they left the compound it lost something. I think mainly because the focus shifted from Melanie and her perspective too much.

I really wasn't sure who to like in this. I liked Melanie despite what she was and I liked Miss Justineau even though she was probably foolish in trusting Melanie and feeling sorry for her. I couldn't like Parks, there were too many objectionable things about him. His attraction to Justineau was kind of creepy the way it was portrayed. There was this random paragraph about how he had seen her crotch while she was squatting to pee but was too tired to even masturbate. Um ok... he is obviously spying on her while she pees and gets turned on by it, gross! Somehow he grew on me a little by the end of the book, but it was too little too late. Then there was the crazy mad scientist lady who sometimes seemed to have more sense than any of the rest of them, but was not a sympathetic character at all.

For the most part this book kept me pretty glued to it despite the fact that I found the characters lacking in certain ways. I only felt it dragged a couple of times. If you like this genre then you may love it, but ultimately this wasn't really my thing. Sorry not really into the zombie apocalypse thing. I was not that crazy about the way it ended either. If it had ended differently I may have liked it a lot more. I feel like I need something happier to read next.



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Monday, May 8, 2017

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



When you can't beat the odds, change the game. 

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Crooked Kingdom starts off not long after Six of Crows ends. It was a bit different from Six of Crows because the team is not working on a heist, but I liked it just as much. There was so much danger and I never knew who was going to come out of it alive. It kept me on the edge of my seat most of the time. I did feel like it got off to a slow start, but once it got going it was filled with plot twists, some that I saw coming, but a lot I didn't.

Like Six of Crows this book devotes chapters to different character's points of view. I liked it here just as much as I did there. Once again each point of view brought something essential to the plot. I really can't say that any of them were less enjoyable than others either, which is rare. Of course I still had my favorite characters, Inej, Matthias, and Nina. I never warmed up to Kaz as much as I wanted to, and Jesper and Wylan were ok as characters, but nothing special even though I still liked them.

I've said before that the best fantasies always end up breaking my heart a little bit and this one was no exception. I waited a while to read this book and I'm sort of glad I did, because after reading a lot of reviews I felt prepared for the ending that everyone has talked so much about. I didn't read the spoilers but I was prepared even though I still did not know what was going to happen; only that something bad was going to happen. It helped to soften the blow but it still hurt. This thing that happens, I could have lived with happening to almost any other character in the book. What made it even worse was that it really didn't even have to happen. It did nothing to move the plot along. It was just there to break our hearts for no good reason other than to break our hearts.

Despite that this was an incredibly enjoyable book. I found it to be a really engaging read and a great conclusion to the duology. There is also room to write more in the world if the author decides to which I kind of like. I could see several threads that she could pick up that wouldn't be direct sequels and others that could be.



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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Secrets of Southern GirlsSecrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery



Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What's worse is she got away with it.

First I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher Sourcebooks Landmark for giving me a copy of this book.

My eyes were completely glued to Secrets of Southern Girls and I sped through it in one day. This book was tragic and the people in it were so messed up, almost every one of them. From the first page when we meet Julie we can see that she has issues with love and men that are deeply rooted in the past. Then there is her best friend Reba who died, and Julie blames herself, but she finds out that there are two other people who also feel responsible for Reba's death. I won't spoil who they are or why they feel responsible. The less you know ahead of time the better. I was expecting this to be a thriller with a murderer on the loose, but that isn't what this is at all. This is a mystery, but the mystery is more about revealing who the characters really are and what made them do the things they did than a who-dun-it.

Not too far into the book we also meet August who was Reba's first love. He has tracked Julie down after over a decade, because he needs to find closure so he can move on. He thinks that closure will come through a journal Reba kept and intended to give him the night she died. He also believes that Julie has the journal. She doesn't, but she agrees to help him find it, so they travel back to the tiny Mississippi town that they both left behind years ago and never intended to return to.

I didn't find any of the characters extremely likable except for August, and that usually affects how much I enjoy a book, but this time around all the characters were so well drawn and I loved the way the story unfolded as every sordid detail is uncovered through journal entries and memories. And I do mean sordid, which is not usually my cup of tea, but this book just drew in so much. My only real complaint is that the journal entries didn't really read as journal entries of a teen girl. They were written more like flashbacks.

Like I said, just about all the characters were hard to like, but we come to understand why they are the way they are, why they are so messed up, and so they grew on me despite the things they did and the choices they made. I was even able to empathize with Toby who was the most despicable character in the book to me. He was just so well drawn and his emotions felt so raw and real.

After finishing this I was left thinking about how we never can tell if we really know someone, and how profoundly the choices we make and the lies we tell can affect ourselves and others around us for years to come.

Content: Some language, sex, underage drinking, and drug use.

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Gaslight Mysteries -last seven reviews

Murder on Sisters' Row (Gaslight Mystery, #13)Murder on Sisters' Row by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 13:

With the help of a charitable lady of means, midwife Sarah Brandt rescues a young woman and her newborn from the brothel where the mother was forced to prostitute herself. But their success comes at a high price when their benefactor is found murdered.

The mystery aspect of Murder on Sisters’ Row was just ok. I feel like it took a step back from the two previous books. Also this series has fallen into a rut at this point. There are still no new developments in the relationship between Sarah and Malloy, no new character development for any of the supporting characters. It has become rather repetitive. How many times can we read the scenario of Malloy visiting Sarah, being greeted by her with a smile and by Catherine with excitement as Malloy picks her up and says a few words to her before he is invited to eat with them and then one of them asking Maeve to take Catherine into the other room so they can talk? It's the same thing over and over, this scenario happened at least three times in this book. But that wasn't the only repetition in this book, there were other instances as well where it repeated things unnecessarily. There also isn't much conversation between the Sarah and Malloy that doesn't involve the investigations, which is disappointing. In past books we got a bit more than that.

Another thing that sort of annoyed me about this book was that it seemed like the reasoning behind prostitution and the poor was too black and white. The book seemed to be saying that all women at least in the beginning, were forced into prostitution out of desperation; and the wrongful thinking being that they did it because they enjoyed it. In regards to the poor, the book seemed to be saying that they were all hard working and down-trodden individuals who were stuck in a system that was broken; and the wrongful thinking being that the poor were poor because they were lazy, and expected handouts. In reality it is a bit of each instance regarding both of these issues, not one or the other. Women become prostitutes for different reasons and people are poor for different reasons too. There is never one same answer for everyone.

I still like this series and I hope that it gets back some of that spark that has made me love it so much. Some people may quit at this point but I'm going to keep going with the series in hopes that it improves soon.



Murder on Fifth Avenue (Gaslight Mystery, #14)Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 14:

Sarah Brandt’s family is one of the oldest in New York City, and her father, Felix Decker, takes his position in society very seriously. He still refuses to resign himself to his daughter being involved with an Irish Catholic police detective. But when a member of his private club—the very exclusive Knickerbocker—is murdered, Decker forms an uneasy alliance with Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to solve the crime as discreetly as possible.

Murder on Fifth Avenue was better than the previous book. This one kept me guessing, the characters also didn't feel so stale, and it wasn't as repetitious. Mr. and Mrs. Decker where involved in this one and I can see that the author might be moving the characters towards a relationship resolution in the next few books. She has stated that she now knows how she is going to make a relationship work between Sarah and Malloy and it shows in this book. Everything felt fresh again which is what the series desperately needed.



Murder in Chelsea (Gaslight Mystery, #15)Murder in Chelsea by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 15:

Sarah Brandt is shattered when she learns that a woman has inquired at Hope’s Daughters Mission for Catherine, the abandoned child she has taken as her daughter. The woman claims she was Catherine’s nursemaid, now acting on behalf of the girl’s mother to reunite them.

Finally after 15 books a certain thing happens that we've all been waiting for. The mystery was easy to figure out but I didn't care because I'm so happy about the other development. I liked that we discovered a lot about Catherine's background. Any time this series puts the focus on it's recurring characters it's a real treat for me. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.



Murder in Murray Hill (Gaslight Mystery, #16)Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 16:

When facing injustice, the residents of nineteenth-century New York City’s tenements turn to midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to protect their rights. Now the two must track down a cruel criminal preying on the hopes and dreams of innocent women…

Murder on Murray hill is definitely the darkest book of the Gaslight series so far, while somehow still being a light pleasant read. I'm not sure how that is, but it's true. It's impossible not to be a bit dark considering the subject matter. This book reminded me more of an Anne Perry novel because of the nature of the crime. Amongst the crime solving and the dark mystery here, I enjoyed seeing Frank trying to adjust to his new life, and also hide his good fortune and his relationship with Sarah for the time being. He truly is like a fish out of water.

This series is on the cusp of some overdue changes and I cannot wait for them to take place. I hope the changes end up satisfying.



Murder on Amsterdam Avenue (Gaslight Mystery, #17)Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 17:

In the midst of Sarah and Frank’s wedding preparations, Sarah accompanies her mother on a condolence call to the Upper West Side, where Charles Fairfax, the son of family friends, has died unexpectedly after suffering from a mysterious disease. It is a tragic and all too common story—or so it seems.

This would get 4 stars if I were rating it based solely on the fact that Sarah and Malloy finally get married. It would only get 3 stars for the mystery. The mystery was easy to figure out and it was blatantly obvious by a certain point who the killer was, but of course Sarah and Malloy still didn't know, which annoyed me.

This book felt a little different than the other books in the series, probably because there is a lot of transition happening now that Sarah and Malloy are going to be married and their households are merging. Mostly I didn't mind those changes, but Mrs. Ellsworth was glaringly absent for more than half the book. I missed her being the nosy neighbor and I hope she has more of a presence again in future books. This series is still an automatic read for me and I'm looking forward to the next book in November.



Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue (Gaslight Mystery, #18)Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 18:

Family friend Mrs. O’Neill was delighted when her daughter Una wed the seemingly wealthy and charming Randolph Pollock. She didn’t wonder why such an affluent man would want to marry a poor Irish girl, no matter how pretty she was. But now Mrs. O’Neill has a problem...

Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue was a fun read. It takes place just before Christmas while Sarah and Frank are still honeymooning. While I missed Sarah and Frank I was glad for the change of pace and the opportunity for some of the supporting characters to shine. This book features Maeve and Gino and also Sarah's parents, the Deckers, and Mrs. Malloy a little as well.

When I first met Sarah's parents many books ago I never would have thought I would come to enjoy reading about them so much. They weren't all that likable in the beginning, but they have changed a lot and now I love it when they get involved in cases. The way some of the characters have evolved is one thing that I've really come to like about this series. Even Mrs. Malloy, who in the beginning was a grumpy old woman who was hard to like has begun to soften and even get along with Mrs. Decker. I loved how they bonded over their grandchildren.

Maeve gets a lot of the spotlight in this book, and I love her. I'm also very happy to see the tiniest bit of movement in her relationship with Gino. I was hoping for more, but didn't really expect it because this author likes to move the relationships along very, very slowly. We did get inside Gino's head a bit though and we know for sure how he feels about Maeve, and it's obvious that Maeve feels the same way about him, but just doesn't want to admit it.

The mystery part of this story was pretty good. It was kind of obvious after a little while who was involved, but it was still enjoyable and I didn't figure out all of the nuts and bolts of it until the end. However I did feel like the best part of the book wasn't the mystery at all, but everything I mentioned above about the different supporting characters.



Murder in Morningside Heights (Gaslight Mystery, #19)Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
  
Gaslight Mysteries book 19:

Abigail Northrup of Tarrytown, New York, was her parents’ pride and joy. After graduating from a prestigious women’s college in Morningside Heights, she took a job there as an instructor. She also joined the ranks of the New Women, ladies planning for a life without a husband in which they make their own decisions and make a difference in the world. Unfortunately, her murder ended all that.

I always enjoy visiting Sarah and Malloy. Now that they are married the books have taken a slightly different tone. I'm not sure how I feel about some of the changes. I'm not used to reading about Malloy and Sarah being wealthy and living in a mansion and part of me wishes that they weren't. I think they make a cute couple, but I personally would have liked to see more romantic chemistry between them now that they are married, maybe more flirting and talk of romantic things happening off the page.

For the most part I thought Murder in Morningside Heights was a bit on the dull side compared to some of the other books in the series. As usual it wasn't too difficult to figure out the mystery side of the book. And as usual Sarah and Malloy are slow in figuring things out, only this time it was even worse than normal, and I did not think it could ever get worse. I mean come on, there were several answers staring them in the face!

I liked the idea Malloy has for Sarah at the end of the book and am looking forward to seeing how that plays into the series. I think it will make the future books feel more like past ones in the series as Sarah will be doing what she loves to do.



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Friday, May 5, 2017

Gaslight Mysteries -continued

Murder on Lenox Hill (Gaslight Mystery, #7)Murder on Lenox Hill by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 7:

A midwife working in the tenements of turn-of-the-last-century New York, Sarah Brandt is summoned by the wealthy Lintons to confirm their worst fear: their teenage daughter is with child. It's a mystery, however, since the young woman-mentally still a child herself-is never left alone.

I think Murder on Lenox hill is my favorite in the series so far. It kept me guessing for most of the book and there were two mysteries to figure out in this one. One of them was pretty easy to figure out, but the other one not as easy.

Five people confessing to the murder made this one pretty entertaining. Sarah and Malloy are still somewhat clueless when it comes to solving the murders at times, which still annoys me. However, I've loved watching the slow changes in how Sarah and Malloy interact with each other. It just gets better and better.



Murder in Little Italy (Gaslight Mystery, #8)Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 8:

When midwife Sarah Brandt visits Little Italy to check up on a new mother who delivered her baby just the day before, she finds the young woman dead. The family insists that the death was from complications of childbirth. Sarah thinks not.

This has got to be my least favorite book of the series. I did not enjoy this one as much as the others mainly because the family that the mystery surrounded just really grated on my nerves. None of them were very likeable, and I had a hard time caring what happened to any of them. And once again the mystery was easy to solve. I also would have liked more development of the subplots that have been a part of the series, but hardly anything happened there.



Murder in Chinatown (Gaslight Mystery, #9)Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 9:

Sarah Brandt has made her uneasy way to Chinatown to deliver a baby. There she meets a group of Irish women who, completely alone at Ellis Island, married Chinese men in the same predicament. But even as a new century dawns, New Yorkers still cling to their own kind, scorning children of mixed races.

This was a big improvement over the last book in the series. I loved Murder in Chinatown but like most of the other books in this series I figured this one out early on. As I've said many times before, I really think that Sarah and Malloy are written to be a bit too slow sometimes. It was pretty obvious who the killer was based on certain evidence that was found in the book, but it was just disregarded. Things like that keep me from giving these books 5 stars. I give most of them 4 stars based on how much I enjoy being immersed in the world and the characters. If I was just basing it on the mystery aspect I would probably give them 2 or 3.

The developing relationship between the characters is what keeps me reading this series more than anything. The relationship between Sarah and Frank is moving at a snail’s pace, and I would usually be frustrated with how slow it’s moving, but for some reason in this series it hasn't bothered me yet.



Murder on Bank Street (Gaslight Mystery, #10)Murder on Bank Street by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 10:

In the four years since her husband’s death, midwife Sarah Brandt has become an angel of mercy in the tenements of turn-of-the-century New York. Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy has taken up the task of solving the murder of Dr. Tom Brandt. But the shocking revelation he discovers may destroy Sarah—and Malloy’s hopes for any future with her.

In this installment of the Gaslight Mysteries the mystery of Tom's death is finally solved. Murder on Bank Street ended up being one of my favorite books in the series. The mystery was not so obvious, at least not all aspects of it.

I enjoyed Maeve's part in solving the mystery, but at the same time missed Sarah through a lot of it. I do understand why Sarah might have taken a back seat on solving this one since it was so close to home, and she was afraid of finding out the truth even though she wanted very much to know it.

The lady detective was also an interesting character and I think it would be great if Maeve did more work with her. I was a bit frustrated at where it ended though. Finally Sarah has stated plainly how she feels to Malloy and it ends before we can find out what he does about it. Couldn't we have at least gotten one more paragraph?



Murder on Waverly Place (Gaslight Mystery, #11)Murder on Waverly Place by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 11:

Midwife and sleuth Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy must protect Sarah's mother from scandal after she tries to contact her dead daughter during a séance that sends one of the attendees into the afterlife.

At the end of the previous book, Murder on Bank Street, Sarah, in a round-about way, pretty much confesses how she feels about Malloy. I was really hoping to get more of that in this book, but unfortunately at the start of Murder on Waverly Place they haven't seen each other for weeks and we are not filled in on anything that did or didn't happen at the end of the last book. Did he kiss her? Did they say more than that to each other? I was dying to know! All we get regarding their relationship are a few thoughts from each of them. Sarah's thoughts acknowledge that she is in love with Malloy, and Malloy's thoughts are more in line with fighting and ignoring his feelings for Sarah because they don't belong to the same class. I will say that is the only disappointing thing about this book. The mystery was very good and kept me guessing. Mystery-wise I would say this is one of the best in the series so far.



Murder on Lexington Avenue (Gaslight Mystery, #12)Murder on Lexington Avenue by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 12:

When a wealthy businessman is murdered, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy is assigned to investigate, even though the crime is out of his jurisdiction. The reason he soon realizes, is that the man has a deaf daughter—and it is well known that Malloy’s own son attends the New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.

Murder on Lexington Avenue was quite enjoyable. This author has definitely gotten better at writing the mystery aspect of these books. They are not nearly as predictable as they were in the beginning. The relationship between Sarah and Malloy still has not progressed though, and that has become very frustrating. The things I enjoyed reading about the most in this book were the two different types of schools for the deaf and about the opposition to ASL back then. I had no idea that Alexander Graham Bell felt the way he did about it. That was a bit of an eye opener for me.



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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Gaslight Mysteries

I've been reading the Gaslight Mysteries for a few years now and with the release of book 20 today I decided to start posting my reviews of that series to the blog. I'll start with the first 6 books today and post 6 more tomorrow, then the final 7 after that. I'll post my review for book 20 separately after I'm able to read it. I recommend this series if you enjoy historical mysteries or cozy mysteries. I wouldn't say these are exactly cozy, but they are pretty mild and the main character is an amateur so it might appeal cozy mystery readers.



Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight Mystery, #1)Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 1:

After a routine delivery, midwife Sarah Brandt visits her patient in a rooming house and discovers that another boarder, a young girl, has been killed. At the request of Sergeant Frank Malloy, she searches the girl's room, and discovers that the victim is from one of the most prominent families in New York and the sister of an old friend. The powerful family, fearful of scandal, refuses to permit an investigation. But with Malloy's help, Sarah begins a dangerous quest to bring the killer to justice, before death claims another victim.

Murder on Astor Place was a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed it. I found the main character very likable and I liked the dynamic between her and the police detective Malloy. This reminiscent of Anne Perry's books, only set in New York and not nearly as detailed. I think it’s a promising start to the series, and I’m looking forward to reading more.



Murder on St. Mark's Place (Gaslight Mystery, #2)Murder on St. Mark's Place by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 2:

As a midwife in the turn-of-the-century tenements of New York City, Sarah Brandt has seen suffering and joy, birth and death-and even murder. And the crime ridden streets of the teeming city offer little relief from either.

Murder on St. Mark’s Place was a satisfying second book in the Gaslight Series. I'm enjoying this series almost as much as Anne Perry's books. There are many similar elements to her Pitt series and her Monk series. I especially liked the progress of the relationship between Malloy and his son. There was one scene there that actually had me tearing up. Also Malloy and Sarah have begun to warm up to each other, which was nice.

The only negatives would be that although I wasn't expecting the slight twist, it was very obvious who the killer was. And Sarah was just too slow at figuring out the obvious about a few things.



Murder on Gramercy Park (Gaslight Mystery, #3)Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 3:

As a midwife in the turn-of-the-century tenements of New York City, Sarah Brandt has seen her share of suffering and joy, birth and death. Now, she learns that crime doesn’t discriminate, when the highest echelons of society are rocked by murder…

Murder on Gramercy Park was another mystery that was pretty easy to figure out, but the real draw to this series are Sarah and Malloy themselves. I really enjoy reading about them and their interactions with each other and the other people in their lives, particularly Malloy and his son Brian. Malloy is slowly growing as a character and I'm pleased with the direction he is going. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.



Murder on Washington Square (Gaslight Mystery, #4)Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 4:

Turn-of-the-century New York City midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Molloy are thrust into a twisted case of murder—when a seductress falls victim to her own charades.

Murder on Washington Square was another enjoyable installment in the Gaslight series. One thing I have noticed is that the mysteries in these books are pretty easy to figure out. I do wish Sarah and Malloy weren't so slow sometimes. Maybe I feel this way because I'm comparing it to Anne Perry's books. I really think her books are a step above most mysteries in their cleverness.

The most enjoyable aspects of this series are the developing relationship between Sarah and Malloy, and Malloy's ongoing investigation into the death of Sarah's husband. I like that there is that one ongoing thread that keeps me coming back for more while also trying to figure out the single mystery to solve in each book. And Frank's grumpiness with Sarah involving herself in his cases always makes me smile. I enjoy this series a lot so I will keep reading.



Murder on Mulberry Bend (Gaslight Mystery, #5)Murder on Mulberry Bend by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 5:

Sarah Brandt, a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York City, has seen more than her share of joy and sorrow, birth and death. Now she will see for the first time how the squalor of the streets can breed madness and murder…

Murder in Mulberry Bend was one of the better books in the Gaslight series so far. I loved the progress in the relationship of Frank and Sarah in this installment, and throwing someone else into the mix made it even better (view spoiler) Frank's investigation into Tom's death is also still ongoing and he makes some progress here so that was another added bonus. I'm also enjoyed the addition of Addie to the story and the whole School for Wayward Girls.

I wasn't too crazy about how, yet again I figured out who the killer was and what the murder weapon was pretty early on and Sarah and Malloy were so clueless. Still all the other elements of the story made it very enjoyable so I will continue onto the next book.



Murder on Marble Row (Gaslight Mystery, #6)Murder on Marble Row by Victoria Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery

Gaslight Mysteries book 6:

Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt calls Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy into his office for an especially difficult assignment. A wealthy factory owner has been killed by a bomb in his office, and anarchists are high on the list of suspects. Malloy isn't so sure that the easy answer is the right one but Roosevelt wants justice done, whoever the culprits are.

What I liked most about Murder on Marble Row is that it kept me guessing, something that the other books in this series haven't been able to do. I also really like that this series includes some real people from New York history. Teddy Roosevelt has been mentioned in previous books and here as Police Commissioner, he actually assigns Malloy to a case himself. I also liked that Sarah's mother helped with this case.



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Monday, May 1, 2017

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy


 
A Torch Against the Night picks up right where An Ember in the Ashes ended. We are immediately drawn into the story as Laia and Elias are desperately trying to find a way out of the city. They are about to start on their quest to free Laia's brother from Kauf prison, which is far up north. There end up being quite a few twists and turns along the way.

I'm happy to say that A Torch Against the Night was every bit as good as An Ember in the Ashes. No second book syndrome here. This book is very well plotted and it kept me glued to it. Not everything went exactly the way I was wanting, but the beauty of a good book is that even when things don't go exactly the way you wanted, in the end you can see why things had to be the way they were and you end up loving it and wanting more.

I admire the author for being gutsy enough to include some very brutal things in her YA books and not swooping in and saving certain characters at the last minute. None of it is gratuitous, it's all an important part of the plot and it makes the villains more believable. I also loved the conflicting feelings the characters have throughout the books. They are so very real. There were a couple of times I wanted to hate Helene, but I couldn't because I understood where she was coming from. She makes some tough decisions in the book, some I definitely didn't agree with, but I couldn't help but admire her in the end. Who knows what I would have done in her place.

Elias is still my favorite character in the book. I was on pins and needles until the end over his character and what was happening or might happen. And Laia, I continue to like her. She learned a lot about herself in this book. There are also a couple of new characters introduced in this book that I loved. Harper and Tas. In the beginning you might wonder why I end up loving Harper, but you will find out. Some of the old supporting characters are back as well; Izzy and even Cook, whose appearances are brief, but interesting.

It looks like there will be two more books in this series. This is one of those rare times that a YA fantasy series is so well done that I feel like two more books is a good thing. There is still so much ground left to cover that I can't imagine any of it just being filler. I'm impatiently awaiting the next book.



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An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy


 
Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.


 I was not expecting to enjoy An Ember in the Ashes so much. I had put off reading it for a while in favor of other things, but now I wish I had read it sooner. It contained everything that, for me makes a good fantasy read. Good world building, interesting characters, a bit of heartbreak, more than one point of view, danger, and some romance were all present. Oh and it has maps too!

While this book was not ground breaking in any way, there are several standard fantasy tropes that are used, I found it very compelling and the characters and situations they faced more complex than most YA fantasy. There are lots of tough choices for the characters to make, and the author doesn't shy away from having them make what seem to be the wrong ones at times, or are they the wrong ones? It made me wonder what I would do in those same situations.

One of the things I really dislike sometimes about YA fantasy is that a villain is built up as being a really horrible dreaded person and then they end up falling short of that, mainly so that the main character can escape their wrath without having to endure too many horrors. I didn't find that the case with this book. The Commandant is very nasty to Laia and does some horrible things to her. There is a constant threat of danger in this book and it kept me reading and on the edge of my seat.

Another thing I liked about this book were the duel points of view from opposing sides, and was I anticipating when Laia and Elias would meet, and then later when they would conspire together, and possibly fall in love. I really liked Laia and the fact that she was just a normal girl who had to learn how to become a spy and figure out who she could and couldn't trust. She felt very real to me. I also really liked Elias and his conflicted feelings. Both points of view were equally compelling.

I have said for a long time that I don't care for love triangles in books, but it seems like the love triangles in several books I've read lately haven't bothered me. This one would be the same, except I guess it's a love square in this book. I think if done correctly love triangles (or squares) are ok. This wasn't the standard love triangle where feelings are based on silly things like how hot someone is or love at first sight. This love triangle didn't feel juvenile at all, but very adult. The mixed feelings of all four characters were believable to me. I did feel like the one weak link would have been Keenen. We don't really get to know him as much as the other three characters. It was actually kind of compelling to try and figure out who would end up with whom, and well we still don't know for sure.

So this was a surprisingly good read and I'm looking forward to reading the next book.