This redeems the third one..sort of..

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Returning to the Ozark Territories, freedom fighter David Valentine is shocked to find it overrun by vampiric Kurians under the command of the merciless Consul Solon. In a desperate gambit, Valentine leads a courageous group of soldiers on a mission to drive a spike into the gears of the Kurian Order. Valentine stakes life, honor, and the future of his home in a rebellion that sparks the greatest battle of his life. (From Goodreads)

 

I have this love/hate relationship with this series, primarily with Valentine. It took me a long time to get back into this. I don’t find Valentine that likable and the last novel nearly made me want to throw in the towel because of his skirt chasing behavior and the predictable consequence following after. (Don’t get me started on the rant regarding the butt crack. Just. No.)  So I came to the conclusion if I didn’t like this book, I’ll stop then. If it wasn’t for the cliffhanger at the end of book three I probably would have dropped it then and there.

I was pleasantly surprised with this book after the drivel that was number three. I’m not sure if it was because Valentine decide to finally grow up and get a pair or circumstances in the novel made him this way (likely the latter) but it made for very good reading. There were some very important choices Valentine had to  make for himself and his crew; some of them extremely difficult and the way he dealt with the aftermath was good. It was nice to finally see him being part of a team instead of a one man army and doing everything himself.

Again the supporting characters are what made this book going for me (still on the anti-Valentine train for now) they had their distinct personalities and they weren’t flat or meant to just be part of the plot. They each had their part to play whether small or big and it made the plot better and rounded out. I have a soft spot for Ahn-Kha and Styachowski I like them both for their strengths and although they were ‘quiet’ they played substantially in the plot. (More so Styachowski than Ahn-Kha).

The plot was good albeit it slowed down to a crawl at the end. It was getting to be too much and by that time, I was already wanting to close the book. There’s plenty of action so that does not disappoint. There were some parts where I came close to closing it because of Valentine’s idiotic behavior (stop checking out Styachowski you moron, she’s on the bloody job) but otherwise, this was much better than the third. 

This one was enough to redeem itself so I will carry on and read the next. I hope it continues this way.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

 

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Where the Last Page had all the OMG’s…

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Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips. Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends. Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price. (From Goodreads)

What I enjoyed about this one is the twists and turns happening all throughout the novel. You think it’s one thing, but it’s leading to another, yet out comes another possible solution to the mystery however it ends up being another red herring and so on. The guessing games keep the book on your toes.

The plot flows through smoothly, alternating between past and present so you get a feel for the background story on the events leading up as to why Emma is back. There were times where you had to question her sanity  because her behavior was erratic and unstable. As mentioned before, the guessing games throughout the novel kept the plot going and exciting to read. Expect mean girl behavior and shenanigans, and Emma’s character overall isn’t too likable but tolerable at the most. Vivian isn’t any better but the role she takes upon herself as a ‘big sister’ is endearing and gets instant idolization from Emma.

What I loved the most about this book is I wasn’t expecting such a great ending. I was thinking it was going to be a lackluster one at the most with a simple explanation as to what was behind the girls disappearances. It’s not until literally, the last pages of the novel where you get hit with a mega surprise and it was instant mind blow. I was left shocked for a fair amount of time as it was expertly done.

I heard more good things about Sager’s other works so I’ll definitely be picking them up. Hope they’re just as good as this one!

I give it a 9 out of 10.  

Slow plot, liked the character, but disappointing overall…

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Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they’re all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She’s planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she’ll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they’re a delusional doomsday group, she knows there’s nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn’t prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother’s involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex’s life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie.  (From Goodreads)

This one was off to a slow start, and it was pretty much slow throughout. What compelled me to finish this book to the end was wondering whether this Clearview group was legit or if there was something more to them.

You also follow through Bex and her life at home, which doesn’t seem very pleasant to start with. Her mom tries to change her despite her orientation, there’s financial issues at the home, and her brother is, quite frankly, an ahole. You quickly figure out Bex is into guns, and survival training. There’s extensive description on how she takes care of the guns, how she loads them, fires them, and we can go on. It gets tedious and lets the plot slow to a crawl. If you want intrigue and surprises, this isn’t going to happen until much later. Much much later.

There’s also focus on Bex and Lucy. They both seem to compliment each other and there is slight chemistry between the two of them but it’s not a romantic type of love story that you get if that’s what you’re looking for. They’re polar opposites and compliment one another but you also get that feeling it’s nice while it lasts.

There isn’t much to the plot until the last third of the novel, which is disappointing. However it’s jarring to see how much of the concept of survivalism is drilled into Bex and pushes her to the edge to the point of becoming paranoid over every minute detail. It’s sad to see what her parents attempt to make her do, when it comes to the subject of her brother. It’s also disappointing to see hardly any mention of Clearview except for smidgens here and there and although it plays a part in the plot, it’s not what you think and you wish there was more to it. It would have made the book much more interesting.

It wasn’t the best, but not the worst either. I’d suggest to take this out from the library instead of a purchase.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Definitely Not For Everyone…

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What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them? Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief. (From Goodreads)

What I liked about this book is it was able to draw you in slowly to the plot and it unfolds gradually by introducing you to the main characters and their backgrounds. You can’t help but keep reading to see what will happen next. Your curiosity is piqued and it’s worth reading through. There is a chapter here and there that lets you think ‘Gee what the heck am I reading here’ but it makes up for it wholeheartedly towards the ending of the book.

The plot and the pace is slow but steady. You’re taken through each girl’s perspective and when they finally come together, if you can bypass the pettiness and mean girl attitude (some parts were quite fun to read, the comebacks are something to be filed away for future use should need arise) they actually do make a solid team. Each girl has their own story and their own pain to deal with. Of the three, I’d taken a liking to Cecilia. She’s a tough one and although all three have gone through a substantial amount of pain, Cecilia seems to be the most likable and the most independent (plus she’s a Rocker girl. Who doesn’t think Rocker Girls are cool?)

As the story unfolds, it gets chaotic towards the last third of the novel. Pretty good action – brutal at times so might not be for the faint of heart, and of course it leaves room for more things to come (two books follow after this one). Understandably this book might not be for everyone. Gratuitous swearing, references to Catholicism which may be offensive to some, some serious what the F chapters that make you wonder what kind of shrooms they’re on, and references to rape are mentioned in the book.

So while it may not be for everyone, I was surprised that I enjoyed reading this one so much. Although it took awhile for the book to gain momentum and this thing with Sebastian being a somewhat Charles Manson wannabe without the murders is a bit tedious, it was actually pretty good. However it comes across as a book that either you’ll really like, or you’ll really hate. So, when in doubt, just take it out of the library and save your money for other things.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Was Just Not Enough to Get My Attention…

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Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies. The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al. (From Goodreads)

What I enjoyed the most about this novel is the relationships Carrie develops throughout the book. She finally finds her place in the small town, has a mystery to solve, develops friendships, and even has a ghost to help her out with the mystery.

The book was all right, but it wasn’t that great either. The mystery aspect was fine and you were guessing throughout the novel, a few red herrings planted here and there. I took a liking to Carrie’s Aunt and Uncle who are loving and great characters and treat Carrie like gold. The mood and setting of the book was also pretty good. It’s quaint and cozy like it should be. There’s even a library cat that comes into the story. Libraries and cats just go together so well 🙂

The romance aspect of the book was one of the weak points. At first you thought Carrie was going to go for one person but then it turns out to be someone completely different and you’re left wondering where did this come from all of a sudden. It’s awkwardly placed and just doesn’t feel quite right until later. It’s almost as if Carrie’s crush was placed there conveniently just when it was time to solve the mystery. A bit eye rolling, but nevertheless still awkward.

Although the ghost assists Carrie when possible you’d rather wish there was more to her story instead of just being a secondary assistant. Perhaps that will be further developed and mentioned as the series progresses. The revealing of the culprit and the climax ending was pretty good and satisfactory but by the time this was happening I was pretty much done.

So although the setting, the characters, and the mystery were fine, it just wasn’t enough to get me to continue onto reading the series. To me, it just seemed to dragged towards the last half of the book and I did put it down several times because it didn’t seem to be progressing anywhere. Other cozy mystery readers may enjoy this more than I will though, as this is one of the better ones out there. Worth picking up if you’re into small towns, libraries and a ghostly assistant.

I give it a 2 out of 10.

 

Something to be Discussed, and a Must Read..

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Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were “thunder.” In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety–perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive. When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted asylum in the United States, where she embarked on another journey–to excavate her past and, after years of being made to feel less than human, claim her individuality. (From Goodreads)

It’s not an easy subject to write and review about. What can you really say about it when it’s filled with tragedy, mass displacement, and human suffering. It’s definitely an eye opener and if you’re wanting a book to read and discuss this would be an ideal one.

What is prevalent all throughout the novel is Clemantine’s feeling of displacement and how she’s not really entire ‘whole’ or she’s never really had a place to call ‘home’ considering all she’s been through. She’s gone through various countries through Africa only to be displaced time after time. It’s emotionally jarring and to even think that Clemantine was only a child during this period would be traumatizing to any child exposed to this world.

I find the book interesting and shows how her behavior is like once she moves to the US. Clemantine constantly seeks new opportunities but it feels as if she’s doing so to learn more about herself or to constantly fill herself so she can feel wholesome. Every time she accomplishes something, she goes out to do more. It’s never ending. It’s an admirable trait if you look from another perspective but if you don’t know her real background, you would assume she’s a normal, overachieving teenager.

Claire’s strength is admirable throughout the story. Despite all the chaos going around her, she is constantly trying to improve so she can get out with Clemantine. The sad part is, because of what was happening around them, they didn’t really have the chance to be actual sisters. Claire looked out for everyone, Clemantine stayed home and held the fort.

No matter how hard you try you can’t really put yourself in their perspective. You can’t really know how it is until you’re actually there experiencing it too (and no one wants that obviously) you can only wish Clemantine and her family will continue to lead on successful and fulfilling lives like they rightly deserve just like everyone else.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Thank you Crown Publishing/Penguin Random House for the review copy!

When a series you like goes into a rut…

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It is a truly exhilarating experience for Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning-helping Charleston’s Sea Turtle Protection League shepherd hundreds of tiny green loggerheads safely into the sea. But just as she’s about to celebrate all her hard work, she spots a dead body bobbing in the waves. Now it’s up to Theo to get to the bottom of the murder before the culprit’s greed stirs him to kill again. (From Amazon)

 

***Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned***

This would have to be the worst book in the series so far. I read this through because I just wanted to get to the end of it in the hopes of having somewhat of a satisfying ending but even that was denied.

The plot wasn’t that interesting. It tried to have intrigue and mystery but it was severely lacking. What you read more was more tea parties than anything else. Yes, she owns a tea shop and has two large events that somehow took over nearly half of the book. The mystery takes a back seat in this book and it’s disappointing. The pace of the book was slow and although it tried to make it a little engaging with two issues going on at once it wasn’t enough to really capture my attention.

I wasn’t even that interested in the suspects. Nothing stood out and even when it was revealed it was so lackluster. There wasn’t much of an action scene and it completely did a nose dive. The suspect was nabbed. Done. No explanation, no way to tie the loose ends. Everything was just left open and unfinished. I have no idea what in the world happened in this book with the mystery aspect of it. Then there was the issue with Nadine being a complete kleptomaniac. Okay, she stole stuff….so…what ever happened to the items she stole? Nothing was said. Was it ever recovered? And Delaine, lordy. She got the point where she became annoying everytime she appeared in a scene.

I read this book just because it was following the series. I think the next one will determine if I continue on with it or not. It’s too bad. I actually enjoyed these and thought they were quaint little mysteries to get into after heavy reads. Not so with this one. You could probably skip this one and go to the following. You’re not missing anything.

I give it a 3 out of 10.