Best Book of 2018 So Far…

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When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.  (From Goodreads)

I was very surprised to like this book immensely. This easily has to be one of my favorites for 2018. I read this in almost one sitting and the plot grabbed me from the very first page. It’s dark and moody, somber and serious, but it’s worth to read from cover to cover in one sitting.

You can take a guess things weren’t to go very well once things hit the fan, what you probably didn’t expect is the snowball to get big enough that it affects a larger group of people. Yet once you get to know what kind of a person Dwayne is, he’s quite the man of extremes. On the other hand, can you really blame him though? After what he’s gone through and his childhood, he truly has no one else but his brother. Now it doesn’t excuse him for what he did, but it goes to show at what extremes people would get to because of people or things being taken away from them.

I just loved the overall mood and tone of the book. It’s quaint because it’s set in a small town. Everyone knows each other since childhood, certain family names stand out and are prominent due to reputation or how long they’ve been in town. It’s a great setting and the characters are realistic. Although each had their own ghosts and secrets, it provided more realism to them and they’re not so perfect and they’re all pretty much flawed. This is what made the book so good.

The plot was good and provided easy reading. You’d want to know what happens and the ending wasn’t what I expected, it was a great ending however it would have been nice to hear about the outcomes of some of the characters featured. Definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed it absolutely from start to finish.

I give it a 10 out of 10.

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Peter Grant Kinda Needs to Address his Priorities…

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The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural. Body and soul. They’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad. (From Goodreads)

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

It is advisable to read the first one before you get into Moon Over Soho. You’re pretty much carrying on right after the events in the first book so it’s always better to get the background information before carrying on 🙂

I was pleased with this one, complete with rather macabre scenes that will stick with me for a while. I still enjoy the way it’s being narrated by Peter Grant. He tells it pretty bluntly and explains well for some of us who don’t live in London which helps understand the setting more. The setting is dark and gritty, just right to complement the mystery that is prevalent to the case. The mix with the supernatural blends quite well with real life London, I believe it’s probably even more enjoyable to read for those that are quite familiar to the city.

Supporting characters and some new ones are featured in the book. It’s nice to see Leslie again despite what happened to her (ahh but the ending though!). Peter takes a lot of beating (both verbal and physical) during the book which is to be expected. He does have a thing with Simone that covers a good latter part of the book which is ok, although I thought it provided a lot of filler and it slowed the pace down considerably. You almost wanted to ask; “Peter, don’t you have a case to work on?”

It proved to be a quick read with a good open cliffhanger ending with the mystery of The ‘Faceless One’ which makes the series even more intriguing at this point. I’ll be definitely be picking up the third one. A great series to read so far!

I gave it an 8 out of 10.

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.

 

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.