Paintings and children make this one pretty eerie…

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpgYou’re living the dream…A beautiful house, a loving wife. Two kids, a dog, and a tenure track professorship teaching art at the local university. Your name is Daniel Rineheart. You’ve got it all….But All Dreams Must End. For this autumn heralds the arrival of a mysterious painting. No name. No date. No signature or frame. A disturbing work of grotesque perfection: two children with cruel eyes, a window onto an endless field, and a dying tree on top of a hill. A work of art… that changes with each viewing.

So Begins The Nightmare……Where wretched children crawl from a canvas prison to stalk the quiet halls of this happy home….Where painted clocks tick-tock away in the dark hours before dawn, and a missing dog whimpers from between the walls….Where all answers lead to a dark artist and an impossible creation, a cursed canvas with a twisted past……And A Horror That Will Devour All. (From Goodreads)

The horror aspects of this book was really good. It was creepy enough to give you the heebie jeebies and anything to do with strange looking paintings and children always make things more creepier than they should be. (The Shining, anyone?)

I can’t really say I like Daniel as a character. He had it coming to him. It was an awful cruel thing he did and he deserved every last bit of it. None of the characters really stood out here since Daniel was really the center of the plot, but wow Karina. You’re just some kind of special aren’t you? She played on Daniel’s sympathy until he realized she’s completely bat crazy and well, you walked into that one didn’t you? This is what happens when you want the cake and the cherry on top. Just don’t do it. However tempting that is.

Plot wise, it’s pretty entertaining and good stuff for a horror book. It does come off as reading a horror movie in print which is pretty good and frankly, if this ever was a movie, I’d probably watch it and enjoy it better. The ending was great and is everything  you would expect in a horror movie or book. There’s mystery elements into the book which does not affect the story that much and adds more intrigue.

Although the horror elements were good, the execution of the story could be better. I thought certain aspects of the plot were just there for convenience. There could have been more to the Mabel plot arc. It was just planted there with no real explanation except it was given about 2-3 pages but no real contribution. I wish there was more to it. It would have helped, and could have made the story much better.

Despite some of the shortcomings of the book, it was an enjoyable read. It was creepy enough to give you the chills and the ending was what you would expect in this genre. Recommended to horror lovers!

I give it a 6 out of 10.

 

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Mr Darcy Will Always Be Loved…

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After her father’s death, Elizabeth Bennet goes to work as a governess. Little does she know the Willstones are social acquaintances of the Bingleys and the Darcys, and Elizabeth finds herself once again drawn into Mr. Darcy’s orbit. To make matters worse, Mrs. Willstone’s sister sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. With Elizabeth’s social status even lower than it was before, she knows she must abandon all hope of Darcy renewing his proposals, even as she begins to see him in a completely different light (From Goodreads)

I’m such a sucker for these kinds of books featuring Pride and Prejudice. There are so many different types of retellings and most of them are good. This one has its moments and it was enjoyable to read.

So in this twist, our beloved Mr Bennet dies prematurely and Elizabeth becomes a governess. This was rather interesting, and it does suit Elizabeth rather well – although back then in the day it’s a drop in the society ladder and everyone she knows makes sure she knows it.

So she meets Rosalyn which I thought at first, was an ideal friend for our dear Lizzie. She’s a bit  vapid and valley girl type of character. Especially when Mr Darcy is around (can’t blame her, we all love Mr Darcy) but it’s almost to the point where she’s annoying about it.  It’s not until the latter half of the novel where Rosalyn does a complete 360 and she becomes a pretty awful person (including her mother).

The plot in this one tries to stay within the main one we’re all familiar with it just diverts the path a bit and comes back to full circle. Which is nice as it tries to stay true to the original story at the same time you just get a different “what if” scenario to enjoy reading. I’d have to say I enjoy reading Hamilton (another cousin of Darcy’s) playing along with Elizabeth. It was playful banter and he sounded like the type of rogue we all love to read and fall for (albeit, foolishly). It was a bit hard to get into at first but it’s worth going through to the end as once Rosalyn does her 360 turn, everything becomes much more interesting.

The only thing I did not enjoy reading is towards the end Darcy does something completely out of character and it just did not sit well with me. He’s not the type to be outspoken even when it comes to be madly in love. Don’t make him something he’s not. It nearly ruined the entire book as it was doing so well staying close to the true nature of the characters only to have him do something he wouldn’t EVER do (nor can you picture him doing so).

Also, the ending just dragged too much for me. We get it. We all know what’s going to happen. We all know what did happen. There’s no need for extra fodder in the last few chapters of the book. It could have just ended with the proposal or wedding and done. Perhaps the last few chapters could have been made into an entirely new idea for another book to be made. It was just so unnecessary.

Overall, it was a good read for those that love Pride and Prejudice “what if” scenarios and fans. I enjoyed it despite those changes in characters that nearly caused me to grind my teeth and yelling out certain expletives.

I give it a 6 out of 10.  

More Like a Guilty Pleasure Book

1616203536.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgHarper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper’s shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It’s everything she never thought she wanted. Then she meets Logan’s twin brother, Daemon, who was expelled from his last school. True, he’s a bad boy, but Harper can’t shake the feeling that there’s something deeply sinister about him–something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Daemon’s shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late. (From Goodreads)

 

I would call this a guilty pleasure book. Why? Because it’s not the most greatest read out there but you read it anyway because something about it just draws you to continue reading. Whether it be characters, or the cheesy plot albeit ridiculous as it may be.

This is supposed to be a modern day retelling of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I see some similarities although the way it’s explained (the soul thing) is a bit of a stretch. At least with Jekyll/Hyde he had something concrete and explanatory (eg; the serum that gets him to change personalities).

The book itself is filled with oodles of cliches so it’s not for everyone. It may induce eye rolls and may have some readers frustrated and quit reading altogether. Why did I keep reading? It’s a very simple plot and there’s not much when it comes to twists and turns, there’s a bit of a creepy and chilly factor which was actually pretty well done and I stuck with it. Despite the plot being as it is, the writing was pretty good and I enjoyed it.

A couple of things however. I’m not sure what Madison really had to do with the story. She’s just your average mean girl but doesn’t really add to the plot (except for being a previous romance. Woopie) so to me, this was just unnecessary filler moments in the novel.

Harper isn’t really that likable and there were moments where she goes off the deep end into the realm of stupidity. I do admit though, she’s got good chemistry with Logan and the writing that conveys their feelings towards each other is well done. Logan seems to be a great boyfriend if it wasn’t for that fatal flaw. Harper does tend to have some annoying qualities to herself – being a forgiving doormat for one, and lacking common sense in particular stages of the story (seriously? You’re going to break into a house and you say: “hello?” can we say first one to die in a horror movie here?)

Although this book has quite a few flaws, I couldn’t help but enjoy reading it. It’s a very quick read and it’s like you’re watching a B movie but you enjoyed it despite the many cliches and things you normally wouldn’t watch. There’s just something about it that makes you want to continue reading it. I’m not going to recommend this one, but if you’re up for a quick read to get back into the reading groove, why not?

I give it a 6 out of 10.

 

The Song Actually Fits the Novel…

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Newly reinstated to the Homicide Division and transferred to a precinct in Tokyo, Inspector Iwata is facing superiors who don’t want him there and is assigned a recalcitrant partner, Noriko Sakai, who’d rather work with anyone else. After the previous detective working the case killed himself, Iwata and Sakai are assigned to investigate the slaughter of an entire family, a brutal murder with no clear motive or killer. At the crime scene, they find puzzling ritualistic details. Black smudges. A strange incense smell. And a symbol—a large black sun. Iwata doesn’t know what the symbol means but he knows what the killer means by it: I am here. I am not finished. As Iwata investigates, it becomes clear that these murders by the Black Sun Killer are not the first, nor the last attached to that symbol. As he tries to track down the history of black sun symbol, puzzle out the motive for the crime, and connect this to other murders, Iwata finds himself racing another clock—the superiors who are trying to have him removed for good. (From Goodreads)

So if you’re into police procedurals where you want high speed chases, lots of action and a real fast plot you will not find it in this one. You read this more for the characters and how they’re involved or what they have in common with each other whether through association of one other person, or just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I do admit, this is a very lyrical and poetic novel. There’s snippets of song lyrics, and quotes in between the book that can be distracting to the reading experience and may cause some confusion. Also, you go back and forth in Iwata’s memories to show how he became who he was in present day. This part can especially be confusion because you’re not sure where it starts or begins (you get the rhythm of it however, once you get further into the novel.) This may be off putting to some readers. I found myself taking breaks in between. There’s a lot of characters to take into account and there’s a lot of putting together the puzzle to get why these characters are involved and how.

I took a liking to Sakai. I loved her fiery attitude (understandably so once you figure out what she’s been through) and in the end you do feel for her. I really liked her character, she puts up a tough front and you know she’s hiding something within. When you find out what she’s been hiding all along it’s sad but makes sense as to explaining her behavior.

The plot itself is slow moving and the setting is bleak and dark. The entire theme of the book is rather dark and gloomy. It does not have a noir feeling to it and I was hoping for something more on the creepy side considering a cult is involved. It’s not much scary or thrilling as it’s more dark and foreboding undertone throughout the entire novel. And it’s not just the police case that has this tone. It’s the characters, and Iwata himself that carries this feeling with him.

Iwata as a character, he’s not that likable or unlikable. There’s not much to him. He’s very stoic and takes quite a beating throughout the book. He can be wry with other characters in the book but when he puts his mind to his police work, he does the job even though he makes the rest of the department angry with him. He’s quite abrasive with his co workers but can be a great partner when need be.

Also, take the time to actually listen to the song “Blue Light Yokohama” the song actually suits the novel. 🙂

There’s a sequel supposed to come out with Iwata. I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up or not. I don’t mind reading about the characters in depth and length but the plot could have been a lot quicker and less lyrical/poetic.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

 

Plot was ok. Could have been slightly better.

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Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is finally invited to a social event that she doesn’t have to cater—but there’s more than champagne bubbling. Theo is mingling with the cream of Charleston society at the engagement soiree of the season. But as they eagerly await the dazzling young couple’s arrival—the groom meets with a freak accident. The exquisite wedding ring—a family heirloom from the crown of Marie Antoinette—is mysteriously missing. Theodosia suspects that trouble is brewing. But when she goes to the authorities, they treat her like she’s been reading tea leaves—and that’s the surest way to put Theodosia’s kettle on the boil. (From Amazon)

This book still retains their likable and quaint characters, and still ends up a light enjoyable read. Although it would be preferable if read in order so you can get a feel for the characters, it could be read out of order (there’s a few references in the past books but nothing that will let the reader be lost and confused.)

My guess as to who the culprit was going to be was spot on. That being said though, what I really enjoyed about this book was the author got the reader to second guess their deductions. There were moments where I was second guessing myself because of the way the breadcrumbs were trailing. That was the best part of the book and the most enjoyable. I liked the little twists and turns being made to finally come to the ending and revealing of the cat burglar.

Although the characters and the mystery aspect of the book was enjoyable. The plot itself was a little lackluster and not very interesting to begin with. Delaine really struck a nerve with me as I didn’t enjoy her personality or her drama queen antics. I wanted the plot to be a little more interesting and more engaging to read. If it wasn’t for the breadcrumb trail you were being led on, the book would have been less enjoyable.

Overall, it wasn’t the greatest book of the series. The first two were much better. Let’s hope the next one will be better than this book. Still, it’s a light read to get through the day in between heavy novels. Worth a read through for cozy mystery fans.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Abraham Lincoln Would Rock as a Vampire Hunter

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Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.” “My baby boy…” she whispers before dying. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House. (From Goodreads)

I admit these kinds of books are a guilty pleasure of mine. You give me zombies and Pride and Prejudice I’ll read it in a heartbeat. You give me William Shakespeare with vampires and I’ll add it to my wishlist to read. People are going to scoff at these types of books because they’re known to be silly and not worth the time reading. Sometimes we just need a bit of silliness in our lives to remind ourselves that it’s okay to throw ideas that have nothing to do with each other and make it into a story (or film, or both.)

I enjoyed this one because well, vampires, and history put together are usually a great mix. This time around it’s more of an alternate history story line with an interesting but pretty feasible so it’s not over the top ridiculous. Vampires who support the South because it gives them easy access to food. Sounds plausible doesn’t it? It makes sense if you think about it that way. Of course then you have vampires like Henry who don’t believe in getting food that way and that’s where the plot of vampires and history blend nicely together.

The format of the book is also different and interesting in where it’s written like a ‘non fiction’ book. It’s a nice way of putting it together and adds more to the story to make it more enjoyable. The problem with this is, since it’s meant to emulate a non fiction book, it also dry and boring in some parts. So the execution of this type of book could have been a bit better to make the read less of a chore – as some parts seemed to have dragged.

Despite some of the parts being a bit boring, it’s worth a shot to read. I enjoyed the ending immensely and liked what they did there with Lincoln. This book isn’t for everyone that’s for sure, but if you’re curious about it, give it a try.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett offers some character development but falls short

0316182885.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgTricia Miles, owner of Haven’t a Clue mystery bookstore, is still settling into Stoneham, New Hampshire, the kind of town where everybody knows your name—and where everyone’s quick to lend a hand, even when murder is afoot . . .The kinder folks of Stoneham might call Pammy Fredericks a free spirit. The less kind, a freeloading thief. Tricia has put up—and put up with—her uninvited college roommate for weeks. In return, Pammy, has stolen $100, among other things. But the day she’s kicked out, Pammy’s found dead in a dumpster, leaving loads of questions unanswered. Like what was she foraging for? Did her killer want it too? To piece the case together, Tricia will have to dive in head-first.… (From Goodreads)

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

So I just finished reading the second one a while ago. As far as cozy mysteries go, I like them and pick them up when I can. They’re more like a go between heavy reads or when I need something light. (Reading is like eating you see..you’d like an appetizer before you dig into the main course.)

With most cozy mysteries you don’t get much character development. They’re usually just there like placements in a diorama with nothing much to them except it makes the story readable and whole. Or it provides support to the setting and the plot. There’s nothing central to them.

In Bookplate Special, that pretty much changes.

Tricia and Russ break up! Which is not big news anyway. You were anticipating it and quite frankly, Russ was pretty much boring to begin with. Enter the green eyed (and this is emphasized throughout the novel) Captain Baker who’s not that charming but at least has somewhat more of a personality than Russ, he’s certainly a gentleman, and manages to grab Tricia’s attention. So there’s that development there in that regard.

Then we have Ginny and Brian who aren’t together anymore because Brian’s done some really awful things (and ended up being the culprit anyway.) Well, Ginny was going through some really tough times anyway and this just ended up being the icing on the cake but now she’s got some goals for herself. There’s some development there. Although it’s probably going to take some time for Ginny to get used to this situation.

Then we have Mr Everett and Grace getting married. Which is pretty much the most happiest part of the book with all the breakups happening here. Congratulations to them, by the way.

Angelica who still acts like the older sibling you wish you never had, had a secret all along (well, not really) and you find out the reason for her behavior. I liked this part the most. It made her more human and less of an annoying character. For those that have gone through similar situations like Angelica would completely understand and maybe even sympathize.

The plot overall was interesting but not as great as the first two I’ve read. Pammy who is the victim is here and gone. She wasn’t that likable anyway but Tricia, being the nice girl and the doormat, tolerated her and ended up doing the right thing for her. Sure, it makes Tricia look like she’s being put on a pedestal and nothing can go wrong but at the same time Tricia was going through her own issues (her relationship with Russ for example, among other things she was involved in throughout the novel). It makes Tricia sound almost unstoppable and it’s amazing what she can accomplish while her store is running at the same time. It can be unrealistic as it seems like Tricia can just come and go when she pleases but if you think about it, don’t most bosses do the same?

I started losing interest towards the last third of the book. It really started to drag and Tricia could not stop whining about Pammy and her guilt over kicking her out of her place. I don’t know how much you could drag about the secret diary, and how a philanthropist could have been involved in this (which he really wasn’t.) Top that with adding in a group of Freegans and someone born with a birth defect that needed gender reassignment surgery. Okay. I can handle it, but did it have to drag? It really should have ended about 4 or 5 chapters ago.

Other than that, it wasn’t a bad read but as of now it’s my least favorite of the series. I hope the fourth one will be better than this one. The characters changing and developing was a welcome change however. Cozy mystery fans may or may not enjoy this one. Take it or leave this one.

I give it a 6 out of 10.