Twists Turns Surprises Oh my

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When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement. You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves. You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her. You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing. (From Goodreads)

 

I got this ARC from a contest I entered and started reading it as soon as I was able to. It started off excellent in the first chapters and it completely caught my attention.

The book certainly keeps you guessing all throughout the novel and it certainly keeps you on your toes and you realize this is probably how the ex wife (can’t name names, it would give the plot away) felt as you progress through the story. The twists and turns keep you blindsided and it keeps you guessing even until the final pages of the book. It was a great and thrilling. Every other chapter I heard myself going: “WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST READ?”

I really felt for the ex wife though. There’s a lot of cringeworthy moments for her and it almost hurt to read her part of the plot. I was stuck feeling like I wanted to give her a good girl pep talk or slapping her upside the head for acting in a particular way. However when it’s revealed why her actions were done then you’re left with a smile and approving nod.  Ma’am, you are bloody brilliant. Manipulative, but brilliant and it costed you just about everything.

So with the multiple twists and turns, and the roller coaster feelings you get, the novel does a great job in tying everything together and making everything meet at an apex point. It’s very well done and everything is explained to you. Now I didn’t like how some of the characters got away with what seems like a slap on the wrist, and I wanted to know more about Maureen’s motives which although was explained in very minimal detail so in this aspect, it was a bit of a cop out.

Otherwise, this was such an excellent book to read and greatly recommended for thriller lovers who like to be surprised at every twist and turn possible. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

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This Book Had It’s Moments…

1616203536.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgWhen a building collapses around five teenagers and they just barely escape they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves? With an unlikely group of heroes, sky-high stakes, and two budding romances, this gripping murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the last page (From Goodreads)

 

I have to agree, this was indeed a page turner. It started off with a bang and it was one event after another until our four characters started putting the pieces together. It got really thrilling at certain moments of the book and even you are left wondering what the heck is going on and you’re feeling just as lost and confused as the characters.

The plot itself in general was all right. Be prepared for some predictable scenes. It didn’t bother me as much as it was expected but there were plenty of moments in the book where you were blindsided with surprise which makes up for some of the predictability.

The characters were well done and complimented each other as a group despite each one having their differences. The narration done throughout the novel is by Caleb and Saralinda. Both characters are likable to an extent. I prefer reading Caleb’s side of the story instead of Saralinda only because she got annoying towards the second half of the novel. I thought she was trying too hard to be the happy nerdy girl with the forceful jokes. (You certainly CANNOT be thinking of first kisses and romance while you have the police and your murderous parents after you…seriously now?)

The read was all right. Some thrilling moments here and there and an ending that’s enough to close the story. Would I recommend this? Not really. I’d say more along the lines of: take it or leave it.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Likeable characters in An Inconvenient Beauty

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Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge. Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she’ll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation. Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after? (from Goodreads)

This book would have made an excellent movie that I would watch several times over. You can picture the characters clearly in your head and play out the scenes as they’re really well descripted and well written. What surprised me the most while reading the book was how funny it was. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy per se, but there were scenes and encounters where you found yourself laughing out loud. I thought it was different. Not all regency romance novels are like this (most are lighthearted romances) so seeing some good funny scenes is nice and puts a different spin on things. (The lawn bowling incident haha!)

Isabella and Griffith were perfect together. They had the perfect chemistry, their intelligence was on par with each other and Isabella was exactly what Griffith needed. He was all about routine, and finding the answers to everything and being prepared. Isabella was exactly the opposite; she made him question his methods, and got him to realize not everything has an answer and sometimes just going with the flow helps brighten up life. The best part was although their romance didn’t start off as usual (love at first sight, etc) it was a gradual bond that lasted throughout the book.

What I didn’t really like was although the characters were great, and the comedy bits made the plot light and fun, it didn’t do much regarding the speed and pace of the plot. It dragged midway in the plot and it seemed to have slowed to a crawl and the change of pace changed considerably.

Aside from the slow pacing in the second half of the book, I enjoyed the characters. They  were fun and likable, and the comedy provided some good light moments. Although this is part of a series, this book can be read as a stand alone as well.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

(The slow pace really got to me in this one, unfortunately)

 

This Got My Heart Racing!

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Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact. The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. Never mention The Pact to anyone. Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare. (From Goodreads)

This book was a complete page turner. I loved the mood, I loved the atmosphere and the tension that was prevalent throughout nearly the entire novel. It was such an excellent read I had to put aside everything else so that I could progress further until I finished.

Jake and Alice were great characters to follow through. It’s a bit hard to see how they both connect and have that chemistry (they’re very opposite of one another) and you don’t really see it between them but somehow their personalities are likable and they just seem to fit well together. Jake is very analytical – his random facts about marriage can attest to that. Also his methods of reading other people is one of the most interesting aspects of his character. Alice on the other hands, is a rock star turned lawyer which is a very odd mix, but you have to pay the bills somehow right?

Onto the plot. The Pact sounds pretty like a harmless group to join doesn’t it? But man oh man does it ever take a twist to the dark and ugly. I love how the dark twisted side of the Pact comes out slowly as you progress throughout the book. The suspense is really tense and you can feel it as Alice and Jake experience the bad side of things – oh but the feelings of paranoia. Those feelings are so strong you yourself feel as if you’re being watched and monitored. Every time you think ‘it’s ok we got this all under control’ nope another big surprise happens around the corner and not everything is going to be okay. You then start to question their trust, and their fidelity and that’s where the mind plays ugly tricks on both Alice and Jake and on you.

I found this book immensely enjoyable and it was a thrill to read. When you feel and start emulating the same way the main characters feel  in the book, you know you’re in for a good one.

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Nikolai Seems the Better Catch ….

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Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead, you have been warned***

You’d have to read Shadow and Bone to read and understand Siege and Storm. Otherwise you’d be pretty lost as events follow up right after the first book.

The first half of the book was at a great pace and filled with lots of action, bombs, explosions, fighting, magic, all sorts of goodness you would expect for the second book to follow up for an excellent start in the first. It slows down in the second half of the book where preparations for encountering The Darkling are made and you have this whole drama with Alina and Mal going on;

Okay I was wrong about The Darkling. I was torn apart when he ended up being jackalope of the year and I was holding a banner of love for Alina and Mal.

Then Nikolai steps in.

Handsome, charismatic, swashbuckling, people sway to his beat Nikolai. I loved reading about him whenever he came into the picture. It’s like when your school crush comes into the classroom and you realize you’re going to share a table with him. That kind of giddiness is what Nikolai brings to the book.

I saw the chemistry with Alina and Mal in the first one, and it just falls apart here in Siege and Storm – understandably so as the dynamics have changed a lot and Alina has climbed up in the ladder of importance and Mal has suddenly fallen off the grid and is just considered a lowly guard of Alina the Sun Summoner. Which is pretty good right? You’re near the person you love and care about, you’re standing guard and you’re close by.

No. Can’t be that easy right? First Nikolai steps into the picture and is suddenly looking like a much better prospect and the drama with Alina looking for the Firebird to amplify her powers even more – the point where she becomes obsessed with it changes her personality and makes her more darker, assertive, and she’s not the girl we all once knew in the first book. I really love this personality change in her. There’s a slight whiny voice to it but she really steps up and grows exponentially as a character.

So I can see the romance aspect of the book falling apart, but at the same time you ask yourself is it really necessary? I can see the attempt at a love triangle with Mal and Nikolai with Alina in the middle but from what I see, she gets along fine with both of them, but does she really need one or the other as a love interest? I don’t see the chemistry there with either of them.

Sure, Alina still cares a lot for Mal but everything’s changed and it just seems like she doesn’t need romance..not yet anyway. Instead, the attempt at the romance is seen as two whiny people who can’t get their own way and they take it out on each other by indulging themselves on the road to self destruction. Again, that’s a very human trait and good on portraying that. The whininess though, I could do without. It caused unnecessary drama in the book, and endless of pages in the second half where the plot doesn’t seem to be moving forward or anywhere. It feels like an unnecessary filler.

The last third of the novel though did pick up the pace (did not make up for the whiny drama though) and provided a lot of the explosions and action you had in the first half. Not really featuring a cliffhanger ending, but it’s making me look forward to what I have to see in the third and final book of this series.

PS: My heart bled for Genya.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

 

Jackaby is Eccentric but fun

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Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny. (From Goodreads)

 

This book was a little slow to start. However I find that because the characters are so interesting and have their own quirks you find yourself sticking to the story because they’re so fascinating.

When I was reading about Jackaby and his character he bears the resemblance of an unorthodox detective whose social skills are rather lacking (speaks his mind without realizing he’s offending) but who happens to be brilliant at what he does and those in the police force grudgingly accept his help because they have no one else to turn to. So in turn you can see why Abigail is needed in this partnership. She provides the social skills and provides insight on things that Jackaby might miss. Which is why they make an interesting team.

Although he’s eccentric and Abigail may come off as ‘normal’ they both are similar because they both don’t stick to the social norms that society at the time (18th century USA) which is why they make good teamwork. Not to mention, Abigail is also searching for adventure and working with Jackaby provided just that.

The world building is interesting and good. There’s supernatural elements and creatures throughout the city in hiding. Those with special vision (Jackaby) would be able to spot them whereas Abigail accepts this – a little too accepting but going with the notion that she needed to find employment right away to survive, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. It still ended up being the right choice anyway.

Other secondary characters (Jenny and Douglas) are good fillers to provide more substance to Jackaby’s world. I enjoyed reading about Charlie and I hope he makes another appearance in the next novel.

I would say, stick to the story because of the characters that you end up liking as the book progresses. It does get exciting in the last third of the book despite the lack of momentum in the beginning. It was still an enjoyable read.

I give it a 7 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.