Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts

July 22, 2022

The Cell by Stephen King

 Synopsis

On October 1, God is in His heaven, the stock market stands at 10,140, most of the planes are on time, and Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, is almost bouncing up Boylston Street in Boston. He's just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He's already picked up a small (but expensive!) gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he will get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay is feeling good about the future.

That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone's cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization's darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature...and then begins to evolve.

There is really no escaping this nightmare. But for Clay, an arrow points home to Maine, and as he and his fellow refugees make their harrowing journey north they begin to see crude signs confirming their direction. A promise, perhaps. Or a threat...


The Cell took me awhile to get into. The story was interesting. The characters were likable. But there was just something about it that didn't grip me from the beginning. 

I did enjoy the story, so I chugged along - just very slowly. 

Once I got about halfway through, a switch flipped and I couldn't put it down and it became a much better reading experience. The thought of the device in our pockets that we are all hooked on turning against us is truly terrifying. 

At the end, I'm not sure if all of my questions were answered or if I was left with more than I started with, but the book was an enjoyable experience. So, if you're into sci-fi and enjoy Stephen King's writing, I think you'll enjoy this one. 


3/5 stars



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May 17, 2021

21st Birthday (Women's Murder Club #21) by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

 Synopsis

Detective Lindsay Boxer vows to protect a young woman from a serial killer long enough to see her twenty-first birthday.

When young wife and mother Tara Burke goes missing with her baby girl, all eyes are on her husband, Lucas. He paints her not as a missing person but a wayward wife—until a gruesome piece of evidence turns the investigation criminal. 

While Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas pursues the story and M.E. Claire Washburn harbors theories that run counter to the SFPD’s, ADA Yuki Castellano sizes Lucas up as a textbook domestic offender . . . who suddenly puts forward an unexpected suspect. If what Lucas tells law enforcement has even a grain of truth, there isn't a woman in the state of California who's safe from the reach of an unspeakable threat.


I say this every time, but it's always great to jump back into the Women's Murder Club universe. It's like visiting and catching up with an old friend. 

This time, we were met with a pretty gruesome case with twists and turns everywhere. What starts out as a missing woman and child turns into so much more. Is the husband responsible? That's up to Lindsay Boxer and the SFPD to figure out. 

But it's not as simple as one cut and dry case. There are so many layers to it. It'll keep you interested until the very end. 

And even when it got to the end, I wanted more. I'm not sure I can say it ended on a cliffhanger, but it was pretty close to one. I hope there's a continuation of the story in the next installment. It could be Cindy's huge break!

5/5 stars for this one. It was a great read!



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May 15, 2021

Post-Mortem (Kay Scarpetta #1) by Patricia Cornwell

 Synopsis

Four women with nothing in common, united only in death. Four brutalized victims of a brilliant monster - a "Mr. Nobody", moving undetected through a paralyzed city, leaving behind a gruesome trail of carnage . . . but few clues. With skilled hands, an unerring eye, and the latest advances in forensic research, an unrelenting female medical examiner - Kay Scarpetta - is determined to unmask a maniac. But someone is trying to sabotage Kay's investigation from the inside. And worse yet, someone wants her dead . . .


Post-Mortem is the first book I've read by Patricia Cornwell. I'm glad it's part of a series, because I already want to read book #2. 

I love a series that has a strong female lead, and this is another to add to my growing list of series that I enjoy. What a surprise that it's another Crime/Thriller series! I really enjoyed the different angle this one took because Kay Scarpetta is the Medical Examiner. It gives you a whole different point-of-view to read about in the Crime genre. Most of them are about the detectives. 

Post-Mortem also kept me guessing. I couldn't figure out who was guilty, and there's a reason for that. No big spoilers here, though! I enjoy not being able to figure out the whole storyline before getting to the reveal. It keeps the book interesting. 

The crime(s) in this one are particularly gruesome. They involve women being tied up, sexually assaulted, and stabbed. It definitely wasn't easy to read about and can leave you feeling uneasy. 

Overall, the characters were strong and the story moved along at a good pace. 

I look forward to reading about more of Kay's cases and learning more about her family. 

5/5 stars


Memorable Quotes: “He had become the self-appointed dark ruler of the city, an obsession for thousands of people he had never seen, and an obsession of mine. Mr. Nobody. “

“My turf was his to invade. He monitored what I did. Not a week went by that I didn’t get an arrogant electronic memo from him requesting statistical information or demanding an answer as to why the homicide rate continued to rise while other crimes were slightly on the decline — as if somehow it was my fault people killed each other in Virginia.”



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March 21, 2021

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

 Synopsis:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.


The Vanishing Half might end up being my favorite book of 2021, and it was the first book I finished. It's going to give every other book a run for its money. 

There are so many different storylines, and there is so much depth to each character. It was amazing to me how flawlessly they were all weaved together. Each chapter was another thread in the beautiful quilt that the end product turned out to be. 

The sisters were interesting, themselves. But the story got even better once their daughters grew up. 

You spend most of the book kind of wanting to slap Stella, but her difficult character really explains the trauma she went through as a child and the trauma that Black Americans have when they cannot pass for white as she was able to. It's very complicated and hit many different emotional spots. 

This is a fantastic book that lays out growing up Black in the American South. It also touches on the LGBTQIA+ community which I wasn't expecting. 

The Vanishing Half is a book that tackles trauma and pain in an extraordinarily gracious way. 

5/5 Stars. I absolutely recommend this one. 


Memorable Quotes: "She told her the truth, of course — that an assassination is when someone kills you to make a point.
Which was correct enough, Stella supposed, but only is you were an important man. Important men became martyrs, unimportant ones victims. The important men were given televised funerals, public days of mourning. Their deaths inspired the creation of art and the destruction of cities. But unimportant men were killed to make the point that they were unimportant —that they were not even men—and the world continued on." 

"Like leaving, the hardest part of returning was deciding to." 

"That was the thing about death. Only the specifics hurt. Death, in a general sense, was background noise." 

"You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same." 



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January 21, 2021

Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack

Synopsis

In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.


To be honest, I started this book a couple years ago but only got one chapter in. This time, I restarted it and I was hooked from the beginning. Sometimes you just need to read a book at the right time for it to grab you. It’s funny how that works. 

This book was unique in the fact that I liked all of the major characters in their own ways. They were all, simultaneously, good and bad. It certainly made for an interesting reading experience. The end of the book was even better when their stories all intertwined and everything was concluded. 

The majority of this book takes place in the mountains, and it really made me want to go hiking. But, it’s winter here in the Midwest, so I enjoyed living through them. 

There isn’t much else to say other than if you like an interesting book about spies, government, and stretching the boundaries of reality – you’ll enjoy reading this one. 


4/5 Stars



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January 2, 2021

1st Case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Synopsis

A computer genius pulls off her greatest hack yet -- and her skill might just get her killed.

Angela Hoot's government career begins with an ending. Her unorthodox programming skills get her kicked out of MIT's graduate school and into the Bureau's cyber-forensics unit.

A messaging app with sophisticated tracking capabilities surfaces. Its beta users, all young women, are only identified as they turn up dead in their bedrooms. As Angela races to crack the killer's digital code, their technical rivalry escalates. She must deny the killer access to her personal life, or risk losing her life to the underbelly of the Internet.


Angela is an interesting character. But, she is reckless – to a fault. I wouldn’t mind seeing her story made into a series. If she stays in her current career path, she sure could go through some interesting experiences. 

What kept my interest is that she deals with the virtual world which, as we knows, is always changing. While the app in this book would have sounded impossible in the not-so-distant past, it’s a horrifying possibility these days – maybe not in the exact way that it played out, but similar. 

I’m not sure that she would have gone without punishment had all of this actually happened. She made a lot of choices that could have severely messed up the investigation. But, I guess it’s fine if it works out in the end. 

The flirtation and attraction between Angela and Keats was a bit ridiculous right off the bat. But, just like the book I read previous to this, it’s just something you get used to when reading books with a female protagonist. 

I’m going to make a comparison - partly because these two are linked often, and partly because I’ve read a lot from both of them this year. James Patterson books and Dean Koontz books that have a female protagonist always have a male love interest. And there is often a “damsel in distress” moment which typically involves something along the lines of “thank god he got here when he did.” Oy. You get used to it, I guess. But, it does get old. 

That said, where they differ is what most of the descriptions are about. I’ve found in Dean Koontz’s books, most of the descriptions are about how beautiful the woman is. Especially in the case of the Jane Hawk series. It’s basically beat into the reader’s brain that Jane is ridiculously beautiful. It gets old. 

In Patterson’s books, I find that you see more of the admiration of the male love interest from the woman’s point of view. 

Not that it matters all that much, it’s just something that I found interesting. 

Overall, I enjoyed the ride. The story was interesting, and I liked the new angle of seeing cases from the tech side. 


5/5 Stars




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December 31, 2020

The Midwife Murders by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Synopsis

A missing patient is a hospital ward's worst nightmare -- until even more disappear.

To Senior Midwife Lucy Ryuan, pregnancy is not an unusual condition, it's her life's work. But when two kidnappings and a vicious stabbing happen on her watch in a university hospital in Manhattan, her focus abruptly changes. Something has to be done, and Lucy is fearless enough to try.

Rumors begin to swirl, blaming everyone from the Russian Mafia to an underground adoption network. The feisty single mom teams up with a skeptical NYPD detective to solve the case, but the truth is far more twisted than Lucy could ever have imagined. 


Well, I certainly have never read a novel from the point of view of a midwife. So, that was intriguing! Lucy is a female protagonist with a strong personality – like most Patterson books where the main character is a woman. Not a critique – but it’s definitely common. 

I liked Lucy (this would be a perfect opportunity to reference ‘I Love Lucy’. But, we have only spent one novel together. It’s way too soon for that type of commitment). I wouldn’t mind having a series with her as the main character. But with the nature of the story, this one sits as a standalone book. You would hope, at least. 

That said, it was an incredibly frustrating standalone book. There was so much incompetence that had to happen at all levels to have something like this happen – MORE THAN ONCE. Every time another baby was kidnapped, all I could do was slow-blink at the book in my hand and whisper “just – how?!”

Once everything was revealed, it made a bit more sense. But still not much. I also guessed the twist, which was kind of lame. But I only guessed half of it. I had the “Who?” but I didn’t nail down the “Why?” until it was revealed. 

That said, it was an enjoyable read. It was definitely gripping as I really wanted to figure out what was happening and if the babies would be alright. The background thread of romance was really pointless to me. I promise you that a book involving a female protagonist can exist without her falling for the main male character and being saved by him. But, the tradeoff for that pointless storyline was an otherwise good book worthy of the read. 


4/5 Stars – seriously, it ended with them on a “date”. 




December 30, 2020

Memories of Tomorrow (Nameless #6) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

What strange science made Nameless who he is? What catastrophes have been erased from his memories? In the stunning conclusion of this series, the dark past comes flooding back, and Nameless must decide how much he really wants to know.

In Indiana, a murderous psycho has kidnapped his own six-year-old stepson, Jamie, and secreted him away in a subterranean cave. It’s become their bunker. For Nameless, the case is breaking down his defenses, and it may force him to face his memories.


I have to be honest and say that I was really sad to get to the end of this series. Nameless is such an interesting character, and the stories felt complete – even if they were all bite-sized. Nameless is a well-written series that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s fun and quick, and that’s how it should be digested. 

While I may have been sad to get to the end of the series, I was delighted with how the 6th installment wrapped the story up. This one really gripped me from beginning to end. I needed to know what happened to each character. It had a much darker feel to it than the others, so I was really hoping something terrible wasn’t going to happen to Nameless. 

I won’t spoil it one way or the other. But, I will say that it was a fitting conclusion to the series. I’m glad I read through it. I enjoyed going through all 6 of these novellas. Highly recommend for any fans of Dean Koontz – or if you’re looking to get your feet wet with his work. 


5/5 stars


Memorable Quotes: “On waking, he knew that his destiny was henceforth to be a defender of the innocent who are ill served—or not served at all—by the current justice system, especially when their tormentors are among the empowered.”

“It’s not about the money, it’s the kindness, the way it makes the recipient feel special. Life is hard and lonely for many people. If all of us would just make one another feel special now and then—not just with money, but however we can—wouldn’t that be lovely?”

“Southern Indiana is a land of disappearing streams. They follow carved courses through fields and forests, only to drop suddenly out of sight, into a flue, down into darkness, chuckling like evil spirits homeward bound after working their wickedness in the upper world.”

“Killing even a murderer is never exhilarating. In this case no less than others, death is still death—and solemn.”

“He is not an agent of justice, for there can be little or no real justice in this broken world, where culture and politics are forever redefining the word.”




The Mercy of Snakes (Nameless #5) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

A series of suspicious deaths in a retirement home draws Nameless into the confidence of a terrified former resident—and into the dark heart of a shocking conspiracy. In part five of the Nameless series, it’s time to hunt.

Oakshore Park is Michigan’s most exclusive assisted-living community. Presided over by two killer angels of mercy, it’s also the go-to facility in assisted dying. For a cut, they make impatient heirs happy. Nameless must concoct a scheme just as cunning. But righteous retribution stirs disquiet in the avenger as light starts to shine on the black hole of his past. Should he welcome it or keep running?


This was the weakest novella in the Nameless series. Maybe there were too many moving parts, a lack of chapters involving Nameless, or maybe I’ve listened to too many true crime stories about “Angels of Mercy”. Either way, it was just bland to me. 

That isn’t really the vibe I was hoping for going into the final novella in the series. I was definitely left hoping #6 redeems The Mercy of Snakes and ends the series strong. 


3/5 Stars


Memorable Quote: “In a world sick with envy that leads to coveting that leads to greed that too often results in violence, it wouldn’t seem that something as small as excellent muffins could lift a man’s spirits, even during talk of murder. But that is the way of the world: sadness and delight, anger and forbearance, hatred and love—all woven together in every inch of the tapestry.”




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December 29, 2020

Red Rain (Nameless #4) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

In a town where the corrupt are protected, a bereaved mother seeks retribution for an arsonist’s deadly crimes. Only Nameless can help ease the burden of her grief—and satisfy her rage—in part four of this thrilling series.

After a suspicious house fire, Regina Belmont lost her two children, was left disfigured, and was abandoned by her gutless husband. Brokenhearted and bullied into silence by corrupt officials, Regina’s only recourse for truth and justice is Nameless. There’s something about this case that’s breaking Nameless’s heart as well. But can he bear to remember why?


This is the second bad guy in the series who thinks he can play God. Well, the God of Fire . . . so, maybe the Devil. Either way, sometimes the most charming people can be the most heartless. But, Nameless and crew don’t buy into the act. 

They know what he’s done, and now he has to pay. This one was also pretty creative in that they had to go after more than one guy, but Nameless only had to take out one himself. 

Red Rain may have been the easiest novella in the series to read. Don’t get me wrong, this guy has done truly evil things that make you angry. But, it’s not as sickly disturbing as some of the others. 


5/5 Stars


Memorable Quotes: “’Justice is a human concept, as flawed as any. There is no reliable justice in this world and, given human nature, never can be. Politics, bigotry, envy, ignorance . . . Those forces and others redefine justice day by day, until it means something different to everyone—until it means nothing at all.’”

“’There’s hope, though not in justice. There’s hope in truth. A sea of lies can’t wash away a single grain of truth. Truth is what it is.’”

“To be fair to himself, perhaps he should accept that some fates are sewn into the fabric of time with tighter stitches than others. The possibility exists that no one, even if possessing greater powers than his, can strip the future of all hardships, threats, and tragedies. Utopias, after all, are sought mostly by great fools, though also by dangerous charlatans, and more death and pain has been brought down on humanity by the pursuit of a perfect world than by all other crime combined.”

“Humble goals and modest expectations are more likely to be fulfilled than are utopian dreams.”

“Truth. There is no one truth. Everyone has his own truth. It’s all about point of view.”



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The Praying Mantis Bride (Nameless #3) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

A deadly black widow has eliminated three husbands and counting. But Nameless knows her one weakness. To bring truth and its consequences to her crimes, the vigilante must spin a web of his own in part three of the Nameless series.

Lucia—current last name, Rickenbah—has made a fortune by marrying rich men who tend to drop dead. But the superstitious blonde believes in more than money and murder. Nameless’s job is to scare a confession out of Lucia, and as the psychological warfare escalates, even he may be in for a shock.


The third book in the Nameless series sees the first female antagonist. She sure is something. She will take down anyone in search of endless wealth. But, it catches up to her. 

Nameless and the crew use their most creative method yet for torturing their bad guy. I can’t even begin to spoil it. It’s as crazy as the lady, herself, is. You just have to give it a read. 


5/5 stars if for nothing more than the insanity that ensued. 


Memorable Quote: “However, he is a tool of the program, a status for which he is sure that he volunteered before amnesia was imposed on him. A hammer should not argue with the carpenter who wields it.”




Photographing the Dead (Nameless #2) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

A self-styled artist is getting away with murder in Death Valley. If all goes well, so will Nameless. In part two of the Nameless series, the relentless avenger is haunted by nightmares of the past and visions of what’s to come.

Palmer Oxenwald’s hunting ground is the Mojave wasteland. His victims are random tourists and hikers. His trophies are cherished photographs of the damage he’s done. His greatest threat is Nameless. Two men with one thing in common: memories of the dead. For a psychopath like Palmer, they’re a clear rush in black and white. For Nameless, they’re visions of violence buried and erased. But for how long?


Nameless is back in this second installment to carry out another mission for the mysterious Ace. This time, they are going after a truly evil photographer. 

Just like the first novella, some of the details about the bad guy were truly horrific and just made me feel sick. That seems to be a theme with the kinds of people Nameless is sent to go after. 

The series is a fun, short read about vigilantism by a man who has no idea who he is. It may be non-believable at times, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be super realistic. If you go into it ready for an interesting journey, you’ll enjoy it. 

Plus, they have creative ways of taking care of the person they’re after. 


4/5 stars. Not perfect, but an enjoyable sequel


Memorable Quotes: “Death cannot die. Death and Death alone is immortal.”

“He is not fearful. He is never fearful. He is an avatar of Death, Death incarnate, and Death fears nothing.”




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December 12, 2020

The Killing Game (Eve Duncan #2) by Iris Johansen

 Synopsis

A MERCILESS KILLER ON THE HUNT ... AN INNOCENT CHILD IN HIS SIGHTS ... A WOMAN DRIVEN TO THE EDGE TO STOP HIM

The killer knows Eve Duncan all too well. He knows the pain she feels for her murdered daughter, Bonnie, whose body has never been found. He knows that as one of the nation's top forensic sculptors she'll insist on identifying the nine skeletons unearthed on a bluff near Georgia's Talladega Falls. He knows she won't be able to resist the temptation of believing that one of those skeletons might be her daughter's. But that is only the beginning of the killer's sadistic game. He wants Eve one on one, and he'll use his ace in the hole to make sure she complies. And he won't stop playing until he claims the prize he wants most: Eve's life.


The Eve Duncan series is one that I am recently a fan of. I’m only on book 2, but I want to see where the series takes her character. 

In The Killing Game, Eve comes into contact with a man who claims to have actually been the one to murder her daughter. This throws Eve into an emotional rollercoaster because as far as she, and everyone else, knows – the man who killed her daughter was executed. Could he have been lying?

This new man taunting Eve goes by the name Dom and he decides to put a new weight on Eve’s shoulders. She must keep another little girl safe while trying to deal with the supposed news about her daughter’s killer. 

It’s a wild ride. I thought I had it all figured out, but I definitely didn’t. I playing right into Johansen’s trap and assumed Dom was who she wanted us to believe it was. 

The one thing I did know – I absolutely HATED Dom. This book was way too long in my opinion, but only because I absolutely could not stand this evil, evil man. I needed to see him taken down a lot quicker. Every time he popped up, I just wanted to whip my book at the wall. But, I continued on. 

I’m glad I did. Because we meet a dog and he becomes a crucial piece of the story. Good boy, Monty. 

There was one other thing that bothered me and that was the personality change in Joe. He became so…. Entitled to Eve’s affection and it all just felt so gross and manipulative. I just felt grimy reading it. I hope it was a one off and he’s better in the next one because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to last in this series if he remains manipulative. I’d hate to stop, because Eve is intriguing. 

4/5 stars. Be better, Joe. 




Hush (Harriet Blue #4) by James Patterson and Candice Fox

 Synopsis

Top cop, devoted sister, and now Inmate 3329: even prison bars won't stop Harriet Blue from seeking justice for the murder of her brother.

Prison is a dangerous place for a former cop -- as Harriet Blue is learning on a daily basis.

So, following a fight for her life and a prison-wide lockdown, the last person she wants to see is Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Woods. The man who put her inside.

But Woods is not there to gloat. His daughter Tonya and her two-year-old child have gone missing.

He's ready to offer Harriet a deal: find his family to buy her freedom . . .


This book was intense. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Harriet Blue series, but ‘Hush’ absolutely sucked me right in. 

There were so many different things going on. It all started out with Harry being in jail. We get an insight into how her stay has been so far – violent and less than ideal. When Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Woods’s daughter and granddaughter go missing, he’s desperate and knows he needs the unconventional style of Harriet and her crew to find them – hopefully alive. 

Then, there's a murder in the prison. The doctor that Harry has become friends with is murdered and her cellmate is blamed. Harry knows in her gut that the case isn't that cut and dry. She takes the deal from Joe Woods to investigate his family's disappearance as long as she can also try to solve the murder of Doctor Goldman from the outside. 

Hush endears the readers even more to the dynamic trio that is Harriet Blue, Ed Whittaker, and Tox Barnes. They make a great team and they’re fun to read about. 

This whole series takes you on an emotional journey, but it’s also just plain fun to read. The characters you’re supposed to like are very likable and you root for them the whole time. 

If you want some books that are quick reads, pick up this series!

5/5 Stars



December 2, 2020

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Synopsis

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.


Are you ready to get lost in your feelings? You better be if you’re picking up this book. I cried within the first 30 pages. 

This is the second Fredrik Backman book that I’ve read. My first one was “A Man Called Ove” which made me cry at the end. I’m starting to think I should just be ready to cry whenever I crack open one of his novels. 

I’m cool with that. His writing is beautiful and his characters are quirky. 

That’s basically what this whole novel is about. It’s about being different, embracing those differences, and accepting the differences in others. 

Being different is great. What even is “normal” anyway?

On the surface, ‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry’ is a fun and cute novel about a smartass almost-eight-year-old girl whose best, and only, friend is her granny. She loves books and fairy tales and going on journeys with her granny to the Land of Almost-Awake. 

What she doesn’t realize is that The Land of Almost-Awake is a lot closer to home than it may seem. 

When her granny dies, Elsa is thrust into an adventure of delivering letters to all of the people her grandmother wants to apologize to. She learns a lot of life, love, loss, and grief along the way. 

This novel cuts deep. The characters are complex. It will make you feel every emotion while acting as an escape to a far away land. 

‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry’ is an absolutely incredible read. 


5/5 Stars


Memorable Quotes: “Not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.” 

“Not all monsters look like monsters. There are some that carry their monstrosity inside.” 

“It’s strange how quickly the significance of a certain smell can change, depending on what path it decides to take through the brain. It’s strange how close love and fear live to each other.”

“Death’s greatest power is not that it can make people die, but that it can make people want to stop living.”



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Revenge by James Patterson and Andrew Holmes

Synopsis

From the World's #1 Bestselling Author, comes a story of revenge as a former SAS soldier is ready to settle into civilian life when he's hired to solve the mysterious death of a daughter, diving into a seedy world that a parent never expects to see their child in.

Former SAS soldier David Shelley was part of the most covert operations team in the special forces. Now settling down to civilian life in London, he has plans for a safer and more stable existence. But the shocking death of a young woman Shelley once helped protect puts those plans on hold.

The police rule the death a suicide but the grieving parents can't accept their beloved Emma would take her own life. They need to find out what really happened, and they turn to their former bodyguard, Shelley, for help.

When they discover that Emma had fallen into a dark and seedy world of drugs and online pornography, the father demands retribution. But his desire for revenge will make enemies of people that even Shelley may not be able to protect them from, and take them into a war from which there may be no escape.


This is one of the best Patterson books I’ve read in awhile. If you’ve been reading my reviews for a good amount of time, you’ll know that I read a lot of them. 

Revenge grabs you from the very first page and it doesn’t let go until you close the book for the last time. 

From a tragic death to mafia activity to a race against time, you don’t have a whole lot of time to breathe. It kept me on the edge of my seat. I also loved these new characters that we met in David and Lucy Shelley. David was great, and Lucy is a total badass. I love a good, badass female protagonist. 

The book takes a few twists and turns. It’s mostly straight forward and you know who you like and who you don’t. 

Revenge is intense. There are some great characters. It’s a fun read. 

I recommend it. 


5/5 Stars




The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

 Synopsis:

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors--a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all--a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family--a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.


I started this book and ended this book not really knowing if I enjoyed it or not. I don’t quite know how that could be, but let’s take a look and try to sort this out. 


Characters

I think this is where the book lost me from the beginning. Nothing made me care about the characters. Everyone seemed overly suspicious just for the sake of being suspicious. The detective assigned to the case seemed unnecessarily cocky and all-knowing. I hated his character. The rest of them, I just felt no connection to. 

They all ended up with pretty solid character arcs and a surprising amount of depth. But there wasn’t enough to make me feel connected to them or find myself rooting for them. I wanted the baby to be alive and found well, but that’s about it. I think I had to keep reading just to see how that would end. 


Plot Line

The plot was fine. There was nothing really wrong with it. The book was pretty short and it packed a punch. It was GO GO GO right from the beginning. 

I did find myself interested in the story and wanting to find out what actually happened. 


Twists

It felt like every chapter added a new twist to the story. Financial troubles, mental illness, infidelity . . . you name it. There was a lot to unpack here. But, I cannot do much unpacking without spoilers. Just know that if you read this book, it’s a rollercoaster. 


Writing

There was something about this book being completely written in third person that didn’t sit well with me. If I had to choose, I’d say that the chapters centering Anne or the detective should have been written in first person. Other than that, I felt that the writing style was easy to read and flowed nicely. 



After breaking that down, it seems that I just didn’t connect with this book and the characters didn’t matter to me. I could see it getting great reviews from some and terrible reviews from others. That said, it’s pretty short so it makes for a quick read. You can decide for yourself without wasting too much time. It’ll definitely take you for a ride. 


2/5 Stars



The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

 Synopsis:

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.


I picked up this book after reading a comment in a Facebook reading group about it being an actually scary horror/thriller. It takes a lot for books to freak me out or scare me, but I decided to give it a go. 

My first impression was that the protagonist is very likable and adds some comedy to the density of the book with her personality. 

There is also a dog as one of the main characters. So, A+. 

Then, once I got to the first mention of the twisted ones saying, I had to close the book for the night. I’m not even sure why, but it creeped me out so much. 

I was creeped out, but I was super intrigued. So, I picked it back up in the daylight and, after reading more, I didn’t have to put it back down in order to sleep. It definitely had a huge creep factor to it. But, I’d say it was more mysterious. I don’t know if I psyched myself out when I first started it or what, but the rest of the book didn’t scare me. 

That said, I loved the journey that The Twisted Ones took me on. It was a fun read filled with mysterious and eccentric characters. It’ll make you laugh while simultaneously keeping you on the edge of your seat. 

For that, I definitely have it on my recommended list. 

I don’t know that we got a full explanation of what the large stones were all about, but it was enough of an explanation to not have me feeling like I needed more. I think it’s meant to be mysterious and weird, and it shall remain that way. 

5/5 Stars. This is a fun one. 



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October 20, 2020

It Was You by Jade Lee Wright

 Synopsis:

"I don't understand. Everything I did, I did for her..."When Regan Pen discovers that her long-term boyfriend has been cheating on her with over eight women, she packs her bags and leaves the sunny island in Spain that she had called home for a year. She returns to South Africa where she is given the chance to start over in life. Reassemble herself. Now is her time to be selfish. Find a new career, get a home of her own. Become whoever she wants to be... but when her best friend, Peyton, is brutally murdered, Regan is forced to put her life on hold to take responsibility for her friends thirteen year old daughter, Harley. As the police battle to solve the murder of Peyton and her unborn child, Regan becomes convinced that her Godchild is not the sweet, innocent little girl everyone seems to think she is. Could Harley have been so consumed by her jealousy and fear of not being the epicenter of her mother's universe that it lead to murder? If so, is Regan safe in her own home?


This book was interesting as it felt like you, as the reader, were spiraling into insanity. I could never quite put my finger on what was happening. You think you figure it out, then something changes. Then changes again. Then changes again. 

Then you think the story is wrapped up. 

Then it changes again. And a huge bomb is thrown at the reader in the final page to try to make it all make sense.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters. They all kinda sucked in their own ways, but they were supposed to. 

It was a book that I just didn’t really connect with. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t connect with it. 

2/5 Stars



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October 18, 2020

The Face of Deception (Eve Duncan #1) by Iris Johansen

 Synopsis:

An unidentified skull, a trail of shocking secrets, and a woman whose talented hands could reveal the terrifying truth--#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen blends these elements into a compelling novel of suspense, and introduces her most popular character ever: forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

After her beloved daughter vanishes, Eve Duncan survives by immersing herself in her work. The best in her elite field at rebuilding faces from fragments of skull bones, she helps to put a name to a face, to identify missing children. It is Eve's way of coming to terms with her personal nightmare. But more terror lies ahead when she accepts a job from billionaire John Logan. Beneath Eve's gifted hands, a face begins to emerge from the skull he has given her to reconstruct--a face that no one was ever meant to see. Now Eve is trapped in a web of murder and deceit as powerful enemies rush to cover up the truth, determined that their secrets go to the grave--even if Eve gets buried with them.


I love jumping into a brand new series. You get to meet new characters and, if you like the first book, you can settle in for a fun ride. 

This book took most of the things I enjoy in a good crime novel and made it fun. I don’t know if the whole series will just be a fun read, but the first book was. I feel like it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so readers shouldn’t either. 

There’s a strong female protagonist, a crime suspense element, and the story wraps up at the end of the novel. 

I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers in books, unless it’s done very well. If there’s going to be one, there has to be some resolution to the story with a hint that there will be a storyline that flows into the next book as well. I prefer when books in a series could survive as a standalone book if you wanted to read them that way. The first book in the Eve Duncan series provided that. 

I’ve read many books about detectives and private investigators. None of the book I’ve read have had a Forensic Sculptor as a protagonist. I didn’t even know that was a career. So, that was very interesting. I can only hope that Iris Johansen has done research on the career so we get more insight into the process and what goes into it. That’s still left to be seen. 

The Face of Deception was a fun and quick read. Eve seems like she could be an interesting protagonist to follow. I’ll definitely be picking up book #2!

4/5 Stars


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