BOOK REVIEW: Courtney Summers “Sadie”

34810320Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

This book was intense.

I listened to the audiobook version of Sadie and absolutely loved it. The story alternates between Sadie’s point of view as she’s on the run and seeking revenge, and a podcast where they’re solving the mystery of Sadie’s disappearance. The audiobook has a full cast and is so well done; the podcast is recorded like an actual podcast, the narration is excellent and it truly makes you feel as if you’re part of the story. It pulls you in so thoroughly, and I found myself invested almost instantly.

Nobody knows who killed Sadie’s sister, but Sadie does. This is how she finds herself on the run and in search of a man. We follow Sadie on her travels as she follows clues and leads to her final destination, complete with huge climax and bittersweet ending.

The story deals with some heavy subject material, including rape and murder. It can be dark and difficult to read, but overall I’m glad that I did. It handles the tough subjects well and delivers a (semi) satisfying ending. I can’t say too much else without spoiling, but if you like thrillers or mysteries, I highly recommend Sadie.

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BOOK REVIEW: William Ritter “Jackaby”

91j4uVp7KELTitle: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

I’ve heard Jackaby described as Sherlock Holmes meets Supernatural, with maybe the tiniest bit of Doctor Who thrown in. So this book should have been our “SuperWhoLock” dreams come true, right?

It could have been.

But it wasn’t.

Jackaby started with a promising concept: young woman Abigail Rook is fresh off the boat in America and in desperate need of work to support herself. A college drop-out with a few failures under her belt, Rook is desperately trying to avoid her parents back in England in an attempt to live her own life without their overbearing-ness.

Now bring in our title character, Jackaby himself, a young man with the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes, the ability to sense the supernatural like the Winchesters, and the eccentricities of every incarnation of the Doctor. He’s in search of a deductive assistant, and happens to be the only employer around.

Abigail’s first day on the job finds them a strange, gruesome murder, presumably committed by a non-human entity; and that’s not even the weirdest thing about the day.

My thoughts:

See, this should have been right up my alley. Quirky characters with interesting abilities, monsters, murder? What more could I ask for?

How about to not be bored? Because my gosh, I was bored to tears. Jackaby is less than 300 pages long; it should have been a breeze. Yet every single page was a chore to read, and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

It’s a silly little book that I should have loved, but I didn’t. The plot was slow to progress, the character development was non-existent, and the story was forgettable. Sadly, there’s not much else to say about it. Such a disappointment.

BOOK REVIEW: Stephanie Garber “Legendary”

9781250095312Title: Legendary

Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

It almost feels pointless to write a non-spoiler review for this book… I can’t give anything away and I can’t rant and rave about what went on. Why am I even here? And who’s going to read a review of Legendary anyway? Anyone who’s planning to read the book will be avoiding spoilers at all costs, and anyone who isn’t planning to read it simply hasn’t read Caraval yet. (While I’m at that, here’s some self-promotion: read my review, then read Caraval. Just do it.)

Legendary was everything I wanted it to be.

It had heartbreaking romance, magic, mystery, surprise, action. Legendary had everything needed to be the perfect story. I am beyond impressed with Stephanie Garber, and so pleased that she managed to ward off second-book syndrome. There was nothing lacking in this, it didn’t feel like it was a filler novel, and it was perfect.

Donatella was a wonderful main character. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it just based on her character in Caraval, but she was really great. She was strong and independent and funny and so completely human. It was so easy to relate to her and feel for her and did I mention the utterly heart-shattering romance? I adored the love interest in this novel, adored the villain… I have all the love for every aspect of this book.

I think I actually enjoyed Legendary more than the first book, which is saying a lot because I loved Caraval. I can’t wait for the final book in this series, although Garber is welcome to write as many books in this world as she wants to. I will read them all.

 

Stephanie Garber: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Seanan McGuire “Every Heart a Doorway”

51QNWyKjJAL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Every Heart a Doorway

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Fantasy/Mystery

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts:

Every Heart a Doorway ended up being not at all what I expected. I thought this was going to be a light, atmospheric fantasy, but instead ended up being altogether darker and heavier than I would have imagined.

Now obviously, I can’t blame my expectations on the book and I was able to set them aside after the initial jarring reaction. Still, I’m not sure I would have read this if I had known because I was not in the right frame of mind for this.

The story follows the children living in Eleanor West’s home for “troubled” teenagers, but this isn’t exactly true. This is what Eleanor allows the parents to believe, who would never understand the truth: that their children had visited another world and had come back very different.

“… You know, I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when I was a kid, and I never thought about what it would be like for Alice when she went back to where she’d started. I figured she’d just shrug and get over it. But I can’t do that. Every time I close my eyes, I’m back in my real bed, in my real room, and all of this is a dream.”

Eleanor West provides these children with a safe place for them to come to terms with their current situation, and the entire experience is treated like therapy. There are two kinds of homes for children who have visited other worlds: one for children who wish to forget, and one for children who wish to go back. Nancy, our main character, wishes to go back.

The book is beautifully written and extremely quotable, I will definitely give it that. I loved the whole idea of it and loved hearing about the worlds that each child had visited, for they were all wildly different. I wanted to hear more about this, but instead, the story shifted into a murder mystery about halfway through the book.

Suddenly, students started turning up dead under very mysterious circumstances, and it’s obvious that there is a murderer loose in the school. Under normal circumstances, I would think that the administrator would decide that the student’s lives are more important than anything else and have them sent away until the problem is dealt with. That is not how Eleanor West handles the situation.

To a certain extent, I understand why. Part of the reason that many of the children are staying in the home to begin with is because they come from toxic households that would not make for good healing environments for the children. However, I think in this case the choice is simple: either stay at the school and potentially die a horrible death, or go home for a short time while the murderer is tracked down. Or don’t even send the children home, just get them somewhere safe? But no, after every murder, Eleanor pleads with the children not to alert the outside world to the murder problem so the school doesn’t get shut down. This was very frustrating to me and I felt it selfish to value a “safe place” over the lives of the children.

Not only that, I felt the reader wasn’t given enough time to connect with any of the characters before people start getting murdered, so I couldn’t even bother to care if any of them died. I wasn’t invested in the story and overall, I wish this had taken a different direction.

Don’t get me wrong, I still adore the idea and I definitely plan to at least read the second book before deciding if this series is a lost cause. I hope that Down Among the Sticks and Bones is an improvement on this book and focuses more on the worlds that the children visit and their journeys to recovery.

 

Seanan McGuire: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Cate Holahan “The Widower’s Wife”

51nKCFTyz9LTitle: The Widower’s Wife

Author: Cate Holahan

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Ana Bacon, a young housewife, tumbles off a cruise ship into the dark and deadly waters. But did she take her secrets with her?

Investigator Ryan Monahan is a numbers man. So when his company sends him the Bacon case, which could net a ten-million-dollar payout, Monahan doubts that her death is just a tragic accident. But the husband has a substantial alibi, and a number of witnesses claim to have seen Ana fall. So the official ruling seems substantiated.

Still, the more Monahan uncovers about Ana’s life, the more he realizes how many people would kill to keep her secrets hidden. And the closer he gets to the truth, the greater the odds grow that he, too, will take a fatal fall.

*Summary supplied by the back of the book*

My thoughts:

I definitely struggled with this book. Typically, I love mysteries and thrillers, yet I found nothing intriguing or thrilling about this story. The characters were all flat, and while I sympathized with Ana throughout, it wasn’t enough to carry the plot. The writing was sub-par and the mystery itself wasn’t surprising.

The book alternates between two different points of views in two different timelines: Ana Bacon before her mysterious disappearance and Ryan Monahan a few months after. If done wrong, this could have become confusing. Fortunately, each POV gave up just enough information for the reader to get by.

Monahan’s job is to investigate Ana’s death for signs pointing to suicide. According to their insurance, they don’t have to pay the 5-million-dollar payout if it turns out that she killed herself. So Monahan interviews several people in Ana’s life, looking for signs of depression or any indication that she may commit suicide. Instead, he finds a string a secrets and strange behaviors, and it seems that the case is much more than he bargained for.

The last 50 or so pages were definitely more interesting than the rest of the book (which was a drag) and ultimately saved this from being a total dud. I still didn’t love the big reveal and found it to be a disappointment, but overall was happy about the way things ended up. Justice was served and good won over evil, which is always something I love. Still, I don’t see myself reading anything else from this author in the future.

 

Cate Holahan: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Markus Zusak “I Am the Messenger”

51Qn-Z31z-LTitle: I Am the Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Ed Kennedy is barely living. He’s an underage cab driver, he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend who has friend-zoned him for life, and he basically lives in a shack. He’s a dead-beat. But through a series of strange events, he stops a bank robbery and several days later is served the first ace.

On this playing card, he finds 3 addresses, and upon visiting these addresses finds different people that he needs to take care of; to either hurt or help them. This book follows Ed’s journey as he receives more cards, involves himself in other people’s lives, and ultimately learns an important lesson.

My thoughts:

I feel it should be noted that this book was written by the author of The Book Thief, which I loved. However, I never went into this expecting more of the stuff that The Book Thief has to offer, nor should anyone else. This definitely reads as Markus Zusak with his unique writing style and his John Green way of thinking. You know what I’m referring to: having consistently beautiful and poetic thoughts that are voiced always just ever-so-perfectly. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. However, there was definitely something missing for me this time.

It’s hard to say what it was. Something about the way this was written just didn’t click with me, but I can see how it might appeal to others. I just had a difficult time connecting with Ed, which ended up making this a difficult read. For being such a dead-beat, he thought an awful lot of himself apparently because he felt so entitled to his best friend’s affections. I hate this attitude, and I know many others do as well.

This book is definitely a little more heavy content-wise. If you’re triggered by rape, you may want to steer clear of this book.

Part of me was frustrated by the unrealistic air of the story. What, Ed receives 3 addresses in the mail and he just feels like he has to go there? And then once he gets there, he always knows exactly what he’s supposed to do?

Did I see what this book was trying to do? Yes. The message of the story is obvious, and I can appreciate what Zusak was trying to convey, but I don’t think it was as poignant or moving as it could have been. However, maybe this book didn’t resonate with me, but I can’t say how it might make some other reader feel. Perhaps it’s a matter of taste because I have seen many 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads. I’m glad that there are people that took good away from this book; unfortunately, I did not.

 

Markus Zusak: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: C.J. Tudor “The Chalk Man”

519g-w0P6xL.SX316.SY316Title: The Chalk Man

Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Eddie and his friends used the chalk figures as a secret code to use amongst them; they’d draw on each other’s driveways to invite one another to different areas of the little English village they all lived in. That is until one day, the figures led the boys into the forest to the remains of a young girl’s body.

That was back in 1986. It’s 2016 now, and Eddie is a school teacher, still living in the village he grew up in. The events of 1986 still haunt him, though, and he’s determined to forget everything that happened; even when he and the rest of the old gang receive chalk men in the mail.

Except one of them dies. It seems that Eddie and the remaining gang members must work together and face their demons in order to solve the murder, or else more of them may die.

My thoughts:

This is going to be a difficult book for me to review. Let me start out by saying that I really wanted to like this, and I found myself justifying several things that made me uncomfortable throughout, hoping that it would turn out better. I hoped that the end would just blow me away and it would make everything else seem inconsequential. Unfortunately, the end was not mind-blowing, and the parts I had concerns about remained concerning.

First of all, I’m a religious person. I’m a Christian, but I am also aware that there are many people in the world that consider themselves religious that are also horrible people, and they tend to ruin it for the good people. So to be clear: just because you call yourself a Christian does not make you a good person.

So one of the adversaries in this book was the village vicar, who was an absolutely terrible person. I do not dispute this. He did awful things throughout the duration of this story and he should have suffered major consequences. Still, the author seemed to make anyone who was remotely religious out to be evil, spiteful, hateful people, and all the non-religious characters were understanding and kind and knowing. And I have issues with that.

I won’t get into it more than that. I only feel like I need to stick up for the people in my life who associate themselves with this type of belief system and say that neither I nor any of my peers are like the religious folk in The Chalk Man.

Moving on, the pacing of this was very interesting and well done. The chapters alternate between 1986 and 2016, and each chapter ended in some sort of cliff hanger. So if you wanted to find out how the events of the previous chapter play out, you have to read at least 2 more chapters. This is an interesting strategy but all in all I think it worked out nicely. I finished the book quickly due to both this aspect and of course wanting to get to the end to find out what happens.

Unfortunately, the author made the villain out to be quite obvious from the very beginning. Whenever this happens, I tend to guess that it’s a character you wouldn’t think of, somebody you’d least suspect. I ignore the villain that the author is trying to throw in my face and distract me with because no, it can’t be this guy, it has to be the goofy, side character that no one thinks twice about.

No, it was the character the author was trying to throw in my face.

This is so frustrating for me as a reader who likes to be surprised and see major twists occur. The author did include a morsel of a twist in the final chapter, but it was definitely not enough to satisfy me. The Chalk Man was creepy and at time good, thrilling fun, but was ruined by a disappointing conclusion.

 

C.J. Tudor: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: E Lockhart “Genuine Fraud”

https___blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_card_image_346502_3ea5e24d-98fb-49fd-9586-7269cef4e243Title: Genuine Fraud

Author: E Lockhart

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

This is the story of a woman who is a master of disguise and reinvention. Jule’s cleverness and quick thinking (and constant costume changes) keep her out of trouble and living her luxurious lifestyle.

Unfortunately, that’s about all this book is about.

You’ll find that it’s difficult to even summarize this book because I feel as though very little actually happens. I’m not quite sure what the main plot truly is. The concept is intriguing and I like the idea of the story, but it never goes anywhere.

This is so terribly difficult to review. I was disappointed by this, to say the least. We Were Liars by E Lockhart had such a shocking twist, and I was expecting much the same from this novel. The story is told in backwards chronological order, and while I understand why, it didn’t make things any less confusing. And I was expecting a solid ending that wrapped things up and left [at least most] everything explained. Ultimately, I closed the book feeling dissatisfied, puzzled, and confident I had just wasted several hours of my life.

I wish I had more to add to this review, but seeing as very little happened in this book, I have very little to say about it. All in all, Genuine Fraud was anticlimactic. frustrating, and pointless. By all means, however, read Lockhart’s earlier work We Were Liars, or another thriller I recently read, Little Monsters by Kara Thomas.

 

E Lockhart: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Kara Thomas “Little Monsters”

32320750Title: Little Monsters

Author: Kara Thomas

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

To Kacey, life with her father and his family in Broken Falls is a far cry from her life with her mother, with her string of terrible, temperamental boyfriends and her own crazy breakdowns. Now she has a welcoming new stepmother, stepbrother, half sister, and an accepting small group of friends in a quaint little town where everyone knows everyone.

One night, Kacey’s two friends, Bailey and Jade, sneak her out to an old barn that’s just down the street from where she lives. They go there to perform a séance because it’s said that there’s a ghost who haunts the place known as the Red Woman. The outing is creepy and leaves them all feeling a bit unbalanced, but no one gets hurt and they all go home.

The next day, Kacey feels suddenly distant from her two friends who normally bombard her with texts. Now they send nothing, and what’s more, they don’t invite her to go to a party with them that night. What’s more, Bailey never comes home that night.

My thoughts: 

When I picked this book up at the library, it was because I wanted a book that would surprise me. I was tired of reading mysteries that I could predict the endings to and I wanted to read something that would really shake things up for me.

Little Monsters did exactly what I wanted it to do.

I was so pleased with this reading experience, and so relieved. I’ve needed something to satisfy my craving for a good mystery for a long time now, and I finally feel quenched.

My review probably won’t be helpful to those who want to hear about the characters or any other aspects of the story because I wasn’t really paying attention to that. I didn’t love or even care for any of the characters because that wasn’t my main concern. My focus was on the story and the mystery and my hoping it was going to deliver a good ending, which it did. That’s all I wanted, so this book fulfilled its purpose.

Great mystery, great reveal, great surprises. It kept me guessing throughout and I was thrilled with the outcome. Would definitely recommend if you’re looking for a good mystery.

 

Kara Thomas: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Karen M McManus “One of Us Is Lying”

22091443_1815491551814261_406256347_nTitle: One of Us Is Lying

Author: Karen M McManus

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Five students enter detention. None of them are connected prior to being here today. They’re here under suspicious circumstances, having each been found with a cellphone that didn’t belong to them. By the end of detention, one of them is dead.

The dead student was none other than the school’s most notorious gossip, Simon. Up until his untimely death, he ran an app that he posted on frequently, typically using the platform to reveal other student’s secrets and to humiliate them.

Some suspicious evidence comes to light in the wake of Simon’s death, and police look to the 4 remaining classmates. They all had reason to want him dead, especially when the police find a queued post with juicy gossip about each of them. Could one of them have found out what Simon was planning to reveal and wanted to silence him? Or did they all band together to take him out before he ruined their lives?

My thoughts:

My review is going to be a little spoiler-y only because I feel I need to complain about the way this author went about revealing the killer and everything leading up to it. I won’t talk about who the actual murderer was, but you’ll probably be able to tell who didn’t kill Simon based on what I have to say; so if you want to remain unspoiled, steer clear.

I’ve heard this book described as The Breakfast Club + murder, and I can get on board with that. You have your typical, cliché high school stereotypes: Bronwyn, the Ivy league-bound brainiac; Nate, the drug-pushing trouble-maker; Cooper, the beloved all-star baseball player; and Addy, the pretty blonde one. People who are irritated by these character formulas will be glad to see that some of these characters break free from these models. Unfortunately though, characters like Cooper do little to develop in their character. Cooper remained “MLB-bound star” throughout the book, and while there is a small twist to his story, it’s not enough to break the popular jock-type pattern.

Because Simon’s queued post about these characters is eventually posted and seen by their classmates, they each have to deal with the repercussions. Fortunately, they all ended up with good outcomes and came away from it as better, stronger individuals.

Unfortunately, while this is a positive thing character-wise for the book, I felt it was a bad call mystery-wise. This aspect of the story made it really easy for me to assume that none of these four characters committed the murder. I feel that the author made it too obvious, like they each had too much evidence going against them, so there was no way that one of them did it. Does that make sense?

Because of this, the 4 end up getting together to go over everything they all knew in an attempt to catch the real killer and to clear their names. I enjoyed the bond these characters had, I just hated that it meant none of them did it. I mean, it just invalidates the title of the book; it doesn’t even make sense anymore. They all were lying, but not about killing Simon. It’s misleading, but not in a good way. As in, I wanted to be misled by the contents of the book and be wrong about who the killer was, not by the title and the entire point of the story.

I ended up guessing the ending, which is good because I love being right, but also bad because I love to be shocked as well. I wanted to be surprised by this book, and I just wasn’t. This was an easy read and I ate it up because I was excited to know the ending, but I wasn’t happy with it.

Additionally, I didn’t like the way that the author revealed the killer; if I hadn’t guessed who had done it, I still wouldn’t have been shocked because the moment wasn’t even gasp-worthy. I mean, there was no “wow” factor to the big ending, so I was disappointed in all regards.

Choosing to read this book was easy because I was in the mood for a good mystery, but I just wasn’t pleased. I expected more and was let down.

Karen M McManus: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads