My love of mystery/thrillers is well documented, but I may have finally broke myself. Yup, I read one too many books about actual bad hombres and got scared silly. Feeling paranoid, I looked at every single person with suspicion and fear and considered hiring bodyguards to walk to the store with me. I even bribed my cat with some treats to protect me against any unwelcome persons. Okay, the last one is a lie. Maybe the last two … maybe.
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed in April
All the bad hombres earned love and like designations. The annoying female was a loathe. Hmmmm … maybe it really is the end of the world.
The Books I Loved
These are the books that knocked my socks off, if I actually wore socks.
The Roses in May by Dot Hutchinson
Book Description: The Quantico Three are still dealing with the aftermath of The Butterfly Garden while also protecting a teen who has captured the attention of her sister’s killer.
Book Review: I must confess that I loved book 2 in The Collector Trilogy more than Book 1, which I also read this month. Awkward. Here’s why. 1) Priya is a great protagonist and I love that she is also Indian. 2) An amazing amount of GIRL Power. Seriously, the females in this book are fierce. Need an example? In response to something that happens to Priya, Inara and Bliss go to Times Square with posters that say “F*ck Off Bad Guys”. 3) The characters — from the FBI agents to the main characters — are better fleshed out. 4) Inara, Bliss, The Gardner, Desmond, Keely all make an appearance (about 20% of the book) 5) I actually gave a fist pump at the end of the story.
To Read or Not to Read: Absolutely. The story is probably more standard than The Butterfly Garden, which may be a disappointment to some who loved Book 1. However, the great characters make up for a slightly less unique story in my mind.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Roses in May is available on May 23, 2017. Read it. Read it. Read it.
Find Her by Lisa Gardner
Book Description: Once a victim, Flora now hunts predators, while never imagining one also hunts her.
Book Review: The story is fast-paced, completely engrossing and horrifying. Flora is understandably messed up after being held captive for 472 days and those memories are painfully rendered to the reader. You see when she breaks and it is hard to witness, while also understandable. I also love how she rebuilt herself into a hunter. I couldn’t put the book down, but I also couldn’t leave my home afterwards. Seriously.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes, especially those who love a good thriller/mystery and can handle graphic material. Gardner writes in a way that she sometimes takes us down the rabbit hole and other times leads us there and lets our imagination fill in the blanks. And I have a very vivid imagination.
The Books I Liked
These are the books I liked, from most liked to liked.
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
Book Description: The Gardner oversees a beautiful garden of captive, young women tattooed with butterflies.
Book Review: This is like a train wreck. You know you shouldn’t look but you cannot resist staring at the carnage. Maya/Inara is like Job; her life has been one horror after another. Yet she persists. 😀 She is very contained, shrewd and pragmatic, which makes her the most dangerous butterfly. My only real quibble about this book is that it loses some urgency after a certain point, although it remains engrossing.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes. It is not overly graphic while still being stomach-churning and did add to my paranoia last month. 😀
The Black Country by Alex Grecian
Book Description: When members of a prominent family disappear, The Scotland Murder Squad is called to investigate but more than one killer awaits their arrival.
Book Review: This book #2 in the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad series and continues the adventures of Inspector Walter Day. This time his team goes to coal country, where people are sick, superstitious to their dying breath and their homes are sinking into the earth. You’ll guess the killer fairly quickly (and it will break your heart a little bit too), and it’s another solid story in a series that will eventually let loose Saucy Jack.
To Read or Not to Read: Absolutely. It’s a great series for mystery lovers, especially those who like historical fiction.
Trust No One by Paul Cleave
Book Description: As dementia consumes Jerry’s mind, he confesses his darkest secret: the murders in his books are real.
Book Review: Talk about the ultimate unreliable narrator. The chapters go back and forth from the present (when Jerry is now living in a nursing home) to his Madness Diary. You definitely experience his descent into dementia. I wish Cleave had used the Madness Diary a little bit more sparingly. It was fine in the beginning to show us Jerry before and after, but there is a period where it somewhat stalls momentum (or wasn’t as interesting as the present time). There is also a coincidence that strains credulity a bit but overall the story is twisted, dark and sad. You know the truth but whether justice is really served, depends on your perspective.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it. It’s a good, twisted thriller that will mess with your head.
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Book Description: Leah and an old friend, Emmy, both need a fresh start but thing go awry after a woman is attacked and Emmy disappears.
Book Review: A good, twisty book where you keep second-guessing yourself. Leah, at times, wore at me. I didn’t connect with her as strongly as I did with my other protagonists this month and she could be a bit whiny. She did something stupid for understandable reasons, but I like my heroes to be smart enough to shiv someone without getting caught. The good news is she figures out how to do that by the end of the book.
To Read or Not to Read: Sure. It’s a good, solid mystery/thriller. And yes, it added to my paranoia because sometimes bad hombres are where you least expect them to be.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Perfect Stranger is available on May 16, 2017.
Lightning by Dean Koontz
Book Description: Someone has been looking after Laura Shane her entire life, but now her “Guardian” needs her help against his formidable enemies.
Book Review: I overall enjoyed this. It had been some time since I cracked open a Koontz book and forgot how fun they can be. I enjoy time-travel books, especially those that keep things relatively simple with how it works and those pesky paradox scenarios. Stefan clearly came from a grim place and I prayed that it wouldn’t be revealed as 2017 because gulp. Laura reminded me a bit of Sarah Connor with her Uzi and James Cameron would be proud of her spunk.
To Read or Not to Read: Sure, especially those who like sci-fi books.
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Book Description: In a world where Human and Fae live side-by-side, the boy with the horns is considered special and now he’s missing.
Book Review: I selected this book because it met the criteria of a six-word title for Erin’s 6.0 Challenge. And yes, I basically chose the first book in my TBR with six words. 😀 I thought it was a mystery, which it is but it’s also YA fantasy with fae living among humans. Overall I enjoyed it. I liked Hazel. She is smart, capable and compassionate. (Is it just me or have females in recent books become less damsel in distress and have their own agency? I like this a lot.) While a bit predictable and a little slow in the beginning, it remains an enjoyable read.
To Read or Not to Read: Sure, if fantasy is your jam.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Book Description: Henry and Clare have an atypical marriage since Henry time-travels at whim.
Book Review: I read this about 14 years too late to truly love this book (not a big fan of romances). It meandered in the middle and I struggled with some of the time travel aspects because it was a genetic condition. In other words, the rules that exist in most time travel books don’t exist here. And I broke one of my major rules when it comes to reading (or any form of entertainment) with a fantastical element, which is to roll with it. To not overly question everything. But my right brain refused to turn off. Also, I may prefer time travel romances that involve hot Scots in kilts. Just saying.
To Read or Not to Read: Sure. Romance lovers who can “roll with” the time travel aspects will enjoy it. Those who are into time travel but not so much into romance should probably read Lightning instead. 😀
The Liane Moriarty is Just Not My Jam Book
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Book Description: A woman wakes up to discover she’s lost 10 years of life and doesn’t recognize herself or the life she’s living.
Book Review: While I enjoyed this more than Hypnotist’s Love Story, it still missed the mark for me. The idea of losing 10 years of memories and discovering you don’t like whom you’ve become is an intriguing set-up. But I feel like Moriarty writes about rich people dealing with serious issues that somehow resolve into the happiest, unearned endings. And you’re talking to someone who grew up on “happily ever after” and loves happy endings. Spoiler alert: In the last 42 pages of a 459 page book, she regains her memories and remembers that she really does hate her husband. But she tries to be a better Mom and create a more amicable relationship with her husband for their kids’ sake (all tell, little show). Then we get an epilogue with surprise, surprise she does love her husband and every problem magically disappeared! YAY for us! I want to puke.
To Read or Not to Read: If you want a complex look at marriage, rediscovering yourself and earned redemption, this isn’t the book. If you want a light read where all problems are magically solved and everyone holds hands and sings kum-ba-yah in the end (which is perfectly fine because I occasionally crave that kind of book too), then you’ll enjoy this book. I should note this is not my go-to genre and the book does seem to be well-loved by virtually everyone. Just not me. 😀
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
Let’s break it down, this month I highly recommend The Butterfly Garden and The Roses of May by Dot Hutchison, Find Her by Lisa Gardner, The Black Country by Alex Grecian and Trust No One by Paul Cleave. What Alice Forgot is pretty much beloved by everyone but me. And I’m okay with that. 😀 Just know that if you read all my recommends this month, you might worry the end of the world is nigh. And it just might be. Dun, dun, dun …
To More Great Books
Those with good memories may recall that Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult was my book club selection for April. However, we had to cancel our April meeting so we’re reading it for May. And I am still procrastinating on reading it. 😀 Also, on tap for this month, I have a few NetGalley books to read but overall expect to read less as I need a break from all the bad hombres. 😀 As always, I’m joining Jana and Steph for their awesome Show Us Your Books link-up. Be sure to check it out and see what everyone read last month.
What good books did you read in April?