Oh August. You were an exceptionally long month filled with lots of crappy news and events. You also had lots of good-to-okay books. In my most selfish, Trump-like moments, I’m not sure which is worse because I want to read bigly, beautiful books. Yes, yes, the crappy news and bad events are much worse. But woe is me, how I suffered too. Not really. Or at all. I’m just a big book baby. 😀
The Books I Liked …. Just Liked!
This is a good news, bad news scenario. No loathe books this month — YAY! But also no love books — BOO! Fortunately, there were some strong likes (I was just being a tad — a lot — melodramatic before) that I truly enjoyed.
The Books I Liked
These are the books I liked, from most liked to like. And if we’re talking a star system, these books would range between 3 to 4 stars.
The Devil’s Workshop by Alec Grecian
Book Description: A small group of men decide to mete out their own form of justice and arrange a prison break of four of London’s worst criminals. Things don’t go as planned.
Book Review: He’s back! That’ right, Saucy Jack has reemerged from the dungeons (literally) to terrorize London and has his eyes squarely set on our favorite intrepid detective, Walter Day. I will not deny my inappropriate joy over this either. Jack lived up to the hype for me. He was charming, utterly depraved and focused on revenge, even with his odd moral code. It appears he plays a role in the next two books, which both excites me and makes me a tad nervous because sometimes too much of a good thing grows old. But I am anxious to follow Detective Day and Sergeant Hammersmith’s next adventure.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes, particularly if you’re a fan of historical fiction and Saucy Jack. I do want to point out, however, that this book was more graphically violent then its predecessors. Jack is a bit cat-like and likes to play with his victims first.
Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart
Book Description: Deputy Sheriff Constance Kopp investigates young women facing dubious charges of moral depravity.
Book Review: Constance remains the strong, badass lady cop that I love so it pains me deeply to admit this: the book is a tad dull compared to the previous two books. I like how Stewart clearly shines a light on the double standards around men and women’s moralities. But it doesn’t feel like much happens either. We spend quite a bit of time with the victims/perpetrators (depending on your opinion or perhaps your gender) with little urgency. It leans more solely historical fiction than historical fiction mystery, which is not a bad thing, but I expected a more of a mystery. I may have enjoyed the story more had I known this, which is why I’m telling you. 😀 And to be clear: I will continue to read books about Constance until Stewart stops writing them.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes, Constance fans will definitely still want to read this. I didn’t love it as much as her previous books but hanging out with Constance and company is always time well-spent.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is now available.
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
Book Description: Amory Ames helps her former fiancé, Gil Trent, never guessing it will lead to murder and upset the status quo with her rogue husband.
Book Review: I called an audible SOS for some reads that would be more of an upper than a downer (I found my beloved mysteries unappealing post Charlottesville and Harvey and DACA rescindment) and this was a suggestion from Audrey from Life with Louise. It’s still a mystery but not one full of despicable people doing despicable things in graphic detail, which tend to be the type of mysteries I read. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Amory is fantastic and I am a tiny bit smitten with her rogue husband, Milo. Were there some plot holes? Yes. Did it bother me? Well, I have already put book 2 on hold, so no.
To Read or Not to Read: Yup. This is a good choice for people who enjoy mystery cozies or lighter mysteries with some romance.
The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Book Description: When a mental breakdown of one of his own team members collides with a series of murders, both past and present, Detective Carl Morck and his team race to save Rose and catch a killer. Or is it killers?
Book Review: Another good outing from the Department Q gang. While the cases and villains themselves range from from excellent to average (more average this time), Carl, Assad and Rose remain a terrific team and make the series. What I truly appreciated in this particular book was how deftly Adler-Olsen handled Rose’s mental break. Her pain, despair and brief moments of hope felt achingly real as she tried to work through a trauma too big for her to carry alone. Too often people suffering with mental illness are treated as a joke or a cootie infestation in books or really any form of entertainment. Adler-Olsen treats it with unflinching honesty and tenderness and for that alone, I’ll always keep reading and recommending him.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes. I strongly recommend the entire series. The first two books are a bit slow but Carl, Assad and Rose are always, always great.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Scarred Woman is available September 19, 2017.
The Address by Fiona Davis
Book Description: In 1884, Sara Smythe begins working at the newly opened Dakota and finds herself becoming attached to Theodore Camden, the married architect. In 1985, Bailey Camden uncovers secrets the Dakota has kept hidden for nearly 100 years.
Book Review: Davis’ debut novel, The Dollhouse, made my 2016 Best Book List last year, which meant my expectations were extremely high. Perhaps, a tad too high as the main characters didn’t captivate me or tug my heart strings the same way Darby and Esme did. Plus, the book flap description gave so much of the story away, which robbed me of the pleasure of responding to things as they occurred. My advice — if you want to read this book, don’t read the book flap description! You’ll enjoy it more. 😀
To Read or Not to Read: Sure. People who enjoy historical fiction and/or books that flip between the past and present will enjoy it. I also strongly recommend The Dollhouse if you haven’t read it.
The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly
Book Description: Scotland Yard inspector Joe Sandilands is called to investigate the suspicious death of an English woman and uncovers links to four more deaths.
Book Review: This book was recommended by Mackenzie from Organic Butterfly Blog in response to my plea for a book that would entertain and not depress me. I struggled initially to get into it because the books takes place in India (during the British Raj). While I am familiar with British and India ties, I am not very familiar with Indian lexicon, which is used frequently and without definition. Sometimes I could infer what the word meant and other times I could not. But once the mystery took center stage, I became much more engrossed. Joe felt oddly a little underdeveloped in comparison to some of the secondary characters and the series (13 strong) revolves around him. I hope he becomes more fleshed out while Cleverly’s overuse of exclamation points lessens in the next book, which I do plan to read.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure, it’s a solid who-dun-it. This may be better read on a Kindle (which I did not do) to make it easier to look up words.
The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan
Book Description: At first, Corrine takes comfort when she finds little pieces of a dollhouse in odd places, thinking them to be a good talisman as she undergoes her 4th IVF attempt, but someone with much more sinister intent is watching and waiting.
Book Review: A both fast and slow read. It’s fairly engrossing but does drag a bit and is rather repetitive in the beginning. It starts to pick up as it works itself to its inevitable conclusion. Corrine is high-strung and somewhat annoying and I never understood why she was such a scared mouse at the beginning. Emotional, sure (she’s going through IVF) but it felt off and only there to give credence to her being susceptible to the head games that would eventually come into play. But she did pull something unexpected off in the end, which I applaud.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. It bills itself as a psychological thriller but it’s not overly intense, making it a good choice for those who like thrillers that don’t keep them up at a night. I should note some reviewers did find this to be very intense, so eye of the beholder.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Doll House is available on September 14, 2017.
Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Book Description: Paul Strom promised his wife, Mia, the best day ever as they head out to their lake home, but along the way, secrets unravel and expose cracks in their perfect marriage.
Book Review: Hmmmm … this was a quick, interesting read. But I really wish that it had been less of stream of conscious from Paul, the husband. Aka the psychopath, douche, jackass, narcissist and all the bad words. He may think he is the ultimate charmer but he doesn’t ooze charm to the reader, which meant his shtick grew old quickly. Given the cat-and-mouse game being played, it oddly lacked tension because so much of it involved him thinking or reminiscing stories/lies from his past.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. It’s a good, pass-the-time book.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Best Day Ever is available on September 19, 2017.
The DNF Book
Sometimes a good book gets swept up in bad timing.
The Fierce Kingdom by Gin Philips
Villains can make or break a thriller. Sometimes knowing very little about them turns them into literal nightmares. Other times knowing the depth of their depravity is what makes you need Depends. And other times, you simply cannot tolerate them due to bad timing. For example, two young white men lead a mass shooting with the motto “We are order. We are hope.” a couple weeks after the horrifying, real events of Charlottesville. Nope. Too soon. To be completely transparent, the boys are not white supremacists, just douche bags. This is not a bad book, but the hurt and pain is too raw for me to enjoy it. It’s not a loathe but simply suffered from bad timing.
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
Overall a decent month. I am sad that no book earned a love designation but none were also a loathe, so win some, lose some. 😀 I recommend every book this month with The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian and The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen being great series for mystery lovers. Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver and The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly are good choices for those who like historical fiction mysteries on the lighter side. Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confession is also a great option for those who like strong women and historical fiction. It’s not a mystery-centric as the previous books in the series but still another enjoyable outing.
To More Great Books
Another month and more great books on tap. I’m picking the next In Death book today and I can’t wait to start reading it. I love that series and feel like my reading needs a little jump start after the bad news and a bad cold of last month, nothing really appealed to me, even my beloved books. Fingers crossed that this month I read a bunch of bigly, beautiful books. As usual, I’m joining the Show Us Your Books link-up hosted by Jana and Steph.
What books do you recommend for me? I’m still interested in some lighter books, although not romance-only books. Romance/thriller/mystery — yes please. YA, fantasy, horror, literary fiction, you bet. But I’m too much of a cynical, old coot for lovey dovey books. 😀