This month something became very clear to me: I am fussy. And inconsistent. Like what bothers me horribly with one book doesn’t bother me in another book. I blame my mood. 😀 I am also much more forgiving when a story engrosses me completely. Flaws get overlooked and ignored but when a story drags or I really, really, REALLY hate a character, every plot hole aggravates me terribly. So yeah, I am persnickety and hypocritical and maybe a tad whiny. And I don’t care. All I care about is good books!
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed
On a different day or in a different mood, the order could change. But today, this day, this is how I feel about this wonderful things I call books.
The Books I Loved
These are the books that I love and love some more.
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
Book Description: Three years after Emma and Cass disappeared, Cass reappears with an urgent plea to her family and the FBI to rescue her still captive sister.
Book Review: I loved Ms. Walker’s debut novel, All is Not Forgotten, which earned a spot on my 2016 Best Books list and now she’s back in fine form. Cass learned how to manipulate from the best — her mother. She also has an agenda but the game she is playing isn’t clear beyond a desperate need to rescue her sister. One twist I suspected and others I did not. It is not as morally complex as All is Not Forgotten, although a much easier read since you don’t want to punch the narrator repeatedly. To be fair, I still wanted to punch a few people by the end of this book too. 😀
To Read or Not To Read: Yes! This is not an action-packed book but a chess game with the unveiling of one seriously messed-up family. And one last bonus, you’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and then cry when you read her description of a narcissist.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Emma in the Night is now available.
The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias
Book Description: After her mother commits suicide, Siobahn Russo learns the terrifying reason why she disappeared six years ago.
Book Review: I really enjoyed this book, even though it had a couple of big flaws. The biggest was Gracias did so much research that he included in the book. Unfortunately, it killed momentum and changed the tenor of the story so it read more like a research paper (and happened at the end of the book). But the middle part, in particular, was amaze-balls which is how it landed a coveted love spot, even though it probably doesn’t quite deserve it. There was betrayal. Revenge. And so much juicy murder, which eventually led to lots and lots of fear because making a deal with the Devil never ends well. And oh yeah. It’s 2017. The Anti-Christ? It’s a girl. Take that, Damien! #TheFutureIsFemale
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. This wasn’t a scary book, although it is classified as horror. Just know that the end sags a bit, even though there were some fascinating tidbits he included. To be fair, some of the religious tidbits were scarier because of what they implied. I just wish he had either put his research as an addendum or found a way to incorporate it a bit more gracefully and organically. Regardless, I still look forward to reading the sequel because I always enjoy an epic battle between good and evil.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Devil’s Prayer will be available on August 26, 2017.
The Books I Liked
These are the books I enjoyed overall, from most liked to like.
I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen
Book Description: An apparent murder without a clear cause of death baffles Rizzoli and Isles and leads them back to Isles’ estranged mother.
Book Review: I have a love/like relationship with the Rizzoli and Isles series. Some books are fabulous (Mephisto Club, The Silent Girl, Last to Die) and some are merely okay. This falls somewhere in-between for me. The case was intriguing and one revelation was very obvious (and likely meant to be) and one was a solid surprise. But I disliked a specific character Gerritsen clearly plans to revisit, which does not excite me. I also have very mixed feelings about Isles’ love life and I ain’t Catholic. 😀
To Read or Not To Read: Sure, I overall recommend the series. It is best read in order but any book (with the exception of Apprentice, you need to read Surgeon first) can be read as a stand-alone. Note: the book series is very different from the TNT series. I hated the TV show. Isles, in particular, is completely and utterly different. She is not quirky but aloof.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. I Know a Secret will be available on August 15, 2017.
The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Book Description: Susan’s latest editing project, Magpie Murders, seems like an ordinary book, but within the book hides a secret worth killing over.
Book Review: This book has a very unique set-up. It starts with a very brief introduction to Susan who is about to edit Magpie Murders, then the following 200 pages are the novel she’s editing. So it’s a novel within a novel. It’s also a whodunit in the vein of Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Horowitz wrote Moriarty) involving a murder and an eccentric cast of characters with lots of secrets. It’s a bit of a slow burn but still really enjoyable. Most mysteries I read tend to be quite intense, so it was actually nice to amble along without murder and mayhem every two seconds. However, some may not enjoy the slower pace.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure, especially if you are a fan of Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. It’s very reminiscent of their style.
A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman
Book Description: Ex-FBI Agent, Brigid Quinn, must help her former partner save a man innocent of his family’s murder before his execution in a few days.
Book Review: This is book 3 in the Brigid Quinn series and the first book I read in the series. Yes, I know. Normally I try to start with book 1 but this caught my eye so I went for it. Overall, I like Brigid and the premise of trying to help an innocent man on death row. I like that she’s an older woman who is smart and very, very tough (both mentally and physically) and some of the story choices Masterman made. Quinn breaks the rules, which brings out some mixed feelings. It never bothered me before but these days I find myself less okay with it. Overall, though, I enjoyed meeting Brigid and plan to start from the beginning. Note: The series is somewhat serial but not enough where I was confused or regretted my decision to start here.
To Read or Not To Read: Read it if you love mysteries, some messed-up family dynamics (some of the stuff with the family shocked me a bit) and a strong, albeit occasionally morally murky, lady cop.
The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
Book Description: A brutal murder of a beloved college professor forces Detective Miranda Radar to confront her past and old secrets.
Book Review: This is an enjoyable read that doesn’t necessarily hold up under lots of scrutiny. So yeah, you guessed it … I scrutinized, which I know not to do. Maybe, I need to read fewer mysteries (not going to happen) but when I’m not fully engrossed, I start picking things apart, like lead investigators not figuring out the person trying to frame them is probably the killer. Oy vey.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. Just roll with it and it’s a good, pass-the-time book for mystery fans.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Other Girl will be available on August 22, 2017.
The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Book Description: When someone murders young women using an ancient Greek ritual, Selene DiSilva, aka the former Greek Goddess Artemis, vows to bring the killer to justice.
Book Review: I read this for Erin’s 7.0 Reading Challenge as my pick for Book with Non-Human Main Character. Since I love Greek Gods, I was pretty excited to discover this new trilogy. It takes place in the here and now with the Greek Gods living amongst us, although mostly powerless. Sadly, I feel rather neutral about this book as it was also a bit of a slog to get through. While I don’t regret reading it, my interest to read book #2 waned after seeing it was a 100 pages longer than this book, which was already 100 pages too long in my opinion.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure, if you enjoy Greek Gods and a lot of Greek history mixed in with your fiction.
The Book that Shoulda Been Better
So much great possibility but …
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
Book Description: When a popular podcast revisits the murder of Josie’s father’s, old lies begin to unravel.
Book Review: Within this book is a really good book but … the final product left me a bit (a lot) wanting. I love the idea of a podcast being the premise but I wish Barber had made Poppy the main focus, preferably also less opportunistic and Alex Jones like, although I can handle a snake-oil narrator provided the story is really good. This started out quite strong but petered out rather quickly and left me a tad annoyed. It took me some time to put my finger on why but I eventually figured it out. Barber’s handling of mental illness felt off, like she didn’t have firsthand experience with it. While fear of passing mental illness to your kids is a very legitimate concern and fear, in her world, depressed (and potentially more than that) people were ephemeral or a cootie-infested person to avoid.
To Read or Not To Read: It did not wow me but obviously I read every word of it too. 😀 I did not really find it to be much of a mystery/thriller so if that’s what you’re seeking, this might not hit the spot for you.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Are You Sleeping is now available.
The Book I Could Stop and Did Stop.
In other words, I DNFed this sucker.
Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Book Review: It’s been a very long time since I DNFed a book because I cannot quit books. But by the end of the first chapter, I was clenching my teeth so hard that lockjaw became a distinct possibility. Listen, I can handle a neurotic character because I’m a little neurotic but holy moly! She was annoying as piss. And I found it to be very predictable, although predictability isn’t a sin. I’d take predictability over authors who contort both characters and plot into something horribly convoluted or nonsensical in a poor attempt to be unique, which Paris did not do. But I also cannot take a boring ass story with an annoying character to wind-up at an inevitable ending either.
To Read or Not To Read: No, I don’t recommend it. However, lots of smart people do. So if it seems up your alley, try it. Just like Mikey, you might like it! (totally dating myself with that reference but I don’t care!)
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review (please continue to approve books I request!). Breakdown is now available.
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
Another solid reading month overall. I highly recommend Emma in the Night to everyone and The Devil’s Prayer for those who like horror-lite. I Know a Secret and A Twist of the Knife are good choices for mystery lovers, especially those who love strong, female characters. Those who love mysteries more in the vein of Agatha Christie (i.e. less graphic, slower paced) will enjoy Magpie Murders.
To More Great Books
August reading looks like more NetGalley books and some library holds that should come in this month. Then I need to get cracking on Erin’s 7.0 Challenge because I feel behind. 😀 As always, I’m partaking in the Show Us Your Books Link-Up hosted by Jana and Steph. Be sure to see what everyone else is reading!
What books are you adding to your TBR?