Thursday, August 25, 2016

Angela Marsons: Play Dead

This is the fourth book in Angel Marsons' DI Kim Stone series. I personally think that you should start at the beginning of the series (Silent Scream, Evil Games and Lost Girls) and the books are amazing (especially the first two), but I think you could read this book as Marsons does a good job in defining who the characters are.

Angela Marsons is back with the next DI Stone book and there are going to be even more bodies on the body farm:

All dead bodies hold a mystery especially those of people that have been murdered. It is the job of a Body Farm to help understand how elements of nature can affect a body and help solve cases. Westerley is a new Bod Farm research facility in DI Kim Stone's backyard and she it voluntold by her boss to go there, take a tour and try to use the expertise of the Doctors there to help solve some unsolved and historical homicides. Things never seem to be so simple for Kim as she discovers a body that does not belong on the body farm. The murder victim is killed in such a way that Kim knows that there will be more than one as it seems too personal. Kim is proved right when another victim is found at the farm barely clinging to life. Kim now has a serial killer on her hands and knows that the victims won't stop till she discovers who the killer is.

Ah how I have missed DI Kim Stone, really truly missed her. Right from the very beginning of the book, where Kim is willing to put her job and at times the case on the line in order to protect the innocent, you fall right back in love with her character. Kim is what makes this series so addictive as well as Marsons writing style which grabs hold of you and never lets go (I really wanted to and could have read this book in one sitting, as there never seemed to be a good place to stop, but alas it was not to be).

I found that this book was not as inventive as her previous books in this series, but still entertaining and she was able to surprise me in the end as Marsons has become a master at red herrings and having some questionable characters throughout. I was able to figure out part but not all of the mystery/serial killer aspect. I think part of what I missed in this book is the separate case that Kim or one of the members on her team takes on. I wonder what case Marsons will come up with next. I actually wish there was more of a story behind the human/child trafficking story that the book leads off with. I think that would be an interesting story for Kim and her team to tackle against as the cross border aspect that could occur.

I liked that we got to have some additional points of view from Tracy (Kim's nemesis reporter) as her and Kim play really nicely off each other. As Tracy has been a fixture in this series so far and her obsession of trying to find out what makes Kim tick as well as the next big story, it was nice to get to know more of her as a character. We also get a glimpse into Tracy's past as to what shaped her into the woman she is today. Marsons does a good job of this in each of her books, taking at least one secondary character and fleshing them out so you feel that you do not just know Kim but the people around her (both good and bad) as well.

Although I do not think that this book is as good as the first two novel in this series As long a Marsons keeps writing with Kim as her main character I will continue to read her books. I cannot wait for the fifth book in this series.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tosca Lee: The Progeny

Tosca Lee begins a new series with showing how far a woman will go to hide the information she knows:

Emily wakes up and does not know who she is. She cannot remember anything about her life or her preferences. However, Emily is told that this was her choice, her choice to have all of her memories erased and to start a new life. She leave a note for herself to not go looking into her past. However, some things are easier said than done. Emily Jacobs is a descendant of
Lady Elizabeth Bathory, who was one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. Emily is now on the run for her life for the information that she knows but decided to erase so it would not fall into the wrong hands. There are those that want to help her and say they know her but she cannot trust anyone as she cannot remember, all she knows is that she needs to find what she has lost before she is killed.

Looking at other reivews of this book I am in the minority for this book in my DNF status. I hate it when I do not finish a book, but after trying to read this book for 3 weeks I had to call it quits when you find yourself dreading picking up your ereader to read. I made it through a good chunk of this book over 50% and I kept wanting it to get better and more interesting but it just never got there for me, which is disappointing as the premise was really promising.

I think the beginning of this book is really strong with Emily waking up from having her memory erased and obviously she cannot remember why, but with a note to herself to try and live a normal life and to not go looking into the past. I mean there has to be a really good reason why anyone would go to that types of measures. I found this interesting and even when things do not go as planned I still was wanting to pick up this book. Everything changed for me when it was revealed as to Why Emily was being hunted and made me want to stop reading as the reasoning for me went out of the book. I mean Lady Elizabeth Bathory is touted as one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. She killed a lot of people, supposedly, depending on whose side you are on in this book. These murders created the Hunters group whose goal is revenge for all the murders she committed; they want to terminate her line. I guess for me all these years later and I'm pretty sure we could all trace some for of ancestry back to her and really lots of people were murdered on mass throughout history by bad people, there would be none of us left if everyone wanted revenge for what happened in the 1500s.

Lee tries to have a paranormal aspect in the book with having the Progeny have the ability of persuasion, in which they can make people do things just by thinking it. Interesting aspect but I could see that as more of a reason to hunt them then the whole Lady Bathory aspect.

This book was just not for me and that is why it has become my DNF of this year (thought pretty good that I have only had one so far). If you are interested in picking up this book, please do not just read my review. As I said above there are people that loved this book, I just wasn't one of them.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Anna Snoekstra: Only Daughter

In Anna Snoekstra's debut novel an imposter learns that the most dangerous place can be your home:

Rebecca Winter was just a regular 16 year old teen until in 2003 she disappeared, the only clue was her cell phone found in a ditch. It is now 2014 and The Imposter who has just been arrested needs a way out. She knows she looks like Rebecca Winters but is it enough to fool her family and everyone involved in the case. The Imposter just tells herself it is just for a short amount of time till she can figure out her next move. Before long the Imposter is living Bec's life with her family but The Imposter soon learns that home can be more dangerous than you think as everyone in Bec's life seems to have secrets.

The is a really good and interesting debut novel and I will say that this book Had me hooked from the prologue, when Bec feels like someone is watching her as we have all felt that feeling before, the eyes that never seem to go away. I really enjoyed the style that Snoekstra decided to use in which she goes back and forth between the 2003 and 2014. I think this highlighted the story that Snoekstra was going for and like in other books of this design you want to read faster and faster to find out what happened the days leading up to Bec's disappearance.

Really enjoyed the manipulation that The Imposter used in order to make those around her believe that she was Bec. She is truly a master of manipulation and playing off the cues of others as well as using the little bit of information that each of the people in the family and Bec's friends give her. I liked that The Imposter never really broke from character, you never learn her real name, only get some tidbits of information from her past and she refers to Bec's parents as The Mom and The Dad.

Bec is a typical teenage girl with a teenage crush and hating on her parents. I think one of my problems with how Snoekstra had Bec's chapters is that we were in her mind but not in her mind at other times when it would have been pertinent to know some of what she was thinking. I think that Snoekstra waited a bit too long in the book to reveal some of this information.

I love when a book can surprise me and Snoekstra was able to do that. There were so many weird experiences that happened to Bec in 2003 and The imposter in 2014 that there are multiple people who may or may not know what happened to Bec. Even the investigator on the case seems like he has a shady side, though Snoekstra does not go in to the investigation too much in this book, which I would have liked more information about what was done and who was interviewed in 2003 and the suspects that they had.

A very interesting debut and I loved how Snoekstra portrayed The Imposter. I look forward to seeing what Snoekstra comes up with next.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kim Falconer:The Blood in the Beginning

In the start of a new series Kim Falconer shows that finding out where you came from may be the very thing that saves your life:

Ava has always known that she was different, but she has always attributed it to her autoimmune disease that is in her blood. She has studied hard as an undergraduate student with the hopes of working for the CDC to better understand her disease. In order to make ends meet she works as a bouncer at night time at a dive bar, where she no longer has to prove that she can handle herself, she's had a tough life up until now and has had to do some questionable things in order to survive. When Ava is attacked by a possible serial killer on the way home from shift one night she is able to fight back but ends up in the hospital  where she meets the mysterious Dr. Miguel Rossi who only seems to speak in riddles to her. He claims to know more about her origins than she does. Ava needs to figure out quick where she came from as she is attracting all the wrong attention and her life hangs in the balance

I really liked this book and I think it is a great start to a new series (also bonus points for that book cover). It was a refreshing change for me from other urban fantasies that I have read lately as Falconer chose to focus on a different "creature". You will not find vampires or werewolves or zombies in this book which is very refreshing these days. This book is also quite a bit darker than I thought it would be. The level of violence against Ava when she is attacked as well as some other scenes in the book. I think that Falconer was able to have a balance between Ava trying to live her normal life, figure out who she is as well as trying to figure out her stalker/murderer is. 

The world building is well done and I personally envisioned it in a blue/grey scale with a noir feel to it. I think this has to do with the reference to the Big one in which parts of California broke off and slipped into the Pacific Ocean as well as the idea of the pollution that has caused so many changes to the world. There is often reference to the need to buy organic food or non-GMO due to the pollution and contamination of the planet. It was also interesting the contrast between what on land appears to look like and that of the Ocean.

I really liked Ava as a character she was confident in herself and her abilities but not cocky at the same time. Her belief in what she can do is further supported by her friends in her life, in particular Rourke who uses Ava as bait to try to catch the copy cat killer. Ava is also very intelligent and I'm glad that Falconer was able to show that you can be book as well as street smart. Often in this genre the female protagonists are rarely portrayed this way. I think that Falconer did a good job in portraying Ava's confusion in what she is and where she came from. My one complaint about Ava is her over need to state how hansom/sexy/good looking the men who are in her life or come in to her life during this book. However, I will applaud Falconer that while there is some sexual tension in this book on more than one front, I'm happy that Ava does not feel the need to have sex with every guy that she meets.

This is the first book that I have read by Falconer and it will not be the last. I look forward to seeing what is going to come next in this series, it really is a great start to a new world.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fiona Barton: The Widow

In her debut novel Fiona Barton asks the questions of how well do we really know our spouse:

It is a parent's worst nightmare their child being snatched from the front yard without a trace and no suspect, but someone has to have little Bella or know where she is. It's a wife's worst nightmare when her husband is accused of taking Bella. She knows her husband right? But as the police start asking more and more questions and everyone is searching for the truth and she doesn't know if she can face the facts so she chooses to continue to stand by her husband's side. After all he knows best, right?

This is Barton's debut novel and it is probably the best one, in this genre, that I have read this year. The depth of the characters is where she excels in this book and the mystery/psychological parts are well done. This book takes the inclination we all have when a horror story comes out on the news and it turns out the perpetrator has a family, we tend to question about how could the family not know. The fact of the manner is that most of these type of perpetrator are really good at hiding their other side of their lives. They are master liars and manipulators. There are times in this book where you question who is manipulating who as everyone seems to not only wants something but also something to hide. I think that some people will find it a bit slow but it is kind of a slow burn throughout.

I loved the different points of view that Barton decided to use and I felt like she portrayed all of them accurate for this type of situation. For the Detective who wants to do everything he can to find Bella and bring the perpetrator to justice and anything less he sees as a failure and is willing to risk it all to succeed. For the Reporter she wants the story of the lifetime to help save her career, to try to stay on top and while she pretends to be someone friends the story is all that matters to her. For the Widow who stands by her husband never wavering her commitment to him and her belief in his innocence, I mean she would know right if he was guilty. For the Mother, who desperately wants to believe that her daughter will be found alive and justice will be served. For the Husband who has secrets but don't we all have secrets and fantasies that we don't want to share with other doesn't mean that I am a bad man. With a few chapters from the point of view from some of the other secondary and tertiary characters within the book. I will say that the majority of the chapters are for the Widow and the Detective but I enjoyed when some of the other point of views were thrown in to give some new insight and perspective about the case. It's funny though while I like the characters that Barton created I never actually liked any of the characters.

You need to pay attention to the dates of each chapter so you know in the context of the story when that person is, which also means that you need to pay attention to the details in each chapter. This is what created the slow feeling to the book, but I actually think that this enhances the story instead of hindering it.

You will go back and forth about whether Glen committed the act of taking Bella as the information that the police use to go after Glen is circumstantial and there are so many factors that you as a reader can see that are overlooked in the investigation as the police do get tunnel vision (which I am glad that Barton included as I think this makes the case more real as it seems at times police believe they have found "their man" and use the evidence to make it fit). However, Barton counters this by having Glen seem very creepy and while he does not physically hurt his wife you can tell that he has control and power over her. If Glen is not guilty of taking Bella there are quite a few other things that he is guilty of.

The more I think about this book and look back on it, the more that I like it. As I stated above I loved the characters that Barton developed and their interactions with each other. I am excited to see what Barton comes out with next, I'm thinking she is an author to watch out for.

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Side Note: This book has it stated in the premise on GoodReads that it is similar to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I have not read Girl of the Train so I can not compare it, but this book has a completely different feel and even genre, in my opinion, when compared to Gone Girl. This is not to say that this is a bad thing, but if you are reading this book expecting a Gone Girl type of book you will be disappointed, as The Widow is more of a psychological mystery than thriller.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ransom Riggs: Miss Peregrine's Home For Pecular Children

In his debut novel Ransom Riggs takes the readers on an adventure for the peculiar:

Jacob's grandfather has a box of old photographs of children with them doing the strangest things or very weird appearances. Jacob's grandfather assures him that they are not fake and the children did exist. However, as Jacob gets older he begins to questions everything his grandfather told him and begins to believe that his grandfather was just making everything up. That is until his grandfather's murder and Jacob is there to witness it. What he sees changes everything for him, and he questions his own sanity as he is haunted by his grandfather's last words. Jacob needs to solve the riddle in order to find some peace, and have his adventure begin.

I've had this book on my TBR shelf for quite some time now but I can say that the reason that I picked it up was due to the fact that it has been turned into a movie and I try to read the book before the movie comes out. This book was fairly slow for the majority of the book and I guess it had to be as Riggs needed to set up the scene and worlds that Jacob lives in and is learning about. However, I never really felt the world building that Riggs was trying to portray in the book got to the depth that Riggs wanted it too, especially since he took a lot of time to get there.

I'm a bit confused about the "children" under Miss Peregrine's care (I use the term children loosely as many of them are in their 80s). I get the idea of the loop and how it would preserve them from aging, but does that mean that it keeps their mental age the same as when they entered to loop. This is never fully explained as to why an individual who may look like a teenager or child but is 80 years old and yet still will have the mindset of a teenager or child. This part was confusing to me. However, the peculiarities that the children have are a bit different and interesting and really not seen as powers, just abilities they are born with so that can be helpful and some that are more of a deformity.

Did anyone else think that the relationship/love interest thing between Jacob and Emma was creepy? I mean Emma was Jacob's grandfather's girlfriend when he was there and now Emma is trying to basically replace him with Jacob. Just creepy and kind of wrong to me especially when you couple it with the maturity issue stated above. I think the book would have been just as successful if Jacob and Emma were just friends, no live interest is really needed in this book.

I think my favorite part in this book was the Whites. Their history, how they become a white, their search for power and why they want it was really interesting. They also have some interesting abilities and powers that I will not go into here as it would spoil some key aspects within the book.

This book makes you think that all those wild stories that your grandparents and great grandparents told you may be true and that is the true charm of this book. This book is great for those who are of young adult age and would recommend it for those youth to read not so much so for adults. I'm not sure yet whether I will continue on in this series.

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On a side note, as I stated above I read this book as I saw the trailer for the movie and even just based up the trailer I can tell that there are some significant difference between it and the book, especially the main character Emma and her peculiarities. It will be interesting to see what else they have changed.