Based on a traditional Japanese ghost story, The Girl from the Well is the extremely creepy storyThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Based on a traditional Japanese ghost story, The Girl from the Well is the extremely creepy story of a young girl who was murdered centuries ago. Now she walks the earth in a threadbare shift and long, black matted hair. She has one purpose – vengeance. She looks for men who have other dead children tied to their backs and she sets those children free. She moves from city to city, country to country, leaving a string of inexplicable murders in her wake.
Until she meets Tark, a teenage boy covered with strange tattoos. And he’s being possessed by his own ghost. She doesn’t know exactly why she is drawn to him and his cousin, but she decides to stick with them and watches as Tark struggles with his possession.
I really enjoyed the narrative style of this novel. It’s told from the girl’s point of view and she has a unique voice. She’s invested in and curious about what’s happening but she’s also a little unstable and emotionally blank. She observes but she doesn’t really comment, leaving you to draw your own conclusions about Tark, his cousin and his mother (the person who gave him the tattoos). I enjoyed the freedom of making up my own mind about these characters, rather than having the narrator’s opinions thrust upon me.
Though I liked all the characters in this novel, Tark was easily my favourite. Despite is dire circumstances he was always quick with a joke or a bit of sarcasm. For example, “Dad says there are more than three thousand letters in the Japanese alphabet, which could pose a problem. There are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and I get into enough trouble with them as it is.” This attitude helped lighten up some of the darker parts of the novel. The Girl from the Well can be quite gruesome at times, so I enjoyed these brief interludes.
In addition to a rather unique narrator the writing style itself is unlike most YA books you’ll find today. It was very atmospheric and lyrical in nature. There is a rhythm to the text, which would probably make an excellent audiobook. It’s a short book but you’ll still lose yourself in the story. It’s so suspenseful and since the “monsters” are ghosts/demons they were extremely unpredictable. I wanted the best for all of these characters, but always feared for the worst.
If you like horror movies like The Ring or The Grudge or just regular dark and suspenseful tales, I recommend The Girl from the Well....more
The Accident is a thriller about the publishing industry.Yup, you read that right. Given my obvioThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
The Accident is a thriller about the publishing industry.Yup, you read that right. Given my obvious love of reading and my employment in the industry I was curious how Pavone would twist this slow moving, paper heavy industry into a mystery. And it was definitely an interesting attempt.
Isabel is a literary agent who has a received an anonymous manuscript. This manuscript is a scathing exposé of Charlie Wolf – a Rupert Murdoch like character. It’s a dangerous manuscript that has the potential to ruin his career. But before 24 hours have passed Isabel’s assistant is murdered. And then one of the employees in the publishing house she gave it to is run off the road. It’s an intense story and a extremely complex and well plotted mystery.
Part of the complexity is how many points of view there are. It switched so often and so quickly it was impossible to get invested in any of the characters. The Accident is written in short, choppy chapters, which keeps the reader off balance – it’s great for the suspense and the twists but it didn’t help with the flow and the character development. What was even more frustrating was when the timeline would switch within the chapters themselves. It gave the entire book a chaotic feeling that prevented me from really becoming hooked on the story.
Chris Pavone has a very descriptive but at times overly verbose writing style. In addition to the short chapters I found that this also threw the pacing off. So much time would be spent on details about the setting, or the characters’ clothing and mannerisms. I’m not opposed to detailed writing, at times it can really help enrich the story. But the detail didn’t feel balanced because it also felt like Pavone was racing through the important plot information. At times I had to go back and reread a chapter because I was unclear on what had just happened.
I did think all of the publishing sections were well researched and can provide an interesting view into the world of publishing for those who aren’t as familiar with it. If you’ve ever been curious about how books were made, this would be a really great book to read. From the agent to the acquisition editor to the actual release – this book walks you through all the steps. I particularly liked one part where Pavone mentions the pile of paper/galleys/books that you can never get rid of. I am very familiar with with that pile.
Overall, The Accident is a very interesting, well plotted mystery that didn’t quite make the jump to “page-turner” status. However, if you like mysteries and are interested in publishing you may want to try it out....more
One of the first review copies I ever got when I started blogging was Jessica Martinez’s debut, VThis book originally reviewed at More Than Just Magic
One of the first review copies I ever got when I started blogging was Jessica Martinez’s debut, Virtuosity. It wasn’t my usual kind of read but within a few pages I was hooked. Kiss Kill Vanish is a much different book from Virtuosity but ultimately I was just as hooked as I was before.
It immediately grabbed me because most of the novel takes place in Montreal. I love anytime a book takes place in Canada but, but you get bonus points for Montreal. Maybe it’s the French Canadian in me. Our protagonist, Valentina, flees to Montreal after witnessing her boyfriend and her father kill someone. Her main priority is survival – which usually breaks down to money and food. She is not in Montreal as a tourist, nor is she in a financial position to really take in all the advantages of the city. Yet despite those factors, Martinez still manages to capture the ambience of Montreal. Especially the cold.
In my opinion Valentina had good reasons for running away from home. But that’s not her whole story. She is a complex character with a lot of conflicting emotions. She is the embodiment of the idea that we can feel a lot of different things at the same time. She feels anger towards her family and boyfriend, she feels betrayed that she never knew about her father’s drug business, she feels disgusted because she used to live in a mansion and now she shares a dumpy apartment, and she feels desperate as she tries to make ends meet without a work visa. And that’s just the beginning. Things aren’t easier for her but ultimately she keeps going, no matter how tired, hungry and cold she gets. I imagine a few readers won’t take to her – she’s a little cold to other people, and there’s a good dose of self pity – but I kind of love her determined nature.
While in Montreal she finds work sitting for paintings. When her employer, Lucien, dies she forms an unlikely bond with his brother Marcel. Marcel is every bit as layered as Valentina. He starts off as a drunk, drug addict loser who only exists to torture and mock the main character. But as Valentina gets to know him so does the reader and before you know it you’ll go from hating him to loving him. I don’t want to go into too much detail about his character arc, for fear of spoilers, but trust me, it’s a good one.
The pacing in this novel was very deliberate. You would think with the murders, drug cartels and lying boyfriends it would move at break neck speed. But it takes it time to get going and the action kind of sneaks up on you. It starts slow but then before you know it you’re staying up until the wee hours to finish it (this is a true story of what actually happened to me). Kiss Kill Vanish is more about building suspense than story that will make your pulse race. Throughout the entire novel you never know who Valentina can trust. Anyone could betray her and there could be a horrible surprise waiting around every corner.
Kiss Kill Vanish was not my first Jessica Martinez novel and it certainly won’t be my last. She’s written yet another novel with great characters you can’t help but become invested in. I loved the way this novel was constantly surprising me and I can’t wait to see what unique story Martinez will come up with next....more
You want to convince someone to never do heroine? Give them this book.
It’ll be effective for two reasons. The first is when you find out how crappy the character’s lives were before they were abducted and brought to the island. The things they did for drugs or the living conditions they were in were cringe worthy. No. They were beyond cringe worthy. But that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was the withdrawal. Messum’s descriptions were just so vivid and frightening. They made me physically squirm more then once.
The story itself fell a little flat for me. It was a little predictable and the characters were exactly what you expected them to be. Static archetypes, not a lot of development. It’s a very quick story so there isn’t a lot of time for that anyway but I did miss it. Especially since I had a hard time rooting for any of them to survive.
Messum is clearly a talented writer. This may not be the best novel but I would definitely be interested to see what he writes next....more
Caught first hit my radar when it was nominated for the 2013 Giller prize and if I was one of theThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Caught first hit my radar when it was nominated for the 2013 Giller prize and if I was one of the judges it would have won.
The novel centres about David Slaney. He is a fabulous complex character. He’s an escaped prison convict and an international drug smuggler yet he’s extremely personable and his story is quite engrossing. You almost find yourself wanting him to succeed in breaking a ton of laws. On the other side of the coin, however, is Patterson, the cop assigned to Slaney’s case. Though the novel spends less time on Patterson, he feels no less developed than Slaney. A testament to Moore’s eye for detail. As the narrative switches back and forth between them you find yourself rooting for each one to succeed, even though they have such opposing goals.
Lisa Moore’s writing is quick, clever and insightful. You could almost miss how brilliant it is because it flows so smoothly. For example: “He could feel luck like an animal presence, feral and watchful. He would have to coax it into the open. Grab it by the throat.” Her descriptions were spot on and conjured up incredibly detailed scenes in my mind while reading. Strong characters, great writing, Caught is yet another example of why Canadian literature rocks....more
I am so tired of hearing books compared to Gone Girl. Seriously. It’s getting to the point that aThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I am so tired of hearing books compared to Gone Girl. Seriously. It’s getting to the point that as soon as I hear that book mentioned I back away slowly before anybody sees me. So fear not. I will not be referring to Gone Girl in this review. This book is not “like” Gone Girl or “better” than Gone Girl or anything like that. Instead, Night Film is a stand out unique and frightening novel that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go, despite it’s 600+ pages.
We follow the mystery of Ashley Cordova’s death with journalist Scott McGrath. I have to admit that right off the bat I didn’t like Scott McGrath as a person. As a character he’s very complex. But as a person? I just wanted to kick him sometimes. Especially when he talked about the women in his life. But I enjoyed that he wasn’t the most likeable protagonist. It kept things interesting and kept you more invested in the mystery than the players.
And what a crazy mystery is was! Night Film is nothing like you would expect. It’s dark, twisted and will keep you on the edge of your seat. As you fall further and further into the mystery of “who is Cordova?” and “what happened to Ashley?” you soon learn that nothing is as it seems and nobody can be trusted. I love a mystery that can keep me on my toes and doesn’t fall back on traditional conventions or twists to keep the story moving. Night Film is a wholly original tale and it is guaranteed to surprise you.
In addition to the mystery, one thing that really impressed me about Night Film was the amount of planning and research that must have gone into this book. Pessl leaves no detail out, no rock unturned. Even Cordova’s films. All completely fictional but she clearly has full plots and characters mapped out for each one. I don’t know how she kept everything straight, but she did.
One final thing that really sets Night Film apart is the multimedia angle. The book is full of pictures, websites, newspaper articles etc. And there’s even an app you can get for more information. I was worried all these extras would seem gimmicky, but they had the opposite effect. They really made me feel like I was the one investigating the Cordova family. The unique format gave the whole book a really modern feel that might appeal to younger or more reluctant readers.
Recommendation: Don’t be intimidated by its large size. Night Film is a dark and haunting read that stays with you. If you like mysteries, thrillers or spooky stories of any kind this is the book for you....more
This is a tricky one. I've only recently begun watching the show and sort of marathoned the first 5 seasons. And I'm of mixed feeling about it. ThereThis is a tricky one. I've only recently begun watching the show and sort of marathoned the first 5 seasons. And I'm of mixed feeling about it. There are things I really like about the show and things I can't stand about it.
So after hearing a number of people tell me the books were better than the show I decided to pick the first one up on audio. And just like the show I am of mixed feelings - but for different reasons.
One thing I really liked is that the Dexter in the book actually feels like a psychopath. He knows what he's supposed to feel and is really good at faking it, but as his inner monologue tells us - he can't actually feel it. I thought this was much more accurate than the Dexter in the show who tells us he's incapable of feeling and then proceeds to FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS.
However, maybe it's because I watched the show first that I did not enjoy the mystery all that much. The end result of the Ice Truck Killer murders was pretty much the same but the journey there was a lot less complex and at times kind of boring.
Then there's the secondary characters. In the show I find them likeable enough but never really care about their subplots. In the book Dexter's own disdain for this people pollutes how you view them. I DESPISED these people -Vince, La Guerta, Angel, the whole group. At first I found this annoying but then I grew to like it because it meant the ridiculous mudance lives of the people weren't polluting the overall mystery. Debra however is the same and for this I was eternally grateful as she is by far my favourite character.
The audio is narrated by Jeff Lindsay himself and he did a fantastic job. His voice is low pitches and creepy. It gave me the shivers. He spoke slowly and deliberately and made me feel unsettled - the way a character like Dexter should.
This wasn't my favourite book - much like the show isn't one my favourite shows - but I am intrigued to read the next book and see how it differs from/stays the same as the show ...more
The Dinner is one of those difficult to review books. Mostly because there’s so little I can sayThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
The Dinner is one of those difficult to review books. Mostly because there’s so little I can say about it without giving anything away.
On the surface this is the story of two brothers, and their wives getting together to eat dinner. One brother is relatively well known in the community. The other thinks his brother is a buffoon. Recipe for a pleasant family meal right?
I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I heard the entire novel takes place over the course of one dinner. But once you meet these characters you’ll want to sit back and watch the drama unfold. They’re all pretty despicable people. It’s like watching reality TV. You don’t actually like the people you’re watching but you want to see them interact with one another. Each character was incredibly well described and you could just imagine all their mannerisms and back handed comments. I need to say it again – these were horrible people! They were so mean! In a way it kind of reminded me of a Martin Amis. Cruel characters, sharp wit, wry observations. Never a dull moment.
Of course, there is more to The Dinner than just a group of interesting, cruel characters. There is something deeper and darker going on just below all the surface tension. Herman Koch does a good job, slowly unraveling the mystery strand by strand. I wasn’t too surprised when the big reveal finally came out but I still really enjoyed watching all the characters put everything together. Watching this huge bombshell drop was just as entertaining as a surprise twist would have been.
Recommendation: Herman Koch has written a beautifully detailed, delicious mystery that has you questioning the power of family ties and wondering what exactly happened to humanity and compassion....more
I’m one of those weird people who is fascinated by serial killers. I used to read all the true crThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I’m one of those weird people who is fascinated by serial killers. I used to read all the true crime novels our tiny book store had, I love Criminal Minds and so on. So when I heard about Project Cain I was excited. Serial killer clones? A chance to really examine the debate of nature vs nurture? It sounded like an intense, action packed read and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite as well as I hoped. The style of this book is very straightforward. Which is great for the parts where the reader is learning about the different serial killers and their histories. Sometimes there’s a lot of horrible information to get out and Girard doesn’t tip toe around it. He spells in right out for the reader, which I appreciated.
That straightforward writing style, however, also contributed to a very action light book. Maybe it’s my fault for expecting a lot of action, but you would think a story about clones of the world’s most notorious serial killers on the run would be more action heavy. Instead, however, Project Cain takes place primarily in a hotel room. Jeff Jacobson (our protagonist) is a clone of Jeffrey Dahmer and is terrified by the revelation that he shares the exact same DNA as a serial killer, so he runs. He attaches himself to a FBI detective – Castllio – and together they begin searching for the other escaped clones.
And this is pretty much where the excitement ends. As soon as Jeff teams up with Castllio he spends all his time in one of two places – a car or a hotel room. There’s a lot of talking, a lot of reflecting about why his adopted father would have initiated such a project and a lot of staring at a cell phone trying to guess where some guys he knows nothing about would have run to. I understand the investigation parts are necessary but I thought they could have been broken up by some more action or drama. Something to really get your pulse pounding.
I was also disappointed by the missed opportunity for discussion. Project Cain was in a perfect position to examine the discussion of nature versus nurture. The very thing the government was curious about when they started their top-secret experiments in the book. But despite Jeff’s constant fear that he may turn into his namesake, it’s pretty clear from very early on that he’s not going to. This book leans heavily on the nurture side. So heavily that there is never a moment, in my opinion, where I thought it might swing the other way. That’s fine if that’s what the author believes but I think there was a possibility here to a) build suspense and b) facilitate discussion but that just didn’t happen.
Overall Project Cain wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t the book I wanted it to be. The book I thought it could be. There’s an adult companion novel told from the detective’s point of view (Cain’s Blood), which might be more thrilling as the detective leaves the hotel room more often and in Project Cain we don’t know where he goes. I’ll have to check it out and see if it’s more my style.
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a book for the teenage boy in your life, Project Cain might work but I think there are better options out there....more
If I’m being totally honest, it was Arclight’s gorgeous, colourful and eye catching cover that coThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
If I’m being totally honest, it was Arclight’s gorgeous, colourful and eye catching cover that convinced me to pick it up. I had no idea what so ever what it was about. I was sold on the cover alone. But then I started reading and became just as hooked on the book’s insides as its outsides.
Arclight starts on a high note. Alarms are going off, codes are being given and people are seemingly running for their lives. We don’t who they are, what they’re running from and where exactly we are in time and space. Normally this kind of beginning can feel jarring and choppy but it was just the beginning this book needed. It gives the story an incredibly high intensity level right from the get go, and it never lets up. If you liked stories that get your heart pounding and move at a consistantly fast pace, you’re going to love Arclight.
Once you’re into the story and are able to get more oriented, you realize you’re reading something totally unique. This isn’t a dystopia, it isn’t science fiction. I saw someone describe it as Stephen King for teens and I think that’s about as accurate description as we’re going to get. It’s haunting and at times, more than a little creepy. The people of the Arclight are surrounded by these creatures called The Fade. They’re creatures of shadows, who have slowly, over many generations, taken over the world. They bleed black and can assimilate your body into their ‘hive’. Creepy stuff. I really enjoyed reading about a creature I had never heard of before as it added an element of surprise. How could I predict what they would do next if I knew nothing about them?
The only fault I have with Arclight is that sometimes I was a little lost. This was because the world building, was at times, lacking. Everything is just SO new and different that it would be impossible to flesh it all out in one book. Josin L McQuein does a pretty good job but I still would have liked more. Sometimes it felt like the world and the characters within it were just rushing by and it was easy to get lost in the shuffle. Overall I was still able to enjoy the story but if you asked me to explain how the world got this way or exactly what the Fade are…well let’s just say I’m not the best person to ask.
Recommendation: Arclight is a high intensity read that actually accomplished the challenge of being “nothing like you’ve ever read before.” It’s great for those who want to get lost in a high action, high impact read. Not so great for those who love really fleshed out speculative fiction....more
Very well written and quite disturbing. I started it on my way from home work and couldn't stop until I was finished. It was incredibly interesting toVery well written and quite disturbing. I started it on my way from home work and couldn't stop until I was finished. It was incredibly interesting to see how Angie progressed through her recovery and the multiple personalities were something new and different that I hadn't seen in YA before.
However there was one twist at the end that I couldn't quite buy though. (view spoiler)[ Her being pregnant while being held captive I could buy. But having her neighbours across the street just so happen to adopt the baby?! That's an awfully big coincidence. And she's ok with them never knowing and just creepily watching the child grow up. I'm sorry but at some point that's going to get weird for Angie, the child or both. (hide spoiler)] I thought it was too much of a leap. I also thought it was a leap to suggest that Angie could be back home for so long without the media finding out. Just think back to the Elizabeth Smart case (which this book is said to resemble). There was no way she could have avoided the media. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am of two minds about this book. I wanted to review it because it claimed to be for fans of GonThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I am of two minds about this book. I wanted to review it because it claimed to be for fans of Gone Girl – which I really enjoyed last year. And I think that claim rings true. But I also had a number of problems with some of the characters and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped.
Let’s start with the mystery as it is the real strength of this novel. Lisa is a busy working mother. There’s always a million things on her mind and it feels like life never stops. I’m sure we can all relate – even if we don’t have children. But as a result of how busy she is, she ends up losing track of her friend’s child at a time when a serial rapist is on the loose. Can you imagine the guilt? I don’t know if I could cope with that.
This story is filled with lots of great surprises and twists and the mystery itself is really interesting and keeps you guessing. I especially loved the short, interspersed chapters from the perspective of the kidnapper/rapist. They were so creepy and very well done. I think that Paula Daly did an excellent job alternating the points of view between Lisa and the Detective on the case, Joanne. I never got bored of one, or found myself wishing it would get back to the other. And I was definitely surprised at the end. Not at all what I was expecting!
So then what was the problem? To put it simply, the female characters. Particularly Lisa and Joanne.
Let’s start with Lisa. Aren’t we tired of this character? This middle class woman who “has it all” and says that she’s happy but at every turn bemoans her unlucky state regarding her house, husband, kids, job etc. She’s a woman who makes her own problems. Who seems to thrive off her own unhappiness. A well off woman who I just don’t feel any pity for. And maybe I’m not supposed to. But this character has been done to death. She’s the same character that’s popped up in a number of books I’ve read recently – Gone Girl, Shine Shine Shine, The Dinner etc. I’m tired of this character. I want to read about women who are confident (note that confidence is not the same as stuck up or boastful). Who don’t feel a sense of resentment toward Every. Single. Person. they come across. I want to read about people who are a) more complex than that and b) better than that. Because I think most women are.
Joanne was a bit of a stereotype as well. Perpetually single, always working. I don’t think she was nearly as fleshed out as she could have been and as a result her character felt a bit flat. The only defining characteristic I could tell you about her is that she has a 36GG cup size. No that wasn’t a typo. There are two ‘Gs’ there. And throughout the kidnapping of this thirteen year old girl we get snippets of her wanting to have a breast reduction surgery. It felt very strange and out of place. All the other women in this book were more secondary characters – but every single one of them was described as “sad-looking”, or attention seekers, or at times a little insane. Not a single positive, or semi-positive female character in a book full of women, written by a woman.
Recommendation: I think this is a fun read for mystery lovers, and the pages fly by as you get wrapped up in the story. But for me the female characters felt tired and stereotypical and I just wanted something different....more
I wanted to like this book so badly. I mean ghosts on Canada's east coast? I was so sold. But this book needs so major work/editing. The characters feI wanted to like this book so badly. I mean ghosts on Canada's east coast? I was so sold. But this book needs so major work/editing. The characters feel unrealistic and two dimensional and the dialogue is forced and awkward (and sometimes just weird).
"So you want to be a mechanic someday?" "It's definitely where I'm leaning. The community colleges have some good courses, and they're so much cheaper than university. If I can get my course and do well at the work placement, who knows, maybe I'll luck into a job."
After walking in to find his brother looking at swimsuit models on the internet: "Isn't that the same chick on your poster over there?" I asked as the woman in a string bikini, nipple just barely covered with little yellow triangles of materials appeared on the screen. "Yup that's her. Man what I wouldn't give to nail her. I'm on MSN with Jordan. He gave me the link to this awesome site. Nothing by bikini babes." "I'm glad I didn't wait too long to come down here. You might have been preoccupied," I joked. Blake chuckled. "You might be right."
Who are these people?!
Other things just didn't make sense. Like the family was ok living ten minutes away from town but fifteen minutes was an absolute deal breaker? Or why a previous owner who never intended to set foot in the house again would bother to fix the interior basement door. Or why no one even teased this kid for having a New Moon poster hanging in his bedroom.
One Boy's Shadow was a book with a lot of potential but it wasn't quite there. ...more
Sharp Objects is one dark and disturbing tale. I would even venture so far as to claim that thisThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Sharp Objects is one dark and disturbing tale. I would even venture so far as to claim that this story is even more twisty and dangerous than Gone Girl. It may even be Flynn’s best work.
Camille Parker is a very damaged individual. Part of this is because she was raised in a suffocating small town environment, part of this is because her sister died at a young age and probably the largest reason is because of her equally damaged mother. She’s managed to escape her small town a long time ago, running away to Chicago to be a reporter. But when two young girls are gruesomely murdered she is sent back on assignment to break the story and confront her demons. Overall Camille is an interesting character and it was fascinating to see her life slowly unravel in front of you. Although at times she was a bit much – her inner monologues could get a tad too melodramatic and there was definitely some eye rolling from my end.
The final twist is a bit of a doozy. It’s one I’ve seen before but wasn’t what I was expecting until almost the end of the audiobook. I found the twists in Gone Girl to be fairly predictable and unexciting, but Sharp Objects kept me hooked and eager to find out more.
This book was narrated by Ann Marie Lee and she does an excellent job of capturing Camille’s personality – vulnerable and damaged but also haughty and stuck up. I know that sounds like a weird combination, but Lee totally pulls it off, leaving you with a perfect image of the character in your mind. If you’ve enjoyed Flynn’s other work I recommend this one as well, and if you didn’t enjoy Gone Girl, you might find Sharp Objects more to your liking....more
Every time I read another Gillian Flynn novel I love it more than the previous one. She is just sThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Every time I read another Gillian Flynn novel I love it more than the previous one. She is just so talented. Dark Places is written in her signature style – it is the story of a challenging female lead, neck deep in a dark and twisty mystery.
As I mentioned the lead in this story is challenging – to say the least. Libby’s very self-centered, anti-social, rude etc. But you can’t really fault her because she did see her family get murdered at a young age. It would be weird if she wasn’t a little screwed up. And I think all those flaws are what make her so compelling. In a lot of ways her character growth was more interesting than the mystery itself. She really has to struggle against her own status quo and the more she learns about her brother and the murder, the more her understanding of the world is turned on it’s head. All that being said the mystery is still really well constructed with a lot of great twists! I found the twists in Gone Girl and Sharp Objects to be somewhat predictable but this one totally surprised me.
I’m also incredibly grateful that they used different narrators for the different points of view. It really added depth to the characters, as their voices melded with the different personalities. Though I think Rebecca Lowman was the real shining star of the bunch – her narration was expressive but also apathetic when it needed to convey that tone as well. I found her chapters in particular really easy to listen to for long periods of time....more
Gambit and Rogue were my OTP before that was even a term people used. I remember watching them on the old X-Men cartoon before school and loving every line of their Southern dialogue. And Gambit’s absence from the X-Men movies (let’s just pretend the Wolverine origin movie doesn’t count) was one of my biggest disappoints. So when I saw he was staring in his own comic series I knew I had to check it out.
I thought this collection started out on a strong note. Gambit is a lot more mature after everything he’s gone through but he is still himself and he is dying to return to his old ways (if only for a little while). But as it continued I began to lose interest. Primarily because he hardly interacts with any of the other X-Men. I know this is his solo series but I have a hard time believing the team/the school wouldn’t be a central part of his life/thoughts. The second reason was that this reads just like an Indiana Jones story, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t feel particularly “X-Men.” This could have been any generic thief in my opinion. And finally the love interest. She fell completely flat to me. Her actions didn’t make any sense and ultimately she is completely forgettable.
Despite how initially excited I was for this series I don’t think I will be continuing with Volume 2....more
Chew: International Flavor (Vol. 2) picks up not long after Volume 1 ends. Mason is gonThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Chew: International Flavor (Vol. 2) picks up not long after Volume 1 ends. Mason is gone but John Colby (Tony’s original partner) has returned. Tony is settling into his new job – though he’s still having trouble with his boss and the more…disgusting elements of his job.
To read more about the first volume of Chew check out my review.
This volume takes Tony on a different track. He finds out about a mysterious fruit – that apparently tastes like chicken – and he heads off the books to pursue it’s source. This pursuit takes him to the island of Yamapalu. This volume has a different feel from Taster’s Choice because it focuses less on Tony and more on the island. They’re currently in the midst of a revolution over a chicken named Poyo and they’re also kidnapping world famous chef and trying to convince them to cook with this chicken flavoured fruit.
I love the way this comic presents the idea of illegal chicken. It’s portrayed like a drug and the FDA and USDA now operate like DEA agents. Chew: International Flavor provides really interesting commentary on the war on drugs and about countries that smuggle drugs into America – but with chicken. I think it’s a really great way to approach a difficult topic. It’s timely and thought provoking but also light hearted and fun to read about.
John Colby is back!
I really liked the small snippet we got of him in the first volume and I am happy to see more of him now. He kind of reminds me of Captain Jack from Doctor Who put with even more of an attitude. And I like how he’s still willing to go to great lengths to help out Tony, despite everything that’s happened.
I also really enjoyed Tony’s development in this volume. You see him start to take his job much more seriously. He fights hard for the cause he is now wrapped up in. Since his brother is being kept as a hostage/chef on the island, we also get to see some great sibling back and forth. It’s clear there’s some animosity between them but they are forced together in an unusual situation and need to work past some of their differences.
And there’s more Amelia. I love her and Tony together. So perfect for one another!
The artwork was pretty much the same fare as Volume 1 – lots of subdued, almost dreary at times, colours. Gave it a very old school detective feel.
Chew: International Flavor is a great follow up volume to Taster’s Choice. Where Volume 1 got me interested in the series and how this character/idea was going to play out. International Flavour has done a great job at exploring some of the deeper issues that will be at play....more
The very ambiguous blurb on the cover of this book (“Is DJ McIntosh the next Dan Brown?”) led me to believe IOriginally posted at More Than Just Magic
The very ambiguous blurb on the cover of this book (“Is DJ McIntosh the next Dan Brown?”) led me to believe I would be embarking on another religiously based (and in this case when I mean religion I mean Christianity/Catholicism) murder mystery, similar to The Da Vinci Code. The reference to Babylon in the title also kind of suggested a thousand year old conspiracy. And while I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code immensely, the countless knock offs that have followed it are beginning to feel a bit old. But I had been recommended this book a number of times, so I decided to put a pin in my reservations and check it out.
Here is what I can say without a shadow of a doubt. D J McIntosh is not the next Dan Brown. She’s not the next Dan Brown because The Witch of Babylon is more like Indiana Jones than The Da Vinci Code, and that seemingly subtle difference, made this book a unique and exciting experience all it’s own.
To start off with this book was incredibly well researched. There was loads of historical facts and symbology that I had never even heard of, but that I was quick to look up and find out more about afterwards. And the area of focus was on, what is now, Iraq. This is an area that doesn’t get a lot of focus in historical thrillers, so it was nice to see something different. And yet there was still enough familiarity to put the reader at ease, and not throw you too far out of your comfort zone (that is if you read this genre).
This leads into the mystery itself. It was intriguing, well plotted and fairly easy to follow. There were a few points where I got lost and had to retrace a few steps, but that’s bound to happen in a book of this size and detail. I also appreciated that this book was more creative in it’s execution, than simply using the old fall back of villianizing the Church. That whole angle has been done to death and it was nice to see a more original antagonist.
This was an excellent and exciting read that kept me guessing right until the last few pages. It wasn’t what I expected. It was so much better.
Final recommendation: Perfect for fans of historical thrillers, but are tired of the same old, same old. D J McIntosh may not be “the next Dan Brown” but she is definitely one to watch....more
This was such an intense book! There was a lot of twists and turns and it was so much darker than I expected.
I really can't say too much about it withThis was such an intense book! There was a lot of twists and turns and it was so much darker than I expected.
I really can't say too much about it without giving anything away, but if you enjoy mysteries and thrillers, I highly recommend this story. It kept me hanging onto every page, telling myself "just one more chapter" until it was the middle of the night and I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.
I will say I found a lot of the twists fairly predictable. Maybe I've read too many mysteries or watched too many movies but I saw some things coming as early on as page 80. But I still really enjoyed the book so it wasn't really an issue. ...more
I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I’ve never read a book about a Nightmare. Which is whatThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I’ve never read a book about a Nightmare. Which is what initially drew me to The Nightmare Affair. When you read as many books as I do, anything that immediately jumps out as new and unique, is guaranteed to find itself on my to read list.
The Nightmare Affiar takes us into the life of one particular, adolescent Nightmare – Dusty. I loved Dusty’s voice. She was sassy and independent and always said what she was thinking. I like that she never compromised herself or who she was, even if that occasionally got her into trouble. It’s easy to get attached to a character like this. There’s nothing I find more boring that a perfect character, who’s gorgeous and instantly knows how to use all her special powers. I know if I found out I was magical, I would be a lot more like Dusty. Just trying to figure stuff out as I go.
Other than Dusty I was immediately pulled into The Nightmare Affair, because it has a distinct Harry Potter feel to it. It’s in a magical boarding school, people keep dying of mysterious and magical circumstances and Dusty and her two friends start breaking all of the school’s rules to try and get to the bottom of everything. It has the same vibe as Harry Potter but it also puts a unique enough spin on it so that you don’t just feel like you’re reading the same story. It’s that nice mix of the familiar and the strange.
However, the unique start to The Nightmare Affair quickly turned into a really predictable plot. I saw most of the big twists coming from a mile away. This isn’t completely a negative as it also means the story is easy to follow and not at all convoluted. Recently I feel like I’ve picked up far too many books that have WAY too much going on. The Nightmare Affair’s plot is plain and simple. You can pick it up and read it for exactly what it is and sometimes it’s nice not to worry about so many extra subplots and deeper meanings. I think I came to The Nightmare Affair at the right time. I needed something simple and the predictability worked in its favour.
My one major criticism of this novel is that I thought “The Will” was a little too convenient. Basically it’s this thing that keeps you from using magic to harm others (How does it know? How does this work with crimes of passion or times when the intention wasn’t there but you could still hurt someone?). It also dictates when you use certain bits of magic. Like Eli, Dusty’s dream partner, is forced to fall asleep at a certain time so that she can feed on his dreams. But there’s no real explanation of how it works. “Will workers” are briefly mentioned but what exactly to they do? Are they like the Fates, sitting around a cauldron watching potential magic spells fly by? I want to know more!! I just think such a major piece of the plot deserves to be more fleshed out.
Recommendation: The Nightmare Affair is a lot of fun and it’s quite light. If you’ve recently read a really heavy or emotional book this might be a good follow up to ease you out of the book hang over. I’m intrigued about where the series will go next and will definitely be picking up book two when it comes out....more