Book Info: Genre: Mystery/fantasy Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Folks who like to think deep thoughts, enjoy a good story Book Available: Septemb...moreBook Info: Genre: Mystery/fantasy Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Folks who like to think deep thoughts, enjoy a good story Book Available: September 9, 2014 in paperback and Kindle formats Trigger Warnings: murder, slavery (historically), religious persecution
My Thoughts: I really enjoy cross-genre stories, and this one hits a few of my favorite buttons: a mystery in a fantasy world. To make things even better, it is a multi-layered story that brings up issues of slavery, personal and religious freedom, and the abuse of power. It was a really excellent story. This little segment, which is before the first page of the first chapter, really encapsulates some of the ideas that are explored in the story, and also express my thoughts on organized religion pretty well.
And Olvos said to them: “Why have you done this, my children? Why is the sky wreathed with smoke? Why have you made war in far places, and shed blood in strange lands?
And they said to Her: “You blessed us as Your people, and we rejoiced, and were happy. But we found those who were not Your people, and they would not become Your people, and they were willful and ignorant of You. They would not open their ears to Your songs, or lay Your words upon their tongues. So we dashed them upon the rocks and threw down their houses and shed their blood and scattered them to the winds, and we were right to do so. For we are Your people. We carry Your blessings. We are Yours, and so we are right. Is this not what You said?”
And Olvos was silent.
I was very amused by the anti-bureaucracy sentiments expressed in the book, too, as shown in these segments:
There is no crueler hells then committee work.
Shara now sits on committees that decide who shall be nominated to be committee chairs for other committees, then, after these meetings, she sits on committee meetings to formulate agendas for future meetings, and after them, she attends committee meetings deciding who shall be appointed to appoint appointments to committees.
“These meetings, they're like thieves—they follow you around, wait until you're not looking, and pounce.”
I really liked the characters, and the development of those characters. The changes are slow and subtle, just like in life, but end up being life-altering in the end. It was very well done. I was left with a lot of lingering thoughts about power and powerlessness and how those who initially lacked power will often abuse it once they have it. The Saypuri were treated as slaves under the control of the Continentals, and when they finally rose up and overthrew them, the Saypuri persecuted the Continentals, refusing to allow them to so much as mention their gods (or Divinities), forbidding “miracles” (essentially magic spells), and denying the Continentals their own history or access to their own texts from the past. One would think that it would be common sense to not do something like that, as it just leads to more conflict, but then again, the lust for power rarely bows to common sense or logic.
So, a really good book. It made me think and ponder on various topics, many of them quite weighty, while at the same time providing an entertaining story. I recommend this to anyone who likes deep thoughts, a good story, and a cross-genre tale. This book won't be available until September, but you can pre-order it if it sounds like your thing.
Disclosure: I received an ARC/proof copy from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city's proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet, mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country's most accomplished spymasters—dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem—and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Weird Western Reading Level: Adult Diversity: GLBTQ characters, various religions, interracial relationships Tense, Person, POV: Past t...moreBook Info: Genre: Weird Western Reading Level: Adult Diversity: GLBTQ characters, various religions, interracial relationships Tense, Person, POV: Past tense, third person, limited POV Recommended for: Fans of Weird Westerns, Lovecraftian books, steampunk Book Available: October 7, 2014 in Hardcover and Kindle formats Trigger Warnings: murder, mutilation, torture, mention of necrophilia, cannibalism Animals: at least one horse killed
My Thoughts: These are listed as steampunk, but thus far there is limited steampunkery. To me, this is mostly a Weird Western with strong Lovecraftian influences. There are also very many stretches of interesting philosophical discussion between the various characters that I quite enjoyed. For instance:
“God simply is,” Bick said. “Humanity embraced It. They gave It color and gender, shape and form. They put words in Its mouth. They always have, and they still do, perhaps they always will. I always experience God as a 'He,' but God is too vast to be held prisoner by language or biology.”
“...What things do you think the Almighty was whispering in my ear all those countless eons? Words of endearment? Of joy and peace and love? No. He dipped his tongue in the blackest blood and he whispered to me of slaughter, of death of torture and atrocity. That is your creator, Biqa. He built this entire lovely, lovely playground so that he could tear it apart, abuse and neglect his toys and listen to the terrified screams of the monkeys as they tried to understand.”
“Where did payback end exactly? Charlie Upton had murdered Jim's Pa. Jim killed Charlie. One day Jim might get shot or hanged for what he did to Charlie and sometone like Mutt or Jon Highfather might seek revenge in his name. How far back did the blood flow? When was it enough? Could anything ever get square?”
I'm enjoying the character development in these books. Mutt, for example, has really loosened up, and he's quite funny in this book. Jon is off a lot, leaving Mutt and Jim to take care of business in the town. Doc Tumblety is such a creeper, and of course incompetent to boot. As Jon Highfather states: “And that's our first-rate medical care here in sunny Golgotha. He may seem pretty horrible at first, but after awhile you come to realize that deep down inside, he's much worse than that.” He's very misogynistic, saying at one point to Kate, “Hush now... Men are talking.” As for Kate, she makes a great addition to the cast and to the town; I hope we'll see her again! I enjoyed the bits and pieces of Chinese history and legends that Ch'eng Huang provides to Jim as he is instructing him on how to use the jade eye. I was more than a bit troubled by the inclusion of the Thuggee, as their worship of Kali Ma is a perversion. It is true Kali Ma is the Mother-Destroyer, the one who must destroy the world so it can be remade anew, but that doesn't mean that people should be going around randomly murdering in her name.
Also, it is mentioned off-hand that Baba Yaga came to Golgotha, albeit briefly. She is not mentioned by name, but a house on chicken legs is a dead giveaway. I do hope that this story will be told in full; maybe the author has a number of these little anecdotes that he could use to put together an anthology of short stories set in Golgotha?
Toward the end, Clay and a Professor Zenith have a “science showdown” that is wonderfully fun as they shout at one another, using very civilized language and high-toned insults. It struck my funny bone and hopefully I won't be the only one amused by it. At the end, Clay says, “I swear... anyone with a little copper tubing and a dynamo thinks they're a scientist these days.”
This is an excellent follow-up and I'm grateful to the author for sending me this ARC so I didn't have to wait until October to read it! I haven't commented on editing because this is an uncorrected proof, so any errors I spotted will likely be cleaned up by the final draft. Definitely check this out if it sounds like the sort of book you'd like!
Series Information: The Golgotha series Book 1: The Six-Gun Arcana, review linked here where formatting allowed Book 2: The Shotgun Arcana
Disclosure: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: 1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party… and the dawn of humanity.
Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness. But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town and its people will be tested as never before—and some of them will never be the same. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Historical Literary Fiction Reading Level: Adult Tense, Person, POV: third person, present tense, limited omniscient POV Diversity: GLB...moreBook Info: Genre: Historical Literary Fiction Reading Level: Adult Tense, Person, POV: third person, present tense, limited omniscient POV Diversity: GLBTQ, interracial relationship Recommended for: Fans of historical literary fiction, interested in 17th century Amsterdam Book Available: August 26, 2014 in Hardcover, Kindle, Large Print paperback, and August 15 in a prerecorded Digital Audio Player. Trigger Warnings: torture, capital punishment—those sentenced to execution are thrown into the sea with a weight around their neck to drown Animals: someone opens a window and lets out a parakeet; kittens and puppies left in bags to die, or thrown into river to drown, dog is murdered
My Thoughts: Amsterdam: “Where the pendulum swings from God to a guilder.” 17th century Amsterdam, to put it mildly, is not a place I would want to spend my time. This book is hard to define, but to me it is about hypocrisy, greed, religion, mob mentality, life and death, beginnings and endings. There is a lot going on in this book, and the thing with the miniaturist is very strange. Is she just able to put together information due to intuition, or does she has a psychic gift? It is never answered, and we never catch more than a glimpse of her. I think the cabinet is a metaphor for Nella's life in general, and how she feels trapped. There is a great deal of emphasis placed upon the roles of women and men, as well as the repressive nature of religion at the time. The sense of fear and paranoia soaks this book.
There are a lot of things that I found quite interesting, and don't forget the excellent glossary and appendix in the back of the book. I had a really hard time with the offhand way that people treated animals, so be aware of that if you are sensitive to that; it was, however, sadly a part of the society of the time, and historically accurate, so it was necessary. If this sounds like an interesting book for you, definitely check it out. It's not the sort of thing I would ordinarily read, but despite the rating I would be comfortable recommending this book.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?
Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.(less)
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy/coming-of-age with elements of horror Reading Level: Young Adult Recommended for: People looking for a good cross-genre YA bo...moreBook Info: Genre: Fantasy/coming-of-age with elements of horror Reading Level: Young Adult Recommended for: People looking for a good cross-genre YA book with a real kicker of a heroine Trigger Warnings: murder, violence, killing, threats of sexual assault, accusations of child molestation
My Thoughts: This was a really good book. I did something I haven't done for ages, and that was to sit and read almost the entire book in one sitting. I did not want to put it down! I've been a fan of this author's Otherworld series, but this is a very different world she has created. I can see where it is based on various cultures, but she had made them her own and the world-building, while somewhat slow, is wonderfully done.
I am always impressed when an author can create truly different voices for their characters, especially when they are writing from multiple points of view (by chapter). Moria and Ashyn had very different voices. Moria was brash and in-your-face, while Ashyn was more retiring and diplomatic. I think this quote encapsulates those differences quite well.
“Keepers and Seekers were not permitted to do more than trim their hair to elbow length. Ashyn said they ought to be grateful they weren't like the spirit talkers, who weren't ever allowed to cut their hair or their nails. Personally, Moria would be more concerned with the "eyes plucked out, tongue cut off, and nostrils seared" part of being a spirit talker, but she could see that the uncut nails might be inconvenient as well.”
Each of her characters has his or her own quirks and foibles that are slowly built up through the book. She does an excellent job of showing rather than telling, and that really makes a huge difference in a story like this one.
My one complaint is that this ends on a cliffhanger and we have to wait until next year before the next book in the trilogy is available! This is the one thing I dislike about reading the books as they come out, as I'll have forgotten much of the story by the time the next one is released and will need to re-read this one. Of course, as fun as this story was, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I also wish Daigo and Tova had played larger parts. While they are always there, I think they could have been more in the middle of things in various places.
But these are minor quibbles and overall I loved it. If you've been looking for a fast-paced YA fantasy with a heroine who really does kick posterior and take names (Moria), then this is the book for you. Check itout!
Series Information: Age of Legends trilogy Book 1: Sea of Shadows Book 2: Empire of Night, expected publication 2015
Disclosure: I received an uncorrected ARC proof copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Young Adult Recommended for: Fans of character-driven YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, alternate worlds, role-pl...moreBook Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Young Adult Recommended for: Fans of character-driven YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, alternate worlds, role-playing games, Native American legends and lore Trigger Warnings: fighting, bullying including attempted murder, violence, killing, murder
My Thoughts: This is book 1 in the Behind the Walls of Sleep series. While I normally edit for this author, I was unable to do so for this book due to my recent cancer diagnosis, so instead I am reading it for review.
This is not a book for someone who likes a lot of shoot'em up bang-bang action, as a great deal of the story revolves around Daniel learning who he is, both in the waking world and in Astra, and his abilities and talents begin to manifest in both areas. Overall this is quite different from most of Rhine's other works, but still a great story. If you like strongly character-driven coming-of-age YA fantasy, including elements of sword and sorcery, role-playing and even Native American lore and legends, then snatch up this new book. It actually just became available on Amazon today, 4/13/14.
Meanwhile, book 2, Shaman, should be out by summer, if not sooner. Watch for it.
Disclosure: I was given an early version of this book and asked for my opinion. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: When we close our eyes at night, we all see the same ancient place. Exploring Astra is like living a video game. Tomorrow, I’m going goblin-tipping with some of the other wizards. The first rule of being a dream wizard is “no photos.” You don’t want the bad guys finding you where you have no powers. The waking world sucks.
Since Mom went to prison, the Nevada foster system sent me to Minnesota to meet an Uncle Joe I never knew I had. Snow loses its charm after five days. Only music and the dreams make my life bearable.
The weird thing is that elements of the worlds are bleeding into each other. Someone is trying to kill me, and I’m not sure who: the criminal underworld, the elves, or the crazy wizard causing these freaky storms. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy/Magical Reality Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of series, urban fantasy, magical reality Book Available: Apri...moreBook Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy/Magical Reality Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of series, urban fantasy, magical reality Book Available: April 22, 2014 in paperback, Kindle, and audio book (MP3 or CD) Trigger Warnings: Danger to child, mention of rape in historical context, killing
My Thoughts: A few years ago, when I read The Last Watch, I thought the series was finished. Fortunately that was not the case. In fact, looking at the Russian language series information, I see that there are a few more books yet to be translated into English and released in the US, and I'm very excited about this.
Lukyanenko is a highly prolific writer, and has very talented translators that allow the ideas behind his stories to come through clearly, which is not always the case in translated literature. As this series continues to unfold, we learn more and more about not only the Others, but also about the magic system and the world created. I think this author is one that all fans of urban fantasy, magical reality, and fantasy will enjoy. The characters are fascinatingly multifaceted and quirky and often not at all what you would expect based upon their introduction. I love that the world is so deeply covered in shades of gray, that there is no real black and white.
If you enjoy complex stories, no moral absolutism, and characters that force you out of your comfort zone, these books are awesome. I do recommend reading the series in order for maximum enjoyment.
Disclosure: I received an ARC (unproofed) copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Walking the streets of our cities are the Others. These men and women are guardians of the Twilight, a shadowy parallel world that exists alongside our own. Each has sworn allegiance to one side, fighting for the Light, or the Darkness. But now, beyond the continuing struggle comes a peril that threatens their very world .
At Moscow airport, Higher Light Magician Anton Gorodetsky overhears a child screaming that a plane is about to crash. He discovers that the child is a prophet: an Other with the gift of foretelling the future. When the catastrophe is averted, Gorodetsky senses a disruption in the natural order, one that is confirmed by the arrival of a dark and terrifying predator.
From the Night Watch headquarters Gorodetsky travels to London, to Taiwan and across Russia in search of clues, unearthing as he goes a series of increasingly cataclysmic prophecies. He soon realises that what is at stake is the existence of the Twilight itself—and that only he will be able to save it.(less)
Book Info: Genre: Literary Suspense Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of the series, of gothic fiction, those interested in reincarnation theor...moreBook Info: Genre: Literary Suspense Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of the series, of gothic fiction, those interested in reincarnation theories Book Available: In hardcover, Kindle, MP3 CD, and Audible formats Trigger Warnings: Euthanasia, murder, suicide, torture, brother beating his sister with a whip
My Thoughts: M.J. Rose's latest Reincarnationist book is as beautifully evocative as previous entries into the series. Generally speaking, the Reincarnationist series is set up in two trilogies—books one through three, then books four through six—so this book concludes the Jac trilogy.
This book, like the The Book of Lost Fragrances and Seduction, deals with scents and sensualness with a lushness that is intoxicating. The scents are described so well I can almost smell them, and the few sex scenes are beautifully sensual without being crude.
The ideas raised on reincarnation are fascinating to me, and resonate strongly to me with a sense of truth. M.J. Rose appears to have done a great deal of research into theories of reincarnation, and it shows in this book. Like any book by this amazing author, I strongly recommend this latest. I do recommend starting at least with The Book of Lost Fragrances if you don't want to start all the way at the beginning of the series.
Disclosure: I received an e-galley ARC from Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: A lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as a perfumer and a mythologist search for the fine line between potion and poison, poison and passion… and past and present.
Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.
Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Suspense Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: those interested in Diné culture, those who enjoy a good story Book Available: January 1...moreBook Info: Genre: Suspense Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: those interested in Diné culture, those who enjoy a good story Book Available: January 1, 2014 (Now available) Trigger Warnings: kidnapping, murder, rape
My Thoughts: This book provides a peek into the legends and lore of the Diné, or as they are commonly known, the Navajo. Their creation story is beautiful.
“In the beginning was the wind. And when the earth came, the wind cared for it. And when the darkness came, the wind breezed across it beautifully. And when the dawn came and laid its lightness over the darkness, We, the People, were created. And the wind kissed our faces.”
Phil McGuire's portion of the story focuses on two young women—Hsu Chi and Zonnie—whom he takes in to try to protect, Hsu Chi from anti-democratic Chinese gangs, and Zonnie from whoever or whatever has taken away two of her friends, also Navajo, from their college. Attwood has obviously done a great deal of research into the Diné culture, legends and lore and shows the reader exactly how beautiful that culture was, and how much the European settlers destroyed in their hubris. I do not know if there are any reparations to be made for the damage we did to the native cultures here, but I find it been heartbreaking how much knowledge has been lost. It would behoove us to find those who have kept this knowledge and preserve it before it is gone forever.
I found the talk Ko-yo-teh had with the old man at the filling station very funny, especially when the old man repeated the message he had sent to the moon in Navajo: “Watch out for these guys; they come to take your land.” Sad, of course, but also very funny. It fits in with the overall theme of the book, which is well represented by this quote:
“I'm convinced the deepest passion mankind has is the need to inflict belief on another person. Belief in God, belief in these words as God's words, belief in this interpretation of these words, belief in these acts in the name of God. If it's not religion, it's politics.”
Overall this is a fairly clean book, but I did note some editing errors, mostly extra, missing, or repeated words, awkward commas, and misused words, such as “rationale” for “rational” and “statute” for “statue”. Not enough to lower my rating or lessen my enjoyment, obviously.
Like all of Randy Attwood's stories, this one is absolutely amazing. I kept having goose bumps from reading it. Highly recommended for those who enjoy a good story, especially if you are interested in Native American stories and culture.
Series Information: Phillip McGuire Mystery/Suspense novels Book 1: Tortured Truths, I edited this book. I did not write an official review, but it's an awesome story. Book 2: Heart Chants
Disclosure: I received an early ARC e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Burnt-out foreign correspondent Phillip McGuire, who gave up journalism, is now happy owning and running a bar in Lawrence, Kansas. He's happy with his new house in the country. But he's not happy. When two Navajo female students are missing from Haskell Indian college, he agrees to shelter a third. And then a mysterious beautiful Chinese woman stumbles into his life. And all the while, Coyote is working on the largest sandpainting ever created and advancing his plan to reopen the gates to the Navajo's Holy People. (less)
“All the good things were easy to overlook when she was standing in a pile of wreckage, wondering what had started the first explosion.” That quote sort of encapsulates the story and the experiences that Maggie goes through during the course of this book. She's been sheltered her whole life, home-schooled, following her country-music-star parents on their tours, and now, at 20, she wants to strike out on her own.
The one thing I really did not like was the resolution of the love triangle. Even though what happened is, unfortunately, realistic, it seems very unfair to the guy she doesn't pick. It also felt sort of tacked on. Unfortunately I can't be more specific, so as to avoid spoilers, but I think most folks will see what I mean when they read this.
However, fans of New Adult novels, coming-of-age books, and country music should all enjoy this book. It is well-written (not that I'd expect anything less of this author) and the characters can all be related to easily. Check it out if this sounds like your sort of thing.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author's publicist in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Twenty-year-old Maggie Roads’ parents are legendary in the country music world. She wants nothing more than to follow in their footsteps, but the limelight isn’t reserved for singers who can’t carry a tune, let alone keep a rhythm.
When her parents tell her they’re getting divorced, Maggie decides it’s time to leave home and take her future into her own hands. Moving in with Cole, her best friend and sometimes boyfriend, might not be the best of ideas, but she’s got to start somewhere. Their off-and-on romance gets even more complicated when Maggie crushes on her new voice teacher, Nathan, who unlocks her stunning potential. A sensational music career of her own is finally within reach, but Maggie might need more than perfect pitch to find what she’s really looking for.
Book Info: Genre: Suspense Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: fans of heavily character-driven stories and unreliable narrators Book Available: March...moreBook Info: Genre: Suspense Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: fans of heavily character-driven stories and unreliable narrators Book Available: March 25, 2014 in Hardcover and Kindle formats Trigger Warnings: child abuse and neglect Animals: mention is made (although it is not described) that a cat is run over; four hens peck another one to death
My Thoughts: I am not sure what to make of this book. Is it a slow descent into madness? Is it a ghost story? Is it allegorical or literal? The descriptions of the Siberian orphanage were enough to tear the reader's heart out, but by the end of the book, that will be the least of the traumas to which the reader has been subjected. So much of this speaks to the sorts of nightmares that adoptive parents have, and to their fears and insecurities.
I imagine a lot of readers will be put off by the disjointed and repetitive nature of the narrative, but for me it works to show just how frazzled and stretched Holly is. Holly is also a master of ignoring uncomfortable truths, pretending that everything is okay when really it is not.
Tatiana's definition of a soul was interesting to me. “The soul was the thing hidden inside the thing, and it made it what it was. You could not be, say, an actual parrot without a parrot soul.” It isn't the most profound, as Tatiana came up with it when she was nine, but it was interesting, and a good example of the sorts of things that she tended to think about. Make no mistake, this entire book is Holly's paean to Tatiana, to the idea of her, to the reality of her. Holly's obsession with her daughter, and her fears for her, are plain to see for all readers.
This one hit me right in the feels. As an adopted child myself, I am familiar with the sorts of things that adoptive parents have to deal with. I am familiar with the things that adoptees have to deal with. The synopsis will lead you to believe that this story is about something supernatural, but to me the story was about Holly and her feelings for, about, and surroundings Tatiana. Who—or what—Tatiana is in this book, that is the question you will have to decide for yourself. This is a very haunting book and I think people who enjoy heavily character-driven stories with unreliable narrators will enjoy this book.
Disclosure: I received an ARC through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens, the fragments of a nightmare—something she must write down—floating on the edge of her consciousness.
Something followed them from Russia.
On another Christmas morning thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric were in Siberia to meet the sweet, dark-haired Rapunzel they desperately wanted. How they laughed at the nurses of Pokrovka Orphanage #2 with their garlic and their superstitions, and ignored their gentle warnings. After all, their fairy princess Tatiana—baby Tatty—was perfect.
As the snow falls, enveloping the world in its white silence, Holly senses that something is not right, has not been right in the years since they brought their daughter—now a dangerously beautiful, petulant, sometimes erratic teenager—home. There is something evil inside this house. Inside themselves. How else to explain the accidents, the seemingly random and banal misfortunes. Trixie, the cat. The growth on Eric's hand. Sally the hen, their favorite, how the other chickens turned on her. The housekeeper, that ice, a bad fall. The CDs scratched, every one.
But Holly must not think of these things. She and Tatiana are all alone. Eric is stuck on the roads and none of their guests will be able to make it through the snow. With each passing hour, the blizzard rages and Tatiana's mood darkens, her behavior becoming increasingly disturbing and frightening. Until, in every mother's worst nightmare, Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Thriller Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of mysteries that are not easily solved, thriller/suspense novels, Scandin...moreBook Info: Genre: Mystery/Thriller Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of mysteries that are not easily solved, thriller/suspense novels, Scandinavian fiction Book Available: February 11, 2014 in hardcover and Kindle format Trigger Warnings: murder, torture, sexual assault, drug abuse, overdose, attempted suicide Animal Abuse: little boy throws cat into river to test the “cats always land feet down” hypothesis; he did not mean to harm the cat, but the cat was swept away in the current and out to sea, where it presumably drowned; the kid also held the cat by the tail
My Thoughts: This is the first book in the Odd Singsaker series, which is very popular in Norway. Odd is an interesting character. We meet him as he returns to work for the first time since having a tumor removed from his brain. He has lost a lot of his memories as a result. In fact, all the characters are excellent, full of quirks and qualities that make them human and relateable.
This is done so well that it was impossible for me to figure out who the killer was prior to it being revealed. There are just so many twists and turns, red herrings sprinkled in with the clues, that the mystery was kept mysterious right up to the ending.
Many of the characters were quite tragic. Felicia and her sexual assault in high school, Odd and his broken family, Vatten and the loss of his wife and child... This gives additional depth and interest to each character that really helps to fill them out.
This isn't as dark as some Scandinavian fiction I've read, but it is certainly as good quality as any of them. If you enjoy mysteries that are difficult to crack, suspense/thrillers, and Scandinavian fiction, then definitely watch for this one.
Disclosure: I received an ARC from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: A murder at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, bears a close resemblance to one in Trondheim, Norway. The corpse of the museum curator in Virginia is found flayed in his office by the cleaning staff; the corpse of an archivist at the library in Norway, is found inside a locked vault used to store delicate and rare books. Richmond homicide detective Felicia Stone and Trondheim police inspector Odd Singsaker find themselves working on similar murder cases, committed the same way, but half a world away. And both murders are somehow connected to a sixteenth century palimpsest book—The Book of John—which appears to be a journal of a serial murderer back in 1529 Norway, a book bound in human skin. (less)