Monday, May 18, 2020

Adult Book Mini Reviews-- The British Mysteries

  • I read both of these books on audio.  I've been in the mood for mysteries lately... and only mysteries.  It's like my brain can't concentrate and slow down unless it's to figure out who is the killer and why.  But during times of stress, I always just go with my gut & read what my brain is feeling-- or a reading slump could come along quickly.
  • Here are 2 of the Mysteries that I've read recently and some thoughts:

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Goodreads Synopsis:

She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.

And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.

Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.

Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?

Who still has secrets to hide?

My Thoughts:

A daughter (Ellie) goes missing and 10 years later her mother is just marking time.  But the case is about the heat up-- they finally get some answers about Ellie.  That's not enough for Laurel though-- she wants to know all the answers to what happened to her daughter.

Meanwhile, life starts finally moving forward for Laurel.  She meets a man who completely sweeps her off her feet.  Everything is changing.  Then, she meets her new boyfriend's daughter-- who is alarmingly mature for an 8-year-old... and looks exactly like Ellie!!

I loved how this story started off by grabbing me right away!!  I was hooked and intrigued as to why this really happy, seemingly perfect girl could be a presumed runaway.  I felt so sorry for Laurel, but she was also so broken that she wasn't a very good mother to her other children.  I was happy when she started getting something to live for, but I was also VERY suspicious.  Floyd (the new boyfriend) definitely felt too good to be true.

I really liked this one and would be giving it 5 stars if it tried to be a little more surprising in the plot. As it was, it’s pretty easy to see where it was all going and none of the reveals shocked me to any degree. But given the way it’s written, maybe it’s not supposed to be a shocking thriller. Maybe it’s just supposed to be a sad story with some hope sprinkled in?

I liked that this story went deep.  It was really layered and full of characters that felt real.  And it was completely satisfying in the end.

OVERALL: I definitely recommend this one.  It wasn't SUPER twisty, but it was such a good and unique story.

Date Published: 4/17/2018
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter's crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window... 

My Thoughts:

The Whisper Man is about child abductions that are taking place now that seem to be similar to a serial killer that was caught years ago.  It follows the detective who had a hand in catching The Whisper Man and is now working on the new case, and a man who is recently widowed and is moving to get a fresh start.

There was something about this book that felt short-story-ish to me.  Would it have worked better as a short story??  Maybe.  The lack of build-up made me doubt the need for so many pages.

It's not that this book isn't good or that I didn't enjoy it.  Because I did enjoy it, but I was hoping for something truly creepy and twisty.  There was a twist (or 2), but they were revealed so slowly that I didn't have that shocked & stunned feeling.

What I did really like in this book was the character development.  I loved that the 2 narrators had complete stories that felt full and alive.  I loved little Jake.  He was one of those interesting little kids that seem like little adults-- wise for his age, knowing more than you'd think a 5 year-old should know.

OVERALL: I loved the idea behind this book, but thought it would've worked better as a short story.  There wasn't enough happening for it to be as long as it was.  I still really liked it, but was hoping for a SHOCKING twist that never came.

Date Published: 6/13/2019
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Penguin Books UK

My Rating: 3.5/5

Have you read either of these books?? Thoughts?  Share with me!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- Last Books I Put on Pause

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (May 12th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

The Last Ten Books I Abandoned

  • I put all of these books down for various reasons.  A few of them it was because I really didn't like them-- but most of them just became victims of my vicious mood reading disorder.  If I'm not in the just right mood for a certain book, it has trouble holding my attention.
  • I am also a serial book starter, so there's that too.
  • I'm hopeful that I will get back to several of these-- but we'll see.

1.  Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé- This one hurts.  I mean, LOOK at that cover!!!  I had such hopes for this book.  And it was just.... not good.  So I had to drop it about a little over halfway through.

2.  Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky- This one I will come back for.  I read the first almost half of it and I was interested.  But then I started reading something else, and well.... but I will finish it in the future.

3.  The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh- I really wanted to read a good vampire book (luckily THIS one came out recently to cure that urge), but this wasn't what I wanted.  It was love-triangle-y (and instalovey) and all the things that were happening (or that happened) were supposed to be mysterious, but it was all so obvious.  BLAH.

4.  The Grace Year by Kim Liggett- This is another one that I really want to go back to.  It was a cool concept-- but again, I got distracted... and now doesn't feel like a good time read this type of book.

5.  Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty- I put an audio hold for this because I really like Liane Moriarty's books.  But the beginning of this just did not catch my attention.  I think maybe I'll just try reading the print book at some point.

6.  Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater- I really wanted to read this, but then I finally read The Raven King and got so irrationally mad, that I decided to pause my reading of it.

7.  What Happened That Night by Deanna Cameron- This book was just not great.  The premise sounded good, but it was so obvious what was going on that I just couldn't.

8.  Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton- I was really feeling this book, until I wasn't.  It got to be really lesson-y and it relied to heavily on the John Hughes movies.

9.  You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook- This is another one that I want to go back to.  I was interested, but somehow I didn't finish it.

10.  The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens- This is another big disappointment.  I tried really hard to read this one, but it didn't start out exciting at all.  I might try to audio book in the future.

Have you read any of these books?  Did I miss out by skipping any of them?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Should I Stay or Should I Go? TBR Edition- Part 2

I've seen a bunch of people do these TBR posts where they go through their To-Read List and debate whether or not to keep or dump the books.

I want to credit someone because I obviously did not come up with the idea, but I have no idea who started this or which blog I specifically see it on.  So if it's you, let me know and I'll link you up!!

Anyway, I'm going way back-- back to the beginning of my Goodreads List!!  Hopefully after doing this for a while, I'll get the massive list of 760 down to a semi-reasonable number (but probably not).

Here are the next books on my TBR (we're talking 2011 adds):

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

It's the 90's in Charleston and Patricia could really use some time away from her home.  She's dealing with a teenage daughter, son with odd interests, live-in mother-in-law with dementia, and a mostly absent husband.  So, when she starts a book club with other women who like to read true-crime, it's a nice distraction from her life.

Then, a new single man moves into the neighborhood.  He's interesting and likes to read too, and at first Patricia likes the interest he brings to her boring life.  When some odd things start happening and some local kids go missing, Patricia thinks maybe a serial killer straight out of one of their book club books has come to Charleston-- but it's far worse than that!!

OBSESSED!!!  This is definitely one of the best books I've read this year.  I completely loved it-- and it especially impresses me because I've been struggling to read something that captures my attention.

But what's not to love?? It's about a book club AND the 90's.  With Vampires!  Well, one anyway.  And he's not sparkly.  I enjoyed so many parts of this book, I think a list is in order:

  • The Book Club: I loved the group of ladies-- they were all different personalities and all had purpose in the story.  I especially loved Slick and Grace because they were so authentically themselves.
  • James.  Now we get to the vampire.  I really liked how he was a version of vampire that I've never read or seen before.  He fed in a really disgusting and unique way-- it really freaked me out.  Also, he didn't "turn" people in the way that I typically think of when it comes to vampires.  His way of turning people was really traumatizing and something I never would have imagined.
  • One of my favorite parts was also the most frustrating.  An important part of this book was that these book club women (but mostly Patricia) know that something bad is happening-- and no one will believe them.  They are dismissed as hysterical women with over-active imaginations due to the books they've been reading.  They are chastised like children.  I loved this aspect because it's true.  Women have been minimized for centuries.  I loved that the housewives were shown as the ones who do it all-- keep the family running, do all the household duties, and STILL find time to save the day in spite of the way the men doubt and diminish them.
  • The gross.  This book was so gross at times.  I mean BUGS.  I just can't.  But at the same time it gave the book that extra Horror punch that it needed.  But I'll probably have nightmares from some of the scenes.
  • The way the author tackled some tough themes.  There was a racial aspect that was difficult to read about-- but sadly, is the way things have played out historically in many instances.  I can't speak to the accuracies or the way it will be taken, but I liked that it wasn't something that was glossed over.
  • Friendship.  This group of ladies go through some SHIT together.  Some serious shit.  They break apart, but always come back together.  I was rooting for them so hard that it literally hurt my heart.
If there's one thing you take from my review, I hope it is this: READ IT!!!  It brings the horror, the gross, the scary, the anger-inducing characters, the anxiety, the fresh-take on vampires, the 90’s!!! I could not ask for more!

OVERALL: LOVED, LOVED, LOVED!  I've loved so many of this author's other books, but this one was the best!!  It weaves a vampire story into the flawed world of Southern housewives.  I thought it was perfection.

Date Published: 4/7/2020
How I got this book: Thanks to Quirk Books and ALA for or providing me with an advanced copy to read and honestly review.
Publisher: Quirk Books

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 5/5

Here's me meeting the author (which I swear had no bearing on my thoughts on the book)

Character: Patricia's book club
Book: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

  • I just really want this book club to read another one of my favorite Horror authors

Monday, May 4, 2020

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? TBR Edition

I've seen a bunch of people do these TBR posts where they go through their To-Read List and debate whether or not to keep or dump the books.

I want to credit someone because I obviously did not come up with the idea, but I have no idea who started this or which blog I specifically see it on.  So if it's you, let me know and I'll link you up!!

Anyway, I'm going way back-- back to the beginning of my Goodreads List!!  Hopefully after doing this for a while, I'll get the massive list of 755 down to a semi-reasonable number (but probably not).

So, these are the first books I added to my Goodreads To-Read List (2011).

The Books: