Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten of My Anticipated Reads for the Rest of 2017



As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish!

This week's theme is Ten of My Anticipated Reads for the Rest of 2017!

1) 

Anything billed as Serial meets In a Dark, Dark Wood automatically makes it on my can't wait to read list! I was so excited to get an ARC of this and can't wait to start it.

2)

Another ARC I was so excited to get! I've loved both of Ware's previous books and this one sounds amazing as well.

3)


I definitely pre-ordered this one. I love all things Sherlock Holmes, and this looks like a fascinating look at Holmes from conception to today.

4)


Billed as Scream meets YA!

5)


I adore this series, and while I'm sad it's ending, I can't wait to see how Petty ends it!

6) 


This is another excellent-looking YA suspense novel, about a group of teenagers who suspect their parents have come together to try to kill them.

7)


This looks like a book in the vein of You, which I read this year and could not put down.

8)


I've always been fascinated by the "fairy photographs" story, and Gaynor ties that in to a present day (fictional) tale.

9)


I'm always interested in a book where the line between fiction and reality is blurred, especially one with a book within a book.

10)


I'm always intrigued by an unreliable narrator and an exploration of how well the characters truly know each other.

What are some books you're looking forward to reading?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: The Decagon House Murders


Title: The Decagon House Murders
Author: Yukito Ayatsuji
Publication Date: June 20, 2015 (English translation)
Genre: Mystery/Psychological/Suspense
Recommended If You Like: And Then There Were None, twisty mysteries

The Book: 

When a group of students from a Japanese university, all part of a mystery fiction club, move into the Decagon House for a week, they think it is simply to visit and understand the site where a notorious multiple murder occurred the year previously. But as they start dying one by one, they begin to realize somewhere on the island there is once again a murderer.

What I Liked:

This is such a clever, gripping read! It reads as a Japanese homage of sorts to one of my all-time favorite books, And Then There Were None (a muse the book readily has the characters themselves acknowledge). This is a book that is scary, suspenseful, and surprising. I could not put this book down, and read it in less than a day. And I never saw the ending coming, it absolutely blew my mind.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I just wish that more of Yukito Ayatsuji's books were translated into English! I would read more in a heartbeat.

So...?

I studied Japanese literature in college (including a Japanese Horror class), and it was a wonderful treat to return to something I had read a lot of and loved. And to have such a great take on my second favorite book of all time just made it even better. I definitely recommend this book.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall



Title: Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall
Author: Hannah Dennison
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: cozy mysteries, British settings, mother-daughter duos, history with your mystery

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

Kat hosted a famous antiquing television show, but now she owns a small antique store off the estate of Honeychurch Hall. A string of crimes begin to occur, including robbery, a missing manuscript, and murder, and Kat must solve the mysteries while settling into her new life and the possibility of romance.

What I Liked:

This was a fun, clever mystery. The characters are all really unique. Kat especially is likeable and easy to relate to.

The mystery is also a good one, full of lots of layers and twists and turns. All the little mysteries add up to one big one in a way that makes sense, but is still surprising.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Some of the characters were not likable, at least to me, but that definitely seemed like it was on purpose. Kat had to have some foils and some people to suspect right off the bat.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

COYER Summer Reading List Challenge!

COYER

I love COYER, and especially love this new reading list twist! Here is my list:

1) Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie
2) The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
3) The Best American Crime Reporting 2008 edited by Jonathan Kellerman
4) The Baker Street Translation by Michael Robertson
5) Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
6) The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
7) Sherlock Holmes: Seance for a Vampire by Fred Saberhagen
8) The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
9) The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
10) The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
11) Afterwards by Rosamund Lipton
12) Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann
13) A Circle of Wives by Alie LaPlante
14) The Devil's Gentleman by Harold Schechter
15) Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh
16) True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel
17) Crippen by John Boyne
18) Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid
19) The Cradle in the Grave by Sophie Hannah
20) Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
21) Fig Eater by Jody Shields
22) Mindhunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
23) The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns
24) The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
25) The Fever by Megan Abbott
26) The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman
27) The Longing of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown
28) The Sleep Room by F. R. Tallis
29) The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
30) The Lighthouse by P.D. James

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon



Title: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Author: David Grann
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Genre: True Crime/Non-Fiction
Recommended If You Like: Grann's previous works, conspiracies, true crime, an examination of the underbelly of American history

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

Grann has carefully researched "The Reign of Terror", when the Osage both gained riches and lost their lives. Examining the search for the perpetrator or perpetrators of the heinous homicides, Grann also tells the tale of how the FBI became involved.

What I Liked:

This is such a multi-layered book. It is a murder mystery, as readers follow along with the FBI to learn the twists and turns. It is an examination of racial prejudice, the Osage having to ask their white guardians for permission to use their own money, all while being poisoned, shot, and blown to pieces. It is a history of a section of the Wild Wild West, and of the FBI, and of families who lost so many. And it is Grann's search for answers to the overarching conspiracy that swept so many up in its wake.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There is really nothing not to like about this book. Grann writes non-fiction like a novel, and it flows so beautifully.

So...?

I definitely recommend this read.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Reviews: Always Watching, and They All Fall Down


This was one of those books that started stronger than it finished. A psychologist encounters a patient who keeps speaking about a commune-the very same commune the psychologist was a part of as a child. Could it be something at the commune that caused the psychologist's intense claustrophobia and the patient's suicide attempts?

I'm always intrigued by a mystery surrounding secrets from the past, and when you add in a mysterious leader who may have turned his commune into a cult, that's a book I have to read.

But Stevens just added too much else, and too many other characters. There's her brother who was also a commune member, his former best friend, the homeless daughter with secrets of her own who may or may not be back on drugs, the stepson photographer who pops in and out, all the members of the commune past and present, the psychologist's other patients, her co-workers, and the cops.

All these characters bring their own subplots, and too many subplots take away from the main plot. This book has a lot of potential, but could stand from some editing. There are some really well-done surprising reveals, but they unfortunately get overwhelmed by all that is going on around them.


Similar to the book I reviewed above, this is another book that suffers from trying to do too much, and overstretching an interesting premise. When the narrator, a self-described Latin nerd, finds herself number five on the legendary "Hottie List" at her school, her whole world changes--including finding herself narrowly escaping a series of almost-lethal accidents.

It turns out she is not the only girl on the list who keeps finding herself in danger. As girls around her fall victim to their own mysterious accidents, in the order they are found on the list, our narrator must find a way to solve the mystery and save herself.

Where the book lost me was towards the end. It's such an intriguing concept-ten people on a list, mysteriously dying one by one in ways that could never be proven as murder-but the end of the book gets, to put it bluntly, ridiculous. The way St. Claire chooses to resolve the mystery just doesn't work for me at all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Wedding Bel Blues



Title: Wedding Bel Blues
Author: Maggie McConnon
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: cozy mysteries, mysteries about food, mysteries about families, strong female protagonists

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

Belfast McGrath's culinary career crashed and burned in New York, leading her to (temporarily, she hopes) move back in with her large family--and get roped into becoming the cook for their wedding business. But when someone dies at her cousin's wedding, Bel finds herself drawn into solving both the mystery and the secrets of her family's past.

What I Liked:

Bel is a great character. She's strong, but struggling, smart but still trying to figure life (and her heart) out. Her family is also full of great characters, all unique.

The mystery is also a good one, full of lots of twists and turns. Almost everyone has a motive, and everyone has a secret. The reveals at the end are especially surprising, which is always a good thing in my eyes.

I'm also really intrigued by the mystery from Bel's past, of what happened the night her best friend disappeared.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There's not much not to like about this series. There are a lot of characters, and how everyone is related (or not related) can get a little confusing at times.

So...?

I've really enjoyed the two books I've read in this series so far, and would definitely recommend them to cozy mystery fans.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: Love & Death in Burgundy



Title: Love & Death in Burgundy
Author: Susan C. Shea
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: mysteries set in France, cozy mysteries, delicious descriptions of food

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

Katherine and her husband Michael are Americans who now live in a small village in France. Katherine desperately wants to fit in with her neighbors, but as an American, they just don't accept her. But when the elderly owner of the historic chateau is found dead at the bottom of the stairs, Katherine is determined to solve the mystery and prove her worth.

What I Liked:

The descriptions of the food and France are fantastic! All I wanted while I was reading this book was to be eating baguettes and cheese, and drinking fine wine, while lounging in France.

Shea is excellent at making her characters three dimensional. I really felt what they were feeling, and felt compelled to know their stories (even the less likable characters).

Anything I Didn't Like?

The mystery was good, but not great. The problem wasn't the sections where the mystery wasn't the main focus, because the characters were written so well, but rather the solution itself was merely okay. I was hoping for a bit more.

So...?

I can see this becoming a really good cozy mystery series. I suspect the mysteries will get stronger as the series goes on, and the characters definitely are strong enough to carry this book.