Sunday, February 25, 2018
Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton first grabbed my attention on the shelf because a) it's a cozy mystery and b) it involved a ghost hunting TV team coming to the protagonist's inherited castle (Also because it was an entry in the series from 2017 and in such great shape for only costing me $1 at the thrift store!). Merry Wynter, newly married baker, returns to her home, Wynter Castle, to discover her best friend Pish hosting the cast and crew of Haunt Hunt, a paranormal investigation television show. They are at the castle to film because they feel the many murders that have occurred there have a strong possibility of having left some residual spirits lurking. But this is a group with a lot of residual drama lurking among themselves, which will out itself in homicide.
The first few pages I wasn't really sure I was going to enjoy this book, namely because Hamilton got so caught up in dropping unsubtle innuendos about the narrator's honeymoon. But once the characters got back to the castle, and the drama with the ghost hunters began, I was hooked. I'm always in it for the mystery (and I'm also fascinated by the paranormal and paranormal investigation teams), and this was a good, gripping mystery. I didn't even notice how long it took to get to the first murder, because the dramatics were building up so fascinatingly.
The reoccurring cast of characters and the strength of the plot means I will definitely be coming back for more of this series!
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
In Wolf, readers meet Jessica James, a graduate student with a nightmare of an adviser, who stumbles on his dead body after he refuses to give her back her thesis. This draws her into a web of conspiracy on campus and a case of missing paintings, leading her into contact with frat boys and the Russian Mafia alike.
My favorite thing about this book was the cast of strong female characters. This is a group of women who do things on their own terms, who refuse to be held back or to bow down to anyone. They look out for each other and for other women, all while kicking butt and taking names.
This is also a funny mystery, which I always enjoy. Oliver throws in everything and the kitchen sink, and it works because she uses an irreverent tone when writing about the society she has placed her characters in.
This is a unique mystery, with unique characters that are a lot of fun to spend some time with.
Friday, February 16, 2018
Title: A Whisper of Bones
Author: Ellen Hart
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Recommended If You Like: family drama, LGBTQ+ main characters, secrets from the past
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.
What do you do when you remember someone from your childhood, but your family denies that he ever existed? In Britt Ickles' case, you hire Jane Lawless, private investigator. Jane starts on the case, but a set of bones found in a garage after a mysterious fire complicates matters even further.
What I Liked:
Jane is a compelling main character. She is smart and resourceful, but still human, as she tries to figure out what she should do about an ex-love who now is back in her world due to a life-threatening illness.
I also love the premise. The idea of someone denying the existence of a person that you absolutely remember is really eerie, and makes me want to know more.
Anything I Didn't Like?
Hart just tries to fit too much in. There is so much going on, so many subplots, that the mystery suffers. I felt like the solution to the mystery was telegraphed too early, so there wasn't really a lot of suspense. And while I appreciated one of the twists, there was just so many stories flying at me simultaneously that it got sort of lost in the crowd.
This is by no means a bad book, it's an okay book with a lot of potential that never got realized. I think if Hart had decided what the focus was, and built from there, the book would have been a lot stronger.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
In The Last Mrs. Parrish, Constantine (actually the pen name of two sisters writing together) tells the story of Amber, a woman who feels no one sees her and is determined to be seen. She covets the life of Daphne, married to a rich and handsome husband, and does everything in her power to take that life for herself, including becoming the best friend Daphne can rely on. But it might be better for Amber to stay in the shadows, as she has a past with the ability to end all her power plays and bring her down.
I wanted to love this book. I've heard so many good things about it, it's all over book lovers' social media accounts, and it seems to be the book everyone is talking about. So when I finally made it to the top of the extensive hold list for a copy from the library, I was really excited.
The first part had me hooked. While Amber is highly unlikable, that is the point. Her scheming ways, the hint of something from her past lurking just out of view, the possibility that she will be found out, the possibility that she will get everything she wants...I flew through Part 1.
And then I got to Part 2.
While I absolutely appreciate a big twist in a book (actually one of my absolute favorite things to discover in a book I'm reading), the twist still has to make sense. It has to be rooted in some way to what has come before. It can't be shocking just to be shocking.This twist, while definitely surprising, felt out of left field to me. Then Part 3, while satisfying in many ways, also felt a little too neat and tidy for what had come before.
This book definitely had potential, and it was by no means a bad read. It kept me turning pages quickly, wanting to know what was coming next. But I've read a lot better. If you are looking for a book with these kinds of themes-love triangle, jealously, replacement-pick up The Wife Between Us instead, which spins a twist that will make you gasp out loud but still makes sense when you look back.
Monday, February 12, 2018
Stevie Bell loves mysteries and true crime. They fascinate her and help to calm her anxiety. So when she is admitted to Ellingham Academy, she knows exactly what she wants to do-solve the decades old mystery of Truly Devious, who kidnapped the founder's wife and daughter, leaving a taunting poem behind.
But when death comes back to Ellingham, Stevie is faced with the fact that she may have to solve a very current and dangerous mystery as well.
First things first-I love so much that the protagonist is a girl with anxiety, who also loves mysteries and true crime. It was so great to have a lead character in a story who I feel so much commonality with. Johnson really depicts aspects of anxiety so well, and glimpses into Stevie's mind ring so true.
To add to this, this is a great story. The mystery is so suspenseful, and the characters feel like real people. Interestingly, the flashbacks to the original crime were actually a little less compelling to me than what was happening in the present day. As much as I want to know the solution to the original crime (and I really do), I felt so drawn in by the present day characters,
The only downside to this book is that it looks like the second book in this trilogy isn't coming out until 2019, and I can't wait that long! If the rest of the trilogy is as strong as this first entry, those will be three books I will be needing to have on my bookcase.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Title: Right Behind You
Author: Lisa Gardner
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Recommended If You Like: family drama, mysteries with action
I received a copy 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.
Some might find it ironic that Sharlah is on the cusp of being adopted by two people involved in law enforcement. After all, eight years ago her older brother, Telly, killed their drunk and abusive father with a baseball bat. While he did it to save Sharlah's life, they haven't seen each other since the incident.
But when a spree shooter seemingly goes on a rampage, and video footage captures Telly on the scene with a gun. Sharlah must face her past, face her brother, and decide what their future holds.
What I Liked:
This book had a lot of suspense. Flashbacks to eight years ago kept me wondering what had truly happened that night and what it meant about Telly and Sharlah. The search for Telly in the present was well-plotted out as well, involving everyone from trackers to profilers, which also kept the suspense up. There was one particular twist near the end that, even though it was small, had me gasping out loud with how well Gardner had tricked me.
I also really liked the relationship between Sharlah and her soon to be adoptive parents Quincy and Rainie. While these are reoccurring characters in a series I had not previously read, I still felt very invested in them and their story.
Anything I Didn't Like?
The ending got a little confusing for me. It felt like Gardner had all these ideas for directions the story could go and put them all in. I appreciated that she wanted to take the idea of a "family drama" and really run with it in a unique direction, but the last third of the book could get hard to follow.
This is a gripping read that will keep you in suspense. I wish the ending was a bit stronger and a bit clearer, but this was still a book I couldn't put down.
Sunday, February 4, 2018
On top of loving to read books, I love to take pictures of them! I've gotten even more into this with my new phone, that comes with a really amazing camera.
If you'd like to see more, and/or keep up on what I'm currently reading and photographing, you can find me on Instagram as bookkeepersapprentice . If you have a book instagram account, please let me know, I'd love to follow you!
Friday, February 2, 2018
When Julie Whitaker, kidnapped from her home when she was only thirteen years old, seemingly returns to her family, it seems her parents and sister can finally begin to heal. But then a private detective begins to feed the flames of doubt Julie's mother, Anna, has already been feeling. If this woman isn't her daughter, who is she? And why would she be pretending to be Julie?
Gentry has created a very suspenseful story. From the first chapter, when readers witness Julie's kidnapping through the eyes of her younger sister, Jane, we are given a look into a tale both tragic and twisted. While one aspect of the story moves forward, the other moves back in time, multiple perspectives upping the mystery.
The one downside of these clever writing choices is that the book can occasionally get confusing. I had a hard time sometimes keeping track of what was happening and to whom. But I think this confusion was purposeful, and makes sense given what readers later learn about the characters and their lives up to that point.
This is the second book in a row I have read dealing with child abduction, and one among many out there that have offered a fictionalized take on an all-too-real subject. But Gentry has created a unique story that will keep you guessing and have you unable to stop turning pages.
Thursday, February 1, 2018
In The Marsh King's Daughter, Dionne deftly and deeply explores the bonds and breaking of families, through the unique lens of a narrator who is the daughter of a kidnapping victim and her kidnapper.
Helena has formed a family of her own, with a new last name and a past she has hidden away. She is the daughter of a woman kidnapped and held captive for years, and the kidnapper. But when her father escapes from prison, Helena must confront her past and all her father taught her, because she is the only one who can track him down.
Dionne does a really good job of alternating between past and present to build suspense. Readers learn of Helena's upbringing and all her father taught her about hunting and tracking, and then see her put those skills to use in a high-stakes chase of the self-same father.
What is particularly compelling about this book is how much Dionne makes you think as she spins a highly suspenseful tale. Helena's father was not only a kidnapper and captor, but a brutal one, but he was also the only father Helena ever knew. Helena's mother seemed so passive and meek during Helena's childhood, but she was also a woman forced to live as wife to the man who had stolen her from her life. Helena must figure out what she feels about the people who created her, and what this means for her future with the family she has chosen.