City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

City of the Lost

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Mystery

Goodreads Synopsis: Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you’re accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. As a murderer, Casey isn’t a good candidate, but she has something they want: She’s a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn’t the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

Review: It’s been awhile since I picked up an Armstrong novels and I regret not picking one up sooner. This author is actually deemed as one of my favorite authors, but technically I’ve only read her YA novels. I enjoy both of her YA trilogy, but never gotten around to reading her adult paranormal books, because that’s really not my genre. As time went by she kinda got lost from my radar and totally missed  this mystery series of hers. I’m really glad I participate in the Read-EH-thon, hosted by Books and Lala, because I was able to come across this book and all its greatness. I’m a great fan of this whole novel, the setting, the characters and the mystery.

Armstrong writes her characters very well. Even though she includes a lot of minor characters, she’s able to go in depth with their background in an effortless way and let the story flow seamlessly. I actually enjoyed the characters in this book a lot more than on her YA novels. I feel that she went deeper into their stories, which gave them more individual personalities. I especially love the main character in this book because she’s half Filipina and half Chinese, which makes her right up my alley. I haven’t read much books with this blend of race and for me it was quite exciting. I did have a problem with the relationships. Although she does create an environment that is realistic in small community, I wish that she toned down a bit on the promiscuity of the people, I found that to be a little bit questionable. I also wished that she change up a bit on the romantic dynamics of the novels. I think its too reminiscent of her other novels and it got a bit predictable. Personally, I enjoyed it, but a little bit of a shocker would have been interesting too.

I was also very impressed with the mystery in the novel. I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers/mystery novels and I’m really surprised that I enjoyed this a lot more than some of the popular ones out there. Although we do have a protagonist with excess baggage, she doesn’t really let that define her and overcame her obstacles. I mean running away helped, but at least she’s not a drunk and an unreliable narrator, who we find in so many adult thriller/mystery novels. I was also shocked that this book was a lot more gory than her usual books, but then again, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve only read her YA novels. Still, I didn’t really mind, it added to the roughness of the setting and whole roughing it in the bush. I’m not saying violence is right, but her inclusion of it is fitting to the whole scenario.

I wasn’t a fan of the ending. I really did wish that the person who needed to leave, left, but then I understood the decision of Armstrong to keep her. I’m interested on what lies ahead for the characters in this book and I can’t wait to read the next one. Hopefully, there would be more character development or even new characters to introduce, because I love reading the past of the characters involved in this series. Although in most cases they’re a bit violent, its still pretty interesting to see what Armstorng has come up with next.

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TBR Challenge #9: Historical

stalking-jack-the-ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: 4/5

Why? This month’s theme/topic is Historical and since I’m already on my Halloween Mood, I decided to pick this book up. Set during the 1800’s this book definitely has a historical aspect, and the bonus is that it’s actually centered on the famous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Review: I’m a fan of Ripper stories and I know that I shouldn’t be so fascinated, but anything mysterious gives me such a thrill! I really haven’t read a book that I fully enjoyed that is set around Jack the Ripper, but then again I really haven’t read a lot of them.

If I have to rate this book in terms of using the Ripper story, I would probably give it a 1 out of 5. I wasn’t at all thrilled how Maniscalco use the Ripper story in this book and I would have wished that she incorporated it in a different way. That being said, I still really enjoyed the protagonist and the overall setting of the book.

I don’t usually pick up Victorian era novels and when I do, it usually incorporates the mystery/thriller/paranormal genre within it. So Stalking Jack the Ripper is definitely up my alley. I’m actually really surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did, because I’ve been in a reading slump for such a long time, but I think this book snapped me out of it. I especially enjoyed the heroine, Audrey Rose. I love how modern her thinking and personality is. Yes, her type is very much a common thin these days, but in the Victorian Era, her qualities is usually something unseen. I also enjoy Thomas, he may have the sarcastic, devil-may-care attitude, but I appreciate his openness to Audrey’s passion. I’m really excited to see how they deal with their next adventure in Hunting Price Dracula.

As for Maniscalco’s writing, I’ve seen better, but I’ve also seen worse. She kept me entertained all throughout the book, but there were still some down times. Since this is her debut novel, I’ll hold of any comments until I read her other book. I’m not saying she’s a bad writer, I’m just not overly enthralled by her writing.

TBR Challenge #8: Kicking it Old School

Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Rating: 4/5

Why? Agatha is my go-to author, if I want something refreshing and well written books, I grab a Christie. None of her books have ever stirred me wrong, and what’s even better is its older than 10 years since publication. So total bonus points for this challenge. As always, I loved every minute of this book and I love reading about the famous detective, Poirot, again.

Review: I’m not really sure how I can review this book without revealing too much about the ending. Basically this book is Christie’s typical novel of suspense, lies, betrayal and a love triangle, set in the exotic setting of Egypt.

I love everything about this book. I gave it a point lower, only because I figured out who the killer was mid way into the book, but that’s ok because her writing makes up for the typical story line. I’ve always been a fan of Christie’s every since I first picked up her book as a teen. Although, I’m a lot more aware of her racist comments in her books now, I still really enjoy her writing and how she weaves a mystery. I’m especially fond of this book because I’m a fan of Egypt, especially stories set in pre-war era, when Egypt is being explored. I’m very much a sucker for Egyptian history and mythology.

Back to the story.

Like I said I’m a fan Christie and I love how she writes her books. Although, Poirot is the main character, he is never the actual narrator, instead we get multiple point of views, which give us insight to all the characters present in the story. This is very effective in creating a bigger mystery at hand. We know who the characters are, we know the reasons for their vendetta, and we are left to wonder as who is daring enough to proceed with a crime with Poirot around.

I think Christie is just one of those authors that I will always keep reading and continue reading until I’m old and grey!

Cozies Recommendation

It’s not really any secret that I’m a fan of mystery novels. I don’t care if its middle grade, YA or even adult, I would read it as long as it holds my attention. One sub-genre of Mystery is Cozy Mystery and this is one of those comfort reads for me. Anytime I’m feeling slumpy in my reading mood, I would always turn to these books to keep me on track.

Cozy books have a very specific type of writing. Obviously its always centered on a mystery, but these books are usually devoid of gore, violence, blood shed and very rarely does it include any violence towards children. Most cozy books are set in a small town or at least it revolves around a small group of people close to the protagonist.

The most common cozy mystery, that almost every book lover has read, are books written by Agatha Christie. I believe that her books are basically the foundation of cozy mysteries. Yes, Christie’s books are a lot more complex and in depth, but the lack of, or even the minimal violence of cozies are very reminiscent of Agatha Christie novels. Please don’t take my words the wrong way, they are not the same at all, but I believe Christie is the root of this sub-genre.

One of the main reason why many readers are drawn to this sub-genre is because it’s an easy read, you tend to get attached to the community that is introduced in the books, and you eventually get to see how each character develop from one book to the next. However, the main downfall of these books, is that the mystery starts to become similar and eventually the ending starts becoming very predictable. Especially, if you have read several books from the same series. I don’t really mind the repetitiveness, but I do need to read these books in between other books, so as not to get bored of the characters and story.

Anyways, I’ve read my fair share of Cozies that I think I can recommend some of them from newbies to this genre. Here are my top five cozy mystery series:

books can be deceiving.jpg

Library Lover’s Mystery by Jenn McKinlay

I’ve read several of Jenn McKinlay’s books and I love every one of them. She writes her books very well, her characters are all lovable (except of course the killers), and her relationships are all very well written. This book in particular is an amazing read because the protagonist is a librarian, so bonus points.

Murder Past Due

Cat in the Stacks by Miranda James

Most protagonist in cozy books are female, there are those rare occasions that a male protagonist is in the series. The Cat in the Stacks are those rare books, and I really love these books. The protagonist is the lovely old man who has a beautiful main coon that you can’t help but fall in love with.

penforhire

A Jaine Austen Mystery by Laura Levine

This book is actually my guilty pleasure in his genre. At times I find myself eye rolling at certain parts of the books, but at the same time its just one of those books you can’t put down. I have a love hate relationship with the protagonist, Jaine. She tends to whine about certain things that’s is present since book one and at the same time Jaine is such a hilarious main characters. All the different shenanigans she gets into are so far-fetched and out of this world.

murder-is-binding

A Booktown Mystery by Lorna Barrett

This is one of the first cozies that I really got into. I’m not a fan of the protagonist in this series, but I really love the minor characters that Barrett includes in this series. This is one of those rare occasions that I prefer the other characters than the protagonist.

burried in a book

A Novel Idea by Lucy Arlington

This is a recent addition to my favorite cozy series and also the shortest. Since it was recently released there are only five books released so far and I’m patiently awaiting for more to be released. I admit I wasn’t a fan of the first book, but as the series progress, I eventually started enjoying the books. The town that Arlington writes in this series is very vivid and you can’t help but feel like you’re actually part of the community.

So that’s it for my recommendations on my favorite cozies. Hopefully, you found this interesting and PLEASE let me know of any good cozies that you guys enjoy and is not on my list. I’m always in search of a new series to begin!

 

 

 

 

 

ARC: The Fourth Monkey by J.D Barker

the fourth monkey

Rating: 4/5
Release Date: June 27, 2017

***This book was given to me for an honest review, but all my thoughts and opinions are my own***

This is my first ever ARC and I was really excited to receive it. The first time I read the synopsis of this book, I was definitely hooked and was really excited to pick it up. Unfortunately, I really wanted to read it closer to the release date so that I can write a review closer to the date.

As seen in my rating, it’s obvious that I enjoyed this book. I admit there are a few things that bothered me, but overall, I’m really glad that I received this ARC.

Let’s start with what I enjoyed about the book. The main reason why I requested for this book is because the mystery aspect really did intrigue me and I wasn’t disappointed. From the beginning to the end, it was none stop guessing game, and it was awesome. The way the author set up his novel is similar to a Criminal Minds episode, each person in the team is dedicated to a specific task which they must accomplish and contribute their findings. This part of the book is pretty well done and different because most mystery novels I’ve been reading lately is done either individually or solved by an amateur sleuth. Although, we do get one protagonists, I feel that his team is able to contribute to the story and you get to see their personalities shine through. I also love the friendly banter between the colleagues. I’m a fan of Porter. He’s actually quiet different from other heroes that I’ve read before and it’s a nice break from the cliched ‘distraught hero’. I actually wish that Barker will make this a series rather than a standalone since I really did enjoy the cast that he has created.

As for the mystery, like I’ve said before, it was amazing! All the twist and turns that the author included made me enjoy the story overall. Yes, the end is a bit trope-y, but I feel that it works for the story plot. Even though you know who the serial killer is at the start, the diary that is presented to the detectives still gave you the chill factor. I wasn’t too interested with that side story, but it does help explain a lot of things by the end of the novel. I’m actually disappointed and hopeful with the Epilogue, since it does leave us hanging onto something that might not pan out. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the author will continue the story of Porter and his group.

I don’t really want to leave this review on a bad note, but I do have to explain why I gave this book a 4 star instead. I think the one thing that bothered me the most is that there were some down time, not a lot, but enough for me to notice it. I understand that background stories need to be explained and I would have understood the extent of the explanation if this is going to become a series. As a stand alone, I feel that the author didn’t need to spend too much time on Porter’s wife, but rather use those pages for a bit more intrigue on the serial killer. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and will continue to watch out for more books that Barker releases.

 

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

the girl before

Author: J.P. Delaney

Rating: 3.5/5

Protagonist: Emma and Jane

Synopsis: The house is beautiful, its everything a renters dream of acquiring. its modern, sleek and affordable, unfortunately there’s one catch, you must abide to the rules of the builder. Jane first stumble on to this property she was instantly hooked, but as days progress she learns more and more about the house, the builder and Emma, the girl before her.

Review: Ever since I read The Girl on the Train I was hooked into thriller novels. I might not have like Paula Hawkins famous novel, but at least it opened up a whole new sub-genre for me. When I first picked this book up I was a bit apprehensive about it because it didn’t really seem as interesting as the other thrillers I’ve read. I’m pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book a lot more than the others I’ve read.

The one difficulty that I do have in some of the thriller that I’ve read is the representation of certain characters. I feel that most authors represent one or both genre in a bad light.  It’s either they make all the female characters bad or all the male characters bad or both, this one wasn’t different from the rest. There was no one male character in the whole book that represented in a good light, which I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the author decided to include one great male character. I also wasn’t a fan of the two protagonist. Jane is a lot better than Emma by the end, since a lot more women can relate to Jane. However, I still found her to be cunning and deceiving. Although, I wasn’t a fan any of the characters, the gave props to the author for the twist and turns of his story.

I always enjoy a mystery that makes you think and what you have concluded is totally wrong from the actual outcome. This is what happened to me for this book. The ending was totally unexpected and it really did creep me out. This is the reason why I don’t want to live in a house! Anyways, the story line is what sold me to this book. Even though I’m not a fan of the characters, they did make the book great. Each character and their personalities was utilized to make the climactic event a lot more dynamic. I would definitely recommend this book to thriller lovers!

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: I don’t think this is a book that I will reveal the ending. Only because the twist is what made this book stand out!

Motif Challenge: Undercover Thriller – Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

her-every-fear

Rating: 2/5
Protagonist: Kate Priddy

Synopsis: Kate experiences anxiety attacks and panic attacks, especially when her ex-boyfriend decided to kidnap her and lock her up. Wanting to get away from her surroundings she decided to swap homes with her long-distant cousin in America. Unfortunately, when she gets there, things start to become just as complicated and just as sinister as what she has left back home.

Review: I’m not sure if I’m being a little bit hard on my rating because I did enjoy some parts of the book and it did leave me in a suspenseful mess in the end, but I was really disappointed in the main character. I’m not really sure what about her I couldn’t connect with. For me, she was a very dull character, there really wasn’t much depth to her personality and I feel that the author focused too much on her anxieties that she didn’t really leave for anything else. I actually enjoyed the other POV of the other characters present in the book and those were the parts that left me in a creepy situation. The second half of the book is a lot more suspenseful than the first half.

As for the mystery/thriller part of the book, as I’ve said the last few chapters were a lot more interesting. I think the end really tied up the whole story and filled the cracks in between the stories of each of the other POV’s. I wasn’t at all surprised who the murderer is, but the twist at the reason why, was unforeseen.

I think this is one of the shortest reviews I’ve written, but really there’s not much to read. If you read the synopsis on Goodreads, that technically sums up the whole story, they really should change that.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: The end is what really made this book for me. So I’m not really sure I should spoil people for it, but oh well, the killer is the friend.