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 #3: Comfort Read Subgenre

plaster and poison

Plaster and Poison by Jennie Bentley
Series: A Do-it-Yourself Mystery #3
Rating: 3/5

Theme: Comfort Read Sub-genre

Why? If you’ve been to my blog before, you know that my genre preference is Mystery. I love everything that has to do with mystery, but my go-to within the mystery genre is cozy mystery. If I’m in a reading funk or I just want a quick read I always try to pick up my favourite cozy mystery. Fortunately there are thousands of cozy mysteries that has a wide variety of topics. One of these days I most likely will do a list of my favourite cozies.

For those who do not know what cozy mysteries are its basically just a story that doesn’t have too much gore or violence. Yes, there usually is murder, but typically there isn’t any graphic details on the crime scene. Also, most cozies that I have read revolves one specific protagonist, but there are other recurring characters. Basically, it’s like a t.v show, but in book format. Most of the time, one book focus on one mystery, but sometimes it does touch on a bigger story arc, but is not necessarily a major story. Therefore, technically, you don’t need to read the books in order. It will be helpful to start with the first book, however, since most of the time the main and recurring character(s) are described in depth.

Review: Avery Baker left New York City to start a business with her boyfriend Derek Ellis’. What started out as their usual home renovation ended up as a murder mystery, when Avery found a dead body in the soon-to-be new home of Kate and Wayne. Now, not only is she on a tight schedule to finish the house, she must also try to find a killer who is trying to ruin the lives of her closest friends.

I actually really enjoyed the third book in this series and most likely will continue reading them. The first two didn’t really get me love the series, and truth be told, this one didn’t either, but at least I enjoyed it enough to keep on going.

I’m still not entirely sure how to feel about the characters since I haven’t really connected to a particular one, not even the protagonist. I’m not really sure what it is about Avery that ticks me off, but I feel that she’s a bit too whinny, especially in this book. I understand that Avery’s reaction to her boyfriend’s ex-wife is realistic, but I would have hoped that there was less of it.

All in all the book was a pretty good cozy. I enjoyed the mystery and can’t wait to see what happens to the next book.

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.

TBR Challenge #2: New to You Author

i-see-you

I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Rating: 3/5

Theme: New to you Author

WHY?: I’ve always love reading mystery books. I’ve been addicted to Agatha Christie since I was in high school. Then I moved to cozy mysteries, which obviously enough I love cozies and read them regularly. It’s only just been recently that I started picking up thrillers, ever since I read Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I didn’t like that book as much as I wanted to, but at least it got me to read more thrillers. That aside, I saw this book while I was on the train and I thought it looked really good. The cover hand me at first sight, when I read the synopsis, BOOM, hook, line and sinker!

This is also the first book I’ve read from Clare Mackintosh. I enjoyed her writing style, but the story left me underwhelmed. I heard this book is not as good as her debut novel, maybe I’ll try that one eventually.

Review: Zoe takes the train everyday to and from work. She takes the same train, sit on the same sit and walk towards work the same way. Unknown to her, she was being watched and her movements has been secretly monitored. I wasn’t a fan of this book. I really thought the story would take on a different path, unfortunately it didn’t take the way I wanted to. This book had a feeling of voyeurism and it did give me the creeps. Since I was reading this during my train ride to and from work, it made me almost paranoid that this could be happening. Still gives me the chills. That being said that was the only plus side for the book. I really thought it was a similar to You by Caroline Kepnes, a psychological thriller which totally messed me up for a few days. I guess that’s really my fault and not the authors, I shouldn’t have expected anything. So this rating is really a personal rating and not on the content or writing of the author.

I don’t really want to end this review on a bad note because the author really did a good job writing this book. I love the characters she created and at times the book did leave me in a creepy mood. So I have to give her props for it.

Motif Challenge: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Scwab

darker shade of magic

Author: V.E Schab
Rating: 3.5/5
Protagonist: Kell, Delilah

Synopsis: Kell is a traveller, but not the kind that we know. She is able to move between dimensions or specifically different Londons. As a travellers he delivers notes from one monarchy to another. Unfortunately, he is also in the business of smuggling items to those who are willing to pay with treasures from their world. When he is caught during a deal gone wrong, he must fix his mistake before his world and the other Londons are destroyed.

Review: I’ve been wanting to read this book for sometime, but I’ve been putting it off month after month. Since the last book will be released this year I decided to finally pick it up at the start of the year. I want to try to read all three books this year. I don’t have much to complain about this book, I had a great reading experience, but at the same time, I didn’t love it as much as everyone did. I think my expectations were a tad too high.

One of the main reason why I picked this book up is because of the hype surrounding V.E Schwab. She’s a very popular author amongst the BookTubers. So obviously, I had to try one of her books out. To be honest, I don’t think I like this as much as other readers do. I know its a big deal with bloggers, youtubers and book lovers, but for me I wasn’t as amazed by it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way she writes, but this book really is more of a background story, so it dragged a bit in the beginning. Since it did take awhile for the story to pick up, I didn’t fully enjoy my reading experience until half way into the book. I know all the introductory story is important to understand the world of Kell, but I would have enjoyed it even more if the main story had more length. I felt that the actual story of Kell and Lila was a bit rushed, especially the ending, I wanted a more extravagant battle. Other than that, I have no other problems.

As soon as the main story of the book came into play, I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down. Besides the fact that ending left me underwhelmed, I still enjoyed the story as a whole. I love the way V.E Schwab was able to re-create four different Londons and how each of them were unique from the environment to the people. The story is intricately woven to create one amazing story of adventure, magic and mystery. I also really enjoyed the different characters that Schwab introduced in this book. Kell is an amazing protagonist and I can’t wait to read more about him. I also really liked Lila, she brings something different to the whole story and I love how Schwab gave her a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude.

I know I gave this book such a low rating, but I really wasn’t impressed with the first half of this book, but after that, it was an amazing read. I really can’t wait to read the next two books into this trilogy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up the next two book this year.

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

Ending: In Kell’s world there is four different Londons, each consisting of the same layout but with different levels of magic. Grey London had long forgotten magic, Red London magic is flourishing, White London is being overcome by magic and finally Black London has been overcome by magic. Black London used magic to try to over rule to the Londons in order to contain them, Red London sealed them close. Unfortunately, White London is the closest to Black London and they are in charge of keeping them at bay, which consequently is draining them of their life.

Kell, being an Antari, was tricked into smuggling a forbidden stone that is from Black London. Since Black London is a taboo place, any relics from this place is unwelcome in any of the Londons in fear of spreading the dark magic within it. Lila coerce Kell into letting her help him bring the stone back to its original place. Since Atari’s are the only ones who can move from one London to the other, we are led to believe that this stone helped her through her adventure, until the very end. Dun, dun, dun. Let’s leave it at that!

Hercule Poirot 1, 2, 3 by Agatha Christie

So like I previously said I’m kinda back. I’ve read four books for the month of June, but I won’t write a detailed book review on all of them. Technically I’ve read three Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie and the other one is Dorothy must Die. Please look forward for that review in the upcoming days.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1)
By Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4/5
Review: I’ve read this book before, but since I’m in a really bad rut I decided to re-read Agatha’s Poirot all over again, this time in order. I really enjoy this character of Christie’s he maybe pompous and obnoxious, but he gets the job done. I love the subtle murder story and the complex discovery of the book. In this book we also see Hastings, which is my favorite companion of the beloved detective. It takes us back to the beginning on how Poirot and Hastings first start working together. I don’t know how many people have read Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, but the two books are similar to each other. Hastings is the Watson of Poirot, so I feel that Hastings is just as beloved as Holme’s companion.

To be honest, I really don’t remember anything about this book as I was reading it. Not that I’m complaining it’s nice trying to find the murderer again and try to solve the case. This book is very much your everyday whodunnit book. We see Poirot try to solve his first case with the death of the wealthy Emily Inglethorp. Invited by the Inglethorps, Hastings accepts the offer for a much needed rest. Unknown to him, this will be the beginning of his adventures with Poirot. During his visit to the ‘Styles’ compound, our narrator learns of the various tensions that each character has with the matriarch. Emily, running a tight-fisted household prefers to have the last decision on the lives of her stepsons. However, the main strain on the relationship of Emily and her stepsons is the unity of their mother to the questionable Alfred Inglethorp. As the death of Emily is found, Poirot takes upon himself to solve the crime in memory of his benefactor!

The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2)
By Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Rating 4/5
Review: So right after I finished the first book I decided to just keep riding the Poirot band wagon and picked up the second Hercule. In this story, we find Hercule and Hastings paired up again to solve the mystery of the death of Paul Renauld. This was an interesting read for me because we get to see Poirot in a match with another detective. Not only did I love the mystery in the book, but the competition between the detectives spiced up the book.

Poirot and Hastings travel to France in response to Paul Renauld’s call for help. Upon their arrival they find out that their hasty departure was not enough to save his life. As the story unfolds South America becomes the central point of question. Since Renauld’s past is unknown to many, South America and his association comes into question. While the other detective stumps himself with the South American problem, Poirot focus on the neighbor of the said victim.

Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot #3)
By Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 3/5
Review: This is a little tough for me to review because its a short story collection. All of them features the famous detective and of course his right hand man, Hastings. The stories are all very well written and includes Christie’s classic way of creating an interwoven mystery. Although they were all short and doesn’t give you much details, its still a pretty good read. My only problem was that it was too short. You don’t really get attached to any characters besides our narrator and his hero. I would recommend this to those who are already familiar to Agatha Christie’s writing because its difficult to fall in love with the queen of mystery if the story are too under developed.