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!

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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.

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.

Series Review: Asylum Trilogy by Madeleine Roux

Book 1: Asylum – 2.5 stars out of 5
Book 2: Sanctum – 3 stars out of 5
Book 3: Catacomb – 1.5 stars out of 5

Protagonist: Dan
Character(s): Abby, Jordan

Review: Since I didn’t have a chance to review books one and two I think its pointless for me to even try reviewing this. Not only will it ruin book 1 and two for you, but you won’t have any idea as to what I’m talking about.

The first time I heard about this book, Aylum, it was being compared to Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children. Although, I’m not really a fan of the latter, I still decided to pick this up because the premise held promise. Plus, I had nothing to read at the time and this was available in audio at Overdrive. Unfortunately for Miss Peregrine fans, besides the haunting pictures, these who books are the polar opposite. Where the former is in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, this trilogy is considered to be a mystery/paranormal book. Since I listened to this on audio, the pictures are actually not the highlight for me and I think this made my reading experience less terrifying. Which in turn, didn’t make me love the trilogy.

In Asylum, we meet our protagonist Dan who attends a special summer program in a prestigious school, where he befriends Abby and Jordan. Eventually, the three find out that their dorm was a previous asylum for the criminally insane and the three find out that their invitation was not a coincidence, someone or something wants them to there.
*From the synopsis of this novel, I was instantly intrigued and envisioned late night frights and sleeping with the lights on. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. I found the story to be dull and the climactic scene was disappointing. Although, the author tries her best to incorporate as many intense moments, I feel that she wasn’t able to convey the frightening scenes in words. I believe this is the reason why the pictures would have been more effective in this case. I’m not trying to bad mouth her writing, I just found some of the moments she included were cliche and eye-rolling scenes. Even until the end I was hopping for a little bit more scare factor. As for our three characters, I found the protagonist to be just as dull and at times I wanted to shake him to give some life to his personality.

Dan, Abby and Jordan are back at the Asylum to determine who has been sending pictures of the old Asylum. Wanting to leave the memory of their experiences last summer, they must return to make sure that the evil that lurked is no longer following them.
* I’m pretty sure you’re wondering ‘why read the second if you disliked the first so much?, well to answer your question, I actually have two. 1. I’m on the waiting list for all my library books and 2. I wanted a ‘scary’ story to read for Halloween. To be honest though, I actually enjoyed this book a lot better than the first. I’m still not a fan of the three protagonists, but I had creepy moments while reading this book. I enjoyed the whole freaky, haunted carnival scenes. That being said, the Warden arc of this trilogy actually ends with this book and was a sufficient ending for the heroes/heroine.

After the ordeal in Sanctum, the three teens are now ready for a new beginning and put the past behind them. Unfortunately, for them the past is not yet ready to let go of them.
* I was actually surprised that there was a third book to this series, because as I said before the second book ended the story. I was intrigued as to where Roux was taking the story so I decided to pick it up and since I did enjoy Sanctum, I thought maybe this would be even better, I was so very wrong! I actually really regret picking this book up because I feel like this is the worst out of the three books. The things that sold me in the second book, the creepy factor and the equally freaky Warden, is actually not present in the last installment. I feel that this book was useless and didn’t really add anything new to the story of Dan, Abby and Jordan, in fact, I think this book is pointless and should have kept the Asylum Trilogy as a Duology. The only winning factory for this book was the actual ending. I enjoyed seeing the outcome of the three protagonists and their lives after the events from the last book. If Roux created a novella, it would have been more welcoming, in my part, but this book bombed (and not in a good way!).

All in all I would give this trilogy and overall rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. Although I did enjoy the second book, I feel like the other two brought the rating down. Also, I wasn’t invested on the characters at all. I felt them to be two-dimensional and lacked the fight that I usually enjoy in my protagonists. Like I said before, I did listen to this book on audio and therefore my reading experience might not be the same as compared to someone who read the physical books and saw all the fascinating pictures. If I will recommend this trilogy, I’ll sell it as a Duology since I did find the second to be worth a read.

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

Ending: I’m really not sure how I go about revealing the ending for these books since technically there were two different endings.

For the story arc of the Warden: Dan, Abby and Jordan was able to defeat the evil that possessed one of their friends, which was the warden. We also learn that the Warden is actually the great uncle of Dan and one particular ghost is seeking his revenge on the protagonist. Eventually they were able to defeat the ghost and in the second book, the Warden as well.

As for the third book, which is a bit hazy in my memory, all I remember is a cult base on the Warden, that three were able to defeat. Jordan meets his biological mom and the three go off to three different colleges. They still keep in contact and are still great friends, with the events they experience bonding them for life.

Blood of my Blood

blood of my blood

Author: Barry Lyga
Rating: 5/5
Protagonist: Jasper Dent
Other Character(s):Howie, Connie, Billy, Mrs. Dent, H.G

Synopsis: Hurt and unable to fix his current problems, Japer must rely on his instincts that has being honed by his father. On the other hand Howie, must piece together who Ugly J is, while trying to stay alive. And Connie must deal with the consequences of the decision that she chose. In this last chapter of the Jasper Dent trilogy, all three must sacrifice a part of themselves to survive the final battle.

Review: I finally mustered up enough courage to pick this book up and finally finished the trilogy. It is as good as I thought it would be and that’s evident enough on the rating I gave it. The writing as usual, is amazing, and creepy.The characters, just as well written as the other two books and the twist in the end, mind blowing! I loved every minute of it and wish more books would be written similar to this.

Although, I got to see Jasper, Howie and Connie again, knowing that its the end, its a bittersweet moment for me and every other reader who loves these three. Connie, in this book, is so much better than the previous, which irritated me at that time. In, Blood of my Blood, she is back to her smart and independent self again. I admit, she’s not my favorite heroine of all time, but to be able to stand against a serial killer is an amazing feat! Let’s not forget her courage towards her father and standing her ground with her relationship with Jasper. That is guts!

I’ve always enjoyed reading Howie’s point of view, and to be honest, he’s my favorite character. I think his sense of loyalty towards Jasper and Connie is something to be admired. Especially his friendship with Jasper. I love their relationship and their bond is unbreakable. I love that Jasper sees Howie as his anchor as a regular human being and I think both of them keep each other grounded. I also enjoy Howie’s sense of humor. This books is really not a laughing matter, but Lyga does a good job in inserting some jokes that is appropriate, even though its cheesy at times.

As for the actual book. I can’t even describe how wonderful this ending is. There is a reason why I gave it a five star and it deserves every shiny bit of it! There is so many things that happens in each page, but at the same time, every questions you have are answered. I even enjoyed the little glimpse we have at the end when Lyga enable us to see the future of our beloved characters.

Although, I really did enjoy the trilogy. I’m quite satisfied with the ending and how everything was revealed in the end. It might not be such a happy ending for everyone, but for those that matter to me, I can deal with what Lyga gave us. I do think that more books should be written similar to this because I enjoyed the intensity of the book and that it kept me at the edge of my seat the whole entire time. Maybe in the near future I would feel inclined to re-read the trilogy and visit the three friends again.

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

Ending: I’m really surprised at the ending. I hand a little premonition on who the partner is, especially when we find out that the mom is still alive. It was still a shocker for me that she was the one who set up the whole ‘game’ right from the beginning with the Impressionist. I can’t imagine how Jasper felt in finding out BOTH his parents are serial killers. To have one is already traumatizing, but to actually have TWO, that would have put me over the edge. I’m really not sure what to feel about the story of Jasper and his mother. For me that’s a little over the top, but it’s understandable considering Lyga wants to show that his mom is the ‘alpha male’ and to be the leader, she must be fearless.

As I said, the author allows us a glimpse of the future of the three protagonist. I’m happy to announce that all three are still friends and considering what Jasper and Connie went through with their relationship, I think they’re still holding strong. Like in their teens, the two boys, now men, are still friends and have made considerable amount of money publishing a book about Jasper’s life in the shadow of a serial killer.