Posted in Lists

Thursday Musings: The DNF Graveyard

 

I’ve had a really great streak going lately – the last several books I have read have all been great. I’ve really been on quite a roll.

Which got me thinking about books that I didn’t mesh with – specifically ones that I wasn’t able to finish. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t make them “bad,” they just weren’t for me. Usually, if I only get a couple chapters into a book and realize it’s not for me, I don’t post a review. I don’t feel I can truly review a book having only read maybe two or three chapters.

So for the first time, I’m admitting which books I couldn’t finish – at least the first time I picked them up (See more on that below).

  1. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin: After hearing all the hype about the TV series, I was really curious about the books, because that’s how I think. But I couldn’t get more than 100 pages in. Even though I knew it was a fantasy/epic/drama, it was just SO MUCH of all of that. I couldn’t stomach it, I guess for the same reasons I don’t like soap operas. Oh well.
  2. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff: I have always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials, and have even visited Salem, Mass. But I couldn’t get into this book, which blended reality and legend and lots and lots of small details. I couldn’t follow it at all.
  3. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell: I got about halfway through this book before letting it just drift off and finally putting it away. I just couldn’t really sympathize with others the characters here. But maybe that’s because they were just so different from me. Or the fact that I never liked “Sex and the City.” *shrugs*
  4. The Girl with the Dragin Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: Ok, so the first time I picked this book up in an airport bookstore, I let the Swedish names trip me up. I couldn’t focus on the Tory because I was distract d by the hard to pronounce names and places. But then, maybe 2 years or so later, I decided to give it another try. And I DEVOURED the entire series. I absolutely loved it. Which goes to show you: never give up on a book totally. You may change your mind.

What books have you never been able to finish? Or do you think I should give one of these another chance? Let me know!

Posted in For Fun

Goodreads Monday: “Black Chalk” by Christopher J. Yates

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Here’s my selection this week!:

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It was only ever meant to be a game played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University; a game of consequences, silly forfeits, and childish dares. But then the game changed: The stakes grew higher and the dares more personal and more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. Who knows better than your best friends what would break you?

This book has gotten mixed reviews so far, but the cover and description intrigue me! Let me know if you’ve read this one!

Posted in Reviews

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Last Breath (Detective Erika Foster, #4)Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s something very exciting about seeing an author you’ve enjoyed reading in the past put out a new book. Hopefully, you get to enjoy a new tale in a style you’re familiar with and like.

Robert Bryndza is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and, like “Dark Water” previously, “Last Breath,” is creepy, suspenseful and will make you check your locks at night.

The book follows Erika Foster as she finds out about the death of a young woman, found stuffed in a trash dumpster. Soon, Erika finds a similar death in the records and begins to think there’s a sick serial killer prowling the streets of London. As she finagles her way onto the case, she not only works to deal with her personal issues, but with the knowledge that she’s working against the clock to prevent more deaths.

This book is the fourth in the series, but can be read as a standalone (though you WILL want to read the other because they’re equally as good).

The killer is revealed in the first third of the novel, but the suspense is kept high as you keep wondering what’s going to happen next and what the heck is going on. It’s really the sign of a great author that you can continue to feverishly turn pages after they’ve “revealed” big info to you. The story needs to be great at that point, and this one is.

Again, as in “Dark Water,” Bryndza draws in current themes to the writing. It’s like an episode of “Law and Order,” “ripped from the headlines!” I really enjoyed this (I’m trying to stay vague to avoid spoilers) because it really ups the creepy factor. It makes you wonder about the “ordinary” people you see walking past you on the street.

The ending ties things up nicely, though I do have some questions lingering in my head….nothing major. I guess I’ll have to read it again to try to catch anything I missed! 🙂

I’m really looking forward to more in this series – it’s a great series of stories, about characters that are realistic and likable.

Highly recommended.

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Posted in Reviews

Blog Tour: Gavin by Russell – Review and Giveaway!

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MY REVIEW

GavinGavin by Russell*

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To start: This book is dark. Very dark. It contains some very intense scenes involving sexual abuse and childhood abuse. Those that are looking for a light, warm-hearted read should pick another book. But for those that want to try a mystery/thriller with just a touch of horror: this book is an amazingly suspenseful thriller that will leave you begging the author for more.

The novel begins as Gavin Nolan and his partner – homicide detectives in the Chicago PD – are summoned to a crime scene in which two men are brutally murdered. The killer, who they’ve been investigating for weeks, also leaves a personal message for Gavin: “You could have saved me.” The investigation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as Gavin wracks his brain for any connection between the victims. How are these seemingly random (and quite, frankly, douche-baggy men that no one seems to really miss) victims connected? And how doe Gavin fit in? We’re about to find out.

Like I said, this novel does not shy away from anything, from the descriptions of the crime scenes, to the events that ultimately connect all the dots. It is not for those with a weak stomach. But I couldn’t stop reading; I was sucked in from almost the very first page. The author leaves a trail that is intriguing and keeps you guessing, while handing you little clues throughout. For example, I had a theory that I formed about halfway through – I was wrong. But that’s part of the fun with these types of novels.

The personal storylines were also good. They contributed to the storyline, but didn’t take away from the mystery. And the author does a good job of advancing them throughout the story – the characters grow and develop throughout the novel in a way that is really satisfying – I hate when characters stay stagnant.

The ending also promises more from these characters, which is great. Normally, I’m not a fan of cliffhangery-type endings, but this one was done in a really great way that gave closure to the story at hand, while promising more excitement coming.

I’ll definitely be reading the next in this series.

View all my reviews


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

_XPR4892.jpgFor nearly two decades, Russell was an executive chef in the restaurant industry, in which he created succulent entrees and managed various types of kitchen operations. In the last seven years, he began to teach future culinarians how to achieve their professional goals in hands-on classroom and lecture settings. With his recent graduate work in the field of sociology, his interests center on organizational behaviorism, social theory, and food insecurity.

Russell has been writing for the majority of his life. Last year, he published a second edition of his freshman novel, The Tale of Old Man Fischer. Slipping into alternative universes allows Russell to enjoy the process of creativity from the novel’s conception to its final draft. Most importantly, inspiration is a continuous piece of his work and results from the world around him. Currently, he lives in Upstate New York with his wife, two children, and several cats.

Please visit Russell on these social media platforms:
Facebook: Russell (The Author)
Twitter: @Russell_Writer
Instagram: @Russell_Writer


GIVEAWAY

Win one of NINE signed copies of the novel!


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND PURCHASE

Barnes and Noble
GoodReads
Kindle
Paperback

Posted in Reviews

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Ill WillIll Will by Dan Chaon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

This book was interesting. It’s got some great mysteries (two main ones to be precise) in it, but the main character, Dustin Tillman, is a a spacy, damaged man, and the story reflects that vibe. It can be frustrating, but overall, I liked it.

The core of the book is very good and shows a lot of potential – the multiple storylines are well done and incredibly interesting.

Dustin was 13 when he and his twin female cousins, sleeping over in a camper in Dustin’s driveway before a family vacation, found their parents murdered inside the house. Dustin and Kate, one of the twins, testified against Dustin’s adopted brother, saying he killed the four adults in a Satanic ritual. Thirty years later, Rusty has been acquitted, and Dustin and his family are living peacefully in Cleveland, when one of Dustins patients presents him with an intriguing mystery: are young men in Northeastern Ohio simply drowning after two much to drink or are they the target of a serial killer? As these two worlds collide, everyone finds themselves drawn into a dangerous mystery.

The writing style of the book is not typical. It flies not only between narrators but also time periods and events, all of which come together to form the bigger picture of the two mysteries. I didn’t mind it so much, but I could see how it wouldn’t be for everyone.

Also, the ending is kind of vague. Most of the questions seem to be answered by characters at different points, but there’s no “revealing scene” to confirm, “OK so-and-so was correct, this happened.” And there are some new questions which are not answered.

I’d love to hear more thoughts on this book. I really was drawn into the story and I’d love to hear thoughts on the ending.

Recommended.

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Posted in Uncategorized

What I bought this week

Even though I keep pretty busy with my review books, I still always check Amazon for great deals on good books – which means that my TBR pile is ever-growing.

Here’s my haul for this week! Let me know if you have read any and share your thoughts:

the-silent-twin-caroline-mitchell

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late. 

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found. 

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?


9780618982660

An epic tale of one man’s courage in the face of genocide and his granddaughter’s quest to tell his story

In the heart of the Ottoman Empire as World War I rages, Stepan Miskjian’s world becomes undone. He is separated from his family as they are swept up in the government’s mass deportation of Armenians into internment camps. Gradually realizing the unthinkable—that they are all being driven to their deaths—he fights, through starvation and thirst, not to lose hope. Just before killing squads slaughter his caravan during a forced desert march, Stepan manages to escape, making a perilous six-day trek to the Euphrates River carrying nothing more than two cups of water and one gold coin. In his desperate bid for survival, Stepan dons disguises, outmaneuvers gendarmes, and, when he least expects it, encounters the miraculous kindness of strangers.

The Hundred-Year Walk alternates between Stepan’s saga and another journey that takes place a century later, after his family discovers his long-lost journals. Reading this rare firsthand account, his granddaughter Dawn MacKeen finds herself first drawn into the colorful bazaars before the war and then into the horrors Stepan later endured. Inspired to retrace his steps, she sets out alone to Turkey and Syria, shadowing her resourceful, resilient grandfather across a landscape still rife with tension. With his journals guiding her, she grows ever closer to the man she barely knew as a child. Their shared story is a testament to family, to home, and to the power of the human spirit to transcend the barriers of religion, ethnicity, and even time itself. 


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When historian Carrie Jo Jardine accepted her dream job as the chief historian at Seven Sisters in Mobile, Alabama, she had no idea what she would encounter. The moldering old plantation housed more than a few boxes of antebellum artifacts and forgotten oil paintings. Secrets lived there””and they demanded to be set free.

When young, wealthy Ashland Stuart offered Carrie Jo the job, he had no idea that she had a secret of her own. Carrie Jo dreams about the past. An unexpected accident takes Carrie Jo back in time as a witness to life at the plantation over 150 years ago. An impassioned plea from Ashland puts Carrie Jo in a precarious position as the two work together to find a missing heiress, the young and beautiful Calpurnia Cottonwood.

A collection of journals and a series of dreams give Carrie Jo all the clues she needs to find the missing girl, but both a present-day danger and one from the past try to stop her. Will Carrie Jo solve the mystery of the house or will she pay the ultimate price?

Posted in Reviews

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dead Letters: A NovelDead Letters: A Novel by Caite Dolan-Leach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would put this book at right around 3.5 stars. It’s a intense story which kept me reading, but much like “The Good Daughter,” “Dead Letters” had some flaws.

But overall, I did like this book, and I enjoyed guessing to see if I could figure it out (I didn’t). It kept me plenty entertained, for sure.

The story revolves around Ava Antipova, who comes from an incredibly dysfunctional family of alcoholics (including her father who left the family and started again and her mother who was diagnosed with Lewey Body Dementia and is barely able to grasp reality at times), who own a vineyard in upstate New York. She has been in Paris for the past 20 months when she gets word that her estranged twin, Zelda, has died in a barn fire. When she arrives home, not only does it come out that the fire is being labeled as “suspicious,” but her sister may have faked her death. She must follow clues Zelda left for her to find out whether her sister is dead or alive, and why she had to resort to such a drastic measure.

Some reviewers have said it’s more of a “family drama” than a mystery/thriller, so they felt let down or mislead. While this novel really is a family drama on a basic level, there is a mystery right at its core – is Zelda alive or dead? – that I think pushes it over the edge into mystery/thriller territory. I was hooked on trying to figure in out, and the author does a great job of keeping up the suspense. I flipped my opinion with each passing chapter: “No she’s definitely dead….No way, she’s alive!…..Are you kidding me? She’s dead!”

I also loved that it was set in Watkins Glen! I live about 40 minutes away, and love visiting there – and the author really gave an accurate depiction of the region, IMO.

My main issues with the book were that I really didn’t like any of the Antipovas. Like, I actively hated each of them at some point. In the book, Ava admits that all four members of the family are alcoholics, but while she can acknowledge that, she doesn’t do anything about it, so the novel is essentially like watching an alcoholic friend destroy themselves slowly while they refuse to get help. It was frustrating. For girls that seemed to have so much potential, both sisters were completely unlivable in their own ways, and I found myself rooting for the whole damn vineyard to burn down; it was probably what was best for all of them.

Also, the ending sucked. It really did. Without spoiling it, it raised more questions than answers. While the Zelda puzzle is solved, not much else is. I actually had to reread the last chapter because I came up with a new question and thought I missed something.

Basically, if you like reading a good mystery, this one is good. You’ll enjoy trying to figure it out. But if you are looking for character development or redeeming endings, they’re not here.

Moderately recommended.

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