Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

"Gosford Park" meets "Groundhog Day" by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you'll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed... again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath...

This book was not exactly what I expected but exactly what I needed. I'm always on the hunt for a mystery/thriller that is unique and takes things in a direction that I'm  not expecting. I had heard that 7 and a half deaths had a sci-fi element to it which is another genre that I enjoy so this book really intrigued me. 
The author throws you right into the fray with no information beforehand whatsoever. I was as disoriented as the main character probably was waking up in the body of a party guest having no idea where he was or how he came to be there. There were periods in the book that were thrilling and left me yelling at characters to run or not to trust certain people in the book. It was interesting and kept my attention easily because I wanted to solve the mystery right along with the main Aiden. There were points in the book where the pacing off and seemed to slow down considerably which was extremely frustrating for me. The slow pacing seems to happen towards the middle of the book and picks back up by the end. Everything happens so quickly and answers to questions are delivered. If you aren't paying close attention you could easily miss something and have to go back and read passages again. 
Something that I both loved and hated was that I couldn't figure out who the murderer was until the author spells it out at the end of the book. I'm usually really good at it but the end result was confusing for me. The murder mystery is a bit hard to follow and I'm not sure that the author left the appropriate amount of breadcrumbs for readers to solve it. 
Some of the questions that I had that were not pertaining to the murder but the rest of the story as a whole were never answered and I am still left wondering how certain things came to be or why. 
I have to say that I did LOVE the twist in the story pertaining to Aiden. I thought that it was so devious and clever. I wish that the author would have delved into that aspect of the story even more or would write another book focusing on that aspect of the book. I understood the end result of Aiden's stake in the story but would have preferred it end a bit differently than it did. 

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

I watched The Expanse TV show with my husband and we both really enjoyed it. It took me some time to get into the show and word of advice...get through the first three episodes and by the fourth episode things really start to pick up. I wanted to read the books first but I'm a mood reader and have to be in the mood for something otherwise I end up putting it down. 
I decided to listen to the audio book which is good but extremely long. The TV show follows the book very closely so I would recommend reading the book first before watching. I had a hard time paying attention to the book because I felt like I already knew everything that was going to happen. 
The book follows two different points of view which are Miller and Holden. The world is vast and there are quite a few characters but by having only two points of view it helps the reader to not become overwhelmed by information. 
The world is built really well and steadily throughout the book which I appreciated. I wish that some of the characters could have been fleshed out better because Miller and Holden seemed to be the only characters that had much depth. There is some romance in the book but I wish that the authors would have just skipped over that. I don't think that it needed to be included and appeared more like insta-love which I hate. 

Caliban's War (The Expanse #2) by James S.A. Corey

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .

Caliban's War is a breakneck science fiction adventure following the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.

I was extremely happy to see that there were some new perspectives in Caliban's War including some of my favorite characters of the series (Bobby and Chrisjen Avasarala). I have been religiously watching The Expanse TV show since my husband got me addicted to it and have recently begun reading the book series. If you enjoy the show then it is pretty much a guarantee that you will love the books the show is based on. I really liked the first book but found that Holden and Miller were a bit bland and found my mind wandering somewhat during the book. That was not the case with Caliban's War! I loved reading Bobby and Chrisjen Avasarala's points of view. I also surprised myself with being interested in Prax's point of view even though he didn't do much for me in the show. It is important to keep in mind that characters and some of the situations in the book differ greatly from the show. For instance, Chrisjen Avasarala is even more of a spitfire and well....even more of a politician if you know what I mean.

I loved how there were so many action packed scenes as well as more political intrigue. I know that quite a few people think that the plot in Caliban's War is similar if not the same as the first book in the series and I agree somewhat. I suppose the crew of the Rossi are again going on a mission to find out more regarding the protomolecule which has them some into contact with a missing persons case again. I think that there was a different feel to this book though. I feel it was a great continuation of the story giving readers more clues and perspectives from people racing to figure everything out and have the most control and power. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by RenΓ©e Ahdieh

🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirΓ©es and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic SΓ©bastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about SΓ©bastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

I feel the need to defend The Beautiful and to set the record straight when it comes to this book. I know that everyone has been excited since Renee Ahdieh announced that she was writing a book that would feature vampires and thought that it would have a Gothic feel with seductive creatures of the night. It does have that and has managed to bring back the type of vampires that we knew before Twilight came onto the scene and changed vampires to sparkly vegetarians (I'm not trying to bash the Twilight books at all by saying that). 

I think that the disappointment and confusion with The Beautiful is coming in the form of thinking that vampires would be at the forefront of the book because it mentions them in the synopsis. The truth about The Beautiful is that if you are looking for a book like Twilight or Interview With the Vampire you may be disappointed. While there are vampires in the book and readers get to be in the head of one of them (the villain's point of view) the vampires are mostly hidden away in the book. I think that readers are going into this book expecting one thing when the book reads more like a paranormal murder mystery set in the 1800s. 

I am often skeptical of books set in time periods like this one but I have loved all of Renee's other books and knew that I would read it regardless. I love thrillers and this one was reminiscent of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco which I loved as well. I thought that the mystery surrounding the villain was done well and I wasn't able to guess who done it. It always surprises me when an author is capable of stumping me. My issues with the book fall into this area as well. I think that the author should have given more breadcrumbs for readers to follow regarding the identity of the murderer. I was a bit thrown off when I discovered their identity. I also didn't really understand nor did I feel that there was much depth as to why the villain was committing murders in the first place. I am hoping that this will be remedied in the next installment. 

I still thought that the book was an overall success. The atmosphere that Renee was able to create was sensual and littered with temptations for the main character. It set the tone of the book beautifully. The author did a nice job of creating the setting with details about dress and culture of the time period included. I enjoyed the characters especially since there were not white knights or damsels in distress. I liked that the characters were flawed and moody rather than being run of mill characters that we see all of the time. I look forward to reading the next installment and feel that The Beautiful wasn't a bad foray into the world of vampires again after the drought of vampire books. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

I thought that the synopsis of Into the Drowning Deep made it sound like something that I have been waiting for forever. I have had yet to find a great mermaid/siren book that had the murder and mayhem that the species are known for....until this book. The author gave me what I have been craving and more. 
I could tell that this book was well thought although the pacing could have been better. That is where the book lost a star in my opinion. I felt like I had to push through the first half. It wasn't that the first half of the book was bad but it was much more scientific in nature rather than moving the plot along. The science was interesting but I wanted a bit more to be happening. 
That being said, the second half of this book was amazing! It was terrifying and thrilling at the same time! I feel like I was just as terrified as the characters in the book. I had no idea what was going to happen or if my favorite characters were going to live. It was fact paced just the right amount of blood and guts. I will say that anyone who is squeamish or has a weak stomach than this book is probably not a good idea. 
I think that some readers will have issues with how the book ended but I loved it. I thought that the ending was appropriate and almost exactly what I was looking for. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer -- before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn't the only one to die recently...

I was hesitant to read Six Wakes after hearing such mixed reviews on it including readers not understanding how it was a finalist for the Hugo Award. I tend to like books that have won that award since I began paying more attention to the finalists and winners of it. I kept coming back to the book because I enjoy sci-fi and thrillers and the plot sounded intriguing. 
I decided to finally take the plunge and read it to discover my own opinion on the book. Six Wakes begins right in the midst of murder and mayhem. The entire crew has been murdered and all of them wake up in their new clone bodies to discover the gory scene. None of them know how or why they were murdered or who the culprit is. I normally have a lot of trouble with thrillers because I find that authors make it entirely too simple to discover who the murderer is or their motivations for murder are not interesting enough. 
Mur Lafferty does a brilliant job of putting so many twists and turns into his book that it is hard to pinpoint exactly who committed the murders. It was thrilling to read and discover more and more clues to the mystery! 
I loved getting to have all of the different points of view and flashbacks for each character. The author does an excellent job of building the world through each of the characters and I loved every minute of it. Everything feels so realistic which makes the book even creepier. Many of the things that happen in this book could potentially happen with the advances in science and medicine that we have uncovered today. 
I was afraid that the reveal at the end would be disappointing but it was exactly what I would have wanted. Although, I would have liked more ending or at least a sequel. I'm not sure that a sequel would have the same effect or tone that Six Wakes had but I guess I just want more time in the world. 

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel

🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved - the object's origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand's code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What's clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history's most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

I heard about sleeping giants from recommendations and reviews from people whose book taste I tend to agree with. I haven't read a lot of adult scifi so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect going into this book. I tried to go into the book fairly blind but I knew it had something to do with a girl falling into a hole and having to be rescued by the fire department. She later finds out she had fallen into what appears to be a giant robotic hand and the book continues from that point.
The book is written in a mixed media format much like Sadie, Illuminae, and Daisy Jones and the Six. I'm sure that it would lend itself well to audio book like those but is still a great ebook read. I would say that the story is more character driven due to it being told through interviews, electronic journal entries, and experimental logs. I have found that I really enjoy this type of format because it is easy to read and makes the story more real somehow. I really enjoyed the characters especially Rose and "you know who"(we never get his name). I related most to Rose and found myself intrigued by "you know who". He appears like a shadow with the information he knows about everyone without actually being in the room and at times I felt he may have been a sociopath. I thought all of the characters were complex and drove the story very well. There were twists and turns which were sometimes due to the characters motivations whether well intention or not that had disastrous consequences. I think that if you liked a book like Illuminae or if you were wanting something more from Illuminae then you should read this book. It's a great intro to adult scifi. It's easy to read and not get lost in the science as well as thought provoking.