Posted in Reviews

Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Verdict: meh. A mediocre mystery lacking sinister characters and shocking yet satisfying twist that mysteries and thrillers are built on.

Recommended: not really
Look elsewhere for a character you like, or for a story that focuses on the suspense and not the domestic issues, or for people who are made out to be really sinister and suspicious, or for a twist/shock that will blow you away

Summary:
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder. Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant. It was everything. She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

This might be the first time ever that I finished a book and wrote and posted a review the same day I finished it!! 🎉

Thoughts:
Ah, I mean, I don’t know. While I read this pretty quickly, it wasn’t because of how into it I was. More because there wasn’t much to take in, so I flew through it.

I expected a lot more as far as developing the possible characters in suspicious ways. I wanted to see them seem evil, or sinister, or delve more into the supernatural elements. I wanted to have no idea who to trust, with scheming at every turn! There were a few select moments like this, but ultimately none really had the impact I was hoping for.

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Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

October TBR: spookin’ it up!

Hey y’all!

I actually have a planned reading list for this month, and I actually think I’ll stick pretty closely to it. The reason? Well, I’m excited for all the books!! Simple as that. 😀

I’m going for a spooky theme for October. Of course that includes a few thrillers and mysteries (though I’ve finished one or two already being a few days into October). I have a few spillover books that I was in progress with that I’m wrapping up as well, but those are left off this list because I really want to highlight all the themed books that I’m excited about!

psycho/killer

Ah, finally I will read Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon!! I wrote about it for a Fast Forward Friday feature ages ago and then recently found the book on Hoopla. But I saved my excitement because I wanted it to be part of my spooky reads in October! FINALLY!! 😁 And I actually read and finished this one right away! It was quite good, and WELL I DID NOT CALL THE TWIST, let’s just put it that way!!!

Another one I’ve been waiting to read forever is The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. And also another gift copy from Elise because she spoils me with bookmail. ❤ I’m about a hundred pages in so far, and it seems to be a murder mystery / ghost story with nannying. I’m not big on children, but I can get into ghosts. Plus Scotland. The descriptions of the landscape alone would probably make this worth reading. 😍

Continue reading “October TBR: spookin’ it up!”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Verity by Colleen Hoover – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
WHOO. Damn, Colleen. Well done. I’ll be lingering over this the rest of today for sure 🤩

Recommended: yes
For a delightfully creepy “villain” character, for an ending that makes you question everything in the best way, for atmosphere over character reflection

Summary:
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Thoughts:
The coauthor premise was abandoned pretty quickly in lieu of the rest of the book’s plot, which is fine because the rest of the book was great. It did weaken the overall structure of the story a tiny bit, because it was clearly just used as the bridge to get her in the house, but it’s a minor thing. This book just rushes you right into the creepy bits, and everything prior to that is minimally important in my opinion. 😂 I just want the eerie-ness!

Continue reading “Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover”

Truly a surprise

A while ago (like so long ago it was before we wore masks, and could still see other people) I found a book that sounded interesting.

Then a coworker mentioned how good it was and offered to lend it to me.

Then Covid derailed some plans. 😐

And now!! I have just finished that book: Verity by Colleen Hoover. And, well, I finished it in under 24 hours. I just couldn’t stop reading!

As I started it, I had no idea what it was about. It’s been so long since I first heard of it that by this point I had no recollection anymore: just that I’d been interested. It was like getting a blind recommendation, but from myself! I loved it. It’s definitely going to be getting a review soon. 👏

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Grown, 9/15/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I’ve seen around a lot — and it’s hard to miss the bright yellow cover for Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson.
Expected Release: September 15, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I find myself more interested in murder mysteries lately, and this one promises to deliver! The best part is that since Enchanted doesn’t remember anything about the night before, she becomes an unreliable narrator. What if she did kill her mentor, the super popular Korey Fields?
  • Since Korey is a celebrity and Enchanted is striving to be one, this murder takes on a national spotlight. As if being accused of murder wasn’t difficult enough, Enchanted is going to face hordes of fans who will be out for blood. Probably literally, given the things actual people do. That alone is truly horrifying.
  • And sure, Korey was popular, but did he hide a darker side from his fans (much like Ellen DeGeneres may have?)? Described by Enchanted as controlling and filled with rage, I can’t wait to see what the real face of the devil looks like in this YA thriller. Maybe Enchanted did kill Korey — and maybe he deserved it.

Summary:
Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Last Story of Mina Lee, 9/1/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! This one, The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, is pretty in keeping with my love of learning about other’s experiences and particuarly about Korean experiences.
Expected release date: September 1, 2020

  • Unsurprisingly, I’m excited about this because it’s an Asian female familial generational story. While that feels really specific, I realized I love these as I’ve been reading more in the past few months! (Ex. Unbound, The Joy Luck Club)
  • This also seems like its going to be two books in one, in a good way. I get the mystery with Margot around her mother’s death, and I get the love story probably gone wrong with Mina back in her youth. Watching the two intertwine and fitting the clues to the facts is so satisfying.
  • As I get older, I grow to appreciate how parents are still just people. Learning about your parents, the history you never knew, the secrets hidden behind the titles of mom or dad, I find it fascinating now. Learning Mina’s story through the context of Margot’s revelations will require Margot to retrofit her understanding of her mother with the new background. And also, like, who killed her???
  • The historical context of immigrating to the US and the difficulties that can come with it will reflect easily onto current day, I believe. Empathy when reading is a draw for me, as is learning about history and lives that I have never undergone (and likely never would).

Summary:
Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll – ⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For people who like trashy reality tv shows, for female drama and secrets, definitely NOT for any kind of mystery aspect

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Summary:
When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates. Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret. Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt. Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story. And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

Thoughts:
Well, I really thought this would be more of a mystery than it was. Told primarily in flashbacks, we are occasionally brought to the current time where Brett is dead, as is mentioned in the blurb. Most of the story, however, alternates viewpoints from the past where we learn about each of the women in the show and try to ferret out the complexities of their relationships. Each has their own secret that could pretty much destroy their business, making them cutthroat towards each other. The murder and mystery around it took a backseat for the majority of the book.

Although I knew the premise involved a reality tv show, I didn’t think it would actually so closely mimic watching one. That’s not something I’m interested in, so I was somewhat disappointed in the book as it was not at all what I expected. That said, it was still interesting and engaging, just not in the ways I had hoped.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

May Day by Josie Jaffrey – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Vampires, murder investigation, competing love interests, dark humour…. Yup. That was a good risk. 😍

Recommended: yes!
For a captivating mystery blended with delicious sensuality, for humor both dark and light, for intense personal introspection from the main character

Summary:
If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one. It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake. When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does. To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die. Body bags on standby.

Thoughts:
Although I don’t usually read mysteries, the blend of vampires and the offbeat main character made me take a chance on this one. I am so glad I did!

It’s a mystery at heart, and I absolutely did not guess the resolution. That, for me, is a large part of what makes reading a mystery fun: the ah-ha! moment when it all pieces together at the end. However there’s enough puzzle remaining that I’m ready to read the next book already! I want to know how the others fall into these shady dealings.

Continue reading “Review: May Day by Josie Jaffrey”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

In Progress with MAY DAY

May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Progress: page 243/312 (78%)

I’m flying through this book even though I only started it yesterday. I took a chance outside my usual, and I am being rewarded for it! Thank you Josie Jaffrey for the delight of May Day!

Why did I start reading it?

This book actually just published today! I received an ARC from the author, and although it’s not my typical genre, I was intrigued. And I am so glad I gave it a shot, because I’m loving it! It’s a sexy vampire detective on a murder mystery, and it is so much more than that little description makes it sound. 😍

Where have I gone?

(British English) Words I’ve Learned:

Lines that linger

I’d never have thought that laughing in bed was a good thing, but here she is in my arms, and I’m so happy that I can feel the joy bubbling up into my throat, so happy that the force of my kisses is shaped by my smile.

He’s rich and powerful, which is a bad place for any man to start, but he’s also arrogant and elitist, which makes him a particularly wanky breed of wanker.

He’s an imposing man, over six-feet tall with dark skin and darker eyes. We don’t ask about his past, but I’m pretty sure it’s dark too.

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler!

Just a reminder that Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler (⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the full review here or grab your own copy from Book Depository here!

Recommended: sure
For a look at spiritual beliefs and the way a life looks lived by them, a story of grief and how a family works through it, a light mystery thrown in

Stunning cover. And even more intriguing because I can juuust make out that the shading lines ARE ALL WORDS. I see some numbers — what does it say?!

Summary:
An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding. Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean’s world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth—no matter how painful—in order to see the full picture.