Book Review: I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll

I will make you pay by teresa driscoll

Rating:  ★★★

I Will Make You Pay is a thriller about a journalist named Alice that starts receiving threatening calls and gifts on Wednesdays. I’ve been trying to branch out my reading a little more because I’ve been feeling a little burned out on SFF these days, but this book made me remember why I don’t read thrillers often.

The thing is, I think in order for a thriller to work you have to care about or connect with the character to some degree (to create suspense). Thrillers tend to focus heavily on secrets and twisty turny plots, so it’s not often I find characters in a thriller that I either love or don’t feel like card board cut outs. I also have grown very tired of damsels in distress, and we are reminded at every turn that Alice is a damsel in distress, between Matt, the PI who basically acts as her body guard, and Tom, the boyfriend, and Jack, the coworker, I never at any point in time felt like Alice was capable of sticking up for or defending herself. It was kind of frustrating.

In Gone Girl, Amazing Amy is incredibly despicable, and I wouldn’t say I cared about her, but that woman is absolutely not a damsel in distress. Those are the kind of women I want to read about. No matter how awful they might be. Any sign at all that Alice was actually trying to protect herself might have helped but she just refused.

I’m sorry if I sound like I’m being harsh or insensitive- I can absolutely see how a person who was being stalked would feel and is absolutely powerless in that situation, but I just would have liked to have seen something that said she was thinking of her own safety, either giving in and letting the PI act as her bodyguard, or actually purchasing that pepper spray she browsed online, or signing up for a self defense class. But she doesn’t do anything at all.

Anyway. I was worried the whole time that I knew very early on who the stalker was and I didn’t- so it had that going for it. There were also a few surprising plot twists along the way. (Content Warning: pedophilia abounds in this plot. It’s not graphic, but it is disturbing and I could have lived without it.)

Anyway- I skimmed a lot of parts towards the end that I just didn’t care about, Alice’s musings about her childhood, Matt’s musings about past cases. I’m still not sure why we were shown the whole Ian subplot. It was great that Matt was such a nice guy, but really it had NOTHING to do with the actual plot.

Finally, the line “I will use cheese wire on you” was introduced early on and repeated frequently. It made me laugh… which is not what it was supposed to do, but I just kept thinking to myself, and how the hell is that going to work? Cheese wire? It’s inventive I guess but I really don’t think that it’s all that threatening. And something about it is not very eloquently said? I don’t know.

Anyway- not a bad read but not a great read either. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for sending an eARC for review.

I Will Make You Pay can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Book Review: Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Rating:  ★★★1/2

I’m a little depressed after finishing this.  I just realized I have to wait at least another year for a new Uhtred book.  Also – I think the tone of these books is getting darker.

In Sword of Kings, Uhtred is called upon for help from Edward’s queen, Eadigfu.  She believes Aethelhem and her step-son Aelfweard are plotting against her and her children.  She sends for Uhtred, seeking his protection against their mutual enemies.  And Uhtred, feeling restless, and also suspicious of a plot against him, against his better judgement and the advice of friends, comes to rescue her.  At which point, of course, things go terribly, horribly wrong.

Edward dies, leaving Mercia and East Anglia to Aethelstan, his true heir, and Wessex to Aelfweard, the recognized heir.  There’s also the matter of the oath Uhtred has sworn to kill Aethelhelm, and others.  (I mean really, is there any oath he hasn’t sworn at this point?)

We say goodbye to a couple old friends.  I was a little upset by the way those character deaths were handled, which seemed almost thoughtless.  It happens off page toward the end, and while Uhtred seems upset by one, he admits that he was relieved about the other, and it bothered me quite a bit.

He’s often painted as a sort of Knight in Shining Chain Mail (he literally saves like 13 orphans in London from misery in this book), and to have that line thrown in so carelessly toward the end felt like a disservice to his character.  I didn’t feel like it reflected who he really was or his past actions.  It’s hard to really say what it was without spoilers, but it wasn’t a good way to end.

Anyway- I did like some of the new characters (Beneditta).  And Finan received a lot of spotlight here, and his friendship with Uhtred is one of my favorite things about the Saxon Stories.  The battle scene at the end was fantastic.

Overall – well worth reading if you are a fellow Uhtred fan.  My hangups with this one were more personal than anything else.  Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the eARC for review.

Sword of Kings releases on November 26, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.

Book Review: Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

Rating:  ★★★★

Half Way Home is about a colony that was raised in (vats?) until about the age of 15, enduring some kind of telepathic training, and then aborted by the colony’s AI. At the last minute, mid-abort sequence, the colony AI decides there is something worth saving on the planet and halts the process. There are only about 60 survivors out of 500.

Now the colonists are being told to construct a rocket for… something. No one knows what. Unfortunately, the colony AI isn’t telling anyone why, just keeps pushing the colonists harder and harder to finish the project. We follow Porter and his two friends, Kelvin and Tarsi, as they decide to make a break from the colony and survive on their own. Unfortunately there’s something waiting for them out there beyond the gates of the colony.

I wasn’t really expecting this to have any horror type storyline, but towards the end it definitely veered that way. You begin getting glimpses of that type of plot early on, and I loved every second of it. I wouldn’t say it was too scary, but I loved the creep factor of the colonists venturing into the unknown, exploring things that were new and fun and scary all at once.

The plot moves at a pretty quick pace. This is less than 300 pages long, and the colonists are basically newborns, so there weren’t any complicated character/world history back stories to set up. We’re dropped in right at the moment they start existing outside of their “vats” (sorry I really can’t remember what they were called in the book) and that allowed us to just always keep moving forward, building the history as it went.

The characters themselves were wonderful, even if they didn’t have lots of past baggage to build them out. Their relationships were complex. There is a love triangle of sorts, but  it was a love triangle that actually worked in this instance and didn’t grow too tiresome.

It wasn’t a full five Star read for me, just because I think there were a couple things that felt off. At some point the colony AI has the kids making guns out of gold. Supposedly these guns actually work. Gold is too soft to make guns out of. They would be highly likely to explode, and any mention of golden guns took me out of the story. The second critique is that the planet felt a little sparse. Having read Black Leopard, Red Wolf earlier in the year, with its amazing world building, I just thought more could have been done? I realize being that it’s a short book there wasn’t a whole lot of extra room for planet and landscape building, but I just would have liked to have seen more than giant trees, fuzzy worms and bomb fruit.

All in all, it was a fun adventure and I’m doubly excited to check out Howey’s Wool having read this. Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC to review.

Half Way Home can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.The Book of Koli by MR Carey

Title: The Book of Koli

Author:  M.R. Carey

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 496 Pages

Release Date: April 14, 2020

Blurb: The first in a gripping new trilogy, The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation.

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is — what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

Why I’m Excited For It:  Honestly, I know better than to trust marketing ploys such as Book ABC meets Book XYZ, but that’s where this one had me: Station Eleven meets Annihilation.  I love the survival horror aspect of Annihilation, the looming dread I felt at not knowing what the heck was going on or where it was all leading, and I loved Station Eleven’s literary character building.

Although I haven’t read anything else by Carey, I’ve heard consistently good things about The Girl With All the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge, so I’m hopeful that this book will live up to the standards he’s set.

What about you?  Which new releases are you looking forward to?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Spooks, Psychics and other Supernatural books on my TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is books I’d give new titles too, but honestly, I’m not that creative.  So in honor of Halloween I’m doing a follow up to my post: Monster Books on my TBR, with a post dedicated to ghosts and the supernatural!

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – Rock star buys ghost on eBay and chaos ensues written by Joe Hill?  Yes.  Please.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman – Malerman wrote Bird Box, in case you didn’t know, and while I want to read that someday, having seen the movie (which is fantastic by the way) I’m not in too much of a rush.  But seeing that had me adding this- two teenagers find a house at the bottom of a lake and go diving, only to discover they aren’t alone.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray – This is less of a horror novel than others on this list- but it still sounds like a fantastical ghost story.  (And the reviews are really good!)

Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay – I keep seeing Tremblay’s name come up in conjunction with horror.  I also recently read his short story: The Last Conversation, and while I wasn’t wowed, I was intrigued enough that I wanted to read more of the author.  I settled on this book, in which a boy disappears and then a ghost haunts the town.  *Shrugs*  What can I say?  It’s got ghosts.  Good enough for me.

The Deep by Alma Katsu

The Deep by Alma Katsu – A haunted Titanic and a phenomenal cover.

The Possession by Michael Rutger

The Possession by Michael Rutger – This book is a sequel to The Anomaly, which did make it to my Monster Books TBR.  But it’s been getting rave reviews left and right and sounds right up my alley!

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz – Short order cook sees ghosts.  I’m told it’s a classic and the series is relatively good to start with.  Also I need to read more Koontz.  Somehow missed him when he was more popular.

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire – Haunted highways are one of my favorite urban legends, so I knew when I heard about this book I had to read it.  The one book I’ve read of McGuire’s was good fun popcorn horror, and I have high hopes!

Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade House by David Mitchell – I guess you’re supposed to have read The Bone Clocks first, but I don’t really care.  Every nine years on Halloween- the residents of Slade House extend an invitation to an unsuspecting guest.  The problem is, once they enter, they can never leave…

The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King – I know I know okay?!?!  It’s impossible that I am a Stephen King fan and haven’t read this.  But I’ve started it like 10 times and the beginning is just boring alright?  I just need to read it before I see Doctor Sleep.

What about you?  Got any good ghost stories for me?

 

Book Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

This is my first experience with Ruta Sepetys.  It didn’t disappoint!  The Fountains of Silence takes place under the reign of General Francisco Franco, after the Spanish Civil War and WWII.

We follow the lives of four very different characters.  Daniel is from Texas, the son of a wealthy oil tycoon.  Ana is the daughter of Republican parents that were executed when she was younger.  She lives with her older sister’s family and works at the Castellana Hilton in Madrid.  Rafa is her brother, who was forced to attend a reform school following the death and discovery of his parents, and became friends with Fuga, an aspiring torero (bull fighter).  He wants nothing more than to work the arena at Fuga’s side as his promoter and protector.  Puri is Ana’s cousin, a staunch  Catholic and supporter of Franco.  She works at the orphanage, caring for all the abandoned children.

This is a largely character driven novel and the plot takes quite some time to reveal itself.  I didn’t mind it here, because the chapters were all very quick (2 or 3 pages, sometimes less) and I was urged onward by Daniel’s relationship with Ana, as well as the tension brought on by his passion for photography in a country that was very careful not to let the rest of the world see inside Franco’s regime.  Puri and Rafa also have story line’s with some intrigue and each line pulled me in and kept me engaged at different times in different ways.

The plot, which as I said is slow to be revealed, is incredibly sinister.  The reader gets hints here and there of what is to come, but it’s something so awful the reader just doesn’t want to believe.  To get to the end and learn the truth of things… I was shocked.  It’s a secret that has really only come to light in 2018, if I understood the note at the end correctly.  A full 40 years after the death of Franco, which only heightened the impact of the story Sepetys has told.

The writing was descriptive and painted beautiful pictures without ever feeling like it was spending too much time on the details.  I love when a writer can make me feel the setting with just one sentence, one single image, and Sepetys does it wonderfully.  People standing in line for blood, a torero in a suit of lights in profile, people washing at the fountain, a garden in Madrid at night… I felt transported to another time and place and found the book almost impossible to put down.

The only thing that held this back from being a full five star read – was I wished I understood Puri’s character and story better in the end.  It’s clear in the beginning that she is young and naive, and she undergoes an awakening of sorts throughout the novel, but in the end we see her, and she’s maintained her silence for ten years, and the reader never really gets a chance to understand what she’s thinking in the end.  Thank you to the publisher for sending a review copy.

The Fountains of Silence released on October 1, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.

 

Book Review: People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

Rating:  ★★★

People of the Lake is about a girl who spends the summer with her dad in his hometown. It’s a quiet little town on Redmarch Lake, except the people there are weird. They don’t like outsiders. They don’t talk to outsiders. And they are definitely hiding something.

One night, after a party in the woods, a teenage boy washes up dead on the lakeshore, and the following morning a note shows up from Clara’s twin sister, written in a secret language they shared as twins. The only problem? Clara’s sister Zoe has been dead for eight years.

This book was slow to get going. It lingers a lot on unnecessary details. Clara’s inner monologue is often repetitive, as is the recounting of her mornings at the coffee shop. The dialogue often felt stiff and cliched. It isn’t bad per se, but it’s not really good either.

I also struggled with the way Clara was written. She was written very much how I think adults believe teenage girls are, rather than how they actually are. She was never fully realized as a person outside of her teenage girl-dom. There were a lot of tropes and cliches stuffed in that just came across as dated. (A step dad she doesn’t want to know, the weird unfriendly goth girl, the awkward Dad… the list goes on.)

That said, I did enjoy the plot. A lot of the details were held back until the end, keeping me in suspense. Even when I struggled, I wanted to see where the crazy train was taking me. There’s a silly romance shoehorned in at the end that you’ll see coming a mile away. By the time they got to “I love you’s” I was rolling my eyes.

There’s some odd pieces of history going back to the 1400s thrown in, that don’t feel like they ever culminate into anything. They reveal bits and pieces of the town’s history but don’t actually contribute to the overall story beyond what the character’s tell us (and what the character’s tell us is much more coherent).

The spook factor was decent. I loved the imagery of lights in the woods and the howling, accompanied by the ever present lake, so silent and still. It’s definitely supernatural in nature, as a heads up, if that kind of horror is not your thing.

I think this could have actually been great if there had been some stronger editing to get rid of the tropes and repetitiveness, and maybe been trimmed down to a novella size to keep the pace up.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss who provided an eARC for review.

People of the Lake released on October 15, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is awesome titles.  I think it’s a great topic because I’m getting a chance to share ten titles I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned here.  I also think it’s pretty self explanatory, so I’m going to take the lazy route and just drop a bunch of pictures and links on you.

Lady Hotspur

Donna Has Left the Building

Passing Strange

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea

Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Space Unicorn Blues

Do you like any of these titles?  What books made your list?

Book Review: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

I requested Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts on a complete whim, and it turned out to be one of the best surprises I’ve had this year.  Nothing about this novel is what I typically read, not the genre (which I am still having trouble naming) and not the tone (light/feel good).

But it was so much fun!  The beginning of the book has a lot of fun 90s references.  At times it reminded me of Ready Player One’s penchant for the 80s, but better, because it was the 90s.  I also loved the setting, Boston, MA, which is one of my favorite cities and not too far from where I live.

Mostly though, I loved Tuesday.  It’s rare that I see myself in any fictional representation of someone.  She’s an introvert, and never has a wide group of friends, doesn’t really date, and prefers it that way.  She likes to solve puzzles and mysteries, and has a small fascination with all things occult.

The plot of the book is this: eccentric billionaire dies, and leaves behind a treasure hunt for anyone who cares to join.  The prize is a piece of his fortune.  Of course, Tuesday wastes no time getting started.  Joining her is the mysterious Archie, an heir to another wealthy family, her best friend Dex (who absolutely steals all his scenes) and her young neighbor friend Dorry.

But there is a lot more to the story than this.  Each character harbors their own secrets and has their own struggles. The plot twists and turns, layering small reveals on throughout the ending half.  I never once guessed any of them.  Some of them were shocking but they didn’t feel too outlandish (maybe sometimes).

Either way, I had a blast with this book and I thought the ending was fantastic.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.  Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC for review.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts released on October 8, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

Monster Books on my TBR

My favorite kind of horror always involves monsters.  From the Chupacabra to the Mothman, Nessie to Big Foot- I want to watch it, I want to read it.

Mosasaurus gif

Unfortunately, I don’t do as much of the latter as I’d like.  So instead, in honor of my favorite month for all things scary, here are some of the monster books on my TBR!

Relic

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – The first of the Pendergast novels.  I have seen the movie and love it.  If for no other reason than nostalgia.  The monster in this book is described as a chimeric fish, reptile, primate, insect… thing.

Meg by Steve Alten

Meg by Steve Alten – If I’m being honest, I thought the movie was kind of lame.  Sure there was plenty of carnage in that one beach scene- but if you’re going to call it horror, you gotta kill off more of the main cast.  I’m hoping the book does it better.  (In case you can’t tell, the monster in this book is a Megalodon shark.)

The Terror by Dan Simmons

The Terror by Dan Simmons – I know a show exists based on this book, but I actually haven’t seen it yet!  Anyway, I’m dying to read it, but at the same time, Simmons and his 700+ page books also terrify me.

Communion by Whitley Strieber

Communion by Whitley Strieber – I’m told this is one of the more horrifying books out there.  I believe the monster in this book is aliens, but I can’t confirm how much page time they get.  Either way- I’m excited to read it!

Congo by Michael Crichton

Congo by Michael Crichton – Much like Relic, I’m dying to read this for the nostalgia factor alone.  The monster in this book is a highly intelligent, very aggressive, species of gorilla.

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone – The blurb describes an odd montage of events for a monster book, but I’m really not that picky.  No idea what the monster is, just trusting there is one.

Below by Ryan Lockwood

Below by Ryan Lockwood – I’m guessing it’s a Kraken?  I see tentacles.  Doesn’t matter really.  I’ll read it.

Admiral By Sean Danker

Admiral by Sean Danker – Yes to all the things lurking in the creepy alien mist on a seemingly dead planet.

Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner

Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner – This is really more fantasy/sci-fi than horror, but with a cover like that I couldn’t leave it out.  Intended to act as a sequel to 20,000 Leauges Under the Sea.

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger – The sequel to this recently released with mostly positive reviews, but the original has actually been on my TBR since it released.  Being that I haven’t read it yet, I can’t confirm any actual monsters, but I’ll be very disappointed if there aren’t.

Do you like monster books?  Which ones are on your TBR?