Tag: Mystery (page 1 of 17)

BOOK REVIEW: The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

BOOK REVIEW: The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare and Wesley ChuThe Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1)
by Cassandra Clare, Wesley Chu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series that follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel.

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

WHAT THE WHAT?! That ending….???!?!?!

It literally pains me that I can’t add quotes to this review but hey, I get it, it’s an ARC and things are subject to change. Just know that I was highlighting like crazy the last 25%.

I can’t lie, when I first found out that Cassie was writing ANOTHER series based in the Shadowhunter world, I was a little peeved. I mean I love Magnus, I really do, but I was just like “how much longer can all this be drug out?!”…I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, too. Even throughout this book, I was enjoying it but kept thinking okayyyyy was this really necessary?! What is this story adding to the bigger picture besides just basically being fanfiction for Magnus x Alec shippers??

Yes. Yes it was necessary. For numerous reasons but DEFINITELY because of what happened in the epilogue. But really, no, even though *you know who* was found *you know where* that isn’t why I will devour the rest of this series, no no no. I will soak up every single page of the next two books because finally being able to see Magnus and Alec’s love front and center was a beautiful thing. Like literally I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

There are so many times when Magnus can be TOO MUCH…like, basically all the time. I find myself wondering often, how can he be so glib and joke-y about everything?! It’s almost exhausting to read. Aaaand then you catch a small glimpse of who he really is, and why his facade is like that, and you understand. Magnus has been alive for a VERY long time. He has seen a lot of terrible things and lost a lot of people he had truly loved. He was almost killed as a child because of who he is and I’m sure since then there have been many more attempts on his life. He has lost friends, and he has seen the deep prejudices of the Clave play out against his fellow Downworlders. It’s no wonder that he doesn’t like to be serious. I think that is 100% his coping mechanism for dealing with the pure shittiness of the world. But there is so much more to him than that and it is really explored here. Magnus is so good it hurts. He is one of the best characters Clare has ever written.

And Alec, oh Alec. You sweet, strong, kind, and caring man. Guys, I LOVED getting Alec’s POV in this book. I literally can’t wait to see him in action View Spoiler » in The Wicked Powers. He has grown SO MUCH from the boy in City of Bones who was the epitome of a rule follower. He has learned that while the most Shadowhunters abide by the saying “The Law is hard, but it is the Law” that things can’t always be taken care of properly and fairly by the stupid “Law.” Watching him in love with Magnus was like watching the most beautiful flower bloom (AND I DON’T CARE HOW CHEESY THAT SOUNDS). They are one of my favorites OTPs of all time.

Also, we get to see Aline and Helen meet and see the very beginnings of their relationship too which was great. Even though they are a big part of TDA overall, we don’t get much time with them at all. Getting to know their personalities a little more was great. Also Raphael. I feel like I took him for granted during TMI. He’s funny and snarky AF and cares so much more than you will ever know. Any who has entered and even just liked the world of the Shadowhunters will fall in love with this book and like I said, after that epilogue I am dying to get my hands on the next book!

This eARC was provided by Edelwiess and the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen HamiltonThe Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she'll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain...

Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Hamilton and Wildfire for my free ARC.


I loved him and yet I’d been unable to stop him making the biggest mistake of his life. He was mine.

Juliette loved Nate. Nate decided to end his relationship with Juliette. Juliette cannot let Nate go and will do anything to get him back. And thus begins our story.

Once upon a time, I could walk up to him and hug him any time I pleased. Now, I am not allowed. Those are the rules. I have not been given any choice or say in the matter.

Juliette is both highly problematic and also sympathetic in moments. After being dumped by Nate, an airline pilot, Juliette becomes a flight attendant to worm her way back into his life. She is methodical, disciplined and tries to stay three steps ahead of everyone else. It honestly sounds exhausting, but Juliette is nothing but dedicated.

He thinks he doesn’t want me, but he’s proving that he does. It’s all up to me to help him come to terms with his feelings so this whole mixed-messages thing stops.

This book is very much along the lines of Kaira Rouda novels or “The Last Mrs. Parrish.” I found it hard to put down because I wanted to see what Juliette would do next. I think my mouth dropped open as some of the pieces fell together at the end. I felt like I should have seen it coming, but I was so invested in what was in front of me, I wasn’t really trying to piece it together like that.

Some people may hate the ending, as it is not the cleanest, but I didn’t mind. After all the events of the book, it seemed fairly realistic. It thought this was very well written and while Juliette was far from a good person, I did have sympathy for her, especially as we learn about her background. I didn’t want her to succeed, but I did want her to get the help she very much needed.

If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, make them.

BOOK REVIEW: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

BOOK REVIEW: The Hunting Party by Lucy FoleyThe Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Thank you to Edelweiss, HarperCollins UK and Lucy Foley for my ARC!

 

That’s the thing about old friends. You just know these things about them. You have learned to love them. This is the glue that binds us together.

The first time I tried to start “The Hunting Party” by Lucy Foley, I was baking in the Florida sun on vacation. Suffice to say, a book set in a remote winter setting didn’t quite gel with my current situation and I couldn’t get into the story.

Fast forward another week, when I was back in the cold Midwest and I began attempt number two. Bundled under blankets, I fell easily into the story.

The book takes place from multiple perspectives. It took me a little while to get each person straight and their relationship to others. Some characters are much more utilized to others, but as the story develops, I found myself totally engrossed.

There are a lot of relationships to untangle here. There are genuine friendships and romantic relationships, as well various toxic friendships, frenemies and not-so-healthy romantic pairings.

But here I’m in the middle of nowhere, with no one except my closest friends. The silence here, the expanses, seem suddenly hostile.

As with many mystery/thrillers, the setting is that of a remote getaway for a group of friends, plus a few others. There is a death, but help cannot reach the group, as a blizzard has made the group totally inaccessible for some time.

The narrative jumps forward and backward, from perspective to perspective. As I mentioned before, once you figure out who is who and how they relate to the others, the timeline jumping shouldn’t really affect one’s ability to understand the story line. Sometimes, it feels like authors use different perspectives to muddy the waters so it’s not clear what the big reveal is. However, I found the different perspectives brought a lot of great character development and insight into this fascinating friend group that we would not have otherwise received from a singular perspective.

I look straight back at her, as I tread water. I hate you, I think. I hate you. I don’t feel bad anymore. You deserve everything that is coming to you.

And not for the firs time-but with much better reason now-I think: I do not know this person at all. I do not know what he is capable of.

While the story starts off a little slow, it truly goes full throttle into the ending. Layer by layer, characters’ feelings and intentions are revealed until we finally understand what happened and why. I’m happy to say the whole story is nicely wrapped up – no cliffhanger or unclear ending. I had my suspicions about who was dead and who did it, but I was still definitely surprised at all the revelations!

Overall, I was very happy with the book and enjoyed it. I certainly look forward to Foley’s next thriller novel!

But that’s the thing about old friends, isn’t it? Sometimes they don’t even realize that they no longer have anything in common. That maybe they don’t even like each other anymore.

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Time I Lied by Riley SagerThe Last Time I Lied Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it's immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

I smile, pretending they’re right. What none of them understand is the point of the game isn’t to fool others with a lie. The goal is to trick them by telling the truth.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for stories that take place with summer camp setting. I went to one for several summers as a pre-teen, so I certainly have no trouble picturing it. There’s just something about breathing in those early breaths of independence and freedom. No parents, new people and new experiences that often don’t translate back to life at home. Because of this, I am thrilled when books have a summer camp setting, and this book DID NOT disappoint.

Fifteen years. That’s how long it’s been. It feels like a lifetime ago. It also feels like yesterday.

As the synopsis says, fifteen years ago four girls (Vivian, Natalie, Allison and newcomer, Emma) form a short but strong bond one summer. But one night, Vivian, Natalie and Allison go missing while Emma is left to fill in the blanks, which she does with varying degrees of accuracy and truthfulness.

In present day, Emma struggles with the events of fifteen years ago. She does her best to deal with the aftermath, using painting as a form of therapy. But when she is asked to return to the camp as a counselor and art teacher, she is drawn back into the world and begins to investigate what really happened so long ago.

But after my time at Camp Nightingale, I vowed never to lie again. Omission. That’s my tactic. A different sin entirely.

While this is certainly a thriller, at the heart of this story is female friendships, especially those made at the cusp of the change between being a girl and being a woman. It’s a precarious time of life; there’s a reason it’s written about so much – it is such a unique and major event in life.

The scenes between Vivian and Emma were fascinating. Vivian is older and more experienced at life and takes Emma under her wing. She serves as a surrogate older sister, which is both wonderful and terrible for Emma, as we the readers learn more about the events of that summer. While Allison and Natalie play a role, this novel really focuses on the relationship between Vivian and Emma.

Yes, boys can break your heart and betray you, but not in the same stinging way girls can.

As the book jumps back and forth between the summer of the girls disappearing and present day, more and more comes to light about the events of what happened and how that plays into what is happening to Emma in present day.

The author, Riley Sager, did an excellent job in creating sympathetic but complicated characters and keeping me guessing the entire time. I enjoyed his last novel, Final Girls, but was a little put off by the ending. However, that was not the case this time around. I was breathless up until the last page and I was left fully satisfied. I cannot wait for future books from Sager if his first two novels are an indication of what’s to come next.

I want to laugh. I want to cry. I want to confess. Instead, I say, “Two Truths and a Lie. Let’s play.”

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney Summers

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney SummersSadie by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and the author, Courtney Summers, for my free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

“And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.”

I finished Sadie almost a month ago and I’ve struggled how I wanted to review this book. I haven’t really read anything like it and honestly, after I finished the last page and closed the book, I was left feeling a bit sad and empty.

It’s a tragic story on every level. Sadie, our main character, hasn’t had an easy life. Her mother, who is both a drug addict and often absent, has abandoned Sadie and her other daughter Mattie, in their small rural town. Mind you, Sadie is around 17 when the story begins, who isn’t even an adult herself. And then Mattie is murdered, shattering Sadie’s entire paper-thin world. And with nothing left to lose, and no help from anyone else, Sadie begins her quest to get justice for Mattie.

Intertwined in Sadie’s story is investigative journalist/podcaster Wes McCray, who is working to figure out what happened to Sadie, as we learn she is consider “missing” by the small group of people who care about her. The format of the novel is ‘regular’ chapters from Sadie’s POV and transcript chapters from Wes’s podcast interviews. I really enjoyed this format and loved a true crime podcast as a vehicle for telling Sadie’s story, as there are so many great true crime podcasts doing similar work in real-life.

I also appreciated Summers giving Sadie an additional layer of complexity, as Sadie has an almost debilitating stutter that greatly affects how she interacts with others. It’s not something I’ve seen put into a story before, so kudos for Summers adding in that representation.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this is not an easy story to read. There’s not a lot of happiness or light-hearted moments. It’s a dark but realistic story, so just go in preparing to get heart stomped all over. Don’t let that deter you, but just be prepared.

I have risked everything for this kindness, or whatever it is, and that make me worry I’m too starved, too broken, to anything right.

Be sure to also check out Chelsea’s review and interview with Courtney Summers here.

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