Review: The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Published: April 14, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.

She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.

A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I was not sure that I was going to like this one when I first started it. I liked Tessa as the narrating character but the story just didn’t grab me at first. Tessa was so real. She had flaws and had made mistakes, she was open with these things and wanted to escape from it. I like characters that feel like real people and Tessa did. This book weaves three different stories that all center on the idea of justice, family and the damage that the past can do to the present.

The first storyline is of Oliver Barlowe. Tessa did a documentary about his conviction for rape and murder. She didn’t go into the project with any particular agenda but along the way she began to believe that Oliver was innocent. And so the documentary ended up leading to a new trial where he was released. But then, a year or so later, he kidnaps and murders the daughter of the police chief. There’s no doubt he did it this time because he made a video admitting it. This throws Tessa into an unwelcome spotlight as she has to examine whether or not she was wrong the first time. And even if she wasn’t wrong about his innocence then, she can’t deny that he’s a murderer now.

Then we have the story of Tessa and her sister Margo. Something really terrible happened when they were newly college-aged that yanked Tessa out of her sister’s life. The death of their mother forces the two of them to confront that past and the reasons why neither one reached out to bridge the gap.

Finally, we have the story of the forgotten family homestead. Again it is a place where awful things have happened. Things that just about everyone would love to forget. But when Tessa runs there to hide from public pressure about Oliver, she can’t resist pressing into the history and trying to find out the truth.

At first, I wasn’t in love with the story about Fallbrook. I kept hoping we’d hear more about Oliver instead, but in the end that story won me over. It chilled me, it touched me, and then it shocked me. Similarly the story of Tessa and her sister. At first I didn’t really care and thought it didn’t belong in the book at all. But as the book went on I was drawn into the tale and it took on a much greater significance to the overall story.

I read the last 140 pages of this book in one sitting. I was so entranced by it that I simply couldn’t put it down. I loved how the three storylines ended up coming together and each one was given more gravity and significance together than it did on its own. I loved it.

Review: The Body Double by Emily Beyda

The Body Double by Emily Beyda

Published: March 3, 2020 by Doubleday Books

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A strange man discovers our nameless narrator selling popcorn at a decrepit small-town movie theater and offers her an odd and lucrative position: she will forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld. A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood.

Review: This book had such an interesting premise. Something has gone very wrong with a young starlet and she is actively avoiding the public eye. She needs to hire a body double in order to make public appearances while she focuses on her mental health and recovers. I was fascinated by this story and the aura of celebrity.

Unfortunately this just wasn’t very good. The writing was technically proficient, but the writer writes in a literary style that just isn’t suited to this kind of plot. This was a dark, twisted tale but the literary writing style made it difficult to read. I felt like I was being tortured through much of the book because we spend so much time on stupid details. We spent endless pages on what Rosanna likes to eat, read, wear, watch, buy, how she does her makeup, who her friends are, every conversation she has ever had. Probaby a minimum of 200 pages was spent on this. I’m not being the slightest bit sarcastic either. I was so bored. It felt like an interrogation. I was being presented the same facts over and over again and demanded to know what Rosanna liked.

I also, didn’t buy into the premise about halfway through. We learned that it has been a full year since anyone besides Max has seen Rosanna. That’s a long time. She just disappeared with no explanation and a year later this double comes on the scene. Add in the over the top obsession that Max has with Rosanna and I deduced pretty quickly what was going on here. So all that was left was the journey. I already know the end, would the journey be worth it?

It wasn’t. I didn’t believe that none of Rosanna’s close friends was suspicious of how much she had changed in a year. They comment on it and then just casually toss it away with “I guess you have changed since we saw each other last.” No, that doesn’t really explain personality changes. It just doesn’t. Or the fact that she looks younger, a lot younger. They remark on this too and then just ask for her beauty secrets. It was shallow and fake.

SPOILER WARNING: I am about to spoil the end of the book. Please halt your reading if you do not want to be spoiled.

I was almost correct on how I thought this would end. Max was Rosanna’s assistant. He was also obsessed with her. He had set up cameras to film her and all sorts of things. She caught him and threw him out of her life. Then she proceeds to kill herself, knowing he will be the one to find her.

Max becomes obsessed with getting Rosanna back and so he goes on the hunt for this double so that they can be together for real. Our narrator gets progressively crazier as the book goes on. She starts wandering Los Angeles at all hours of the night, swimming in stranger’s pools, leaving blood smears on the pavement outside Rosanna’s house. It was very strange. Then it all culminates when our narrator breaks into Rosanna’s house and discovers that she is dead and decides that Rosanna will use her body as a portal to come back to life. It ends with Max discovering her after she has become the “real” Rosanna and they lay together, whispering Rosanna’s name.

It was a very weird ending. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. I had to read certain portions several times in order to make sense of it. It did not pay off for me.

New Releases Wednesday

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Published: June 9, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

My Thoughts: I am a big sucker for “is my new husband a murderer?” I can’t say no when I see another one. This one sounds interesting because the new wife suspects nothing until a second body shows up. Hmm, intriguing.

Broken People by Sam Lansky

Published: June 9, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: “He fixes everything that’s wrong with you in three days.”

This is what hooks Sam when he first overhears it at a fancy dinner party in the Hollywood hills: the story of a globe-trotting shaman who claims to perform “open-soul surgery” on emotionally damaged people. For neurotic, depressed Sam, new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded, the possibility of total transformation is utterly tantalizing. He’s desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman—who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine and encounters with the divine—seems convincing, enough for Sam to sign up for a weekend under his care.

But are the great spirits the shaman says he’s summoning real at all? Or are the ghosts in Sam’s memory more powerful than any magic?

At turns tender and acid, funny and wise, Broken People is a journey into the nature of truth and fiction—a story of discovering hope amid cynicism, intimacy within chaos and peace in our own skin.

My Thoughts: Dealing with our past and trying to move forward into the future as a better person is a common trait to all humans. It is a quest. This sounds kind of trippy, I hope it is.

Reading Progress Updates

The Body Double by Emily Beyda

Goodreads

Progress: Page 125 out of 293

Synopsis: A dark, glittering debut novel, The Body Double is the suspenseful story of a young woman who is recruited by a stranger to give up her old life and identity to impersonate a reclusive Hollywood star.

A strange man discovers our nameless narrator selling popcorn at a decrepit small-town movie theater and offers her an odd and lucrative position: she will forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld. A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood. 

My Thoughts So Far: So far I am really liking this book. I like Max, I find him just the right amounts of charming and secretive. The narrator is a good conduit to this story so far. But I feel like I have already figured it out. I don’t know that this is how it happens, but spoiler alert anyway! Max is the only person who knows why Roseanna has been missing for over a year. When asked about it he gets really squirrel-y. I suspect that Max stalked and killed Roseanna (or maybe they were involved and she broke it off) and is trying to replace her and cover it up with a double.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

Goodreads

Progress: 10 hours 12 minutes of 13 hours, 57 minutes

Synopsis: In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell … and Earth.

My Thoughts So Far: I think I might be in love with this book so far. I love Claire, I have cried for her in this. I love Brevity. I love Leto and I have cried for him too. It is also making me side eye all of those never finished manuscripts I have on my computer.

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Published: January 8, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Seeking women ages 18 – 32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Review: I went into this book expecting a fun thriller. I typically don’t have high expectations for books that have “girl” or “woman” in the title. Normally they are fun but nothing amazing or containing any depth. This book was indeed a fun ride.

I was drawn in with the idea of a slow transition from being asked questions about ethics and morality to being asked to do real life experiments. But there wasn’t much lead up. Jessica answers survey questions twice and one in person question session before she is suddenly being asked to go flirt with a random married guy at a bar. It was sudden and weird. I know that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that drastic of an escalation in an experiment.

I also had a hard time understanding why Jessica trusted Dr. Shields so much and why she felt dependent on her so quickly. Dr. Shields didn’t do much to engender that kind of trust and loyalty. But the chapters narrated by Dr. Shields didn’t reveal something she saw in Jessica’s personality that made her particularly vulnerable to being manipulated emotionally either. It felt like a plot device. Jessica was supposed to trust Dr. Shields implicitly so she did, not necessarily because anything happened to cause that to happen.

Those things aside, I enjoyed the way the plot progressed. Apart from the sudden escalation at the beginning, things really slowed down after that and I was drawn into the web. I knew there was some kind of deception going on and I enjoyed trying to figure it out. The ending was very twisty turny and changed course on the outcome a few times. I completely understood how out of sorts Jessica was feeling during it all, it was well written and thought out. My only complaint on the ending was that it was just so long. We approached the end game scenario with 50 pages left to go. It seemed to just drag on and on and I found myself skimming a bit to get there quicker.

Review: Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

red cellsRed Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

Published March 18th, 2014 by DarkFuse

Buy this story at: Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Private detective and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake (hero of the novels Deadstock and Blue War) has fallen on hard times in the far-future city of Punktown. When he is offered an opportunity to masquerade as another man to do his prison sentence for him, Stake agrees, but this is a new type of penitentiary—existing in its own pocket universe.

In this isolated prison, a series of gruesome murders have occurred, and the inmates soon force Stake to investigate. Can Stake catch a killer that might not even be human, without becoming just another victim?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this story from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you DarkFuse!

A story that is under 100 pages has no excuse to be boring, this one was boring. But it was also not badly written. In fact, I think if the story was given more time and space to develop then it could have been really good. As a short story, however, it felt rushed and hectic.

The character of Stake was an interesting one. He is a mutant who can assume the physical form of another human. He is normally a private investigator but things are tough and he agrees to do a stint in prison for someone else. Naturally chaos follows and gives him a mystery to solve. I liked him as a character, though he was a tiny bit stereotypical for a private investigator type. However, because the story was so short I felt like I didn’t really learn much about him. Since he is the main character in two novels this is not to be expected, but it would have been a nice addition.

The story was also a good one. A prison that is located in pocket universe and something is killing the prisoners. That is very interesting. But unfortunately, the story was told to me almost exclusively instead of showing me. That was annoying. Don’t tell me! For heaven’s sake do a little bit of creative writing and show me.

It was also pretty predictable. As soon as they described the killer to me, I thought….well of course it’s that X thing/person that they told us about. And it was. This could have been done a lot better. I have no doubt that the author can write better than this, I can see the talent there. But this story did not showcase that talent at all.

Review: Extinct by Charles Wilson

extinctExtinct by Charles Wilson

Published May 15th, 1997 by St. Martin’s.

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

From the Gulf of Mexico’s warm shallow waters…to the deepest parts of the Pacific…terror comes to the surface…

Six-year-old Paul Haines watches as two older boys dive into a coastal river…and don’t come up. His mother, Carolyn, a charter boat captain on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, finds herself embroiled in the tragedy to an extent she could never have imagined.

Carolyn joins the marine biologist Alan Freeman in the hunt for a creature that is terrorizing the waters along the Gulf Coast. But neither of them could have envisioned exactly what kind of danger they are facing.

Yet one man, Admiral Vandiver, does know what this creature is, and how it has come into the shallows. And his secret obsession with it will force him, as well as Paul, Carolyn and Alan, into a race against time…and a race toward death.

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

This book was a serious letdown. I was told that it was different from other books in the “giant shark killing people” genre. But it’s not. It is exactly the same as every other book on the subject out there, but with even more confusion and irritation.

Let me start off with a bit of a rant. I NEVER EVER EEEEVVVVVEEERR want to see any of the following in a monster megalodon shark killing people book/movie again:

 

1. A story about the megamouth shark or coelacanth. Anybody who has ever read a single one of these stories knows those stories already! We already know about how the coelcanth was thought extinct for millions of years until one was caught in 1938. I could recite the story for you word for word with the amount of times I’ve heard it in these books. And we already know that the megamouth shark wasn’t even known to exist until 1976, and so the existence of one giant shark without anyone knowing means it’s possible for the megalodon too. I KNOW THESE THINGS, STOP TELLING ME!

2. Also, can we please stop telling the story of the shark attacks on the Jersey shore in 1916. First, I know the story like the back of my hand. But also, can we please stop saying that it was a great white shark that was responsible. Some of the attacks took place in a river. The only shark known to mankind who can survive in rivers is the bull shark. The attack pattern fits a bull shark. Most scientists have been split more than 20 years ago that it was not a white shark but a bull shark, even though officially the attacks are still recorded as white shark attacks. But seriously, stop it already.

3. I realize the the Marianas Trench is a fabulous place to say that a 100 foot long shark has been hiding for millions of years, and that’s a find theory. However, then the shark comes back to shallow water and hasn’t evolved in the last however many years to reflect their new environment? They still have exactly the same coloring as a great white, which is a shallow water predator. But I have a feeling that over many millions of years spent in deep trenches with no light, these predators would have changed and evolved their coloring and hunting patterns. Why would they still need to be able to use their eyes for sight? Living in the Marianas Trench they would have no need for sight. Why would they still have dual coloring, they don’t need to disguise themselves from prey because there is no light for their prey to see them.

4. Please please please stop giving killer sharks families that they go on revenge sprees for! Sharks do not have families. Sharks do not have mates. Sharks do not care for their babies. They get pregnant (often violently) and then they give birth and the babies are on their own. Expecting me to believe that a whole family of sharks is out there and getting revenge when one of them is killed is so laughable. Two second on Google would tell you that it was stupid and ludicrous.

 

Alright, now that I’ve had my little rant, lets move on to the flaws in the writing of this book:

 

1. I did not know until 200 pages into this crappy book that it actually was taking place in different places, Florida and Mississippi. That is not the mark of a good author. I thought they were in Florida and all of a sudden someone mentions Mississippi and I had no idea where that came from.

2. I have the ability to suspend my disbelief a great deal, but I couldn’t with this. There was two 25-foot megalodons, one 50 foot megalodon, and two 200-foot megalodons….but they only manage to eat about 10 people total. What the fuck is up with that? And why are these mega-predators eating scrawny bony little humans when there are whales and seals to be had? And if these sharks had so much food to eat in the depths, why come to the surface at all? Again, no logical sense made.

3. Switching between different character POVs literally every 4 paragraphs is not an effective way to tell a story. All it did was confuse me. It took me almost the whole book to figure out who all the characters were because I never spent more than a page with any of them. Boring, and annoying.

 

If I want a giant killer shark book that is at least funny in its stupidity I’ll go back to the MEG series, because this sucked.

 

Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

of monsters and madnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Expected Publication: September 9th, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

 

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

This book left me feeling very lukewarm. And a bit confused. But let me explain….

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued. I am a Poe fan, but I wouldn’t call myself a purist. I was promised a “historical retelling of Gothic horror.” I got a lot of gothic, not a lot of horror. And not exactly a retelling of Poe, unless you count random snippets from his works and a story about how he was inspired. I quickly discovered just what kind of retelling we were dealing with…and frankly it would be obvious to anyone with a brain.

The setting of this novel was exactly what I expected. A dark, dank, gothic Philadelphia complete with thunderstorms to set this mood. I loved this way more than I should have. I was all set for a horrific tale of Edgar Allen Poe! That was not exactly what I ended up with.

Annabel was not a bad character, she was just boring. She was infinitely nice and sweet. But that was about all of the substance that she had. She should have been amazing. She had an interest in medicine, she has scars that she is not entirely clear what they are from, she is living in a new country far from home. How did she end up so unbearably dull?

Apart from that, not much happened. And I do mean that literally. There is a serial killer, and we quickly learn who that is. There are murders but there’s really only one or two “graphic” scenes and they really weren’t that good. I got much bigger heebiejeebies from scenes in Unwind or The Madman’s Daughter. This just paled in comparison.

Now for my biggest issue with this book, the ending. Actually I don’t even think I can call it an ending. It was just starting to get exciting! We were approaching the pinnacle of the plot! The climax of the story! And then I was at the last page….I don’t even understand it. What happened to the second half of the story? After the climax there is supposed to be a resolution! I was denied a resolution! Why was I denied a resolution!?

On a side note, kimonos don’t come from Thailand, two seconds on Google told me that. Also  Annabel kept describing her kimono in ways that made me think of a shawl that wrapped around her shoulders, so I am not even sure it was a kimono.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though it was a little dull. And I was set to give it four stars, but then the ending happened and I just can’t forgive that. Still enjoyable but the ending left me feeling cold.

Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

tabula rosaTabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Expected publication: September 23rd, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books A Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence by opinions in any way. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

I must say that I really loved this book. I had a droolfest over the cover when I saw it the first time. I read the synopsis and drooled some more. And then I got the ARC and just about had a happiness seizure. Ask my hubby, he remembers that day. It was not perfect however, but the faults were minor at best.

The book opens with Sarah being prepared for surgery on her brain. They go through all the details, keeping her head still, running her through a few memory exercises, making sure she isn’t cold. They get prepared for the surgery and….the lights go out. In that short moment, someone presses something into Sarah’s palm and then her surgery is called off. At first she is annoyed. This was her final surgery. After this she was going to get a new life! Be a blank slate! And it all got postponed. But when she looks at what was in her hand, all of it changes.

The most fascinating thing about this book is that we know as little about the world Sarah lives in as she does. We don’t know if she was a victim of a horrible crime or the perpetrator or something else entirely, and neither does she. She only knows what she’s been told. After this she’ll have a new life and she shouldn’t ask too many questions about her old life because it might undo what the surgeons have tried to fix. That made for a great journey as a reader.

As far as the action sequences went, I had no complaints. I felt they were well written and engaging. This book gave me someone to root for, which I think is always necessary. But I did feel that we spent too long on one particular aspect of the plot when we could have been exploring what was hidden in Sarah’s brain. The romance was unnecessary but it didn’t come off too strong so in the end I didn’t mind too much.

My only real problem with this book was the ending. It just was sooooooooo sappy and sweet, I think I got a cavity honestly. Compared to the rest of that book being dark, foreboding, action packed, and occasionally funny the ending was sickly. It was a nice enough ending but it clashed with the rest of the book.

 

Review: Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin

nightlifeNightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin

Expected publication: October 21st, 2013 by Pocket Star

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million

Synopsis:

For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.
An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly.

Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it’s up to her to find out what happened.

Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the “Night Angel”-a bloodthirsty creature that feeds on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what stalks the streets at night.

Rating: 4 star

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher and author!

This book was both exactly what I expected and not at all what I expected, which is a rather strange sensation I’m sure you can imagine. I am always looking for a good vampire book but I want that vampire book to be something unique. That is why I am still giving this particular niche a chance, I want something different and new! In a sense, this book provided that. But also a lot of cliches.

Characters – Jack Jackson was a complete cliche if I ever saw one. The solitary man who has dedicated his entire life to hunting down the thing that caused him to lose the love of his life, working alone and very antisocial in his quest. But after awhile I didn’t really even mind the clicheness of it because I thought Jack was kind of funny. He made me laugh a few times and I really liked his character. Beth was a pretty good character overall but again, pretty cliche. The stubborn, tough, rough around the edges girl who tends to push everyone away from her but ends up being the unlikely sidekick of the previously mentioned antisocial man on a mission. And yet again, I found that I didn’t really mind the cliche. Beth was interesting and fun, and pretty kickass in her own right. Now she did have a certain amount of the required horror book idiocy about her but it was minor and short lived. None of the other characters really made much impact on me since they seemed so incredibly expendable. When they were around then they were decent enough but then they just are gone and I hardly noticed they were gone.

The plot was fairly interesting in that a bunch of vampires (or whatever they are) have camped out in this little town and are feeding on the homeless population…at least until that can’t sustain them anymore and they go after more risky targets. Jack comes roaring into town, runs into Beth, and together they go to fight and demolish the evil creatures. This was all great. Add it in a shadowy organization that seems intent on…well I’m not sure exactly because they are hardly mentioned at all. What made the plot all the more enticing for me was the origins and true nature of these vampires. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it before. It was very unique and I loved it. I also loved that for once in a book like this the characters seem to be aware that other vampire books, movies, etc exist and have seen them. That doesn’t happen often and frankly it baffles me as to why.

By the last page I was really enjoying this book. I wish that we had heard more about “The Division” (previously mentioned shadowy organization) because it seems like that was going somewhere to just get left hanging. The ending was satisfying and not entirely a happily every after but pretty close. And it had enough of a set up for another book that I wouldn’t mind reading the sequel, but if I never read the sequel then the ending was a satisfying one for a stand alone book. This book gets one and a half thumbs up from me, add in more of The Division and it could be a full five stars next time.