Saturday, February 17, 2018

Review: The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Murders (Mitford Murders #1)
by Jessica Fellowes
Release Date: January 23rd 2018 (First published September 14th 2017)
2018 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 420 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250170781
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

It's 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle.

Louisa's salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nurserymaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy - an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But then a nurse - Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake - is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret . . .

My Thoughts
The Mitford Murders is the first book in series featuring the Mitford sisters.  When I first started reading the book I thought one of the Mitford sisters would be the main character and I was looking forward to that. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and I couldn't help but be disappointed. Luckily, that disappointment only lasted for a couple of chapters as the main character, a nursery maid, was actually quite interesting and I grew to really like her character and personality. 

First of all, I had no idea that this story was based on true events until I reached the end of the book and read some of the historical background to the events. Naturally, I went and looked it up on the Internet and what I discovered was quite interesting. As in the book, the real Nightingale Shore was traveling on the train in broad daylight and to this date, they still have not discovered the murderer's identity. Considering she was the goddaughter the THE Florence Nightingale made it that much more fascinating. 

As I mentioned previously, the main character, Louisa, grew on me throughout the story and I really enjoyed her transition from a scared and timid young girl to one who has discovered her sense of worth and who she can be. When she began working for the Mifords, she was afraid of being discovered by her wayward uncle who only wanted to use her to settle gambling debts. As her friendship with Nancy Mitford developed, she also seemed to develop her own identity and became more determined to discover the truth whether she wanted to hear it or not.  I really enjoyed her friendship with Nancy as they struggled with class differences even as they became quite good friends. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that I didn't really discover all that much about Nancy Mitford, but when I did get glimpses of her personality, it seemed to go in line with what I'd read about her; her stubborness, her jealousies regarding her sisters, her temper. Yet despite all of this, there was kindness and loyalty as well.  Despite the fact that history has portrayed her as quite intelligent and witty, it has also portrayed her as being silly, vain, and extremely jealous of her sister Pamela, and I liked that the book kept faith with that character.  While we did see a lot of the temperament happening, we didn't really get to see her budding wit and how people adored that aspect of her. 

I really enjoyed the friendship that developed between Louisa and Guy Sullivan, an employee of the train company on whose train Nightingale Shore was murdered.  Both Louisa and Guy are flawed characters; one was escaping her home life while the other was trying to learn how to stand up to brothers who tended to bully him, and together, they made a good team.  I enjoyed their interactions with each other, and was glad to discover this book wouldn't be another love story where everything works out in the end. 

What I couldn't get past was the development of the mystery; while it was fascinating, it was still slow and it was definitely easy to figure out where it was heading.  I actually think the author was trying too hard to make the book seem historically authentic which made some of the scenes actually worse as it just didn't always work.  There is also this tendency to view women as weak and in need of saving all of the time, and I quite doubt that all women of this time period were like that.  Just think; the marches and parades and other such things to allow women to vote took place during this time period so I wish more voice was given to them.  Or to the fact that women's place in society was changing.  There was some allusion to this with descriptions of women with short hair and dresses that were inappropriate but not enough.  That being said, the author can definitely write well, and you get a good glimpse of life during this time period, even if some of the things said or events being described, were a bit jarring.  

I thought The Mitford Murders was a good book with a solid mystery, even if the mystery was slow to take off and it was quite easy to figure out the murderer.  For whatever reason, the solution didn't quite ring true to events, and I thought the murderer's character actually changed throughout the novel in a way that didn't quite sit true with me.  I did enjoy Louisa and Guy's characters and liked how they communicated with each other, developing a friendship rather it being forced on the reader. Nancy is quite young in this novel and there must be allowances for that as she would develop and hone her writing skills in France in the years to come as she tried to break away from her father's control to become more independent.  I did like how she tried to assert her independence only to have it broken down by her parents' strict rules and punishments.  They weren't cruel but they were definitely trying to hone down her impulse for adventure and fun.  Would I read the next book in this series?  Oh, yes, definitely, and I hope to see much more of the Mitford sisters as well.  There are definitely some interesting times ahead. And for anyone interested in the Nightingale Shore murder, I recently got this book as I thought it would shed some light on the murder: The Nightingale Shore Murder: Death of a World War 1 Heroine by Rosemary Cook.
Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review & Giveaway: The Swedish Girl by Alex Gray

The Swedish Girl (DCI Lorimer, Book #10)
by Alex Gray
Release Date: January 9th, 2018 (first published January 1st, 2013)
2018 Witness Impulse
Kindle Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062659255
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from Partners in Crime Tours

3 / 5 Stars

Eighteen-year-old Kirsty Wilson can't believe her luck when she lands a room in a luxury Glasgow flat owned by the beautiful Eva Magnusson, a wealthy fellow student from Stockholm. But her initial delight turns to terror when Kirsty finds the Swedish girl lying dead in their home and their male flatmate accused of her murder. Kirsty refuses to accept that he is guilty and, inspired by family friend Detective Superintendent Lorimer, sets out to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Lorimer calls on his trusted colleague, psychologist Solly Brightman, to help unravel the truth behind the enigmatic Eva's life and death. But it is not long until another woman, bearing a marked resemblance to Eva, is brutally murdered in Glasgow. Horrified, Lorimer and his team realise that Kirsty could be right. Is it possible that Glasgow's finest detective has put the wrong man behind bars? And is there a cold-blooded killer out there orchestrating the death of their next innocent victim?

My Thoughts
The Swedish Girl is the tenth entry in the DCI Lorimer series and was originally published in January 2013. Although I had read most of the other books in this series, for whatever reasons that I can't think of at the moment, this one fell through the reading cracks for me, so I was happy to have a chance to review it. It is written in true Alex Gray style which means that it was enjoyable, easy to read, has a few twists and turns that are easy to see through if you are familiar with her work, but with an ending that I wasn't overly crazy about, and characters who were much blander than I remember.

What I really enjoyed about this book are the main characters, except one, as they are comfortable without this drive to be dramatic or overly histrionic.  Don't get me wrong, I do like my characters to be somewhat flawed as it makes the story that much more interesting, but sometimes it's nice to have a msin character, like DCI Lorimier, who is comfortable, happy with his life, and always eager to return home to a loving wife.   In this book, he has been promoted to Detective Superintendent and I do have to admit I kind of miss his major involvement in following up crime incidents rather than just delegating his officers to do what he used to do.  I think he misses it too as he was always looking for an excuse to go out and interview people, sometimes getting involved in things he should have let his detectives do for themselves.  I definitely get it, and it was nice to see him out and about, but I did wonder how that would play out with his team.

I thought the story was interesting, and I really wanted to find out more about Eva Magnusson, as when a person is described as being 'perfect', it really makes you wonder what is going on insider her head. And when other similar murders occurred, there was the question of a deranged serial killer on the loose. There were some entertaining twists and turns, but if you are already familiar with Gray's work, it is easy to spot the red herrings and see what is going on. That being said, I could tell where the story was going with regards to the murderer, and I was really hoping it wouldn't go in that direction, but alas, it did, and I was really disappointed. For all the build-up, it was a bit of a let down. And to be honest, although I really enjoyed Kirsty Wilson as a character and liked the big decision she made in the end (although it was not a surprise), I did question the fact that Kirsty was used to search and discover information for Lorimer. I am not a police officer, but I do question it when a civilian is used to do searches and interviews as I thought it would compromise the evidence.  I just didn't buy her involvement in the case, and I didn't buy Lorimer's instincts to use her as it went completely against character; he seemed a lot more indecisive that the Lorimer that I remember. Who I really didn't like though, was DI Jo Grant, and it's not her fault, it's the author's. She is the stereotypical female cop, arresting people even when the evidence is scarce, and getting upset when her decisions turn out to be wrong.  Haven't we come a lot further than this? To arrest someone because he cried in the interviewing room seems like a lousy excuse, and I was really disappointed by her character. Any good lawyer would have had Colin released ASAP, but for some reason that didn't quite happen. She is also quite insubordinate and bland, and I just couldn't warm up to her.  She is someone I would be happy to see gone from these books.

The Swedish Girl was an okay story, and although I really enjoyed the previous novels in this series, I am wondering if maybe, after reading countless other crime novels, that I may have lost interest in DCI Lorimer and his crew as I found him boring.  I would have to go back and read her first novel to see if there is a difference in the writing, but perhaps I've just outgrown them? Anyways, I would suggest you read it for yourself as you may have a different opinion that I do, and I do think fans of her work will be happy with this one. It just wasn't for me although I am willing to give another book a shot. We'll see!!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Review & Giveaway: Clairvoyant and Present Danger by Lena Gregory

Clairvoyant and Present Danger (Bay Island Psychic Mystery, Book #3)
by Lena Gregory
Release Date: February 6th, 2018
2018 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0425282779
ASIN: B071L5C99M
Genre: Fiction / Cozy / Mystery
Source: Review copy from Great Escape Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Whoever said that dead men tell no tales has never met Cass Donnovan...

Cass has always relied on her abilities to guide her, but after communications with a ghost land her in the middle of a murder investigation, she has to wonder if her gifts are really more a curse.

Cass knows she is meant to help track down the killer--much to the chagrin of local law enforcement--when the apparition leads her to a dead body on the beach near her psychic shop, Mystical Musings. But the police are not the only ones who wish Cass would stick to reading palms. Someone is trying to scare her off, and it will take all her powers of premonition to catch the killer before Cass herself becomes the next victim...

My Thoughts
Clairvoyant and Present Danger was a fun cozy mystery, with just the right touch of paranormal for me. And a big bonus: a lovable dog who gets into a lot of trouble, making for some interesting times for the main character and her friends. What's not to love?

First of all, the dog. I am not ashamed to admit that Beast was my favourite 'character' in this book. Although he is supposed to be a big dog, he comes across as lovable, oh so cuddly, and mischievous,  and I certainly enjoyed his antics throughout the story.  He made the story fun and interesting, and I was definitely curious as to what he would be up to next.

Cass and Bee are certainly interesting characters as well. I adore Bee and love how he treats his friends, especially Cass, which makes the book all warm and fuzzy.  I would definitely love to see more of him in future books, and look forward to knowing more about him. He just has that right touch of friendliness and sarcasm that warms my heart, but he's definitely not a pushover; his scenes whenever he thought Cass was interacting with a ghost were endearing and I liked him even more during those scenes.  It's really nice to read a book where the main characters aren't always in conflict with each other.

I really enjoyed the story, even if I thought the plot was a bit predictable.  The writing was good and I certainly enjoyed the vivid portrayal of life by the beach, sitting in my cozy chair as it snowed yet again. It made me feel like I was right there, feeling the breezes on my face. I did enjoy the mystery, but I did think it was a bit slow as there was quite a bit of character development going on.  I really liked the paranormal elements as they weren't overdone, and quite believable.  I really liked that Cass doesn't quite believe in her own abilities, and is always startled and afraid when a ghost does show up at her door.  Running out of her own house because she got spooked made me laugh and like her even more. There are quite a few moments I wasn't expecting which made the book fun to read; I definitely appreciated those twists. I just wish the twists were related more to the mystery than to Cass's life, but they were still fun to read.

Clairvoyant and Present Danger is the third book in the series, and although I haven't read the first two, it certainly didn't matter when it came to the main story line and events.  There is probably some background stuff I didn't fully understand, but I plan to read the others to discover a bit more about Cass and some of the situations in which she's been involved.  I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a lighter, interesting mystery with great and intriguing characters.  And I look forward to seeing more Beast antics in future novels!!!


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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Review: Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Pretty Girls Dancing
by Kylie Brant
Release Date: January 1st, 2018
2018 Thomas & Mercer
Kindle Edition; 370 Pages
ISBN: 978-1542049955
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5/5 Stars


Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

My Thoughts
Pretty Girls Dancing was actually quite engrossing, and I pretty much read it in one sitting.  It had an interesting plot line, some intriguing characters, and the writing was well done. I think the only issue I really had with it was the ending as it just felt...wrong. No other way to explain it.

First of all, I liked the alternate POV as you got to see the events unwind from a variety of different angles, and it allowed the author to try and develop some characters. From the beginning, I couldn't wait to get to either Janie's, Mark's, and especially, Whitney's point of view as they were the more interesting and developed characters. I especially developed a liking for Whitney's story as you got a great sense of her strength and power as well as the horrible things her captor was willing to do to get her to submit to him; it's pretty scary actually, and I seriously doubt I would have handled it as well as she did.  I rooted for her throughout the book and really hoped her ending would be a good one.

Janie was another interesting character, suffering from selective mutism and extreme social anxiety most of her life, and I really thought her story was fascinating, especially with the focus on mental health out there today. Dealing with students who have severe social anxiety, it gave me an insight as to what those students are dealing with any moment of the day and I appreciated that insight.  I thought Janie was an incredibly powerful character and I was thrilled with her development throughout, without seeming like her anxiety was gone, something I would have been disappointed over as I know it's something you have to live with all your life.  I wasn't particularly fond of Janie's mother Claire, and although I was sympathetic with the crushing blows with which she was dealing, I did find her somewhat selfish at times, as if she was the only one going through anything. I won't pretend to even understand what she was going through, but it was always about her and her issues, kind of neglecting her husband and her child, which is why I understand some of her husband's actions.  The book tried to make Claire more sympathetic in the end, but for me it failed, and I was rooting for Janie's dad, despite his obvious flaws.  And I find it weird that I'd be thinking this way, but the author tried to make Claire so weak and vulnerable that it just turned me off her character.

The plot, except for the ending, I enjoyed tremendously.  I liked Mark as a detective and hope to see more of him in the future in other books.  I thought the mystery was quite compelling and I have to admit that I didn't see the ending coming the way it did. I want to stress that I liked the ending, but it also felt contrived and too pat at the same time.  Does that make sense? Probably not.  I just felt the author was looking for a major, major plot twist and tried a bit too hard.  However, it did leave a bad taste in my mouth and I can't stop thinking about it even now.  Unfortunately, you will just have to read the book to know what I am talking about.

Pretty Girls Dancing was definitely not what I was expecting, and that's a good thing.  With some interesting plot twists, some intriguing characters, the overall story was good; even though I had a problem with the ending and thought the perp was the least interesting character, I think this is one book that you will just have to decide for yourself if you want to read it or not. Like I said, while I found it engrossing, the ending turned me right off and spoiled the overall book for me.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists
by |Chloe Benjamin
Release Date: January 9th, 2018
2018 G.P. Putnam's Sons
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0735213180
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Literary
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 Stars

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

My Thoughts
The Immortalists is one of those books where I really liked the concept / idea, but have really mixed feelings due to the fact I thought the story line felt a bit preachy and other than one story, I really couldn't get into the life of the other three siblings. 

First of all, I really thought the concept was neat although it certainly has been done before.  This one focuses on the lives of four siblings who decide to visit a fortune teller in order to find out their futures and are told the day they will die. The idea behind the book is to tell their stories and how knowing the date of their deaths would shape their future lives and how it affects their relationships.  I thought it would be interesting to see how the family dynamics change over the years having this knowledge, and how each of the siblings would react.  I really enjoy stories about families and their dynamics so I thought this would be interesting.  I was somewhat wrong on that account.

Simon's story was by far the most interesting, and I am so glad the author started with him as I don't think I would have finished the book otherwise.  He was a rather interesting and intriguing character, and despite the wildness in him, I found him to be endearing.  Simon ran off to late seventies San Francisco to join in on the gay scene, and although there was very little interaction between the family member, I did enjoy his story and the secondary characters that were introduced, some of whom we'd see later on in other story lines.  What I did find disappointing was the lack of family interaction so we don't really know how Simon's story really affected his family as they weren't really there, except for Klara.  I did find the whole AIDS scare to be quite fascinating as I am old enough to remember when the disease became a news sensation and the affect it had on entire communities.  I think I was in grade 8 when AIDS became part of our health curriculum so as I was reading, I was reflecting back on that time period and how scary news of the disease was to many people. I wish more of that has been discussed in this novel, and I think that's part of the problem; too many interesting things were just glossed over and you never could really empathize with the characters to the point that was needed.

As for the stories of the other siblings, Klara, Daniel, and Varya, I found I couldn't really empathize with any of them, especially Daniel.  Except for Varya's research with the monkeys, I didn't find any of their stories interesting, and there really wasn't a lot of discussion about the impact Simon's death had on the others, except for passing remarks about police investigations and so on.  I would have liked to have seen a bit more in-depth study of the family members and what they really thought and felt.  Varya's research into longevity was probably the closest the author came to really exploring the impact that knowing their time of death had on them.  She was obsessive, having been diagnosed with OCD, and I would have liked a bit more exploration into that theme.  

I am not opposed to sex in novels, but it was the use that turned me off in this one, mentioning sexual stuff in the middle of scenes that had nothing to do with sex, and in descriptions of people.  Really?  There couldn't be a better way of describing someone, such as Varya in the first paragraph of the novel having a "dark patch of fur between her legs", made me wonder what the rest of the book was like.  The sex scenes were fine, it was just how it was sometimes thrown in a scene in order to show sexual feelings between people, and I don't think it quite worked out the way the author intended.

While The Immortalists wasn't for me, I definitely think you should read this one and decide for yourself as you may get something out of it that I did not.  I really think the overall message was good: reaching out to people, especially family members, even if you are angry or upset is immensely important as well as helping them when needed.  That way, when something terrible does happen, you don't live with regrets for the rest of your life.  And while I think the author was trying to convey this, I don't quite think she succeeded in the way she meant.  I really feel the author missed an amazing opportunity to really explore fate and family dynamics, but in the end I thought the story was interesting but also boring.  Obviously, this book wasn't meant for me and many people seem to have adored it, so read it yourself and see what you think.
Saturday, January 13, 2018

Review: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray

A Strange Scottish Shore (Emmeline Truelove, Book #2
by Juliana Gray
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
2017 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 9780425277089
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Time Travel
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove, north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing, which, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea in ancient times and married the castle’s first laird.

But Haywood and Truelove soon discover they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide, and when their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, the mystery takes a dangerous turn through time, which only Haywood’s skills and Truelove’s bravery can solve…

My Thoughts 
I have to admit that I had no idea what the book was about when I first started reading it, and for some strange reason, I actually thought it was a mystery novel.  However, A Strange Scottish Shore was anything but as it turned out to be a time-traveling historical novel. Then I got really excited as I love history, and add a time-travel element to it with some mystery, and I should have been really hooked.  And although I did enjoy, there was something about it that never really sunk its hooks into me as I read.  

First of all, the book did have some really good things going for it.  The overall story was rather interesting and I definitely loved the mystery element to the time-travel as Truelove and Haywood had rather little idea as to what was going on and were kind of feeling their way through everything.  As there was a nice legend involving the ancient inhabitants of the castle, it really doesn't take much to figure out that Truelove or Haywood would have something to do with that legend.  So when the actual time-travel element did appear in the book, I wasn't really surprised at the events that transpired.  But it was fun to follow along as Truelove slowly figured it all out and realized what the legend actually meant.  The world-building, both the early twentieth century and the mid-fourteenth century, was really good and I enjoyed the descriptions of daily life that were mentioned.   I love that stuff so the more descriptions there are, the more I tend to enjoy it so I can picture it all in my head.  The author was really good at doing that here.

Unfortunately, I wasn't a big fan of Truelove as I found her to be a bit too straight-laced and I couldn't really empathize with her most of the time.  It's not that I didn't like her character, I just wish there was more to embrace.  Silverton however, I adored.  I liked his personality, the mix between serious and cavalier was very attractive and I was really hoping to see more of him in the novel when he disappeared.  I did have a hard time connecting the mid-fourteenth century Silverton to early twentieth century Silverton, but I just went with it.  

I also had a few issues with the plot.  Overall, it was enjoyable and fun, but when you really look at it, there were too many loose ends that just didn't make sense.  And I'm not talking about those ends that lead into the next book as those I get, but just some things that were glossed over and not really explained, but were integral to the book.  I think I would have enjoyed the plot more if it was a bit more organized and more tightly woven.  And there was the paradox involved in time-travel; the author kind of glossed over it all, but the questions are still there nonetheless, without the answers. 

A Strange Scottish Shore definitely had some very interesting elements as well as some intriguing characters.  I did find the plot to be a bit loose as if the author wasn't quite sure where she was going with it, but otherwise I did enjoy the story.  I haven't yet read the first book in this series, and right now it's up in the air as to whether I will or not, I haven't decided.  For those who like time-travel and romance with a little bit of mystery thrown in however, this book is definitely for you. 
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Insidious Intent (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, Book #10)
by Val McDermid
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
2017 Atlantic Monthly Press
Kindle Edition; 424 Pages
ISBN: 978-0802127167
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

In the north of England, single women are beginning to disappear from weddings. A pattern soon becomes clear: Someone is crashing the festivities and luring the women away--only to leave the victims' bodies in their own burned-out cars in remote locations. Tony and Carol are called upon to investigate--but this may be the toughest case they've ever had to face. Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Paula McIntyre and her partner Elinor must deal with a cruel cyber-blackmailer targeting their teenage ward, Torin.

My Thoughts
Insidious Intent is the latest thriller featuring Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as they negotiate the emotional terrain of the previous year.   I am a huge fan of this author and her books, and I was looking forward to discovering how Carol would deal with the aftermath of her brother's death and her alcoholism.  I was definitely not disappointed as I thought the author wove an interesting mystery despite the heavily invested character development of her main characters.  I, personally, really like the way the books are going and I have to say, I was definitely not prepared for the ending in this book.

The REMIT team is finally being tested in this book as the previous one dealt more with the recruiting and development of the people who were to be part of this new centralized force.  When a car was found engulfed in flames, the police were not prepared to find the body of Kathryn McCormick in the interior.  Although a lot of evidence had been destroyed in the fire, the coroner was able to confirm that Kathryn had been strangled before being placed in the car.  With very little to go on, the REMIT team looked for clues and leads.  When a second and then a third victim died in very similar situations, the REMIT team was under a lot of pressure to find a killer before he killed anyone else, but the team was stumped and looking for that one lead.  I really enjoyed the characters in this novel, and I thought they fit in well together, but it was almost too seamless and perfect.  The suspense of previous novels was not there as the tension was missing.  Sometimes you need that antagonistic character as it makes things so much more interesting.  

DCI Carol Jordan receives a lot of attention in this novel, and I was definitely not unhappy with that. A recovering alcoholic with plenty of pressure on her back for the REMIT team to be successful, it was interesting to see how the pressure got to her and how she dealt with it.  To be honest, I was glad to see a bit of human frailty in her character these past few books as she always seemed to indomitable.  I enjoyed the way her character developed in this book as she tried to deal with having her drunk driving charge eliminated and the ensuing chaos that ruling created in her life.  With the weight of several deaths on her shoulders, and a serious case, Carol spent a lot of time thinking about her goals and the consequences she had to deal with because of her actions and those of others.  However, I wasn't as crazy about Tony in this book as I felt his character development was off and he didn't seem like the same person.  I did like how he dealt with Carol as well as the situation with Torin, but still something didn't sit well with me.  I just can't quite put my finger on it though.  

Although the author writes her books with the intention of being standalones, I really feel that one needs to begin at the beginning in order to really understand the motivations of the characters in this book.  I like McDermid's style of writing, and although you know who the killer is because she tells you, a technique I normally dislike, it actually worked in this novel and I found myself wondering what the clue/lead would be when it finally came.  And I can tell you that I was not prepared for the ending of this book.  No more can be said as it would ruin the book, but I was almost disappointed knowing I would have to wait for a while before finding out what comes next.  

Insidious Intent is interesting with a lot of dark humour, some character development in long-standing characters, and a clever narrative, but somehow it didn't seem to capture that magic of the previous books.  While I find the antagonist more interesting than the main characters, I have to ask myself why and the answer is simply because nothing really new was added in this novel.  The team kind of plowed their way through the investigation and there was none of the suspense and intensity that is usually present.  However, the author still writes a good novel and I have come to trust her ability to make unbelievable scenarios believable, so I am really hoping the ending of this book, while a bit out of place for the characters, leads to a whole different level of intensity in the next one.
Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Challenges

2018 Challenges

To be honest, I didn't do very well last year with the challenges.  Life has this way of turning everything upside down, and what you expected to do gets turned on its rump.  My husband, who is in the military, got promoted, and naturally posted, leaving me to deal with two teenagers and a very hectic schedule.  Unfortunately, the stress of this dealing with this, plus my job, made me realize I am not Super Woman, and I had to take a break from blogging.  With the intention of only taking off one month, turned into a very well-needed six months, and with that came the realization that I can not possibly do it all or I will lose my mind.  I think that's the hardest thing to deal with, the fact that we're only human and need to give ourselves a break once in a while.  With two children growing into adulthood of whom I couldn't be more proud, it's time to take the plunge into the next chapter of our life as the oldest heads off to university next year and leaves the nest (tear, tear!).  So, I will try these challenges again, and if I don't succeed, there's always the year after that one.

Debut Author Challenge

This one is to introduce readers to this year’s wonderful group of debut authors and to challenge readers to read 12 or more (or less! It’s up to you!) middle grade, young adult, and new adult debuts this year.

RMFAO Challenge

RMFAO 2018 Genre-List:
‣ January - Science-Fiction
‣ February - Mystery-Thriller
‣ March* - Women's Fiction or Westerns
‣ April* - YA or Graphic Novels
‣ May - Classics/Literary
‣ June - Non-Fiction
‣ July - Dystopian/Apocalyptic
‣ August - Contemporary Fiction
‣ September - Humour
‣ October - Horror
‣ November* - Historical or Steampunk
‣ December - Adventure/Fantasy

British Book Challenge

The British Books Challenge is a reading challenge that will be running on Tales Of Yesterday between 1st January 2018 to 31st December 2018 and the main focus of the challenge is reading and reviewing books by British authors.

This challenge is available for all bloggers and/or booktubers who review books on their blogs, YouTube channels or readers who review on other websites such as Goodreads.

If you sign up for the challenge you will be aiming to read at least 12 books by British authors (which works out to one a month).

1. Choose the level of which you would like to participate:
  • Peckish – 1 – 10 Cozy Mysteries
  • Famished – 11 – 30 Cozy Mysteries
  • Yearning – 31 – 50 Cozy Mysteries
  • Starving  – 51 – 75 Cozy Mysteries
  • Ravenous – 76 – 100 Cozy Mysteries
  • Voracious – 101 – 125 Cozy Mysteries 
  • Completely Satiated – 126 – 150 Cozy Mysteries
  • Overindulged – 151 – 200 Cozy Mysteries
  • Pigged Out – 201 or more Cozy Mysteries
2. You can Feed Your Need To Read with print, digital or audio books.
3. You do not have to post a review but the authors would appreciate it if you did. If you need help just let me know. 

4.  You do not need to have a blog to participate. If you do have a blog, take the button above, put it on your blog and post about the challenge. 

 This challenge begins January 1, 2018 and ends Dec 31, 2018 will count. 
  •  You may sign up anytime during the year. 
  • Books must be young adult or new adult genres.
  • Books may be horror, romance, dystopian, paranormal, graphic novels, etc. 
  • You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks.
  •  Books may count towards other reading challenges. 
  •  Use the hashtag #2018YARC 
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created. To participate, you only have to follow the rules:

  • Everyone can participate! If you don't have a blog you can post a link to your review if it's posted on Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon, or you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish.
  • Add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please use the direct URL that will guide us directly to your review)
  • Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)
During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader - 2 books
Victorian Reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

  • You can read any book that is from the mystery/suspense/thriller/crime genres. Any sub-genres are welcome as long as they incorporate one of these genres.
  • You don’t need a blog to participate but you do need a place to post your reviews to link up. (blog, goodreads, booklikes, shelfari, etc.)
  • Make a goal post and link it back here with your goal for this challenge.
  • Books need to be novellas or novels, please no short stories. (At least 100 pages +)
  • Crossovers into other challenges  are fine.
  • The Challenge will  be from Jan. 1st to Dec. 31st. (Sign up ends April 15th)
There will be a monthly link up so that others can check out your progress and look at your reviews. At the halfway mark and at the end we will have a giveaway for those participating.

If you tweet about your progress or reviews please use the hashtag #CloakDaggerChal so others can see it.
5-15 books – Amateur sleuth
16-25 books – Detective
26-35 books – Inspector
36 – 55 – Special agent
56+ books – Sherlock Holmes