Thank you to NetGalley and Saga Press for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. A Longer Fall debuted January 14th.
Oh man, I’m falling in love. There’s nothing like a book by my hero, Charlaine Harris, to do all the things–thrill, terrify, and inspire love and hate and everything in between, all with rock-solid prose. The first book in the Gunnie Rose series, An Easy Death, was a very solid four-star read for me, and A Longer Fall takes it to the next level.
If you’re not familiar with the series, it follows sharp-shooter-for-hire Lizbeth Rose on her perilous adventures in an alternative history America that’s been split into multiple countries: Texoma, New America, Dixie, Britannia, the Holy Russian Empire. (I might have missed one in there.) Since this is a book by Charlaine Harris, there’s more than a dash of magic sprinkled over the book (there are real wizards here who work real magic), as well as a good dose of mystery and thriller elements. I’ve long thought that the Western genre is due for a reboot, and this genre-bending series feels like a perfect step in that direction.
I’ll admit that it took me a little bit of time to warm to the main character in An Easy Death, as she is over-the-top practical and straightforward. In this next entry in the series, I really felt the characters got their moment to shine and grow. Yeah, yeah, the plot’s good and all, but it’s on a book’s characters to propel a book from good to great. As the book wrapped up, I was on Goodreads immediately searching out info on the next book. The good news is that it’s coming; bad news is that I can’t find a date listed. Mehhhhh.
Basically, if you are looking for a genre-bender or you’re a Harris fan, you should be reading this series. I loved it, and I’ll be first in line for a copy of the next book.
Thank you to NetGalley and MIRA Books for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Good Girls Lie debuted December 30th.
Good Girls Lie from start to finish felt like a book in conflict with itself. It’s not being marketed as YA, but many of the main characters are teenagers–though their dialogue speaks otherwise. The book is set at a boarding school, so there are the requisite secret societies, girl-on-girl drama, school murder, et cetera… but somehow it feels throughout the book like nothing is happening. And then the adult main characters (remember, this is supposed to be for an adult audience) fall seriously flat; I cared about a grand total of none of them, even as the author is dragging them through romantic twists and important life decisions.
The dialogue was the real death of me in this book. Much of it was entirely out of character, and nothing sounded like it would come from a teen’s mouth–way too staid and old-fashioned. Here are a couple examples:
- “Are you well, Camille?”
- “I’ll bid you goodnight.”
- “Then your insult was not only ill-advised but inaccurate and illogical.”
It felt like the author had never spoken to a teenager in her life. To make matters more difficult, there weren’t many dialogue tags included, so it often became difficult to follow conversations. I’m a fan of keeping dialogue tags on the sparser side myself, but I still recognize that you need to include enough of them so that readers have a sense of who’s talking.
Basically it felt like there was too much crammed into the book, and yet nothing was going on, and even worse, the characters were not nearly fun enough to hold up a book with little plot. I just think that there are so many other books that tackle similar subject matter in a more satisfying fashion. School murder, with people playing the blame game? One of Us Is Lying. Boarding school drama? Maureen Johnson. Young-feeling thriller with a twist at the end? Lock Every Door. Unfortunately I did not get on well with this book, and the writing style makes me wary of picking up another book by this author.
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. A quick note that I’m a bit confused about the publication date of this book. As far as I can tell it was originally published in 2017 and is being re-released. NetGalley says the new edition came out September 1st, while Goodreads says it comes out November 15th. So basically you can buy a copy of this book right now, but I’m not exactly sure which edition you’ll receive. I also don’t know if the 2017 text differs in any way from the 2019 edition.
The premise of this book hooked me immediately: Jemma, a sixteen-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy who cannot speak or move, learns the identity of a killer—from the killer himself. When her health aid goes missing, it’s up to Jemma to alert people to the culprit’s identity, despite the punishing limitations of her disability.
The language of this book is very simple and straightforward. If you are looking for a lyrical read, this is not it. However, there is a poignancy to this book; you cannot help but root for Jemma, who has little to no communication with any of her family members. Not only does she have a killer to wrangle with, but she is also a teenage girl dealing with a health condition that can cause those around her to treat her as if she is of less than a clear mind. It will be a long time before I forget the humiliating scene where her new carer treats Jemma like a toddler, rather than the clear-headed teenager that she is.
I also really enjoyed reading about Jemma’s family members. She has a unique family—Jemma’s two sibling are both foster children dealing with their own problems. I enjoyed the way her parents were written; her mom and dad are very supportive of Jemma, and they have their own personalities and flaws.
If the language of the book were a bit more lyrical, this likely would have been a five-star book. I found this book quite riveting, reading it in little more than a day. I knew next to nothing about cerebral palsy, and I think this quick thriller is a great way to gain some insight into the condition.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. The Warehouse debuts August 20th.
Let’s cut to the chase: this is a book about Amazon. If you’ve ever entertained the question of what the world would look like if Amazon continues going great guns and secures a bit more political power, then this is a must-read. This is a near-future dystopia, where devastating global warming and Black Friday massacres have ensured that consumers are unwilling to leave their houses—basically ever. Enter Cloud, who will drone-ship every product imaginable to your doorstep in the blink of an eye. Their workers live in massive company towns, where you get paid in Cloud credits, eat Cloud burgers, and sleep in Cloud-issued apartments. And if you don’t want to buy into the system, too bad, because unemployment is sky high, so how else you gonna make a buck, bro?
Enter Paxton and Zinnia, two new recruits to Cloud. Paxton is an entrepreneur whose small business dreams were squashed under the weight of pressure by Cloud to lower his production costs. Zinnia is a corporate spy on the most dangerous mission of her life: to figure out how Cloud is really producing their energy. Paxton has a job on the security team, while Zinnia only manages to secure a lowly picker role. If you have any sort of plot intuition, you can kinda see where things are headed from there, and it’s a wild, compulsive read that was hard to put down.
Listen, I like Amazon well enough. To give a personal example, my book is on Amazon in the KDP program, and I truly admire the innovation they have brought to the publishing industry by introducing the Kindle and an ebook marketplace to the world. Believe it or not, at least in the publishing sphere, Amazon has been great for the little guy. Print-on-demand and easy ebook distribution are threatening to topple the long-established gatekeepers of publishing, i.e., agents and publishers, allowing authors to be their own boss and have total control over their final product.
But that’s not to say that everything Amazon does smells of roses; you don’t get to that level of success without trampling over others. So if you’re a fan of dystopian fiction, I would definitely pick this up—it’s a fast, thrilling read that will ironically probably be topping Amazon’s book rankings.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. The Escape Room debuts July 30th.
Escape rooms—barely a thing five years ago, it turns out that friends and families really like to feel like they’re participating in a warm, friendly, Saw-like experience. (I kid—escape rooms are pretty awesome.) So it makes sense that having swept like wildfire across the globe, escape rooms have also infiltrated the subscription box business, graced the silver screen, and, at last, crawled their way into publishing.
The premise of the book is great—a bunch of investment bankers are lured to an elevator escape room, only to find out that the corporate team-building exercise they were promised is not what it appears to be. Yet great premises don’t necessarily make great books. A skillful writer could do a lot here, but the writing got in the way of the story at every turn. Each page was filled with wooden language and plodding narration. This is a real “I did X. Then I did Y. Then I did Z” experience, to the extent that there are actually a surprisingly small amount of detailed scenes in the book, given how zoomed-out our literary camera lens is. And when we do get some details, they always seem like the wrong thing. I don’t know how many descriptions of expensive investment banker wardrobes there were in this book, but it had to be… ten? Twenty? Fifty? Meanwhile, all you want is more cool escape room details, but it felt like there were only five clues to the whole room. For the vast majority of their time in the escape room the bankers just sit there, waiting to be let out.
I will say that I appreciated the back-and-forth POV chapter switches from first to third. The third person sections follow the entrapped bankers, while the first person sections track a rookie investment banker’s experience a few years prior. This variety of POV switching is a bold narrative choice, and with a more honed and experienced voice this could have worked beautifully—but because of the distant point of view, stiff language, constant head-hopping, and lack of escape room intrigue, I found myself dreading the third-person sections.
So I appreciate what this book wanted to be, and I’ll eagerly read a different thriller with an escape room premise. But Goldin’s take on escape rooms unfortunately missed the mark, so I have a difficult time recommending it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Lock Every Door debuts July 2nd.
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager was a binge-it-in-two-days type of read. This is the book you should have in your tote to read on the beach—an addictive and thrilling read that kept my nose glued to the page right up until the end. It’s also a rare specimen of book that advertises itself as having potential paranormal elements and manages to keep you guessing on that front far into the book. There are tons of books where the main character thinks, hmm, this place might be haunted, but it’s obvious to readers that that’s not the case. Not so here. (And I’m not giving anything away! Are there ghosts afoot in the MC’s bizarro apartment building or is everything rooted in the real world? You’ll have to read and see!)
The premise of the book is that a woman down on her luck (laid off, cheating boyfriend, finances in a downward spiral) manages to snag a gig where she gets paid to live in a ritzy, vacant NYC apartment. But, of course, everything is not as it seems, and things get spooky real quick. I was getting serious Rosemary’s Baby vibes throughout, due to the creepy New York apartment high-rise coupled with the young female MC.
I do feel obligated to mention that I picked up on two reveals far before they came. However, the full nature of the overarching plot reveal took me very much by surprise, while at the same time being very satisfying—the surprise is just that, surprising, while still managing to preserve suspension of disbelief. I highly recommend Lock Every Door, and I’m looking forward to reading more books by the author.
A small aside—if you haven’t seen the book trailer for Specter yet, check it out! Specter debuts July 7th, and the paperback and ebook are available for preorder at all major retailers and from Hidden Bower Press.