Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Fourth Monkey Review

Hello everyone!! I feel like I'm starting a letter to some long lost friends instead of a regular blog post...so here I am apologizing again. We are still in a hotel, and life has still been stressful and out of the norm. OH, and my daughter requested I be sure to tell you all that she is a jackass and even HER summer isn't going the way she thought it would. Daughter + metal part of dorm room locker = stitches and a change of work schedule. Really, it's been just a regular PCS for my family! But the good news is that we will be in our new home within the week and hopefully life will return to our new normal. So, as I've said before...don't give up on me yet!!

Now on to the good stuff...

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker to review, and I'm incredibly happy they reached out to me because I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery/thriller. The book comes out TODAY (June 27th!) from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the press compared it to SE7EN and The Silence of the Lambs so I was initially intrigued. Although I have always loved watching movies like that, I don't read a ton of Cop/Detective stories. This one really kept my attention though, and I may have to start adding this genre to my rotation a bit more frequently from now on.

Detective Sam Porter has spent the past 5 years trying to hunt down the Four Monkey vigilante serial killer who has tormented Chicago with his sick and twisted trail of body part clues, and never come close to capturing him. Now a man has been hit by a city bus, and in his pocket is one of the 4MK classic clue boxes, and a diary. With the killer dead and only a handful of clues, can Porter and his task force find the killer's last victim in time to save her?

The chapters are split between the happenings of Porter and his task force, the last victim Emory, and the Four Monkey Killer's diary that Porter is reading. That interplay really helped build the tension, especially towards the end of the book. And the difference in writing style between the diary chapters and the rest of the book was quite impressive.

I honestly could've read an entire book of the killer's diary backstory! It reminded me of one of the short stories in P.D. James' The Mistletoe Murder compilation...so creepy in it's normalcy and yet so horribly off. It was compelling enough, I don't think I set the book down once during a diary chapter. It was fascinating, and I was so proud of myself for picking up a couple of clues that helped me reach a conclusion BEFORE Detective Porter. That rarely happens for me in a mystery, but it didn't impact my enjoyment in any way. I kept telling my son I wanted to keep reading to find out if my hunch was right!

And the rest of the book, full of witty banter between detective friends and sarcastic jabs amongst co-workers, was realistic and could probably be lifted verbatim from the page to screen and make a successful and thoroughly creepy movie. That was a pervasive thought of mine throughout reading this book...it would make a great movie. The first half is chock-full of dialogue. I am used to books having way more description and internal thoughts put on the page...and this book is very heavy on conversation. But I think it fits, and is probably necessary given the genre and style.

In short, and I am purposely trying to be vague because I don't want to get even kinda close to a spoiler, I am giving this one 4 1/2 stars...rounding up to a 5 on Goodreads. I think the early press for this thriller was spot on. Yes, I had hunches that proved right so it wasn't a whodunnit that had me perplexed right up until a grand reveal like the Cormoran Strike books. But I devoured the last quarter of the book in the wee hours of the night because I wanted to see how they wrapped it all up, and it did not disappoint. The ending was perfection really.

So, if you are a fan of dark and twisty detective mysteries, definitely give this one a try. And a huge thanks again to the author and publisher for sending it to me. It was a great distraction from the chaos that has been my life recently!!

I have a huge pile of new books to review for you still so keep reading! Have you read anything good this summer? If so, I'd love to hear about it!! Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Monday, June 19, 2017

In This Moment Review

I am SO HAPPY right now!! I read an entire book yesterday!!

This is exciting, and worthy of multiple exclamation points, mainly because it means that I actually had some down time to spend on one of the many books I packed with me when we left North Dakota for DC. I have been so busy lately trying to find a home for us to live in that I've had zero time for books, the blog, or anything other than stress-inducing Zillow analyzing. Cross your fingers that the place we filled out an application for actually comes through for us!!

So, the book I read yesterday was another one sent to me by Booksparks for their Summer Reading Challenge! Whoever it was over there that picked their selections for this program did a great job because so far I have really enjoyed every one of the books they've sent to me. They get a giant gold star! ⭐

 In This Moment by Karma Brown is a novel about a woman's guilt over a couple small choices she's made in her life that have had HUGE consequences for herself and others, and how old wounds can come back to haunt you.

Meg Pepper is running late to get her teen-aged daughter Audrey to the dentist after school. She's sick with strep. Her boss at the realty company can't seem to do anything without her help. Her husband Ryan is so busy with his career as a doctor, and starting up his own private practice, that he's not really helping to pick up the slack at home. And all Meg wants to do is crawl back into bed.

As she's leaving the school, she waves a boy to cross the road in front of her...and he's hit by a car driven by a teacher responding to a text on her phone. The guilt she feels brings up long-repressed guilt for an accident she feels responsible for back when she was a teen herself. Before long, this small act of waving her hand has thrown many peoples lives into a tailspin...and we're left wondering how bad it's going to get before the crash and burn.

I devoured this book. Now, it may have had something to do with the fact that I was SO excited to actually have a book in my hand...but once I started it, I didn't want to set it back down again. This book would make a great book club selection for a few different reasons. At 282 pages, it was a quick read...and comes complete with book club questions in the back (which is always a nice touch!). And then there is the fact that it is chock-full of high-quality conversation fodder.

Meg can't sleep. She's struggling to deal with her daughter, who witnessed the accident also, and is falling apart in the relatively typical rebellious way. Her work is suffering. She's the sort-of harried woman who uses her smart-phone to remind her of everything, and before long she's mixing up dates of important work items and her car is broken down because she forgot to schedule maintenance. It is really one thing after another. But the big kicker is the relationship she starts to build with the father of Jack, the boy who was hit by the car, and what that means for her marriage.

I'm giving this one 4 stars on Goodreads, and I can't thank the author and Booksparks enough for sending it my way. I desperately needed this distraction from my house-hunting issues, and it was a  reminder that my problems aren't as big as they feel at times! The author did a great job of making the characters feel real and their reactions to issues feel truthful. Meg could be any number of friends of mine...and it was interesting to think of how we would deal with these problems.

Hopefully I will be back to multiple posts a week soon, so don't give up on me yet folks!! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, and reading some good books! 😀

Monday, June 5, 2017

Woman No. 17 Review

Once again, I have to start this post with an apology. Our household goods were packed up yesterday, and we will be spending the next couple days cleaning and preparing to leave North Dakota. My routine has been decimated, so blogging has basically been put on the back burner. I am reading when I can, and trying to keep my presence up on Instagram and Twitter, but finding time to actually write a review has been difficult. Once we are settled I should be back to the three days a week posts, but until then please have patience with me! The blog is constantly on my brain though, so I hope to have some fun things for you soon!

Today I have a review for another book sent to me by Booksparks for their Summer Reading Challenge! I have been having so much fun reading their selections, and this one was no exception. 

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki is totally different than anything else I've read recently, and that just added to my reading enjoyment. It is a very California-artsy and intellectually wry, blunt contemporary tale of two women.

Lady and Esther (or S) are two vastly different and yet eerily similar women whose lives intersect when S becomes a nanny for Lady's youngest son Devin. Lady has recently taken a break in her marriage and is trying to write a book about her oldest son Seth's mutism, so she could use some alone time. What she doesn't know is that the nanny job is basically a performance art piece for S. Alcohol, sex, art and Peter Rabbit in the Pool all transpire before the end of this at times bawdy tale. 

I liked this book quite a bit. I truly enjoyed the author's writing style, which may sound odd and a little vague but there were times where I just got excited by her sentences...the words she chose and the way she threw them together. I also loved the similarities between Esther and Lady, both obvious and subtle. There were times I wanted to slap the both of them upside the head...and Esther made me think twice before packing my Teva sandals for my move! But despite their odd and sometimes extreme circumstances, the characters felt very real to me. 

So I'm giving this one 4 stars on Goodreads. Maybe I just needed to escape from my moving boxes and mini blind scrubbing, but I loved my time in California with these ladies. I commend the author on the way she turns a phrase. A few days after reading and I am still giggling over a few things, and I surprisingly can remember quite a bit of it, which is amazing since I'm not known for my book retention. It would be a great novel for the more artistic and free thinking of my readers. 😁

Please forgive me if this review has crazy typos, and is missing my usual original photos and quotes. I am writing on my phone right now, which has probably thrown me off my game a little bit! Bare with me, I promise I will eventually be done with this move and back to normal. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I am sure I will have some ridiculousness for you as I spend the next few days driving to Louisiana while singing disco alone in my car! I also put the Audiobook of American Gods on my phone, as my kids have been trying to get me to read it for ages, and I have watched a few episodes of the tv show. So when I get sick of singing, I will listen to that. DC from North Dakota by way of Louisiana means a whole lot of singing, so send good vibes my direction during the next week!!

And a big thanks again to Booksparks, Edan Lepucki and Hogarth Press for sending this book my direction, and giving me a fun escape from the stress of moving!