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review 2018-07-15 01:54
ARC Review: Falling Awake II: Revenant by Kristoffer Gair
Falling Awake II: Revenant - Kristoffer Gair

I sat on this review for a few days, hoping I would have the words.

I don't have the words. Sorry, Kristoffer.

But I promised a review, so I'll do my best to somewhat coherently tell you about this book. First off, this is not a romance. This is a thriller/mystery/paranormal/horror kind of book, and a prequel of sorts to the first book, Falling Awake. If you've read that first one, this second book will give you the background information that you wanted but didn't need for the first book. 

When Andrew O'Connell was ten years old, he went to the fair with his friend Thomas, also ten. The night after they went, Thomas was abducted from his house in the middle of night, his parents slain in their bed. Thomas was found dead a few days later in an abandoned house. And for fourteen years, Andrew has felt unimaginably guilty, because he believes that what happened to Thomas was his fault. He has nightmares nearly every night, and he will not stop until he can figure out what really happened to Thomas, and find the men who so brutally killed his friend. 

Andrew now works for OSHA, tasked with travelling to areas where an accident has occurred to find out what really happened, to smoke out the truth, always one step behind the elusive person responsible. At the same time, Andrew tries to gather more information on the incident that took his childhood friend, and he's not afraid to use whatever means he has to just to get the answers he needs. Andrew is not always a good man, he's not always a nice guy - he uses people even though he feels guilty doing so - because what matters is that he finds the perpetrators of that heinous crime and stops them before they can kill again. 

The book is set in the early 1970s, when Andrew is 24, which means the original crime took place in 1958. The author did a fine job on the research to ensure the references to historical facts are accurate. There was but one inaccuracy, which I'm not going to tell you about - let's see if you can spot it yourself. 

The writing is vivid, drawing you in from the get-go. Andrew's nightmares are visualized, and I was more often than not on the edge of my seat while reading this book. The author doesn't spare us the horrors perpetrated upon Thomas, though they are doled out in smaller doses so as to not overwhelm the reader. It's difficult on occasion to read about the violence that little boy endured, and there were tears in my eyes plenty of times as well. 

Evil is real, and it will corrupt and claim a person's soul. But there is goodness too, there is light, and we have to believe that the light will prevail if only you have heart. The book is aptly named "Revenant" - one that returns. 

There is no happy ending - there really couldn't be. And the ending was unexpected and also not - there actually was no other imaginable way of ending the book. 

It is a prequel, of sorts. Keep that in mind when you read this. And read this, you should. Because it's different and it's fantastic, and it will haunt you and make you think. 

I'm told the author is currently working on the third book, which I would assume will pick up where the first book ended. 

I can hardly wait to read it.



** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-07-04 03:08
ARC Review: Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin
Inside Darkness - Hudson Lin

There were some really good themes in this book, and there were some things that weren't so good.

Let's talk about the good stuff first.

The author does a fine job exploring the impact and effects of PTSD that Cameron experiences, and how it shapes his interactions with the world around him, even when (and perhaps especially when) the traumatic events leading to the PTSD have passed. The darkness to which Cameron escapes is a place of safety to which he retreats when he's under extreme pressure or fear. An international aid worker for many years, Cameron has seen more than his fair share of human suffering, violence, and death, and there's not much left of the idealistic, out and proud gay man he was 10 years or so ago, the one who wanted to help others and jumped into aid work with both feet. Being gay is a crime in many African countries still, and Cameron knows only too well what might happen to someone who's found out to be gay. He has hidden that part of himself behind a cynical and gruff exterior because it's safer that way. 

Tyler is very much an opposite to Cameron. Somewhat self-centered and career oriented, he struggles with his ethnicity (born in America of Chinese heritage) and having clawed his way to success out of growing up in foster care. He's extremely sensitive to perceived slights, and he's unhappy at his job because he feels that he's being marginalized for his race and heritage, and not given any real assignments other than covering the happenings in Chinatown. At first, I didn't like Tyler very much. He was angry, perhaps understandably so, but also standoffish. He grew on me, especially as the author peeled back the layers of his personality, and Tyler became Cam's main support system.

While sex happens early, intimacy and romance does not, and the slow burn inside needed to be, since Cameron's PTSD makes for a difficult companion, and Tyler doesn't initially know how to help the other man, helplessly watching Cam sink deeper and deeper into the darkness. 

Love, as it happens between them, happens slowly, almost as a side product of their struggles to overcome the obstacles in their respective lives. 

It is only when they are separated again, by choice to some extent, that both men realize how much they need the other, just when it's nearly too late. The darkness threatens to swallow Cameron whole, and there's no Tyler to pull him back when he needs it the most. The climax of this book did have me at the edge of my seat, even if the ending felt a bit rushed.

Now for the not so good. This was my first book by this author, and the writing style didn't really work for me. It was oftentimes more tell than show, which is a shame, really, because the story itself was well done. But show me what makes your characters tick - don't tell me. 

There was also some slut-shaming inside, which I thought a bit odd, and while I don't know much about UN Aid workers and how things are run there, I was left to wonder if someone diagnosed with severe PTSD, under the supervision of a therapist, would then be sent back to another hellhole with the expectation of performing the job as if the PTSD didn't exist. 

This is a heavy, angsty read, and not the kind of book you take with you for a sunny day on the beach. There's a lot of darkness inside, and both Cameron and Tyler have to fight their way into the light. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. If you like romances that are slow to develop, with a lot of angst, this might be a book for you.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2018-07-03 01:41
Adored this
River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey

Man-eating hippos, some truly fucked up characters, and a bloody, bloody tale of revenge?   Basically, this hit a ton of my literary kinks, in a fabulous alternate history setup: what would you think about cowboys who were hippoboys?   Instead of cows, America depends on hippos to get around - and yes, for meat. 

 

Except the feral ones who depend on Americans for meat. 

 

The cast of characters is outrageously charming, with one exception - and that's on purpose.    The world building is a nasty little mirror of our world, which is charming in and of itself.   The plot propels this forward. 

 

Just love this. 

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review 2018-07-02 06:06
Green River Killer
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story - Jonathan Case,Jeff Jensen

This book should have been interesting, but the material is mishandled, and it ends up being a story about essentially nothing (what was the point of this book?).

 

I did not understand the interweaving timelines. It just made it difficult to understand what was happening.

 

Skip this one and read My Friend Dahmer instead if you're looking for graphic novels about serial killers.

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review 2018-06-19 17:40
An Intimate Look at the Victims
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer - Ann Rule

This was a really good true crime book, the main reason why I didn't give it five stars is that there was too much filler in here for me towards the end. A good 20 percent of this book could have deleted (after we get into the 1990s) since we all should know at this point that Ridgway (the Green River Killer) didn't get arrested until 2001 and was not convicted until 2003. Depending on the book I don't mind when Rule segues into the lives of the police officers who are responsible for apprehending these killers, this time though there was a lot of repetitiveness that ended up boring me to tears. 

 

"Green River, Running Red" is a look at the Green River Killer who murdered 71 women in Washington State in the 1980s and 1990s. Rule gives us an intimate look at these women and in some cases teens. We find out what drove many of them to the streets and how they got involved with prostitution. I find it appalling how little people seemed to care that prostitutes were being murdered. Ridgway purposely chose women in this profession since besides hating them, he thought no one would notice them going missing and if they did, would not care. Rule manages to have you feel nothing but sympathy for these women and their family who would not know for years or decades in some cases about what happened to their daughters/mothers/sisters. I loved that Rule added in pictures before she got into the history of each woman. I also found myself hoping for a different outcome once I got caught up in all of their lives. 

 

Rule smartly does not make Ridgway the focus of this book. Every couple of chapters or so we peek back in at Ridgway to see where he is in his life, but he is depicted as a malevolent ghost for most of the story before Rule goes into how he was finally apprehended. 

 

I do think in this case going into the Green River Task Force could have been cut way down in this final book. They really didn't find anything to go on with Ridgway for a long time, so reading about other suspects wasn't interesting. I also thought Rule carried the water for the police a bit too much in this book. She also weirdly takes potshots at Robert Keppel who enlisted Ted Bundy who provided some insights into the Green River Killer before his death. Keppel even wrote a book about it entitled "The Riverman". 

 

The ending of the book goes into Ridgway going out with law enforcement and finding the locations of other victims and him recounting how he murdered them.

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