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review 2017-04-26 03:13
City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
City of Blades - Robert Jackson Bennett

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was one impressive read! I read the first book in this series, City of Stairs, a few months ago and really enjoyed it so I was really excited to finally get around to reading the second book in the series, City of Blades. A lot of times the second book in a series doesn't quite live up to the first so I was a bit worried going into the book. There was no need for any worry because as good as the first book was, this one was even better. I had such a hard time putting this book down and when I was away from it, I couldn't get it out of my mind.

I had really expected this book to focus on the same group of characters and I was somewhat wrong. The main character in this book is Mulaghesh who did play an important role in the first book but was not the lead character. I liked Mulaghesh in the first book but I absolutely loved her in this installment. Getting to learn some of her back story really opened up her character. She is tough, smart, and somewhat haunted by her past. I love the an older woman who has seen and done a lot of things is the person at the center of this story.

This book takes place in Voortyashtan which was very different than the setting of the first book. This meant that while some of the world building did build on the what was established in the previous book, a lot of this world was entirely new. The City of Blades ended up being something I would have never imagined but as it was described it I almost felt as if I were there. I really feel like there is almost no boundaries with what this series can explore.

The story in this book was very exciting. I did think that some of the earlier parts of the book were a bit tedious as I tried to figure out what was really going on. When the story took off, it really didn't let up. There are so many different things to solve that are all interconnected. The story took quite a few twists that I didn't see coming. I was a bit nervous as I read because I had no idea how things would work out for Mulaghesh and everyone.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This is the second book in the series and I do think that this series really needs to be read in order. The stories are not a continuation but the events of the first book really impacted the characters and the world they live in. I can't wait to see what is going to happen in City of Miracles!

I received a review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Broadway Books via Blogging for Books and NetGalley.

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review 2017-04-21 02:39
Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen
Gone Without a Trace - Mary Torjussen

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This book and me did not get along. I was so excited to read this novel because the story sounded exactly like the kind of book that I enjoy. I thought it started out okay but then I found myself wanting to put it down. I would set this book aside and read another book and go back to it and quickly find that I was bored again. I actually ended up reading a couple of other books in the middle of this one which is something that I rarely do. I considered not finishing this book but I pushed myself to finish it instead. After finishing the book, I do wish that I had just stopped as soon as I realized that it wasn't working for me.

Hannah comes home from work to find her boyfriend, Matt, gone from their home. Matt has taken absolutely everything that he had in their home. It is like Matt never lived there. Photos are gone. He even erased all of the phone records, texts, and emails. Hannah is stunned and has no idea where Matt has gone or why he left. She can't get his loss out of her mind and starts working to figure out where he has gone.

After the initial shock of Matt's leaving, there didn't seem to be a whole lot going on in this book. Hannah does not deal with his leaving well at all and her spiral downward is detailed in the story but it seemed to me that the story needed something to keep things moving forward. I found that I spent most of the book rather bored.

The story does have a big twist and the last quarter of the book does pick up the pace. I would imagine that most people will really appreciate this giant twist but by the time it was revealed, I had really lost any investment in the story that I had ever had. I did find that the last section of the book did seem to move faster and was more entertaining.

I think that this is a book that some readers will love but it will not work well for others. Unfortunately, I was in the later group. I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it that really thinks that they would enjoy it based on the description but I won't be encouraging readers to pick it up either.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This is a generous 2 stars. I didn't enjoy this book at all. There was a little bit of excitement towards the end but I found most of the book to be quite dull.

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review 2017-03-23 02:05
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
The Passenger - Lisa Lutz

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was just okay. I have been a fan of Lisa Lutz for a long time and have a great fondness for her Spellman Files series. I knew going into this book that this was going to be a completely different kind of story and I was really looking forward to seeing what she would do with it. There were things that I did like about this story but other elements were not quite as enjoyable.

The book opens with the death of Tanya's husband. Tanya immediately leaves town and starts working on assuming a new identity. Tanya tells us that she didn't hurt her husband, Frank, but we have no idea why she feels like she needs to leave town. I was really curious about her motivation to run. That wasn't a small decision and she knew exactly what to do so it was very obvious that Tanya had disappeared before. Tanya changes her name several times in the story but for the purpose of the review, I am just going to stick with Tanya.

Tanya meets Blue in a bar when Blue figures out that she isn't exactly who she says she is. They find themselves in a serious situation soon after they meet and they form an interesting friendship. Both Blue and Tanya are on the run and are both hiding who they truly are from the world. Blue's character was one that I didn't quite trust. Blue just seemed to have a more criminal mind than Tanya did.

I did want to keep reading so that I could learn why Tanya felt she had to run in the first place. If she didn't hurt her husband, it didn't make sense unless she had something else from her past. The emails that were sprinkled in the book between chapters quickly hinted that there was something from her past that we hadn't discovered yet. I also really liked the humor that was sprinkled throughout the book. This isn't a funny story but Lisa Lutz's sense of humor is still very evident in the writing.

I was really disappointed by the ending of this book. Seriously disappointed. I read all of those pages eagerly awaiting a big reveal that caused Tanya to be on the run and it just didn't do a lot for me. The big twist that was supposed to shock me at the end just added another layer of disappointment.

I am not really sure that I would recommend this book. I do think that a lot of readers will really enjoy this book a lot more than I did. I did like the book and I do consider 3 stars to be a good rating. It just wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. I do plan to continue reading Lisa Lutz's work in the future and commend her for writing a different kind of story.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley and Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
Way late on reviewing this one. I must say that I am really disappointed by how this one ended. I would say that this book was okay overall but I feel let down now that I finished.

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review 2017-03-21 01:22
The Cutaway by Christina Kovac
The Cutaway: A Novel - Christina Kovac

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this story well enough even if I didn't love it. I think that the newsroom setting was one of the strengths of this book and it did add a rather unique quality to the story. Unfortunately, I was never completely hooked by the story. The mystery was interesting but I just never found myself truly invested in the story.

This story is told from the point of view of TV new producer, Virginia. When Virginia sees a missing poster for Evelyn, she knows that she has seen her face before. She remembers Evelyn being in another piece on the news station as a cutaway shot and she is drawn to her story. As Viriginia works to find out what happened to Evelyn, she soon realizes that the case may be much bigger than she originally thought.

This book actually had a whole lot going on. Probably too much if I am being honest. While Viriginia was working on this case, it seemed that her whole world was falling down around her. There is a big shake-up at the news station that makes everything tense. Virginia's personal life is also a major focus with past relationships, new relationships, and family making an appearance. These topics were interesting but it seemed to change the focus from the mystery so often that I had a hard time keeping track of everything and I don't think that it always added a lot to the overall story.

The overall mystery was rather complex. This book did take a lot of twists and turns that I didn't see coming but there was nothing that was truly unexpected. I thought that the mystery did make sense in the end. As the mystery really started to unfold, the excitement levels increased. I did enjoy the newsroom perspective and thought this felt rather authentic.

This is a book that I am glad that I read and I think that mystery readers will enjoy the newsroom point of view. I thought that this was a solid debut novel from Christina Kovac and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Atria Books - 37 Ink via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one even if I didn't love it. It was interesting to see a case solved by someone in a newsroom. This one took a few twists but there was really nothing that was completely unexpected.

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review 2017-03-19 16:18
The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper
The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin - Stephanie Knipper,Andi Arndt,Cassandra Campbell

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really a great story. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started listening to this audiobook but I soon found myself hooked. The story touched on so many difficult topics and everything worked together in a way that I wouldn't have expected. I really liked that the story was told from multiple points of view and I thought that each perspective really added an important piece to the overall puzzle. I really ended up enjoying this book.

This is a book that is really about a lot of things. It is a book that tells the story of two sisters, Lily and Rose, mending their relationship. Lily and Rose have seen very little of each other in the years leading up to the start of the book but when Rose needs Lily, she comes to help. That is just one part of the story. This book also focuses on a little girl with disabilities who has a special gift.

Antoinette was a great character. She is nonverbal but she still says so much. She is her mother's world and the feeling is mutual. She is a caring child that doesn't want to see anyone or anything ill or in pain. She is willing to do anything she can to help take care of those that she loves. Unfortunately, Antoinette's gift comes with a price that those who love her work to protect her from.

I loved how so many different elements came together to tell this story. I loved the parts from Rose's point of view that really demonstrated her love for Antoinette. Lily's struggle to fit in and the things she struggles with in her life every day was very well told. Seth and Will both added to the story with their actions in the present and they both had really interesting pasts. I enjoyed the magical realism elements that helped to tell this story.

I loved the narration. I have listened to Andi Arndt several times in the past and have always enjoyed her work. This was the first time that I have listened to Cassandra Campbell and I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book that she narrated. I think that using two narrators really added to the impact of the story. Andi Arndt did narrate the bulk of the story but they both did an equally wonderful job. This was an emotional story and both narrators really did a great job expressing a lot of strong feelings.

I would recommend this book to others. This is the first book by Stephanie Knipper that I have read and I am really impressed by her ability to write wonderful characters dealing with a lot of difficult issues. I would definitely like to read from this author in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from HighBridge Audio via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed this story. The narration was great. I really liked the little bit of magic that made its way into the story.  

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