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review 2017-07-17 15:56
A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly
A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly

 

This time around Charlie Parker is hired to look into the disappearance of Jaycob Eklund. Jaycob is a P.I. that has mysteriously vanished while investigating the history of a group named The Brethren. Louis and Angel get involved and the Collector and his aging father do as well. What FUN!

 

FBI Agent Edgar Ross is the man who hires Charlie and I still don't trust him or his motives. He won't even tell Charlie why he's searching for Eklund. I'm not sure where Mr. Connolly is going with this relationship, but I have a bad feeling about it, for sure.

 

Louis and Angel trade insults as always, but in this book their love became a little more real to me. You'll see why if you read it. (You SHOULD read it!)

 

Also playing a part in this volume are Rachel and Sam, Charlie's ex-girlfriend and (living) daughter, respectively. Rachel, understandably, is still angry and upset after what happened to Sam in the last book and is now taking legal steps regarding Sam's custody. Trusty Moxie, Charlie's lawyer, is on the case. Unfortunately, Rachel doesn't ask Sam how she feels about all this, but Sam makes her feelings known-in a way that is uniquely her own.

 

I loved this book! I believe I am seeing the beginning of the end, off in the distance, and that makes me sad. However, I am hoping that perhaps the series will continue in some other form, I

am hoping for an entire new series featuring Sam and her insane capabilities.

(spoiler show)

But if I don't get I will still be happy, because I believe that the Charlie Parker books have become the best ongoing series out there, bar none. They are consistently interesting, well written and just plain fun-and considering how dark some of them are, that's quite a feat!

 

I love Charlie, Louis and Angel and I love YOU, John Connolly! I can't wait to see what happens next! I highly recommend A Game of Ghosts to fans of the series, and to new fans, (but I strongly suggest you read them in order.)

 

*Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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text 2017-07-12 22:30
Reading progress update: I've read 34% and...
A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly

and I'm getting a very bad feeling regarding one of my favorite characters in this series.

 

That's not gonna happen, right? John Connolly wouldn't do that, would he?

 

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review 2016-11-17 14:42
Bullet-Listed Thoughts: Dark Triumph
Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph

by Robin LaFevers
Book 2 of His Fair Assassin
Audio book narrated by Angela Goethals

 


**See Also:  Collective Updates for Dark Triumph

 


To start off, I probably should warn people about the presence of the fairly incestuous relationship that takes place between Sybella and her brother Julian; just in case anyone might have difficulty accepting this in their reading diets.  It's not entirely a heavy focus, though, since we see a lot more of the obsessive love on Julian's side.  While Sybella is merely playing a part as part of her assignment, and has no desire to encourage this relationship, Julian is very much in love with her.

Moving along...

If we compare Dark Triumph to Grave Mercy, there was a lot more focus on the political and war strategies significant to the Duchess Anne and her Duchy of Brittany in Grave Mercy.  Sure, you still see a lot of personal growth and development on Ismae's side of things, but her growth really DID also follow along with how she aided her young Duchess.

Dark Triumph's focus, on the other hand, was more heavily centered on Sybella: her vengeance, her mental and emotional stability, her revelations, and how she would figure out how to survive her own fatalism.  And it was definitely an emotional ride with everything that this girl had to go through.  Because if ever there was someone who attracted trouble and death, it definitely would be Sybella.

Many other readers were stating that Dark Triumph was much darker than Grave Mercy--this is definitely true.  But I can't help feeling like the execution of the story felt almost too deliberately created to be dark, so much so that it felt outrageous at times... or maybe it was just that Sybella's first person narration was heavily influenced by her own mental and emotional instabilities that it felt that way.

Whatever the reason is, it was definitely an emotional journey, and you definitely find it hard not to feel for Sybella throughout it all.


The Story:
Sybella had run away from the life that was slowly driving her mad, coming upon the Convent of St. Mortain, and learning that there might be hope in her life after all.  For she has been told that she is really the daughter of Death, himself, and can finally split her ties with the evilness of the father she's known her entire life, the terrible Count d'Albret, who serves no one but his own malicious desires.  But then the convent decides that the best way for her to serve their saint is to return to the darkness that is her family, to the brutal father who wouldn't hesitate to use her or kill her, to the brother who loves her to the point of unsettling obsession, and to a court full of people who would more likely betray you for any number of reasons.

The Reverend Mother has promised that Sybella would be the one to mete out final justice to the Count d'Albret, to rid the world of his vile existence, to avenge her lost innocent childhood and all those who have suffered thanks to this man.  But she has yet to find the mark of death on him, and this continued service to Death, as directed by the convent, is again, slowly driving her mad.

Then the convent sends a new order: she is to find and help free the captured knight known as Benebic de Waroch, and aid in his delivery to the Duchess in Rennes.

This creates a whole new dilemma for Sybella, as it could jeopardize her chances of remaining at Nantes in her father's presence--it would definitely put a kink in her carefully laid plans to kill d'Albret as she'd been promised she could do.

And even as she follows the convent's orders, she begins to question the existence of Mortain and her role as his handmaiden.  Because if she isn't really Mortain's daughter, then that would mean that she is truly the daughter of the evil d'Albret; and that is absolutely unacceptable to Sybella as it would mean that all her hopes have come to nothing.


What I Liked:

  • This book was an emotional roller coaster ride.  To be honest, I'm listing it as one of the things that I liked, but I'm not entirely sure if it is.  It was refreshing to follow such a flawed and emotionally unstable main character, but at the same time, it wasn't like Sybella turned out much different from a typical main heroine, really, as she is also kind and giving and all sorts of goodness, hidden beneath that cynical and fatalistic exterior.

 

  • The relationship between Sybella and Beast was subtle, yet also sweet and emotionally charged.  As I'd stated in a previous update, I was very much looking forward to the potential of their slowly budding relationship after they finally meet.  They are certainly not shy around each other in terms of words exchanged and verbal sparring.

 

  • Sybella is not shy at all.  Casting aside the blushing virgin roles, Sybella is definitely a step away from typical YA heroines.  She does not hesitate to utilize her feminine advantages in seduction in order to accomplish what needs to be done.  And she also rolls her eyes at the way that everyone tries to treat her like a delicate flower.
  • This is further along in the book, but I love how Sybella so readily slides into a role of leadership when the situations demand it of her.  She has that demeanor and firmness that allows her to command soldiers without hesitating, a demeanor that doesn't even give them a chance to argue or question her authority, even though she was never really given that authority.

 

  • The relationship between Sybella and Ismae is sweet and loving.  While we don't get to see a lot of their interactions--in fact this book is actually quite scarce in character interaction--I still loved that these girls love each other unconditionally, developing on their shared youthful tragedies that lead them both to the Convent of St. Mortain and into each other's lives many years prior to the book's timeline.
  • As usual, the writing is beautiful, the telling smooth, and the story very easy to dive into.



What I Didn't Like:

  • As much as I have enjoyed following along Sybella's journey, the book itself felt altogether too one-tracked in that aspect.  At some points, I felt like the story focused too heavily inside Sybella's head, and all the thoughts and ideas bouncing around in there.  It wasn't altogether a bad experience, far from it.  I just felt like the book could have given us a little bit more.  If that makes any sense.

 

  • The romance between Sybella and Beast was a bit too instantaneous, and maybe a little abrupt.  Much like in Grave Mercy between Ismae and Dival, I felt like I rather enjoyed the partnership between Sybella and Beast as comrades in a war.  They had great chemistry as friends, taking care of each other, and fighting beside one another.  But the love story felt a little awkward, actually, and I felt a little taken aback as to when the love story even actually started, since I hadn't seen it coming, even as I knew it was inevitable.

 

  • The events that continued to follow Sybella's dysfunctional family life, the secret reveals she gave us a piece at a time, started getting almost too outstanding to be believable.  Don't get me wrong--I understand that Sybella has gone through hell on earth during her childhood spent with the d'Albrets.  Between her brutally evil father and her much too obsessively in love older brother, as well as no allies or friends on her side, I don't blame her for her eagerness to runaway and hide her past from everyone.  But each new reveal just seemed like a never ending stumble down a hill.  Because just as you thought there was nothing else for Sybella to tell us, she uncovers a whole other layer to her family's secrets that make you question all those times you claimed that your family was crazy.  (At least my father didn't have six wives who died of "mysterious" circumstances or "accidents.") 



Final Thoughts:
I ended up listening to the audio book of Dark Triumph for the remainder of the book.  While I'm not entirely in love with Angela Goethal's narration, it actually grew on me and I found myself wanting to listen to the audio instead of just stopping and reading from the print.  Of course, there were times where I DID have to stop and look to the Kindle book for spellings of names, as well as certain quotes that I wanted to highlight.

I don't know if it was the narration or the book itself, but Dark Triumph became easily devoured in a matter of hours, and I finished the entire book much earlier than I had anticipated.

But even as I write this review, I'm still a little conflicted.  Dark Triumph has a lot more emotional depth than Grave Mercy did.  Sybella is truly the NUN ASSASSIN I'd been looking forward to since the first time I'd heard the words "nun assassin" and learned about the His Fair Assassin series.  The death count in this book, by Sybella's hand, might even make up for the lack thereof by Ismae's hand.  If I thought Grave Mercy was quiet and tame, in comparison, Dark Triumph could be its opposite.

But honest, it's not.  Dark Triumph is certainly darker than its predecessor, as it details events that are bound to make a lot of people uncomfortable.  Just the list of all the secrets Sybella has been keeping is enough to last me for some time, though not all her secrets are dark ones.  But Dark Triumph isn't any more exciting or intriguing that Grave Mercy was.  Just the fact that we focus so much on Sybella's journey of self-revelation and her state of mind, and less on the events surrounding Anne's Duchy of Brittany, made the action in this second His Fair Assassin book quietly thought-provoking, even if not tamer.

It's hard for me to decide whether I liked one book more than the other.  It's like comparing apples to oranges.  Because even while both books follow a different girl, set in the same time-frame, with a lot of the same events surrounding them, they are definitely two very different stories.


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/11/bullet-listed-thoughts-dark-triumph.html
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review 2016-11-04 08:47
Rambling Review: P.S. I Like You
P.S. I Like You - Kasie West

P.S. I Like You

by Kasie West

**Collective Updates for P.S. I Like You

 

 

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk.  The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her.  Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer.  Only, who is he?  As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…



Okay.  So here are my thoughts:

I really, really, really enjoyed reading this book.  In fact, I'm actually quite pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  To be honest, the past two Kasie West books I've read have been a little deflated, and a little bit of a step down from what I'd associated with Kasie West based on the first two books I'd read of hers: Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us.  Up to last year, The Distance Between Us was my favorite of the Kasie West books currently published.

The rest of the books I've read since The Distance Between Us have been enjoyable, but just never on that same level of squee-worthy love.

Until now.

I'm not the type to go hardcore fangirl too often.  Okay, maybe I am.  But I often see a lot of reviewers tout a recent release by a favorite author as "the best of so-and-so's work," and I often wonder if that's not too exaggerated.  I mean, maybe you love it that much because it's new and older works are a distant memory, you know.  Then again, everyone has their own preferences, and I can understand why people would make such an absolute declaration.

Because I'm probably about to do the same... or at least something similar here.

Kasie West is an author I follow and love.  She may not be an all-time favorite, but I do, absolutely enjoy the wit and humor she infuses into her books, when that particular quality is present.  I'm not going to lie:  On the Fence and The Fill-In Boyfriend were two enjoyable books on a superficial level; but both books seemed to lack that dry sarcasm and nonsensical, charming appeal that I'd long ago associated with Kasie West based on her first two works, Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us.

It had actually been because of the Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us combo that had me automatically dishing out more money than was necessary for each following Kasie West book.  But with two not-as-squee-worthy books in a row bought, I ended up a little hesitant of West's work.

So instead of automatically buying and jumping into the next of her books (this one), I put myself on a hold request wait list for a library copy.  And now I'm a bit conflicted, but with P.S. I Like You, everything that I loved about Kasie West has returned... and now I need to decide whether it'd be worth it to spend ten dollars on my own Kindle copy to add to my Kasie West collection.

Because, to date, I am fairly certain that P.S. I Like You is my favorite of all the Kasie West books written.

Quirky characters, quirky main character, quirky friendships, quirky family... a sweet, fun, and cute little love story...  P.S. I Like You was so enjoyable that I found myself finishing the darn thing before I realized that I should probably get some sleep.

I only get Book Hangovers for books I really, really got into.  I only get Book Hangovers with books that I truly want to continue reading once I've reached the end, even if they are just random scenes for the sake of cute.  Because between Lily and her mystery man (no spoilers), there was definitely a lot of cute!

I wish I could talk about who Lily's mystery pen pal is, but I don't know if that would end up being a big spoiler.  I'm not sure if the identity of this guy is meant to be a secret or not, because honestly, the moment he's introduced in the book, I already figured out how the entire story would go down.

And you'd think that, with the predictability, it would take away from my enjoyment of this story.  Instead, the way in which the story was presented, coupled with all the wonderfully created characters, and the awesome character interactions made the journey from beginning until the end very, very enjoyable.  The moment that Lily discovers who her mysterious pen pal is and the new conflict happens was wonderfully presented; all the new interactions between Lily and mystery pen pal were sweet and sweet and so darn sweet.

I really wish I could talk about Lily's mystery pen pal without spoiler tags, if only because he's present from the start and I want to talk about his development.  Because I loved how West played up their relationship.  Then again, like I said, it's quite obvious from the way he's written in who the main love interest is--it's a Kasie West book after all, and all the signs are there.

There are quibbles, of course.  I had my doubts about the love story in the beginning, but I'm actually quite okay with how everything worked out.  And I had a slight problem with how the ending dragged out.  And I think that the entire book could have done without the whole "Mean Girls" angle--it felt highly unnecessary.

But then you have best friends who squee at creating a morning routine tradition, an older sister who keeps walking in on you talking to yourself, a crazy family who is more likely to scare away new acquaintances just by being their normal selves, and a pet rabbit who pees on your blind date's sock...

If anything, I'm just absolutely in love with Lily's entire family, as well as Lily herself.  I'm in love with the craziness of Lily's family.  I'm in love with all the character interactions, whether good or bad.  It's just all very lovable, really.

On a side note, aside from the passion for song-writing, and the whole getting-a-boyfriend thing, I can totally related with almost everything else in Lily's life.  Lily's socially awkward, introvert personality was essentially me during my teens.  Lily's tendency to be more eloquent on paper as opposed to in-person is so similar to how I've always been my entire life.  Even down to her off-trend sense of fashion and her dislike for P.E.

I just really, really enjoyed this book.  And I truly hope that the next Kasie West book will be just as excellent!


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/11/rambling-review-ps-i-like-you.html
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review 2016-10-25 03:07
Thoughts: Far Gone
Far Gone - Laura Griffin

Far Gone

by Laura Griffin

 

 

This stand-alone by Laura Griffin also includes characters from the Tracers series, as well as a trip to the fictional Delphi Center of godly forensic glory in the Tracers world.

To be honest, as new side characters were introduced, I think I might have gotten slightly distracted.  Not only were some Tracers characters present, be we also get a good amount of Elizabeth LeBlanc, who I recall being introduced in the sixth Tracers installment, Scorched (see my review).  In the eighth Tracers book, she is front and center as a main character (Beyond Limits, see my review).  So I spent a little bit of my attention trying to figure out where in this world Far Gone fit into despite the fact that it is a stand-alone and not listed as part of the Tracers series.

I consider the fact that Elizabeth LeBlanc spends a bit of time lusting over our main male character, Jon North, as an indication that the timeline in this book definitely takes place pre-Beyond Limits.

But enough about that...


The Story:
Andrea Finch is on leave from duty after a police shooting gone wrong.  But even as she spends her days holed up away from the world, she gets a phone call from her brother, asking her to borrow two thousand dollars.  It doesn't take long for Andrea to find out that her brother, Gavin, has fallen in with the wrong crowd that could possibly get him either arrested or killed.

Meanwhile, Jon North is running out of time on his investigation.  A hunch and sparse evidence has lead him to West Texas where an unsolved murder and a terrorist bombing leads to something much more sinister.  And all of his information, so far, is pointing at the new friends that Andrea's brother has made at Lost Creek Ranch.

With the clock ticking down, Andrea and Jon realize that they need to work with each other in order to stop a maniac from leaving his final message, and dragging more innocent lives down with him, just to prove a point.


My Thoughts:
Far Gone is a very enjoyable Laura Griffin crime thriller--it is very much what I typically expect from her, and so I admit that I enjoyed it in spite of a few reasons I probably wouldn't have.  Laura Griffin, to me, is a tried-and-true author whom I never tire of picking up.  Unfortunately, with a lot of her books, I always have this "I think I've read this before" feeling.  And Far Gone was a book that also gave me that same feeling, yet at the same time, it's a well-written, dark and gritty crime thriller that dives right into the story and keeps you hooked.

I have no qualms reading and rereading Laura Griffin books, which is saying something, since I had actually started out feeling rather 'meh' about her work.  But as I continued to read each of her books, from one series to another, and then devouring the whole of her Tracers series within weeks, I realized that I came to really love reading books by Laura Griffin, and am always anticipating her next new release.

Far Gone involves a rather exciting story line that keeps rolling forward without stopping.  And once you start reading it, it's very hard to set it down.  It's not a murder mystery per se, though there is a murder investigation involved.  I would say it revolves more around a terrorism/counter-terrorism theme, which makes for a pretty great page-turning experience.

Characters in Far Gone are nothing special, but I truly do love how each character plays their roles well and are portrayed in such a realistic fashion that you get caught up in their world quite easily.  I mean, I spent a good amount of the book being completely irritated with Andrea's little brother, who just kept digging his hole deeper and deeper, but who, in the end just kind of struck me as that one naive, younger sibling who needs to learn from his or her own mistakes eventually.  It was hard to be angry with him once he actually appears in the book.

The investigation taking place in Far Gone was structured quite well, although I DO admit that there were a few moments where I might have gotten a little lost--I had a bit of trouble figuring out what the heck our federal agents were doing with themselves.  But the book moved forward and so did I.

The romance between Jon North and Andrea Finch felt a bit strained, but at least it was easier for me to accept.  They start off with a mutual attraction that develops with more time spent together.  But the 'I love yous' don't really get thrown around, and, honestly, I'm quite alright with that.  These two had their own priorities to deal with without entangling themselves in too much of an angst-ridden love story.  They knew when to put their romantic issues on hold so that they could get their jobs done and save lives.

Far Gone is enjoyable, exciting, entertaining.  Laura Griffin always delivers.  And for that, I will always be glad that I came back to read her books even thought I'd had reserves about her after reading one of her first books in the pre-Tracers duologies.


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/10/thoughts-far-gone.html
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