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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 2017-03-22 18:40
Batman, Volume 2: I Am Suicide by Tom King, Michael Janin and Mitch Gerads
Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth) - Mikel Janin,Tom King,David Finch


Tom King caught my eye with the Vision comics, so when I saw he was writing Batman Comics I immediately requested them from Net Galley. 


The first, Batman, Volume 1: I Am Gotham , was pretty good, so I was happy to try Batman, Volume 2: I am Suicide.  Unfortunately, I'm not enjoying these as much as I enjoyed Vision. Admittedly, this could be because I am not very familiar with DC Comics or superheroes, in general, so please keep this in mind.


The first story in this volume is I Am Suicide. I loved the artwork but the story seemed to be all over the place. Batman was trying to capture Psycho Pirate who is being kept by Bane, and he assembled a group of misfits, none of whom I'm familiar with, to do so. On the way there, he encounters resistance and repeats himself constantly. (He's trying to get to Psycho Pirate because something he has or can do can help Gotham Girl, who's still a mess from her experiences in I Am Gotham.) Bane is a super huge criminal dude being held in a prison called Santa Prisca. I thought that if I were more familiar with these characters things would make more sense, but from reading the other reviews here, that doesn't seem to be the case. Overall, this story was a 2.5 stars out of 5 for me, mostly because I thought the art was very cool.


Rooftops, which is the second story in this volume, was much better. It was a bit cheesy and predictable, but it had some humor and a nice connection between Batman and Catwoman. Again, the artwork in this story was excellent and conveyed the feelings the author was trying to get across. 4 out 5 stars.



I did enjoy this volume, just not as much as I expected to. I'm still interested in seeing where this series is going, because I love the idea of a dark Batman. He is developing as a complex character and I like that, it's just that this volume was a bit of a let down.


Available April 18th, you can pre-order a copy here: Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth)


*Thanks to Edelweiss for the free advance review copy in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2017-03-14 13:01
The Apothecary's Curse
The Apothecary's Curse - Barbara Barnett

(I got a copy through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.)

The story of "The Apothecary's Curse" intertwines different plots, mostly mid-19th century London, a short early 20th century stint, and 2016 Chicago. All feature Gaelan and Simon, two men who became accidentally immortal through ingesting an alchemical compound, and struggle to lead a life of their own. Condemned for a crime he didn't commit, Gaelan was tortured for years by a mad doctor, before fleeing abroad, while Simon pines for his dead wife, unable to join her in death. As the decades pass, they find themselves remaining that strange brand of friends who can't stand to be in each other's presence for too long, yet always gravitate back towards each other. Until a strange book and a geneticist fall into the mix, and both men realise they may be about to know worse than one single mad doctor in a now closed asylum.

All these plots aren't only concerned with alchemy and immortality, but also with love: love for a woman, love of friendship, love of knowledge (even though gained in twisted ways), love of family, love of life itself... because when all's said and done, Gaelan still doesn't want to die, still finds wonders in the way science has been progressing.

In general, I found the main characters compelling, especially Gaelan, who never really loses hope in humanity in spite what he's been through. I found the contrast fairly interesting: Gaelan, who tried to help and was tortured and killed for it, called a criminal and a madman, forced to flee, but kept enjoying life, becoming a dealer in old books and antiques, nevergiving up in spite of his struggles with PTSD; and Simon, who seems to have everything (respect, fame and money as a doctor, then as a famous author), but cannot find peace, haunted by the memory of his departed wife—his story was tragic, though I admit I tended to side with Gaelan much more because, well, who can fault the guy who tries to live instead of wallowing in despair for a whole century, eh? As for Eleanor and Anne, they had their own struggles to go through, their own decisions to make, trying to fight evil as they could, even if it sometiles meant resorting to another kind of evil.

If anything, I was a little disappointed in the 2016 part. The 1842 and early 1900s one felt more vivid, better developed, whereas the modern era plotline, while interesting, was also a bit lackluster. Perhaps because I kept thinking there wasn't enough danger in it, considering what was at stake and the 'evil genetics/pharmacy company' that sooner or later would be after Gaelan. I guess I expected more development here, more of a feeling of urgency, especially towards the end.

Conclusion: Still a solid 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this novel.

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review 2017-03-05 19:08
Everybody's Son by Thrity Umrigar
Everybody's Son: A Novel - Thrity Umriga... Everybody's Son: A Novel - Thrity Umrigar

A special thank you to Edelweiss and Harper for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Thrity Umrigar is a beautiful writer who capitalizes on human emotion in her latest novel about two families that couldn't be more different.  


During a terrible heatwave in 1991, ten-year-old Anton has been locked in his mother's apartment in the projects.  After being by himself for seven days without any air-conditioning, or fan, with the windows nailed shut, and no electricity, Anton breaks a window and climbs out.  He is bleeding from a wound in his leg when the police find him.  All-the-while, his mother, Juanita is discovered unconscious and half-naked in a crack house less than three blocks away.  When she comes to, she immediately asks for her "baby boy" insisting she only left for a quick hit, but that her drug dealer kept her high while repeatedly raping her.  Anton is placed with child services when his mother is sent to jail.  


David Coleman is the son of a US senator and a white Harvard-educated judge.  After the death of his only high-school-aged son, Coleman is desperate for a home with a child again.  David and his wife, Delores, foster Anton and quickly grow attached to the bright boy.  Despite Anton's mother's existence, Coleman uses his power, connections, and white privilege to keep his foster son.  


Anton follows in his adoptive father's footsteps and seems to have a knack for politics that is complimented by his charm.  On the cusp of greatness, Anton learns the truth about his mother and the lengths Coleman went to to keep him as his very own.  He begins to question who he really is—he is nobody's son, yet everybody's son.  


Umrigar explores class, race, power, privilege, and morals in this emotional heart-wrenching story that will stay with the reader long after it is finished.

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review 2017-03-03 13:45
Knottspeed by Jeff Johnson
Knottspeed: A Love Story - Jeff Johnson


Knottspeed. Tay Tay. Fencepost. These are just a few of the vivid and colorful characters that populate the novel Knottspeed: A Love Story. It will be hard to forget them. 


Knottspeed is an enigma, but one thing that IS known is that he's a charmer. He and his enigmatic statement: "I'm here to do good." What does that even mean? 

His skill in deception hinged on his every word being entirely possible, I was soon to learn. Everything he said was always true, but he was never, ever talking about what you thought he was. 


The way in which this story was told was close to brilliant, but I admit to being confused after the first third. The second portion took an entirely different direction and I could not see how the two connected until the very end of part 2. But part 3? Everything comes together so well and at the White Palace too, it couldn't have been more perfect. I'm not ashamed to admit it brought a tear to my eye. 


Within this novel you will find real people, both good and bad, but Knottspeed connects with them all. You'll find taco stands and smog in L.A. You'll find heavy rains, dry tree limbs, cabbies, lots of cigarettes and a phenomenal house party with a menu that's out of this world. I can picture it all without a hitch, and I think you'll be able to as well. 


It's hard to say much else without spoiling anything, because this story needs to be related as the author intended, otherwise some of the magic will be lost. But if you sit back and let Mr. Johnson guide you through this noir-ish-feeling, deranged world of memorable characters, you will be rewarded with that feeling you can only get from a great book! Highly recommended!


You can get your copy here: Knottspeed: A Love Story



*Thanks to Turner and Edelweiss for the free digital ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback.*

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