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review 2020-05-09 03:49
BR Kingsolver: Night Stalker
Night Stalker - BR Kingsolver

This is the second book in the series, so you will want to read the first book Shadow Hunter, its a really good read and highly recommend it, to understand the basic elements and characters of this book.

BR Kingsolver is back with the next installment in her Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill series and this time is it the Vampires think Erin holds the key to the city:

Erin just wants to attempt to find out what a normal life is like, but it seems like that is going to have to be put on hold, when a new Vampire shows up in town and believes that Erin is the Key to taking the city. Minus the fact that Erin and the vampire have crossed paths before, Erin has to watch her step every bit along the way to hope that the Illuminati do not discover that she is still alive. Erin's going to need all her skills and her friends at O'Grady's in order to come out of this feud alive.

I enjoyed this book but I do not think that it was as good as the first. This book followed a similar format and lacked some of the imagination in the plot that occurred in the first book, the only real difference in this one is that the Vampire politics that were somewhat dealt with in the first book are now front and center here. And as in the first book, people want Erin to help solve their problems, she says No and then she ends up being pulled anyways in one way or another. If you read the first book this will all sound so familiar.

I still like Erin as a character, and we get to see even more of her extremely cool ley line magic and some additional moves that she has. I felt that Erin became a bit too acclimatized to her new friends and city. I miss they mystery that surrounded her and what she can do, she just seems too willing at times to show it off. Her love life is the exception to this acclimatization, the romance that Kingsolver attempted to have within this book is laughable but I feel like it was on purpose as Erin has never had a boyfriend before. If it wasn't on purpose, then yeah I just don't know then.

I really enjoy the world that Kingsolver has built very the past two books, and that it is even expanded upon within this novel. I like that they are separate and try to hide from the humans, but you can tell this is becoming more and more of a struggle for them. Plus I love Grady's, honestly I want to go have a pint of something from there.

Where Kingsolver also excels in the creation of her secondary character. There are so many different types of paranormals within this world as well as a whole bunch of personalities that any of them could be featured in a spin off series. Like one about Sam before he became to owner of O'Grady's for example, that could be Epic.

While I do not think that this book was as good as the first (really the first blew me away as it was so unexpected), I still enjoyed reading this book. I like the characters and world that Kingsolver has created. I'll be picking up the third book in this series.

Enjoy!!!

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review 2020-04-23 08:55
Good story, sharp dialogue
The Essence of Darkness - Tom Clearlake

FBI agent Eliott Cooper is tasked with finding 5 children who have disappeared in similar circumstances in a dark and mysterious wooded location. What starts out as a simple detective story explodes in the most unexpected way introducing elements of horror, science fiction and ancient rituals culminating in a human crisis…”a secret that has remained hidden for thousands of years”…A very enjoyable first novel, with an excellent translation from the original French, and boasting some stand out snappy dialogue….”The scent of the woods that filled his lungs was intoxicating and he relished it”…..”Evil took root and spread in the night. The moon rose majestically” ……”All life seemed to be missing from the woods as if death itself held these places in the palm of its hand and was blowing macabre silence from its withered mouth”……..

Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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review 2020-03-22 22:37
Clever and Truly Surprising
The Wife Stalker - Liv Constantine

Liv Constantine’s deft facility with sleight-of-hand plotting and diversionary tactics are on full display in her latest thriller The Wife Stalker. Piper Reynard, one of two central figures in the novel, is fleeing a murky past that she seeks to leave behind on the other side of the country. She is the recent owner of a new wellness center in a wealthy CT suburb, leveraging her prior therapist training to cater to a gullible clientele. The story begins as Piper is training her laser focus on a handsome defense attorney who is representing one of her clients.  Leo Drakos is a successful but troubled family man who quickly becomes captivated by the beautiful and driven woman. There is only one thing standing in the way of the two lovers: Joanna. Joanna is almost farcically indulgent, overprotective and doting, always seeking to selflessly serve the needs of Leo and the two young children, Evie and Stelli. Despite her ceaseless devotion, Leo jumps at the opportunity to banish Joanna when her needy mother is injured, paving the way for a new life with Piper. Now that Joanna is out of the house, Piper slides into place—clumsily attempting to win over the children who miss their mother and are not as easily charmed as their father. Convinced that Piper is a dangerous black-widow predator, Joanna vows to recapture her rightful position and convince Leo that he has been dangerously duped.  Joanna starts digging into Piper’s past, hoping to discover enough disturbing evidence to justify some increasingly desperate attempts to win Leo back. Constantine alternates between the perspectives of the two main female characters, Piper’s in third person and Joanna’s in first-person narration. The two women are cleverly complements and the book’s gripping plot provides creeping revelations into the warped complexity of both. Somewhere along the way, the author also manages to lead the reader astray, and the result is a climax that is breathtakingly unexpected. The Wife Stalker will likely thrill Constantine’s many fans, earning her some well-deserved new ones.  In a genre replete with an embarrassment of riches, Liv Constantine manages to provide even the most seasoned thrill seekers an uncommon reward—a genuinely surprising ending.

 

Thanks to the author, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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review 2020-02-06 21:32
Gemma Rogers: Stalker
Stalker - Gemma Rogers

In her debut novel Gemma Rogers plays a cat and mouse game of who is stalking who:

Eve Harding is walking to meet a friend when her world is completely destroyed when she is grabbed and violently sexually assaulted. Her world completely changes, how she sees herself, her body, everyone around her as well as the places she is familiar going. She wants her assaulter found and punished, but he has eluded the police. Then Eve comes up with a plan, she will not stand by and let this man destroy another woman's life. Eve now has a new mission in life, try to find the main who assaulted her and make him pay.

This was really impressive for a debut novel, I felt that Rogers laid out the story she wanted to tell really well minus at the beginning when I found the time jumps a little bit confusing as they are fairly close together. I wish she would have used titles like before and after or 6 months before or 6 month after. However, I do like books that tell the story where the time frames get closer and closer together, which Rogers does here. This also heightened the suspense throughout the book as you begin to wonder how did Eve after everything end up in the jail cell?

I think that Rogers did a great job in not romanticizing rape in any way, from the rape itself to showcasing the fact that there is not only an physical toll that the victim can experience but the emotional one as well. Rogers does not sugar coat a thing. Do I think that Eve was maybe outside the norm of "recovering" so fast, sure, but I think that all the other aspects that Rogers presented around sexual assault in this book were glamorized at all that this can be overlooked.

Speaking of Eve her growth within this book is amazing, from devastating and destroying her life to trying to take aspects of it back to hunting down her assaulter, you cannot help but cheer for her all along the way. Eve just seems like such a real person throughout and you really get to know her as majority of the chapters feature her. There are a few chapters from the detective, which were good, rounded out part that side of the story but there were also chapters featuring her assaulter. Normally, I like when an author put the bad guy front and center as you as the reader gets to know them better their motives, but in this case I wish Rogers would have held them back. They heighten some of the suspense as you wait for Eve to find out the information that you as the reader know, but I personally think they gave away too much and would have preferred to be left in the dark.

I know I have put quite a few things in this review that wish were different in the book (and I guess I will add that I was kind of hoping for a more realistic ending) but all that said this was an awesome debut novel I did not want to put the book down, and I highly recommend this book who like psychological suspense reads as well as cat and mouse thriller books. I look forward to reading Rogers next book.

Enjoy!!!

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review 2020-01-04 21:25
Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen
Jack of Hearts (and other parts) - Lev A.C. Rosen

Content warning for stalking, victim blaming, homophobia, suicidal thoughts, on-page drug use and drinking, and graphic discussions of sex.

Jack is a gay teen who likes casual sex and isn't interested in being in a committed relationship. Maybe one day - he isn't completely ruling it out - but definitely not right now. While he enjoys having sex, he doesn't enjoy people gossiping about his sex life, and for some reason his sex life is a hot topic among the gossips at school. When his friend Jenna suggests that he write a sex advice column for her personal blog, he reluctantly agrees. Maybe if he works in some true stories about his sex life, the rumors about stuff he's never done will go away. And the posts will be semi-anonymous, written by "Jack of Hearts," so there's no way some future college or employer will google him and see them.

For the most part, the advice column goes surprisingly well, but things take a turn for the worse in his private life. Someone keeps putting notes in his locker. At first they look like love notes, but as time goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that Jack has a stalker.

I got an ARC of this at a conference a while back and only just now got around to reading it. The book came out in October 2018, so that gives you an idea of how long I've had it. It looked good, but I was a little afraid it'd have more sex in it than I wanted to deal with. Now that I've read it, I can say that, yes, the advice columns were extremely explicit and did mention, in graphic detail, some of Jack's past sexual experiences as context for whatever advice he was giving. However, even though Jack has sex multiple times in the story, there were no on-page sex scenes. I appreciated that. The advice columns were one thing, but first person present tense on-page sex scenes, especially in a YA novel, would have felt voyeuristic and gross.

Okay, I'll start with the good. I thought that most of the advice columns were well-done. I could imagine the topics and explicitness crossing lines for some folks - I, personally, thought that the last one about roleplay and BDSM would have been more appropriate in a book aimed at adults than teens - but for the most part I liked the way the topics were handled, with an emphasis on communication and consent. There was even one column addressing the fears of a letter writer who was probably asexual, as well as a column that discussed the fetishizing of gay men by straight women.

I liked Jack reasonably well, even if he occasionally made me want to scream in frustration, and I thought his friend Ben was an utter sweetheart. Although most of the prominent characters in this book were very much into sex, usually casual sex, I liked that there was an effort to say "it's okay for teens to not want to have sex, or to want to wait until they meet the right person or feel like it's the right time." And the story's pacing was good and definitely kept me hooked.

However, here's where I get into the things I wasn't as wild about. The stalking plot had several moments that made me incandescently angry. Yes, I understand that there were teens who would not want to tell anyone if they were being stalked, who, like Jack, would want to just wait and see if the problem would go away on its own. And yes, I understand that there are horrible adults out there who'd react like Jack's principal and not do anything particularly helpful. However, it just kept going on and on and becoming more and more awful. The message the book was communicating boiled down to "there's nothing that could possibly be done to make your situation any better, no one will help you, and even the people who try to help you won't be able to accomplish anything." It did resolve in a positive way, but it felt like a stroke of luck on Jack's part, and even then it almost didn't work out. Things got so bad that I was worried the book was going to end in Jack's suicide.

Jack was so frustrating. Every time one of his friends suggested going to someone for help, he trotted out reasons why that wouldn't do any good or just plain said no. No cops, no telling his mom. Considering the principal's reaction when he was first alerted to the problem, I could understand, but as the notes got darker and more threatening, I had a harder time seeing why he wouldn't try again, with a different adult. His mom would have been perfect, but no, he didn't want to worry her. Jack and his mom often felt more like roommates whose paths occasionally crossed than like parent and child. Giving your son space to grow and figure himself out is one thing, but Jack's mom didn't seem to have any rules beyond "don't get blackout drunk and make sure you practice safe sex." And what good was having a "cool" mom, anyway, if Jack still didn't feel comfortable enough to tell her that a stalker was blackmailing him and making his life hell?

The high school experience depicted in this book was more like what I see in movies than what I remember of my own high school life. It seemed like everyone was having huge parties, drinking, smoking pot, and having sex. Yeah, there were mentions of kids who wanted to take it slower, like Ben, and that asexual letter writer, but the bulk of this was just...are there really people out there whose high school experience is like this?

And while I do think it's good that sex positive YA books exist, there were certain things in this one that crossed the line. For example, there were multiple instances where Jack admitted that he'd used Grindr to find partners, that he'd lied about his age, and that at least one or two of his partners were probably adult men who didn't realize that he was still a minor. The problems with this were never addressed. Honestly, the "hooking up with older men via Grindr" stuff could have been cut from the book without hurting anything - Jack had zero problems finding people his own age to hook up with via parties.

Anyway, it was a quick read, but I definitely had issues with it and am not really sure I enjoyed it. I could see the advice columns being helpful to some readers, though.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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