Friday, June 2, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Mr. Mercedes


So Stephen King has a new book coming out in September, Holly.  Knowing her character was first introduced in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and knowing how much I enjoyed her already in both the TV adaptation of Mr. Mercedes, which I never did finish watching, and Outsider, the novel, I suggested to Stormi we tackle this series in preparation.  I don't think she wants to kill me for this choice but I do believe I am a bigger fan than her.  So read on for my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges #1)
AUTHOR: Stephen King
PAGES: 437
SOURCE: Own Library

FROM GOODREADS: In the predawn hours, in a distressed American city, hundreds of unemployed men and women line up for the opening of a job fair. They are tired and cold and desperate. Emerging from the fog, invisible until it is too late, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

Months later, an ex-cop named Bill Hodges, still haunted by the unsolved crime, contemplates suicide. When he gets a crazed letter from "the perk," claiming credit for the murders, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, fearing another even more diabolical attack and hell-bent on preventing it.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of eccentric and mismatched allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

MY THOUGHTS: So as I mentioned, I did actually watch the first season of the TV adaptation of Mr. Mercedes and enjoyed it.  I really need to continue someday.  I really think having seen it helped with my enjoyment of the book because I really loved the casting decisions and could easily envision the characters as I read.  

Bill Hodges is a retired detective contemplating if he should go on on living when he receives a letter from one of the cases he could never solve.  Bill and his partner were never able to figure out who mowed down some people, including an infant, in the early morning hours of a job fair.  In addition, Bill is worried that the actions of him and his partner may have also led to the suicide of another individual.  The letter prompts Bill to continue looking into what happened.  Along the way, he gets some help from his friend and high school teenager, Jerome, a sister of the individual who owned the stolen Mercedes which killed so many people, and her niece Holly.  

Although the first 50 pages had me questioning why I recommended Stormi and I buddy read this series, the book quickly picked up for me and soon I remembered why I loved reading King so much in the past.  Unless of course it's The Stand - that was 1000 pages of misery which I know is an unpopular opinion.  I loved the characters of Bill, Brady, and especially Holly and Brady Hartfield is one of the nastiest villains I've encountered in a while.  In fact, he sometimes made my skin crawl. I enjoyed watching Bill and his crew piece together the crime and am actually pretty excited to pick up book #2.

Also, I have to add, if you haven't read this book and are considering it, Odell the dog does not die.  

RATING: 4 paws

Thursday, May 18, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Book - The Only Survivors


When Stormi said she planned on reading more thrillers this year and asked if I wanted to buddy read some with her, I didn't hesitate.  I usually love thrillers, and this gave me an excuse to read some more.  However, I think before the end of the year is out both Stormi and I might regret this decision.  So read on to see my thoughts on our latest endeavor and then check out Stormi's over at Storm Reads.

TITLE: The Only Survivors
AUTHOR: Megan Miranda
PUBLISHING DATE: April 11, 2023
PAGES: 339
SOURCE: Library

FROM GOODREADS: A mystery about a group of former classmates who reunite to mark the tenth anniversary of a tragic accident—only to have one of the survivors disappear, casting fear and suspicion on the original tragedy.

MY THOUGHTS:  So a group of kids in high school experience a traumatic event their senior year and every year, the survivors gather together to get through the anniversary together.  That alone is concerning enough because it's evident that this incident is the only thing they all still have in common so why they force themselves to spend a week together was one of my first questions going in to this. 

But anyway, this year they are missing a person because he couldn't take it anymore and overdosed and his best friend of the whole group doesn't find out until 3 months later so there is a bigger cloud than normal hanging over everyone's heads on this year's anniversary.  Slowly the trip starts to unravel and I won't spoil anything else in case my review makes you want to run out and grab a copy - I'm betting it doesn't.

I have to say this was one of the most unthrilling thrillers I've read in a while.  I think most of the "twists" if you want to even call them than, were predictable and the end was just "meh."  I didn't like any of these people and as I've said, I don't feel like I have to like the characters to like the book but I didn't even hate these ones enough to make reading it fun.  This is my second Miranda book and I'm beginning to think she isn't the author for me.  It will have to be a pretty good premise for me to pick up another one.  

RATING: 2 stars (and that feels generous)

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Hidden Legacy Series


So Stormi and I decided to continue on with our series read of Ilona Andrews' Hidden Legacy series this month.  Sometime I really need to take the time and map out what series we are actually reading because sometimes they all slip my mind.  However, I am happy to say only one more to go in this one - unless the series isn't finished.  Does anyone know?

So read on for my thoughts of Emerald Blaze and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)
AUTHOR: Ilona Andrews
PUBLSIHING DATE: August 25, 2020
PAGES: 392
SOURCE: Library

FROM GOODREADS:: As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart.

MY THOUGHTS: As this is the 5th book in the series, I feel like I can't discuss a whole lot without giving some things away.  Emerald Blaze may be the 5th book but it's actually the 2nd in the Catalina/Alessandro arc.  I didn't think I liked their story line much going into this one as I am a die-hard Nevada/Rogan fan, but this book cleared that up and I'm now on the Catalina/Alessandro train.

Catalina is now Deputy Warden of Texas which means that beside running the family agency, she also has side jobs of major importance and which she gets to family to assist with on a no-questions asked basis.  Catalina is involved in finding out who killed the son of a famous Prime.  An area of Texas which has basically become a swamp for scary magical things was being developed when the son was murdered.  Everyone else involved in the project is shady as hell and did I mention scary magical things?  Alessandro has been hired by the family to assassinate the culprit once they are discovered which places him and Catalina working side by side once again.

The investigation in this book was very intriguing.  It took lots of twists and turns and several old faces from the past resurfaced.  In addition, we learn A LOT about Alessandro's past in this book and what makes him tick and all I can say is that his actions and attitude finally make sense.  As I mentioned, I don't want to give too much away but I will say this book ended on such a cliffnanger that Stormi and I decided next month we are finishing this series up.  I'm honestly surprised if we can hold out that long.


Thursday, April 27, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Krewe of Hunters


So some time ago Stormi and I stated reading the Krewe of Hunters.  We only read the first one, but I really enjoyed it and knew I definitely wanted to continue on with it.  So read on for my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Heart of Evil (Krewe of Hunters #2)
AUTHOR: Heather Graham
PUBLISHING DATE: June 28, 2011
SOURCE: Hoopla
PAGES: 376

FROM GOODREADS: Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery's most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War.

Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare & often inexplicable intuition. Among the Krewe of Hunters is an old flame, Jake Mallory, a gifted musician with talent stretching far beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own.

The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried even in death.

MY THOUGHTS:  I have to admit that it took me some time to get fully invested in this one.  There was quite a bit of historical references as early on, there is a Civil War enactment which prompts the beginning of the main mystery.  However, I quickly settled in and loved learning about the history of Donegal Plantation and all the ghosts which had taken up residence and why.

Ashley Donegal used to be involved with Jake, one of the Krewe Hunters, but left him when she learned he could "sense" things and possible communicate with the dead.  Fast forward a few years and her grandfather calls in some favors with the special FBI team when someone goes missing after the most recent enactment.  Ashley is glad to have the help but doesn't know how she feels about Jake returning.  However, is her unease amplified by her own unexplained experience with some long-dead family members?

I love the paranormal aspect of these books and it's always fun to see what the team will be investigating next.  Each book seems to place the main focus on different characters so it's nice to see a variety of people which I believe will keep things fresh moving forward in such a long series.  The mystery was intriguing, and it goes to say I tend to enjoy any book which is set in Louisiana.  The plantation, bayou and creatures all lent themselves well to the paranormal aspects of Heart of Evil.

SO overall, this book was a hit and I am excited to move on.  They seem to be quick reads and I can see them quickly taking place of another favorite comfort read series once it's completed soon.  


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Hidden Summit (Virgin River Series)


So this month Stormi and I decided a comfort read was due, so we reverted back to an old favorite and picked up the next installment in the Virgin River series.  I have enjoyed all of the books so far and feel like the end is finally in sight.  With only a few books left, I will be glad to finish this series because it will be a big accomplishment, but also sad to see them go.  So read on to see what I thought of Hidden Summit and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Hidden Summit (Virgin River #15)
AUTHOR: RObyn Carr
PUBLISHING DATE: December 27, 2011
PAGES: 347
SOURCE: Hoopla

FROM GOODREADS: Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.

Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women... although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

MY THOUGHTS: I have to admit, when I first started reading this one, I had my reservations.  For a switch, we are actually following two new characters who are completely new to the Virgin River scene.  They both had some ties and connections so their arrival in town totally made sense and after a few pages, I started to love them as much as everyone else.  

COnner witnessed a murder in Sacramento and is in town lying low, with the assistance of Jack's sister Brie, until he can testify.  Leslie worked for the Haggerty Construction Company in another town and wants to escape her ex-husband who insists they remain friends despite a new wife and baby on the way so she moves to Virgin River to assist Paul with his new business branch.  Conner gets a job working for Paul and after a few small misunderstandings, he and Leslie cannot deny their attraction despite neither wanting a serious relationship.  There are a few ups and downs and surprise occurrences along the way, but once again, Carr delivers a great tale.

I am glad to once again see that the novel is not focused on babies everywhere.  If I have one complaint about this series it's that it seems overly focused on reproduction, and I'm sorry, I don't believe every family needs a baby to feel fulfilled.  I loved learning about Conner's past and the insight into Leslie's ex really added some extra tension and drama.  In addition, we also got to see some old faves again such as Brady, Cheryl, Paul, Jack and my favorite, Preacher.

If you have ever considered picking up this series, I can't recommend it enough.  They have become comfort reads for me and I am usually able to crank them out in a day or two.  Reading them is like visiting an old childhood friend and I am anxious to see what the next book has in store!


Thursday, March 30, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Book - Burn the Negative


This time around, Stormi and I chose a buddy read which also managed to clear an ARC off our books.  I love it when that comes into play.  I tried to read this author's previous novel and didn't get far but have always planned on picking it up again.  So read on to see what I thought of the choice this time and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her thoughts.

TITLE: Burn the Negative
AUTHOR: Josh Winning
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam's Sons
PUBLISHING DATE: July 11, 2023
PAGES: 368

FROM GOODREADS: Arriving in L.A. to visit the set of a new streaming horror series, journalist Laura Warren witnesses a man jumping from a bridge, landing right behind her car. Here we go, she thinks. It’s started. Because the series she’s reporting on is a remake of a ’90s horror flick. A cursed ’90s horror flick, which she starred in as a child—and has been running from her whole life.

In The Guesthouse, Laura played the little girl with the terrifying gift to tell people how the Needle Man would kill them. When eight of the cast and crew died in ways that eerily mirrored the movie’s on-screen deaths, the film became a cult classic—and ruined her life. Leaving it behind, Laura changed her name and her accent, dyed her hair, and moved across the Atlantic. But some scripts don’t want to stay buried.

Now, as the body count rises again, Laura finds herself on the run with her aspiring actress sister and a jaded psychic, hoping to end the curse once and for all—and to stay out of the Needle Man’s lethal reach.

MY THOUGHTS: Usually I start out my reviews with everything I like about a book and then lead into any issues I might have had.  For some reason, I feel the need to do the opposite this time around so bear with me.  HOW DID THE LUGGAGE SUDDENLY APPEAR????  If any of you decide to pick up this book and can make the time, please come back and let me know if I missed something.  It probably shouldn't have bugged me so much that the luggage was lost and then her hotel room suddenly trashed and her belongings thrown everywhere. It may seem small, but this luggage leads into several other plot points and my head just never got over it!

Ok, rant over.  So in "Burn the Negative" we have Laura.  Laura was a child actor on an infamous horror movie in the 90's which many say was cursed because of all the trauma and death surrounding it. Think Poltergeist rumors because that's immediately what I thought of.  Laura got out of acting after the movie, changed her name and has been living a completely different life as a journalist.  When a decision is made to remake the movie, as we know EVERYONE does nowadays, Laura is tasked to write an article about the revamp.  So she travels to California from the UK, loses her luggage (sorry, thought I could let it go) and very quickly it seems like the curse is alive and well.  But how much has to do with Laura?

I really enjoyed the slasher feel of this novel and we have a great villain, the Needle Man, which seems to be a cross between Freddy Kruger and Edward Scissorhands.  It's obvious the author has a background in film and truly loves movies and the art they can create as I believe his past novel, "The Shadow Glass" dealt with film and media as well.  I didn't really like Laura and at some point in the book, I think I suspected everyone she came into contact with of foul play.  I also thought the first part of the book drug a bit but then picked up in the last 25%, creating some pacing issues.  I will also add, if you like mixed media books, this might be one for you because in between Winning's tale, you also get articles, script excerpts, clippings, etc.  

I am glad I read this book and it was mindless enough read on a weekend I really needed one.  "Burn the Negative" would make a great slasher film and honestly, I feel like I might enjoy it more on the big screen.  That being said, I don't regret picking it up and definitely will give this author another try.  

RATING: 3 paws

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Veronica Speedwell #8


So seriously, Stormi and I have been buddy reading this series forever!  I would say it is definitely a favorite for both of us.  However, I'm not sure we quite love it as much as we used to.  Read on for my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: A Sinister Revenge (Veronica Speedwell #8)
AUTHOR: Deanna Raybourn
PUBLISING DATE: March 7, 2023
PAGES: 336

FROM GOODREADS: Veronica must find and stop a devious killer when a group of old friends is targeted for death in this new adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Veronica’s natural-historian beau, Stoker, has been away in Bavaria for months and their relationship is at an impasse. But when Veronica shows up before him with his brother, Tiberius, Lord Templeton-Vane, he is lured back home by an intriguing job offer: preparing an iguanodon for a very special dinner party.

Tiberius has received a cryptic message—along with the obituaries of two recently deceased members of his old group of friends, the Seven Sinners—that he too should get his affairs in order. Realizing he is in grave danger but not knowing why, he plans a reunion party for the remaining Sinners at his family estate to lure the killer out while Veronica and Stoker investigate.

As the guests arrive and settle in, the evening’s events turn deadly. More clues come to light, leading Veronica, Stoker, and Tiberius to uncover a shared past among the Sinners that has led to the fatal present. But the truth might be far more sinister than what they were prepared for.

MY THOUGHTS: So, is this one of my favorite series?  Yes.  Do the covers continue to be gorgeous each and every time?  Yes.  Did I love this one as much as the last one?  Probably.  Yet was #7 the first time I deviated from my 5/5 rating?  Again yes, so what does that tell you about this one.

This book picks up 6-8 months after the last one ended.  Those who are current on the series know there was a pretty major plot point at the end of that book and I'm sorry to say that this book picked right up with Veronica making stupid decisions and letting her head and reason get in the way of her heart.  I will add that in the very beginning I thought I was going to get a werewolf tale which would have THRILLED me, but alas no supernatural here.

"A Sinister Revenge" has Veronica and Stoker helping Stoker's brother Tiberius discover who is out to murder him.  Many years ago, one of his friends died at his homestead while uncovering dinosaur bones.  It's now many years later and the remaining friend group seems to be targeted for the same fate.  Stoker has few family ties and hates the idea of going home but does when he is promised some dinosaur artifacts and Veronica just wants to be in the middle of everything like usual.

Do I sound jaded?  Yep, sure do.  So needless to say I did enjoy this book.  The mystery was decent, Veronica was annoying, and Stoker was HOT but not in the book nearly enough.  I also felt like this book had WAY much more details about things - bones, hillside, buildings, etc. than the past installments but maybe that's me.  As much as I have adored this series in the past, I do feel like maybe it has run its course.  I am basically only giving it a 4/5 rating because of my love for it in the past when it's actually closer to a 3 or 3.5 (darn you Goodreads - you'd think you'd allow 1/2 stars by now).  I also must admit that I think the ending of the book would be a fine resolution for the series.  I did actually grow fond of Stoker's baby brother Merry and would support a spin-off with him on his own adventures.

If you love this series, you definitely want to pick this one up.  And if another installment is released, I am sure I will read it as well because I can't see myself not being curious.  However, all good things must come to an end, and I think eight 4- and 5-star rating books is a great run!