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!


Thursday, March 2, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Hidden Legacy #4)


So, it took us some time, but Stormi and I are finally continuing our read of the Hidden Legacy series.  It isn't that we haven't been enjoying them, but there are so many other series we are wrapped up in.  Hopefully this is one we can finish this year as we don't have many more to go.  So, continue on to see how much I enjoyed this one and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Sapphire Dreams (Hidden Legacy #4)
AUTHOR: Ilona Andrews
PUBLISHING DATE: August 17, 2019
SOURCE: Library
PAGES: 359

FROM GOODREADS: In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes, powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandra Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina's teenage crush.  Dangerous and unpredictable, Allesandro's true motives are unclear, but he's drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

MY THOUGHTS:  I'll have to admit that I was a little nervous as this book starts a new arc and we aren't really following ROgan and Nevada anymore.  However, I was also interested in learning more about Catalina and her powers and come on, this is an Ilona Andrews book.  I should have known I have nothing to fear.

It seems like once again House Baylor has bitten off more than they can chew when Catalina agrees to look into the death of a mother and daughter from another house.  Before she knows it, she is fighting for her life and the survival of her house, all the time trying to assure her sister who is out of town with Rogan, that everything is fine.  Luckily for Catalina, even if she won't admit it, Alessandro Sagredo shows up and is somehow involved in everything as well. Catalina isn't sure she can trust him but she really wants to and it doesn't hurt that she has had a crush on the hot Italian Prime for years.

Like the previous books in this series, this one is action-packed almost from beginning to end.  I always have a fun time reading this author's works and when finished, am always ready to jump into the next one.  My only complainant is that I do believe a lot of Andrew's books follow the same formula, except with different characters and situations.  Yet, I really find that doesn't cut down on my overall enjoyment as there are always news monsters to discover and new fights to be fought.  While this is an older series, if you like urban fantasy, and I'm really starting to realize how much I've missed reading this genre, then I highly recommend this series.


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Triptych (Will Trent #1)


After finally finishing Karin Slaughter's Grant County series last year, Stormi and I had always planned on starting the companion Will Trent series.  I never stopped to think how hard it would be to get my hands on a copy since the TV series recently started but I FINALLY managed to snag a large print copy at one of my local libraries.  So read on to see my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Triptych (Will Trent #1)
AUTHOR: Karin Slaughter
PUBLISHER:: Delacorte Press
PUBLISHING DATE: August 16, 2006
SOURCE: Library
PAGES: 393

FROM GOODREADS: In the city of Atlanta, women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael's lover before she became his enemy.

But another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer's trail in the most coincidental of ways—someone who may be the key to breaking the case wide open...

MY THOUGHTS: So Triptych is your basic police procedural mystery and as I have read quite a few Slaughter books by now, I expected it to be gory and full or twists and turns.  I wasn't wrong in that aspect but I was a bit shocked by how montonous I found this one.  Several women in Atlanta have been killed in similar ways hinting at a serial killer on the loose.  The local police officer. who I disliked right from the start, is looking into the matter and Will Trent, an famous or maybe infamous is a better description, is assigned to assist.  The men do not really like each other, possibly due to the fact they have both had a relationship with the same woman in the past, and lots of ego-filled posturing occurs.  The investigation is further complicated by the presence of an ex-con who may or may not be linked to the killings and possibly in more ways than one.

So, I have to ask.  Does Karin Slaughter have an issue with female law enforcement?  ANgie, the main female officer in this book, is almost a carbon copy of Lena, along with her hot-mess of a life, who was prominent in the Grant County series.  And I couldn't stand Lena so there was no hope for Angie right from the start.  I also found Will Trent kind of dull and reallly hope the series picks up in the next installment.  The mystery was decent but it was written as to where you pretty much see what is going on as it progresses and the narrative basically just explains what you've already been told.

As I mentioned, I do plan in continuing with a few more books because I know this series is well-loved.  I just hope some things change and that I find them more enjoyable that this one.


Thursday, February 23, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Book


So Stormi had another interesting pick for her thriller project this month and I jumped right on the bandwagon and picked up as copy as well.  I do believe I enjoyed this more than she did so she may be regretting her choice but I am glad she brought this book to my attention.  So, check out my review and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: One of the Girls
AUTHOR: Lucy Clarke
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam's Sons
PUBLISHING DATE: June 28, 2022
SOURCE: Library    
PAGES: 432

FROM GOODREADS: It was supposed to be the perfect weekend away. Six very different women travel to a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette trip, to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding. From the glorious ocean views to the quaint tavernas and whitewashed streets, the vacation seems too good to be true. But dangerous undercurrents run beneath the sunset swims and midnight cocktails – because each of the women is hiding a secret. Someone is determined to make sure that Lexi’s marriage never happens – and that one of them doesn’t leave the island alive.

Gripping, twisty, and full of sun-soaked suspense, this timely thriller examines the joys of female friendship…as well as the deadly consequences when a relationship goes wrong.

MY THOUGHTS: At the beginning I didn't have high hopes for this book.  We are following 6 women who are headed to a Greek Island for Lexi's hen party prior to her impending wedding.  Some of the women are part of an old friend group and a few are new.  It took a while for my brain keep track of who was who at the beginning but since I had the physical copy, I easily caught on.  

From the start the reader is clued into the fact that someone has died, and the book unravels what leads to that incident without ever revealing the identity of the victim.  The reader is given back stories and clues and to be honest, I had a few candidates I desperately wanted to nominate for the role.  This book held plenty of twists and turns and even though in my opinion most were predictable, it was still a fun ride.  And at the end, I was pleasantly surprised and a bit shocked at the conclusion.  

My main complaint with this book is that I find it highly unbelievable that 6 people, especially some who are new to this long-established friend group, have lives that are so entwined that the plot is even possible.  At times I couldn't put this down and for me, it was a quick read.  I really liked that we got chapters from each of the girls' perspectives, some more than others, and was overall satisfied with the ending.  I don't think this book has gotten a lot of hype but for people who enjoy thrillers, I do think it's worth consideration.  


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Book - Daisy Darker


So Stormi has made it one of her goals to read more thrillers this year so she is including me in on the ones I am interested in.  So January started out with a bang in that I don't remember the last time I actively despised a book so bad.  So read on for my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's at Storm Reads to see her's.

TITLE: Daisy Darker
AUTHOR: ALice Feeney
PUBLISHER: Flatiron Books
PUBLISHING DATE: August 30, 2022
PAGES: 352
SOURCE: Library

FROM GOODREADS: After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets.  Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead.  And an hour later, the next family member follows...

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.

MY THOUGHTS: I went into Daisy Darker expecting to enjoy myself.  I read Rock, Paper, Scissors last year and loved it.  Let's just say, now I'm gonna have to pick up a third by this author so I can figure out which read was the fluke.

This novel starts out as a very eclectic, very estranged and very odd family gathers on the island home of their Nana to celebrate her birthday.  Years ago, Nana had been told she would not live past 80 so she believes this birthday may very well be her last.  Early on we learn that most of the family is angry at Daisy for some reason, and as the book unfolds, we learn what happened years ago which led to this family being rather dysfunctional.  Suddenly the family members begin to drop like flies and the remaining members are trying to determine who is out to get them.

I only found one likeable character in this whole novel, and it was the dog!  While I don't have to like any of the characters in order to enjoy a book, in this case, it might have helped to have someone to connect to because as it was, they couldn't die fast enough for me.  I get that Daisy had a rough childhood, but she was so depressing and self-deprecating that I really couldn't take much more.  And the rest of her family and friends?  They were just as bad.  I did kind of like Nana but as the synopsis indicates, she isn't around for long.  If I was her, I'd have been grateful to be the first to go as well.  The reader gets the impression early on that she wasn't a big fan of her family members and Feeney does a good job to make the reader understand why.

And finally, the ending.  I will not add any spoilers but if you have read this book, if you know, you know.  I feel the ending was a complete copout and it had me so angry that I wanted to throw the book in the road and pray someone rolled over it repeatedly.  

I believe this is a book you will read and either love or hate.  I doubt there is much middle ground.  While I cannot recommend it, I also won't discourage anyone to check it out for themselves.  I'm giving this author one more chance but that's it.