The first week of August hangs on at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It’s curiously silent too, with blank white and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.
~ Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting ~
Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Synopsis: Let’s play a game.
You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.
Are you ready?
When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.
But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…
As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.
Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed. (Goodreads)
These Deadly Games is another buzzy upcoming book making the rounds, and while I had a couple of issues with it I sped through it in three hours.
Let me get the negatives out of the way. I had a difficult time connecting to most of the characters, especially Crystal. Most of them were a bit obnoxious in one way or another, although I did warm up to a couple the further I got into the story and learned more about them. Crystal was especially difficult because adding to that was some poor decision making on her part. However, given that she’s sixteen, and put into an impossible situation I tried not to be too judgemental. And, as is usually the case with unsympathetic characters, they can make great suspects, which is what happens here. Up until the halfway point of the story I had pegged the role of the villain on everyone, including Crystal. Although I did deduce who it was well before the big reveal, it was still interesting because of all the unknown particulars. What makes me give this 4 stars though is the unique action-packed storyline and all the twists. All too often I’ve gone into a book that’s billed as a thriller only to find that it barely fits into the suspense genre. This story is a thriller in every sense, and I was absolutely glued to the pages as Crystal careened from one tormenting game to another, while at the same time desperately trying to unmask her tormentor. The ending when it came, unveiled a few last surprises that left me quite happy with the few hours I spent reading.
Overall, despite the mainly unlikable cast, I really enjoyed These Deadly Games. In her acknowledgments, Diana Urban mentions that her film agent is championing this in Hollywood, which isn’t surprising to me because I couldn’t help thinking what a fantastic movie or series this would make. If you love thrilling cat-and-mouse tales, I highly recommend this!
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: November 9th, 2021
Synopsis: The blockbuster co-writing debut of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, All of Us Villains begins a dark tale of ambition and magick…
You Fell In Love With The Victors of The Hunger Games.
Now Prepare To Meet The Villains of The Blood Veil.
After the publication of a salacious tell-all book, the remote city of Ilvernath is thrust into worldwide spotlight. Tourists, protesters, and reporters flock to its spellshops and ruins to witness an ancient curse unfold: every generation, seven families name a champion among them to compete in a tournament to the death. The winner awards their family exclusive control over the city’s high magick supply, the most powerful resource in the world.
In the past, the villainous Lowes have won nearly every tournament, and their champion is prepared to continue his family’s reign. But this year, thanks to the influence of their newfound notoriety, each of the champions has a means to win. Or better yet–a chance to rewrite their story.
But this is a story that must be penned in blood. (Goodreads)
If you’re on Goodreads or follow a lot of book bloggers, you’ve probably heard a ton of buzz regarding All of Us Villains, the first book in a planned duology by well known YA authors Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman. After spending the weekend completely spellbound, I’m happy to say that it’s entirely worthy of all the hype.
While the book definitely gives off Hunger Games with magic vibes, it actually goes much further than that and is completely different from anything else I’ve read. I do want to say that as far as the competing champions go, none of them are truly villains. Flawed and tortured, perhaps, but evildoers, not really. While there are seven of these champions, the chapters alternate between just four of them, so naturally those are the ones I connected with the most. My personal favorite was Alastair Lowe whose family do deserve first prize in villainy. What they’ve done to him since childhood in order to “prepare” him is inhuman and had me both outraged and heartbroken. The one constant in his life has been his older brother Hendry, and their relationship was one of my favorite things about this book. The other main characters are very complex and intriguing, and I completely connected with them as well, even when they weren’t at their best. The world building and magic system is utterly fantastic and I’ve never come close to anything similar in the fantasy books that I’ve read. Everything in this story is flawlessly detailed and try as I might, I could not discern where one author left off and the other began.
For me, All of Us Villains is a picture perfect beginning to this duology and while the ending answered a few important questions, there are plenty more, and it perfectly sets the stage for the next book. One word of caution: there are a few graphically gory scenes particularly with some of the spells and curses being used. Therefore I recommend this for older teens.
Without bragging, after my many years of reading, I’ve gotten fairly good at predicting outcomes of stories, but this has left me at a loss as to what will come next for Alistair and the surviving champions. I have a feeling it will involve heartbreak, and I do know it’s going to be an interminable wait for the sequel.
Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Synopsis: For fans of Gone Girl and of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay’s domestic suspense—a gripping novel by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kevin O’Brien, in which “the other woman” becomes the prime suspect when the wife goes missing.
Some nightmares you can’t forget
From the depths of sleep, Seattle TV reporter Anna Malone awakens to her phone ringing. She rarely drinks, and this hangover is brutal. Why can’t she shake the feeling that something terrible happened last night? And why can’t she recall any of it?
But even worse
What Anna does remember: an awkward restaurant meal with her married lover, Russ Knoll, and his unsuspecting wife, Courtney. Russ’s phone call reveals that Courtney is missing, and as days go by with no trace, he comes under police scrutiny. Anna’s in the spotlight too, thanks to a TV rival with a grudge. Anna’s not proud of her affair, but she and Russ aren’t bad people. They’re certainly not the killing kind.
Is the one you can’t remember . . .
Anna already suspected that Courtney—a successful, charming author—might have a darker side. Is she truly missing? Perhaps the sudden disturbances in Anna’s life aren’t accidental after all. But no scenario that Anna imagines can compare to the twisted game unfolding around her, one chilling piece at a time . . . (Goodreads)
I’ve been a fan of Kevin O’Brien since I read his first book, Only Son over twenty years ago. While The Night She Disappeared isn’t one of my favorites by him, seeing as how my NetGalley request wasn’t approved until late yesterday afternoon, and then I proceeded to gobble it up in three hours, it still was pretty darn good.
O’Brien excels at creating flawed characters and that is very much on display here. I had an extremely difficult time connecting with Anna, Russ, and Courtney in the beginning because, well, they’re just not very likable. However, being secretive, manipulative, and untrustworthy is also a plus because it keeps the reader on their toes as to figuring out what happened and who the villain is. While I’m going to be purposefully and annoyingly vague here, the person who I disliked at the beginning had my sympathy in the end, and the one who I felt badly for in the beginning, vice versa. There are also several secondary characters with their own backstories that I think for the most part weren’t necessary and they slowed down the pace a little. As for the central mystery itself, it was very twisty with a few red herrings thrown in to make it more so. Despite my quibble with too many characters, this was most definitely a page turner right up until the end which brings me to my last critique in that I felt it was a little rushed and tied things up almost a little too neatly.
Even though, as I said previously, The Night She Disappeared isn’t one of my favorite books by this prolific author, I sped through this and found it quite enjoyable. Kevin O’Brien is an author that you really can’t go wrong with in terms of psychological suspense/mystery. If you’re looking for a great beach and vacation read you need not look any farther than this!
Happy Sunday Everyone! Over six months ago I began sharing Bernie Sanders mittens memes which I found all over the internet. It’s been so much fun, but alas, this is the end. So (Shakespeare forgive me), Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper targets. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.
~ Amelia Earhart ~
Good Harbor Beach – Gloucester, MA
[B]efore them were the sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and seaweed, and the smell of the sea and long miles of bluish-green waves breaking for ever and ever on the beach. And oh, the cry of the seagulls! Have you ever heard it? Can you remember?
~ C.S. Lewis, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe ~