Mystery

Book Review: Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic
Author: 
Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Noemí Taboada is a beautiful socialite who loves wearing opulent purple gowns, riding in a convertible and smoking French cigarettes. A woman of her station, as the novel relates, "was expected to devote her time to the twin pursuits of leisure and husband hunting." Instead, this strong-willed, intelligent and brave woman seizes an opportunity not realizing it could lead to her demise. Neomi’s father receives a disturbing letter from his niece and recent newlywed Catalina. The frenetic message suggests a mysterious doom awaits Catalina, who may need psychiatric help and a divorce, a scandal the businessman wants to avoid in 1950s Mexico City. So Neomi negotiates her way into a chance to attend graduate school – rare in a country when women could not vote – in exchange for heading to the isolated High Place, a distant Victorian mansion once funded by now-depleted silver mines. Once there, she must find out if the letter is nothing more than “female hysteria” as Neomi’s father assumes, or something more sinister.

Moreno-Garcia does a wonderful job sprinkling in the antiquated language of classic Gothic horror to pace this atmospheric creeper while Neomi’s dread about the Doyle family and its hideous patriarch mounts, as does her dueling desires to stay and garner graduate school or flee for her own sanity. The oppressive feel of dead, rotting High Place hints at a history of violence, madness and even darker secrets as the 320-page novel’s protagonist soon finds out. Once there, she meets the drugged Catalina’s menacing and alluring husband, who worms her way into her dreams, which are becoming an evermore disturbing mix of lust and horror. Her only ally is the family’s youngest son, who seems a decent fellow, but hides secrets of his own. Follow along as the amateur sleuth learns more about High Place, its exploitive colonial past and its unique power as the novel – equal parts Daphne du Maurier, Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft –speeds toward a satisfying, albeit gory conclusion.
Awards: 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards Best Horror

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: Dark Sky

Dark Sky
Author: 
Box, C. J.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Dark Sky is a masterfully crafted thriller that strings together webs and webs of suspense through character development and wit. The novel takes place in the expansive wilderness of Wyoming, where Joe Pickett, a normal game warden, must evade a killer after his and his client's heads. Box does an incredible job of building up his characters and leaving room for the reader to question certain decisions and traits. The way the author ties everything together for an eventual climax will leave the reader on the edge of their seat, especially when the build-up leads to a nail-biting cliffhanger. The setting is also beautifully used to expand on both the plot and scenic writing in general, as the author clearly knows the terrain and all of its attributes. Overall, I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good thriller.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven

Book Review: Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I devoured this book (a set of three novellas) in three days and really enjoyed it. Brandon Sanderson is such a creative author, and here's yet another book of his that doesn't fail to impress. It tells the story of Stephen Leeds, who creates hallucinatory "aspects" with certain specialties to help him compartmentalize his knowledge to learn things and master abilities. He uses their help to solve mysteries as a way to give himself a purpose. Stephen's cases were intriguing to follow, and his aspects were really fun characters to get to know and get invested in. Stephen himself felt rather flat at the beginning, but as I read further, I realized that was an intentional decision. Because of his aspects, his personality is contained in all of them, so without them, he's sort of empty. It was awesome to watch him grow in this.

The only reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 is because, as a set of novellas, the first two don't relate very much to the third, or to each other. I wish he had found a way to tie the cases into the finale more than he did. Otherwise, a great read, especially for a quiet weekend at home. I would definitely recommend!
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor

Book Review: The Queen's Accomplice

The Queen's Accomplice: A Maggie Hope Mystery
Author: 
MacNeal, Susan Elia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

For several months my addiction to the entire Maggie Hope series has seriously interfered with all things domestic! I have just finished yet another well-researched book by a fairly young author, who evidently has a passion for writing novels about career women during the dark days of World War II. Susan Elia MacNeal keeps the pace moving, the tension building, and the characters believable. Maggie Hope is a brilliant academic turned spy! Her adventures, from the first book onwards, will take you into conversations with Winston Churchill, the Royal family, and Nazi sympathizers. I recommend that you read the books in chronological order as each one builds upon the previous book

Reviewer's Name: 
Janet M.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: 
Riggs, Ransom
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children tells the story of a teenage boy called Jacob, who, after witnessing his supposedly crazy grandfather die, is led by his last words to the island of Caernhome, where his grandfather grew
up in a foundling home. Jacob discovers that maybe his grandfather wasn't as crazy as everyone thought, and that all the stories he told about children with magical powers may actually have been true.
I did enjoy this book, but some of the characters felt a bit flat and the plot wasn't as good as it could have been. A large section in the middle, during what would be the "trials" in the "Hero's Journey," was mostly just Jacob playing around with the peculiars and not really doing much. The book was still an interesting read, though, with a creative premise, and I look forward to reading the sequels to see where the author takes them, and if he develops the characters
more.

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying

One of Us Is Lying
Author: 
McManus, Karen M.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

One of us is lying is a captivating murder mystery, romance, thriller. 5 teens enter detention, but what happens when only 4 leave. As you read you find out more and more about the case. The 4 teens all have secrets
is murder one of them? This book is so enthralling, once you start it will be hard to put it down. With great characters and a very interesting story with tons of twists and turns. If you love solving mysteries or discovering the truth, this is totally the book for you! Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: Clutches and Curses

Clutches and Curses
Author: 
Howell, Dorothy
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Haley Randolph has been cursed by a customer at her job, and soon after, everything starts going south. This leads her to transfer to her job's newest location in Las Vegas to try and get some relief, only to find the body of her high school nemesis in the store and become the prime suspect in their murder. With two detectives breathing down her neck, a hotel with a shady owner, and the hot handbag of the season in her sight, Haley must put her detective outfit on and find the culprit before she's as dead as Holt's Department Store's fashion line.

Overall, a very well-written novel with great build-up, lovable characters, a truly demented antagonist, and plenty of coffee to keep it going (Best drink on the planet. Fight me!). It's not without its flaws, as the writing is a bit sloppy in the beginning and they made the eventual culprit a bit too sus for it to be too big of a surprise. It also isn't for everyone, especially not guys, with its girly atmosphere and side plots, but it's still a good fashion-themed mystery I highly recommend you check out.

Reviewer's Name: 
Naomi S.

Book Review: They All Fall Down

They All Fall Down
Author: 
Cohen, Tammy
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

They All Fall Down is a psychological thriller about a woman named Hannah, who lives in a psychiatric ward due to something shocking she did in her seemingly normal life. After two patients from the ward die, Hannah is convinced there is a murderer but no one else believes her. Her mother Corinne helps Hannah from the outside, and proves that the psychiatric ward isn't as innocent as it seemed to be. The novel included many twists and turns which kept me engaged through it all. However, there was more than one time when I felt lost and didn't understand what was happening. As I read along, I could eventually predict what the ending was going to be like, and I was accurate. While the ending didn't have the greatest "wow factor", itstill surprised me. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about what goes through different people's lives after facing the loss of someone close to you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Prarthana

Book Review: Ghost Story

Ghost Story
Author: 
Butcher, Jim
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After Dresden becomes a ghost, he goes back to Chicago to help his friends. Dresden struggles to acclimate to being a ghost and being unable to directly help his friends. Although this book starts off slowly, it quickly picks up
to a climactic end. This book adds new depth to the supernatural world Jim Butcher has created and continues to tie past character into the story. This book adds a refreshing change to the series by mixing up the style of storytelling through Dresden's more passive role in the story. Although Butcher's style of adding a ticking time clock to every story feels quite repetitive, this book was still entertaining to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mark

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
Author: 
Sebold, Alice
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Susie Salmon is a 14-year old girl who is killed by her neighbor Mr. Harvey after school on her way home. Mr. Harvey disposes Susie's body and throws her charm bracelet into a pond. Susie's spirit flees from her body and runs towards her personal heaven where she watches as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she also tries to come to terms with her death.

My favorite part about this book is the theme of accepting death. Susie's family struggled with closure, and as a result, Susie's soul was restless and she wasn't able to enter into 'Heaven'. Even though she's only 14, Susie explored themes such as love, friendship, the after-life, and forgiveness. Personally, I don't think Mr. Harvey's ending was enough, but I was happy that Susie and her family found closure. The book felt very personal; like I was with Susie the whole time, and I felt very connected to her and attached throughout her whole emotional growth. Ironically, Susie does the most growing when she's dead, because that's when she does the most soul searching. I also thought this book pointed out how flawed adults are, and that they aren't the perfect put-together image young teens have about them. I watched the film adaption after, and if you prefer films, the movie is just as awesome!

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

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