02 September 2018

Cross Fire; Fonda Lee

Cross Fire (Exo #2)Cross Fire by Fonda Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the hardest things to do is to write a sequel set in an already strongly built world and bring in new readers without a ton of "previouslies" or assuming that the reader has already been in this world. This book does it, and does it well. To be honest, I didn't even realize this was a sequel!

The idea that aliens have invaded, that some humans have not only decided to work with them but also undergo a procedure to become more like them, doesn't feel new (one could imagine this as an allegory for any totalitarian regime) nor does the idea that there are resistence groups. What was surprising is that the Earth-born aliens, while adhering to their original societal norms, recognize that there is something special and different about humans. I also loved that the aliens look very different than we do.

31 August 2018

Lies; T.M. Logan

LiesLies by T.M. Logan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I kept telling myself "just finish this chapter..." and then starting the next. While much of this is familiar, there's a great twist that made this rise above the normal thriller. Of course, had Joe just trusted his lawyer, half the book wouldn't have been necessary but then, that suspension of belief is what makes books like this so much fun.

ARC provided by publisher.

Feeder; Patrick Weekes

FeederFeeder by Patrick Weekes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world building was a little weak, ditto the Tia Lake/Lake Foundation mythology (and the "gods exist until they're forgotten" was better done in Pratchet's Hogfather). On the other hand, the relationship between Lori and Ben was very sweet, and the Handler/Lori pairing was interesting. The members of the Nix seemd to be all one note until the end, and there's a Big Reveal that felt incongruous and unnecessary.

A World Below; Wesley King

A World BelowA World Below by Wesley King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A varient on the Lost World theme, but set in the US. The teacher was overly dorky, and separating Eric from the rest of the class made minimal sense except as a major plot device. It would have been nice if the map wasn't so blurry, and if we'd seen the map that Eric created.

Zap! Martha Freeman

Zap!Zap! by Martha Freeman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I almost DNF'd this, but it was easy enough to skim. The book read more like someone trying to explain electricity and the dangers of simply clicking on an image or link than anything else. Luis' questions felt so forced that it was really a science class clothed in a mystery.

The Rising; Brian McGilloway

The Rising (Inspector Devlin, #4)The Rising by Brian McGilloway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My second Inspector Devlin and I'm still not sure if I need to read this in order or not. The personal parts lead me to believe that yes, I do, but the murder parts don't really require it. Any thoughts?

I did like the twist on whodunnit, and without giving any spoilers, there's a thought-provoking take on groups that claim to be working on one thing but are secretly promoting another agenda.

Baby Teeth; Zoje Stage

Baby TeethBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since reading Tryon's The Other as a teen, I've been a sucker for the seemingly normal child who is, well. not really normal. Baby Teeth is a great addition to the genre. There are no surprises here, just a steady undercurrent of something very, very wrong. Perfect read for a stormy day or evening!

29 August 2018

From Twinkle, with Love; Sandhya Menon

From Twinkle, with LoveFrom Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reading about Twinkle is a little painful - at first she's one of those wryly observant/sarcastic teens, then she becomes very strident and angry - and the unrealistic ending where everything seems to be ok between her, her friends and her new boyfriend just felt off given the compressed time frame. Also unrealistic for me were the diary entries, where she writes to various famous female film directors and addresses them by their full name. Wouldn't you say "Dear Sofia" instead of "Dear Sofia Coppola" in your personal diary?

The Killing Habit; Mark Billingham

The Killing Habit: A Tom Thorne NovelThe Killing Habit: A Tom Thorne Novel by Mark Billingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know I've missed a few Thornes and now I have to go back and get them.

What at first appears to be three separate mysteries might actually end up all interconnected, and it's down to DIs Thorne and Tanner to discover if that is the case. I loved meeting the Duchess and Andrew Evans, and trying to figure out how (if) they connected to the cat killer/serial murders. It was also great having the others back, like Uncle Fester and Russell, Brigstocke, Christine Treasure and Phil Hendricks. Will Dr. Perera be back? That might make an interesting addition to the crew.

There was a level of sadness here, between Thorne's self-doubts, Tanner's mourning Sandy and Beth's problems with her sister, that makes the characters feel a little more real and less rote. I also appreciated that the cat killings are just talked about, nothing gruesome.

28 August 2018

The Witch Elm; Tana French

The Witch ElmThe Witch Elm by Tana French
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not part of the Dublin Murder Squad series but a great standalone.

Toby has had what might be called a charmed, or lucky, life - things come easily to him, trouble usually passes him over, he's always been part of the popular crowd, and he's from a loving family. That changes one night when he's brutally beaten during a burglary, leaving him with some very slow healing injuries. Luckily, his beloved uncle Hugo is in need of some care after his diagnosis of a brain tumor, so Toby and his girlfriend move in to the Ivy House "for a few weeks". Those weeks slowly become months and then, one day, a skull is found in the wych elm in the garden. Whose skull is it? How did it end up there? (semi-spoiler, it's not cannibalistic Druids)

The unraveling of that mystery will also unravel Toby's charmed life as he questions not only his friends and family but his still-fractured memory of events. This is really well done, with a few surprises but nothing so out of the realm of possibility that credulity is strained.

eARC provided by publisher.