Book Review: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica is a uniquely told mystery because it is told in reverse, but you still don’t know all the facts making it very compelling. There are some big twist that will make you change your whole theory of what is going on. The writing was good with just enough description to let you visualize what is going on. The narrative is told at three different times by four different people in the story, at first this is a little dizzying, but then starts to fit in to place. The way the story is told makes it brilliant, if it was told the normal way it would still be good but they way it is told makes you question and doubt everything. This is my first Mary Kubica and I was blown away I have heard her name mentioned in mystery but didn’t expect to be this blown away and frankly jealous that I did not think of this brilliant way to tell a story. The finale is heart ponding and the villain gets what they deserved. This book does have LGTBQ characters. There are trigger warnings of extreme child abuse that could ruin this book for some. I would like to thank Netgalley and Harlequin trade publishing for giving me an advanced reader’s copy of Local Woman Missing. Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica is published on may 18th 2021.

The Plot: A girl escapes people that have been torturing her for 11 years, the girl is famous of a sort for missing. The novel jumps back 11 years to the day of the missing girl, and we know she is not the only one missing the mom and another local woman are missing as well. Then the novel jumps back even further to 11 years and 3 months, where the mom receives a threatening text message saying I know what you did years ago, you will be punished.

What I Liked: The plot and the way it is told add so much tension. The past will change you perception of the future, it was really cool how that was done. I liked the psychological aspect to the book on the toll of reintroduction of a girl missing takes on her and the family, having Leo, the younger brother of the missing girl be the narrator was great as we get in his head. I did like there was a lesbian couple that no one batted an eye at and trusted there kids with. The finale was tense you already know who the villain now you want to find out if they get caught or they do more destructive things. I was very satisfied with the ending and the turn of events.

What I Disliked: There was one plot twist about a cheating husband, an accusation, then we find one girl had an affair I was bummed that it wasn’t tied into the husband, and that the husband having an affair just went away in the story, I kind wanted to know if it was true, or the accuser was just paranoid. I liked having the perspective of Leo a young 14 year old, but he has some lines about love and sex that felt more like a 40 year old that has been through the ringer not a 14 year old virgin.

Recommendation: Read local Woman missing it is a really smart mystery, that takes the reader for a ride shows you all the suspects and slowly fill in the details of the past and the present. Be warned of the trigger warning for extreme child abuse and entrapment. If I had to compare the narrative style to another book I would say it was closest to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, as close as it is the two are very different and this book doesn’t have a perspective that you can not trust. I rated Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica 5 out of 5 stars. I will definitely be reading more Mary Kubica in the future.

Book Reviews: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is a tightly wound thriller at an isolated hotel with it’s own horrific past. The thriller gets off to a fast start with a murder. we later learn the significance of it and when it happened. This is a novel of a lot of twist that will mess with your head as to is behind all this. The setting is unique a former Sanatorium that treated female tuberculosis patients that is turned into a swanky hotel in the Swiss Alps. This book was on Reece Witherspoon’s book club which gave it some extra hype. The Sanatorium is a solid mystery, with easy to remember character’s. I did guess the killer, but it wasn’t for the reasons that I thought, my guess was more a shot in the dark, so the narrative was still fun. The killer’s lament was too long and didn’t have the reason I felt were grounds to murder so many. I enjoyed it the ending could of been a little more satisfying, but all together a solid mystery from Sarah Pearse.

The Plot: A former sanatorium that treated female tuberculosis patients in 1920’s is getting turned into a swanky new hotel in the Swiss Alps. The town people protest the remodel and want know one to take it over, one of the builders checks out the construction as he is stalked and stabbed by someone in a old gas mask and a rubber suit, like the doctors wore when treating the TB patients. Is this a former patient, an angry townsperson, or someone else with a grudge. Despite the murder the hotel is opened on time Elin Warner is a detective on leave that got invited to celebrate her estranged brother Issac who is engaged to her childhood best friend she stopped speaking to. Elin is a brilliant detective but suffers panic attacks thanks to her last case, since going on leave. The meeting is awkward because of a past trauma that Elin believes that her older brother killed her younger brother when they were younger. Issac’s fiancé goes missing and an avalanche snows them in Elin is left to investigate, but can she do it. A body then bodies start piling up with nowhere to go Elin has to find out the truth.

What I Liked: Elin was annoying at first but I grew to really like her character and her observations. The other characters are interesting enough that I could remember who they were when the mystery really starts. I do like how the culprit was caught what feature lead Elin to them. The pace is really fast, and made a pretty good little page turner. I liked the killers garb and the connection to the past. The hotel’s backstory was really interesting. I liked that the hotel found out that Elin was on leave and not in fact a detective.

What I Disliked: The killer’s lament was too long and it ruined the past of the hotel, that the was interesting and was made to be so important, was really diminished.

Recommendations: I recommend you to check out this fun little isolated thriller. This was Sarah Pearse’s debut and it is a good one. If you like thriller that make you isolated, and can’t trust the detective’s sanity, then you will like this mystery. I rated The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells is Murderbot Diaries book 6. This time Murderbot plays detective investigating a murder at Preservation Station that only it can solve. After the epic Network Effect that was my favorite in the series comes the sadly lackluster Fugitive Telemetry that is my least favorite so far. The plot is okay, it’s not really a murder that can be solved but the right beats are there, The problem with this one is Murderbot doesn’t have that much interaction with anyone, and the action is really limited. This has been one of my favorite series but this book just didn’t gel with me. I read Fugitive Telemetry through advanced readers copy curtesy of Netgalley and Macmillion-Tor/ Forge books. Fugitive Telemetry is published on 4-27-21.

The Plot: Murderbot discovers a body on Preservation Station. He’s the main suspect for a while thinking he got hacked, but Murderbot convinces and works with the local security to solve the crime. Murderbot has vowed not to hack his way into security, so this case is going to be harder than he thought.

What I Liked: The couple glimpses of Murderbot personality are good. The plot was not that bad. I did enjoy the twist reveal, and what the killer turned out to be. The Murderbot and Dr. Mensah still works and is still the most interesting. I liked the couple call backs to past novels.

What I Disliked: When we last saw Murderbot he was staying on a transport with ART saying he must go away, so I was pretty shocked to see him already back on Preservation Station with Dr. Mensah who he just told was leaving. This novel felt like it was the Murderbot before he was changed at end of the last book. Not enough witty Murderbot scenes.

Recommendations: This is the only Murderbot book that I have not recommended. There’s not much character development in this one the lowest amount so far. It seems this was an experiment it just didn’t work out for me. I still love this series and eagerly await the next installment. I rated Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells 2 out of 5 stars. I raked the 6 book series so far in order from best to worst: Network Effect, Artificial Condition, All Systems Red, Exit Strategy, Rogue Protocol, and Fugitive Telemetry.

Book Review: Instinct by Jason M. Hough

Instinct by Jason M. Hough is small town thriller. Where small town folks start to suddenly lose their survival instinct, like a person that never goes outside will go on a massive hike, and the guy scared of animals will face down a bear. It reminded me of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter where in the last 25 % of the book goes to a crazy place. The finale is good but it is one slow build up to that point. The character’s are quirky with conspiracy theories running deep until the town is in one. Instinct is a good idea, but the execution is lacking. The end is fun but I don’t know if everyone will get there with every beat of action and odd occurrence nothing happens in between; we don’t spend enough time with these characters to see them acting out of place. Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books – Skybound Books for the opportunity to read Instinct. Instinct by Jason M. Hough was published on April 6th 2021.

The Plot: Mary is has been an officer to the town of Silvertown, Washington for two months now. She’s still getting her bearings coming from a larger town than Silvertown’s population of 610. The town is reeling from the first death that wasn’t old age. But the next day another death happens the towns people thank it’s the new radio tour with 5G that’s doing it. Mary thinks the town is crazy then she herself starts acting different. The town’s people are starting to lose there survival instinct. How did they lose it and how can they get it back.

What I Liked: A town of conspiracy theorist trapped in a conspiracy was fun too watch. I liked all the bar banter with Kyle. The last 25% of this book was pretty crazy and a lot of fun. I like the missile Silo party. The home invasion was a tense scene. The premise of the book is why I put in to read it is still a really good clever idea.

What I Disliked: The first 3/4 of Instinct is pretty slow paced, there’s burst of excitement then the narrative slows to a crawl. Interesting things happen but it was not enough to keep my interest.

Recommendations: I can not recommend this book. Interesting things happen but not enough to keep my interest through out. The ending is crazy and fun, but it takes a lot to get there. I rated Instinct by Jason M. Hough 3 out of 5 stars. I think Hough has talent was highly entertained by Kyle’s bar banter, it was quirky and funny and the best part of the book.

Book Review: The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter

The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter is a good who done it? mystery. You know right up front there was a murder, and you know the who said they did it is lying. The narrative moves really fast supplying the reader with a little bit more information at each turn. This is not a big twist novel but a series of twist that add up to tension and betrayal. The novel does look at the British class system which I found the weakest part of the novel. I haven’t read a mystery in a while and this novel was just what I needed a good quick mystery that kept me guessing. I’m really liking these domestic mysteries that focus on a small knit family that is driven apart by a dark secret. The Dinner Guest is very LGBTQ friendly as the family that is torn apart is a gay couple. Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK , One More Chapter for giving me this ARC. The Dinner Guest was published on April 1st 2021.

The Plot: There’s a body, Matthew that has been stabbed on the dinner table. Charlie the Husband looks on in amazement at the body, Titus, Charlie and Matthew’s teenage son, sits silently at the table not looking at the body, and Racheal holds the bloody knife and calls the police, telling she murdered Matthew. Charlie thanks why did she confess to a murder she didn’t commit. Secrets and lies lead up to this twisty murder mystery.

What I Liked: The way is was told having Charlie and Rachael tell the before and after of the death of Matthew, then at the end we get a new voice. The POV worked really well and added up to tension. I liked the family drama not dealing with the mystery at all was good. Titus is a handful. Blackmail is something all the characters do at one point. I liked the book club scenes and Anita is hilarious, I could have seen a whole lot more of her. The flow is really good the scenes lead to the next really easily. It is easy to understand which character is narrating at the moment.

What I Disliked: Every time the excuses go to class, I’ve read some good interesting class arguments, but every time it was brought up in this story it felt forced, there’s not too many scenes, so it didn’t hamper my enjoyment too much. A big secret is revealed which leads directly to the murder, where the individual just takes the word of someone and doesn’t check if it is true, the person had it’s own reasons for telling. Every thing I had read about that character previously would have to see it with their own eyes to believe it. So that felt false.

Recommendations: I will recommend this pretty good who done it? It is a good escapist read. It reminded me of Shari Lapena’s The Couple Nest Door. I rated The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten Is a atmospheric horror that is slightly unnerving. The Lost Village is a Swedish book that has been translated to English. The descriptions make it feel like characters are constantly being watched by the village, it makes the reader feel pretty unnerved. The mystery is pretty captivating, and the way the story is told by amateur documentarians, really works since they bring their own problems, to a place that feeds off those problems. The Lost Village reminded me of parts of Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery meets the film The Blair Witch Project. I was slightly underwhelmed my the climax, but the rising action to it was so cool I thought of all these other cool scenarios that would have made it epic, and the climax was just good. Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press through Minotaur books for letting me have early access to this title. The Lost Village by Camilla Sten was published in Sweden in 2019 and translated/published in America on March 23 2021.

The Plot: Alice is crowd funding for a documentary, on a village called Silvertjarn which was named for it silver mine. The other thing Slivertjarn is known for is in 1959 all 800 village members went missing and never found again with the exception of one baby found in a school house and a body strung up and stoned to death. Alice has ties to the village through her grandma’s sister, she has rare correspondence in the form of letters days before the missing village. She brings on a team of people that believe in the project but with secrets of their own some about the village but some about Alice herself.

What I Liked: The atmosphere that this horror story starts right in the beginning and goes all the way to the end. Are the documentary crew experiencing mass paranoia or are they being watched. The flow of this book made it hard to put down. It reminds me of The Blair Witch Project as little things added up slowly. The flashbacks really work and add intrigue to the story, it is told through letters and then we see what really went down through one characters eyes. The mystery of the crew members was good as well.

What I Disliked: I wanted to know a lot more about Pastor Mattias, we only learn a few things, it was too much of a mystery for the end. The climax could have been better.

Recommendation: I would recommend my readers to take this wild unnerving ride. It is a good addition to the horror genre with real people with real problems inserted into a horror village with no cell phone and civilization 45 miles away. I rated The Lost Village by Camilla Sten 4 out of 5 stars. This novel was very close to 5 stars but the climax brought it down. I will be picking up Camilla Sten’s next novel I like the descriptions and atmosphere a lot.

TBR: April 2021

April 2021 TBR list: last month was I read 6 out of the 8 books on my TBR, I’m going to lower it to 7 to deal with looking for a house and overtime. I have 4 ARCs to read this month. I have my reading goal for the year set at 80 books this year which I’m a head by two for the moment.  I have  read most of my Christmas book haul, but my Birthday is this month so will for sure get more, If I read extra it will be a Amazing Spiderman Marvel Masterworks since  it’s easy to read at my work break.

Network Effect by Martha Wells – I the first full length book in the Murderbot Diaries Series.  Network Effect is book 5 in the series.  I recently got approver for the ARC  for Fugitive Telemetry which is published on April 27th.  I love Murderbot the character, and I love where the series left off.

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells – I have been asking for an ARC of a Martha Wells book for a couple of years now can’t wait to read this one a little early, It is publish right around my birthday and will consider this a present on April 27 thanks to Netgalley and Tor.

Near The Bone by Christina Henry – This is will be my third Henry novel I read Alice and the Ghost Tree, I have liked but not loved her novels.  I hope this one is a love, this is her second novel not about fairy tells being retold. The plot is a woman trapped on a mountain attempt to survive more that one kind of monster.  The synopsis intrigues me so I’m looking forward to this book.  Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley publishing for the ARC that is published on April 13th.

The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter – It has been a while since I read a mystery; my favorites are the classic Agatha Christie novels, and I get this vibe from the book. The tag line is A stranger at the table; A dinner that ends in death. It seems fun this book changed it’s publishing date up a month or two it was published on April 1. Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for giving me an opportunity to read this novel.

Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule – I jumped at the chance to read the newest Star Wars because it is before all the rest and the first book in the new cannon to do that.  The cover has a Wookie with a lightsaber I have to read this book.

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten  This my hold over last month I’m half way done and it it is very atmospheric and spooky. The Lost Villiageis described as The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar by the publisher.  I don’t know a lot going in to this story but the genre is horror/suspense.     Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for this ARC.The Lost Village is published on March 23 2021

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier my other holdover form last month it reminds me a lot of the plot of Pixar’s Coco. Where there is a whole city of the dead that are still remembered by the living.  But the City has started rapidly shrinking.  It has been on my TBR for a while, and I’m committed to reading it.

Book Review: The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is a story full of witchcraft and mystery. It is a mix of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus meets Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The story draws you in with a compelling mystery then adds the magic and the Secret Circus. The family history sometimes got messy and complex, but the ending was clear and concise, clearing up some of the plot point I had problems with. This is Constance Sayers second novel, her debut was A Witch in Time, a book I really liked and gave 4 stars, my one criticism was that she tried to have everything connect in a really neat bow which would be my biggest complaint in this one as well. That being said the writing is still good and she is able to draw the reader in and make me feel for these characters. The ending was exciting and wrapped up a lot of story lines. The midway point I was not sure about this book but the ending was really good and made my rating go up a point. I received an advanced readers copy of The Ladies of the Secret Circus thanks to Netgalley and Redhook Books. The Ladies of The Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is published on 3-23-21.

The Plot: Lara is a lowly witch ready to me married, the only problem is her husband to be has gone missing. His car is found with no trace of her husband and all evidence removed. Ben the local sheriff start to find similarities between this case and another that happen at the same places and same day 30 years earlier, with ties to Lara’s family. Lara always knew her family once ran a circus a long time ago, but she finds the Circus might still exist in her dreams and in death.

What I Liked: The the mystery of the missing men, dying every 30 years. I liked the Secret Circus and how you gained entrance. I liked the Paris backstory on the circus and family history. I liked the unconventional love story of Ben and Lara. The ending was so good and really emotional. I liked how A Witch in Time is loosely connected through the magician Angiers. I liked the magic and how it grew through out the story. I liked the twist with the family

What I Disliked: The Bad guy connection was too convenient, it was really unbelievable they could hide in plain that long with no real explanation when they’re caught how they stayed hidden for so long.

Recommendations: I would recommend this this witchy mystery. I liked A Witch in Time more but this is a great follow up second novel. If you liked The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstrern, then you will like this story. I rated The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a horror set in the 90’s that is a take on Scooby Doo and his gang grown up and dealing with real monsters and not some man in the mask. I is a little similar to the new DC run Scooby Apocalypse, where the gang is a little more grown up and deal with real monsters. Meddling Kids is a combination of Lovecraftian creatures meet the Goonies being portrayed by the Scooby Gang. The twist and turns mainly come at the end a few are a stretch but some I really enjoyed. It has LGTBQ representation in the lead character of Andy. The book is a slow build up to an exciting finish but it will test the readers patience by having slow pacing. A. Z. Kimrean the lead of This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us Cantero’s follow up book makes an oh so brief cameo in a mental ward.

The Plot: In 1977 a group of kids started the the Blyton Summer Detective Club where four kids and a dog solved local crimes. The last case when they caught an old man in a creature mask, and admitted to the crimes calling them ,meddling kids. But 13 years later the group is still haunted by what they saw, on member Peter has recently committed suicide. The criminal has been released and when confronted he admitted it didn’t commit the crimes, but lied so he would be protected in jail. The Blyton Summer Detective Club decides to get back together and solve the crime they missed.

What I Liked: there’s a lot of clever pop culture references. Nate seeing a ghost of Peter device is used really well, and adds to the mystery. I like what they did with the dog to make it “Scooby-like” at the very end. I liked what they did with the town bully, Joey. The climax was really exciting with a couple twist and turns. There was a lot a well placed Scooby references. One of the coolest cover art’s Ive seen for horror.

What I Disliked: The pacing is super slow at the beginning, it takes the gang way to long just to get to the town on their road trip. The monster’s could have been described with more detail, it was hard picturing. Never have a I read a story that needed a flashback scene so bad, I think a flashback scene would have solved most of my problems with it.

Recommendations: I think Edgar Cantero is a really clever writer, but this one didn’t live up to my expectations after liking This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us so much, so therefore I can not recommend this one. In This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us the plot is very focused, where Meddling Kids the plot keeps going off in tangents. I rate Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy

Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy is a hard look at what it takes to be a hero, and Batman himself asking if he helped contribute to crime. This is the sequel to the excellent Batman: White Knight where the Joker went sane and went after Batman as if he were the victim. The Joker is back to being the joker, but the things he called out were too good and could ruin crime sprees. The Joker has one more joke to pull the could blow up the Wayne legacy. The Curse of the White Knight continue its streak of being one of the best Batman stories. The story had a lot of twist and turns as it explores the birth of the Wayne dynasty and a current threat with an old score to settle. The writing will make you both laugh and almost cry. This story does take place in an alternative universe and not in the current DCU that gives the novel no limits as it is no-holds bar, with lots of shocking deaths. Batman: Curse of the White Knight collects issue 1-8 and a bonus Mr. Freeze origin story.

Plot: When the Joker took a pill to go sane he turned back into Jack Napier former mob member. Jack saw evil in Gotham and his name was Batman. Jack becomes a council member a and sets up the Napier Initiative which would have Batman be responsible for every damage he causes, and he would give tech and his vehicles to the police so they will eventually not need Batman. Batman has to look at the harsh truth that Napier is right. The pills are slowly killing Napier the only way he can live is if he lets the Joker take back over. With the Joker back in control he hates the Napier Initiative because it will mean no more Batman. The joker has been saving a Joke that will destroy everything and tarnish the Wayne legacy (Joker/Napier admitted they have know for some time he is Bruce Wayne). The Joker gets Azrael who is in on the joke having to do with his family legacy. Azrael will stop at nothing to kill or hurt those around him. Bruce has to search his families history to solve the mystery of the joke. Harley is able to bring Napier back for a few seconds as she reveals she is pregnant, he tells her the Joke will break Batman and the Wayne family.

What I Liked: The balance of drama, action and humor is great. The Action is really well done. The Joke is pretty world shattering for Batman and the Wayne legacy. Azrael who I haven’t seen in comics for quite sometime (since Knightfall and Knightquest arcs) returns with a vengeance. He ends up wearing the Knightquest Batman suit for when he took over as Batman. There’s a scene where Batman’s cave gets destroyed with all his Batmobiles except the Batmobile from the late 80’s one of my personal favorites. The Jokes, there’s a scene where Montoya and Bullock are taking over for an incapacitated Gordon, and Batman does his disappearing while speaking, and Bullock goes does he do that everytime, that must drive Gordon crazy. Another joke is Azrael breaks Joker out of Prison in the Batsuit from Knightquest, Joker says, “how did you get in here?” Azrael reveals the batsuit, “I’m Batman!” The Joker seems aghast, “that worked, they just let you in…”, he looks past Azrael to see a stream of bloody bodies. The pacing in this book i really good the set up for Joke takes a while as we flashback to the past, but the pay off was well worth it. I liked the subplot about the Joker wanting to kill one of Harley’s twins because one half is his and one half is Napier’s. The art is really well done, I’m very particular about faces but feel they were drawn really well.

What I Disliked: There’s a joke that was a callback to 1960’s Batman that landed horribly, and felt really awkward and forced. The Batman not killing plot line I felt let down. This series has analyzed aspect of Batman that I have not thought of before, and I felt the Batman doesn’t kill was glossed over. You as Batman do not want to kill the Joker, but you want to kill Azrael, who has a general grievance with you over past family stuff. I would have wanted more conversation for Bruce to have gotten there, to make it more believable.

Recommendation: This story is good, and one of the best that I have read. Sean Gordon Murphy is one of the better Batman writer’s I still think that Scott Snyder is the best but Sean Gordon Murphy is getting close. The cool thing about Sean Gordon Murphy is he is also the artist and makes sure what he wrote in the story matches his vision on the comic. If you are looking at a great Batman story that explores the psyche of Batman then this is you Batman story. I rated Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy 5 out of 5 stars. I also rated Batman: White Knight 5 out of 5 stars do yourself a favor and read these books. It is separate from the DC comics universe so it is pretty accessible.