Book Review: A Divided Mind by M. Billiter

A Divided Mind by M. Billiter is a good emotional piece about the struggles of a family dealing with one of it’s children being a schizophrenic. A Divided Mind comes out on July 27 2019, it’s being marked as a thriller and I don’t feel it fits that category, general fiction fits it better. The book does have one or two thrilling moments, but it is more of a think piece that show how an individual and his mother deal with the illness. The novel is mainly told through Branson who has schizophrenia and his mother as she deals with the diagnosis. I was not prepared for the humor in this piece, that really helps with the flow. It sometimes reminded me of a much serious version of C. D. Payne’s Youth in Revolt. I enjoyed this novel and found it very engaging. I would like to think Netgalley and Hot Tree Publishing for giving me a free advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Plot: Tara receives a call from her 17 year-old son Branson that he’s hearing voices as he blacked out and was found with bloody knuckles at school. Tara who is now a single mom thinks it is PTSD of her family surviving her first ex husband who was abusive towards her and her children. Branson is coy with telling people all the details about what he calls “shadow people” that will assassinate people he disagrees with in his mind. The voices have been getting louder and transforming. Tara sends him to a specialist that says it’s not PTSD but schizophrenia. The disbelief is strong and she doesn’t know how to deal, she finds a notebook of her son’s journal and reads all about a girl who has tormented her son, and decides to get revenge as she’s a college admissions officer for the university and creatively makes her not a candidate. Branson life gets more complex as he starts seeing a new person in his life, but are they real or not is what the reader will be asking.

What I Liked: The humor both Branson and his mom Tara have some wit to them in the form of internal thoughts. The struggle of Branson and his other personality be sometimes the only one he can confide in, but also wanting that person gone for his own health. Carson, Branson’s sister, solves so much of his mother’s problems, I loved her character. Dr. Cordova seems like the perfect doctor never rising to any bate of the characters but slipping out a smile when he can’t contain the funny situation or answer in front of him. I loved the story about how the kids were named, and I loved their names. I loved Tara’s revenge plot, and all that things that happened because of it. The cat creature was very scary and written really well and easy to visualize. I really liked the ending.

What I Disliked: The people in Branson’s life our way too accepting. There’s an instance where Branson steals something and a person that don’t know him helps him out, I found really hard to believe. I found it to easy to tell who was real and not in Branson’s mind, but the book acts like this is a mystery.

Recommendations: I will recommend this book as a good emotional sometimes humorous general fiction book. If you’re looking for a thriller you will be a little disappointed, the book is not with some thrilling moments and one okay twist but in my humble opinion not a thriller. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Westside by W. M. Akers

Westside by W. M. Akers is one hell of a debut. I went into this book really loving the premise of a detective who solves small mysteries like a missing broach or jewelry is lead into this huge mystery involving murder and supernatural elements. The voice is similar to Neil Gaiman’s and reminded me of Neverwhere meets Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell with a little Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. It’s a good Historical Fiction Mystery that adds a dash of Supernatural to it. This novel is a trip that is not easy to predict where it’s going, and what a third act. I would like to thank HarperCollins Publishing and Netgalley for giving me the advanced uncorrected e-proof to read in exchange for an honest review.  This book will be available to the public on May 7th.

Plot: We follow Gilda Carr who lives on the Westside of New York in the early 1910’s.Gilda makes a living solving small mysteries like a missing glove or jewelry. The New York you know, isn’t the Westside it’s on the East, in this city the westside is the Eastside’s cursed twin. The westside is full of decay and hollowed out building, there’s no working electricity and gun don’t seem to work as the barrel quickly rust up. The westside is ugly but Gilda just calls it home. She is content solving her small mysteries a trait passed down from her father who was detective on the police force for the Westside, her latest case is finding a woman’s gloves that her husband bought her. This should be a nice small mystery, but this case opens her life up to murder, supernatural, and a case she had almost given up on the disappearance of her father.

What I Liked: Really unique way of describing people, that makes it easy to picture them. Really good world building and the history of Westside New York. I liked the device of small mysteries it gives you a slight Nancy Drew/Encyclopedia Brown vibe with a way darker tone which I enjoyed. I loved the characters of Gilda and her backstory and Virgil Carr her father’s backstory. For side character’s Ugly was my favorite, a henchman that clearly likes Gilda and all her moxie. The third act was great and the mastermind’s reveal was pretty shocking and did not see coming.  I liked the cover and how it relates to the novel, was really cool.

What I Disliked: At the beginning I was super confused whether Glinda was on the Eastside or the Westside, 40 pages in it got easier to tell. It took a while to get differentiate all the side characters from one anther and how they relate. I wanted more payoff on Brass’s song It felt like we were on it too much for it to make little impact to the story.

Recommendations: I really think you should check this book out it has a couple problem but really solid debut novel. If you like the way Neil Gaiman writes when he matches the real world with fantasy. If you like the colliding of genres like historical fiction with mystery and/or supernatural. I rated this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: If, Then by Kate Hope Day

If, Then is a debut author of Kate Hope Day, the novel is all about counterfactuals, which is an if then statement. It is statement about other possibilities in our world. For three neighbors facing a disaster they will be faced with these counterfactuals coming to life in real manifestations. The premiss for this book is awesome but I don’t feel it went far enough, and could’ve been used better. The character’s are all fully fledged out and easily relatable, they’re the driving force of this novel. A special thanks to netgalley and Random House publishing for giving me an advanced reader’s copy for an honest review for If, Then By Kate Hope Day.

The Plot: Three neighbors live their life not knowing there connection and how much there lives affect each other. Mark and Ginny Raise their son Noah. Ginny is a surgeon and Mark is a professor studying how animals react to natural disasters. Samara is not too far out of college and has moved back home to take care of her dad after her mother complications from surgery where Ginny was her mother’s surgeon. Cassandra left grad school to have a baby much to her professor and advisors dismay, he is famous for writing a book on counterfactuals and has not published another and believes that Cassandra’s insights and questions could be key counterfactual research, the professor has since had liver complications and his surgeon is Ginny. So they all connect and live with in a house’s distance from one another and recently have started having visions and seeing doubles of themselves, acting out of character. Ginny has an affair, Mark see him self dirty and menacing, Samara see’s visions of her mother still alive, and Cassandra sees herself pregnant again. If they see themselves this way will they then become their visions?

What I Liked: The characters are really described well, I felt like I’ve interacted with them in some way. There’s a car scene where everything goes wrong and Mark has to take the kids to work because the school, is closed, that is too perfect I’ve lived that day and found so many similarities. The use of counterfactuals was cool I do feel it could be used better but did make me question things in my own life. I liked that that everything connected.

What I Disliked: I felt life the counterfactuals could have been used better, I thought a lot of them were too safe. The synopsis of the plot kind of tells you almost everything, there’s was barely any surprises. There’s a twist in the story that was kind of dead on a arrival, I was only a little intrigued, I don’t think it was explained all that well. And I still have questions if certain character’s choices ad where that left them to other character’s relationships. Ginny’s affair with a woman comes in terms of a vision, was she bisexual before or did the vision turn her, because there was never that question of I’m a lesbian or bisexual? it’s just ignored like any other affair. I just read an the excellent The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo who masterfully explained why a character was bisexual and carried on with an affair.

Recommendations: I would like to recommend this just for the character’s alone, but I felt the plot was just not there enough to recommend. Its getting compared to the Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, which I agree on character’s but the plot was strong and pushed the narrative where If, Then slowly moves along. I do think this author does have a talent for developing relatable characters which will motivate me to read her next one. I rated this 3 out of 5 stars.

Wrap Up – February 2019 Book Reviews

Hello dear readers, I had a lot of little milestones this month I hit over 200 followers this month (currently at 213).  I hit over 1,000 post likes.  Upon me hitting my over 200 followers I joined netgalley. I think I’ve grown over the 7 months of having this and thanks to everyone who has viewed, liked, commented, and followed. I’ve read 6 books this month.

Five Star Reviews:

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding – This book was my first ever advanced reading copy and man was it a great debut novel.  It was a modern day Grimm’s Fairy tale a new mom has her twins go missing and when they are brought back she’s convinced that the twins are not her’s and have been replaced with evil ones.  The writing make your skin crawl with it’s descriptions and the pace is a fast read. It’s released on April 30th.

Four Star Reviews: 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – This book has a really cool concept that there is a disease spreading that causes the person to sleep and dream for a unknown time. The story is told in third person as you drift in and out of people in the town dealing with the disease around them.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – This book has been on my TBR for far too long, Ive heard it raved about for years, and it did not let down it had a little bit of a pacing problem at the end that really slowed it down that caused it from being a five star. An incredible story that is told through an autistic teenager as he investigates the murder of neighborhood dog, and finds much more of the truth about his neighborhood and family.

This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us by Edgar Cantero – One of the craziest stories I’ve ever read about boy and girl twins that share the same body one is the detective and is the wisecracker.  A really fun satire that pokes a lot of fun at the detective genre that the author clearly loves.

Three Star Reviews:

Looker by Laura Sims – This novel puts you into the mind of a woman losing her grip on reality as she can not have kids and ends up hating everybody else who does, when a starlet moves into the neighborhood. There’s a lot that reminded me the novel Notes on the Scandal, which I felt it was written good but to similar to Notes on a Scandal to enjoy.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan – This novel is about 36 survivors aboard a lifeboat in the early 1900’s on the eve of World War I.  This novel was so good until the third act where the novel shift from survival to a trial of an incident that happened the lifeboat.

 

Book Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding is not a book about the miracle of childbirth but the hell of it. This book is super creepy from the get go, a fantastic debut novel. It’s a modern day fairy tale, and not one that starts with once upon a time and ends with a happily ever after. It’s like the original Grimm’s fairy tales that were often horrific and creepy in tone and made your skin crawl. The ending is really great and lets you the reader ultimately decide what you believe. This book is being marketed as mystery but could easily fit in to phycological horror category. This was by first book as a new reviewer for netgalley and man was it a great one, thanks to netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for letting me read this early release of Little Darlings by Melanie Golding for an honest review.

The plot: Lauren Tranter has just had a rough birth of two twins Riley and Morgan. She has the regular fears of new mother, how is she going to take care of two kids and how can she protect them? She also has the fear of not being able to tell her two identical twins apart. and she then she has one thought that changes everything what if some one tried to take them? I the maturity ward she starts hearing a woman in the next curtain over singing a hideous old song about taking twin babies and drowning them in the river, then the woman tries to take her babies Lauren take the babies and lock the bathroom door and call emergency. Detective Jo Harper takes an interest in the case that everyone else writes off as post partum depression, since she has her own issue with a newborn being taken. Lauren is so convinced about woman that Harper investigates she find interesting evidence that no one else seems to care like odd shadows and an odd voice on a recording. Cut to one month later and Harper gets a call that Lauren’s twins have been taken there found by a woman that has ties to the husband but when the twins are returned Lauren freaks out saying those are not her twins.

What I Liked: The blending of the mystery and fairy tale elements. The descriptions are what really make this book work, especially the would be kidnapper in the hospital, and the changed babies. The main characters Harper and Lauren are very well rounded and fully realized characters that you come to understand even the crazy parts. The mystery was really good and kept you on the edge until the end. And I was for the most part satisfied with the ending there’s one angle I wish was explored more, but the ending is not totally concrete and lets you the reader ultimately decide which I thought really worked and will be perfect for book club discussions.

What I Disliked: Towards the ending there’s a piece of evidence that’s found that relates to the lore, which is a huge tease because harper and her department doesn’t have the resources to investigate that evidence, which could’ve lead to closure. As a reader investigated I felt cheated out of this tease, and might have worked better if not included. There was minor dragging on the pacing after the finale. But a really solid debut.

Recommendations: This book will be released on April 30 2019 and I highly recommend it and think you should add it to your TBR shelves. The author just announced it is going to be developed into movie, if you want to be first to read it before the movie comes out. If you love psychological thrillers this is a can’t miss it. I rated this book a very satisfied 5 out of 5 stars and will definitely look for this author in the future and will check out the movie when it is released.