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[ARC BOOK SPOTLIGHT] The Child (Fiona Barton) & Hit or Miss Authors

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Genre: Mystery

Series: None

Rating: 2.5 STARS

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Description:

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

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Initially, I was super excited to have this book! I never thought I’d win it through First to Read because I barely win anything, so I was shocked to win this, especially since I adored Barton’s The Widow. Unfortunately, this one didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.

We follow Kate, the reporter from The Widow, as she investigates the story of a dead baby found near a construction site. Three other women also end up getting involved in this case: Emma, who has experienced a rough childhood, but quickly becomes effected because of the news of the dead baby; Jude, Emma’s mother who has a different side of the story; and Angela, who lost a baby long ago and wonders if she’s finally found her. I loved seeing how all four of these women interconnected with the mystery; it made the book truly interesting. We get to experience all of their POVs, and it always kept me guessing what truly happened. I ended up being proved wrong at one point, which reminds me why I love thrillers so much.

I think one of my issues with this book was the pacing. This book was quite slow, and I’d say it’s about the same pace of The Widow. It isn’t a fast-moving thriller at any rate, and I’d probably call it more of a mystery than anything. Though I really enjoyed the pacing in The Widow, the pacing in this book really ruined the experience for me, especially since it took me so damn long to read this one. I started getting bored and just wanting to finish it for the sake of finishing it.

I also thought this was more mystery than thriller. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s a sort of contemporary/mystery mix – you know, one of those mysteries that’s not really too dark and tends to be a bit tragic and the mystery isn’t really the main point of the novel? I will say, for those who complained about there not being a plot twist in her previous novel, they’ll probably enjoy this one much more, since there’s a couple, but I didn’t really enjoy them too much.

I thought the ending of this one was actually pretty nice. It was quite bittersweet for the tone of the novel, and I thought it tied up everything really nicely in the end, which is always good for a stand-alone. I loved seeing the characters get their own little happy ending, in their own way.

Overall, not as good as The Widow, but other people will probably enjoy this one more than I did (and already have!).

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Thanks so much to the Penguin First to Read program for giving me this e-ARC! I truly appreciate it.

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I thought a good topic for this one is talking about hit or miss authors. You know, those authors who have some books you enjoy, but also have some books you don’t enjoy, and some books just feel meh about. For me, I think the biggest culprit of this is Lauren Oliver.

I’m sure you guys know my never-ending love for Before I Fall, which is her debut novel. It was the first book of hers I read fully (I’d DNF-ed Delirium), and I still consider it one of my favorites, and probably the only book of hers I’ve liked so far. I found Delirium really boring and never managed to finish it or conjure the energy to re-read it. I bought Panic on a whim, and also read a good couple of chapters before I gave up on it as well. I recently read Replica, and, again, I found myself not really enjoying it and getting bored of reading the same scene from different POVs. The only unread novel I have of hers left is Vanishing Girls, which is a thriller, and I’m praying that it’s good, but it’s crazy to think that the only book of hers I liked was her first one.

Another author I can think of is Leigh Bardugo. I read Shadow and Bone because of the hype and wasn’t too impressed with it. I initially intended to read the sequel, but the more time passed and the more people raved about Six of Crows, I decided to just opt out of reading the Grisha trilogy, and instead just went with Six of Crows. It was a five-star read and absolutely freaking brilliant and so much better than Shadow and Bone. I wouldn’t consider her one of my favorite authors yet, but we’ll see once I read Wonder Woman: Warbringer.

I’ve realized for thriller authors, I’m quicker to forgive, though. For instance, I didn’t like or thought Shari Lapena’s, Paula Hawkin’s, and Ruth Ware’s books were as good as everyone said they were. Yet, for all three authors, I’ve put their 2017 releases on my most anticipated releases list, and I can’t wait for them to come out. I guess it’s just the fact that I’m weak for a good thriller premise, and, who knows, maybe their next book will be a total hit for me (though I don’t know if this has actually happened for real).

I feel like I judge YA books more by their authors, where there are times where I’ll not read a book because I didn’t like the author’s previous books, but for thrillers, I’m just like, “Meh. The premise sounded awesome; I’ll go for it.” Really, I guess it all depends on the type of bookworm we are.

let's chatWhat are your thoughts on Fiona Barton? What are some hit-or-miss authors for you? Are you affected by genres/age ranges for authors like I am?

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11

[BOOK SPOTLIGHT] Nemesis (Brendan Reichs) & The Makings of a Good Sci-fi

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Genre: Sci-fi

Series: Project Nemesis #1

Rating: 4 STARS

Description:

He killed me. He killed me not. He killed me.

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.

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I was so excited to read this one! Literally, all I had to do was read the synopsis, and I knew that this book was the one for me. I love weird sci-fi, and this one sounded amazing. And, thankfully, this one lived up to the hype!

We’re introduced to Min and Noah, our two main characters, who switch off on POVs. I loved seeing how the two of them related in the entire mystery; initially, when I read the summary, I thought Noah was the one who kept killing Min, but I thought the way it actually unfolded worked out as well. Of course, they have the obligatory romance, but it plays such a small part that it really didn’t matter to me. I did enjoy the fact that Min and Noah acted like normal teenagers. There’s a lot of YA out there where the teens have these low-key powers and are total badasses, but it’s nice to read a novel where the teenagers are actually confused and don’t know what’s going on.

I will say, I felt like the other characters were lacking in some places. Most of the characters are teenagers, and it feels like some of them adopt a sort of caricature – the clingy, popular girl not wanting to give up the guy, the mean bully, the lackeys, etc. – and don’t really seem to develop past that. Because of this Lord of the Flies-like situation, some of these teenagers break up into all these groups, and one of the groups takes over, which I don’t think would happen in real life? Maybe it’s just me, but, I don’t believe that if my grade was deserted on an island, we’d immediately look to the popular people for leadership or everyone would just listen to them with no argument. It just didn’t seem realistic to me.

This is definitely Lord of the Flies-like in plot. I’d say it was a good move to split the book into parts, but overall, for me, I’d say the book was split into two parts because a huge event happens in the middle that I wasn’t expecting. I’m not going to say what it was, but it definitely made the book more addicting to me. I’m one of those people that just needs to know what in the world is going on, and Reichs manages to keep the suspense, and keep me on my toes.

I absolutely loved the sci-fi elements present in the novel. I will say, this is my favorite sort of sci-fi. I do enjoy reading about space operas and futures that look a lot like our present, but I absolutely love this type of sci-fi where it takes place in our “real world,” especially since we live in a world with so much technology and all these advances where it feels like things are going by so fast, that the concept seems half outlandish, but also half realistic, in a way. And I absolutely loved the ending and when all the intentions were revealed and what was happening. It truly shocked me, and it also made sense, and I absolutely loved it, and cannot wait for the sequel.

The setting for this one was a small town, which, duh, I loved. I know I’ve mentioned several times that I love books that take place in a small town, and this was no exception. It was nice to see it in a different sort of perspective, since most of the small towns I’ve read about are just generally effed up and a hot mess, but this was just one that seemed quirky and out-of-place, sort of like Gravity Falls.

Overall, I highly recommend this one to sci-fi fans or those who love a good plot twist. It was truly brilliant.

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I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before on my blog, but I love a good sci-fi novel. The thing is, I don’t read too many, which is absolutely ridiculous. So far, some of the few sci-fi novels I’ve read are The Lunar Chronicles, the Red Rising trilogy, the Illuminae files, the first book in the Starbound trilogy, Tattoo Atlas, Empress of a Thousand Skies, and Dark Matter. And, fortunately, I love all of these books, and would consider them my favorites (except Empress of a Thousand Skies. Sorry). So, obviously, I should read some more sci-fi, but I rarely ever do!

But, I’ve always wondered what the secret to a good sci-fi novel is. I feel like they’re definitely difficult to write. I mean, you have to have a good knowing of science that support your otherworldly thing – for example, cloning or alternate universes. Not to mention that these science things usually have rules; you can’t just go willy-nilly. And, usually, they’re quite complex. Just read one paragraph of any book in the Red Rising trilogy and you’ll understand.

Personally, for me, I have a few things that usually make a good sci-fi for me:

1. A badass concept. There are different types of sci-fi out there (though, my favorite is probably speculative sci-fi), but I love me a really cool concept. Whether it’s running away in space or just a weird concept or maybe a wide-spread disease, I can easily be pulled in by a good blurb.

2. A setting in science. Though I do love out-of-the-box type books, I always find it interesting if real science is actually used or explained in a book. Science is one of those things that’s so cool and can bring up a lot of debates, but because of school, that curiosity and excitement dies. But I do love learning more about science, as long as it’s not trying to be the basis for total BS.

3. It holds a mirror to our world. I absolutely love non-contemporary books that show our world or represent it, which is probably why I love Black Mirror so much. It’s always nice to read a book that makes you think about our world and the way we do things because our world is pretty messed up.

4. That whole WTF factor. Because I love reading books where I don’t know what’s going on two-thirds of the time. This is probably why my interests are so weird and why I love thrillers so much. It always makes the book that much more addicting for me because what is going on??? I want to know!

(I also owe this to being a generally nosy person in real life.)

Basically, I just really need to start reading more sci-fi. I have so many on my TBR pile…but I still haven’t read them yet. They’ve been sitting there for so long because my TBR is out of control and I can’t stop it. SOS.

let's chatThoughts on Nemesis? What do you think about sci-fi? What are some of your favorite sci-fi books?

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