The Somnambulist by Johnathan Barnes

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“Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It’s a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in dreadfully pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and willfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you’ll believe a word of it.”
                                                                                                                                  -The Narrator

I don’t think I’m smart enough for this book. It’s set in London, in the late Victorian era. It’s about Edward Moon, a has-been magician and amateur detective. Together with The Somnambulist, a huge, silent man who doesn’t bleed when stabbed, Edward Moon sets out to solve what may be their last big case.

It starts as a simple murder, but soon evolves into a complicated morass that is simultaneously interesting and incredibly confusing. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this book. There are good things about it- like the unreliable narrator-, but there are also things I really didn’t like (there are a ridiculous amount of unimportant characters to try to keep track of). I’m not entirely sure I even understand the ending, although that might be because I was sick and groggy when I finished the book.

Usually, I love ambiguous endings, but this book left so many threads dangling, that I’m left unsure as to whether or not it actually ended. There is a sequel, but it was written many years later. I wonder if it was written specifically to answer some of the many questions remaining.

Regardless, the author is very talented. Whether you end up enjoying the book or not, you will be unable to deny that it is one of the most original out there.

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Needful Things by Stephen King

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I’ve read a few Stephen King books in the past, but not too many. To be honest, my opinions on the books I had previously read ranged from indifference to dislike, so I was a bit uncertain on how I’d feel about this one. I decided to read Needful Things because I loved the show “Castle Rock”, which is loosely based on Stephen Kings’ works.

Needful Things takes place in Castle Rock, Maine, which is the setting for several of King’s stories. It’s a sleepy little town. At least, it would be if it hadn’t been the site of some seriously bizarre violent happenings over the years. Leland Gaunt, a charming man, comes to town and opens a store called “Needful Things”. It seems to be a curio shop, or an odd antique store. People from the town start coming in and, luckily for them, find the thing they most want.

Leland Gaunt sells things for an intriguing price- what the shopper can pay in cash plus one prank. Just a harmless little prank. Except, it’s Castle Rock, Gaunt isn’t who he seems, and suddenly these pranks have less than harmless consequences.

The idea is fascinating, Not because someone who deals in more than currency is a new idea; it’s not. But someone who uses pranks as currency is very original and the way the story progressed is unique. I’ve never heard any version of the Peddler who deals in that sort of trade. So, right away, I was intrigued.

Stephen King is an incredibly talented writer, no one will deny that. At times, I did feel like there were too many background characters, and there were a few parts that I think could have been condensed (for example, there were multiple Elvis Presley sexual fantasies, which seemed redundant). Overall, though, I really liked it. By the end, the story was barreling along at a breakneck pace and taking me with it.

I especially liked Sally because she had so much to lose. More than anyone else in the book, her “needful thing” was really needed. Leland Gaunt was truly terrifying, while being an incredibly complex character. I loved the way things ended between Gaunt and Pangborn (I won’t say, don’t worry).

There was one scene in particular that was extremely difficult for me to read; I ended up a little sick to my stomach. Be aware that Stephen King never pulls punches. His books are not for the faint of heart.

All in all, I enjoyed it. The snowball effect was fascinating, the ending was unexpected, and I got chills during the epilogue. If you enjoy Stephen King, or horror in general, I’d recommend this book.

The Furies by Katie Lowe- ARC Review


This harrowing debut is the story of a girl trying to fit in, whose obsessive new friends and desperation to belong leads her to places she’d never imagined…dark, dangerous, and possibly even violent.

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on her boarding school’s property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. What happened to her? And what do her friends know? To find out, it is necessary to go back to the beginning.

The school is Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school located in a sleepy coastal town, with a long-buried grim history of 17th century witch trials. A new student, Violet, joins the school, and soon finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, led by the alluring and mysterious art teacher Annabel.

Annabel does her best to convince the girls that her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, and that they are just mythology. But the more she tries to warn the girls off the topic, the more the girls start to believe that magic is real and that they have the power to harness it.

Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this addictive new world. But when she comes to learn about the disappearance of a former member of the society, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled in her newfound friendships.

Was it suicide, or a foul play more sinister? How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another? (taken from Amazon)

                    Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on October 8th.

**Be aware: there is a theme that could be very upsetting. I have mentioned it below in the vaguest way I could, but please read at your own discretion.**

Dark and unsettling, this was a hard book for me to read. In fact, I almost gave up on it. Sexual assault was a driving force in this book , and that’s something I try to avoid reading at all costs. I only finished because I felt that I owed it to the author to provide feedback for their pre-release. Now that I’ve written that, let me rush to add that I am going to do my absolute best to separate my distaste for parts of the book, and focus on it as a whole.

This book felt to me like it was going for a Virgin Suicides-meets- The Craft vibe. Violet wants desperately to find a group of friends, a fact that is noticed- and exploited by Robin- a girl who is on a headlong rush into disaster. This book explores the depths some people can fall to when love, lust, revenge, hurt, and loss collide.

Although there’s nothing incredibly new about the plotline, the story itself is well-written and hard to escape, if that makes sense. Part of what makes this book so disquieting is that there is no good guy to cheer for, and no redemption for any of the characters at all. Don’t go into this expecting a quick, fun mystery with a hook.

Aside from the unexpected and unwelcome impetus, my big complaint would be the ending. Throughout the book the author did a very good job of drawing things to a breaking point, then pushing them a little further. However, the ending felt rushed and didn’t fit in with the rest of the book at all.

This book was disturbing and thought-provoking: if that was the author’s intention, she succeed magnificently. However, if I had known before starting this book that there would be a theme of assault, I would not have read it. So…I guess the verdict is: this book is one to read if you like things on the harsher side. For me- I wish I’d skipped it.

Fragments by Toni Jordan- ARC Revew

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Inga Karlson died in a fire in New York in the 1930s, leaving behind three things: a phenomenally successful first novel, the scorched fragments of a second book―and a literary mystery that has captivated generations of readers.

Nearly fifty years later, Brisbane bookseller Caddie Walker is waiting in line to see a Karlson exhibition, featuring the famous fragments. A charismatic older woman quotes a phrase from the Karlson fragments that Caddie knows does not exist. Caddie is jolted from her sleepy life in 1980s Brisbane, and driven to uncover the truth about this fascinating literary mystery. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on September 10th.

There were many things that I liked about this book, and a few things that I didn’t.  Being a voracious reader, I understand bookish obsession, but I still had a hard time believing that Caddie would go through so much effort based on a few words that a stranger muttered at an exhibit. The reaction most people would have, I think, would be to think the older woman had simply misquoted the author. However, if you are able to suspend disbelief, the story moves along nicely.

It is a slower paced book than I expected, but I think that actually worked in its favor, giving the reader time to get to know the characters. The book had two storylines: that of Caddie, the zealous bookseller, whose storyline takes place in the late 80’s, and Rachel, whose storyline starts in the early 1920’s.

I preferred the parts about Rachel more, and from time to time I really wanted to tell Caddie to grow a spine.  I loved how important Inga Karlson’s book was to Caddie, though. I can absolutely relate to that feeling of a book being such an important part in someone’s life.

In this book the journey is greater than the destination in that it ended a bit abruptly. I would have liked it to have ended in a way that took a little more time and felt more natural. All told, however, this is an enjoyable read, one worth spending time on.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea- ARC Review

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on September third.This takes place in the late 1600’s in Iceland. Rosa agrees to marry a rich man she doesn’t know because he will provide food and health care for her sick mother. She’s his second wife: his first having died mysteriously. Her new husband, Jon, is distant and cold, expecting her to stay away from all the villagers, as well as a locked loft in their home. Rosa hears sounds coming from the loft and rumors reach her- maybe she needs to fear her new husband.The strongest part of this book is the desolate setting. The author easily used the loneliness of the small village, as well as Rosa’s isolation, to add to the growing sense of unease the character feels. She begins to wonder whether she can trust her own senses.This was a very unsettling book. I couldn’t stand the husband, Jon, even after reading some things that are supposed to explain his behavior. He didn’t allow Rosa any sort of outside contact, nor did he include her in his life at all. If the author intended for me to want to reach into the book and smack him, then she succeeded magnificently.In fact, none of the small cast of characters was very likable, although I did pity Rosa. I didn’t like how meek she was. I was often annoyed at her while feeling sorry for her at the same time.Trigger warning: There are some very harsh things in this book. I actually struggled with it quite a bit, because of a rape scene (easily skipped, but still very upsetting). That is something I try very hard to avoid reading. Honestly, if I’d known about the scene ahead of time, I wouldn’t have read the book.That being said, if you don’t mind harsher books, this was incredibly well written. It was a slow builder (think drama instead of action), and definitely gets under the skin.

Breaking the Lore By Andy Redsmith- ARC review

Nick Paris is a tough-as-nails, bitter detective, who probably drinks more than he should. Basically, he’s your typical main character in a crime thriller. However, the mystery he’s been thrown into is far from typical: he’s investigating the murder of a tiny fairy. The problem is, he doesn’t believe in magic and is in way over his head.

This book was funny and incredibly clever. I had no idea how the book was going to end, but I didn’t spend much time trying to solve things because I was so busy thoroughly enjoying myself. Nick Paris had a fantastic internal dialogue throughout. Add a loyal but dumb-as-they-come partner, a purple-haired witch, and a gigantic orphaned troll- this book was zany fun!

Things tended to be rather convoluted and confusing at times, but that only added to the fun. I felt bad for poor Nick for a good chunk of the book because he was so far out of his depth and it was an unusual situation for him. While he was a great character, my favorite was either Cassandra, the “magical expert” who took everything in stride and added a wonderful brand of sarcasm to the mix, or the chain-smoking crow. He just cracked me up.

This book was a joy to read, and I look forward to the next book in the series. I hope there will be many more.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Image result for breaking the lore book                                            This will be available to buy on April 15th

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

I absolutely loved this book! Ostensibly about an unsolved murder and disappearance that happened in 1862, this beautifully told book is really a commentary on time, and how events and people connect, despite seeming unrelated.

The book starts with an archivist, Elodie, finding a satchel with both a photograph of a beautiful woman and an artist’s rendition of a two-gabled house. The house sparks something in Elodie’s memory; something about a fairy tale she was told as a child. She’s drawn to the mystery of the house and the woman in the photograph.

Honestly, Elodie bothered me. She was incredibly naive and seemed to be fond of martyrdom. Thankfully, while the book begins with her, she’s not the main character and is actually in it very little. The main storyline is told from the point of view of Birdie, a clockmaker’s daughter. I can’t say much about her without giving anything away. Suffice it to say, she is an enthralling narrator.

The book follows several different characters living in Birchwood Manor over many years: there’s the widow with three young children; the girl from India; an artist with his muse, and several others. Despite not seeming to have anything in common, their narratives flow together like tributaries in a river, blending into one skillful tale.

The setting is as important as the events that unfold there and is used very skillfully. I was engrossed in this book, even though it’s not a genre I normally get excited over. I will be on the lookout for Kate Morton’s other books. She’s a wonderful weaver of narratives.

If you are able to get your hands on this book, you won’t be disappointed.

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

My husband found this for me at the library. I almost didn’t read it, once I realized that it was written by an athlete: that would have been a mistake. It was an enjoyable book, one that flies by because it’s so much fun.

This book is, as the title suggests, about Mycroft, Sherlock’s older brother. In fact, Sherlock appears in this book for less than five pages. I really liked that. Mycroft was written as a slightly less analytical, but more emotional genius and wasn’t overshadowed by the more well-known Sherlock.

In this book, Mycroft stumbles across a series of murders that seem to involve his fiance in some way. He travels to Trinidad with his best friend, Douglas, in an attempt to track her down and get to the bottom of things.

I loved Douglas. He was wise and long-suffering, without in any way being a Watson rip-off. In fact, this whole book walked the fine line between being an homage and being a copy with ease. It was a wholly original book.

My biggest complaint about it is that it rapidly switched from being a mystery to being an adventure novel. If I had gone into it knowing that it wasn’t going to be a mystery, I would have liked it more. Now that I have a better idea what to expect, I’m happily planning on reading the sequel, Mycroft and Sherlock.

The historical aspects of the book were well researched, the descriptions of the various places were vivid, and the story was fun. It was a fun addition to the Sherlock Holmes pastiche.

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Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Five years ago, when they were thirteen, Brynn and Mia’s best friend was murdered. Everyone thinks they did it, obsessed over a fictional world called Lovelorn. The thing is, they didn’t. In this book, Mia and Brynn decide to “go back to Lovelorn”, face their past, and try to discover what really happened.

This isn’t the sort of book I normally read. I have a very vivid imagination which means that thrillers can easily get to be too much for me. However, this was done in such a way that I was able to handle it. Not only that, but I was hooked. It’s much more than a who dunnit; it’s a study of human nature, and an examination of the many different facets of a person that the world doesn’t see.

I loved the way reality and a made-up world collided in the book as Mia, Brynn, and a few other characters tried to figure out the mystery. I was on the edge of  my seat, wondering whether the author would actually choose to divulge the answer, or leave me forever wondering.

The writing was skillful, weaving a story that was more about the survivors and how their lives were affected than about the murder in and of itself. That being said, there were a few difficult parts that I had to rush through: mainly, brief mentions of self-harm in two separate places, and a vague allusion to harassment.

I liked that the main reason the girls were suspects (aside from being the best friends) was that the murder matched one that they had described in a fan fiction they’d written; a fan fiction that no one else had read. I also thought the final few sentences in the book were flat-out brilliant.

All in all, while this isn’t a book I’ll reread, I did find it engrossing. I suggest it, but with the caveat that it does deal with some sensitive material. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, this is right up your alley.

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Crocodile on the Sandbank

                                   I have read Crocodile on the Sandbank, and the rest of the books in the Amelia Peabody mystery series, many times. I absolutely love them! They are fantastic, easy reads, perfect for when you’re in a busy season (such as the waking hours) and want a quick read.
The first book takes place in the late 1800’s, in Egypt. The feisty Amelia Peabody has decided to leave her home in England and travel. She’s reached an age where she could almost be considered a spinster, and wants to experience new places and cultures. Coming to Egypt, she encounters a mystery, complete with a kidnapping attempt and a surprisingly lively mummy.

While the mystery is certainly interesting, this is a book that you read because the characters are so enjoyable. If I’ve had a tough week, I tend to reread this book as a comfort. It’s fun and lighthearted.

Amelia Peabody is like a female Indiana Jones, only with a more acerbic wit. The other characters that you’ll meet are equally enjoyable.You’ll fall in love with this book if you give it a read.