The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant, #6) by Ben Aaronovitch

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date Read: November 14 to December 19, 2016
Recommended by:
Recommended to:

The tag line on the cover says: Back in London, back in trouble which pretty much sums up this book. We’re back in London, and Peter Grant and friends are back in trouble. And it’s the same kind of trouble that’s been plaguing them since Moon Over Soho.

But finally, we stop chasing after ghosts and faceless mysteries and come face to face with the man behind the mask. And there really is a face behind that mask. This reveal was indeed a surprise, but whether or not it does anything for the series’ continuous arc will depend on how it plays out in later books.

This book picks up a month or two following the events in Foxglove Summer, and the trouble all started when one of the Thames sisters called in a favor from Peter. What started out as a simple, straightforward investigation into whether a teenage girl’s drug overdose was accidental or deliberate turned into a huge Falcon case, uncharacteristically complete with a huge revelation at the end. Not as big, imo, as the ending of Broken Homes, but it’s relatively seismic as far as revelations go in this series.

With that said, I must admit I’m mostly lukewarm toward this book in particular, and I’ve been mulling over it for a few months now, trying to figure out why that is. The writing isn’t that different from previous books.

“So when a bunch of fucking kids waltz into the building, the DPG wants to know how. And I get woken up in the middle of the fucking night,” said Seawoll. “And told to find out on pain of getting a bollocking. Me?” he said in outrage. “Getting a bollocking? And just when I thought things couldn’t descend further into the brown stuff–here you are.”

As a matter of fact, it’s very much in line with previous books in terms of quality, plotting, pacing, humor, adventures and misadventures. Peter and the rest of the gang are developing and progressing at their usual pace–I very much enjoyed every scene with Seawoll and Stephanopoulos.

“So he’s a French fairy tale,” said Seawoll and turned to look, thank god, at Nightingale instead of me. “Is he?”
“That’s a difficult question, Alexander,” said Nightingale.
“I know it’s a difficult question, Thomas,” said Seawoll slowly. “That’s why I’m fucking asking it.”
“Yes, but do you want to know the actual answer?” said Nightingale. “You’ve always proved reluctant in the past. Am I to understand that you’ve changed your attitude?”
“You can fucking understand what you bloody like,” said Seawoll. “But in this case I do bloody want to know because I don’t want to lose any more officers to things I don’t fucking understand.” He glanced at me and frowned. “Two is too many.”

[…]

Generally when you’re interviewing somebody and they seem remarkably calm about one crime, it’s because they’re relieved you haven’t found out about something else.

Plus, there are plenty of humorous moments scattered throughout the book, and Peter is still his usual funny, likable self. So it’s just like previous books.

Bollocks, I thought, or testiculi or possibly testiculos if we were using the accusative.

[…]

“What I’m saying here,” Seawoll had said, “is try to limit the amount of damage you do to none fucking whatsoever.”
I don’t know where I got this reputation for property damage, I really don’t–it’s totally unfair.

[…]

“I’m planning to blow up some phones for science.”

And yet…

Something’s missing. Something’s not quite there anymore. And I don’t know why.

Maybe the timing wasn’t quite right when I read it. Or maybe I’m just tired of chasing after faceless nemeses–both of ’em.

I’m all for more Peter and more (mis)adventures in London. But more faceless mysteries and/or conspiracies? Nah, that’s okay.

I could read back to back stories of Peter running around London solving all sorts of mysterious happenings, and they may even be unrelated to each other and the series’ arc, and that would be fine. Actually, I would love that. But more mysterious faceless happenings? Thanks, but no thanks.

However, I am looking forward to the next installment and being back in London and back in trouble because, honestly despite the gripe, this series is still one of best urban fantasies out there, and every single book is a blast.

Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1) by Meghan Ciana Doidge

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Rating: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
Date Read: February 04 to 06, 2016
Recommended by: Vaginal Fantasy Group
Recommended to:

A few good things about this book is that it’s a quick read, doesn’t take much effort, and currently free in ebook form. Can’t say I enjoyed it, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s just okay and I’m mostly neutral toward the story as a whole. Well, I’m mostly neutral toward a lot of things these days, and this book just happened to catch me at a bad time.

I’m currently going through another reading slump and haven’t found anything un-put-down-able yet, so I’m picking up and putting down a lot of different books in a short amount of time, hoping to find one that’ll capture my interest for more than a few pages. This book did okay even with those odds against it. Although to be honest, I might not have finished if it hadn’t been a book club pick because of the writing. It’s very derivative and you can tell it’s heavily influenced by more famous urban fantasy series featuring female leads with unique powers that all the paranormal guys wanna get with. Primarily Sookie Stackhouse and whoever are the stars of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s and Kresley Cole’s books come to mind. So it’s very noticeably derivative in most, if not all, PNR sense.

But it’s got one thing going for it that other “edgy” series lack, and that’s an undertone of sweetness to the main character and setting–there’s a reason the cover features a cupcake. She’s sweet but rather naive about the world in which she lives. But don’t they all start out this way though?

So if you like baking, sweets, baking sweets, Vancouver, and some romance and magic in your urban fantasy, then you might like this book. You might even think it’s cute, and I suppose it is. It’s a light fluffy dessert that, while not a good fit for my particular salty palate, can be enjoyable for people who like Sarah Addison Allen’s books.

Review: Archangel’s Blade (Guild Hunter, #4) by Nalini Singh

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Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Date Read: January 24 to 27, 2016
Recommended by:
Recommended to: no one

There was a good reason for my abandoning this book a couple of years ago: too much pain and suffering, which isn’t exactly what I have issue with. It’s the way these things are written about that bothers me. You can’t slip in sexy times or eye-sexing in between episodes of PTSD, or while on a hunt for a depraved killer, and expect me to take the story seriously. Bad timing is incredibly bad here.

So many issues, but where to begin. I have to emphasize one thing right away though. This book is not representative of the previous three, which were good. They have their own issues, but they’re good (for PNR). This one though… There’s something about it that’s quite disjointed. It was not so much content but the pacing that did it for me. I kept getting pulled out of the story every few pages. It was to either roll my eyes or facepalm because of all the inappropriately timed sexing going on. Like seriously, is that all these characters think about? Even while chasing a bloodthirsty psychopath?

There were things that bothered me about this series as a whole, but the world building and mythology were interesting enough that they overshadowed them. This book, though again, I don’t know. It feels to me like Nalini Singh took all the problems of the previous books and ramped them up, but she neglected to bring back the things that made the previous books memorable. So all that’s left is pain and misery… and a lot of–angsty?–sex*.

As interesting as the world and mythology and angels are**, I cannot put up with Singh’s oversexed writing style anymore. It’s just so over the top and takes itself too seriously. It’s ridiculous and quite comical how dramatic everything is. Doesn’t help that the main characters keep stripping each other with their eyes. *facepalm* These two really know how to ruin a moment… and a whole book.

A big thanks to Milda for reading this book with me because otherwise I would have abandoned it for the second time.

 

* There isn’t really that much literal sex. It just feels like there is because Dmitri and Honor keep thinking about it.

** They really are–so much so that I wish another author had written this series

 

The more I think about it, the more I think this series could be amazing in Max Gladstone’s hands.

Review: A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date Read: October 13 to 15, 2015
Read Count: 1
Available on Tor.com

A delightful little story that goes well with this time of year. Only downside is it’s too short. I hope Max Gladstone decides to expand on it because there are enough ideas here for a delightful full-length novel.

Ever wonder what Vlad the Impaler would be like as a family man going through a mid-life crisis? OF COURSE. That was how this story got me.

After hundreds of years as a vampire, Vlad falls for a human woman and decides to settle down and build a home with her. Together they have a son who is now 7 years old and has been having problems in school. Other than that, the family seems very happy, if only on the surface.

The story opens with Vlad bored out of his mind with domesticity. He misses his old life–blood, gore, and all, especially the blood–and reminisces constantly throughout the day. Pretending to be human used to be fun, because it was a game to him, but now after ten years, it’s a life (that often feels like a life sentence). The novelty has worn off some time ago, and Vlad begins to feel his old self trying to come back. He doesn’t let it though; he’s got too much to lose.  There is, however, one bright spot in his dull existence, and that’s his son’s teacher. He meets with her every week to discuss the boy’s schoolwork, and the more time he spends with her, the more he feels his old urges returning.

This story did not go where I thought it would go, which was a nice surprise. It makes me like it all the more for breaking out of the tired old urban-vampire trope. What I enjoyed most about this story, even more so than Vlad, is the prose. There’s a natural flow to it that’s pleasant to read, but at the same time, it’s got a bite to it, not unlike Vlad’s real teeth. There’s a sharpness and crispness to the structure that appeals to me.

Vlad no longer shows his wife his sharp teeth. He keeps them secret in his gums, waiting for the quickened skip of hunger, for the blood-rush he almost never feels these days.

The teeth he wears instead are blunt as shovels. He coffee-stains them carefully, soaks them every night in a mug with ‘World’s Best Dad’ written on the side. After eight years of staining, Vlad’s blunt teeth are the burnished yellow of the keys of an old unplayed piano. If not for the stain they would be whiter than porcelain. Much, much whiter than bone.

[…]

A game, he tells himself. Humans hunt these days, in the woods, in the back country, and they do not eat the meat they kill. Fisherman catch fish to throw them back. And this night run is no more dangerous to him than fishing to an angler. He leaves his oxfords on the schoolhouse rooftop and runs barefoot over buildings and along bridge wires, swift and soft. Even if someone beneath looked up, what is he? Wisp of cloud, shiver of a remembered nightmare, bird spreading wings for flight. A shadow among shadows.

[…]

He can’t go on like this. Woken, power suffuses him. He slips into old paths of being, into ways he trained himself to forget. One evening on his home commute he catches crows flocking above him on brownstone rooftops. Black beady eyes wait for his command.

This is no way to be a father. No way to be a man.

But Vlad was a monster before he was a man.

[…]

“Might as well kill me now.”

“I won’t.”

“I’m a monster.”

“You’re just more literal than most.”

Other than Vlad’s false teeth, nothing is conventional about the domesticity in this story.

 

Instead of accountant, Vlad should have been a dentist. I mean, come on, huge missed opportunity there.

Review: Fated (Alex Verus #1) by Benedict Jacka

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(tentative) Rating: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
Date Read: September 19 to 23, 2015
Read Count: 1
Recommended by: Gergana
Recommended for: people who’ve never read Harry Dresden
(not) Recommended for: fans of Harry Dresden

In many ways this book is what I wanted from the Dresden Files: Dresden’s world and magic minus Dresden himself. I’m sure if I’d read it before Storm Front, I would’ve liked it more because it’s urban fantasy in the traditional sense with a mystery and a reluctant protagonist with magical abilities caught in the middle of a magical war between two opposing sides.

I’m conflicted though…because I actually kind of like this book and I kind of hated Storm Front. The problem is I’ve never liked a–plagiarized? carbon-copy? fan fiction?–inspired work more than the original before, so I’m very conflicted.

Alex Verus is a mage living in London who dabbles in magic and does his best to avoid other mages. He’s currently not attached to any magical factions and would like to stay that way, but that doesn’t stop trouble from finding him. Fated opens with Lyle, an old acquaintance and aid to a respected but shady light mage, requesting his help with a mysterious artifact. The light mages can’t open this thing and would like to know if Alex knows a way to crack it. He turns Lyle down at first since he’d rather keep his distance from mages in general. However, Lyle seeking him out means the light mages are out of options, and he owes it to them to help. At first he is reluctant, but is soon pulled into the job when his close friend’s life (Luna) is threatened because of her connection to the artifact. What starts out as a simple job turns into a race to keep the artifact out of the wrong hands.

It’s hard to judge this book on its own merits because there are echoes of Dresden all over the place. Benedict Jacka borrows quite a lot from Jim Butcher–too much, in my opinion; an embarrassing amount, in my honest opinion–but I do prefer his writing style over Butcher’s because I sort of like Alex Verus. Not enough to continue the series, but a whole lot more than Dresden. Let’s compare the two, shall we.

Alex Verus is a diviner (pre-cog; clairvoyant), otherwise he is very much like Harry Dresden, almost in every way except he has a more toned-down personality and his casual chauvinism isn’t flaunted about like a hockey stick. And Alex Verus’ world, though set in London, is very much inspired by Harry Dresden’s Chicago, from the urban magic to the magical politics to the magical factions–light mages vs. dark mages. Just like Harry, mages from both sides seek out Alex’s services. Just like Harry, he is a reluctant player/pawn in their games. Just like Harry, he has a dark mysterious past. Just like Harry, the light side avoids dealing with him because of his past. Just like Harry, he leans more toward dark than light. Just like Harry, he suffered for years under the tutelage of an abusive mentor, and just like Harry, he overcame the abuse to pave his own way in the magical world. What he did to his mentor is not quite the same thing Harry did to his, though the result is the same. Oh, and the light mages have a council called the light council. Of course they do.

When you lay it all out like that, it’s hard to ignore the overlap, and the overlap is strong in this one. Of course there are differences between the characters too, but they seem rather inconsequential in light of all these “similarities.” However, Jim Butcher isn’t bothered, so I suppose I shouldn’t be either. I mean, it’s not like I’m a fan of the Dresden books or anything. It makes no difference to me how much this book is “inspired by” Dresden; it’s just too hard to ignore these things.

So if you like the Dresden Files, there’s a good chance you’ll like this series. If you’re a big fan of Dresden, you might be offended on Butcher’s behalf. Or you might not. Who knows. If you’ve never read Dresden, even better. Overall though, this book is not a terrible read.

 

People point to this line as the tip of the hat to Butcher:

“I’ve heard of a guy in Chicago who advertises in the phone book under “Wizard”,though that’s probably a urban legend.”

But I think it’s actually this line that’s the true homage:

Luna didn’t look up and I rolled my eyes heavenwards, just barely stopping myself from saying something that I knew would make things worse. First I had to drag her here, now she was refusing to leave. I can see the freaking future and women still don’t make sense. 

Oh, Alex. So close, so damn close. You almost had me until this part. Just like Storm Front, casual chauvinism is thrown in as part of characterization, but here in Fated, it happens less frequently and is more toned-down when it surfaces. For much of the book, I was willing to overlook stilted prose, long expositions, awkward dialogue, cartoonish villains, several plot holes (especially the multiple-futures one), and even plagiarism because I knew this was a first book and first books are often not good, but I can’t overlook casual chauvinism as part of characterization. It grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. So lifting so much from the Dresden books without adding anything new to it, while keeping Dresden’s obnoxious chauvinism seems, like a missed opportunity.

 

So enough of that. Now that my reading slump has lifted, I’m gonna stop dawdling and really get down to business.

UF series I’m looking forward to explore next are (in no certain order):

  • The Others by Anne Bishop
  • Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey
  • California Bones by Greg van Eekhout
  • Fated Blades by Steve Bein
  • Caeli-Amur by Rjurik Davidson
  • Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara (West)

These have been on my mind for some time now and I have a feeling they’re all amazing, but I’ve been putting them off with the excuse of “saving” them for a better time. But there’s no time like the present, and it’s unlikely that I will get any time off in the near future to really enjoy these books, so onward already to amazing UF’s. What I get to first will depend on what’s available at the library.

Review: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date Read: July 16 to August 24, 2015
Read Count: 1
Recommended by: friends
Recommended to: people who like PNR that’s heavy on the PN and light on the R

I’m always on the lookout for urban fantasy series that look interesting or might be good, always hopeful that the next series I pick up is The One. In my search for such books, I’ve stumbled on quite a few duds, most of them being formulaic paranormal romances where the heroine is a special magical something who draws the attention of almost every beefy alpha male werewolf, fae, vampire, garden gnome in the vicinity. I’ve read enough of these to know why they’re popular, but they’re not for me because the focus is on romance and so everything else–setting, world building, mythology, magic, actual paranormal things–takes a backseat to the romance. And so, I’ve come to not expect much from urban fantasy or things marketed as “urban fantasy” but are actually romance with some paranormal stuff thrown in.

With that said, Moon Called is mostly UF with quite a few classic PNR features, and it’s also one of the better written first books/intros in UF-PNR. I find it good overall but slow to start and took me a long time to get into. I didn’t get pulled in until near the end, and I almost gave up several times. Glad I pushed on, but it makes me not want to pick up the next book. If it’s anything like this book, I would probably DNF early on.

In spite of not being able to get into it, I did like many parts of this book, and the book as a whole would most definitely be a good read for urban fantasy/paranormal romance romance lovers. The writing is solid: interesting setting (Pacific Northwest), interesting magic and mythology (Native American shapeshifters, European vampires, fae of mysterious origins), strong female lead with an interesting background (she’s a were-coyote), and a ton of paranormal activity (mostly werewolf politics, power struggles, and conspiracies).

I liked much of this book, mostly because it has all the ingredients that appeal to me, or I should say ingredients that should appeal to me, but there’s just no heat, no pull, almost no connection–not referring to the lack of sexy times. I feel no sense of urgency to start the next book. What I do feel is an overwhelming lukewarm feeling. I mean, I appreciate Mercy as a character (auto mechanic with a degree in history) and her struggles as she live among werewolves in their male-dominated world. And then there are the worlds of the fae and vampires which she has to navigate through. We only see glimpses of fae and vampires in this book which I hope to see more of, should I continue the series.

All of this should be very interesting to me, and it is. But again, no chemistry nor urgency. I feel no desire to continue Mercy’s journey.

But in spite of that, there are a few notable moments to break up the slow pacing.

I have a degree in history, which is one of the reasons I’m an auto mechanic.

[…]

MS. THOMPSON, it said in heavy block letters, PLEASE KEEP YOUR FELINE OFF MY PROPERTY. IF I SEE IT AGAIN, I WILL EAT IT.

[…]

“Mine,” he said.

Adam’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think so. She is mine.”

It would have been flattering, I thought, except that at least one of them was talking about dinner and I wasn’t certain about the other.

[…]

My mother once told me that you had to trust that the first thing out of a person’s mouth was the truth. After they have a chance to think about it, they’ll change what they say to be more socially acceptable, something they think you’ll be happier with, something they think will get the results they want.

*

* *

* * *

* * * * spoilers * * * *

Continue reading

Review: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date Read: November 30 to December 03, 2014
Read Count: 1
Recommended by:
Recommended for:

The movie is scarier, mostly because of the visuals, but also partly because it lets you assume that perhaps whatever possessed Regan MacNeill may not really be the devil but an unknown entity. The book, however, makes no allowances for alternative interpretations. It is Satan without a doubt, and I think that actually lessens the chilling effect, that the culprit is so obvious.

Perhaps evil is the crucible of goodness… and perhaps even Satan–Satan, in spite of himself–somehow serves to work out the will of God.

Other factors that also lessen the story are the overtly religious tone in the writing and long-winded religious explanations of signs and symptoms Regan exhibited. What makes them long-winded is the way in which they supposedly tie into a religious narrative, specifically that of Roman Catholicism. Many people find the religious aspects of the story frightening, and I can certainly see why, but for me, I find them too conveniently laid out for a story about the depths of evil.

So I couldn’t help but come up with a couple of fairly reasonable explanations for Regan’s deteriorating health and mental state. Medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds since the 1970’s when this book was written, and thus I think it’s safe to say that medical testings at the time didn’t yield that many valuable answers. So let’s look at Regan’s health under a different light.

Instead of demonic possession, here are a few things I think could have caused Regan to go off the rails:

  • severe food allergy (probably gluten)
  • toxic mold in the house (particularly in her bedroom)
  • some kind of long-term poisoning (I’d rule out lead, although it explains Regan’s behavior as she deteriorated, it would have shown up on lab results)
  • vitamin deficiency

I lean more toward the severe food allergy angle because celiac disease, if left untreated according to people who develop it later in life, can lead to neurological deterioration and all sorts of skin and gastrointestinal problems, which is in line with Regan’s symptoms as described in the book. Many of these people went undiagnosed for a long time simply because they had no idea what was wrong with them, and they continued to consume gluten on a regular basis while it built up in their system, and over time the amount of gluten they amassed caused all sorts of health and mental problems. Some even thought they were going insane–they actually said it felt like they were losing their minds (Jennifer Esposito’s story). So perhaps Regan wasn’t possessed; perhaps she had celiac disease, but there had been no way to test for it at the time.

I don’t mean to sound like a cynic though. I am open to the possibility that all sorts of supernatural things exist and like to go bump in the night, and that’s why I enjoy the SF/F genre so much. But this particular book makes it too difficult for me to buy into the conclusion that the culprit can’t be anything but demonic possession.

Of course I’m not a medical professional, just someone who knows a bit about food allergies and likes to poke holes in popular books. If you are a medical professional, feel free to correct me and/or add your own take on demonic possessions.

Review: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: September 10 to 13, 2013
Read count: 3

Even though I’ve read this book a few times before, it’s just as good as the first time.

Alice Hoffman has what I call a cinematic style of bringing fairy-tale-like narrations to contemporary story and setting, specifically New England. So it’s no surprise when this book was turned into a movie not long after publication. As a matter of fact, the movie is better known than the book. There are people who still don’t know the movie is only an adaptation.

Book

  • What I’ve always liked about this book is that it stays true to the traditions of fairy tales in that consequences are serious and often times permanent, ugly, and have a way of catching up to you. No action goes unpunished.
  • What I’ve come to like and understand about the characters in this book is that Hoffman writes female characters in her own particular way. Although these characters are grounded in their emotions and repeatedly influenced by mysterious magical entities, they seem most realistic, most relateable, when they are at their most vulnerable moments.
  • What I still don’t like about the story is how Jimmy’s ghost is dealt with so easily just by having the aunts come to Sally’s house and whisking him away. I enjoy the haunting and darker elements of the story up until this point.

Movie

  • Both the book and movie are different enough for each to stand on its own.
  • What the movie has, and the book lacks, is a fun sunny New England atmosphere, whereas the tone and atmosphere in the book are dark, foreboding, though still New England.
  • Sally and Gillian, as portrayed in the movie, lack the depth, devotion, and connection that Sally and Gillian in the book have; however, the movie makes up for it by showing the sisters’ stories as they unfold, instead of telling, which is what the book does in much of the narration.
  • Magic and the Aunts play bigger roles in Sally’s and Gillian’s lives here and adds a closeness and a familial layer to the story that isn’t in the book.

Audio

  • This story translates very well to audio. It’s as though it was written to be read aloud.

Original review can be found here.

Review: Spook Squad (PsyCop, #7) by Jordan Castillo Price

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: September 06 to 08, 2013
Read count: 1

“You, my friend, are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a polyester blend.”

This line perfectly describes Vic and his attitude toward all things in life.

What I like most about these books is that you get a strong sense of Chicago in the background. You can tell the author knows her setting well, and you can feel each street and neighborhood through the writing. There’s both history and life at these locales. No matter how posh downtown Chicago is trying to be these days, it can’t shake off its violent gritty past.

As with each book, Vic’s adventures and powers grow in increments, and at the end of the book, it’s his journey of self-discovery that keeps the stories engaging.

— — — — —

Love the cover art, btw. Although he’s still scowling, there does seem to be more confidence in his pose.

Original review can be found here.

— — — — —

Among the Living (PsyCop #1)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date read: May 31 to June 01, 2012
Read count: 1

Criss Cross (PsyCop, #2)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 01 to 02, 2012
Read count: 1

Body and Soul (PsyCop, #3)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 02 to 03, 2012
Read count: 1

Secrets (PsyCop, #4)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: June 03 to 04, 2012
Read count: 1

Camp Hell (PsyCop #5)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: June 05 to 06, 2012
Read count: 1

GhosTV (PsyCop #6)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 06 to 10, 2012
Read count: 1

Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date read: August 16 to 25, 2013
Read count: 1

If you have ever lost someone suddenly, unexpectedly, and all those feelings are still fresh and open, then the last few chapters of this book will get to you.

I love when poets write prose because the stories they tell are beautiful in both form and subject matter. Poets understand language structure in ways non-poet novelists don’t (or can’t). They understand the importance of a single turn of phrase or choosing the right word for the right moment to tie the whole story together. Prose is more than a means to move the plot along or to pile on with descriptions of places and things; it’s a space to fill with people’s—not characters’s—most disturbing thoughts. These are the things we don’t get to see in other people—that we wish we could know—that are revealed in writing that makes narration so important in a story.

Jason Mott is a great weaver of simple words, basic sentences, and vivid depictions of various forms of grief, and his writing feels very grounded in reality. Once settled into the story, you don’t feel the pull of his writing, or the emotional depth of the story, until you find yourself deep in the heart of the problem and in the mystery of the returns. And then you begin to think about all the people you’ve lost over the years and whether or not they might return. And what would happen if they do.

The literary-awards, as well as film/TV-rights, buzz surrounding Mr. Mott and this book are well deserved. Personally, though, I hate when good books are turned into spectacles, but spectacles are their destinies these days.

To say anymore about it would be intruding on your experience of this book, should you choose to read it. In the event that you do, I don’t want to be the person to ruin it for you. (Other reviewers are doing a pretty good job of that already—ha ha… *facepalm*. There’s an html spoiler code for a reason, people.)

* * * spoilers below * * * 

But why only~ 4 stars? Because I don’t like the way events were wrapped up. Too made-for-Lifetime-movie for me.

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Just got the ARC in the mail. Can’t wait to start. I’ve been looking forward to this book for a couple of months now.

I’d like to thank the people at Harlequin Books for sending me a copy to enjoy.

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Poets writing prose is probably one of my favorite literary things ever. Combine that with people returning from the grave for reasons yet to be known and I am hooked.

Original review can be found here.