Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Murder Month #re3 - Dead to the World

Yes, this is still a Murder Month post. I never said anywhere that I would't go back and reread/relisten to a story if the mood takes me. And you can blame Megan from Reading the Days Away for me going back to Dead to the World.

Now, if you haven't read my first review of Dead to the World, you can click on here and have a snoop. This is a relisten (aka a #re3) so I won't go too far in depth with the story.

Instead, let's talk about my experience with this.

I forgot how addictive Charlaine Harris can be. With Fool Me Once audiobook, it took me nearly 2 weeks to listen to just under 4 hours. With Dead to the World, it barely took me 3 days. I just got hooked into this world and the way Johanna Parker read Sookie. For me, the reader is quite important for an audiobook and Johanna just got the story.

However, the story itself might not come under Murder Month. There is a mystery with Sookie's brother, Jason, vanishing and while the mystery does take place over the course of the book, it's really Sookie's reaction and struggle to cope.

But with a memory-loss vampire, Eric, needing her protection and help, it doesn't take much of Sookie's mind as she believes the witches who hexed Eric are the same people who kidnapped Jason so the stories do run parallel until the end.

This is a fun read, and I do want to read more Sookie Stackhouse, but after trying (and failing) Fool Me Once audiobook, I just wanted something fun. And I did. It was good. Now I feel the itch to read/audiobook another Charlaine Harris *eyes the Midnight series (actually, I reviewed the first audiobook in the series, Midnight Crossroad, a few years ago...)

Monday, 23 May 2016

Murder Month - The Ersatz Elevator

I didn't think I could slip this book into this month. Which I was fine with. But when I researched this series randomly on Wiki, it said this series comes under Mystery (as well as gothic fiction, absurdist fiction & steampunk) so here it is.

After the events of The Austere Academy, the Baudelaire children are moved to 667 Dark Avenue to live with their new guardians, Jerome and Esme Squalor. But Violet, Klaus and Sunny know that Count Olaf will find them and will try to steal their fortune. But with friends in dire danger and no way to save them, what can the Baudelaire orphans do?

This is an odd book. The Austere Academy is the book in the series that really kicks off the long running mystery that the series has, and The Ersatz Elevator hints to little titbits that might solve the mystery of not only the mysterious deaths of the Baudelaire's parents, but also to Lemony Snicket himself.

But this is a book that falls on old patterns (if it aren't broke, don't fix it, right?) and while this is good for a younger reader (target audience is middle grade), for someone in their very VERY late 20s (I heard that snort of laughter), it feels a bit repetitive.

But, weirdly, I like this book a lot more than The Miserable Mill and The Austere Academy. It felt a little meatier, and because of the new developing mystery, I wonder if this is why. Because now it feels like the series is going somewhere and is adding new twists and characters that makes me think Lemony Snicket knows what he's doing, rather than just repeating the plot...

If you're a fan of the series, you can't skip this one. It introduces characters and ideas that, I hope, are important to the series. But if you haven't read this series, start at the beginning with The Bad Beginning and see how you go...

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Murder Month - Mystery and Mayhem

When I first heard of this collection of short stories, I was intrigued. Plus, this was when I actually started planning Murder Month (as in getting books/ebooks/audiobooks at the ready) so when I saw this on NetGalley, I couldn't resist requesting and holding for the best. To my surprise, I was approved (I'm not great at NetGalley books) so I started within a 48 hours of approval.

12 authors. 12 short stories. 12 mysteries to solve. Can you solve the crimes before the detectives do...?

Am going to keep this short as I don't want to go too in-depth as this is a collection of short mystery stories and I didn't make that many notes of these, but this feels perfect for middle-grade (oh, how I dislike this term! No idea why but I do) readers who enjoy reading mysteries.

And as this is a collection of stories, this is a cool way for readers to discover new authors and series (I believe three of these stories are connected to book series, published by Egmont and other publishers).

However, as this is a collection of short stories, this is a mixed bag. Some stories will grab your attention and others won't. It will depend on you and your tastes - some stories will just click with you, while others won't.

This sat in the middle of the road with me. Some of the stories just worked and I devoured, while others I just skimmed. But this is the nature of story collections.

Friday, 20 May 2016

#AwardUKYABBloggers 2016 - LONGLIST!

WE HAVE A LONGLIST! WE HAVE A LONG LIST!!! It's getting exciting now, isn't it?! 




Luna wanted to say thank you to all her little helpers (makes us sound like elves to her Santa. I'll take that. So, excuse me a few moments...) 

Amy McCaw @ YA Under My Skin

Andrew (HEY! THAT'S ME!) @ The Pewter Wolf
Annalise @ AnnaliseBooks
Chelley Toy @ Tales Of Yesterday
Georgia Stencel @ The Books Bandit
Kaavya @ outlookonabook
Rachel Kennedy @ Ya-bberingBooklover
Virginie @ Chouett


Voting for the SHORTLIST is via Luna’s Little Library who is hosting the UKYA Book Blogger Awards this year. Just follow this link here http://wp.me/p2oSQx-3Vy (this is due to some techy problems last time, so it's just easier all round to go to Luna's site and vote. 
The voting closes on Friday 27th May 2016 (SO VOTE! GO ON!)

Don’t forget to share the love by using the hashtag #awardukyabbloggers on Twitter (or on your Facebook - WHY NOT!) 

So, 26 UKYA bloggers made the UKYA Book Blogger Awards LONGLIST year (am confusing myself but from what I understand - Lunda can correct me if I am wrong - this longest covers all the categories and these got verifiable votes but not enough to make the short list). So, basically, your vote COUNTS A LOT! GO TO THE SITE AND VOTE LIKE HECK!!! Oh, the links below are to the peep's Twitter (bar one, which I couldn't find for love nor money so that link is to their blog... Hope that's ok!)

UKYA Book Blogger Awards LONGLIST
Annalise - Annalisebooks
Beth – Bibliobeth
Denise - The Bibliolater
Hollie -  Hollieblog
Huriyah & Nalisha - SugarQuills 
Jenny -  Wondrous Reads
Jessica - Paper Utopia
Julianne - This Fleeting Dream
Nicola - Nicola Reads YA
Olivia Mitchell – Rewrite This Story 
Rachel Kennedy - Ya-bberingBooklover
Sanne - booksandquills 
Good luck everyone! And remember...!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Murder Month - Lying About Last Summer

As soon as I heard this at the Scholastic Blogger Brunch, I knew I had to read it as soon as it came out, and with the thriller vibes I got off it when it was being described, I knew I had to read it sometime within this month.

Last summer, Skye's sister died. Her parents think sending Skye to a holiday camp for beggared teens will help her move on with her life. Move forward.

And, at first, the camp's not the bad. Yes, there are some people there that Skye dislikes and some of the activities remind Skye too much of her sister. But then the text messages start. The texts that can't be possible. As they sent on an messaging app, in a private group. And only two people know the passcode for the app. One is Skye and the other is her sister...

Is her sister talking to her? Is she really dead? Or is someone at the camp playing a cruel and sick game with Skye?

As you guys are aware, this is my Murder Month where I read books that have a crime/thriller/mystery element to them. And while this book does have a thriller/mystery element to it, what this book does really well is explore grief. Grief is a subject that some books, I have found, tackle very badly. Not all, but some. And as someone who has gone through grief/is going through grief (depending on how you look at me/it), it's refreshing to see a book that looks at grief and shows that every person goes through this very differently. We have several characters who are going through this and each character is going through it or is coping with it differently. This is refreshing to see.

The book itself is very interesting. There's something addicted about this book, and I can't put my finger on what it was that made me speed through. The writing was strong and the mystery over the mystery texter made me suspect every person about the camp. No one was safe from the "Who Doing This?". When the truth came out, I was surprised over it. I didn't see it coming.

This book, while keeping me on the edge of my seat, did have one or two problems. There was one storyline that I saw coming, and was surprised over how the characters missed it. Yes, I get they (and us) are caught up with the mystery texter, but I couldn't help getting annoyed over how not aware they were. Because of this, I wasn't the biggest fan of the final few pages. It could have been a little bit more meatier, I feel. Either more in depth or just an extra few pages.

I did find this an addictive read, and I can't wait to see what Sue writes next.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Murder Month - The Leaving

I remember Bloomsbury asking if I wanted to read this, and there were two reasons why I went yes. The first was the tag line - Six were taken. Five came back" and the second was the fact that this book was described as a must for We Were Liars fans. Even the author, E. Lockhart, wrote a tiny piece for this book on the cover (you might be able to just see it...)

Eleven years ago, six five-year-olds were taken without a trace. But eleven years has passed and five of them are back. They're sixteen and they are... fine. They are dumped in a playground in the dead of night and the five have to find their way home.

Scarlett returns to a house with a mother she barely recognised. She has no memory of what happened to her the past eleven years. But she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett too - but both can't remember anything from the past eleven years. They remember nothing.

And they or any of the others remember Max - the sixth victim. He hasn't come back and everyone want answers. Including Max's sister, Avery.

This is an interesting thriller. I sped through this and found it full of twists and "Wait! What?" moments. Once I found my stride (which was very quickly), I couldn't put this book down. It remembered me very strongly of We Were Liars. Both books tackle the issue of memory and ask "Can we trust our own memory?" and "Should we trust the narrators?" - something both authors do really well.

The story is told from 3 points of view: Scarlett, Lucas and Avery. Both Scarlett and Avery have unique storytelling techniques while Avery is the most straight-forward. This is the show the difference in what the characters went through.

And it was interesting to have each character see the aftermath of the disappearances and the re-appearances for themselves, even though Avery lived through it. It makes the characters interesting and complex.

The mystery was gripping. I really wanted to know why Scarlett, Lucas and the others couldn't remember what happened to them and why they only seem to remember one image. This is what kept me going forward. I had to know! And with Tara adding more and more twists, it more I wanted to know why.

I do have problems. Two, to be precise.

The first was how certain elements of the book were tackled. These kids have been missing for eleven years and yet, barring the start of the book, the media seems to nowhere to be seen. No one had to deal with journalists banging on their front door, trying to break it, phone hacking. There was very little of something I am sure the news outlet would crave. Plus, some characters acted not how I expected when their child returns to them after eleven years. Tiny elements just felt off and not true, somehow.

The second is the resolution. It's got to split readers. Some will get it and understand. Others will not and maybe feel checked. I'm somewhere in the middle. It makes sense to me and I get it, but I wish there was something more to it. I feel like it missed something. Maybe a reread is in order so I can see if I missed clues! But like I was saying, the ending is very much a Marmite ending - you either going to love it or hate it.

Though I sense this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, I found this a gripping read and believe fans of We Were Liars will devour it!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Murder Month - DNFing Fool Me Once

If you know me or my blog well, you guys know that I hate DNFing books/ebooks/audiobooks. Hate it so much. And with this themed Crime/Thriller month, I didn't want this to happen. I didn't want to DNF anything. So, the fact I DNF an audiobook I got for review is just... well... makes me feel like an awful book blogger.

But, like I have said in the past, audiobooks are my experiment reads. I always seem to want to try new things out on audiobooks in the past few months so it's lethal when Leanne from Midas emails me about upcoming audiobooks from Audible...

I have never read Harlan Coben before. But after I read the synopsis of Fool Me Once and watched the book trailer for it, I was very intrigued. It just sounded right up my street.

For those not aware of this book, Fool Me Once, Maya has just buried her husband. She has a two year old daughter and she suffers from PTSD from her days of being special ops. So when a friend gives her a nanny cam, Maya just takes it to please her friend. But early one morning, Maya checks the nanny cam, and sees something that isn't possible. Her dead husband playing with their daughter...

This screams that I would have liked it. A thriller where you can't be sure what's fact and fiction. Something that screams twists and turns. So, where did it go wrong? Why, after nearly four hours, I went "I have to stop"?

It's a mix of things, which reminds me that even though I like a genre, I'm not going to enjoy reading all the books within that genre.

The first thing is that I am not use to a slow thriller. I like my crime/thriller books to have pace, to have a hook. And this felt lacking. It was too slow paced for me.

Because of the pacing, I found myself getting bored very easily and had to push myself very hard to return to the story. This was my huge problem - I need a reason to return and that wasn't there.

I probably now sound nit-picky, but Maya, our lead... I had huge problems with her. I see what Harlan was trying to do. He wanted Maya to be an unreliable lead - like what we see in The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. He wanted us to mistrust her judgment. But I had issues with her. She wasn't likeable and I never warmed to her. And I never thought "Is this real?" as I think the story was told in third person. If it was told in first person, I think it would have kept my attention for longer.

Also, there were times I couldn't help but wonder. Did the author write this story with a male lead and then, either very late in the writing or in the edits, decided to change the lead's gender?

I have to say this again: I listened to under 4 hours worth so this isn't a review. So, why, WHY are you writing this post, I hear you cry? Because I don't want to lie and go "Look at all the cool crime books I read". I want to show you guys that I tried to be braver - try and push myself as a reader and blogger - and sometimes, it worked and otherwise, it didn't.

And that's not a bad thing. Some stories will grab you by the throat and make you sped through to the end, and others won't. That's not a bad thing, dear reader. It's a good thing to try new things and there's no shame in reading the first few pages and going "Actually, this isn't for me."


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Murder Month - The Blue Violet

And now for something a little lighter in this month of murder, we jump into the world of Wells and Wong in this short eNovella, The Case of the Blue Violet. Instead of being a case of murder, this short is a story about a letter...

Daisy Wells, President of the Detective Society, writes this tale where one of the Big Girls in their school - Deepdean School for Girls - asked Daisy and Vice-President of the Detective Society, Hazel Wong, to help over a very puzzling romantic mystery. Which should be easy - Daisy and Hazel have solved three murders, after all...

I have to admit that this is quite short and is a filler for the series (this takes place between the third and fourth books in the series, First Class Murder and Jolly Foul Play). So fans of the series will like this a lot as it's a quick teaser to fill the time between books.

What fans will like about this short is that, while the mystery is gentle and perfect for younger readers (and after all the very adult-heavy crime I have been reading - this was hugely refreshing!), but this tale is told from Daisy's point of view, and her voice is hugely different from Hazel, who writes the novels. She's much lighter compared to Hazel, less serious and is more impulsive. I can see what Robin Stevens wrote this short over mysterious love letters from Daisy's point of view, rather than Hazel's, who is more suited for the seriousness of murder. Daisy's voice would be far too jarring.

This is probably a good taster for new fans who want to try and see if they like this series. And this is very much a fan story.

However, if you are an older reader, you might find this far too light and fluffy. But you might want to check out the series as this does tackle murder and the plots are fiendishly clever. I have two to read and I can't wait to get start.