Top Ten Tuesday : 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

I actually did a very similar post just before Christmas but the theme today gives me the opportunity to highlight a few more books that I didn’t manage to get to.  I know, I am suitably ashamed.  I tried to read them all but my over enthusiastic optimism of wanting far too many books got the better of me I’m  afraid. Plus, last year was definitely a bit of a write off for me and my blogging and reading suffered as a result.  Hopefully, I can catch up with some of these books this year in fact I have a couple of ideas for challenges that I think some of these books will be perfect for:

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

GameChanger

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

unsettled

The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan

TheBrokenGod

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

The22

Spirits of Vengeance (A Mortal Techniques novel) by Rob J Hayes

Spirits of

Given to Darkness by Phil Williams

GiventoD

The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach by Jas Treadwell

ThomasPeach

I shot the Devil by Ruth McIver

ISTD

The House of Dust by Noah Broyles

THoD

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

LastGirl

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this one

AFlicker

A Flicker in the Dark is a psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages into the dead of night looking for clues.  I loved this, it held me absolutely gripped, the premise is really good and the execution impressive, even more impressive when you consider this is a debut.  Let’s just say I will be eagerly awaiting this author’s next book.

So, why did I like the premise for this one.  Well, it takes a look at things from a slightly different angle than I’m used to but let me first set the scene.  Twenty years ago Chloe Davis, a young and impressionable 12 year old, was instrumental in the arrest and conviction of her seemingly mild mannered father for the murder of six young girls.  The impact on the family was terrible.  Chloe and her brother Cooper (Coop) were shunned and their mother, unable to live with the shame tried to take her own life.  Twenty years later Chloe and Coop have been able to move forward with their lives.  Chloe now lives in Baton Rouge, she managed to escape her childhood home and is a successful woman running her own psychology practice and about to marry the man of her dreams.  I don’t think I’ve read many books from the point of view of the serial killer’s family, or in this case, the daughter and this really intrigued me.

On the face of it Chloe is coping well but scratch the surface and she is in emotional turmoil, barely keeping her head above water and desperately trying to hold things together with the aid of illicit drugs so you can imagine the downward spiral she suffers when young girls from Baton Rouge start to go missing in a strangely similar style to the murders from her past.  Is a copycat on the loose?

The story pretty soon spirals.  Chloe manages to get herself involved in the investigation and subsequently discredited and there’s very much a feeling of her losing the plot and in fact becoming an unreliable narrator.  She makes some questionable decisions that leave you feeling flabbergasted and there’s this bewildering increase in tension as she jumps from one theory to the next.  I loved that the author kept me guessing.  I was jumping about wildly in much the same way Chloe was, which I admit may be down to the fact that I’m not a seasoned crime reader, but I found myself suspecting everyone at one point or another.  I did guess one of the plot points but I won’t give that away here.  No spoilers from me, nosirree.

I enjoyed the writing, I thought the pacing was excellent and I had no problem liking Chloe in fact I felt a little exasperated on her behalf at times (although, she did make some dodgy decisions not to mention was keeping a couple of skeletons in her closet that didn’t make her look good).  I really liked the way we flipped back and forth from the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ and I thought Willingham provided an impressive number of red herrings to lead me astray.

Basically, I don’t think there’s too much more I can add without walking the path of spoilers.  All I can say is that I really enjoyed this, it was totally gripping and I would have no hesitation in recommending it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

This week I feel I’ve been getting back into the swing of things.  I feel like my reading is also getting back on track.  Basically, I lost my reading mojo a little over late December/early January so I’ve put down the books I was reading and tried some different styles to freshen things up a little – a factory reset if you will and I will return to those books soon.  So, my reading has been picking up, I completed and reviewed Rachel Hawkin’s Restless Girls.  I liked it but I think the ending took me by surprise a little.  I also read and loved A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham – my review will be up tomorrow – and I started A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross.  This is maybe slightly slower than I anticipated, I’m almost a third in but its an easy read and I’m keen to see what’s going on in the enchanted Isle of Cadence.

Books read this week:

Next Week’s Reads:

I’m hoping to complete  A River Enchanted by Rachel Ross and make a start on Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.  I also can’t deny that The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan is not so much calling me as positively shouting my name right about now – so who knows, I might swap things around.

Reviews Posted since last week:

  1. The Maid by Nita Prose
  2. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

Outstanding reviews:

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Mid Monthly Musings: positive reviews

Once a month I thought I’d muse about something that has occurred to me and might be of interest.

This month my thoughts centre around reviews.  How do you review – the good and the bad?

As a reviewer I’m probably considered to be something of a raging softie.  Most of my reviews are positive and glowing and I have a high average rating on sites such as Goodreads (4.2).

Harsh reviews are not really my style – and that isn’t a criticism of other reviewer’s style but more a reflection of my nature.  Basically, I think I’m anti-confrontation and even if I start out a review that is a bit snarky I eventually work my way back and remove all the sarcasm. I think In that respect I’m probably a bit old school, you know, ‘if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all’ although I think I’m much better these days at including criticisms in my reviews.  But, more than that, over the years I’ve changed my reading ethos.

Years ago, if I picked up a book – I completed a book.  It was almost like a badge of honour or something.  Even if I really wasn’t enjoying that book, even if picking it up was slowly robbing me of my reading mojo and making me miserable, I’d press on to the bitter end.  And, let’s be honest, reading a book that you’re not enjoying does make you feel a little bitter and resentful.  I think part of this was also related to eternal optimism – like, any minute now this book is sure to pick up coupled with my ‘need to know how everything concludes’ personality.  But, really, how far are you going to read on before you come to the realisation that this book just isn’t for you?  How far do you read before deciding to put a book down?  This is where my change slowly but surely came about.  For me, life is too short to read something I’m not enjoying.  There are plenty of books out there and a lot of those books I simply know I’m going to love.  What there isn’t a lot of out there is time.  Time is a precious thing and something I want to use to make me happy whenever possible. Selfish much?

Now of course, that means that most of my reviews are positive (because obviously I still have the odd book where the desire to know the ending wins the battle over the ‘I’m not enjoying this and want to put it down’ battle).  Obviously this is a mixed bag because how can all my reviews be so positive?  Does this mean I have no real discernment?  Can I be trusted to write honest to goodness reviews that others can believe in?  I hope so and that’s partly what these musings are about.  Of course my reviews are mostly positive – I don’t read anything I’m not enjoying.  Of course, there is the odd spanner in the works where I’m really enjoying a book right up to the point that the ending takes a nosedive and goes totally crazy.  I do review such books – oddly enough those reviews where I have very mixed feelings are usually the most popular!

That brings me to another issue.  Negative reviews.  Yes, they are necessary imo.  They help to strike a balance and I admit that I always read the negative reviews along with the positive because it’s interesting to read other people’s take.  We’re all different after all and to find a book without any negative reviews is probably impossible.  I take my hat off to those people who press on and read a book to the end even if it’s a bit of a struggle.

There is an element to my psyche that thinks I should complete some of the books that I’m not really enjoying so that I might have some less than positive reviews.  But, you know, I just can’t do it.  It brings me down.

So, I’m not entirely sure where this month’s musings are going other than to get something out there that’s been on my mind for a little while.

What do you think?  Should I read the Good, the Bad and the Ugly?  How far do you read up to if you’re not enjoying a book?

Friday Face Off : As pure as the driven snow

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white

This is a difficult choice to make because I like both sets for different reasons.  I love the stark imagery of the black and white covers.  They’re simplistic and something about the tone speaks of the grim times within the pages.  I also love that the imagery blends traditional fantasy elements with something new and modern which is very much a reflection of the changing times depicted.  The second set of covers are also amazing.  The artwork is outstanding.  If you really scroll in past the central images and take a look at everything that’s going on.  Again, they have imagery that shows the turbulent times of change and the colours make them absolutely pop.  It’s so difficult to choose a favourite so I’ve gone for a favourite cover from each series:

I love these two – the first feels like traditional fantasy imagery but the extra details like the broken chains, and are they little spatters of blood?  I love that cover.  The very colourful cover for a Little Hatred has a fantastic skyline with chimneys belching out smoke – it’s a real reflection of the changing times.

Do you have a favourite?

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
25th – A book of few words – a one word title
Apr
1st Spring forward – compare the covers for two books you’re excited about
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series
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