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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths Review

Guys, I finally finished a book! I’m actually getting to do a review! I picked The Stranger Diaries for my monthly challenge. My prompt was, “read a book that was nominated for an award in 2020.” The Stranger Diaries won the 2020 Edgar Award for best novel. It deserved it. It was a great read!

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder, but most of the time it is a work of fiction. She is a high school English teacher that specializes in gothic horror. When her friend is murdered her life collides with her favorite novel. When Clare turns to her diary to document her feelings, she discovers writing that isn’t hers. Suddenly, she finds herself living in a horror novel.

The Stranger Diaries is what I wanted The Broken Girls to be. It incorporated a haunted school, a horror novel, and a murder mystery. Each element brought great depth to the story.

I loved the inclusion of multiple points of view. It had Clare’s point of view, her daughter Georgie’s, and Detective Sergeant Harbinder’s point of view. Even with multiple points of view I couldn’t single in on one suspect. I honestly suspected everyone.

The ending was unexpected. I love the way it wrapped up. I also enjoyed the friendship that developed between Clare and Harbinder. The Stranger Diaries was a well developed mystery with a lot of depth. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it until now. I feel like it is so underrated!

My Rating: 5/5

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The Afflictions of Praha by Simon Gillard Review

Murder mysteries and historical fiction have been my two favorite genres recently. The Affliction of Praha combines those into one quick read. Keep reading to see what I thought about it.

The Teralov Family are adored in 20th century Prague. Everyone was shocked when Peter Teralov was murdered. Detective Edgar Rollenvart is tasked with the job of bringing the killer to justice. Edgar teams up with Peter’s brother to learn more about the case. As suspects mount, the evidence dead ends, leaving the Teralov family with more questions than they had at the beginning.

The Affliction of Praha is fast paced. There was not a dull moment in the entire book. It didn’t take me long to finish. However, that did lead into my main problem with the book. The characters weren’t fully developed. I didn’t really connect with any of them. Trying to figure out the motive of the killer was impossible because Peter is barely discussed. I enjoy character motivated stories, but if you like plot driven stories this might not be an issue for you.

I do hope the author continues to write. His writing reminded me of Agatha Christie’s. With a bit more polishing and development I think he will be a great mystery writer. Toward the end there are several plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. He put a lot of thought and creativity into them. It made for a strong ending.

My Rating: 3/5

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Thanks to the author for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben

The Boy from the Woods was my first Harlan Coben experience. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be my last as well. To be honest, I don’t have many positive thoughts on this one.

Years ago, Wilde was found living in the woods with no memory of his previous life. No one could find his family so he was turned over to a foster home. Now he is living on the outskirts of town. When a girl goes missing, he must return to the community to help find her.

After reading the synopsis I thought the girl went missing in the woods. I thought Wilde would use his knowledge to help the community find her. That was not what I got at all.

Wilde gets involved when his godson, Matthew, becomes concerned about the missing girl from his class. The next thing I know the search for the missing girl turns political. Very political. Like dirty presidential candidate political. That was not what I signed up for. I am so dang tired of politics. I don’t even know why I finished this.

Between the lack of woods, a dirty politician, and a half baked kidnapping I was so over the whole thing. I guess I kept reading because I liked Wilde as a character. I wish he had have been more involved.

The ending was almost painful. It was disjointed and half hearted. If read several reviews that say that the entire book doesn’t even feel like Harlan Coben wrote it. I was definitely expecting more.

If you have read anything you liked by Harlan Coben let me know. I want to give him a fair chance.

My Rating: 1/5

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A Short July TBR

July is always a busy month for me, so I probably won’t have a ton of reading time. I also decided to start a massive book at the end of June. I imagine it will take up a big chunk of my time. I’m hoping I have more time to read than expected, but I’m keeping it simple this month in case I don’t.

Synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man’s world in the Welsh mining pits…. Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House…. Two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution…. Billy’s sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London….

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

I started Fall of Giants in late June. It is a tome that is going to take me awhile to read. I have made it to page 184 and I’m still only 18% in. It’s an amazing read though. I can’t wait to get further in.

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Synopsis:

At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred – the eponymous second son – must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?

I’m so excited to read this! I will be participating in the blog tour on July 25th, so keep and eye out for that. I was excited to read it anyway, but then I found out the author’s father used to be a pharmacist at a local drugstore my family frequented. I have included the blog tour poster if you want to learn more.

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So that is my simple tbr for this month. I hope to read more, but if not then so be it. What are you reading this month?

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien Review

Writing a review has never made me nervous, until now. I don’t feel qualified to review such a beloved classic. But here I am, ya know, doing it anyhow. So here we go.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” The owner of the hobbit hole is Bilbo Baggins and he doesn’t know it yet but he is in for an adventure. When Gandalf shows up at his door his life will never be the same.

I started reading The Hobbit in February and I put it down. I was having a weird aversion to fantasy at the time.

I also had a bit of a hard time getting into Tolkien’s writing style. It was definitely an adjustment.

My husband bought the movie set and I finally sat down to watch it. After I finished the movie I wanted to give the book another shot. I enjoyed it more the second time. I love the adventures they encountered. I even became attached to the dwarves. In the beginning I found Bilbo slightly annoying, but I loved his character development. I still had some issues with Tolkien’s writing style. At times I didn’t feel as connected to the book as I would have liked to. In the end, I really enjoyed it. I am not sure if I will pickup The Lord of the Rings. I am still debating it, but I wouldn’t mind being back in Middle-earth.

My Rating: 4/5

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Whammy by Ted Akin Review

Whammy was an interesting adventure. It was part mystery, part comic book. It was a lot of fun.

In Lily Grove, Texas two things keep the town moving, farming and the oil field. When an accidental death happens, Klive Anderson tries to find out why it happened. Stacey Karlise owns a coffee shop by day as a front for her other, less legal, business. She has lived in Lily Grove her whole life and small town life is wearing her down. But something is about to shake up her small town.

The story starts out by alternating between real life and the comic inspired book that Klive is writing. Klive started writing it to help relieve the pressures of his job at the oil field. When a death occurs that seems a bit suspicious, Klive’s book begins to turn into a mystery.

While Klive is researching a real life mystery, Stacey begins to read Klive’s journal. She starts giving him feedback and encouragement. When Stacey begins to get involved with the real life mystery it triggers the events that happen in the next part of the book. That’s really all I can tell you without spoiling the rest.

This book is a lot of fun. It is a quick read that I flew through. Klive is a likable character, but Stacey was hilarious. I loved her.

About halfway through the book there is a major shift in the events. Stacey becomes the main character. My only complaint is that there is no closure at the end. When Stacey becomes the main focus that is the last we hear of Klive. I wish he was included in the end to make it all come together. It made it feel a bit disjointed.

My Rating: 4/5

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Disclaimers: Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review. I am a Books a Million affiliate. If you purchase from my link I will get a small commission at no extra cost from you. Thanks for supporting the blog.


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