Book Review: Heartstopper

Summary: Girls are being murdered in a small town. No one knows who the killer is and no one will feel safe until the killer is caught.

My Rating:
3/5

I ended up having a really weird time with this book and overall mixed feelings about it.

I liked the mystery. I didn’t necessarily guess who the killer was early on but there was a point in the book where I decided that if the killer wasn’t a certain character the story was going to really suck and the author did have that character as the murderer. It was exactly who the murderer needed to be and overall it was fine mystery. There were red herrings and misdirection but when the killer was revealed everything made sense.

The mystery was about the only thing I really liked in this book. There were multiple POV characters and I had a hard time connecting with any of them. We do get the killer’s POV several times and, while I understood why they did what they did I also felt that hearing their thoughts on the murders took away the sympathy I might otherwise have had for the killer because of why they killed and the parts of the killing they most enjoyed.

This book has a lot of discussion about the way people look and their physical appearance. I am a plus-sized woman and maybe I was just too close to the subject matter but this book bothered me. The killer tells us early on that they are killing “Heartstoppers” or, in other words, attractive women. This is a hugely important topic in the book but it also made me uncomfortable at times especially with all the judgment about people with less than perfect bodies or bodies altered to appear perfect. I sometimes felt the way the book focused on things like breasts being real or fake was a bit much and I felt like the book could have looked at the issues of appearance and beauty in a less gross way.

Another issue I had with this book was that pretty much all the men were terrible. I really hate books that show one gender or group of people all being awful. Some of it was necessary to the plot of the book but other times there was no reason for the men to be the way they were and it sometimes felt borderline man-hating. There is a man who abuses his wife. There are several adulterers. And, there are so many sexual assault perpetrators. I assume this was done to create suspects but that didn’t change the fact I noticed it and was put off by the fact that even the male sheriff who is investigating the murders isn’t a “good” guy.

If you like mysteries and thrillers this book might be worth a try. It wasn’t a terrible book it was just a book that didn’t mesh with my personal tastes.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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Book Review: The Brave

Synopsis: Colin has to count the letters of any words that are said to him and give that number before speaking. This causes issues at home and school. The school he is at decides they are unable to meet his needs and Colin’s father decides he will be better off moving in with him mom, who he doesn’t know.
His mother is a Native American living on a reservation.

My rating:
3/5

I really could have rated this book 2 out of 5 but I rounded up because honestly, I was having a good time throughout most of the book.

I loved watching Colin get to know his mom. I loved watching his affection for his dog, who was his only real companion prior to moving. I loved him learning more about his mother’s side of the family as his father hadn’t been very open with him about who his mom is and why she wasn’t in his life. I also really enjoyed his friendship with the girl next door and her journey throughout the story.

I didn’t realize this book was magical realism and that ended up seriously impeding my enjoyment of the ending of the book because too many things were explained away by magic.

Another issue I had with this book, and this is common in middle-grade books, is that all the adults are pretty awful. Colin’s mom and the people on the reservation are great but all the other adults are terrible. Teachers don’t prepare their students for dealing with a fellow student with his issues. They put him on the spot in class and make him a spectacle. Pretty much all the adults in this books, with the exception of Colin’s mom, fail him. I really hate this in books because it feels unrealistic. Adults are both good and bad. Sometimes they fail and make mistakes but these adults aren’t even trying.

I also felt a bit uncomfortable with some elements of the story. The bullying by Colin is awful and possibly inappropriate reading for young middle-graders. There is also a lot of focus in this book on the crush Colin has on the girl next door. So, if you are giving this to a child, please keep that in mind. My 9 year old read this before I did and I wished I had known a bit more of the content before she read it because a few things made her uncomfortable.

I enjoyed many aspects of this book but I hated the magical realism elements to it. Also, the reveal about what has been going on with the dog’s walks with Grandma was just weird and unnecessary.

I am sad to say I can’t recommend this book. I wanted to love it, and at times I really was enjoying my journey, but I just felt like the whole thing fell to pieces by the end.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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Book Review: Thirteen at Dinner

Synopsis: Hercule Poirot is asked by an actress for help in convincing her husband to divorce her. Shortly after his visit to the husband, who happily agrees to the divorce, the husband is found dead and the actress is the main suspect though, as far as Poirot can tell, the lady has no apparent motive as her husband had just agreed to the divorce she was desperate for.

My Rating:
3/5

This is a nice solid Poirot. It didn’t do anything spectacular but it was a fine Poirot novel. Very middle of the road for me, compared to the others I have read.

My favorite thing about this book was the banter between Hastings and Poirot. Hastings was in many of the early books but, from my understanding, few of the later ones and he is a favorite of mine. I love his chemistry with Poirot and their friendship.

This was an interesting mystery. I did not guess correctly who the killer was and who the killer was surprised me (in a good way). I really enjoyed the different characters with different motives and the actual murder was complicated and interesting. The clue that Poirot tells us was the piece that brought the puzzle together for him was, for the reader, fair but unfair at the same time and involved an image in the book. I don’t love when the clues hinge on an image in the book as I often read audiobooks and, if I had been reading this as an audiobook, I would have missed it because there was not a good way of revealing the clue outside of the image. I think I would recommend those who can read a physical copy of this book do so otherwise the clue isn’t something you can guess yourself because it is only in the text as the explanation of the clue. I am also not sure all editions of the book have the illustration with the clue.

My biggest issue with this book is one I have with Christie in General. There are many characters and it gets difficult to keep track of everyone. I was sometimes confused as to who was who.

If you generally enjoy Christie you will probably have a good time with this book.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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You can also connect with me on any of the following places:
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Book Review: The Doll in the Garden

Synopsis: Ashley and her mother have recently moved into a new home following the death of her father. While exploring a garden nearby, she finds a doll buried in a box. Accompanying the doll is a mysterious. Circumstances soon lead her to believe that the doll is the property of a ghost that she sometimes hears crying in the night.

My Rating: 4/5

I ended up having a good time with this book though it was a middle-grade and clearly meant for a younger reader than I am.

I found Ashley to be annoying but largely because she acted like a kid, which is exactly what she is. She reminded me in places of my kids and the reasons they give for making bad choices and their thought processes. I think she was really well done as a middle-grade character and I found her authentic. Still, as an adult she was frustrating and an often annoying protagonist to follow.

My favorite thing about this book was the explorations of grief. Ashley and her mom grieving her dad as well as the grief surrounding the ghost character just were wonderfully done. I cried several times through this book. I loved how grief was dealt with and the discussions about the complex feelings that don’t just include loss but anger and guilt as well. It tugged at my heart and I really appreciated the message it was trying to give while still being appropriate for the intended audience.

One of the things I loved about this book, and I think this is a slight spoiler, is that there really is a ghost. In some kid’s books, the ghost that is suspected isn’t real but is something very normal that is making people think there is a ghost. This book had a ghost and she was wonderful.

The mystery of why the doll was buried and who the doll belonged to was pretty predictable for an adult reader but I think this book would be well enjoyed by it’s intended audience.

It is mildly spooky because there is a ghost but I didn’t think it was scary and I think all but the most sensitive middle-grade readers could read it without being scared.

Overall, I would recommend this to child readers. It was a bit too young for me to love as an adult reader but it was also a book I would recommend to my kids.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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Book Review: Ready Player One

Synopsis: Wade lives in a dystopian future struggling desperately with poverty. There is an announcement that a video game designer has hidden an Easter Egg in the Oasis, a virtual space where most people spend their time to escape reality, and whomever finds the Easter Egg will get control of the Oasis and unimaginable wealth. Wade sets off on a quest to find this Easter Egg and change his situation once and for all.

My Rating:
4/5

I absolutely loved the setting of this story and particularly the idea that people use entertainment as a coping mechanism to deal with the hardships in their lives. I can relate to this and know so many others who also do. They play because play is fun and life is hard.

I liked but didn’t love the plot. It is largely a questing/adventure plot where Wade and occasionally a companion or two try to follow a clue to the next piece of the puzzle and overcome the obstacles in their way. Overall it was well paced though I thought the end could have been slowed down a bit. Also, there is an event that happens at the very end that felt to me like it was coming too late. I really thought it needed to be sooner to have impact.

One thing I think that bears mentioning, plot wise, is that I felt Wade sometimes was able to overcome things too easily. In some cases he just has skills because he was studying video games and 80’s movies all his life but there are also places in the book where it just felt like the overcoming was too easy and not earned.

The thing I struggled most with in this book was the characters. I really enjoyed many of the secondary characters but didn’t like Wade. The book is told in first person POV and Wade sometimes being a real jerk made it hard to love the story. Sometimes what he did was appropriate for his character but sometimes he just went too far and I didn’t enjoy being along on his ride.

Overall it was fine. I think gamers and people who love the 80’s will enjoy it.

I also thought that the movie was actually better than the book and I enjoyed the movie more, personally.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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Book Review: Scythe

Summary: In a world where humans no longer die, it is up to the Scythe to keep the population under control and determine who will be “gleaned”. Two teenagers are brought on as Scythe apprentices but the path to Scythedom will not be an easy one.

Rating:
4/5

Overall I really enjoyed this book and there are many things this book does well.

I absolutely loved the world and the world-building. Within this world there is so much discussion about how death makes us appreciate life. I loved so much of the philosophizing that takes place in this book, primarily from journal entries of Scythes.

I really enjoyed some of the characters. I preferred Citra over Rowan but still enjoyed his story line. I thought Scythe Goddard was well written and while I didn’t like him as a character or agree with many things he did I understood his perspective and loved how well developed he was as a character. I also really enjoyed Scythe Curie as a character.

I enjoyed the overall plot however I did feel like the author kept raising the stakes and raising the stakes. I felt the stakes were high enough and as we raised the stakes further and further the book got a bit away from what I was most enjoying about it. Suddenly, we aren’t just asking questions about who the Scythe should be and looking at what death means but there is a whole lot more happening with unexpected twists and turns that I could have happily done without.

I had a good time with this book but I also felt it was pretty complete. This is book one in a trilogy and I am not feeling particularly compelled to read the other books in the series because this one wrapped up nicely.

I think this book is worth reading and I can confidently recommend to anyone with an interest in this type of book.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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Book Review: Arsenic and Old Books

Summary: Charlie, a university archivist, is given diaries from the Civil War to authenticate because the contents might help a local politician. When the diaries are stolen and one of the parties interested in the diaries is murdered, Charlie decides to investigate with the help of his cat Diesel.

My Rating:
3/5

I had a very complicated relationship with this book. There was a point, early on where it almost was a DNF. Then, there were several times I thought it was going to be a 4 star read.

This is my first Cat in the Stacks mystery but Arsenic and Old Books it isn’t the first in the series and that may have impacted my reading experience.

Let’s start with what I enjoyed.

I absolutely loved Diesel the Cat. He was probably my favorite character in the book.

I also really enjoyed the mysteries. We have the mystery of the stolen diaries, the murder, and then there is a mystery within the diary themselves. All of them had me eagerly turning pages and excited to get the next clue.

We are shown snippets of the diary and it was wonderfully balanced. There was enough from the diary that I wanted more but it didn’t overwhelm the stories (as can happen when there is a book within a book). I thought the balance of the present mystery with the diary was just about perfect and I never felt bored when we switched to the diary to learn about what had happened during the Civil War.

Unfortunately, there were also several things in the book that didn’t work for me.

Early in the book, and one of the reasons it was almost a DNF, there was quite a bit of info dumping. I think that was because the author was trying to catch us up on the characters in Charlie’s world but for me it was too much too fast. I also didn’t feel like I necessarily needed to know about characters who played very small roles or no roles in the story.

I also did not like the portrayal of the person who was murdered and Charlie’s attitude towards them. I know that is many mysteries the person who is murdered is awful but I felt like Charlie’s interactions with the victim made them seem awful but not for reasons they should have seemed awful. I know that is a bit vague but trying not to spoil anything.

Another issue I had was that the back of the book suggested to me that Charlie would be in danger as he tried to solve the mystery but I didn’t feel much suspense in this book or worry that Charlie would be harmed as he investigated.

For me, the biggest issue I had with this book was the ending. Not only did I not love the resolution of the primary mystery but I hated the way the reveal happened. It was very abrupt.

I think the best way to summarize my feelings for this book was we had a slow start then things sped up and I was loving the ride, then we stumbled pretty hard at the end.

I can’t really recommend this book because of how disappointed I was at the way the book ended but it wasn’t a bad ride to that point either.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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You can also connect with me on any of the following places:
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Book Review: Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife

Summary: This is a non-fiction book that looks into the history and origins of the Christian views of Heaven and Hell.

My rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed this book. It was engaging, easy to read, and rarely dragged. The author was concise but still made reasonable points. He explained things in a way I could understand and I absolutely plan to read more books about Christianity and related topics by this author.

Please note that this author is no longer a devout believer though he has done extensive research into many aspects of Christianity and for a long time was a believer. I feel that this book will be much more enjoyable by people who are not devout Christians. It digs into the religious beliefs of those surrounding the Jews prior to and during the time of Jesus and how those views may have influenced the ideas of Jesus, Paul, and early Christians.

I found it well written and informative and if this book doesn’t clash with your belief system I highly recommend reading it.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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You can also connect with me on any of the following places:
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Book Review: The Color of Magic

Synopsis:
This takes place in a fantasy world called Discworld that exists on the backs of elephants standing on the back of a turtle flying through space. At it’s core, it is an adventure between a (sorta) wizard and a traveler as they explore the world.

My rating
3/5

This book is really funny. It has great dialogue which I really enjoyed. There is a scene after the end of the book that reads like a Monty python skit and it had me chuckling.
The book also had situations where things were turned on their head, for instance, the traveler has a camera but the things you expect to be true aren’t totally true. Things like that were brilliant and I really enjoyed those parts of the book.

I think this book ended up being a mismatch for my taste. I like YA and middle grade fantasy but struggle with adult fantasy. I had a hard time understanding this world.

Also, the plot of this book is an adventure story which I frequently found boring. The characters were going and doing a thing. Getting in danger. Going and doing another thing. Getting in danger. It just wasn’t a plot I cared about and there wasn’t much in the way of an overarching plot or goals other than the wizard keeping the traveler safe and the traveler being excited to see all the things he’s read about.

I often felt confused about what was going on in the book and had a hard time following not just the world building but what was actually taking place in a scene. Again, this might be my lack of familiarity with fantasy but I really struggled to keep timelines, locations, and even the actions happening straight in my head.

I have heard from other people that this is a bit of a set up book and that I will probably like later books better. I do plan on giving the later books in the series a chance but was overall disappointed by my experience with this book.

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Book Review: The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs

Synopsis: Cyrus has inherited his father’s veterinary practice. He had a complicated relationship with his father and he hasn’t worked on a live animal since vet school. Still, he’s in real trouble and if he can turn his father’s practice around and sell it to the highest bidder he just might be able to get his life back together.

My rating:
4/5

This book just is everything I love. Animals. Veterinarians. Small towns.

I love this author though this wasn’t my favorite book from him.

The book takes place in the course of a week and that caused things to feel a bit rushed. It made sense in the context of the story but I wish we hadn’t had a metaphorical ticking time bomb so that things could have unfolded more slowly and Cyrus had more time for growth.

The first chapter was rough to read because I was really worried Cyrus was going to do something so awful I couldn’t forgive him. He didn’t, thankfully but I did not at all enjoy the first chapter because things just got too close to disaster for my comfort.

I didn’t really like Cyrus and that was the biggest issue I had with this book and the main reason it wasn’t a 5 star read. He is judgmental of the people around him and it isn’t just that they are from a small town. He is just a judgmental person and that isn’t fully redeemed by the end of the book. I did like that Cyrus has almost a Dr. House ability to detect weird illnesses in animals. In fact, Cyrus and his actions as a veterinarian were my favorite part of the book.

Despite not loving Cyrus I did absolutely love the resolution of his family issues and learning more about who his parents were and why they did the things they did. He comes to see the rift between him and his father differently by the end of the book and it was very warm and fuzzy.

If you like Hallmark movies featuring veterinarians you will probably really enjoy this book.

If you want more of my thoughts on these and other books watch my review videos on youtube:
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You can also connect with me on any of the following places:
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Email: authorjanebnight@yahoo.com
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Twitter: @JaneBNight
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To see a list of my publication or to purchase a book visit:
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