Bites
February 17, 2018

Published: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Dutton
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished. (goodreads.com)

I was feeling okay about FINAL GIRLS until about two-thirds of the way through it. In that it really wasn’t blowing my hair back. It was interesting and engaging enough that I kept reading and the act of reading was effortless. But I wasn’t thrilled with it. But right around the two-thirds mark things really started picking up and spiraling and I wasn’t sure where the story was going and what it was trying to tell me and I was hooked. It’s a sneaky bitch, this story. But I liked it.

It also likes to throw you off. A lot. And you probably won’t even realize it until it’s too late. That was fun. Those moments were fun. It kept things interesting. And then once you know what’s going on, hindsight becomes ridiculous. Like OMG how come I didn’t see that??? But isn’t that how it always works? But hindsight here works to slot little pieces into place that were previously unmoored and know they all make sense in this enlightening sort of way that even if you had figured things out early on you still wouldn’t get the full scope until the end.

Quincy is a fragile person constantly on the verge of shattering and that’s pretty evident from the beginning. Constantly saying she’s fine while the fish hooks pull her smile up. And her boyfriend is so desperate for her to move on and be okay (much in the same way her mother is, just far more supporting in his own way) that he ignores rather telltale signs of her fragility. But in proper thriller fashion all things come spiraling to a crashing end so just wait for it.

Sam’s a compelling character as well. You think you know her and then a wrench comes flying at you and the way you see her alters slightly, creating a slightly different picture than the one you previously had. And over the course of the book these micro-corrections in Sam continue to happen until she looks completely different at the end except, and again hindsight, you had no idea how irrevocably she’d actually changed until the change had already happened. It’s so subtle yet so mind-blowing. A testament to Sager’s writing, I think.

There really isn’t much else I can say without spoiling the story. Such is the way with these kinds of books. I wouldn’t say it starts off slow, but it starts off rather nondescript. Nothing too much going on to really stand it apart from other like-books. And then once the ball starts rolling it doesn’t stop until it’s about to roll on top of you and crush you. If you’re a thriller fan you won’t want to miss FINAL GIRLS.

4.5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Published: May 4th, 2010
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs. (goodreads.com)

Believe it or not, this is my first foray into Riordan’s work. I have the Percy Jackson series on my shelf, but ancient Egypt is far more compelling for me. It’s been a love of mine for as long as I can remember, to the point where I actually wanted to be an Egyptologist (with my eye on the Egyptology program at UCLA) until I was 14 and my dad talked me out of it (limited educational scope, very limited income potential, etc.; at least my dad had foresight enough on that one). But I’ve still stuck with reading about Egypt and I really hope I can visit the country in my lifetime without running the risk of separating my head from my neck.

With that being said, this was a fun jaunt through history as these kids try to navigate through a world of awakening gods and nominal possession while they try to save their dad. As far as I could tell Riordan played things fairly accurately when the situation called for it. Obviously there were a ton of liberties taken and I wouldn’t use THE RED PYRAMID as a text book any time soon, but he wasn’t shotgunning random Egyptian words into a story without them having actual context in what was going on.

I do wish Phoenix played a bigger role than it did, simply because I live there now. It just amuses me whenever I see a place I live or know in a book because I can orient myself in the story that much better. But Phoenix was mentioned at the beginning of the story and then the kids didn’t get there until the very end and even then Phoenix was merely a vague place with a mountain called Camelback. It ultimately wasn’t very relevant aside from its desert location. But that’s okay. It didn’t detract from the story any. Just kind of an ‘oh man’ thing going on.

I really liked Sadie and Carter. All things considered they handled the book’s events pretty well. Probably too well for a twelve and fourteen-year-old, respectively. I also liked how they didn’t do things on their own. Like how it wasn’t up to just them to get stuff done. They had a lot of help on the way to the end, including from the gods that possessed them, their cat-like helper god, other people, and so on. They didn’t solve problems in a vacuum. That’s probably why the story, to me, an adult, was more palatable and didn’t aggravate my suspension of disbelief much. Granted I’m not the target audience for these books, but whatever. I still read it so there’s that.

I’m looking forward to continuing the series and seeing where this all goes. I wish I had something like this when I was growing up because I would have loved the crap out of it. I liked it now, but, you know. I’m 34. Doesn’t hit quite the same way. Instead I get things like the trash pile that is Gods of Egypt with the whitest Egyptians ever in existence and it makes me sad. So I’ll live retroactively through these books. My eight-year-old self loves it. She who would go to the library and take out books on ancient Egypt on the regular.

4

February 10, 2018

My days got away from me this month, so this post’s a little late. My bad. And it’s just the one book this month. Trying to conserve funds and make a somewhat noticeable dent in my reading pile. (Ha!)

I received this from the publisher. It looked interesting and Stephen King said good things about it. Why not, right?

February 6, 2018

Pub Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Dutton
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, Look for me. (goodreads.com)

Another fantastic read from Lisa Gardner! She writes in such a captivating way. I couldn’t put the book down. The story only took place over a couple of days, but once I was submerged in everything that happened, it felt like so much longer without it having felt like I was slogging through a read. So much was packed in without feeling rushed or that anything was skipped. But there was resolution. Maybe not what people would be expecting, but resolution nonetheless.

The only thing that kind of irked me a little was the insistence that since DD was a mom now cases with children would take on new meaning and impact her in different ways. It wasn’t intentionally insinuating that she didn’t connect to cases with children before she had one, but it unintentionally did. And that bothered me. I get it. I really do. But it was mentioned a lot that she has this mom solidarity going for her now and it stood out to me more than I think it should have. As if childless individuals would be any less moved by the events. It’s just a little thing, but a niggling thing.

I really liked Flora’s development especially. I think she’s starting to hijack the series a little bit, and that’s okay with me. It’s not that I don’t like DD Warren, but Flora Dane is far more compelling, especially as she trudges along on her path to healing. Now that she’s working with DD in an official capacity, I imagine the series is at least going down the path of having Flora play a far more vital role in DD’s detective life. She started out at the beginning of LOOK FOR ME as a liability and an annoyance, but ultimately proved her worth. I’m looking forward to seeing where that’s going.

Gardner is one of those authors where her books are an automatic yes for me. They get added to my shelves and I’ll read them ASAP. LOOK FOR ME did not disappoint in that arena and I look forward to seeing what more Gardner comes up with for DD and Flora!

4.5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

Published: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Kensington
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Once an angel, now a demon, Monica is still a succubus with an insatiable desire for sex. The more the better. Soul-stealing orgasms beat out dealing with her broken heart any day of the week. Monica has no interest in being near both her ex-lover and his new girlfriend, so she’s not thrilled when she’s asked to join them in investigating a string of murders that are clearly beyond the pale. But when she sees that one of the victims has her Celtic family crest carved on his arm, she realizes she may finally find the answers to her past she’s been searching for all these years… (goodreads.com)

Ugh. I so love this trashy trash goodness. Smutty smut smut. I don’t read a ton of it, but when I do I like it engaging, with excellent characters, and incredible sex. Check, check, and check.

Collins doesn’t disappoint in the second book of her Soul Stripper series. We get more about Monica’s prior life as an angel, we get to see how she fell, and we get a bit of a creepy story in the mix. And not creepy in a crappy relationship way. But the murderer that Monica, Damien, Adrienne, and George are hunting is digging into people’s lives and annihilating their descendants in rather ritualistic ways. It’s creepy.

The only complaint I really had was that a good portion of the story took place in Salt Lake City and the descriptions of the city didn’t feel all that accurate. It painted a very rosy, almost stereotypical view of Salt Lake as the pious of the pious places where everything was really buttoned up and it was going to be so hard for Monica and George to do their business. I’ve been there. It’s definitely a different kind of place. Utah is as close to a theocracy as we’re going to get in this country. But it’s not this bereft of sin. Two words: Pioneer Park. Right around the corner from the Mormon Mecca Temple and rife with drugs and crime. It is Chicago? No. But it’s certainly not the Mormon vision people think of with Salt Lake either.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed the story. I felt the toggling between Monica’s current affairs and her background were excellently done and added to the story being told as opposed to distracting from it. I like how the women in Monica’s life are supportive of her in their various ways. Maybe not all the time, and maybe sometimes grudgingly, but they’re there and they’re there to stay. I also liked how the twist at the end ended up being atypical. I was expecting one thing and got another and it was refreshing to see that.

I liked the mix-up of supernatural creatures as well. It’s done in a way that they all fit in naturally together. I’ve read some books that use elements of the supernatural in glaring ways that make what I’m reading feel like a disjointed mishmash of things because the author wanted everything in there. Not here. Collins’s world is expertly molded and it fits together wonderfully.

Plus the sex. Collins writes incredible sex scenes. But as much as I like seeing Monica getting into a relationship that’s deeper than the physical I do miss her aggressive, assertive side too. The end of my copy of SOUL SURVIVOR had the first few pages of SOUL STRIPPER in it and the sex scene with the guy she met at the coffee shop was incredibly hot. I miss that Monica a little bit and I hope she’s not gone for good. I still have one more book in the series so we’ll see.

SOUL SURVIVOR is definitely not a disappointment, especially for the middle book of a series. Intense action, great storytelling, wonderful characters, and salacious sex. It’s a Hell of a package! (Pun vaguely intended.)

4.5