Photo Review – Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges #1) by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges #1)

by Stephen King

Summary: WINNER OF THE EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
#1 New York Times bestseller! In a high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands. “Mr. Mercedes is a rich, resonant, exceptionally readable accomplishment by a man who can write in whatever genre he chooses” (The Washington Post).

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with two new, unusual allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I picked this trilogy up after loving The Outsider and realizing that some of the characters were from this trilogy. The book was thrilling and full of suspense, but not in King’s normal way. I liked the writing and the various points of views. It took Bill a while to grow on me, but he did eventually become a character I enjoyed. I was intrigued by the villain and I liked that we got a little of his POV throughout the book.

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Star 4

 

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Photo Review – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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The Cruel Prince

by Holly Black

Summary: GUARD YOUR MORTAL HEART.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him—and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Source: I received an exclusive cover signed book from Owlcrate

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Review:

I read the book back in the spring. Though I forgot to review the book, I did not forget about reading it as I tend to do sometimes when the book is forgettable. I enjoyed the story quite a bit. I love the world of the Fae and I’m a fan of Holly Black, so this was definitely on my radar when I got it.

I don’t think Black developed a unique setting so much, so it some ways it pales in comparison to other Faery books, but Black did spend a lot of effort creating characters and that’s where this book really shines.

We’ve always heard the stories about cold and calculating Fae, but I don’t think any stories really capture the essence of that as well as this one. The Fae are ruthless and cold, but not even really in the same way that a human would be if they were terrible to one another. I was so invested in the story and I will definitely read the rest of the series when the books release.

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Star 4

Photo Review – Obsidio (The Illuminae Files_03) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files _03)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryKady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I enjoyed the finale of Obsidio and I was happy to get the closure I needed for the whole story. I only gave Gemina 3 stars because it was so disappointing in comparison to Illuminae and I don’t think Obsidio was much better, but I gave it an extra star because it was interesting and it did conclude the story and involve the original characters and AIDAN a lot more.

Illuminae was the best book in the trilogy by a long shot, but if this is read as one long story with different POVs, then it’s still an amazing scifi trilogy that is worth reading. I think other people might like Gemina or Obsidio as much as or more than Illuminae, but the horror lover in me just really enjoyed the plot of Illuminae more than the traditional scifi adventure plot of the rest. The storytelling is unique for this entire trilogy and I highly recommend checking this series out and diving into a story that is told in so many ways. It was creative and full of so much adventure, love, action, horror, and mystery.

(2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for Book Set on a Different Planet)

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Star 4

Photo Review – Gemina (The Illuminae Files_02) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I really love Illuminae, so I knew it would be difficult to live up to that, but Gemina was actually disappointing. It was good, but it paled in comparison in so many ways and felt like your run of the mill adventurous sci-fi without the creepy factor that made Illuminae so amazing. The wormhole and alternate universes aspect was cool, but I just felt like this was very second-book syndrome.

The original characters were still present and their story is still relevant, though, so I did enjoy figuring out a little of what happened next.

Reread and Photo Review – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

SummaryThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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2016 Review:

Illuminae was one of kind, an absolutely thrilling story told in a unique way and had a flawless execution.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for the book, but whenever I picked it up in the store and saw the way that it wasn’t a story in the traditional sense, with strange pages and transcripts and emails, I would put it back down. That style of storytelling has never worked well for me and I’ve always seen it as a great idea theoretically, but it sacrifices writing and details and would be better told as a movie if it’s not going to be a true story. It feels like a gimmick and it feels like a gimmick that stands in place of true storytelling.

Illuminae completely blew me away and shattered my preconceived notions. I’m so glad I finally just grabbed it and decided to read it. I went into it feeling very nervous about it, afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that it would be dull or hard to read. But as soon as I dove in, it was easy and thrilling.

I cannot gush enough about how amazing the story was. Now that I’m done, I think the weird format was what made the book even better. It didn’t feel like a gimmick. It didn’t feel like the authors used the tactic to avoid writing well. There was incredible writing throughout the book and some poetic and moving sections. It was heart pounding. Terrifying. Absolutely mind blowing.

The book was a brilliant science fiction tale of loss, love, horror, war.. it was everything. Parts of it reminded me of Event Horizon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 28 Days Later, Starship Troopers… it’s rare that a science fiction YA novel really gets it right and Illuminae did it… and truly captured the essence of great science fiction.

It mainly featured Kady Grant, a teenager living on Kerenza who was pretty good wth computers. She broke up with her boyfriend and her planet was attacked by a giant corporation. Refugees were rescued by a scientific research vessel and a military vessel and were on the run from the corporate ship. The military ship did not come out of the rescue unscathed, leading to some problems with the ships being able to make a swift escape. It sounds cool, but it could’ve easily been an eye-roll inducing dystopian space novel and because of the writing and the layers of storytelling, it was so much more.

I did not expect the book to be so terrifying in some moments and I say that as a horror lover. The story was absolutely stunning and executed flawlessly. I can appreciate and savor each and every page.

Illuminae was smart, clever, adventurous, emotional, scary, and so much more. I highly recommend it. Do not let the strange format stop you from reading the book! It was brilliant!

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2018 Thoughts:

I still feel the same way about Illuminae and I was super stoked to read the rest of the series now that I own them all.

I love the combination of horror, sci-fi, adventure, romance, and humor.

Photo Review – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

By Gabrielle Zevin

Summary: As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

We are not quite novels.

We are not quite short stories.

In the end, we are collected works.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library

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Review:

I read this for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt: a book that involves a bookstore or library. The prompt was proving difficult for me because I have learned that I dislike books about libraries or other books generally. I’m not really sure why. I wanted to read 0 of the books recommended to me for this prompt until my friend recommended this one.

I figured I’d try it out, expecting a clunky literary tale with titles strewn about the pages and bookworms being boring or classic literature references bogging down the pages. (See? I LOVE these things but I HATE reading about them!)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was not any of those things. It was a lighthearted contemporary book about a grumpy man who eventually grew on me. It was fun and sweet and not at all the boring tale I expected. It still paid homage to many great works of fiction and the pages were peppered with bookish references, but not in a way that felt clunky or otherwise awful.

I was charmed by the book and definitely recommend it!

Photo Review – The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich

The Orange Eats Creeps

By Grace Krilanovich

Summary: It’s the ’90s Pacific Northwest refracted through a dark mirror, where meth and madness hash it out in the woods. . . . A band of hobo vampire junkies roam the blighted landscape—trashing supermarket breakrooms, praying to the altar of Poison Idea and GG Allin at basement rock shows, crashing senior center pancake breakfasts—locked in the thrall of Robitussin trips and their own wild dreams.

A girl with drug-induced ESP and an eerie connection to Patty Reed (a young member of the Donner Party who credited her survival to her relationship with a hidden wooden doll), searches for her disappeared foster sister along “The Highway That Eats People,” stalked by a conflation of Twin Peaks’ “Bob” and the Green River Killer, known as Dactyl.

With a scathing voice and penetrating delivery, Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps is one of the most ferocious debut novels in memory.

Source: A paperback was given to me as a gift

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Review:

I read this book for the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt A Book with a Fruit or Vegetable in the Title. It’s been on my bookshelf for years and was gifted to me by the owners of a bookstore where I worked. I’m always up for vampire fiction and I finally had a great excuse to read it.

I don’t think I’m “cool” enough to read this book. The reviews are all quite good, but there’s an element to the culture of the book that I just don’t get. I think I get more of it now that I’ve lived in the PNW for the past year, whereas before I might not have really grasped things like why there would be homeless people not in urban areas, but I will also admit that there’s still a lot of PNW-ness that I will never understand and I definitely am not the right demographic in region or age to fully appreciate that part of it.

The book was weird and clever and told in a strange way and I think if it was about 30 pages long, I would have given it a better rating. There’s no need for this to be a book and not a short story and the “revolutionary” storytelling started to grate on my nerves as I strolled through the disjointed stream of consciousness type of narration.

I wanted to like this more, but I do appreciate the symbolism.