Murder on the Orient Express
By Agatha Christie
Summary: What more can a mystery addict desire than a much-loathed murder victim found aboard the luxurious Orient Express with multiple stab wounds, thirteen likely suspects, an incomparably brilliant detective in Hercule Poirot, and the most ingenious crime ever conceived?
Source: I purchased a paperback
I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel, though I do frequently enjoy mystery, suspense, and thrillers. Christie is quite certainly the Queen of Mystery, so I resolved to one day read one of her books. There was a movie being made for Murder on the Orient Express, so I figured it would be a great place to start.
I hate to say it, but I really don’t understand what the fuss was about. Maybe it’s just that I don’t enjoy whodunnit kind of books, nor do I really like when the main character is just beyond the normal level of clever. The story kept Poirot in the spotlight as someone who was so brilliant as he interrogated the passengers. Every time they wrapped up questions, everyone would be all “that wasn’t helpful at all” and Poirot would ponder about how it actually did add up and was helpful and the rest of them were awed by his uncanny ability to piece together these seemingly useless accounts. The story did this after each and every interrogation, so it got old pretty quickly.
I already knew that mystery wasn’t my go to genre. I don’t usually enjoy most cop dramas/thrillers or spy thrillers for all of the same reasons I avoid cozy mysteries and whodunnit books. I do, however, enjoy suspense, horror, and a bit of crime, but I guess I just prefer it to be done in a different way. It seems strange that I can enjoy a slice of the mystery genre and so thoroughly dislike the other type of books within the same genre.
I’m rating the book 3 stars because it was absolutely unpredictable and I wouldn’t have guessed who the killer was in a million years. Also, I am increasing the rating from my gut of 2 stars because I know it’s my own fault for just not being into the type of book this is and I always try to realize when my own issues get in the way of enjoying a book.
February’s Owlcrate Theme was
I said after getting January’s box that I wasn’t sure if I’d continue subscribing, but I liked the theme for February, so just let it automatically renew for the month.
So what was in the box?
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Signed (not a bookplate) with Owlcrate Exclusive cover.
Skeleton Key Coraline Necklace
Pouch inspired by Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Candle inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia
Sticker inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Wall Tapestry designed by Evie Bookish
While everything in this box was beautiful and fit with the theme, I have to admit that opening these boxes each month stresses me out.
My first reaction upon unfolding the tapestry was WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO WITH A GIANT PIECE OF FABRIC OMG.
It’s a gorgeous tapestry and I am sure it will be a huge hit with subscribers, but it’s an even bigger issue for me than the pillowcase from January’s box. I don’t decorate my house with these sorts of things. I mean I have my bookshelves filled with funko pops and trinkets and even that is starting to look crowded.. I don’t have a dedicated library where I can just hang stuff like this and, as gorgeous as the print is, it’s just not my style of home decor.
This is where I’ve just sort of realized that I’m not like other bookworms. I love YA and I love cool totes, but I’m just an adult who reads and I don’t need or want everything in my house or every bag I’m carrying to profess my love of YA books. I’ve just sort of gotten burned out by the whole thing. I miss the days of journals and pens and useful bookmarks and somehow all of these subscription boxes have gotten out of hand along with bookstagramming where we need all of this cursive font print on everything and a dozen candles.
So, as beautiful as this box is, all of this was running through my mind as I unfolded the tapestry and I have to admit I just didn’t enjoy the rest of the unboxing. I mean, how many pouches do I really need? Another candle? More stickers? I just can’t.
This has been the turning point for me and I just can’t keep subscribing.
*****Now, if you love book subscription boxes, I cannot rave about Owlcrate enough. They listen to their fans and adjust the boxes and they have gotten better and better each month for those of you who want those kinds of items. The books are popular and highly sought after with exclusive covers and Owlcrate attempts to get a signature OR a bookplate each time. It’s amazing and if you’re in the US, it’s the best deal IMO. I’ve been subscribing for almost 3 years and if I’m leaving Owlcrate, trust me, it’s NOT for another box. It’s me leaving the world of subscription boxes altogether.
(If Owlcrate did a book only option, I’d be the first person to sign up!)
The Beast Is An Animal
By Peternelle van Arsdale
Summary: A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.
Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.
These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.
Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.
Source: I purchased a hardcover
The Beast Is An Animal was a dark fairy tale set in a small village. It was a story that demonstrating the power of fear and the way religion/ignorance/small minds can stifle those who are different. I felt scared for Alys in that she was always under scrutiny and her village could cry witch if she didn’t watch her behavior.
The tales and legends about the woods surrounding the villages led the elders to take precautions against such evils, from forcing the children of the tainted village to guard the gates to isolating the village by walls and inspecting any and all travelers, forcing them to depart after their affairs were complete. The first half of the book was strong, though it was difficult to read at times as it was stifling and I felt frustrated on Alys’ behalf.
I’m not really sure what happened in the second half… the weird insta-love, the alcoholic travelers, and the issues Alys had with herself became a sort of whirlwind of issues, but I did like where the story went in terms of the soul eaters and the monster inside of Alys.
I enjoyed the book as a whole, but wished it was put together a little better after Alys left her village. Because most of the book deals with people and their own evils, I feel that it would be a hit for fans of Cat Winters.
By Owen King and Stephen King
Summary: In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?
Source: I purchased a hardcover.
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Sleeping Beauties had a strange and interesting premise. What if women went to sleep and didn’t wake up?
I mostly feel that I enjoyed the book, but I have to admit, it felt a bit repetitive and long.
I read in an interview that the idea for the novel came from Owen King, pitched as a story idea Stephen King could write. Instead, Stephen King told his son to write it. I feel that when presented with the idea (or at least the direction of the book as a whole), Stephen King could have gestured to his shelves of authored books and said “I already did write this story.”
Because while the reason/weirdness element of the story is different, the rest of the book feels like it’s been done before. It’s not exactly Under the Dome, but it seems to share similarities with the ignorant townsfolk, forceful personalties that seem to take over in times of crisis, lack of communication with the outside world, etc. Sure, the cocoons aren’t a giant dome over a town, nor is Evie the same magical prisoner as John Coffey, nor is she exactly Randall Flagg, but it’s still so much of the same kind of story. In the end, it is a book about the personalities of people and their own biases in a good vs evil sort of way.
I forgive Stephen King for a lot and I love his books. I know he’s gotta be proud of his son and they both put forth a lot of effort, but this would never ever work without Stephen King’s name on the cover. It needed a heavy edit, a huge trim, and something to separate it from everything else King has done. The thing with the other son is that he has found his own voice, where I’m not certain who Owen is as an author from this book. It certainly hasn’t shown me that his son can end a book or tell a different story…
If you haven’t read Under the Dome and want a story that touches on how women are treated, Sleeping Beauties is a decent story that is just as long and convoluted with a strange ending, so you might as well read it if you’re torn between the two. I’m giving it stars only because I know deep down I would forgive it all if it was just Stephen King and I didn’t know the difference and because I completely expected to be wowed like I was reading King’s other son’s work.
The Good Neighbor
By A.J. Banner
Summary: From a phenomenal new voice in suspense fiction comes a book that will forever change the way you look at the people closest to you…
Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.
Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love.
Source: I purchased a paperback
The Good Neighbor had a lot of potential to be pretty good. There are plenty of Is-My-Marriage-What-I-Think-It-Is type of thrillers and this one was all about whether her friends and/or husband was lying to her.
As a whole, the book was pretty decent with a few twists and turns, but I think it needed a few rounds with more editors to make it really pop. The structure/skeleton of the story was there, but the writing was a bit mediocre with the cliches and repetitive phrases. The characters were where the story was really lacking. I didn’t feel like anyone was truly well developed and I knew that someone in her inner circle would be the bad guy, but I didn’t connect with anyone, even the main character. I could’ve forgiven the writing more if the characters were better developed and I connected with them more.
If you’re looking for a mystery/thriller that is quick and has a few twists and turns going on, The Good Neighbor is decent, but if you need or want more of a connection to characters in order to fully invest yourself, or are looking for something more hard hitting, it’s best to skip this one.
Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)
By Elly Blake
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating – yet irresistible – Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her – and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Source: I won a giveaway from That’s Normal and this was one of the books, but I also purchased a Kindle copy awhile ago.
Frostblood had an intriguing premise that sounded adventurous, romantic, and thrilling. Ruby was hunted and imprisoned for her ability to control heat and flame in a world where only those who commanded ice and cold were permitted to exist. Legends said that frost and fire were intertwined once, but not in Ruby’s lifetime.
I think Frostblood was fun, especially because it was a fairly quick read, but it wasn’t a jaw dropping spectacular YA fantasy and that’s ultimately what I seem to be looking for nowadays. I go through phases where I want something fun and lighthearted, but when it comes to fantasy, unless it tugs at my heartstrings with the romantic feels, it has to make up for it somewhere else by being epic. While the romance in Frostblood was one I was rooting for, it wasn’t a large enough focus or deep enough for me to make up for the rest of the book.
Frostblood had a good plot and executed it well, but there wasn’t really anything all that unique about it. In a sea of YA fantasy, it just kind of floats along. The character building and world building were decent, but not great. The romance was good, but not epic. The conflicts were quick and, despite the high stakes, I didn’t feel truly connected to the characters enough to feel those consequences and be invested in the fate of everyone. It was somewhat predictable, which I could’ve forgiven had I felt a little more invested in the characters.
I recommend Frostblood if you’re looking for something quick and fun, perhaps to get you out of a book slump or when you’ve spent so much time reading other books that you want to be able to fly through one and have a good time. But it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, so I’m only giving it three stars.