Title: Time of Death (A Stillwater General Mystery #1)
by Lucy Kerr, Erica O'Rourke
Publishing Info: December 13, 2016 by
Penguin Random House, Crooked Lane Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller Date Completed: May 28, 2019 Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon
// Goodreads Related Posts: Dissonance (Dissonance #1), Harmonic (Dissonance #1.5), Resonance (Dissonance #2)
It’s been twelve years since ER nurse Frankie Stapleton fled the quiet banks of Stillwater, but with her sister’s pregnancy taking a dangerous turn and a string of failed relationships in Chicago hanging over her, Frankie is back–and hoping to put the past behind her. Within minutes of arriving at Stillwater General Hospital however, she ends up saving a man’s life, only to have him turn up dead hours later – and the hospital blames Frankie.
Her instincts say Clem Jensen didn’t die of natural causes, but the more she digs, the more she discovers too many suspects, a few surprising allies, and some hard truths about the first man she ever loved–and left. Now the boy she once knew is a skeptical sheriff’s deputy, her family's hardware store is in jeopardy, and the rift between Frankie and her loved ones is deeper than ever.
With her career–and future–on life support, Frankie must catch a killer, clear her name, and heal the wounds of the past in Lucy Kerr’s enthralling mystery debut, Time of Death
I’m so glad I finally read this book! It was a fun mystery that had more of a contemporary focus than a lot of mystery/thrillers do. The main character is back in town to help her family and runs into her old first-love/ex-fiance so there’s a lot of family stuff going on as well as a little hint of a potential romance. I love how the romance wasn’t rushed and there’s still plenty of time to explore that option in the rest of the series!
The mystery was also really well-put together. There were clues laid about so things were still constantly coming to light but the ending was a bit of a mystery until the reveal. I’m usually reading some darker thrillers or mysteries so this was a fun change of pace! It was somewhere in between a silly/fluffy cozy mystery and that dark thriller. A very happy middle!
Kept Me Hooked On: Mysteries. I read a lot of thrillers and I had fun reading something that was more into the mystery realm without that element of constant suspense.
Left Me Wanting More: Books! I was pretty satisfied with this one so I’d say I’d just like to read more of this series and see where the character storylines go too!
This was a really good read for me and I loved reading an adult mystery that wasn’t a thriller (as much as I love thrillers). I think it’s easily readable by those who like contemporary romances too!
BOOKS LIKE TIME OF DEATH
Title: An Unwanted Guest
by Shari Lapena
Publishing Info: August 7, 2018 by
Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18 Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller Date Completed: December 30, 2018 Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon
A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. The power's down but they've got candles, blankets, and wood--a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up--surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it's their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there's nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.
This was such an interesting read! I always love reading mysteries or thrillers where I’m not quite sure what’s going on. Shari Lapena did a great job at not revealing too much suspicion too early, and then once it started to arise, to cast it around really evenly to put a lot of doubt on the pages, never being too sure who to trust. At one point, I had no idea who was the murderer so I started to form all kinds of hair-brained ideas extending to psychological “everyone is the murderer” tropes that get played out so often. The ending was surprising and satisfying!
I also really loved this wintery setting. A snow storm was the perfect way to lock the guests of this hotel in, adding in the loss of power, unable to leave or maintain footprints because of the ice, and the antique nature of the hotel lending even less technology or modern conveniences, preventing the suspects from getting answers too easily. I also waited to read this book in the winter so it made it even more atmospheric (even though there wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground when I read it).
I feel like the narration could have been a bit smoother and it took me out of the novel just a little bit. Some of it felt forced and choppy (I sometimes have trouble when authors don’t use contractions in order to keep the narration formal when it just doesn’t seem natural) so that was really the only thing I didn’t connect with throughout the book.
It was quite a solid read with a good mystery and I really enjoyed it! I’m definitely interested in picking up more from Shari Lapena in the future and already have a few other titles from her earmarked!
Kept Me Hooked On: Single location thrillers. I loved that this all took place in a little off-the-grid hotel. It’s fun to see the ways that authors have to eliminate technology like this in order to keep everyone in the same place and unable to phone for help. I love everyone stuck together to hash out the mystery!
Left Me Wanting More: Smoothness. There were a couple spots that felt a little forced and choppy. With a couple more smooth transitions, this would have been even better, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot!
I really liked this one! I love when I read a thriller and I’m already looking forward to more from the author.
BOOKS LIKE AN UNWANTED GUEST
Title: The Starless Sea
by Erin Morgenstern
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by
Penguin Random House, Doubleday Books
Source: Amazon Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy Date Completed: September 2, 2019 Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon
// Goodreads Related Posts: The Night Circus, The Night Circus
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
THE NIGHT CIRCUS is one of my favorite books and I’ve been waiting so long for a new Erin Morgenstern book that I was SO NERVOUS for THE STARLESS SEA! I also have a tendency to hype myself up and sometimes overhype myself for some of my favorite books so it was quite the effort to let myself get immersed in the book and not get ahead of myself! Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about because Morgenstern’s master prose easily wrapped me inside of the pages of this book and I was instantly swept away.
THE STARLESS SEA is basically a love story to books, reading, writing, and anything literary. There are so many amazing quotes about books and literature here that it was easy for me to love on so many different levels, but it wasn’t just about the characters being book lovers. The concept of stories made up this book on a magical level, adding fantastical elements to storytelling in the real world. It’s really kind of impossible to describe but Morgernstern once again nails that dreamy element of magical realism that lets you peek behind the curtain into the magical undercurrent of the normal world. It’s truly mesmerizing and it was such an incredible thing to read.
There’s quite an array of characters in the book, all of which were lovable, really. All of them have their flaws but I absolutely loved following the story of main character Zachary Rawlins. He sort of reminded me of a Quentin-type character (from The Magicians) except not quite as tragic and not quite as… erm… whiny, I guess (sorry, Q. It’s a common complaint). He’s a book-lover, has a studious mind, is a little more reserved, and just has something about him that reminded me of Quentin, which is funny considering I read later on that Erin Morgenstern actually kind of borrowed the concept of the bee-key-sword combination from Lev Grossman and The Magicians!
It’s kind of funny how THE STARLESS SEA seems to leave me wordless and tongue-tied when it’s so beautifully written but it’s slightly indescribable and so hard to review! I think the beauty of the book speaks for itself. I loved the stories within the story that linked back to different stories that represented things in real life which were also magical. (See? Impossible.) Everything just folded back in on itself and connected so perfectly and it was a truly wonderful read.
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Kept Me Hooked On: Bookish magic. Can it really get much better than magic inspired by and revolving around books and stories? I don’t know if it can.
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the ending. There is a point in magical realism books where I have a hard time merging the fantasy and reality and that point in THE STARLESS SEA really came towards the end for me. I just wanted a biiiiit more time to spend with some of the magical elements to really feel grounded with them and know that this was real.
I know that this book isn’t for everyone BUT if you enjoy magical realism or think you might get along with this book, I do highly recommend it! The writing is definitely more etherial.
BOOKS LIKE THE STARLESS SEA
Title: Foundryside (Foundryside #1)
by Robert Bennett Jackson
Publishing Info: August 21, 2018 by
Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18 Genres: Adult, Fantasy Date Completed: July 29, 2019 Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon
Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.
To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
This book was so enjoyable from start to finish! Right off the bat, I connected with it. Sancia and really her whole gang throughout this book are sassy, clever, and such personable characters. I absolutely loved spending time with them, even the… inanimate objects? Robert Jackson Bennett really brought everything to life in this book and it made for such an enjoyable reading experience!
The setting was refreshing yet familiar all at the same time. Having read a lot of fantasy/high fantasy lately, I had grown a little weary of the medieval take on things and had switched to some urban fantasy for a while to experience fantasy in a more modern setting. While FOUNDRYSIDE still maintains that old world/technologically inadvanced feeling, the concept behind scrivings really gives it that feel of a sort of industrial revolution coming about and it was fun to see the progress as well as the more spiritual side behind things (gods and mythology and the like). There’s a lot of world-building present and I love how the reader is taken along the road of exploration to figure out how the scrivings work, where the concept came from, and how they could change the world entirely.
Everything just felt like it unfolded naturally. Key points were revealed at just the right moments. The crew came together in a perfect way that brought misfits together but everyone seemed to fit perfectly despite how different they all were. It was natural the way that they ended up finding each other and felt like they should have been together all of their lives.
This book also gave me a very Brandon Sanderson vibe. I love Sanderson’s books so much because of how much world-building he packs in and how perfectly timed his reveals are involving the secrets of his worlds. Robert Jackson Bennett has a similar style — in context as well as character tone — that really reminded me a lot of MISTBORN and THE WAY OF KINGS. I can’t wait to see where the next book goes because with everything that we learned in this book, I can only imagine getting even more lost in the politics, worldly secrets, and more hijinks!
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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult fantasy with attitude. Misfits! Cons! Sass! This book had all of my favorite elements combined with a fun and creative fantasy world.
Left Me Wanting More: Character relationships. I did like the character relationships that were there for sure! I feel like I wanted just a liiiittle bit more deep connections somehow!
This was so enjoyable and I can’t wait to read more of the series!! This felt a little bit introductory and I’m excited to continue this and get even deeper into this world!
BOOKS LIKE FOUNDRYSIDE