Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

June 9

Comments: 2

Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

by Ann-Katrina

Dark Places Cover

Back Cover of Dark Places

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—famously testifying that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details, she hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings…and maybe admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her across the Midwest, the narrative flashes back to the events of that day, replayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members—including Ben, a loner who’d recently begun a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Three Quick Points About Dark Places

  • Point 1: Multiple personality disorder. The book alternates between three different perspectives, the main character Libby Day (in first person), and Patty and Ben Day (in third person).
  • Point 2: A twisted Jerry Springer episode. None of the characters had any redeeming qualities, but on some level, they were truly human. And the situation, as it unfolded, was truly out there but on some level you have to wonder could this possibly happen?
  • Point 3: Smartly written. I am surprised and delighted at Flynn’s smart and fluid writing style.

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November 4

Comments: 3

Review: Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews

by Ann-Katrina

Magic Bits Cover

Back Cover of Magic Bites

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Three Quick Points About Magic Bites

  • Point 1: The prose and pacing are exquisitely done. The book is smartly written without being pretentious and urges you forward without shoving you down a flight of stairs. It’s evident that the word selection and syntax were assembled with care.
  • Point 2: This novel is a perfect exercise in world-building. Set in a future version of Atlanta ravaged by magic, the descriptions are vividly dark and disturbingly crafted. It becomes real.
  • Point 3: What, no sparkly, beautiful, or dangerously seductive vampires? Nope. In this book, vampires veer from the contemporary norm. They are hideous quadrupedal humanoids continually degrading into something much worse—”an abomination in progress.”

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August 19

Comments: 2

Review: The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny

by Ms. Bookish

From the back cover of The Cruellest Month:

It’s Easter, and on a perfect spring day in peaceful Three Pines, someone waits for night to fall. They plan to raise the dead…

When C.I. Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec is called to the village the next morning he faces an unusual crime scene. A séance in an old, abandoned house has gone horrifically wrong and a villager lies still, spirited away – apparently frightened to death.

Gamache soon discovers that in idyllic Three Pines not all is as it should be. Toxic secrets lie buried, and something fetid and festering has clawed its way out. And even Gamache has something to hide. He is shielding his team from a terrible truth. A powerful enemy within the Sûreté has planted a traitor amongst them. Who will betray him? And how far will they go to ensure Gamache’s downfall?

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take:

Louise Penny’s writing is as strong as ever. The Cruellest Month is a well-written book, and Gamache a likable hero. The main story line, involving the death during the séance, is engrossing; however, a few points detract from the credibility of the novel as a whole. I found that I had to focus on shelving my disbelief before I could really get into the story. All in all, it’s still a good read. I’d recommend that readers new to the series read the first two books in the series before tackling The Cruellest Month: Still Life and A Fatal Grace. Read the Full Review of The Cruellest Month

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