Reviews

House of Ashes {Review}

3 out of 5 stars (remember: 3 stars is a positive review)

Goodreads has this to say (I edited it heavily, though):

Painter Cassandra Mitchell is the fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home.


Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property ―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent ―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

I thought this was going to be…spookier. There’s just not a ton of haunting for a story with ghosts in it. The romance aspect was weird and somehow there was an out-of-left-field love triangle for like…20 pages, then disappeared. There was the weirdness of her sister refusing to visit because….smells? She can’t just stay somewhere else in town?  I couldn’t completely buy into one plot line because there were so many. Not all of them got resolved satisfactorily – at least for me. 

Cassie comes off (to me) as really naive, sheltered, and a bit spacey. I just didn’t really connect with her, but she grew on me over the course of the novel. The plot was full of strange disconnected threads that didn’t really have much to do with each other and it almost seemed like I should be reading two different books – one about the missing couple and one about her family shenanigans. 

However, it was an easy read and nothing made me angry. You know how sometimes you just get mad at a book for whatever deficiencies it has? That didn’t happen here. I was interested in the novel for the entire time and bought the resolution to a couple of the plot threads. I liked the Police Chief, and sympathized with the FBI agent. Everyone gets mad at the people who are trained to find out what’s happening, and poor guy is just doing his best. 

I definitely don’t regret reading this over a weekend, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more books in this series. She hasn’t written any more yet, but I have the feeling it’s a series. 

Big thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the eARC in exchange for a review. 

Reading · Top Ten Tuesday

Books By My Favorite Authors…That I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This one is tough, since I generally read everything an author has written as soon as I figure out I love that author. Please see Karin Slaughter & Simone St. James. However, I have plenty of ‘guilty pleasure’ authors & a couple of non-fiction authors that I read more sporadically. 

My Guilty Pleasure Authors:

  • A Deeper Darkness by JT Ellison – I loved her Taylor Jackson series (I apparently missed one of those as well, but I’m not changing my list!), so I can’t wait to get started on the Dr. Samantha Owens series!
  • Find Her by Lisa Gardner – I’ve read all but 7 of Gardner’s books (not counting .5s or her romance novels) and I can’t get enough of them. This is the 8th in the D.D. Warren series & I’d like to catch up before the 10th comes out next year. 
  • Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag – I rediscovered Tami Hoag this year and I’m a big fan. I’ve heard this is the weakest in her Oak Knoll series, but I’d like to find out for myself. Her weakest book is still stronger than most.
  • I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark – Mary Higgins Clark is such a classic – I know what I’m getting into and that I’m going to enjoy to enjoy myself. Plus, a woman is on video kidnapping her own kid but she didn’t do it, I’m in.

The Non-Fiction:

  • The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston – I like Preston’s fiction works too, but this one has all the things I love. A lost city, mysterious illness, adventure, history, etc. 
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh – I connect with Allie Brosh’s illustrations and stories on a soul-level. I don’t know how I haven’t read this.
  • Hell’s Princess by Harold Schecter – I have quite a few of his books waiting on the shelves, but I’m very very interested in his take on Belle Gunness.

The Current ‘Favorite’:

I’m currently reading all the Charles Todd books I can. Well, I will be once I get done with all the books I need to read. I’ve been turning to British cozy mystery tv shows, so it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to (what I consider) British cozy mystery books. It may be a bit cheating to have 3 books from the same author, but I don’t care. 

Reviews

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis {Review}

Cover art for A Madness So DiscreetFrom Goodreads:

Grace Mae knows madness.
She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.
When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

This book is a solid ‘meh’ from me. I’m not sure what bugged me specifically, but it was a nagging in the back of my mind. Overall, though, I don’t regret reading it and would probably suggest it to others depending on their reading tastes. I struggled with the more ‘supernatural-ish’ bits in the book and also everyone was just…too progressive for the time. Which is a weird thing to be bothered by, since I agree with all of their views, but it kept pulling me out of the story. There are several relationships that I side eye, as well as character aspects that I have a hard time buying (aka come out of nowhere for no reason). The first two thirds or so of the book are pretty well paced and plotted. I bought a lot of what happened and why it happened, but then that last third kind of came from nowhere and felt overly rushed. It kind of spun away from what I thought was happening. Also, Grace’s actions re: the chemist make me scratch my head…I really want to write a spoiler here, but I won’t. I just didn’t get it, I guess.

But I did enjoy a lot of the book. Grace’s friends in the ethical asylum are a duo that I would love to hang out with. They are bright spots. The text itself is often incredibly lyrical. I can’t find my copy of the book, so I won’t put in an example, but there were many many times where I reread a passage just because it was so beautifully written.

I think my problems with the book are just that, mine. I can definitely see people loving this book so if it seems interesting to you I think you should give it a try.

-S-