Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The Asian community is kicking off summer with the return of its popular Cleveland Night Market festivities, and Lana Lee is excited to represent the Ho-Lee Noodle House booth with her favorite chef, Peter Huang. Lana is confident that the evening marks the beginning of a great season to come. Not only is she looking forward to the warm temperatures, but her birthday is only weeks away, her handsome boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, is planning a romantic get-away. Life couldn't be better.

But before she can get too accustomed to the idea of a carefree summer, an explosion involving a nearby food truck, Wonton on Wheels, kills one of the proprietors and injures several others in the nearby vicinity.

When the authorities discover that this was no accident, the family members of the dead man become the number-one suspects in a front-page murder story. Lana and her best friend, Megan Riley, fall back into detective mode. But as they uncover family secrets of abuse and angry costumers, Lana's own family drama raises its head. Will Lana be able to juggle everything the universe is throwing at her, or has she jumped from the frying pan to the fire?"

My Thoughts:

Two books in and I'm really enjoying this cozy mystery series.  To be clear though, I started earlier this year with the third book (Murder Lo Mein) and just now finished this one which is the fourth book so I'm still reading completely out of order.  I enjoyed both of these books for a variety of reasons but one highlight of the series is the food featured in each book.  I read both of these books constantly craving spring rolls and rice.  LOL - but seriously these books made me hungry!  My favorite things about cozy mysteries is that they feel like comfort reads.  I don't usually read these types of books for the mystery although that is always an enjoyable part of it.  I read them for the characters, and this series is no different.  I really enjoy Lana's character and her inquisitive ways.  I think I enjoyed this book just a tiny bit more than its' predecessor only because I really started to get a handle on all of the other characters and who they are.  It's fun to see Lana navigate this new life of running her family business while also trying to solve crimes.  She never means to get involved but her curiosity always gets the better of her.  This book had a bit of a darker theme to it in regards to spousal abuse.  If this is a trigger for you then you may want to read Murder Lo Mein instead.  I thought that the author handled this topic respectfully which is all that you can really ask for.  I'm excited to continue on with this series but I REALLY need to catch up with the first two books while I wait for the next book to release.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and this series in general has moved on to my must read list.  I've become attached to Lana and all of her family thanks to these two books.  It's actually really nice that I've read them both this year because I remembered most of the details from Murder Lo Mein which doesn't always happen when I read books that are part of series.  I would recommend this series to fans of cozy mysteries.  I don't think that you have to read them in order (I sure haven't been) but I'm sure that you would also get maximum enjoyment if you did read them that way.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A great addition to what is becoming a favorite cozy mystery series for me.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Still Life by Louise Penny (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. 

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces--and this series--with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny."
My Thoughts:


'We choose our thoughts. We choose our perceptions. We choose our attitudes. We may not think so. We may not believe it, but we do. I absolutely know we do. I've seen enough evidence, time after time, tragedy after tragedy. Triumph after triumph. It's about choice." 
from Still Life by Louise Penny

I first read this book back in 2012 according to my Goodreads account (I never actually shared my thoughts on it though it looks like).  I never continued on with the series though afterwards.  Fast forward seven years and I decided that it was time to reread this one thanks to all of the love this series gets from bookstagram.  I enjoyed my time rereading this book immensely.  I immersed myself within the pages of this book and almost didn't want to come up for air.  This book isn't one to rush through but instead is one to just savor.  With such gorgeous writing I don't know how you would want to do anything else if I'm being honest.  I'm not one that marks passages that speak to me but I did while rereading this book.  Maybe it was the perfect timing of reading this book again at just the right point in my life.  I can't say for sure but there were various points where this book just spoke to me.  It made me sit and think with it for awhile which I certainly don't do often enough.  I saw somewhere that Inspector Gamache had been compared to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot.  I can definitely see what they mean and feel like it explains all the more my enjoyment of Gamache as I'm a huge fan of Christie's Poirot books.  Reading this book again after seven years was an interesting reading experience also because my memory of the storyline was basically forgotten.  I could remember who I thought was behind everything but the why's, what led there, and everything else all still felt knew to me.  It honestly felt like I was almost experiencing this book again for the first time.  I'm so glad that I went back and reread this book so that I can now continue on with reading more of this series.  It's a reading experience that I'm not likely to forget any time soon as this book just struck a cord with me!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book so much and am grateful that I've found this series (again?) thanks to bookstagram!  I can tell you that I certainly won't be waiting seven years before finally moving on to the second book in this series.  I actually think that this is a series that I'm going to want to own and have on my own shelves so I'm going to start picking up copies as I can.  I've always been a huge fan of mysteries but a book like this really stands out from the rest.  I loved my time with this book and almost wasn't ready to see it end.  I'll leave you with another quote that I couldn't help but savor.  Highly, highly recommended!

"Life is change. If you aren't growing and evolving you're standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead. Most of these people are very immature. They lead "still" lives, waiting.'

'Waiting for what?'

'Waiting for someone to save them. Expecting someone to save them or at least protect them from the big, bad world. The thing is no one else can save them because the problem is theirs and so is the solution. Only they can get out of it.from Still Life by Louise Penny

Bottom Line:  An outstandingly good read!  I cannot highly recommend enough!

Disclosure:  I checked this book out from my local library - it is my mission to now have this one on my own shelves in the near future.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"While Britain is obsessed with the newest hit true-crime television show, Fact, or Fable? detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver are tormented by a fiendish flesh-and-blood killer on the loose.

Lured to a “crime scene” by a mysterious digital invitation, Ruth Lake is horrified by what she finds: a bizarre and gruesome tableau surrounded by a crowd of gawkers. The deadly work is the latest “art installation” designed by a diabolical criminal dubbed the Ferryman. Not only is this criminal cold-blooded; he’s a narcissistic exhibitionist desperate for an audience. He’s also clever at promoting his deadly handiwork. Exploiting England’s current true-crime craze, he uses social media to titillate and terrorize the public.

Ruth is joined in the investigation by her partner Greg Carver, who is slowly regaining his strength after a run-in with another sadistic criminal. But Greg can’t seem to shake the bewildering effects of the head wound that nearly ended him. Are the strange auras blurring his vision an annoying side effect of his injury, or could they be something more . . . a tool to help him see a person’s true nature?"

My Thoughts:

I'm starting to feel like 2019 is becoming the year of sequels for me.  I've been reading some absolutely stellar books that are all second books in their respective series - and I can add this one to the list without hesitation!  Last year, I read and loved the first book which is titled Splinter in the Blood.  It was dark and thrilling which is exactly the type of book that I enjoy reading most.  I've been anticipating this book every since finishing that first one.  I've got to say that this book was just as good (if not slightly better) than its' predecessor.  Let's start this off though by saying that it's probably for the best if you read these books in order.  Do you have to read that first book?  No, but if you don't a lot of what happened in that first book will be spoiled for you to a certain extent.  I just think you will enjoy these books more if you read them both but you certainly don't have to.  That being said, this book starts off with a bang.  Carver and Ruth are both still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in that previous book but in different ways.  All of that has to be pushed aside though as they are drawn into another dangerous and high profile case.  The best part of this book for me was how easily the author was able to keep me guessing.  I feel like I was going back and forth suspecting different individuals but I wasn't even close.  The storyline was just as dark and fast-paced as it was in the first book.  I found myself reading for as long as possible because I just couldn't stop reading.  In fact, I broke my late night reading rule that I have during the week just so that I could finish this one.  Ha!  I'm very, very intrigued by a separate storyline that the author brought into this book.  I expect that we will learn more about it in the next book but I fully admit that it's going to be a very long wait until then!

Overall, I enjoyed this one immensely and am now officially a huge fan of this series!  I was a huge fan after the first book but I feel like with two winners in a row this author has jumped on to my must read list.  It's going to be so hard to wait for book three in this series, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait after loving these first two so much!  What more can you ask for with a book that has you on edge while reading guessing the entire time?  It was a marvelous reading experience and now I need more books and series to follow just like this!  I would recommend this book to fans of suspense, thrillers, and mysteries alike.  Be warned that both of these books edge on the darker side but it's so worth it!  I'll just be over here impatiently pining for the next book whenever it is due to release.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A series and author to take note of - do yourself a favor and start with Splinter in the Blood to get the full reading experience!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.