February Book Reviews, Part 2

Hey, gang! Thanks for joining me today as I trot out the final half of my book reviews for February. If you missed part one, and would like to check out what other books consumed my reading time during winter’s coldest and snowiest month, you can find it here.

For the books below, click the Amazon link for blurbs and additional details. I’m only sharing my impressions of each to keep the post from becoming too long.


Book cover for The Hunting Party, a novel by Lucy FoleyThe Hunting Party
by Lucy Foley
A snowbound setting, a killing, and multiple suspects—as soon as I read the premises for this book I was all in. A group of old friends, together since college, reunite every year to catch-up with one another—this time over the New Year’s holiday at an isolated resort in the Scottish Highlands.

This is a privileged group of characters, used to fine dining, the best in champagne and party locations. Some are stuck in the mindset of their college days when responsibility only lingered on a distant horizon, while others have moved onto the reality of demanding careers or starting a family. At first glance, most are superficial, pretty on the surface with a darker underbelly. There are stress fractures in the friendships, fissures that have been building over time, only to rupture with the glittery festivity of New Year.

Most of the characters are flawed in one way or another and very few are above reproach, but the complexity of their entanglements makes for riveting reading. There is no black or white in their actions but nuanced layers of manipulation, one-upmanship, old grudges, and petty jealousies. If that sounds like people you don’t want to get to know, it’s worth taking the time with these characters. They’re skillfully painted by the author, brushstroke by brushstroke. It’s only in the closing chapters that the surface gloss of each is stripped away, and we see them for who they truly are.

My only complaint is that it does take a while to settle into the book. There are four female POVs and one male. Multiple POVs do not bother me, but all the female narration is done in first person (the male in present third). As a result, it took several chapters before I was able to get a grasp on who was narrating. I had to keep flipping back to the title headers until I adjusted to the voices and who was who. If not for the so many narrators (in first person), this would be a five star read for me. It requires a bit of work at the beginning to adjust, but if you enjoy a murder mystery with complex suspects and multiple motives, this is a delicious tale in which to lose yourself for a few days. Extra kudos to the author for catching me by surprise with the murderer and motive.

Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Amazon Link


Book cover for Evil Lurks, a Horror Anthology by various authorsEvil Lurks
(Multiple Authors)
This is a hard book to rate, because of the diversity of stories. All are geared toward the paranormal and horror. I’m sure each reader will have stories that resonate with them more than others. There were a few gems that really stood out for me including The Revelation, Spirit of Lonely Places, Life in There, Onryo, and A Break In. I also enjoyed the first story, Cat Food, which may make you look at your felines a bit differently. Collections of stories are nice because you needn’t read them all at once, but can enjoy a tale over a lunch or coffee break—in this case, along with goosebumps and shivers!

Genre:  Horror Anthology
Amazon Link


Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weedsEnd of Day
by Mae Clair

Yes, I read my own book—cover to cover without an eye for editing. Having just submitted the third and final book of this series to my editor, I wanted to make sure there was good flow from book two to book three. Obviously I’m not going to review End of Day, but if you’d like to see what other readers think of my second venture into the fictional town of Hode’s Hill, follow the link below.

Genre:  Supernatural Mystery/Suspense
Amazon Link

 


I’ve already got my nose in the the first of March’s books, and am making a dent in the BEHEMOTH I call my TBR.

Sometimes I think of it like The Blob. Remember that old movie with Steve McQueen? There was even a remake in the 80s with Kevin Dillion. Of course I watched them both. And, of course I’ll keep reading, because—it’s an addiction, you know? 😉

52 thoughts on “February Book Reviews, Part 2

  1. Mae, I can relate to the ‘BEHEMOTH I call my TBR’! I’ve decided to think of how lucky I am to have these great books waiting to be read instead of daunted by its size! 😀

    Great reviews here and a good point about the POV … that should be evident very quickly if interchanging so often but sounds intense and gripping! Well done for re-reading your own book … I don’t know if I could without looking how it could be changed!

    Happy Reading and thank you for sharing your reviews! 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annika, there are time I wish I could nothing but read–until writing calls me and reminds me I have my own stories to tell. Even though the TBR will probably constantly push the limits of mutating into more behemoths I keep adding books to it!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews. As for reading my own work, I think the only book I’d probably read with an exceptionally critical eye these days was my first release. I KNOW there’s a lot I would change in that one, LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s wonderful to while away the hours putting a dent in the TBR, especially when it’s frigid outside. Although, come summer I’ll probably spend even more time reading by my pool. Maybe I’ll be able to whittle The Blob down to a Blobette, LOL.
      Thanks for reading, Priscilla!

      Like

    • Thank you for sharing your review on End of Day, Michele. I really appreciated that post on your blog. And your story in Evil Lurks was one of my favorites.

      I can’t believe the author chose to use so many first person POVs in The Hunting Party. It would have been better done in third IMHO. I’m really not a fan of books that use multiple first, but in this case, I’m glad I stuck with it.

      Like

  2. I love that you read your own work without an editor’s eye. I’ve never done that. (I don’t know if I could… or if I’d want to!) Since you won’t review End of Day, I will. It was AMAZEBALLS!

    That first book intrigues me, but I don’t know how I feel about the POV switches. I’ve started reading Evil Lurks, but I only read one story so far (I enjoyed it). It will probably be a while before I get to the others, as my own TBR pile is blob-like, as well.

    Nice list, Mae.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess I’m weird. I don’t do it very often but I actually enjoy going back and reading my own books every now and then. I haven’t done it for ages, so it was kind of nice to enjoy End of Day. Thank you for that AMAZEBALLS endorsement, LOL. Love it! 🙂

      The Hunting Party was great. I really liked one of the more complex characters, but with so many first person POVs it really took me a while to settle in. It stumps me why she just didn’t write it in third.

      Good luck with whittling down the blob. I swear they mutate when we’re not looking 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If it done right these types of stories work. I’m surprised the author did first person with so many characters. I can see the confusion on your part. That would have been a concern for me if I had written this.

    Excellent review. I’m curious. It’s on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I’d realized going in there were going to be all those first person POV’s I probably wouldn’t have bought it. The beginning seemed scattershot to me, but once I adjusted I was okay. It just boggles my mind she wrote it in first.

      Glad you enjoyed my review. It’s a good one to keep on your radar.

      Like

  4. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book with shifts from first person to third – that would definitely be confusing, and probably through me out of the story. But that setting sounds perfect! And you know the Cat Food story has me curious, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As much as I love cats, they do work well when paired with creepy, LOL.

      I’ve read several books that switch from third to first, though my preference would be all one or the other. In Hunting Party, it felt a bit gimmicky because it was done in third present. The book was excellent, but from a POV standpoint the whole thing was a little odd.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like something for your living documents and Pinterest boards 🙂
      From a reading perspective I’d be all over that!

      Speaking of Steve McQueen, my husband and I watched the original Magnificent Seven over the weekend. I forgot just how “cool” McQueen and Yul Brynner were!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! That blows me away, Jacquie. I was so worried about End of Day (for various reasons). I’m thrilled to hear you’re enjoying it!

      The Hunting Party is a great murder mystery. I actually loved having so many characters to keep track of….although I would have preferred third person, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a good description of the TBR list, The Blog! I always read my own book after it comes out, its a whole new read to me when out of edit mode. Great reviews Mae!

    I have been reading the latest Stephen King. I haven’t been able to do that in a while so its fun:) Although I won’t do a review.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting reviews, Mae. I never thought of reviewing my own book. 🙂 However, your post reminded me that I need to move “Cusp of Night” up my humongous TBR list! Yes, I have one too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you read your own book (without the editor’s hat on). I don’t think I’d ever be able to read my own and get enjoyment from it (I’m waaaay to critical of myself). That said, like Robbie, I’m in the middle of Cusp of Night (well 64%) and am loving it. You have such a knack for environment / setting… Hode’s Hill comes alive. I’m now not so sure about ‘the murderer’… I thought I had it all figured out, but recent revelations are making me doubtful now!
    I’d be interested in reading the reviews of the books you DNF this month – just curious as to why they didn’t work for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jess, I love that I have you guessing about the murderer in Cusp. Goal accomplished, even if you’re proven right at the end. It’s the guessing game I hope to inspire when I write 😀

      I think you could enjoy reading your own stuff. I find it motivates me when I’m stuck or flirting with writer’s block, although I don’t read my own books very often. There are too many others fighting for attention in my TBR.

      I never wrote reviews on the two books I didn’t finish. I won’t review anything if I can’t give it at least three stars. In both cases though, I couldn’t connect with the main characters. They were just…drab. And in one of the books it felt like there was chapter upon chapter of nothing happening. *yawn* I had to give up on both.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good way of handling DNFs… I’ve avoided reviewing a few books I DNF or finished but really struggled with, because I don’t want to post negative reviews. I kinda felt like I should still review them, but maybe by just not, it’s getting the same point across.

        71% through now!! I’m just eating this book 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m the same way with the DNfs and books I didn’t like. Part of me wants to express why the book didn’t work for me, but I’ve come to the conclusion it’s better if I don’t say anything.

        71%! YAY!! 😀

        Like

  8. Thanks for sharing your reviews, Mae! And I am behind on leaving reviews. I owe one for Mind Control, End of Day, Another D for DeeDee (my writing sister’s MG), and I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten. Man, it’d be great to start working a little faster through my towering–and yes, nearly behemoth–TBR list. And then there’s that whole writing thing. I wonder if/when I retire, if I could get through my TBR before I cross to the other side…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I’m ever going to get through my TBR. I read a book and then buy 3-4 more, LOL.

      Oooh, I didn’t realize you’d finished End of Day. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it! And Mind Control was an awesome book. I’m finding that I like writing reviews now that I’m sharing them on my blog. Of course, it’s yet another commitment to writing. Oh, for the days of retirement! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t like multiple POVs in first person. I like third person unless you’re only in one person’s head. It’s really hard to keep up with who’s head you’re in. And I don’t usually like present tense unless an author is so good that I don’t even notice. That being said, The Hunting Party sounds like something I would really like. I might check it out.

    Evil Lurks probably has some stories that are right up my alley! 🙂

    And, of course, End of Day is the best of the three!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thanks for that, Lauralynn *blush*
      My favorite is third person, but I’ve gotten to the pint where first doesn’t bother me like it used to….except those multiple POVs.I used to HATE present tense (shudder whenever I saw it) and now I actually like it, especially for a psychological thriller.
      So nice to have you pop in. Hope all is well with you!

      Like

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