mystery

Wounded Little Gods by Eliza Victoria

29413691Title: Wounded Little Gods

Author: Eliza Victoria

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Regina was born and raised in the small town of Heridos, where gods and spirits walked the earth.

Until they didn’t.

Ten years ago, the whole town produced a bad harvest – rice grains as black as soot – and the people of the town moved on, away from the soil and the farms, believing the gods and spirits have abandoned them.

It is ten years later, on a Friday before a long weekend, and Regina ends her shift at an office in Makati. She walks home with a new colleague named Diana. Diana, following a strange and disturbing conversation with Regina, does not appear at the office on Monday, and the day after that.

And the day after that.

On Thursday, Regina opens her bag and finds a folded piece of paper filled with Diana’s handwriting.

On the page are two names and a strange map that will send Regina home.

Wounded Little Gods is one of those books you can easily read in one sitting. Not simply because it’s short, but because it draws you in and invites you on quite an interesting ride.

The story revolves around Regina, a young woman who has a strange conversation with her new colleague, Diana. Shortly after their odd encounter, Diana disappears, leaving behind a strange map that takes Regina back to her hometown of Heridos. She unearths a mystery filled with strange rumors and whispers about human experiments held in a medical facility no one seems to know about.

There isn’t much I can say about this book without giving the plot away, but I have to say I really, really liked the strange combination of medical experiments and spirits/gods that are both parts of the plot. How interesting to see how human experiments–often a product of people who act like gods–somehow intertwine with the very same spirits/gods that people believe in and imagine themselves to be.

This is a delightful book that gives us appearances of the old Filipino gods, throws in a little bit of horrifying Philippine history, and combines both elements to create a delicious story that mixes both fantasy and history together quite well.

I’d have given this a higher rating but I was confused for quite a while because I had initially though the book was about a curse on Heridos, based on the book’s summary. Instead, I found myself on a wild goose chase involving experiments and spirits, and it took me a while to adjust and realize that the book wasn’t really about the town at all, but more about gods and humans and how we all make mistakes–and how sometimes, those mistakes take away the most precious things from us. (Which was quite delightful really, but I was confused for most of the book before it dawned on me–I’m slow lol)

 

 

 

 

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The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

26116473Title: The Outliers

Author: Kimberley McCreight

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything.

It started out so, so well. I tend to ignore/dislike a lot of contemporary YA, but this one had a hold on me from the start.

Wylie receives a mysterious text for help from her best friend Cassie and sets off on a road trip with Jasper (Cassie’s boyfriend, who Wylie hates) to find her. Wylie struggles with her inner demons all throughout, and it’s great how she doesn’t come off as horribly whiny and angsty.

The characters were interesting. Wylie, Cassie, and Jasper (Cassie’s boyfriend) all have their own struggles, and you can see the different ways they deal with it. They’re not so annoyingly whiny/angsty that it seems unrealistic, unlike characters in other contemporary YA I’ve read. You get little glimpses of their lives through flashbacks and little stories, and it got me curious. I wanted to know more about them, and I wanted to know how it all tied up to Cassie’s disappearance and all the weird stuff happening.

The road trip itself was pretty much everything I wanted it to be. The agony of waiting for another text from Cassie, that fear that started off as a tiny sliver when they started out, but soon became more apparent the further they got from home. The full-blown fear when they discovered people were not what they seemed to be.

I read a lot of the book while I was on a 12-hour bus trip home, and the descriptions of the surroundings as they started getting darker and, well, a bit sinister, started sending shivers down my spine because I took a night trip and could easily imagine myself in Wylie’s shoes. (For some reason, I imagined myself getting stranded in the middle of nowhere alone and having to ask from help from strangers…. *shudders* Needless to say, I did not leave the bus except for a quick bathroom break at a stopover for fear I’d get left behind lol)

I think I’d have enjoyed this book more if the plot twist that explains everything didn’t…feel kinda out of place. I guess I was expecting something else altogether, so I wasn’t expecting the plot twist to be so….scientific-ish. That and the fact that the story started getting a bit draggy around the last 1/4 of the book (this irony) just didn’t sit well with me. I am so disappointed I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. 😦

The book also ends in a horrible cliffhanger, which is probably understandable since this is part of a series, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read the next book. We’ll see. Haha.

Disclaimer: I won an Advanced Reader Copy through a book giveaway hosted by National Bookstore.

 

The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

18664342Title: The Fever Series

Author: Karen Marie Moning

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

I’m reviewing the entire series as a whole because I binge-read it and I have too many feels + it would be too spoilery to review them all. Haha. Also I honestly lack the skill to express just how good this series is so I made this list of reasons why it is amazing and why you should definitely read it:

  1. I read six books in this series in a week. Which is saying something considering how short my attention span is lately. XD  To be honest, I’ve seen a lot of praise for this on Goodreads. I was hesitant to start the series though, because the cover of Darkfever (at least the first one I saw on Goodreads heh) looked like something from the New Adult genre and I wasn’t in the mood to read NA. But now I’m really, really glad I read the series because it was so much more than I ever expected. 
  2. The characters. Ms. Moning is an excellent writer who gives us well-written, complicated characters that you just can’t help but love and cheer for. The main characters, Mac and Barrons, are the epitome of everything I hate in characters. Mac is that silly, spoiled, weak, selfish girly girl who whines a lot. Barrons is a douchebag who is possessive and violent and the ultimate alpha male. Despite that, I love them. I’ll admit I was pretty annoyed while I read Darkfever, but they grew on me. It’s amazing. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I love them so so much that I am already dying for the next book, which doesn’t come out until next year. RIP me. I particularly love Mac soooo much, she’s an excellent example that female characters CAN be as tough as nails (ala Katniss Everdeen) AND enjoy fashion/shopping/painting your nails/etc too. Because being feminine doesn’t mean you’re weak! The Unseelie King is another fave, but I refuse to say anything else because everything is potentially spoiler-ish. Lol.
  3. The world-building. Even if for nothing else, read it for the magnificent world Ms. Moning has created. My mind was blown away by the different courts and kinds of Fae she created. I want to live in this world, even if it’s only so I can meet Barrons i’m so shallow lmao Just keep those fecking Shades away from me! I’m afraid Ms. Moning has upped my standards to impossibly high levels for urban fantasy and Fae-related stories because this is probably the best Fae-related plot I’ve read.
  4. Excellent writing. I’m super super glad there were three public holidays last week because I spent them all hiding underneath the sheets while reading the books. I couldn’t put them down, even when I was freaking out because the Shades are so scary and and my brain was frantically wondering if they’re nomming on me now in the dark? but who cares because I need to know who killed Alina and what the hell Barrons is and how Mac is going to survive all this shit?? Also can I just say that it is super, super awesome how Mac gets into shit and she always gets out of it herself instead of Barrons or V’lane or some other guy swooping in to save her?? Mac is awesome, guys.

Confession time: Okay, fine, I skipped Iced because Dani’s way of talking annoys me so I don’t know if I can survive a whole book of “fecks” and “dudes” but I will attempt to read this eventually!! I mean, I love Dani but I can only stand her in small doses :(((( I’m hoping this will change when I get around to reading Iced. X’D

 

Rook by Daniel O’Malley

10836728Title: Rook (The Checquy Files #1)

Author: Daniel O’Malley

Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Mystery 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own. In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined. Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, THE ROOK is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.”

It’s an intriguing start for a book, one that wanna makes you read on. Unfortunately, the info dumps in the first half of the book that so conveniently spell out everything for our amnesiac heroine almost put me to sleep. I almost DNF’d this because I kept falling asleep in the middle of a looong explanation about someone or something related to the Checquy.

Now, I’m not a hater of info dumps. I’ve read and loved many books, such as Feed and Ready Player One, that have a lot of information thrown at you. I quite like explanations, really, because it helps me understand the characters and the world they live in better. So I guess Rook was an exception. Sometimes the explanations were so long that I wanted to just throw the book away. I honestly don’t know how Myfanwy managed to read and absorb so much of that huge purple encyclopedia binder she carried around in such a short span of time.

I actually managed to completely miss an important plot twist because I was skimming some parts out of sheer boredom. I only realized it when people started getting murdered and I went back and reread stuff to get what was happening. Lol.

Another thing about the info dumps was they would pop up just as things were getting exciting. Here we have Myfanwy struggling in the present with some Chequy problem and just as it’s starting to get good, bam! Hello information from past self, let’s just fall asleep for a while. Instead of making me highly anticipate what the explanation was about and how it would help Myfanwy in her present sticky situation, it just made me close the book and go to sleep. Oop.

Despite all my whining, don’t let that put you off this book. I really enjoyed the humor throughout the book. It was quite entertaining and probably the sole reason why I slogged through the first, very slow part of the book.

The Chequy, which is a supernatural CIA-ish branch of the British government, and the people working for it were all interesting and, despite the info dumps I did not really enjoy, it’s quite an amazing organization. It doesn’t hurt that people have weird, random powers that ranged from really creepy to super cool.

Another intriguing thing that kept me reading is Myfanwy, both her past and present self. Past Myfanwy was a brilliant but passive administrator who had excellent organization skills. Present Myfanwy maintains that brilliance but drops the passive nature along with the loss of her memory. It was quite intriguing (and amusing, if a bit baffling) to see how an amnesiac managed to fool a whole branch of CIA-ish people into thinking she was quite all right WHILE trying to sniff out a traitor. Although sometimes it just wasn’t that believable that she managed so well and barely anyone was suspicious, especially since she started acting quite different from her past self.

The second half picks up the pace and makes up for all the complaining I had during the first half. A lot of shit happens, including people getting killed, creepy supposedly imaginary organizations come to life, not to mention Myfanwy meets her estranged sister.

There’s quite a lot going on in this book, which is surprising when I remember the first half, but the British humor is so on point here. I looove it so much. Despite the fact that Rook is a book filled with gore and murder and crazy shit going on (and a skinless man to boot!), it was quite surprising because I wasn’t really expecting it to be so…dark. I suspect Myfanwy’s humor and sort of laidback attitude throughout the whole ordeal influenced me into not really expecting horrific murders to happen lol. Or at least, read descriptive paragraphs of how people were being murdered. Heh.

I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, if only so I can enjoy more of that dark humor and to learn more about the Chequey and their creepy yet interesting enemy, the Grafters. 😀

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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

17251093Title: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K. Rowling

Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction, Drama, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

A big novel about a small town…

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

I started reading this a long time ago, then put it aside because it just wasn’t interesting to me at the time.

I guess sometimes you just need the perfect timing and place to enjoy a book. This sat for so long on my to-read list before I considered reading it again. And I am SO glad I did.

I’m glad I didn’t read this book when it was released. All that hype, all that excitement for the very first book released by JK after Harry Potter? I’d probably have been disappointed.

See, the important thing here – which probably most reviewers have already said – is that you should NOT expect this to be like Harry Potter. At all. Because it isn’t. There is no magic, no spells and mystical creatures and flying motorcycles and such. This is a book about how one man’s death can affect many lives in a small town. It’s about ordinary people.

But it’s an extraordinary book.

It somewhat reminds me of the show Broadchurch. Except Broadchurch deals with the tragic murder of a child. The Casual Vacancy deals with the death of one man, no foul play whatsoever. But oh, how his death influences the lives of so many.

Like Broadchurch (at least, imo), The Casual Vacancy starts out a bit slow. Persevere if you feel like giving up after a few pages..continue reading because the pieces all fall together eventually. Or set aside the book for another time, like I did, and you’ll definitely realize the beauty of this book.

What I’ve gathered from this book is that it’s really amazing how significant each person is in the universe. You may think you’re not really anyone important, that no one would ever miss you if you disappear. But this book can prove you wrong. We’re all connected, in one way or another, whether in a good or bad way.

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

1431558Title: Smaller and Smaller Circles

Author: F.H. Batacan

Genre: Mystery, Crime, Suspense, Filipino Literature

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Smaller and Smaller Circles is unique in the Philippine literary scene – a Pinoy detective novel, both fast-paced and intelligent, with a Jesuit priest who also happens to be a forensic anthropologist as the sleuth. When it won the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for the English Novel in 1999, it proved that fiction can be both popular and literary.

F.H. Batacan has a degree in Broadcast Communication and a master’s degree in Art Studies, both from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She has worked as a policy researcher, broadcast journalist, web designer, and musician, and is currently a journalist based in Singapore. She previously won a prize for her short story “Door 59” in the 1997 Palanca awards, and her work has appeared in local magazines, as well as in the online literary magazine Web del Sol.

Smaller and Smaller Circles is one of those rare one-of-a-kind books that you discover by some lucky stroke of fate and treasure for a lifetime.

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Mini-review spree: Shine, Trese, The False Prince, and Zombies vs. Unicorns

I’ve already read 5 books so far this year and I’m feeling slightly panicky because  something tells me that if I don’t blog about them soon, my lazy ass is gonna just shrug it off and I’ll ignore them forever…and I don’t really want that to happen. Lol.

So to counter my laziness, I figured I’ll do mini-reviews for each book I’ve devoured so far because I figured that if I attempt to blog about them one by one, they might end up as drafts that never see the light of day. (Ugh, I’m sorry I’m so lazy T_T)

These books deserve recognition. Plus, they’re part of my reading challenges. Yes, challenges with an “s” because I am a masochist who wasn’t content with just one challenge. Guess who’s going to be crying at the end of the year as she struggles to complete them all. XD

The first challenge is the one I posted here, and the second one is a personal goal I decided on not so long ago: read 20 books by Filipino authors this year. I really, definitely need (and want) to be more aware and discover the gems of my own country’s literature.

Anyway, TL;DR: here are the reviews (which are short and probably don’t make much sense because I scribbled them down during lunch, hah)!

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Dwellers by Eliza Victoria

DwellersTitle: Dwellers

Author: Eliza Victoria

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Filipino Literature

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Rule No. 1: You don’t kill the body you inhabit.
Rule No. 2: You should never again mention your previous name.
Rule No. 3: You don’t ever talk about your previous life. Ever.

Two young men with the power to take over another body inhabit the bodies and lives of brothers Jonah and Louis. The takeover leads to a car crash, injuring Jonah’s legs and forcing them to stay in the brothers’ house for the time being.

The street is quiet. The neighbors aren’t nosy. Everything is okay.

They are safe, for now.

Until they find a dead body in the basement.

If anything, this book is a sign I definitely need to read more Filipino literature. In fact, it’s the reason why I’ve begun stalking NBS branches at every mall I get to visit. Which were several this month, because it’s the holiday season and I’ve had to run errands and hunt down exchange gifts. Lol.

I’m a horrible person but I’ve always thought of most contemporary Filipino books as subpar to their international counterparts. This is probably because I’ve been ignorant about the hidden gems I don’t really see in bookstores, because usually all I ever see displayed prominently are books about love, humor, love and humor combined…you get the idea. (Are Pinoys so obsessed/problematic about love that this is all that is ever written about? lol)

Dwellers was an eye-opener because it is NOT about love at all. It’s actually a thriller and it is all the right kinds of creepy and mysterious. I wanted to shout, “Where have books like these been hiding all my life??” I had no idea there was such a deliciously creepy tale hiding in the shelves of NBS all this time.

It hooks you right at the start, when you are introduced to two people who tell of switching bodies and a car accident and mention rules about inhabiting a body. What. And as the mystery unfolds, you find that you just can’t put the damn book down because you need to know what is happening. What are they doing. What is that damn body in the basement that was mentioned in the book’s summary doing there?

I was up the whole night reading this, fighting the urge to throw it away when things started to become scary. Because I’m a wimp like that. Haha. But it was such a fun and surprising read, and I’m really glad because I’ve now got a thirst to find more books by Filipino authors. Yay!

Dwellers is the reason for this:

pinoy tbr list

crappy picture is crappy but look at all those pinoy authors! \o/

My wallet is complaining but my inner bookworm is super duper happy! Here’s hoping I find more of the books on my pinoy-lit shelf. Hehe.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Okay, I was supposed to write reviews for the books I listed in my previous post, but I just needed to gush about this book first!!

9781250002693

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X

Author: Keigo Higashino

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.

When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko’s manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there’s something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.

Wow. This. Book. Is. Brilliant.

Okay, so the reason I actually discovered this book was because someone in K-pop was reading it and I was curious to find out about his reading tastes. LOL @ my shallow reasons XDD But I regret nothing now!!!

The Devotion of Suspect X begins with an accidental murder. Yasuko Hanaoka is your normal lady trying to live a normal life with her daughter. Except she’s got this no-good ex-husband, Togashi, who shows up and tries to get money from her. She tries to refuse, he threatens her and eventually he ends up dead on the floor of her apartment. Her neighbor, Ishigami (who has a sort of crush on her), overhears the commotion and decides to help her get rid of the body and cover up the entire thing.

Okay, that sounds pretty normal for a mystery/crime novel, I guess. Except Ishigami is a mathematical genius who uses logic to create a plan that is super brilliant, and one I don’t really want to talk about because I might end up saying something spoilery. Nevertheless, it is amazing to read the book and unravel the pieces of the puzzle one by one.

It’s pretty interesting how math is a factor in this…I hate math but the way it is explained in this book is simple and easy to understood (kudos to you author and translator!!). I’ve always said you don’t really need ~complicated math in real life but…Ishigami treats the murder like a mathematical equation and just… nah, nope not gonna say anything because

But anyway. I was surprised at how fast I read through this book, even with the math equations and explanations. Because normally math makes me fall asleep or run away. lmao The story just sucked me in, waiting in anticipation and dread for them to discover who the killer was. Because I really, really didn’t want the police to find out since Yasuko, well, was justified in her reasons and I didn’t want her life (and her daughter’s) to be ruined :c

The plot twist totally killed me because I did not see it happeniiiiiing AT ALL, which was pretty awesome for me because…this is a crime novel where you know from the start who the killer is. It’s just..how everything was done being slowly explained throughout the book that’s so enthralling…and just when I thought I knew everything and decided to just wait for the inevitable (because well, shouldn’t all crime novels end with the crimes being solved lol), the author came and punched me in the face while cackling and saying, “Hah! Surprise!!”

And that left me stunned and unable to sleep for a while, despite the fact that I stayed up late to finish reading. lels

bless my source for discovering a new author to love huhu