Karen is a psychotherapist, and she’s newly back on the job after a long sabbatical, following the death of her husband. Her own demons and grief haunt her even as she tries to help her patients.
Josh and Lydia are a struggling couple who arrive for their first therapy session, bringing numerous red flags with them. There’s something dangerous going on in their marriage and maybe something else lurking in the fog of this relationship. Can Karen help them? Or are they holding something back that threatens all of them? (Dun dun dunnn!)
I read through this one quick! It was fun.
I love psychological thrillers and was immediately drawn in by the fresh feeling of the therapist’s point of view. Hasn’t everyone always wondered what’s going on in a therapists brain during sessions? I do! The choice to use the therapy sessions as a framework for chapters provided a steady pace of balance information and anticipation and was honestly just interesting as hell to me. It also formed this meandering but somehow hypnotic rhythm that kept me reading even when it wasn’t a fast-paced moment. Definitely a successful creative choice.
Another benefit of the uses of sessions spaced out in time and multiple points of view, is that I never knew exactly what was going on in The Divorce. Which I enjoyed very much, to be honest. I didn’t see the end coming in this book and, while I personally felt that the drama could have been amped up even more in the big twist, I enjoyed how well telegraphed and organized the end really was, when it’s revealed.
I’ve seen some less stellar reviews of this one floating around, but I enjoyed it! It’s certainly a freshman novel, in that its the author’s first foray into the genre of a psychological thriller, but overall I found many more positives than not. Its pacing could’ve been tightened up, some unnecessary inner monologue taken out or moved around, I could nitpick more if I wanted to. But it was also so creative in its use of many points of view, it was hypnotic and able to keep me guessing. I didn’t feel that this book’s fumbles over-balanced the rest.
I would recommend this to people who like this genre or haven’t read much in this genre, and especially those who enjoy or don’t mind watching an author develop through their writing. This was great for a first debut into psychological thrillers for Jenkins. I enjoyed this book a lot and will definitely be looking forward to this author’s next foray into the dark and twisty.
I very much enjoyed Bodega by Su Hwang. This delightful and vivid collection of poems was fun and interesting to read, while serving as an authentic perspective into the immigrant experience.
What Hwang excels at most, in my opinion, is the beautiful and descriptive voice she uses to immerse you into an environment. In poems like Corner Store Still Life, Projects NYC, 1989, and the titular poem Bodega, Hwang paints such a visceral and tangible picture that I felt as if I could close my eyes and hear the noises she described around me.
In poems like Hopscotch and Latchkeys, Hwang delivers another form of transportation in that I felt transported back in time to my own childhood. Running to look responsible when your parents come home, playing outside and dreaming of fairy dust and towers, I felt my youth in these poems, colorful, vibrant, and beautiful.
Occasionally some lines would feel wordy or I wouldn’t grasp the meaning of a few sentences, but overall Bodega was an excellent, creative debut. I would recommend Bodega to any of my friends who enjoy poetry.
Received this DRC in exchange for an honest review.
“Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams. They are not supposed to be famous for murders.”
Truly Devious follows Stevie Bell on her way to her first year at the illustrious Ellingham Academy. Ellingham is somewhat famous for a bizarre murder where the killer left a riddle, that is still yet to be solved. And there’s another odd thing about Ellingham– they believe that learning is a game.
All of her classmates seem to be prodigies or special in some way and she comes to wonder if that doesn’t have something to do with the school’s odd philosophies. Stevie herself is somewhat of a prodigy, or she hopes to be, when it comes to solving crimes. Her plan? To solve the Truly Devious murder that happened right here at Ellingham all those years ago. Which only gets more complicated as another grisly murder envelops the school.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson was a truly fun read.
It had some highs and lows for me personally, but I still can’t say that I didn’t enjoy this book all the way through. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on.
Let’s start with the highs.
The main character, Stevie, was my favorite part of this book. Stevie is smart, witty, confident and has watched Law and Order: SVU almost as many times as I have. Her humor is quick and funny and I also thought that most of her choices aligned well with her skills and background, which I love to read in a book. I never felt like “why is a high school kid doing this right now?” which is so refreshing. Whether it was her fascination with crime, striving to be herself with conservative and concerned parents, or reacting to a friend’s death, I felt that Stevie was a pretty authentic teenager, and I enjoyed following her around. I could’ve done with a few less Sherlock Holmes references, just because I think the comparison between them isn’t serving to Stevie, but that’s something small I don’t consider a real issue.
Personally, I especially loved her battle with anxiety throughout the book. I struggle with an Anxiety Disorder myself and they are the worst, so to see it portrayed in such an accurate and relatable way was wonderful. From her struggle to remember if she has her medications with her when she needs them to a very authentic panic attack near the end of the book, I felt honesty and empathy in all of these scenes. I appreciated that Johnson added this layer so much.
Another aspect of this book that I liked was the fact that the main plot is written alongside a sub-plot that happens in parallel in 1963, when the first Truly Devious murder took place at Ellingham. Many times I found myself more invested in this story than the other and it was hard to go back and forth sometimes! These were probably my favorite chapters, and reading about the old murder and how it all fell out felt like an important piece of this story.
One thing Truly Devious has an abundance of is side characters. All of them were unique and interesting, but at some point I stopped being able to keep track of all of the people we’d met. Some of them we meet so briefly that I wasn’t sure why they were there in the first place, except that this is a series and they may come into play at a later date. I kept thinking about googling a character chart.
The only aspect that I truly struggled with was an odd one, and that’s the feeling that…nothing really happened throughout most of this book. Some big events cluster at the end, which had a more satisfying feel, but for a lot of the novel Stevie is settling in at school and the focus is on her and her friends’ lives. This may be a personal preference, but I wanted to get to the crime solving already! It’s a great premise for a novel but I felt that there were a lot of opportunities missed to focus on the most interesting parts of this book. Now, knowing that its a trilogy, I temper this complaint with the fact that this book may have been our introduction to the characters for this series. But I still wanted more. Even the end, while technically having two cliffhangers, felt something like a dream melting away when I set the book down. I can’t completely decide how I feel about the end.
Right now you may be saying “Wait, I thought you liked this book, but nothing happened?” Yeah! I did! I know, it’s weird. Aside from any complaints I have about the plot or the characters, Truly Devious was fun to read. I never found myself in a position where I wanted to stop reading or didn’t want to turn the page. It swept me up into a confusing momentum that I rode out until the end.
Overall, I think I would recommend Truly Devious. Especially those who like more contemporary or teen relationships than gritty murder or those who like a gentler kind of crime novel. It definitely achieves these and more. I really do look forward to reading the sequel, both to see how the series improves and because I want to know what happens.
Overall, good and bad, but Truly Devious was still a ride I would get on again. Look for the review to the sequel, The Vanishing Stair, in the coming weeks!
“This is our territory,” I said, giving him the words he needed. “We don’t allow black magic in our territory.”
When Mercy Thompson declared the tri-cities protected territory of the Columbia Basin pack last year, she didn’t expect that duty to come calling so soon. Again. Only this time the threat might be closer to home.
Someone is working black magic in the tri-cities and they’re leaving quite a few bodies behind them while they do it. Mercy, Adam, and the rest of their family must find out who it is, and fast, before this violence breaks the fragile peace in their city, and the country too.
The eleventh addition to the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs dropped at the beginning of this month and it was a whirlwind. Literally.
Between the witches and goblins and miniature zombie goats, yes you read that correctly, there’s enough magic and chaos to go around in Storm Cursed.
I’ve been reading this series, and its companion series Alpha & Omega which shares a timeline, for years. Briggs has been amping up the stakes and the drama for many novels now and this one seemed to do the same. The big clash between the Fae and the United States has finally come to a lull and tense negotiations are about to begin when the trouble goes down for Mercy and friends. I would have loved for the book to have spent more time with that plot line, as I am still eager to know a lot more than we got to see this time, but the main plot is a terrifying group of witches trying to stop these talks. Overall, the story was pure and gripping fun to read.
One thing I’ve always loved about Briggs is the way she writes characters and that is where this book also shines. Her main characters are complex, tough, layered, and beyond relatable while also being a coyote shapeshifter and a werewolf. That’s a feat. I love spending time with Mercy and Adam and that they grow and change along with every story. Their relationship continues to be one of my favorite to follow throuought all of its various developments.
They’re joined by some of my favorite supporting characters and the books are well-known for the bedrock that they create in this world. I find it so fun and interesting that Briggs cycles carefully through her side characters when she assigns who will have a larger role in each book, because it creates something pretty wonderful. I never know who I’m going to get the privilege to hang out with in the next book until I get to read it and she always brings a new layer to a beloved character when they take the spotlight.
I loved seeing more of Stefan after the last few books and it was great to have Tad take a larger role in this one too. As always Zee was there to support his own, and Paul had a powerful moment as well that left me quite heartbroken. I can’t wait to find out more about Sherwood! Knowing Briggs, I’ll have to wait a few books to piece all of the connections of his fascinating backstory together, but that’s honestly half the fun.
I even loved spending time with the villains in this book. Specifically Wulfe, though he doesn’t play the central villain in this particular story. His unique brand of psychotic politeness and violence was a hilarious backdrop to some of the moments in this book. And yet again, Briggs has me wondering about all new questions to a character I thought that I’d known well for many books. I can’t wait to know more. The central villains themselves are the things of nightmares. Briggs has an unnatural ability to write visceral and disturbing moments that stay with you for a long time.
In addition, Storm Cursed is another great example of Briggs ability to tie in plot threads across her series. She’s a master at making the smallest connections between ideas that seem forgotten and then end up being important pieces of story.
My only complaint about Storm Cursed is that it was too short. In some ways, that’s just me complaining and I need to get over it. Patricia Briggs had a couple of very tough years personally and yet she still put out a great book and I loved it, I can’t say otherwise. At times though, I felt that the length also held moments back from what I thought they could have been at other times in her writing. It was as if the story rushed by me like a train, too fast to see all the wonderful, beautiful details that I know she spent time and effort crafting. If anything this complaint is a high compliment because this book could have been twice as long and still as good, but I would love to see her books grow a little longer as the series goes on.
Storm Cursed, despite my desire for more of it, was yet another solid addition to the Mercy Thompson series. I highly recommend it and will definitely be reading it again when I revisit this wonderful series.
“Coyote’s Daughter,” he said. “We shall sing them to the great death.”