Book Review: Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Book Review: Zac and Mia by A.J. BettsZac and Mia by AJ Betts
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on September 2, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 289
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
"When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics."

So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

Winner of the 2012 Australian Text Prize.

Book Review:

Where to start with ZAC AND MIA? Yeah, it’s a book about teenagers with cancer. Is it comparable to THE FAULT IN OUR STARS? I have no idea, because I haven’t read John Green’s book. So I won’t be making any comparisons to that or any other teen cancer book.

THE GOOD:

ZAC AND MIA is set in Australia, and I loved that! There’s not yet a ton of diversity in where YA fiction is set, so it was really great to see a book set somewhere other than America.

Zac and Mia both have different ways of coping (or not coping) with cancer. Zac uses statistics and says the time he spends in the hospital is really a small portion of his life, so he’s not going to get upset. Mia is angry and keeps it a secret, then runs away from home after her mother commits a horrible betrayal. Both are valid (as are others), and while I didn’t always understand Mia’s actions, I appreciated that she wasn’t a saint about it. Not everyone is.

THE BAD:

–Here’s where I have trouble. There’s nothing bad about ZAC AND MIA, but it wasn’t a book that blew me away. It was just okay. I enjoyed the book while reading it, but it’s not one that will stick with me.

Socialize with the author:

A.J. Betts:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Book Review:

THREE DARK CROWNS is the first in a new dark fantasy series about three queens, only one of which will survive to take the throne. The queens are sisters, and after their sixteenth birthday, they have a year to kill each other. The last one standing wins the crown.

I was intrigued by THREE DARK CROWNS because I love me some dark and twisted fantasy. Sisters killing each other for the throne? Gimme. Each a user of a different type of magic? Gimme. Political factions scheming for power? Gimme.

THREE DARK CROWNS was a good series starter, but just a bit too slow for me. The majority of this first book is set up, introducing the sisters and their people, the different types of magic, and meandering along to the ceremony of Beltane. I think the author did a good job of describing the sisters’ current situations, but I was lost on the worldbuilding as a whole. For the longest time, I thought each sister was on a separate island, and I didn’t understand references to the mainland. Yes, I know there’s a map, but it was hard for me to make out land boundaries.

Because the pacing was slow, the middle of the book was a bit of a slog for me. I would’ve preferred more action and a less token romance. Each sister had her own romance subplot, and I’m not a romance fan, so that was a lot for me. Now, I should say I liked how Arsinoe handled her suitor. That was good. But her buddy Jules? Meh.

But the end of THREE DARK CROWNS redeemed that slow middle for me, and this is a series I’ll continue. With all the set up out of the way, I’m hoping the second book will be a lot darker. For a book about three queens who must murder each other, there was surprisingly little Bad Stuff happening.

Socialize with the author:

Kendare Blake:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Taken by Inbali Iserles

Book Review: The Taken by Inbali IserlesThe Taken by Inbali Iserles
Series: Foxcraft #1
Published by Scholastic on September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless -- humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive.

Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless.

Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind -- magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of foxcraft.

Book Review:

The first in a new trilogy based on foxes and their magic, THE TAKEN follows young Isla as she tries to find her family. Instead of following her parents to their den, she disobeys and stays behind to gather berries. When she returns, she gets the biggest shock of her life: her parents and brother are gone, and dangerous foxes are hunting her down.

I’ve always thought foxes were pretty cool animals, so I was curious to see how an author would envision life through their eyes. For the most part, the author does a good job of showing a city and humans through a fox’s perspective: roads are “deathways,” cars are “manglers,” and so on. I could usually figure out what Isla was looking at; for example, seeing a zoo from her vantage was quite sad. It did take a little while to get used to the foxes’ terms for everything; if you’re confused, there’s a helpful glossary at the end of the book. There’s also some cool mythology about foxes.

I liked the concept of “foxcraft,” the magic foxes use to evade humans and capture food. Such skills include slimmering, or invisibility, and karakking, imitating the call of other creatures. Isla doesn’t know very much about foxcraft at the beginning of THE TAKEN, but on the quest to find her family, she meets Siffrin. A fox from the wild, he’s been sent by the Elders to find Isla’s brother, Pirie. He teaches Isla about foxcraft, and though he helps her, she’s not so sure she can trust him. But what is a young fox to do when she has no one else?

I enjoyed THE TAKEN while reading, but was left a bit empty at the end. I wish more had happened during the book; a lot of it was Isla wandering around the city, trying to find her family and hiding from the dangerous foxes. All that wandering helped establish the setting and give an opportunity for Sirrin to explain foxcraft, but I wanted more story advancement.

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Inbali Iserles:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn

Book Review: Eleanor and Hick by Susan QuinnEleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn
Published by Penguin on September 27, 2016
Genres: History, Non Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok—a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.

In 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. By that time, she had put her deep disappointment in her marriage behind her and developed an independent life—now threatened by the public role she would be forced to play. A lifeline came to her in the form of a feisty campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. Over the next thirty years, until Eleanor’s death, the two women carried on an extraordinary relationship: They were, at different points, lovers, confidantes, professional advisors, and caring friends.

They couldn't have been more different. Eleanor had been raised in one of the nation’s most powerful political families and was introduced to society as a debutante before marrying her distant cousin, Franklin. Hick, as she was known, had grown up poor in rural South Dakota and worked as a servant girl after she escaped an abusive home, eventually becoming one of the most respected reporters at the AP. Her admiration drew the buttoned-up Eleanor out of her shell, and the two quickly fell in love. For the next thirteen years, Hick had her own room at the White House, next door to the First Lady.

These fiercely compassionate women inspired each other to right the wrongs of the turbulent era in which they lived. During the Depression, Hick reported from the nation’s poorest areas for the WPA, and Eleanor used these reports to lobby her husband for New Deal programs. Hick encouraged Eleanor to turn their frequent letters into her popular and long-lasting syndicated column "My Day," and to befriend the female journalists who became her champions. When Eleanor’s tenure as First Lady ended with FDR's death, Hick pushed her to continue to use her popularity for good—advice Eleanor took by leading the UN’s postwar Human Rights Commission. At every turn, the bond these women shared was grounded in their determination to better their troubled world.

Deeply researched and told with warmth and charm, Eleanor and Hick is at once a tender, moving portrait of love and a surprising new look at some of the most consequential years in American history.

Book Review:

ELEANOR AND HICK: THE LOVE AFFAIR THAT SHAPED A FIRST LADY.

That’s one eye-catching title, isn’t it? It certainly captured my attention. With all the fuss now, with some politicians acting like LGBTQ people aren’t even human, it’s amazing to look back in history and see that Eleanor Roosevelt might have had an intimate relationship with Lorena Hickok. They certainly loved each other emotionally, and their letters suggest there was a physical component to their relationship, but we’ll never know for sure.

ELEANOR AND HICK was an interesting read for me. I read some aloud to my mother, who isn’t a book or history person, and she found it interesting as well. The author doesn’t just focus on Eleanor and Hick. This is more a narrative of Eleanor’s years as First Lady and after, the impact she had and the work she did. Included in that narrative is information on the rise of women in the Democratic party, the presidency and policies of FDR, and the many influential women Eleanor knew. The author did hop around a bit chronologically, which could be confusing.

The real brilliance of this book for me was the information on Hick. Hick’s been somewhat lost to history, which is a tragedy, because she did a lot of good stuff. She was the top female reporter of her day, but her relationship with Eleanor overshadowed the rest of her life. After she quit the AP, she never knew if she got a job because of her skills or because she was Eleanor’s friend.

All the additional narrative in the book helps provide a clear picture of those years, but I would have preferred a tighter focus on Eleanor and Hick’s relationship. In particular, I expected to see more of their letters quoted in the book. I didn’t feel like the author convinced me either way that they had a true “love affair.” However, I could see the “shaping” that Hick had on Eleanor, as Hick encouraged her to write the My Day column, to find purpose after FDR’s death, etc.

Overall, ELEANOR AND HICK read more like a dual biography for me than the exploration of a love affair.

– leeanna

Book Review: It’s Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort

Book Review: It’s Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerny PurmortIt's Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort
Published by Dey Street Books on May 24, 2016
Genres: Memoir, Non Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Joining the ranks of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Carry On, Warrior, a fierce, hysterically funny memoir that reminds us that comedy equals tragedy plus time.

Twentysomething Nora McInerny bounced from boyfriend to boyfriend and job to job. Then she met Aaron, a charismatic art director and her kindred spirit. They made mix tapes (and pancakes) into the wee hours of the morning. They finished each other’s sentences. They just knew. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and married after his first surgery. They had a baby when he was on chemo. They shared an amazing summer filled with happiness and laughter. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms in another hospital bed. His wildly creative obituary, which they wrote together, touched the world.

Now, Nora shares hysterical, moving, and painfully honest stories about her journey with Aaron. It’s Okay to Laugh explores universal themes of love, marriage, work, (single) motherhood, and depression through her refreshingly frank viewpoint. A love letter to life, in all of its messy glory, and what it’s like to still be kickin', It’s Okay to Laugh is like a long chat with a close friend over a cup of coffee (or chardonnay).

Book Review:

I first heard of Nora and Aaron just after Aaron’s death. I read a lot of her blog, myhusbandstumor.com, and remembered liking her writing style, especially on the subject of grief and cancer. So when I saw she had a memoir coming out, I was eager to try it.

Nora talks about a lot of different things in IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH (CRYING IS COOL TOO): death of loved ones, grief and the grieving process, sibling relationships, jealousy, finding your own way in life, etc. The book isn’t chronological at all, just 46 chapters of Nora bouncing around on those different subjects and others. She’s better on some things than others, but I did like that Nora never self-edited herself. I think her main message is that it’s okay to do your own thing, and not be constrained by the expectations of other people.

I did prefer Nora’s blog over this memoir, but that’s because I wanted to read more about her and Aaron’s relationship and how they didn’t let his cancer define their lives. I guess I expected the book to be more about that, and it does go into that a little, but not as much as I expected. I do think the author’s style is good for the twenty to thirty range, since it’s different dealing with the death of your partner then as opposed when you’re sixty.

Socialize with the author:

Nora McInerny Purmort:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown

Book Review: The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie BrownThe Stargazer's Sister by Carrie Brown
Published by Pantheon on January 19, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
From the acclaimed author of The Last First Day: a beautiful new period novel—a nineteenth-century story of female empowerment before its time—based on the life of Caroline Herschel, sister of the great astronomer William Herschel and an astronomer in her own right.

This exquisitely imagined novel opens as the great astronomer and composer William Herschel rescues his sister Caroline from a life of drudgery in Germany and brings her to England and a world of music-making and stargazing. Lina, as Caroline is known, serves as William’s assistant and the captain of his exhilaratingly busy household. William is generous, wise, and charismatic, an obsessive genius whom Lina adores and serves with the fervency of a beloved wife. When William suddenly announces that he will be married, Lina watches as her world collapses.

With her characteristically elegant prose, Brown creates from history a compelling story of familial collaboration and conflict, the sublime beauty of astronomy, and the small but essential place we have within a vast and astonishing cosmos. Through Lina’s trials and successes, we witness the dawning of an early feminist consciousness, of a woman struggling to find her own place among the stars.

Book Review:

Before coming across THE STARGAZER’S SISTER, I had never heard of Caroline Herschel. Now that I know more about her, I’m sad she’s been lost to history, likely because she was overshadowed by her more famous brother, and also because she was a woman.

THE STARGAZER’S SISTER is not a feel good book. But I think it is realistic of a woman’s life in the late 1700s. Lina’s early life is cruel, including an abusive mother and typhus. Typhus condemns her to an even crueller future, as it marks her face and body, leaving her unsuitable for marriage. When brother William rescues her, bringing her to England to assist his research, life is still difficult. But for the first time ever, Lina is happy — even if all of her genius does go towards supporting William and his eventual discoveries.

I did enjoy reading about Lina, especially her later life, when she had more independence and made her own astronomical observations. But I did have trouble understanding Lina’s intense devotion to William. I also wasn’t a fan of the literary style of THE STARGAZER’S SISTER, but that’s because I’m not a fan of literary books. If you’re expecting straight-up historical fiction, you might want to check out a sample of the book.

Socialize with the author:

Carrie Brown:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

Book Review: Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle MoranMata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran
Published by Touchstone on July 19, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

Book Review:

I’ve read Michelle Moran’s novels set in Ancient Egypt several times, so I was interested to try something of hers set in a different time period. Mata Hari is one of those names I’ve always known without knowing much about the actual person.

The book starts with a news article detailing Hari’s conviction as a spy and death by firing squad in 1917. I think that’s what everyone knows about her, so it makes sense to start there. Then MATA HARI’S LAST DANCE goes back to 1904, when Mata Hari starts creating the legend of Mata Hari in Paris.

The beginning of MATA HARI’S LAST DANCE was great. I thought the author did a good job of developing Mata Hari’s character and the glitzy pre-war period. Mata Hari isn’t always likeable, but I understood her choices and actions.

I think the summary for the book is a tad misleading, as I expected a chronological account of Mata Hari’s life. Instead, she recounts her past in flashbacks, sharing with her lawyer/agent, Edouard Clunet. Is she sharing the truth, or merely how she remembers events? Mata Hari’s a somewhat unreliable narrator, which I enjoyed. I never knew when she was telling the truth or lying or embellishing.

And it’s her habit of lying and embellishing that gets her into trouble. As the book went on, I could see how Mata Hari’s actions and words led to her conviction as a spy. Michelle Moran neatly planted that stake in the ground, raising the tension until Mata Hari’s trial and execution. But I do wish that more time had been spent explaining the political tensions of the war, as the last third of the book went too quickly for me. I felt like I was missing some critical connection or plot thread. Which does make sense in a way, because Mata Hari was unable to hear much of the crucial evidence against her because it was classified. But I wish there had been some way for the author to make everything clearer to the reader.

Socialize with the author:

Michelle Moran:
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– leeanna

Book Review: 32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

Book Review: 32 Yolks by Eric Ripert32 Yolks by Eric Ripert
Published by Random House on May 17, 2016
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
For readers of Jacques Pépin’s The Apprentice and Marcus Samuelsson’s Yes, Chef, here is the coming-of-age story of a true French chef and international culinary icon. Before he earned three Michelin stars at Le Bernardin, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef, or became a regular guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and even before he knew how to make a proper omelet, Eric Ripert was a young boy in the South of France who felt that his world had come to an end. The only place Eric felt at home was in the kitchen. His desire to not only cook, but to become the best would lead him into some of the most celebrated and demanding restaurants in Paris.

Book Review:

I first saw Eric Ripert on Top Chef, and was instantly intrigued by his mastery of fish as well as his calm, cool personality. I immediately requested the book on Le Bernardin, where Ripert is head chef, from my local library and was entranced even though I don’t like fish. Anyway, all of this led me to thinking Eric Ripert’s memoir would be just as interesting to me.

32 YOLKS starts with Ripert’s difficult childhood, where a love of food was one of the only good things in his life. His parents divorced when he was young, his stepfather was a beast, and Ripert understandably had anger issues. Although he always loved food, he wasn’t encouraged to be in the kitchen — it wasn’t a boy’s place. Eventually, he started culinary school, and then his first job in a kitchen, but things just got harder from there.

32 YOLKS gives a good look inside the kitchens of 1980s France, where some chefs ruled by intimidation and some by fear. It was interesting, to see the difference between La Tour d’Argent and Jamin: how the brigade worked, the head chef’s ruling style, how the dishes were created, etc, as well as the effect of everything on Ripert.

Ripert’s time in the brigade at La Tour d’Argent and Jamin was the best part of the book for me. I found his stories about his childhood somewhat disjointed, but they almost all did have something to do with food. But 32 YOLKS ended just when it really got going for me — when Ripert went to America for his first job there. I expected that the book would go further, to talk about how Ripert started at Le Bernardin, but it ends just as he gets on the plane. I don’t know if the publisher is planning a second book for the next part of Ripert’s journey, but I feel like 32 YOLKS ended too early.

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Eric Ripert:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

Book Review: Night Shift by Charlaine HarrisNight Shift by Charlaine Harris
Series: Midnight, Texas #3
Published by Ace on May 3, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 308
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Goodreads
3 Stars
At Midnight’s local pawnshop, weapons are flying off the shelves—only to be used in sudden and dramatic suicides right at the main crossroads in town.

Who better to figure out why blood is being spilled than the vampire Lemuel, who, while translating mysterious texts, discovers what makes Midnight the town it is. There’s a reason why witches and werewolves, killers and psychics, have been drawn to this place.

And now they must come together to stop the bloodshed in the heart of Midnight. For if all hell breaks loose—which just might happen—it will put the secretive town on the map, where no one wants it to be...

Book Review:

NIGHT SHIFT is the final book in Charlaine Harris’ trilogy about Midnight, Texas. While the book ties up most of the loose ends left hanging by the other two books, I do find myself wishing the series wasn’t over. It took some time for the series to hit its stride, and now it’s finished. I’ll miss my time in Midnight.

In MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD and DAY SHIFT, individual characters faced danger. In NIGHT SHIFT, the entire town of Midnight is threatened. People are being drawn to the crossroad to commit suicide, and while the press interest isn’t welcomed by the town, it’s the hidden danger that’s the big worry. What’s causing the deaths? And who is talking to Fiji?

Lemuel plays a bigger role in this book than in previous ones, which I liked. Part of the fun of this series is all the different characters that live in Midnight. Seeing how they co-exist and have formed friendships. Plus I just like vampires, what can I say? There’s also angels, shapeshifters, a witch, and a psychic. I’ve said before that Midnight’s a town I’d want to live in — everyone minds their own business, but they also come together when necessary, and there’s just enough danger without it being too overwhelming.

Fiji really came into her own in NIGHT SHIFT. I wasn’t a fan of the whole Fiji/Bobo misunderstanding romance, but otherwise, A+ for Fiji. There’s this great scene where she gets revenge on someone who violated her privacy, and then another when she tells her sister off. It was great to see that she wasn’t a pushover and could stand up for herself, as well as take a few for the team.

I do think too much of the action/revelations in NIGHT SHIFT took place off the page, or if they were shown, there wasn’t a lot of processing. Manfred learns about an important ancestor, but I can’t recall reading about his feelings after the reveal.

Some of the events also seemed out of place, based on the characters’ actions in the previous books. Take Olivia for example. She’s nearly killed by her father’s henchman, but then gets a phone call from her dad that hints at future making up. And this is after her father not believing that stepmom and friends molested Olivia when she was a child. Olivia thinking that she might talk to her dad in the future just doesn’t jive with the way she’s been characterized in the other books.

Overall, NIGHT SHIFT and the Midnight, Texas trilogy as a whole is okay. Good, not great. I did expect more from Charlaine Harris because of the hype of Sookie Stackhouse. But Midnight is a good trilogy to read when you want something a little slower, not full of feeling like the characters are going to die every other page.

Socialize with the author:

Charlaine Harris:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Book Review: Day Shift by Charlaine HarrisDay Shift by Charlaine Harris
Series: Midnight, Texas #2
Published by Ace on May 5, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 307
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.

Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular — and very wealthy — clients dies during a reading.

Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight...

Book Review:

DAY SHIFT is the second book in Charlaine Harris’ trilogy about Midnight, Texas. Midnight is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town, important only to the locals. So, of course it’s a town where there’s a lot going on underneath the surface: there’s a vampire, witch, and psychic in town, and that’s only the start.

Midnight is a series that grew on me. It’s great for when you’re in the mood for a slightly slower paranormal mystery, with a lot of focus on everyday life in a small town. The characters aren’t in danger every single second, which is sometimes a nice change.

The mystery of DAY SHIFT showed up earlier than the mystery in book one, MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD, which helped the pacing. When Manfred travels to Dallas for a weekend of in-person readings, his first client dies in the middle of the appointment. Accused by the woman’s nasty son of stealing her jewelry, Manfred needs the help of his fellow Midnight citizens to clear his name. And while that’s going on, there’s also a mysterious new hotel built in town, one whose purpose might be sinister…?

DAY SHIFT also expands some of the “minor” characters from the first book, such as Olivia Charity. I was super intrigued by Olivia, so I was happy to see her play a major role in this book. There’s also more about Joe and Chuy, as well as the Rev, who ends up watching a friend’s son. Diederik was a lot of fun.

I read the entire Midnight, Texas trilogy in a weekend, which I recommend doing if possible. Now that I’m finished, I miss spending time in Midnight. It’s the type of town I’d like to live in if I were in an urban fantasy book, because there’s spooky stuff going on and some danger, but there’s also a feeling of community and small town life without destruction raining down every day.

Socialize with the author:

Charlaine Harris:
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– leeanna