Book Review: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Finished Reading: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
by Andrew Peterson

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Children’s fantasy

Dark Sea.png

On the edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness live the Igiby family–12-year-old Janner and his younger brother Tink, little sister Leeli, and their mom and grandfather, known mostly as Podo. Their land has been conquered by Gnag the Nameless, who hails from Dang, across the sea, and who has sent his Fangs to keep the people in line. Through a series of connected events that all starts with a mischievous dog, the Igibys find themselves on the wrong side of the Fangs of Dang. When the Fangs come to realize that the Igibys have knowledge of the location to the jewels of the late King Wingfeather and the Shining Isle of Anniera, which are said to be the key to restoring Anniera and defating Gnag, the Igibys realize they will always be in danger.

This book was a lot of fun, with characters that are lively and entertaining and a lot of lore and history. The quirky nature of the narrative and even the names of various people and location had me chuckling more than once. Though it’s children’s fiction, it doesn’t pull any punches, and reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as Roald Dahl, to a degree.

Right off the bat, the explanation for the name of the world these characters inhabit gives you a sense of the writing style. The first person to exist woke up on the first morning, looked at a rock, and said, “Well, here we are.” Thus, the world’s name came to be known as “Aerwiar.” Though none of the other names for people or places are really explained, and I did actually struggle a little muddling through so many when they came close together, this is a good example of the tone of this book.

Even with the whimsical nature, there is still some real peril. Fortunately, possibly because it’s meant for kids, for the most part, the good guys prevail and the bad guys are defeated, at least in some way. I’m not saying there aren’t some losses, but I won’t say more because of spoilers.

One of my favorite things about the book were the hints that the author dropped throughout the book, giving little nudges about a big secret revealed near the end. Two big secrets, really but they were tied together. While I suspected pretty early on, and then decided I was definitely right still a ways from the reveal, remember that this book is meant for kids. I could imagine kids near my daughter’s age, maybe a bit older, reading this and beginning to catch on, getting excited as they realized the truth.

It was fun and full of adventure, and I cannot wait to continue the series! I recommend this book for folks of all ages who enjoy clean, fun fantasy adventures. Also, you might see it labeled as Christian, and there are some references to a deity that many of the people believe in, but it is not overtly Christian. It may be a bit allegorical, again similar to the Narnia books.

Thank you to Netgalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book to review.
**Note: This book has been out since 2008, but a new hardcover edition will be released on March 10, 2020, with a beautiful new cover and new illustrations inside.

Find out more about On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Gray Chamber

Finished Reading: The Gray Chamber
by Grace Hitchcock

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Historical Christian romance, crime

In a time period where women are expected to marry well in order to secure their future, Edyth Foster is fortunate enough to be self-sufficient, due to an inheritance that her late parents left her. Unfortunately, it is left in her uncle’s care until she turns 25. Not long before that happens, he realizes that he can steal her money if he gets her declared insane and sends her off to a lunatic asylum–which is just what he does. Edyth must figure out a way to escape or prove her sanity before the asylum takes her mind for real.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. The characters were mostly interesting, though this is the type of situation where I liked some of the side characters more than the main characters. The way the plot unfolded was fairly predictable, but there were enough surprises to keep it interesting.

This is the second book I have read in the True Colors series, and like the other one, despite being written by a different author, this one was far more focused on the romance than on the true crime plot line. Edyth’s plight to escape the asylum and her uncle’s grasp wasn’t just a vehicle for the romance, fortunately, but I still felt that the crime part of this book could have been stronger. I think this is further reflected in the fact that Edyth was not at the asylum long enough for her to be quite how she was later in the book (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers). This particular issue really may have just been my own opinion, and I am not saying that what she did suffer in the asylum would have been easy to handle. It just didn’t seem to be as severe as it was portrayed later.

I enjoy a good romance, especially if it’s clean and sweet. I prefer subtle, but with a romance-genre book, I rarely get that. This, however, is barely billed as a romance, yet was so far the opposite of a subtle romance plot, I got to a point where I didn’t care that much about the relationship between Edyth and Bane. It was so over-the-top sappy sweet, and just about all either of them seemed to ever think about was each other…it was just too much for me.

The official synopsis mentions a woman that Edyth meets in the asylum and her true identity, which frankly, I think was a mistake to explain in the synopsis. Her true identity is revealed so late in the story that it makes little sense to me that I knew it the entire time, simply because of the synopsis. This kind of thing always bugs me, but maybe it’s just a pet peeve.

As I said at the beginning of the review, the book wasn’t bad. I ended up scanning through some of the repetitive declarations of feelings between the to lead characters and didn’t feel like I missed much. The ending did drag on a bit, but I enjoyed it enough to say that I can recommend it for fans of Christian romance (heavy on the romance), but I wouldn’t recommend it too strongly for fans of crime novels.

Thank you to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about The Gray Chamber

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020.” As I’ve just gotten back into reading very heavily and am just getting used to keeping a TBR and learning what modern authors are even out there, not to mention whose writing I enjoy, I’m not really tuned into what is coming out soon. But that doesn’t mean I’m not anticipating reading some new releases, mostly as ARCs. So this list (of 7, not 10) will include mostly ARCs that I’ve been approved for, or some that I have recently requested and am still waiting on approval for, that come out within the next few months. It will also include 1 book that I’m just looking forward to releasing, and 1 special entry at the bottom that comes out this week.

1. The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock
This actually came out on January 1, but that’s still the first half of 2020. I’m about 25% into this and enjoying it so far.

2. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
I’m not very proud to admit that this has been on my TBR since fall, and I keep putting it near the top of the list, then pushing it back for others. It releases (technically re-releases) on March 10, so I guess it never felt that urgent before. I really need to get to it, especially since book #2 in the series is going to be re-released soon as well.

3. This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda
This is my third “old” ARC, having been on my list since mid-October. It releases today! I haven’t started it yet, but based on the synopsis and reviews, I’m looking forward to it.

4. The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear
This is the first book on the list that I have requested as an ARC recently, but haven’t been approved yet. If I am, it will be the 3rd book in this series I’ll have read (all by different authors). It’s been an interesting series, and I will probably be going back to some of the earlier books at some point in the future (they’re all stand-alones). It releases on March 1.

5. The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
I just requested this ARC yesterday. I will absolutely read it one way or the other, as it sounds right up my alley in so many way! It releases on February 4.

6. The Truth about Us by Brant Hansen
Brant Hansen is my favorite radio personality. If you’re in the mood for a fun, clean, often random podcast that makes you think, check out the Brant & Sherri Oddcast. He also writes some books that combine faith and humor and make some interesting points. This book isn’t on Netgalley, though his two previous ones were, so I’ll keep checking; I’ll read it either way though. It releases on April 21.

7. Pithea by Kristi Drillien
In case it wasn’t clear from the top and side bar of my blog page, this is my book! It releases this coming Friday, and you’d better believe I’m excited about it! The Kindle version can be pre-ordered here, and on January 10th, a paperback version will also be available.

What new releases are you looking forward to in the next few months? Link your own list in the comments so I can check yours out too!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Reads from 2019

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is a look back at our favorite books from the past year. First, a quick explanation about my reader-self. I used to read like crazy as a kid, teenager, and maybe the first few years out of high school. I don’t really know when it dropped off, but for most of my adult life, I’ve finished maybe 15 books total.

In the summer this year, I decided that I wanted, and in many ways needed to get back into reading. So I dove in, started building a TBR list that grew scarily fast, started posting reviews on my blog, and haven’t regretted it for one second. I re-discovered my love for reading almost immediately, and enjoy keeping track of what I’ve read, how I felt about it, and what I plan to read.

The following list starts with my favorite 4-star reads from this year, then some 4.5-stars, and finally the only books I gave 5 stars to this year. I’m not including re-reads and am lumping series into 1 entry (even if I haven’t finished the series yet).

10. The Summoner Trilogy by Taran Matharu
I enjoyed this trilogy pretty early on. The Harry Potter meets Pokemon vibe was just too fun. Even with the heavy race and class politics and the inescapable brutal war that was looming, I enjoyed all 3 books in this trilogy. There’s a prequel that is billed as book #4, and I have plans to read it some time in the first half of 2020. (See my full review for the first book in the trilogy here.)

9. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I’m currently almost halfway through my first reading of this series (finished with #3). Though I can tell I don’t love it as much as the majority of the rest of the world, I have been enjoying it for the most part. It’s possible that what makes it even more fun, though, is following each book with my first viewing of the movie, alongside my husband. It’s interesting to me that only 1 of the 3 I’ve read so far got 4 stars from me–the others were 3.5. And yet, when considering books to add to this list, I did decide that Harry Potter as a whole (so far) was worth putting on the list. (See full reviews for the books I’ve read so far here: book #1, book #2, book #3)

8. Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills
This is the first of 2 ARCs on this list. This book was exactly what I wanted it to be, and considering that it seems like a majority of the ARCs I read this year were busts, I was happy to be able to give this suspenseful romance a higher rating. (See my full review here.)

7. The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr
This was another ARC and really surprised me. I loved the idea of reading a book about the advent of Christ from the perspective of the magi that visited Him not long after his birth. This is one that really stuck with me for a while after I read it (probably partly because it was the Christmas season and I saw & heard related things everywhere). (See my full review here.)

6. The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal
I keep recommending this book to people. It was fun and engaging, and I know I will re-read it plenty of times in the future. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I think is important to understand, in order to enjoy the book. Also, it’s billed as horror, but it’s not really scary, which doesn’t bother me personally, but may others. (See my full review here.)

5. The Martian by Andy Weir
I’d seen the movie years ago, and more recently a friend strongly suggested that I read the book too. I was so glad that I did, because for as good as the movie was, the book allowed me to feel even more connected to Whatney. Like my friend, I would really suggest that those who’ve seen the movie read the book too. (See my full review here.)

4. Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone
Another one where I’ve seen the movie, and didn’t even know it was a book until I happened to see it at a bargain store this summer. With some all-too-real situations and flawed characters, this book is brimming with emotion and depth. I’ll admit that the ending was maybe a bit too easy for the real world, but that’s what fiction is for. (See my full review here.)

3. Lock In by John Scalzi
This was probably my biggest surprise of the year. I remember seeing this book sitting around years ago when my husband was reading it. I thought at the time that I should probably read it, because it was in the same genre as my writing, and even had parallels to my world-building. But being sci-fi, I kinda thought it would be dry and technical (yes, I judged it with a very limited understanding of the literary sci-fi genre). When I finally did read it, I loved it! (See my full review here.)

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I actually knew nothing about this book or series before reading it. I’ve heard about it practically all my life, but mostly just in name, not with any kind of understanding of what it’s about. I fell in love pretty early in the book though, and by the end, I knew I had to read as much of this series as I could get my hands on, which I’ll be continuing with soon. (See my full review here.)

1. Illusion by Frank E. Peretti
I’ve had a lot to say about this book and author recently and don’t want to start repeating myself. This was definitely my favorite book from this year. It was really nice to get a fresh reminder of why Frank Peretti is my all-time favorite author. I’m already looking forward to the next time I read this book. (See my full review here.)

Have you read any of these? What were some of your favorite reads this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under My Tree

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is quite fitting with tomorrow being Christmas (I’ll bet that was on purpose!), and I do have a list of books that I’ve been careful to tell my husband I’d like to own, in case he or any others in my family needed ideas for me. I only told him 5 though (technically I only told him 4, but I added one I’d like to own to at least bring the list up to 5).

1. I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn
The hilarious producer of my favorite podcast wrote a book about handling PMS as a Christian, and unfortunately, my library doesn’t carry it. So my only hope is to get my own copy soon!

2. Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
Related to the previous book, this one is not at my local library either. Of course, his second book is at the library, but that one I already own…and he’s coming out with a 3rd book soon, so I want to get caught up!

3. Illusion by Frank E. Peretti
I own most of Peretti’s books, including one I haven’t actually read yet. I didn’t even know about this one until earlier this year, so I definitely need to get my own copy to add to my collection! (See my review here.)

4. The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal
My family doesn’t have much room for books, not to mention not having a lot of money, so I generally only buy books at used or discount stores. Only when I really, really enjoy a book I got from the library do I consider buying it new, even if I can’t get it at a discount. This is one such book. (See my review here.)

5. Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills
This is the one book I didn’t specifically mention to my husband, but I would be happy to own it. Since I discovered ARCs this year, this is my favorite of all those I’ve read so far. (See my review here.)

6 – ? Amost anything
I’ll be pretty happy to get just about any books, because I’ve been so heavily into reading lately. If I mentioned a book in passing, or someone found a deal or gives me a book that they want to recommend to me, I’ll be thrilled!

Have you read any of these? What books would you most like to get for Christmas?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. This list should take me through more (or all) of the winter. They’re not winter-oriented at all, because I don’t usually think in those terms when it comes to reading (except for the 2.5 Christmas-related books I still want to read over the next week).  The actual order in which I read these will probably change as I go (plus more will probably be added in amongst some of these):

1. The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock
This is one of the few remaining Netgalley ARCs I have right now, and even though it’s been on my list for 2 months and I’ve been looking forward to it, I will be pushing it to read it before it releases on Jan 1.

2. Stealth Power by Vikki Kestell
Book #2 in a 4-part series, the first of which was a 4-star read for me. It’s really about time I got on with the series.

3. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
This was on my fall TBR TTT post too, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s an ARC (a re-release due out in March) fantasy kids book that begins a series.

4. His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac
I’m not a fan of the zombie genre as a whole, but I’ve been stretching myself a little in some of my book choices recently, and this is another example of that. The sequel to this book is looming, so I really want to read the first one soon.

5. This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda
The premise of this book about young pen pals on opposite sides of WWII is really intriguing to me. It’s my last current ARC, and I’ve vowed to finish all 3 of these before I request more, because of how stressful it felt to get so backed up on them.

6. Head On by John Scalzi
The sequel to Lock In, which I really enjoyed, is one I’m highly anticipating digging into very soon.

7. Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen
I read this book over the course of almost a year after I got it for Christmas 2 years ago. I want to read it in a shorter time period so I can give it a proper review.

8. Sneak by Evan Angler
This is also book #2 in a 4-part series (which, from what I can tell, isn’t necessarily a finished series). Unlike #2 on this list above, though, I gave the first book in this series 3-stars. I’m holding out some hope that the series will pick up.

9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My husband is antsy for me to get through these books faster, because he likes watching the movies with me. Since I’ve never read this series before, I insist on waiting until after each book to watch its respective movie. I’m trying to pick up the pace from here on.

10. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Apparently I’m going to have something of a theme going here, reading book #2 in series of varying lengths. I loved Anne of Green Gables so much that I didn’t want to put off reading the next book like I’ve (unintentionally) done with continuing other series I’ve started this year.

Have you read any of these? What do you plan to read over the next few months?

Book Review: The End of the Magi

Finished Reading: The End of the Magi
by Patrick W. Carr

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Biblical historical fiction

Cilka's Journey: A Novel

Myrad is the adopted son of a Hebrew magi in ancient Persia. After having a dream of a star in the sky that didn’t move throughout the night, Myrad is brought into the order of the magi, just in time for a massacre. Barely escaping, Myrad now must outrun his pursuers while also attempting to discover the meaning of his dreams about the star and the prophecy of the Hebrews Messiah that his father taught him about.

With Christmas looming, I loved the idea of reading a book about the advent of Christ from the perspective of the magi that visited Him not long after his birth. This book really hit the spot, easing me into the season. With great characters and some fun relationships, following the star with Myrad was an adventure that highlighted some important Biblical truths.

Myrad himself is a decent protagonist, young and inexperienced, learning everything around him along with us. He has a clubfoot, which gets in his way quite often. Walagash is now one of my favorite characters ever. And the relationships between Myrad and Walagash, Roshan, and Aban are enjoyable to watch develop along the way.

One of the main reasons for 4 stars, instead of 5, is that there was a lot of politics in the book, which is the main thing that caused the story to drag in parts. It does make sense, given the state of the empires in that region at the time. But it wasn’t terribly interesting to read the characters discussing it.

(Warning: the following paragraph contains spoilers.) What I loved most about the book, though, was that it went past the birth of Christ to the real root of Christianity–His death and resurrection. We see the rift form between those Hebrews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah and those who don’t, because he didn’t conquer the Romans like they thought he should (or because he died and they left before his resurrection). And when the magi who stayed in Jerusalem even after the resurrection because they felt there was more for them there got exactly what they were looking for, they left changed.

For me in particular, the book really drove home the importance of trusting that God’s way is the best way, even when we can’t see what He’s doing. It’s a reminder that He can and does use anyone He chooses for his plans, even those people who think that they are worthless–even those people who don’t follow Him. We can only do our part and accept His will in our lives, and in this, we can have peace in stressful times. This has been really important for me lately.

While this book could easily be pigeon-holed as a Christmas book, it is so much more than that. I recommend it for all fans of Biblical fiction. In truth, I think it should be read by anyone who enjoys historical fiction or quest-driven stories, because the message contained within is important and should be heard by everyone.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about The End of the Magi

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Dead Girls Club

Finished Reading: The Dead Girls Club
by Damien Angelica Walters

My rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Suspense, horror

Cilka's Journey: A Novel

Heather Cole is a 40ish-year-old child psychologist with a loving husband and a quiet life. Then her life is turned upside-down by the arrival of half of a “Best Friends Forever” necklace in the mail. While the other half of that necklace is safe at her house, she knows this half was last seen on the body of her best friend who died 30 years ago…at Heather’s own hand. What follows is a tale of fear and obsession as Heather tries to find out who sent her the necklace, while having terrifying memories and dreams about her teenage days, when she and her friends tried to summon a witch.

I know that the lower I rate a book, the longer the review tends to be, so I’ll try to be more succinct in this one. Most of what I really want to say is spoilery anyway, so here goes. I really did not like the main character…couldn’t connect with her at all. I also didn’t find the mystery or the twists all that interesting or surprising, and pretty strongly disliked the ending. And the synopsis is very misleading.

The story is told in 2 timelines–the NOW is first-person POV with Heather as an adult narrator. The THEN is third-person POV, but still focuses on teenage Heather. I could not stand adult Heather. She acts like a victim of this mysterious person who is sending her little things that Heather knows were directly related to the night Becca died, but uses this as an excuse to stalk people from her past and treat pretty much everyone she interacts with terribly. By the second half of the book, I would literally groan every time the book went back to the NOW storyline, because it was just so boring. Her obsession with finding out what was going on turned her into a monster. And don’t even get me started on how terrible she became at her job, which just bugged me so much.

I also got to a point by halfway in the book where reading it made me feel kinda skeevy. Heather had a habit of picking at her cuticles when she was nervous and stressed, which of course she was during the entire book. As an author, it is important to give characters quirks, ticks, habits like this to make them seem real, but the amount that her peeling, biting, and scratching at herself enough to draw blood is shown got under my skin (pun intended).

I am surprised I haven’t seen this in any reviews yet, but during the THEN timeline, the teenage girls go into a bit too much detail about their menstrual cycle for my taste, which makes me feel especially bad for any men who read it. There’s just no need for some of what they said to be included in this book…at all.

Now about the horror aspect…I honestly can’t even tell you why I requested a book classified as horror (I told myself that it must not have been listed as horror until later, but I really can’t say if that’s true), because I am really not into horror in general. But I steeled myself for a scary read…that hardly came. The supernatural elements that the book promised were flimsy and constantly explained away by the MC. I think I came to realize at some point that the narrator was very unreliable, which just made me doubt everything that happened in the THEN parts. I also didn’t find the stories about the Red Lady scary. A bit gruesome and over-the-top, yes, but not so much scary. Near the end, the combination of reading the last 25% at night and a decently creepy scene did finally give me some chills, but that was pretty much it. I’m seriously a wimp when it comes to scary things, so that might tell you something about the level of horror in this book. I also wouldn’t really classify it as a thriller, so suspense is the best I could come up with.

In the end, a lot of this probably boils down to personal preference. So this wasn’t a good book for me, but it has plenty of 4- and 5-star reviews. The THEN parts contain some 90s nostalgia that a lot of people will probably enjoy, and the horror and thriller elements will likely hit the mark with plenty of people. So if it seems interesting to you, please be sure to check out others’ reviews for this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me a copy of this book to review.  

Find out more about The Dead Girls Club
Publication date: December 10, 2019

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Passengers

Finished Reading: The Passengers
by John Marrs

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Sci-fi thriller

Cilka's Journey: A Novel

In a future where self-driving cars are becoming the norm, a mysterious Hacker takes control of 8 different vehicles, each with Passengers inside. These eight people are told that they will likely be dead in just over two hours. The Hacker than forces a jury of 5, alongside the entire world watching from their electronic devices, to decide which one of the eight should be saved.

I was really into this book for for the first 80%, which were parts 1 and 2. If I gave a rating just on that much of the book, it would be a solid 4 stars. Then part 3 came along, and everything just fell apart for me. The writing was good, for the most part, and some of the characters were interesting. Some were major stereotypes, but to be honest, with that many characters, it doesn’t surprise me. But the thriller aspect just died in the last 20%, even with a push to bring it back.

To be honest, the hacking done on the cars might have been wholly unrealistic, but I don’t really care. I’m blessed to be someone who can just enjoy it for what it is, because I don’t really know a lot about software, AI, or electronics in general. It was pretty clear that some of the Passengers were only in the book so that the Hacker could show how serious he was, as the number quickly dwindled from 8 to 5. Each of those 5 Passengers has their secrets, which are unveiled as the Hacker hurtles them to their doom.

While this is happening, the protagonist, a woman named Libby, is one of the 5 on the jury that is being forced to decide these people’s fate. While there were some things that she did that really bugged me, it was a good perspective to watch the events from. The very end of part 2 was a bit confusing to me, and unfortunately, in the mess that was parts 3 & 4, the book didn’t really give a satisfying reason for what happened.

Parts 3 & 4 are messy and mostly unnecessary. They felt like a tack-on, and frankly, soured the mysterious nature of the Hacker. I felt like there were too many attempted twists, and I quickly got to a point where I just didn’t believe anything, which makes it difficult to enjoy a book.

In the end, I am glad I read this book. Enough of it was enjoyable that I would recommend it for fans of sci-fi, especially people who enjoy books that show horror stories about the direction our technology is heading. Because of the many higher ratings this book has gotten, definitely check it out if you think you might enjoy it.

**Side note: One of the characters in this futuristic story mentioned that Facebook peaked in 2020. The idea of this was really funny to me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me a copy of this book to review.  

Find out more about The Passengers

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Dinner Party

Finished Reading: The Dinner Party
by R.J. Parker

My rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Thriller

Cilka's Journey: A Novel

Four couples attend a dinner party as friends, but dark secrets are boiling just beneath the surface. A trust game pits husband and wife against each other, and the next day, two of the guests are dead, while the other guests are left to figure out why.

For a book that is meant to be “an addictive and twisty psychological thriller,” it didn’t provide many thrills. If the book had not started with the main character, Ted, fighting for his life, I don’t know if I would have gotten through it nearly as quickly as I did. As it was, I did want to know how it got to that point, but it was quite a chore to get there. And more than once, I got to the end of a chapter and had no real compulsion to continue immediately, like I’d expect to have in a good book, especially a good thriller.

All four of the couples came across dull and lifeless to me–not necessarily as individual people, but in their relationships. Ted and his wife probably showed the biggest spark of life, but that was likely just because he was the main character. As such, I had a difficult time connecting with anyone in the book.

After the first murder victim appeared, most of the suspense seemed to be attempted through Ted questioning things repetitively–like why the victim had died, if the person they’d suspected to be the murderer had really done it, and if “the game” was responsible.

And that brings me to one of my biggest gripes. This trust game that they played was silly at best, yet became far too pivotal in the book. Everyone but Ted basically decided that the police shouldn’t know about it, or they’d all be blamed for the death…I mean, just far too much emphasis was put on this party game. And worse yet, it turned out to be a big part of the underlying cause for everything.

In the end, the reason behind each death was weak and, frankly, boring. I had theories of twisty goodness that would be revealed at the end, but when it ended, and no exciting twists had occurred, I basically was left with my mouth hanging open, and not in a good way. No, I didn’t guess at the motive behind the killings, but that didn’t make it good. A few surprises and betrayals did come up in the second half, especially relating to Ted’s wife, but none of them delivered on the punch they set up.

For those who want to know about how clean a book is before reading–there are no sexual situations and no language whatsoever that I can recall. The violence and bloodshed does get a bit much near the end, but nothing more than I could handle (and my threshold is fairly low).

I really wanted this book to deliver on its twisty promises, but it was unimpressive. It wasn’t terrible, though, and I think there are those who will enjoy it. It just really wasn’t for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter for providing me a copy of this book to review.  

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