Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset“Call it what it is: monster racing.
Forget that, and you die.”

In Becar, who you are in this life determines your fate in the next. The purest souls, known as the augurs, can read auras and see your path; who you are and who you will become. For the darkest of souls there is only one outcome: to be reborn as a kehok, a monster, and that is all you will ever be, with no hope of redemption. The only way to ever be reborn as anything other than a kehok is to win the Races. Tamra was a top rider before being sidelined by an injury and becoming a professional trainer. After a miscalculation led to tragedy on the track and damaged her reputation, she is in desperate need of funds to prevent her daughter from being taken away. In a search for a new kehok and rider, she comes across Raia, who is running away from domineering parents and a cruel fiancé. The prize money from winning the Races would mean freedom for Raia and a secure future for Tamra and her daughter. With plenty of obstacles in their path, they embark on achieving the impossible and changing their future, with a new kehok that can lead them to victory. Continue reading “Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst”

The Hercule Poirot Reading List: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

BLOG“No, my friend, I am not drunk. I have just been to the dentist, and need not return for another six months! Is it not the most beautiful thought?”

Poirot may be the world’s greatest detective, but he fears the dentist as much as many people do. So it is with great hesitation and plenty of nerves that he enters the offices of celebrated Dr. Morley. Following the examination he is relieved, never once imagining that he would be back at the dentist’s only hours later examining the body of Dr. Morley, apparently dead by suicide.

Having been in contact with the gentleman earlier in the day, Poirot cannot believe that the facts are exactly as they appear. Why would a celebrated dentist decide to kill himself that day? What may have occurred following Poirot’s exit from the office? A thorough investigation follows, as Poirot interviews the other patients and step by step starts to reconstruct the events of the day. But unexpected twists and turns lead to more questions and an even bigger mystery.

This was an interesting mystery that had my attention with every question posed and every unexplained occurrence. I wanted to know the why and the how and who, every step of the way. The piecing of a puzzle is always intriguing to me, and this book takes it up a level as it not only seeks answers to the original questions but also introduces a new mystery into the mix that is just as odd. It does feel like everything gets more and more complicated and at a point I stopped trying to figure things out and just went along with it. There are aspects to the story that walk the line between complex and convoluted, but I did not mind that so much. Overall a solid, cozy mystery.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

BLOG“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense. But now I knew that every mad word was true.”

Nyx has lived for many years knowing her fate. Betrothed to the evil ruler of the kingdom, once she turns seventeen she is to marry and move into his castle, far from her family and everything she holds dear. She is intent on carrying out a plan to kill him and free the kingdom once and for all. But once she is behind the castle walls nothing is as she had imagined. The mysteries of the kingdom begin to compound and more questions arise. Most perplexing of all is her charming new husband and fairly soon she is uncertain of what the truth is and who she can trust. She knows that her kingdom depends on her defeating the sworn enemy she can’t help but be drawn to. And the longer she stays, the more difficult her mission becomes.

“If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.”

I love fairy tale retellings, Greek myth retellings, basically any new spin on a well-told tale. Cruel Beauty is a blend of a Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology, which I found intriguing. The novel creates a magical yet eerie atmosphere that is compelling. As the main character, Nyx is strong and complex while the villain proves to be witty and beguiling. Initially I was drawn to the story, however as it progressed it started to feel somewhat meandering and difficult to follow. I love the idea of what the novel tries to achieve but much of it was confusing, particularly the ending, but by then I was truly disconnected from what was happening. Thinking about it, I feel that the writing style is perhaps just not for me. Absolutely a good option for fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings, unfortunately it did not work for me.

The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs

BLOG“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to visit these five people – and from each one I am going to get his or her own story.”
Superintendent Hale sighed with a deep melancholy.
He said: “Man, you’re nuts! None of their stories are going to agree! Don’t you grasp that elementary fact? No two people remember a thing in the same order anyway. And after all this time! Why, you’ll hear five accounts of five separate murders!
“That,” said Poirot, “is what I am counting upon. It will be very instructive.”

Anytime I have trouble focusing on reading, I grab an Agatha Christie mystery to get back in the swing of things. This time around I picked up Five Little Pigs, and it was the perfect book and the perfect time to read it. I quickly became immersed in the mystery and could not put it down until all the answers were revealed.

In Five Little Pigs, the daughter of a woman convicted of murder asks Hercule Poirot to find out the truth regarding her deceased mother’s case. It is sixteen years after the fact, and having been just a child when the crime occurred, she remembers little and wants the facts set straight as she embarks on her own future. Poirot decides to take on the case, carefully interviewing those involved, with the focus on five main suspects who bring to mind an old nursery rhyme:

Philip Blake (the stockbroker) who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist) who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcee) who had roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess) who had none; and Angela Warren (the sister) who cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home. Continue reading “The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs”

The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

BLOG“Kaz leaned back. ‘What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?’
‘Knife to the throat?’ asked Inej.
‘Gun to the back?’ said Jesper.
‘Poison in his cup?’ suggested Nina.
‘You’re all horrible,’ said Matthias.”

Six of Crows was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf for a while. Purchased amidst the praise and rave reviews, and even though I was eager to experience the story for myself, the reading mood was never quite right. Recently, however, when I saw that a friend was going to read it, I finally grabbed it off my bookshelf and dove in. I do love a good heist story, so the premise of this one completely had my attention: Kaz, a leader of one of gangs of the city of Ketterdam is offered an opportunity that would bring him immense wealth, but the deadly and near impossible heist requires a skilled crew of individuals. Being a skilled and resourceful criminal himself, he knows just the people he will need to achieve the impossible. What we get is a team of compelling characters that makes this such a page-turning read:

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Continue reading “The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo”