a turtle’s eye view – disappearance at devil’s rock by paul tremblay

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book from william morrow through the goodreads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.

disappearance at devil’s rock is hard to quantify. it’s a mystery, a thriller, and a supernatural horror story all at the same time. a lot of authors would have a hard time blending all those seemingly disparate styles into a coherent whole but paul tremblay not only does it, he does it with care for the story he’s telling and a singular style.

tremblay has written genuine characters who reach out from the pages to draw you in, making you a part of their individual stories as well as part of the story as a whole. there are multiple points of view, which can become overbearing and tedious as you try to keep track of who is who, but each flows seamlessly into the other presenting a cohesive whole that builds the suspense and heightens the mystery.

there are two levels of horror at work in disappearance at devil’s rock. there’s the horror of the missing person’s case and the reality that life has to continue even while it feels like the world is ending. the horror of knowing that the search for a loved one who has disappeared can in any sense become mundane, can become commonplace, can become old news. then there’s the horror of what’s going on in the background. what really happened to cause the disappearance and what’s really REAL. wondering what you can believe in, what you can trust. it’s hard to judge which is more terrifying, the idea that the worst moments in our lives can become banal or the realization that there just might be more out there than we ever thought possible.

five out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – redemption road by john hart

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via thomas dunne books in exchange for an honest review.

until this book, i had never even heard of john hart and that is a HUGE failing on my part. i literally stayed up all night finishing this book because at the end of each chapter i’d tell myself i’d read one more just to see what happens… what happened was i kept reading. redemption road is a fascinating character study and a tragically compelling mystery. hart created characters that felt dynamic and real – people i cared about and wanted the best for, even when they made horrible decisions that hurt themselves and others.

five out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the pier falls: and other stories by mark haddon

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via doubleday books in exchange for an honest review.

i’ve said it before, and i’ll continue to babble about it, but i adore short story collections. it seems like they’re making a comeback and that is exciting, especially when a collection like the pier falls: and other stories is included in that resurgence. at first glance, the stories in this collection could appear to be mundane even boring snippets of people’s lives but mark haddon transforms each into a shining example of people at their best and their worst.

the best piece by far is the woodpecker and the wolf, a tale of death and survival in space that could have turned into pastiche and instead soars and dives in unexpected and dizzying ways. haddon’s collection touches on themes of fear, regret, loneliness, love, and heartbreak and will subtly creep into your heart and your mind.

four out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the pit (watchmaker’s hell #1) by l.a. barnes

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via bookbaby and the independent book publishers association in exchange for an honest review.

you all know what happens (maybe?) when you die right? you go to heaven or you go to hell (maybe?). but what happens once you’re there? the pit follows a group of the recently deceased as their lives end and they descend into hell to find what awaits them. and it follows them. and follows them. and, oh dear turtle, it follows them forever.

readers get the background of the major characters who are already in hell mixed in with those who just arrived so that what’s at stake isn’t as obscure as it might be. that context just goes on and on and on and on. i was glancing at the kindle timer to see how much time remained in the book at least four or five times per page (maybe more). this story had an interesting concept, sort of like a dante’s inferno for the 21st century, but it was just so overwhelmingly long. i know that flies in the face of the comparison to dante but reading inferno didn’t feel long, reading the pit felt like it took years and, unlike with dante, i just didn’t care about anyone in the book enough to spend that much time with them.

two out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the best place on earth by ayelet tsabari

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via random house publishing group in exchange for an honest review.

i’ve been trying to figure out how to write this review since i finished the book about three days ago. it’s not that i have anything negative to say about it, either. it’s just that every story in the best place on earth is like looking through an uncovered window and watching people while they live their lives. each story allows readers to see characters at their best and their worst, going through their lives with no notion that they’re being spied on. the reader secretly hangs on their every word, holds their breath with every movement, quietly cheers them on or shakes their head in disappointment.

ayelet tsabari‘s writing is strong and beautiful. she doesn’t shy away from revealing her characters at their worst, and she doesn’t allow their defects to become all of who they are. this is tsabari’s first collection of short stories and i sincerely hope that it won’t be her last.

four out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the lost codex by alan jacobson

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via open road media in exchange for an honest review.

the first bible was written in 953 c.e. and hundred years later, in 1953, while being transported from syria, half of it went missing. near that time, an ancient scroll was discovered at an archaeological dig in the foothills of the dead sea and was immediately stolen. fast forward sixty years and both documents are at the center of a religious and geopolitical struggle that is threatening to destroy not only everyone it touches but entire countries.  a group of trained operatives is tasked with finding the stolen documents. they must also find the persons responsible for the current attacks taking place in the united states and ensure that the attacks don’t continue, by whatever means necessary.

the hardest part of  the lost codex was that i didn’t have a button i could press that would put life and all of its distractions on hold so i could read it without disruption. this book is so rich with colour and nuance and language that i just wanted to dive into it and not come out until it was over. alan jacobson has created incredibly three-dimensional characters and i was immediately immersed in their world. that in and of itself isn’t necessarily a new thing – until you realize that this book is a part of a series (and an unnamed part of another) and i haven’t read anything of either. i knew this going in, and generally don’t like doing it, but there wasn’t anything lost to an unknown history, even when a character’s history was mentioned.

this was a fantastic story with fantastic characters and a gripping premise. if not for life, i would have finished it a lot sooner. jacobson is an outstanding writer and after this book, i am adding the entire opsig team black and karen vail series to my to be read shelf.

five out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – quiet neighbors by catriona mcpherson

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via midnight ink in exchange for an honest review.

when jude flees london and a secret she ends up back in wigtown, where she spent a less than stellar vacation. she finds a job and a place to live thanks to lowell, a local bookstore owner. she also finds a mystery as she tries to organize the bookstore. now she has to deal with her past and a growing number of mysteries in her present when all she wants is a quiet place to start her life over.

i have to admit, quiet neighbors wasn’t what i was expecting. it was a little slow getting started but still drew me in and kept my interest. i wavered between liking lowell and being suspicious of him which kept my relationship with him unsteady. i liked jude and found myself wondering what had happened to make her run because she didn’t strike me as a runner. lots of interesting people flit in and out of the story but one person, eddy, comes in and stays. she got on my nerves but i’ll leave you to make your own decisions about her. overall, cartiona mcpherson presents a solid, if plodding at times, mystery.

three out of five stars

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