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a turtle’s eye view – into the drowning deep by mira grant

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via hachette book group – orbit in exchange for an honest review.

it’s been seven years since the atargatis set sail to the mariana trench in order to film a “mockumentary” about mermaids. seven years since it was found, battered and empty, miles from where it was supposed to be. seven years since the video showing what happened was found, the video that everyone believes is a hoax. it’s been seven years…and now it’s time for a new ship to sail. time for a new group of scientists to investigate. time to find out once and for all what happened to the atargatis. time to find out if mermaids are real.

i hate calling something a sequel. somehow, it makes it seem like the original was less than whole, less than perfect, in and of itself. rolling in the deep, the novella that opened up this boat of mermaid horrors, was amazing. and it left so many questions, so many unresolved fears. now – in a full-length novel no less!!! – author mira grant gives us all the answers we were looking for and so very many that we didn’t want.

into the drowning deep is a well researched, incredibly taut, amazingly frightening story that follows a new group gathered together to investigate what really happened to the atargatis seven years ago. hundreds of people, crew and scientists, are going back to where it all started; they have the best equipment, the best security, the best defenses and they’re ready. if you’re a mira grant fan you know that THAT is the point when you should be dropping all your toys and running away screaming. if you’re new to mira grant’s world…well, we’ll try not to point and laugh when you stop to ask a question and get your face eaten off.

grant’s writing is always captivating and never more than in this book. she weaves just enough of the details from rolling in the deep into the story that if you haven’t read it you can still keep up and if you have read it you’re getting a different view of what happened. there are plenty of detailed scientific discussions for the science people, and they’re explained just enough for those of us who don’t have a scientific mind. there is blood and gore and death and destruction enough for any horror fan to love. there are teeth, you cannot believe how many ripping tearing chewing teeth there are. but there is also heart, and friendship, and the sadness at the loss of each. there is humor, and annoyance, and the unwillingness to live without answers. you look at a book that says mira grant and you automatically think horror and science; you should also automatically think of all these other things, though. she writes them as naturally as she does the horror and without them, the horror wouldn’t be nearly as terrifying. without the people, the loss of the atargatis wouldn’t have mattered. without the mystery, the journey wouldn’t mean nearly as much. without the heart, the price for the answers wouldn’t be so very steep.

five out of five stars.

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a turtle’s eye view – all our wrong todays by elan mastai

disclaimer – i received a copy of this book via penguin group/dutton in exchange for an honest review.

imagine that the world that is only is because the world as it was supposed to be changed as the result of one man’s decision to act. confusing isn’t it? the world that is isn’t supposed to be, only you don’t know that because you’re in the world that is. tom barren knows, though, because he made the decision that changed everything.

all our wrong todays is a sad, funny, honest, and lyrical look at the perils of time travel and what the term “alternate reality” really means. it combines complex science with beautifully heartbreaking memories of a life remembered but never lived. in tom barren, elan mastai has created a character who is relatable, compelling, and semi-tragic. even while yelling at him to not be so stupid, you can’t help but hope he can make it work.

all our wrong todays is a brilliant debut that masterfully weaves the present, the past, a new present, and another possible new present into a coherent whole without sacrificing character development or neglecting the overarching truth that in the end we all  have to decide what version of ourselves we want to be.

four out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the girl before by j.p. delaney

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

the girl before is described as a thriller but it is actually an incredible study of the choices we make to protect ourselves after. after tragedy. after trauma. after horrific mistakes. we get to watch the choices two women, emma and jane, make as they try to move on after. we also get to see what came before the attempt at after and it’s tempting to judge the decisions, but we can’t. we weren’t there, right? well, maybe we actually can because there is such a thing as reality. there is accountability, or there should be.

j.p. delaney created two amazing women in the girl before. all of the characters are good but emma and jane are so nuanced, so complex, so very human that they draw you into their respective stories. even if you don’t actually like the character, you know you’re in her world when it’s 3:00 a.m. and you’re saying “oh honey, no” because that was such a stupid choice. how could she not see that that was a stupid choice?

in the past, i’ve found point-of-view narration tricky but delaney makes great use of it and switches between the two voices effortlessly, leaving no confusion. overall, the girl before was a great read, an excellent thriller with a mystery that i wasn’t able to figure out until the end but it was the psychological side of the story that kept me enthralled.

four out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – a time of torment by john connolly

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

this is the first book i’ve read by john connolly. it sat on my to be read shelf for several months because i knew it was part of a series and wasn’t sure i was ready to get attached to a long-lived character. sometimes, walking in on a character with a well-developed back story seems overwhelming and just the idea of trying to catch up is daunting. i was lucky because connolly made it easy in a time of torment. there’s obviously A LOT i missed by coming into the series in the 14th book but i didn’t feel as behind as i could have. connolly presented the highlights of charlie parker’s life that were relevant to this point but didn’t overwhelm with superfluous details. in addition to making it easy to relate to a character i was meeting far after his premiere, connolly’s other characters were well written and, given the setting, realistic.

it is important for me to note that connolly did present the physical abuse and repeated sexual assault of two characters. i didn’t feel at any time that he was doing it simply as a plot point. he handled it tactfully, wrote about it without providing details, and presented it as the horror that it was regardless of the reasoning used by the men committing the crimes.

overall, i enjoyed a time of torment and it was a good way to meet charlie parker.

three out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – two days gone by randall silvis

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

a wife and three children were brutally murdered. the only suspect is the small town’s most beloved resident. the detective in charge of the case not only knows the suspect, he has a great respect for him and considers him a friend. that could be considered standard mystery fare, right? in randall silvis‘ hands, though, it becomes a taut and nuanced thriller with secrets that don’t explode until the end.

i opened two days gone thinking i would read a few chapters then go to sleep. five hours later, having gotten completely caught up in not only the story but in the interplay between the characters and the ongoing discovery of their connections to each other, i finished the book. the characters were complex and the story danced from one to the next with no mistakes or missteps. there were no trick misleads here, nothing pastiche, nothing common, just texture and pain and the inevitability of life.

four out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – the spirit chaser by kat mayor

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

second disclaimer – i am a genre snob and i absolutely admit that. i’m the kind of person who tells friends that i can’t go down the romance aisle in bookstores because i can feel my iq dropping. they flip me the bird, i wander off to the horror section or the thriller section or whatever, we go on with our book lives. had i actually paid attention to the genre description of this book when it was sent to me, i would never have selected it because, hello, romance.

that said.

the spirit chaser is a good supernatural thriller. i was interested immediately in the general premise (ghost hunters get their collective asses handed to them by ghosts) and wanted to see how the years of interfering in the lives (after-lives? non-lives?) of paranormal entities was going to finally catch up to the characters. kat mayor‘s (who is also k.m. montemayor) characters are generally well developed and we are given just enough information about their backgrounds to really relate to the human drama that makes the supernatural drama that much more perilous.

what i was less interested in was the “romance” side of the story, not just between the human characters but between the human and the demon who wants to possess him. who decided that the combination of sex and supernatural peril was sexy? there’s really nothing sexy about a demon raping someone – i use that word specifically, knowing how loaded it is, because who would ever consciously submit to sex with a demon. who would submit to sex with a ghost, even?

there are some uneven parts in the execution of the story. a good example is when the story veers from a discussion of serious theological doctrine to having a character call the demon as a “beeyotch”. there are several of these types of startling transitions and not only do they ring false, they pulled me completely out of the story each time. to balance that, however, the ending absolutely killed me and overall i’m glad i had the chance to read the story.

three out of five stars

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a turtle’s eye view – chills by mary sangiovanni

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

there’s something very soothing about a snow storm – the fall of the snow, the blowing of the wind, the shine of the lights. it’s all so calming when you’re inside with a book and a blanket. unless you’re in colby, connecticut, during this odd spring snow storm. then it not only feels malevolent, it is actually capable of murder with a little help from the worshippers who are trying to invite a few brutally evil and ancient gods to colby.

chills wastes no time getting to the point. there are monsters, there is violence, and there is brutal death. mary sangiovanni describes all of this in almost loving detail and she leaves nowhere for readers to hide and almost no air for them to breathe. i enjoy this in your face writing style in horror novels occasionally, but in this case the dedication to the monsters and the mayhem comes at the expense of character development. i was really captivated by kathy ryan, the occult expert called in to assist on the case, and though there are some details about her background and her relationship with the colby detective assigned to the case, her character suffers from a lack of development as the focus stays on the literal hell making its home in colby.

chills is a fast read but not for the faint of heart. if you’re looking for in-depth character development, this isn’t your read but if you’re looking for solid horror, descriptive violence, and some great criminal procedure details you’re in the right place.

three out of four stars.