Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Mini-Reviews: The Killing Lesson and Blood Rose Rebellion

* The Killing Lessons

Valerie Hart is investigating a series of murders where young women are tortured, raped, murdered, and then have an object placed in their bodies. The murders have been going on for years and Valerie isn't even close to any real leads which is wearing on her physically and psychologically. While going through footage of the zoo, she sees someone suspicious which sets off a chain of events that puts her hot on the murderers' tail when another woman has just been kidnapped. Will she save the woman in time or will she be too late yet again?

The Killing Lessons is a murder mystery thriller that has a dark and twisty protagonist, a disturbing killer, and some unexpected twists and turns. Valerie isn't what your typical female hero with her excessive drinking, obsessive nature, and tragic backstory. I appreciated her drive to do whatever she can even at the expense of her health and career. I found her backstory where she pushed her boyfriend away and made sure he caught her in the midst of cheating on him hard to relate to. I did like their relationship where they absolutely know the other person practically down to their thoughts. The killer has interesting motivation and a bizarre childhood of abuse. I found his methods deplorable, but kind of underwhelming as an actual character. The twists appear in the latest victim who has a few unexpected tricks to try to get free that I know I wouldn't have the awareness to even think of let alone carry out.

I didn't like that everything is spelled out for you instead of connecting any of the dots yourself. I also didn't like the weird rivalry between Valerie and a new cop Carla. It screams that Valerie isn't "like other women" as if she's somehow above others of her gender. However, she rises to Carla's bait far too often which hurts her credibility. Carla's reasoning for attacking Valerie and almost destroying her career is motivated by her love for the man who loves Valerie, which is so stereotypical. She also spouted misogynistic sentiments and made Valerie look amazing in comparison. The pacing is a bit too slow and each subplot is perhaps a little too detailed, but overall, it was a read that got me through my flight to Texas. I'll be reading the second book hoping for some improvements.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffinsa

* Blood Rose Rebellion

In a world where the elite and privileged are magic users, poor teenaged Anna Arden is left out in the cold. She never developed any magical powers, barring her from much of the rich society she grew up in. Few if any suitors will ask for her hand, leaving her future looking pretty desolate. When she effectively ruins her sister's coming out magic demonstration and party, all eyes are on her, including those of the council that effectively rules all of England. What will the future hold for Anna?

I did not finish this book, which is rare for me. It did have some interesting aspects, but once I hit page 50, I didn't see any need to go on. The world's magic system is interesting with only the rich and powerful even being allowed access to magic due to a spell called the Binding. There are four types of spellcasters: elementalists manipulate nonliving elements and light, coremancers read and influence thoughts and emotions, animanti influence living things perhaps talking to animals or healing, and lucifera shape forces such as gravity and electricity. My confusing is that animant seems to be to close to coremancers considering people being living, but I didn't read far enough the differentiate the two more.

My main problem with the novel is Anna and her love interest Frederick. First, Frederick is obviously stringing her along and kissing her in secret while courting her sister in a more public way. In addition, he's incredibly condescending, treating her like she's stupid. How is he attractive in the least? Anna seems to be fine with this, convinced that he will choose her eventually. The kisses are discovered when Anna lies about who got her into the party she ruined and the council views the events through magic. Of course Anna is pretty much ruined even more than not having any magic, but she only cares about losing Frederick. I just can't support a character who acts so stupid and puts her infatuation for a boy above concern for her own life and future. I don't recommend the book based on what I read.

My rating: 1/5 fishmuffins

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