Review: The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

The Dead Will Tell (Kate Burkholder, #6)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everyone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. But only a handful of the residents remember the terrible secrets lost in the muted/hushed whispers of time—and now death is stalking them, seemingly from the grave.

On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide—an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of that long ago incident. Meanwhile, Kate has moved in with state agent John Tomasetti and for the first time in so long, they’re both happy; a bliss quickly shattered when one of the men responsible for the murders of Tomasetti’s family four years ago is found not guilty, and walks away a free man. Will Tomasetti be pulled back to his own haunted past?

When a second man is found dead—also seemingly by his own hand—Kate discovers a link in the case that sends the investigation in a direction no one could imagine and revealing the horrifying truth of what really happened that terrible night thirty-five years ago, when an Amish father and his four children perished—and his young wife disappeared without a trace.

And, as Kate knows—the past never truly dies . . . in The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo

When I had the great opportunity to hear Linda Castillo speak earlier this week, she said that there’s a new dimension to this book that greatly appealed to her: a ghost story. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that, but I absolutely loved how she pulled it off. In what is one of my favorite Kate Burkholder books to date, The Dead Will Tell is a fast-paced, twisty mystery that grabbed my interest right away and kept it until the very end.

As always, Castillo dives straight into the crime that sets the stage for the rest of the book. (As an aside, while we were waiting for Castillo to arrive at the event, my mom started reading the book – which is not her usual genre of choice – and when she had to put it down, she told me she had to read it when I was done.) In this case there are two crimes. The first happened in 1979, when a family of 7 brutally turns into a family of 1. Flash forward to present day and those responsible begin to turn up dead, one by one.

I felt like the mystery unfolded at a great pace and even though I started to guess who the killer actually was, there was a great twist that I didn’t see coming at all.

In addition to the case, the story delves a little into Kate and Tomasetti’s home life, as they finally seem to be happy and together. However, Tomasetti – who has come oh so far since the first book, is thrown when he finds out that a man responsible for his family’s murder has been released from prison. While he doesn’t turn back into the addict that he once was, there’s still definitely a darkness and need for revenge/justice inside him. Kate struggles with his dishonesty and the ghosts of his past.

While we get to see some of Tomasetti’s POV and how he handles this news, I wish there would’ve been more. I also miss him and Kate working together. However, I’m happy with their relationship up to this point and how they have real conversations in this book that they’ve avoided in the past. I’m definitely holding out hope for this couple!

Overall, I really enjoyed The Dead Will Tell. It was a great mystery with an end I didn’t see coming and had just enough romance written in to continue to develop Kate and Tomasetti. One thing that I was surprised about, but not necessarily upset about, was that there was no reference at all to the Daniel Lapp storyline that’s been present throughout the series and especially the new developments in the last book. I would definitely recommend this book to those that have read the series and definitely recommend the series to those that enjoy mystery/crime/suspense and Amish!

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 4
Characters: 3.5
Readability: 4.5
Enjoyability: 4.5
Overall Rating: 4.125 stars

If you’re into audiobooks, check out the first chapter of The Dead Will Tell!

The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo Book Tour Stop

Linda

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that one of my favorite series I discovered last year was the Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo. They take place in Holmes County, Ohio, which is close to where I grew up, and star Kate as the chief of police who is now English, but grew up Amish. I love this series and had been looking forward to the sixth book in the series, The Dead Will Tell, to release last Tuesday, July 8th. I also had the amazing opportunity to hear her speak and meet her, as she spent Release Day in Ohio!

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She spoke on her long journey to publication, the different genres she’s been drawn to, and about this series and the new book, among other things. She was very nice and humble and it was a great experience! I wish I had the courage to ask some questions and speak a little more to her, but just going to something like this is a pretty big step for this Anxiety prone girl!

I usually buy e-books these days, but of course I had to get something signed, so I picked up hard copies of The Dead Will Tell AND the first book in the series, Sworn to Silence.

Book Covers

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I’m almost done with The Dead Will Tell and am loving it thus far! Somewhere down the road I will also be holding a giveaway for the SIGNED copy of Sworn to Silence. What better way to start your new favorite series than with a signed copy!?

This is the first book tour I’ve ever attended and I really enjoyed it. What about the rest of you? Have you ever had the opportunity to meet a favorite author? What was your experience like?

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Lifetime adapted movie of the first book, An Amish Murder starring Neve Campbell, this Sunday afternoon, July 13th, on the Lifetime Movie Network (check your local listings for time).

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging Confessions

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Blogging Confessions.

1.  I’ve always loved writing, but hated people actually reading what I’ve done. That’s why there are only 5-6 people I personally know that know I have this blog. And only 1 or 2 of them actually read it. I like the anonymity of the internet.

2. While I’ve gotten some great books from them, I never get the ones I really want on NetGalley.

3. When I have to review a book (that I got from NetGalley or an author), I can never think of what to say, but when I don’t have to review a book, I often have so much I want to say, I have a hard time containing the review.

4. I still don’t understand how Twitter works. When to put a “.” before the “@”. And why. How to view conversations. How to edit my feed. How to comment on a tweet when Retweeting it.

5.  I hate rafflecopter giveaways – especially after hosting one. But I still plan to participate in them and use it again.

6. I can’t figure out how to do any type of custom widget in WordPress. I often stop caring after trying for awhile.

7. I am never happy with any review I write.

8. I “decide” about every other week that I’m completely over blogging. But then I get over it and post something.

9. I simultaneously am happily surprised, but also a little disappointed in the number of followers I have.

10. I always copy my reviews to Good Reads and post links to Twitter and Pinterest and I hate scheduling posts because it means I have to wait to do those things.

What are your blogging confessions?

Review: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)

Ok, so I have tried and tried to review this book and I don’t know why, but I just can’t write anything I like. I have decided to just go with listing the things I liked and didn’t like. And it will be ***SPOILERS GALORE***. So if you haven’t read it yet, don’t read any further. This a great series that deserves to be read without spoilers.

You can read a synopsis here.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!

-The character development in this book is superb! Like, for real. Mal is the least annoying he’s ever been in this book. That’s not to say he’s still not a little annoying, though. He’s decided to dedicate his life to protecting Alina and knows that he can’t be with her. But he still loves her and though he tries to ignore it, he’s still letting her know every time she turns around. A lot of the minor characters get a lot more developed, as well. Genya and David. Toyla and Tamar. Even Zoya.

-And then there’s the Darkling. Layers and layers and layers of characterization. We learn his mother, Bhagra’s, back story, that she is actually the daughter of Morozova. We learn that the Darkling’s name is actually Aleksander and that deep down all he wants is to be Aleksander and have a friend. He wants Alina so much because he thinks she’s like him and he doesn’t want to be alone. But ultimately, he wants the power of the amplifiers.

-I still love Nikolai/Sturmhond. He’s still one of my favorite characters and I almost wanted Alina to end up with him. I was a little disappointed that he’s not actually in love with Alina, but I do enjoy their friendship. I was super upset when the Darkling turned him into some weird creature. But I liked that at the end he was ok, though scarred. I wish there would’ve been a little more of him in the story, but overall, his arc within the series was very well done.

-Mal’s the amplifer! Why didn’t I see that coming? He was obviously more than a normal person, but the amplifier? And why exactly did they have to find the firebird to figure that out? I’m still a little confused about that.

-There was a little too much wandering around the woods with Alina and Mal wallowing in their own thoughts. Things could have sped up a little here.

-I really liked the twist that after uniting all three amplifiers (RIP Mal! – but not really), Alina’s power was distributed to the people. Her heroic journey ends with her sacrificing her power and she gets to be the normal girl she always wanted to be. Even though she has a hard time still wanting it.

-Alina kills the Darkling. Not with great power, but with Grisha steel. I agree with The Darkling when he’s like “Like this?” That’s how he ends. Just stabbed with Grisha steel. Which begs the question, WHY DIDN’T ALINA ALWAYS HAVE GRISHA STEEL WITH HER?!?! She could have just stabbed him while kissing him at the end of the second book instead of draining all her power. That seems a little bit of poor planning on Bardugo’s part.

-I loved how Alina has mixed feelings on the Darkling’s death. Yes, he was evil and needed to be put down. But also, he’s sad, confused, lonely Alesander, who should be mourned.

-I got the ending I kind of always wanted, normal Alina and Mal together – at their old home of all places, but I’m a little disappointed with it. It seems a little anticlimactic after all the excitement they lived through. But, I liked that they’re still friends with Nikolai and their other Grisha friends.

-Overall, I really did enjoy this book. I thought it was a good end to the series. Bardugo’s writing and imagination is amazing and her characters are twisted and tormented and complex and lovable and wonderful. I’m sad to see this series end, but look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Plot: 3.5
Characters: 4.5
Readability: 4
Enjoyability: 4
Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Proxy (Proxy #1) by Alex London

Proxy (Proxy, #1)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

Proxy was an enjoyable read with an interesting take on the Dystopian genre. It worked well in some places and not as well in others.

The world building was just enough to get the gist of the new society, without delving too far into the how and why. There are Patrons, the rich society who live super hi-tech, lux lives. Then there are the poorer population in the Valve. They live in kind of the sewers of the Patrons. The whole society is based on debt. Just being “rescued” from the outside wilderness gives you ten years of debt. Every medical appointment or purchase can add on years to your debt. The Patrons buy your debt and in return you work it off as their proxies. Inspired from the idea of whipping boys, when a Patron misbehaves, his Proxy is punished. There is a resistance, The Rebooters, who want to forgive all debts and start over, there are the wealthy Patrons who are happy with the way things are, and there’s Syd, a Proxy who just wants to pay off his debt and be left alone.

Of course, Syd is the reluctant hero of the story. When an especially severe punishment is handed down from Knox’s behavior, Syd’s debt, which is just a couple years of being repaid, is almost doubled and he goes on the run to escape it. With the help of his best friend, Egan, his Patron, Knox, and a Causegirl, Syd runs head first into his destiny.

There’s some confusing back story and unlikely coincidences that leads to the final chapters. All Syd wants is a choice, but all choices seem to already be made for him. A twist at the end brings redemption to one character and hope to another.

I thought Syd and Knox were both relatively well developed. They both have demons they face and both have some growth throughout the novel, but ultimately I never found either of them particularly lovable. I found it refreshing that this is a YA novel that didn’t revolve around romance. I also liked that Syd’s sexual orientation is just another part of his character and was not used as some greater platform.

Overall, I enjoyed Proxy. While I thought the world building and the the back story could have been a ittle more developed and explained, the plot was interesting and pretty fast-paced. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3.5
Characters: 3
Readability: 3.5
Enjoyability: 3.5
Overall Rating: 3.375 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

Make it Count (Bowler University, #1)

Make it Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson. Read June 14-15. 3 stars. 

This book was pretty cute. Definitely one of the better New Adult books I’ve read. Though Kat annoyed me at times, I liked her growth throughout the story and I adore Alec.

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo. Read June 17-18. 4 stars

I still can’t review this. I’ve started it twice. I don’t know how to do it without spoilers. I don’t know how to do it with spoilers, either. I have decided on a rating, though:

Plot: 3.5
Characters: 4.5
Readability: 4
Enjoyability: 4 
Overall Rating: 4 Stars

I’m still holding out hope that I’ll get a coherent review done for this one day!

We Were Liars

We were Liars by E. Lockhart. Read June 18-20. 3 stars.

I did not see that coming! Great twist. Unfortunately, the rest of story I did not find as interesting. I really enjoyed Lockhart’s writing style, though. 

Tease (The Ivy Chronicles, #2)

Tease (The Ivy Chronicles #2) by Sophie Jordan. Read June 19-23. 1.5 stars.

The first book in this series was ridiculous, but overall cute. This book was just ridiculous melodrama.

Silver Bay: A Novel

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes. Read June 23-26. 3 stars.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the other Jojo Moyes books I’ve read. While multiple 1st person is my favorite POV, there were too many views and their “voices” were not very unique. 10-year-old Hannah did not at all “sound” like a 10-year-old. I didn’t really connect with the characters and while I liked them well enough, I didn’t care too much about them. I also thought that Liza’s big secret was over-dramatized and the twist in the ending was predictable.

All that said, I still find Moyes an incredible writer and look forward to reading more of her books.

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RE-READS

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

To gear up for Ruin and Rising, I re-read the first two book in the series, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm.

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Put Back on the TBR Shelf

Slated (Slated, #1)

Slated (Slated #1) by Teri Terry. I tried to get into this, but I just didn’t find it very compelling. The plot was slow. I got about half way through before I got distracted by other books and this ended up expiring from the Library. I might try it again someday.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Classic Books

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten Favorite Classic Books (however you define classic) or Top Ten Classics I Want To Read (or spin it some other way…”classics” in a specific genre?)

I’ve decided to twist it a bit with FUTURE YA CLASSICS – YA books that will be referred to in the future for sparking the popularity of Young Adult literature today.

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Come on, you’ve all read it. Whether you loved it or hated it (or loved it until you hated it), it was the beginning of the YA revolution in pop culture. It was actually this book that got me back into reading several years ago, after years or not reading more than a book (or less) a year.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This series has taken the world by storm. My whole family (including my parents in their sixties and my brother in his twenties) has read and loved this series. (Fun fact: my sister also works on the Jabberjays.net fansite.) With themes of family, loyalty, courage, corruption, and justice it’s a timeless read.

The Fault in Our Stars

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This generation’s star-crossed lovers.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

4. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. A new twist on already classic fairytales.

Eleanor & Park

5. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This beautifully written provocative story has already faced controversy and book banning. It’s tale of young love amidst the hardships of life is certain to live on for many generations.

That’s all I got for now! My Top Tens are Top fivess lately, but that’s ok. What books do you think should be added to this list?