Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu
Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

(Vicious, #1)

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

Typically when dealing with the supernaturally gifted, in the case of this book called the ExtraOrdinary (EO for short), you have good versus evil. Sometimes there's an added layer added in, such as where it's hard to tell which side is right because they both kind of are, like in the recent movie Civil War or the thought-tickling Watchmen. Here it's another case of both sides being right, but instead of being heroes struggling with the gray area of life, neither of these people are heroes or fighting for anything good. Basically they're both jerks.

Victor and Eli were the cream of their crop of students in school, Eli spurred on to do a study backed by his theory of ExtraOrdinary individuals being born because of Near Death Experiences. The two 'friends', who bond mainly because they're similarly strange and detached, embark on proving this theory true by experimenting on themselves. They find their answers, but as with most mad scientist projects, the results aren't what they were expecting.

If I had to align with a team, I'd go with Team Victor, just because there was something so slick, confident and badass about the guy. He's like a calm force standing in the background, popping up when you don't expect it. I can't help but feel a small betrayal from Eli, even if I understand his reasoning up to a point. The author added in the religious dilemma with NDE and being supernaturally gifted, which brought on yet another layer to the story, making it stand out from other super-powered fiction.

I have to throw a bone to the supporting characters, too - a sisterly bond that's broken for the same reason Victor and Eli turn on each other, an inmate who finds himself cursed but not powered, a dog that's loyal even beyond the grave, and those annoying police officers that seem to pop up in stories where criminals are warring.

On the negative side, the finale battle was a little weak. The author made up for it afterward to a degree, but still...

I'm not always crazy about books with so many flash-backs and time jumps, but the way it works here makes sense to keep the urgency of the current dilemma fierce. V.E. Schwab's simple writing style fits the morbid tone effectively, especially since the characters are distant from their emotions and each other other than revenge and self-righteous vigilantism. Unfortunately the author struggles with overdosing on commas, sometimes breaking up the harmony of her writing, especially in the last paragraph - which, while an excellent ending - suffered said comma curse.

It's interesting seeing Good Vs Evil, but my favorite is seeing Good Vs. Good with objectionable viewpoints. Here they're not wholly evil, but perhaps soulless before AND after. Makes intriguing, different reading.

   Book Quotes:

“When no one understands, that's usually a good sign that you're wrong.”

Murder in a Two-Seater by Billie Thomas

(Chloe Carstairs, #2)

A cheating wife in a classic car drives someone to murder.

Interior decorators turned amateur investigators, Chloe and Amanda Carstairs have spent the summer transforming their client’s creepy old castle into a luxury hotel. But before the first guest checks in, the owner’s wife checks out – with the help of a bullet to the head.

When Chloe’s dad is accused of the crime, there’s no time for the ladies to drown their sorrows in the hotel’s mini bar. Instead, they have to contend with a sneaky blackmailer, an unsolved murder from the past, and a cunning killer with nothing to lose.

The second Chloe Carstairs Mystery is filled with the same clever twists and hilarious mother-daughter relationship that made Murder on the First Day of Christmas such a fun, fast-paced read for an appreciative readership. The mystery will keep you guessing, but as any good decorator will tell you, even a beautiful setting can’t hide the ugly truth.

I loved the first in the series, Murder on the First Day of Christmas, and I'm happy to say the second was as enjoyable.

It focuses on the unique bond between mother and daughter Chloe and Amanda, but while the first was establishing strong ties over common bonds, the second delved further into them working together but apart. Chloe has to do her own digging and consults with her mother rather than as many outright adventures together. This neither added nor detracted from the book's enjoyment potential, but it did change the focus on the dynamics of their relationship.

Delightful not only because of the charm, it works as an intricately woven mystery with many layers. Through subtle and major surprises you don't sniff out in warning, to false leads and convincing motivations that are about more than just murder, this is a mystery that wines and dines your brain as much as it does your tickle bone. It's filled with genuinely amusing moments that seem come naturally from the author, making the characters a delight to read about.

There are some game changers in Chloe's personal relationships, which were interesting but set in the back burner considering all that was going on. It's a pure set mystery with a tiny romance possibility on the side, but nothing that overtakes the story. The shining stars are still the mains, Chloe and Amanda, but you couldn't have another excellent book with the amusing Tony Trianos, the joking father with his car obsession, and of course the rivals.

The setting was another thing which rocked. An old mansion saddled with a ghost legend while all suspects and victims were closed in together for much of the book. Besides the fun in solving a mystery through room-rummaging, eavesdropping and general mingling, there were the humorous situations that arose with them squished together, namely in the form of Honey - Bunny's daughter (yes, really!)

It was unrealistic they relied too much on sense of smell - seriously, not many people keep noticing deep scents when passing people in panicked situations. There was also a small plot hole or two, but nothing big. Overall it was a clever whodunnit with many leads and not a predictable reveal for the villain.

I will definitely check out more of the series if more come - it's a top favorite cozy series, a pure delight to read.

   Similar Reviews:

http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2014/03/big-money-by-jack-getze.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2014/01/inspector-and-mrs-jeffries.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2008/01/murder-fo-sleeping-beauty-by-denise.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/09/witch-way-to-murder-by-shirley-damsgaard.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2008/02/abby-cooper-psychic-eye-by-victoria.html

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

(Divergent #2)

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian DIVERGENT series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

“We both have war inside us. Sometimes it keeps us alive. Sometimes it threatens to destroy us.”