Book review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Goodness, I’ve been an emotional mess lately. I blame the hormones. Anyway, I’ve been between books and kind of tired of everything in my to-read pile. Then my mom said, “Hey, get The Lake House by Kate Morton, it’s really good.” So, deciding that general fiction might be a nice change of pace, I grabbed it at the library.

Here’s what it’s about:

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.


 

I checked the categories for this book on Amazon, and was really confused, because it’s classified as historical fiction under “Australia and Oceana” … even though this is set in England. Sure, there’s a lot of World War 1 and 2 stuff, but mostly, this book is a mystery. Actually, it’s three mysteries, all intertwined.

The first page, an unnamed character is burying something in a large box out in the woods. So you know that something untoward is going on. You have to go almost the whole book to find out who buried it and why.

It’s also a shame that Eleanor isn’t mentioned in the summary. She’s Alice’s mother, and is arguably the most important character in the book, as well as the most fascinating. The whole central mystery hinges on her actions.

Meanwhile, Sadie is satisfyingly tenacious, driven to solve this cold case of the missing toddler by her own botched case involving an abandoned little girl. There’s a whole theme of missing and abandoned children throughout the book, which is awful, yet satisfying, as each plot thread is resolved.

There’s also another theme of poetic justice. Eleanor firmly believes that everything happens for a reason, and good is rewarded and evil is punished, even when it certainly doesn’t look like it. And throughout the whole book, you see people having justice dealt to them in surprising and satisfying ways. And by the end, you see that grace is actually better than justice. The sheer grace of the ending had me crying through the last chapter. And it’s not sad–it’s a lovely, happy ending. But oh, in my hormonal state, it really got to me. Kind of like crying at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life.

The book is almost 500 pages, but it didn’t seem that long. Kind of like binge-watching a TV series in one shot, you just keep turning pages to find out what new twist will transpire. There were three big ones that looked like they had solved it … then I checked and went, “Nope, this isn’t it, because there’s too much book left.”

So, if you’d like a good read that’s part historical fiction, part mystery, part good ol’ general fiction, this is a great summer read. Heck, it’s a great winter read … or any time read.

Book tour: The Electronic Menagerie

Today I’m participating in a blog hop for a fantastic new book called the Electric Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder.

About the Book

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, a shot at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians —but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.

Dazzles from start to finish. In Carthage & Huxley, Sherlock & Watson fans will find another dynamic duo whose ready wit and sizzling banter (and inevitable personality clashes) never fail to delight. You’ll be calling for an encore performance.” Gillian Bronte Adams, author of The Songkeeper Chronicles

“The stuff that fandoms are built on.” Kyle Robert Shultz, author of Beaumont & Beasley

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

Mollie’s first job was with a major theme park, where she operated a roller coaster, fixed parade floats, and helped Scooby-Doo put on his head. Now, Mollie is a movie producer and the author of character-driven science fiction/fantasy novels for adults who never outgrew imagination. Her favorite things include Jesus, dinosaurs, and telling cinematic stories that blend glitter and grit.

Website — Twitter — Instagram


My review:

I’ve gotten to be kind of world-weary when it comes to reading fantasy. Between epic fantasy that wants to be Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (or both), or urban fantasy that is one more Dresden send-up with wizard detectives … I’ve been kind of tired of the whole genre. So when the author mentioned the concept of this book, I perked up. Two guys with a train full of steampunky robots giving performances and trying to solve a mystery? Sign me up!
I got behind and haven’t finished the book as of this writing, but I’m hugely enjoying it. For one thing, if you didn’t know better, you’d think you picked up a Historical Fantasy. I adore historical fantasy. This one is set toward the end of the 1800s, I’d say. Top hats, ladies in fancy dresses and parasols, everybody travels by train.
But the worldbuilding is fascinating. In this world, it’s all islands floating in the sky above the ether sea. The trains travel between them on invisible sky rails. The Stars move and occasionally fall and create new islands. There’s some kind of warring political factions I haven’t gotten into yet.
Not to mention the conflicts between Huxley and Carthage, their opposing worldviews and motivations, and the way their backstories are creeping up to bite them. And all the other weird performers in this competition, all doing weird things. Oh yeah, and the Lipizzaner horses actually fly.
So yeah, I think by the time I’m done, this will be a five -star read. It’s different enough to feel fresh, yet it’s a conspiracy plot to murder the performers in this contests, which we’re comfortingly familiar with. Put them together, and you’ve got a smashing good read.

Giveaway Time!

Explore the world of The Electrical Menagerie by entering to win this Celestial Isles prize pack, which includes: “High Victorian” playing cards by luxury playing card company Theory11, handmade galaxy mug by DeVita Designs, Science & Engineering Themed Pocket Notebook Set by CognitiveSurplus, and a tin of Electrical Menagerie themed tea (over a $50 value)! (US only.)

>>>Entry-Form<<<

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 4th   

Tuesday, June 5th  

 Wednesday, June 6th 

Thursday, June 7th 

 Friday, June 8th 

 Saturday, June 9th

Monday, June 11th 

Exordia: sci fi book review

I’m a bit late to the party, here–I was supposed to have this review up a few days ago so people could catch the preorder. But it took me a while to read the book … so here’s my review, late! On the plus side, it means you can grab the book and read it now. 😀

Here’s the info:


Exordia CoverSacrifices must be made.

On a desert planet, all citizens must cooperate to survive. The scientific organization, Pallagen, protects the colony city of Exordia–whether they want it or not.

Rebels must be broken.

Ex-Pallagen researcher Lena Ward isn’t going down without a fight. Her team of Exordia rejects is ready to pierce Pallagen’s benevolent exterior and expose the truth of their horrible agenda.

Loyalty must be programmed.

Amnesiac Alex Kleric is reclaiming her life as an Enforcer dedicated to Exordia and Pallagen. But the records aren’t jogging her memories. Something is wrong–and all questions point to Lena Ward and her underground rebellion.

Progress must continue.

To save Exordia. At any cost.


My review:

Oh my goodness, I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I picked it up expecting one more fast-paced techno-thriller with very thin character development. Oh, and dystopia, which I don’t like very much.

What I got was a fun, snarky, sci-fi adventure. The characters actually have downtime for development in between raiding labs and rescuing people. And when the action gets going, it REALLY gets going. The cities on this alien planet are fascinating, a little bit dystopia, but not too much. It kind of reminded me of Fifth Element with the Firefly characters running around in it. With River Tam, even!

aim-to-misbehave

Anyway, this is a super fun book. Kind of soft sci-fi, because the hard science isn’t explained very much. It’s just a good, entertaining read.


Buy it on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo

Book tour: Mortis, by Hannah Cobb

Mortis by hannah cobb
Mortis, available on Amazon

In an underground school rife with duels and deadly classes, Jane hides in the shadows to stay alive. She is the invisible assassin. But as she prepares to graduate from Mortis, Jane stumbles across secrets that reveal dark truths about her school. Will she embrace the darkness, or betray the school that raised her—and the boy she loves? Once Jane sets herself against her school, there is no turning back, because in Mortis failure always means death.

Isn’t that a great cover? I pretty much wanted to read the book because the cover sold me. Also, hey, assassins.

Pros: Ludicrously over the top action all the way through. The assassin kids try to murder each other just for fun, and there’s death traps in all the hallways. Jane, our heroine, pretty much dances through it all with her ability to turn invisible.

The assassin school Mortis is under ground, so it feels claustrophobic sometimes. But the characters run around above ground, too. It’s very entertaining. It also manages to cover the standard YA tropes, including the Love Triangle, the Dance, the Mean Girl rival, and the Creepy Rapist Stalker. (Note: There’s no sex or anything. It’s a nice change, really.)

The characters are fun and clearly drawn, and the escalating conflict brings out their secret depths.

Cons: Zero worldbuilding. There are only two clues that this isn’t set on Earth–Jane’s invisibility power, and the talking horses who run the transportation. This is dropped on you without a single word of explanation, and you kind of roll with it, wondering if the author will ever explain anything.

Nope.

There is mention of nobility and assassins around the world, but what world is it? We’re never told. Maybe book 2 will explain a few more things? I found it annoying, especially as the plot got rolling, because I couldn’t figure out how important the nobles were in the grand scheme of things.

Overall, a fun read! I’m interested to see where the next few books take Jane and company.

___

About Hannah Cobb:

Hannah Cobb lives in Maryland, where she maintains a cover identity as a librarian by day and moonlights as a writer. When she isn’t writing, Hannah enjoys designing elaborate period costumes and collecting swords. Mortis is her first novel. You can find Hannah at http://hannahcobbauthor.weebly.com/

Other stops on the blog tour:

Ralene Burke’s Blog
J.L. Mbewe’s blog
Kim Vandel’s blog