Review Round Up | Before the Devil Breaks You, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and The Good Widow

Posted October 30, 2019 / Book Reviews, Review Roundup / 0 Comments

In an effort to cut down on posts and burnout, my Review Roundups will feature 2-4 books I’ve read or listened to recently. Sometimes they’re newer releases and sometimes they’re all backlist titles. My ARC reviews usually get the solo treatment. Enjoy the mini reviews!


Review Round Up | Before the Devil Breaks You, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and The Good WidowBefore the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners #3
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Published by Hachette on October 3, 2017
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights, A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing, The Diviners , Lair of Dreams
Format: Audio/Physical (552 pages) • Source: Libro.fm, Purchased
GoodreadsAmazon Barnes & Noble
five-stars

New York City.1927.Lights are bright.Jazz is king.Parties are wild.And the dead are coming...

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

Because of a REALLY FUN SPOILER IN THE *FIRST SENTENCE* OF THE KING OF CROWS SUMMARY, I knew something major was going to happen in this book… and I wasn’t going to like it. I was on high alert the entire time, so nervous for my sweet baby Diviners. My ships were sailing and thriving, so it was only a matter of time before something went terribly wrong. There’s a whole other book for Libba Bray to fuck us up with after this one!!!

I digress – this is obviously the third installment in this series, and is quite easily my favorite. I loved the first two but this book just hit even harder. There were a lot of things going on and plates spinning that left me wondering how things would turn out or connect. We’re slowly learning more about more about Project Buffalo and everything related to it – the King of Crows, the visions that people see/dream about, and some more history for our characters and their families.

Straight up though, Libba Bray is masterful. A paranormal story set in the 1920s is somehow a perfect parallel to what’s currently happening in our country in 2019. It’s insane how she pulls this off. I’d love to reread this series, like others are doing with the Diviners Readalong, because there are probably so many things I’m missing. I’m pumped to be caught up with everyone else and just awaiting book four! (Also, from a representation perspective, Bray really knocks it out of the park. She definitely needed to right some wrongs from the Gemma Doyle trilogy because lots of parts of that series – which is still one of my favorites for many, many other reasons – did not age well whatsoever.)

Quick spoiler section: View Spoiler »

I cannot emphasize enough that you MUST listen to the audiobooks for this series. It’s straight-up unbelievable how talented January Lavoy is. These sound like full-cast audiobooks and it’s just one person. HOW.

Review Round Up | Before the Devil Breaks You, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and The Good WidowThe 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Sourcebooks on September 18, 2018
Format: Audio/eBook (432 pages) • Source: Hoopla, Scribd
GoodreadsAmazon Barnes & Noble
three-half-stars

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER.

"Gosford Park" meets "Groundhog Day" by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you'll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed... again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath...

SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE GUARDIAN, I PAPER, FINANCIAL TIMES AND DAILY TELEGRAPH.

What a… challenging… book this was. I was super intrigued by the premise when I found out about it but it seemed like kind of a daunting read. All of the reviews were either confused people or amazed people, or sometimes both. The concept seemed confusing at first – the main character will inhabit eight guests to solve and attempt to prevent a murder from occurring – but I honestly kept track of things pretty well! The audiobook always kept me intrigued to keep going, which is hard for me (since I’m usually sidetracked and distracted by podcasts).

I’ll warn you that an early section of the book, when he’s acting as Ravencourt, is truly one of the most fatphobic segments of a book I’ve ever read. It was utterly disgusting how rude the author was about this particular character. I suppose some people may argue that the lead character of the book is the one who feels this way about Ravencourt as he is inhabiting the body, but it was rude, unchecked, and not necessary IMO. This seriously dampened the reading experience for probably a good 20% or more.

I thought I was SooOooO smart, remembering all of the characters and following the story pretty clearly… until the last handful of chapters. All of a sudden, I was pretty damn confused. The author generally does a good job of repeating information throughout the book so you can try to piece together the day and how everyone is connected, but some things slipped and messed with me toward the end.

This was a fascinating concept with pretty good execution and writing. I didn’t personally try to solve the mystery while reading because I was just trying to keep the characters/days straight. Just when you think it’s figured out, there are more things on top. There are definitely some deeper messages but they’re all spoilers, so I’ll avoid sharing them.

Review Round Up | Before the Devil Breaks You, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and The Good WidowThe Good Widow by Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Amazon on June 1, 2017
Also by this author: The Year We Turned Forty, Girls' Night Out
Format: Audio/eBook (291 pages) • Source: Scribd, Purchased
GoodreadsAmazon Barnes & Noble
three-stars

Amazon Charts bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke make their suspense debut in this twisty, emotional thriller.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

One of my book clubs selected this one after having some decent success with the last Fenton/Steinke book we read together. I haven’t loved any of their books I’ve read so far – pretty much all of them in the 3-star area for me – but everyone else seems to like them more. I don’t know how to say this without being a butt, but the other gals read a lot less books than I do and I think I just have read too many similar books to these! They’re predictable and middle-of-the-road for me, in comparison to many other books I’ve read.

My biggest issue with this one is the predictability. There will be a big spoiler section here because that’s where most of my issues lie and I can’t even say a liiiittle bit of my early thoughts without spoiling the ending: View Spoiler »

I’m not sure if I was supposed to sympathize with or like the characters, but I didn’t. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Jacks was irritating to me, especially in the latter section of the book. Matt was jealous in the “before” chapters with Dylan. Obviously I didn’t like Dylan or James either.

I’m bummed because I always WANT to love the books by this author duo. A lot of their less-mystery/thriller books have fascinating concepts to them. None fully click for me and I’m not 100% sure why that is.

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