Review – Lock and Mori: Mind Games

Mori isn’t sure she can trust Lock, but Lock might be the only person who can help her stay safe. Mind Games: Lock and Mori Book 2 by Heather W. Petty (5/5)

Mind Games: Lock and Mori Book 2 by Heather W. Petty was released December 6, 2016 – I read it December 8, 2016.

From Amazon:
Sherlock Holmes and Miss James “Mori” Moriarty may have closed their first case, but the mystery is far from over in the thrilling sequel to Lock & Mori, perfect for fans of Maureen Johnson and Sherlock.

You know their names. Now discover their beginnings.

Mori’s abusive father is behind bars…and she has never felt less safe. Threatening letters have started appearing on her doorstep, and the police are receiving anonymous tips suggesting that Mori—not her father—is the Regent’s Park killer. To make matters worse, the police are beginning to believe them.

Through it all, Lock—frustrating, brilliant, gorgeous Lock—is by her side. The two of them set out to discover who is framing Mori, but in a city full of suspects, the task is easier said than done. With the clock ticking, Mori will discover just how far she is willing to go to make sure that justice is served, and no one—not even Lock—will be able to stop her.

I really enjoyed the first book. There’s moments of humor alongside the usual Sherlock Holmes related detective-fare, but it’s also a very dark world for our young protagonists. What set Lock and Mori apart for me is that it’s usually the Sherlock/Watson relationship that is changed, or the push and pull between Sherlock and Moriarty (of any gender) is never fully explored. In the world of this Sherlock and this Moriarty, Watson isn’t even relevant yet. This is how a fraught, inescapable relationship is formed, and how that relationship will explode upon the world to create one of the best nemesis relationships in literature.

It’s kind of liking finding out Dumbledore and Grindelwald were a thing. A sexy thing.

There’s also the possibility that it is the destruction of this relationship that turns Sherlock into the consultant detective of the future – utterly objective, unemotional, even dismissive. Cold to the point of burning. A once burned, twice shy kind of damage.

Because Lock is my little cinnamon roll and I am waiting for Mori to burn him. I made so much quote art from Lock this time around. His lines were great practice for me.

Mori is wonderfully dynamic – sharp, intelligent, fiercely loving and protective, at war with her mind over her heart. In short – a typical teenage girl. And the kind of sad part is that while her circumstances might seem extreme, that’s only partially true. Many teenagers, probably many who would read this book, experience the kind of violence Mori survived in their own homes. Mori’s dad being a cop who got arrested as a serial killer and multiple people closing in on her for their own nefarious purposes is probably a little unusual though. I hope? I appreciate her fierceness and her ventures into the moral gray area.

I appreciated that Petty does not pull any punches, and uses this platform to discuss the dangers of the blue wall of silence. The phrase that when one officer does something wrong it stains them all is so powerful and accurate. It’s used like a knife, but it’s the line most activists have been screaming for a long time. There are good cops, there are cops who know they can be better, and then there are those who hide behind the shield. DS Moriarty is a monster with a shield – and after many, many officers turned away from injuries to his own children’s bodies – finally, someone is fighting for them and believing them. DS Mallory is definitely on the road to redemption by the end of Mind Games.

In the first book, the villain was obvious fairly quickly; there are too many villains for that to be possible in the second installment. It doesn’t feel cluttered or slapstick though; it plays both the political and personal landscapes. The obvious villains reveal themselves, but it’s the true mastermind behind what’s happening to Mori and sets up the next book that is surprising. All I’m going to say is that when Lock begins hunting the person trying to hurt Mori, boy is going to bring the pain.

The evolving love story between Lock and Mori is frustrating but in a realistic way. Mori starts the story still in love with Lock, but unable to trust him. Lock knows he’s done something to upset her, but doesn’t believe what he did was wrong. Mori tries to pull away, and thinks she can justify those decisions – like anyone who is hurting and has been betrayed on so many levels, she believes that isolating herself will both protect her and protect others. Lock makes the mistake of thinking that he can logic her into love. He can’t. It’s only in the moments when he lets go and lets his emotions reign that he begins to heal the divide between them. I want to shout at Mori to say what’s on her mind because I know Lock won’t turn away; but that would be fighting the universal truth of relationships: you are always afraid that if people know you, they won’t like what they see. We fear rejection in any relationship and Mori knows this rejection would be too much for her. For the first time, Mori allows herself to need someone.


Then, of course, life explodes around them.

As with the last book, I turned to the last page like, “what!? that’s the end?!”

The further the story goes, the more I can support Mori becoming a criminal mastermind.

5/5 all the way from me – it was exactly what I wanted in the this book. Um…when’s the next one?

 

 

 

Review: the Women in the Walls

When I was reading this book I kept thinking, “I need an adult!”

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics was released September 27, 2016 and I read it December 5-7, 2016. Weirdly enough, I think I can consider this a holiday-appropriate reading choice as the conclusion of the story revolves around a Christmas party. Someone is even wearing a tinsel and ornament dress.


From Amazon:
Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

For those who might need it – trigger warnings for significant self-harm, suicide, mental illness, and general gore and violence.

Things that gave me feelings:

  • Lucy’s father is a bastard.
  • This is another one of those novels that affirms how much people suck, how self-centered we can be, and how we never really know anyone in our lives. There are just too many secrets, too many scattered and errant thoughts that start to change us or eat us alive to ever really say we know someone.
  • This book can get really scary because you doubt what you know, and everyone becomes suspect. It’s made clear very early that the Acosta family is exceptionally secretive and isolated, and that no one comes into their home or interacts with anyone else without motive.

While I agree with Lucy’s eventual realization that she gets caught up in herself and can be a little judgmental, I also think she might be too hard on herself. This poor girl is so clearly abused into submission, and it’s done in partnership by her two parental figures. No one really cares about her – she is just a tool. The interactions between Margaret and Lucy are especially heartbreaking because they are cousins, friends, but the thumb under which they function has twisted even that one good thing in their lives. Margaret is hella sassy though and I enjoyed her. I wish she had been used more to call out the bullshit – Margaret was the Id to Lucy’s Ego, and it would have been fun to see more of that go wild.

Justine Larbalestier recently posted a tweet:

“How to write a novel: create shitty situation for your protag. Make it worse. Worser. Now REALLY make it worse. Resolve that shit. #theEnd”

That is pretty much how things for for Lucy, except true to horror form the resolution may actually be worse than anything else that has happened to her. The end is a big, gaping tunnel of mouth screaming “No!” for eternity. There are so many layers to why the ending is so awful, in general and for Lucy in particular. It was just devastating. But it’s also the source of one of my dislikes with this novel – why? Why did Lucy give in to the ending? Why would she stay?

Everyone is the villain in this story. There’s this sense while reading that there is no safe place – no person, no room, not even in sleep. The tension just builds and builds until all the shit hits the fan and then it gets weirder and weirder. I was less scared of the Big Bad at the end than I expected, and part of it is because…well, some of the shit that happened was justified. The Big Bad might be the only one who was justified to do anything, which is interesting to consider – the primal, ancient dangers that still lurk around us and how their violence can be acceptable.

I still have a lot of questions about why things went the way they did, and I can’t quite say this was a five star read for me. Lucy was clearly intelligent and aware of how dire the situation was and yet…nothing. Maybe it’s commentary on the fact that humans often talk ourselves out of the facts that are smacking us in the face and it’s easy to play them down or talk ourselves out of it, or say if something else happens or waiting for arbitrary reasons, we are punished by life itself.

From a purely technical sense, I was confused by some of the structure and I don’t think it was intentional. Chapters would start with Lucy’s narration as if a lot of time had passed, or as if she’d been bothered by a certain event or feeling for a period of time, and then we would jump from narration to action and I would find zero time had passed between the end of one chapter and the start of the next, or only a handful of hours. The sense of time was not what it needed to be in some chapters, and it kind of broke the feeling of urgency that was built. Luckily, it was built up again in quick fashion, but it still jerked me out of the narrative because I was asking questions about structure rather than plot.

I definitely want to read Lukavics’s first novel, Daughters Unto Devils, and will absolutely pick up her work in the future. She is a fresh, frightening, wickedly macabre and morbid voice and it seems that the women she writes have something to say. Or something to destroy.  The Women in the Walls was 4/5.

Review: the Mara Dyer trilogy

An addictive story of girl meets boy, girl kills people with her brain. The Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin (5/5)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the Evolution of Mara Dyer, and the Retribution of Mara Dyer are written by Michelle Hodkin and published in 2011, 2012, and 2014 respectively. I read Unbecoming on November 27, Evolution on November 28, and Retribution on November 29-30, 2016.

I had Unbecoming and Evolution, and halfway through Evolution I bought Retribution and even paid for one-day shipping. I have literally never done that before in my life. I could not wait for the resolution to this trilogy. This post is a wee bit spoilery but only for the first book.

This post should potentially be called “We Need to Talk About Noah Shaw” but it could also be called “Mara Dyer: Badass Heroine Extraordinare” because Noah is a character begging to be quoted for all the romantic shit he says that makes your goddamn toes curl, and Mara is so badass that I’m both terrified and kind of want to join her army. I’d follow Mara into battle, no question.

I also want to note that despite the fact I have been totally sunk by Noah Shaw, my fictional boyfriend remains Richard Campbell Gansey III.


From the Amazon summary for the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer:

After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.

The course of the trilogy is discovering the truth – not just about Mara, or Noah, their personal histories – but about something happening on a global, even historical level. When I finished the trilogy I scoured Michelle Hodkin’s website for her perspective on the trilogy and was so happy to see that she’s writing more (the Shaw Confessions – due sometime in 2017), and described the original trilogy as “an origin story.” That’s how this feels – what Mara experiences is the start of something, and she’s not alone. I cannot wait to read about more Carriers, and see how the world changes because of Mara and Noah.

Reasons they are awesome:

  • You don’t have to suspend your disbelief that much to buy into the science.
  • You can’t decide if you have a bigger crush on Mara or Noah.
  • But, just to put it out there: Noah. F***ing. Shaw.
  • Representation! Diversity!
  • Did I mention Noah Shaw?

The science in the Mara Dyer books is really cool, even if you have only a passing interest in genetics and mutation, and especially if you’ve ever thought about the possibility of genetic memory. It doesn’t go so far down the sci-fi road that what’s happening seems impossible. The fact that it’s so close to the realm of possibility makes it exciting. The fact that the big picture is revealed and doesn’t feel too ridiculous or like too much of a stretch makes the danger feel real, and the potential for more to be exhilarating.

Mara is amazing. I loved being in her head, her reactions and responses. I liked that sometimes Mara was a coward, and her fear stopped her. She’s snarky, dark-hundred, and doesn’t take any shit. It was kind of refreshing to be inside the mind of someone who was so angry but wasn’t shouting (looking at you, Harry) and that took that fury and channeled it into something else. Mara is the villain and the hero, it all depends on perspective. That ambiguity is what makes the trilogy especially compelling – sure we could read a narrative from the perspective of an obvious villain, but it’s far more complicated than that. We root for Mara because she’s our eyes into the story; we get so wrapped up in her experience and her justification that it’s only when we encounter another character that we have to decide, as a reader, if we think Mara was right. It’s an excellent moral dilemma. For me, I do think that Mara is the villain, but I don’t think that she’s evil.

Noah Shaw says the most sexy, cheesy, romantic things. It’s terrible. In fact, its borderline pornographic. For example:

“I’m not sure you can appreciate how much I want to lay you out before me and make you scream my name.” (Evolution)

What. even.

But then he says stuff like this:

“If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.” (Evolution)

If a tiny part of you didn’t swoon at that, you might want to go to a doctor and check that your heart is still beating. And these quotes are just a tiny fraction of the searing love story between Noah and Mara.  It’s weird because the best way I can describe Noah is kind of Edward Cullen with fewer control issues and a death wish. The common thread is that both Edward and Noah blame themselves for what happens to the people they care about, and think they’ll never fall in love. The difference is that Noah doesn’t try to interfere or control every single aspect of Mara’s life, and only offers what he can to protect her with her permission. He helps her because she asks him to, and all he wants is for her to be free. He might blame himself initially if something bad happens, but a lot of the time he comes around. Noah is meant to be the hero. I still haven’t decided if that’s the actuality.

I won’t say much regarding representation, other than to say it is there in a way that’s seamless – there’s no giant sign saying “look, a POC! oh, someone LGBT!” Good representation doesn’t pat itself on the back or tokenize.

I must also add that the fanart as inspired by this series is fantastic. I’ve pinned enough already that it might get it’s own board.

Things that are bothering me:

  • Noah’s sister, Katie. She just falls off the face of the planet. She has the same parents, the risk, the same ability to pass on what they’ve discovered. And then…nothing. Obviously, with the next books being the Shaw Confessions, the chances of Katie reappearing and her role being further addressed is highly likely. The first two books cover the family stuff well, but given the plot of Retribution, some of the family/school/still being teenagers what the hell is happening things go way off the rails. It got more adult than I think most teenagers could handle, but the internal logic of the world held, so I let it go.
  • The change in Mara’s parents in the last book. They went from being super over-protective, kind of annoying, and definitely invasive to…nothing. Even with some of the other context going on when we see them in the last book, something just wasn’t right. Hodkins starts to go down that path when talking about Daniel, but then it just stops like it doesn’t matter. That was really frustrating.
  • I will admit that Retribution feels a bit rushed, like halfway through she changed her mind about how they got to the end. The last third of the book feels completely different, and more in-line with the rest of the trilogy. I think it made up for the odd feeling of the first two thirds. As long as the ending comes back, I’m still hanging in there.

Regardless, M.A.D./N.E.S.S. is so damn shippable.

Also, I noticed because of the way the annoying Spanish teacher says her name that “Mara Dyer” kind of sounds like “murderer.” Coincidence?

But “Noah Shaw” sounds like “no show” and the doesn’t seem to mean anything.

The last intriguing thing for me is that there is no guarantee of happily ever after for Mara and Noah. It’s actually pretty much guaranteed that things are going to end very badly between them, someday, in some future. That future will end the whole damn world, I just know it.

These books are like a drug. Or maybe like an ocean, and I’m desperate to drown.