BOOK REVIEW: Dead Wood – by Dan Ames

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Title: Dead Wood
(John Rockne Mysteries #1)
Author: Dan Ames
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 31st 2011
Finished reading: January 5th 2016
Pages: 204
Rating 3,5qqq

“It was like a beautiful melody to him that ended in a blazing crescendo of blood and violence, capped off by the silent applause of a roaring crowd inside his head.”

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I have been neglecting the mystery/thriller/crime genre last year, so I made myself a promise this year to read more books belonging to what is basically one of my favorite genres. During the read-a-thon last week I was in the mood for a crime read, so I decided to pick up one of my kindle crime freebies Dead Wood. It turned out to be a quick and quite entertaining read I was able to finish almost in one sitting. Dan Ames (pseudonym Dani Amore) writes in a way that keeps you interested throughout the story, using plot twists and full blown action to keep the pace fast. The characters are interesting enough, although I didn’t like all of them and some of their actions were not completely credible. In short: Dead Wood might not be a perfect masterpiece, but if you like a good crime story with some interesting music references I would definitely suggest picking this one up.

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John Rockne used to be a cop, but he had to turn in his badge after making a fatal mistake. He now works as a private investigator in a small town named Grosse Pointe in Michigan. Nothing big ever happens ever there, but with Detroit around the corner things are never completely safe. When a woman who builds custom guitars is murdered, her father contacts Rockne to investigate the murder. The father believes her daughter’s ex is the killer even though he has an alibi. Rockne is not sure what to think, but he decides to investigate a little anyway. What he doesn’t know is that the case is more complicated than he first thought and he soon finds himself in danger… Will he be able to find the killer before the killer finds him first?

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What made Dead Wood truly special were the many musical references throughout the story. A professional killer obsessed with music and The Rolling Stones; not something you read about every day in a crime novel. The rest of the story is good enough, although some of the plot twists and action scenes are a bit too fantastical to my taste. Still, in general I really enjoyed reading this story. If you are looking for a quick and entertaining crime read, Dead Wood would definitely do the job!

BOOK REVIEW: The Sky Is Everywhere – by Jandy Nelson

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Title: The Sky Is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 9th 2010
Finished reading: December 29th 2015
Pages: 277
Rating 4qqq

“When he plays
All the flowers swap colors
And years and decades and centuries
Of rain pour back into the sky.”

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I have been wanting to read this novel ever since I finished I’ll Give You The Sun last April. Jandy Nelson has a way of writing her books that simply blows your mind: beautiful, creative, emotional, sad, funny… Her prose is a mix of all that and more. The Sky Is Everywhere is just as beautifully written as her other book. It is a terribly sad and emotional story where the main characters try to deal with Bailey’s dead; the musical elements and descriptions make this book into something truly exceptional. Why didn’t I give The Sky Is Everywhere the full five stars? I had one problem with this otherwise brilliant novel: the love triangle. I think I have become allergic to love triangles after reading too many YA novels and the Lennie-Toby-Joe triangle more than bothered me. Sure, grief can make you do unspeakable things, but still… I think I could have lived without that element. That said, if you like YA contemporary romance stories and don’t mind having to use a full box of tissues, make sure you read The Sky Is Everywhere!

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After her older sister Bailey dies suddently, seventeen-year-old Lennie doesn’t know what to do with herself. She is used to be on the background, a bookwork and clarinet player, but now has nobody left to hide behind… She lives with her grandmother and uncle ever since her mother left her daughters behind to wander the world; all three of them now stunned by their grief. Bailey’s boyfriend Toby keeps visiting the family as he tries to live with his loss… And Lennie and Toby both feel they are the only ones that really understand each other’s grief. Lennie tries to continue with her life and still goes to band practice, where she meets the new boy and musical talent Joe. They slowly get to know each other, but Lennie is confused about her feelings… Her grief blinding her from making proper decisions.

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The beautiful prose, musical elements and many descriptions and bits of Lennie’s writing truly make The Sky Is Everywhere into something special. I personally didn’t appreciate the love triangle, but the rest of this story is outstanding. It’s a really sad story that will probably bring tears to your eyes at some point, but this Jandy Nelson novel is without doubt worth reading if you like the genre. Recommended!

ARC REVIEW: Melophobia – by James Morris

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Title: Melophobia
Author: James Morris
Genre: Mystery, Dystopia, Music
First published: September 22nd 2015
Finished reading: December 1st 2015
Pages: 265
Rating 4qqq

“She could see how easily someone could succumb to the hex music weaved over them, the temptation to lose oneself within the hypnotic trance-like beats. No thoughts of the future, or the past, only the immediate present, as if life itself had condensed into a single moment.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I couldn’t imagine myself living in a world without music and I always enjoy a good dystopian novel, so when I was approached to read and review Melophobia I was immediately intrigued. This is the second time I’ve read James Morris‘ work this year and I really enjoyed both novels. Melophobia has an interesting plot and the worldbuilding is very well done. The fact that music is forbidden in this world and that the government is trying to control everyone reminded me of dystopian classics like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, which is a huge compliment since both are among my favorite classics. The characters are interesting and I really appreciated the development in the main character Merrin. One minor drawback: the love triangle between Merrin, Anders and Rowan. It didn’t add anything substantial to the plot and part of their relationship seemed a bit forced. I personally felt the story could have worked perfectly fine with Anders just being Merrin’s best friend… But aside from that, I more than enjoyed this dystopian story and I would definitely recommend it if you like the genre.

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America in an alternate present, a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity including music. Almost all music is banned and destroyed when found, both creators and listeners reeducated when arrested. Only Musak can be listened to, a government approved background tune that doesn’t make people feel rebellious. Merrin Pierce is the daughter of the Minister of Broadcast Standards and works as an undercover Patrol officer. Her assignment is to infiltrate the music scene and arrest any musician and fan she can find… But when she is asked to stop the government’s biggest treat so far, the Source, she discovers things about herself and her past she is not sure how to deal with. Was her past just a lie? And is music really that dangerous?

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Melophobia means fear or hatred for music, and this concept is used perfectly in this novel. The story is set in an alternate present where music is forbidden and the government suppresses and reeducates those who want to have music in their lives anyway. The plot is interesting and the story is well written, making Melophobia in a very entertaining dystopian read. The music angle is really refreshing as well!