Writings: June 2021 Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by C. L. Polk, Harlan Coben, Ilaria Tuti and S. J. Watson June 2021 Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

Witchmark, the first in the The Kingston Cycle series, by C. L. Polk was my first selection for June. Witchmark's world is based off of England after a world war, complete with a caste system. A witchmark is a sign that marks the person as a magic user and in most families, those without money and prestige, it means you are crazy and forced into an insane asylum. The main character is lucky as, even though he has a witchmark, he's part of a celebrated family. But, he's unlucky as he ran away and enlisted in the war to act as a medic in the army, under a different name. When he came back, at 32 years old, he's remaining hidden and working in a hospital. I liked the story quite a lot! The magic system is fascinating and works well, the family disconnect and strife Miles Singer has is written well, but I do have a few complaints. The pacing is slow, very slow. You are first told of a mystery, a man is murdered, and Miles is very slow at following the trail. Not his fault, he's working many hours, but it was hard to keep reading at times. The ending delivered, but it kinda felt too much, too fast compared to the rest of the novel. If you like fantasy, historical fiction, you will probably like this novel! Just a warning, Miles is gay and there is Male-to-Male romance in this novel, it's not overt, but if you don't like reading that kind of romance, you probably wouldn't want to pick this up.

My next novel selection was a suggestion, Win by Harlan Coben. I already know and have read most of Coben's Myron Bolitar series so it was a no-brainer to pick this one up! It's still in Myron Bolitar's world, following one of his most trusted companions or friend, Windsor Horne Lockwood III. Myron has retired and Win takes the lead in this mystery thriller finding out first, why one of his family's stolen paintings was found at the scene of murder, and later, what happened to his cousin and his uncle, his cousin's father, and the people who were embroiled in domestic terrorism in the 70s. Win is an antihero, with his unlimited money, mastery of all fighting styles, he acts invincible. He's hard to like and any armchair psychiatrists may diagnosis him as being 'on the spectrum'. The most important thing to know about Win is that he wins at all costs. There is no rule he wouldn't break if it means he gets what he wants. I stuffed down my annoyance at his sexist self because he's very entertaining nevertheless! This novel is very fast and kept me reading and reading! The suspense is great, although of course, we all know Win isn't going to die, but suspense can be about more than survival! Harlan Coben continued in his usual writing style injecting humor in the novel frequently as well. If you like thrilling mysteries, I suggest you try this novel!

The third selection was another random selection, that of Flowers Over The Inferno, the first in the Teresa Battaglia series, by Ilaria Tuti. Teresa is a Detective Superintendent who gets called out to crimes in the Alps. She is a refreshing and lovely change of the detective novel, being a stocky woman in her 60s struggling with an unknown brain disorder. She snapped at her fellows and subordinates and I loved reading a woman as a Detective Inspector Jack Frost! This novel is a true hard-hitting detective mystery and thriller, don't grab this if you are looking for a cosy mystery. The novel uses many flashbacks, in point of view of children of the area, to explain some of the traumas that happened to this section of the Alps. The time line goes so far back as to after Second World War. The people living in this insulated Alps region view the police as outsiders so Teresa has to win their trust while the serial killer continues killing. I really liked this book! If you like detective mysteries especially or thrillers, try this novel out! I doubt you'll be disappointed. FYI: This novel is one that was translated from Italian and some of the culture reasons/explanations didn't completely survive the translation, but it was still an enjoyable read.

My fourth and final selection was another suggestion. He brought it up to me when he started reading it, but then told me after he read more to NOT read it, I assume because he read something that reversed his initial interest. Well, I had to read it now! So, the fourth novel selection was Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson, a physiological thriller. It's following a woman, Christine, with amnesia who forgets yesterday, last week, last year, last decade, every time she wakes up. It started out very interesting, can't put it down interesting! Christine didn't know who she could trust, not even herself! S. J. Watson's use of the unreliable narrator worked very well in this novel! But, eventually, too many plot holes started to break my enjoyment. If you've watched the movie 50 First Dates, you can understand what was possibly my biggest plot hole that the author never attempted to fill. I don't want to write any more about this novel as it would ruin your suspense! It's enjoyable, but I can't say I suggest it. The ending left quite a bit to be desired and plot holes were, like I said, just too large.

I'm so sorry for the slow content updates. I'm still writing hard on my novel and it's going much slower than I'd like, but I'm keeping at it! Please send me your suggestions for topics about writing you want me to cover and novel suggestions!