Monday, September 26, 2016

The Hike by Drew Magary

Title: The Hike
Author: Drew Magary
Genre: Fiction
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 288 pages
Publication: August 2, 2016 by Viking

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.

On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.

The Hike was an atypical novel. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read and I’ve read some pretty unique novels over the years. Imagine any other ordinary day, sun shining, birds chirping…it sounds like one of those nice days for a walk huh? Well, that’s exactly what our protagonist of The Hike did. Ben, away on a business trip had some spare time before his meeting so he decided to go for a walk. Little did he know that, that wasn’t any ordinary day. Because within a few minutes Ben lost sight of the hotel and found himself transported to another world/plane, like a bad dream; encountering maniacal men in dog mask, a talking crab, a cannibalistic giant…and magical beans.

After reading the synopsis, I knew The Hike was going to be unconventional, peculiar and not my usual read. But I like reading new things and I was intrigued. Most books have a plot/problem that is easily seen within the first couple of chapters. This in turn, enables readers to hypothesize what might happen next. I couldn’t do that here. When I began the book, I had no clue what was going on or where it was going. It was a pleasant surprise because I was basically experiencing what Ben was going through and it wasn’t like the usual, where the readers knew what was going to happen before the character. When Ben found something out, I found out at the same moment. I loved how unpredictable this book was, everything was pretty crazy-bizarre so I was constantly surprised at all the twist and turn. The crab and the ending…blew my mind. I had to read the last paragraph a couple of times, just to make sure I grasped the meaning correctly. The ending was just perfect. While I enjoyed most of the book, I wished the characters were more developed. There were moments that I had a hard time connecting and empathizing with Ben and the other characters. Readers did learn a lot about Ben, and Ben discovering what makes him, him. But I still felt that something was kind of missing.

Magary’s The Hike brought something to the literary scene that hasn’t been done before and I recommend this book to those looking for a fresh and unique read and are willing to read something out of their comfort zone; because this novel definitely gives a whole new meaning to being out-of-the-box and breaking the mold of how a novel should be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

Title: Night Shift
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Midnight, Texas #3 

Hardcover, 308 Pages
Publication: May 3, 2016 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


At Midnight’s local pawnshop, weapons are flying off the shelves—only to be used in sudden and dramatic suicides right at the main crossroads in town.

Who better to figure out why blood is being spilled than the vampire Lemuel, who, while translating mysterious texts, discovers what makes Midnight the town it is. There’s a reason why witches and werewolves, killers and psychics, have been drawn to this place.And now they must come together to stop the bloodshed in the heart of Midnight. For if all hell breaks loose—which just might happen—it will put the secretive town on the map, where no one wants it to be...

Night Shift is the third and supposedly final book in the Midnight, Texas series. I hope this isn’t the last book because I enjoy the series too much to see it end! Anyone familiar with this series knows that the town of Midnight is a peculiar place and nothing is ever as it seems. What initially drew me to this series was the premise and plot but I stayed for the characters. Harris has created one of the most unique and fun cast I’ve ever read about.

Night Shift takes place approximately a few weeks after the events of Day Shift. The Town of Midnight gets a temporary relief as they plan for their annual Halloween-Samhain celebration at Fiji’s. However, the reprieve is abruptly cut short when the suicide rate sky rockets (before this, it was 0%), occurring right in the middle of Midnight in front of Bobo’s pawnshop. What’s even stranger is, the people committing suicide are ones that aren’t a fan of Fiji, Midnight’s resident witch. Once again it’s up to Fiji and the gang to figure out why the deaths are occurring and put a stop to it before it brings unwanted attention to their little town.

The main plot this time around isn’t as interesting as the first two books in the series. In my opinion, the multiple suicides and the big bad villain lurking underneath the town never really held my attention and the villain wasn't scary. The entire town was on a time sensitive mission but I never felt the urgency of it nor did they apparently. And then when the big showdown finally took place, it was solved so fast I thought I missed it. It was anticlimactic. It literally took two drops of blood and was summed up/solved in four sentences.­ I felt the author rushed the ending and 1-2 more pages could've helped the scene.

Even though the plot was somewhat of a letdown, the characters more than made up for it. As I said before, I’ve stuck around with series because of the wonderful characters. They may all be supes (except Olivia and the Reeds) and hiding secrets but at the core they’re just like everyone else. They want to try to make a decent living, live a happy life and care and protect their friends and families. That might sound boring but it isn’t the case. The people of Midnight make the most mundane of tasks fascinating and you’re never bored. And we finally learn the most in Night Shift about the characters. Prior to this book everyone was an enigma. Readers will learn more about Manfred and his family, what Olivia been hiding and running from, how the Reeds are keeping Madonna’s restaurant afloat and meet a relative of Fiji, other than the ghost of Aunt Mildred.

All in all this was a good conclusion to a wonderful series and everything tied up nicely. I am still crossing my fingers in hope that this isn’t really the end. There is still so much more to explore! In all honestly, I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters. But if this is truly the end, I am glad that I’ll still get my dose of Midnight, Texas when the show based on the series is aired later this fall. Thank goodness for that. I highly recommend this series to everyone. It’s a light, fun read with the perfect balance of paranormal and mystery.