Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Book Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Published by:Berkley
Publication date:5/03/2016 
Format:Digital Review Copy


I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past. 
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. 

My Thoughts

I kept hearing about how great this book was from other book bloggers and thanks to Netgalley I was able to get my hands on a copy even though it had already been published so I was super excited to get start and I stayed that way throughout this entire book. Twisting is an understatement.

Characters are well thought out and are complex to say the least, some are just downright dangerous. I am going to share something here without trying to give anything away, not everyone is who you think they are. Okay all I'm going to say on that subject. There are lots of characters because technically there are two stories being told, the one from the police's point of view and the other from a victim's point of view. And these two stories sometimes converge on each other, but for the most part they play out separately.

Plot pacing is decent it ebbs and it flows, but you are never bored even when there is no fast-paced action going on in some parts. The plot itself is really realistic except for at the end when you find out what really happened, who committed the hit and run and that there was something between this person and the boy that got hit, that was just a little overdone for me, they could have just left the relationship of the two out it didn't need to be there and I did take away a star because of how unrealistic it felt to me.

I really enjoyed this heart wrenching, mind twisting, psychological thriller and I think you will fall as hard for it as I did!

Thanks for coming by,

Monday, May 09, 2016

Book Review: The Basement by Stephen Leather

Genre:Psychological Thriller
Published by:Thomas & Mercer
Publication date:11/29/2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Source:Kindle Unlimited


New York City. With a population of almost nineteen million people, it's easy to remain anonymous ? even if you're a serial killer, torturing and murdering beautiful young women. The killer has another victim right now, locked in a basement somewhere in the city. For NYPD detectives Turner and Marcinko, it's their job to sift through those nineteen million and narrow their list to the one before it's too late. And they?re sure they have the right man in their sights. Fusing alternating viewpoints with devastating precision, Leather's top-notch thriller dives deep into the mind of a demented killer as tension mounts immeasurably. Turner and Marcinko's prime suspect is screenwriter wannabe Marvin Waller. He is becoming increasingly frustrated by his lack of success and the cops think he might be channeling his anger into murder ? yet he doesn?t seem to be at all concerned that they are hot on his trail. As Turner and Marcinko close in on Waller they have to wonder: is he the killer? And if he isn?t ? who is? Only time will tell ? and time is one thing they do not have. An unrelenting vice-grip of suspense and fear, The Basement is the ultimate shocker with a shattering climax that will leave you battered, bruised, and broken.

My Thoughts

I can totally see why author, Stephen Leather, is one of the most successful thriller writers in the U.K.; this book sunk it's hooks into me and I did not come up for air until I had finished the whole thing from start to finish.

Fast-paced, the plot is engaging and full of surprises. I was surprised at the depth of the characters since this is only a novella and 127 pages doesn't leave a lot of room for character development but Leather somehow had me looking at these people like they could be a person living down the street. How he did it with so little details about the characters I don't know? I think it must have come through the dialogue and that that is how you really get to know them. Sometimes no one is as they seem and this twisty, edge of your seat book proves that. I just loved it and will be adding more of Stephen Leather's work to my to be read lists.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good psychological thriller. If you loved Gone Girl then you will love this quick read! You can find it here on Amazon for purchase or if you are a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber you can read this book now for free.

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Book Review: No Longer Safe by A.J. Waines

Genre:Psychological Thriller
Published by:Kindle Direct Publishing
Publication date:2/4/2016
Format:Kindle Edition
Source:Kindle Unlimited


She was your best friend. Now she’s your deadliest enemy – and there’s nowhere to run…

When Alice receives an invitation from Karen, her charismatic University friend, to stay in a remote cottage in Scotland, she can’t wait to rekindle their lost friendship. But two more former students arrive – never friends of Alice’s – and as the atmosphere chills, Karen isn’t the warm-hearted soulmate Alice remembers. Barely is the reunion underway before someone is dead and the fragile gathering is pushed to breaking point.

As the snow cuts them off from civilization and accusations fly, Alice finds herself a pawn, sinking deeper into a deadly game she can’t escape.

No Longer Safe is a chilling psychological thriller that delivers a delicious sting in the tail.

My Thoughts

I really was glued to this book and stayed up way to late to finish it, thank goodness Ipads have light dimmers on them!

The plot in this book is Wowzers! There are so many different twists and turns and the ending is definitely an eye-popper. I was definitely weirded out by all the goings on and that is what makes a great psychological thriller in my book, the tone, the suspense it was just fabulous, even the parts that would normally be considered dull added a surrealism to the story that just set the tone of the story really well.

Characters are also wonderful and really well developed, you could have went to Uni with anyone of these characters, their realness seeps through the flashbacks to Uni and then how they all treat each other now, it is just a fabulous look into how we as humans interact with each other. You'll love some of them and you'll totally despise others.

Setting is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere and that sets the scene for this story really because without the remoteness of the cottage none of the plot would have been possible at all. Plus who doesn't love to read about beautiful, snowy out of the way places.

So if everything was wonderful you are probably wondering why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 and that is because even though the ending is shocking it just seemed to be stretching it a bit. I can't say to much or I'll give it away, but the realness of the setting and characters makes that last little piece of the plot just seem over the top a bit. Again hard to explain without giving anything away.

If you love a good eerie story that will have you going "what the beep" at the end then you should give No Longer Safe by A. J. Waines a chance.You can find it here on Amazon for purchase or if you are a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber this book is available now for free.

Thanks for coming by,

Monday, May 02, 2016

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)

Series:Queen of Hearts Saga #1
Genre:YA Fantasy
Published by:HarperTeen
Publication date:5/3/2016
Format:Advanced Reader Copy
Source:Shelf Awareness


As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. 

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

My Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! I tend to be extra critical of retellings/remixes of classics so the fact that I rated it so highly should give you some indication to the level of storytelling/remixing that the author did in this book.

Let's start with characters: All the different characters are semi-thoughtout in my opinion.I feel that the author put as much effort into developing her major characters as she did with her secondary characters, which is okay, but I think Dinah and Wardley in particular were a little to flat for me. You could definitely see which characters match with their Alice in Wonderland counterparts, like Harris is definitely based on the White Rabbit. The lacking of well developed major characters is one of the reasons why this book didn't rate any higher with me, this book could have been a five star in my opinion, but I had to mark it down a little because of the lack of major character development.The only reason I can see for this other than author error is that it was developed to be a series so character exploration may be something that is drawn out throughout the other books in the series, which would make them harder to read just as a standalone read you would have to read the whole series to actually get the well developed characters that are possible with this storyline. This is what I'm hoping for because the possibilities that these characters represent could make for a great book series.

Setting: The world building in this book is just beyond words! The whole of Wonderland is built up really well and the descriptions of the settings are wonderful. This is one of the strongest parts of the book besides the plot. George R.R. Martin would be proud of Oakes' world building techniques! The only issue I took with the setting is the passage of time, which seems a little off, Oakes skips from action to action without much buildup inbetween so it feels like time is passing weirdly.

Plot: That jumping from action to action, might have made the story feel a little off, but it really made this a fast paced, highly engaging plot; I did read it in one sitting so that should let you see how engaged I was. All conflicts are well developed though the conflict between Dinah and her father is a bit under explained in my opinion this was the only part of the plot that I was scratching my head over.

I am really interested in seeing where the storyline goes with this series and cannot wait to read the next book. That said I would definitely recommend this book to readers who love retellings/remixes or anyone that enjoys a book with a fast paced plot and great world building in it!

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Book Review: Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian

Series:Scotland Yard's Murder Squad #5
Published by:G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date:5/17/2016
Format:Advanced Review Copy
Source:Goodreads Giveaway


Many changes have happened to the Murder Squad. Rash actions have cost Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith his job, and in response he has set up his own private detective agency. Inspector Walter Day has been missing for a year, and no one knows where he is—though there is a strong suspicion that Saucy Jack has him. Hammersmith has made finding Day his primary case, and he has company—a pair of bounty hunters, a man and a woman. It is only gradually that he has come to realize that they are not what they seem . . .

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed Grecian's fifth book in the Scotland Yard Murder Squad Series, but there was a few issues that I felt really affected how I felt about the book.

Okay so the plot was engaging and fast paced, but I felt that there was so much going on all at once that chaos really reigned and though it kept the pace super fast it was a bit overwhelming and I did have to read some paragraphs more than once.There are just so many different little conflicts going on in the plot that it was just difficult to focus on the main conflict between Jack and Walter Day. And Walter's whole other life, well I can see it being realistic in the beginning of his freedom from Jack, but as it progresses it just seems to surreal.

Grecian created some of the best literary characters in this series. I love Nevil; he is bumbling, loyal and just an average guy that makes him so relatable. And then there is his complete blindness to Fiona and the love that could be, sigh! And don't even get me started on Mr. Goodpenny and his hearing issues, hilarious. All the characters are just superb and I can't really gush anymore about how they are some of my favorite literary characters. Grecian did add a few new characters and they are just as well rounded as the regular characters are.

There is a part of the book that I didn't really see the point to, which was the stories by Claire Day under her pseudonym that were interspersed among the chapters in the book, they just felt really out of place to me and the further into the book I got I just skipped over the last two.

Setting was spot on, who can resist the London of yesteryears. The setting descriptions were elaborate, but with all the destruction in the plot it was hard to keep up with what got destroyed and what didn't.

The ending was spot on and was actually my favorite part of the book. Overall it was a solid reading experience, but I wasn't as consumed by this one as I was with the previous books in this series.

Here are the links to my reviews of the other books in this series:

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: Atria Books
Publication date: 10/20/2015
ISBN13: 9781451649321
Pages: 492
Format: Hardback
Source: Library


Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estatein Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

My Thoughts

DC Sadie Sparrow's life is in a shambles following what turned out to be a bad call on her part even though she stuck with what her gut was telling her and that was that something was just wrong with this case. Cops rarely ever go to a journalist for help but Sadie needed to keep this case from being pushed to the back burner which was already starting to happen as the weeks went by and her theories were squashed by the higher-ups and even her own partner so she turned to a journalist, stating that the things is this case are not what they appear to be and what did she get for it, a nice vacation in Cornwall and maybe just maybe she'll get to keep her job. 

Sadie hadn't the easiest life her parents were very strict and so when Sadie finds herself pregnant as a teenager her parents wash their hands of her and she goes to live with her maternal grandparent's who have been estranged from the family for years. Her grandparents are kind and supportive during the pregnancy and even try to talk Sadie into keeping the baby but she doesn't want to burden anyone so she gives the baby up for adoption. Burdening anyone seems to bother Sadie a lot so as soon as she could she became a cop and was independent as possible after that. But giving up your child changes you and can cloud your judgement especially in cases involving abandoned children which leads you to do some really desperate things and Sadie was no exception.

After her failed attempt to make it right by talking to the journalist Sadie hightails it down to Cornwall where her grandfather, Bertie, relocated to after his wife Ruth died. Unable to confide in her grandfather about her big blunder she leads him to believe that she is there on vacation, taking a break from the big city and that horrendous last case she worked on. Instead of mopping around the house Sadie and her grandfather's dogs go for runs in the woods and soon Sadie stumbles upon an overgrown fairytale in the woods. The Edevane estate looks so full of secrets and mystery that Sadie just cannot help herself in snooping around a bit on the estate's grounds; oh and maybe looking in a window or two. Intrigued Sadie set out on an investigation to find out why the house has been abandoned and as she dives deeper into her research she finds that the house holds a secret so full of darkness and sadness that she gets sucked in to the mystery and cannot let it go until she finds out what happened that MidSummer's Eve, the night the Edevane's baby boy Theo disappeared into thin air. 

This story holds many small stories attached to the big story, but missing and abandoned children are recurring themes throughout the whole book, Sadie had to give up a child, the Edevane's child went missing, even the case that got Sadie in trouble revolved around a supposedly abandoned kid. Not just the sadness of these events but the life changing anguish these mothers had to go through connects them to each other through time and space.

Eleanor's Theo (Bertie). 
Sadie's Esther (Charlotte).
Nancy's Maggie.

Nothing creates such a gapping hole in a woman then the loss of their child does. And The Lake House does a superb job of showing the love of a mother for their child even when that means living without them so that they may have a better life, a life that they deserve better then the one that got served to them. Mystery; genuine, safe love; passionate, forbidden love; heart breaking loss; fear; regret; pretty much every human emotion is wrapped up in the 492 pages of this book. Oh and a little warning by the last three chapters I would have some Kleenexes close by if I were you!

Thanks for coming by,

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published by: NAL
Publication date: 2/16/2016
ISBN13: 9781101990261
Pages: 336
Format: Hardback
Source: Library


When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

My Thoughts

This book will rope you in and dangle you by a string till you are freaking out and then it will let you down at the end with a big old drop. I liked this book, well at least for most of the book, but was so disappointed in the ending, I thought there would be this huge revelation instead it was what I had already figured out and even that wasn't exciting. I tend not to listen to book comparisons but there was a lot of love going around about this one and it was compared to Gone Girl (which I loved) and Girl on a Train (which I didn't love) so that's why I picked it up and I did enjoy it while I read it but it definitely won't stay with me like Gone Girl did. I'm not even really sure this should be in the psychological thriller category, it was suspenseful in the beginning but that was it really.

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Sunday, April 03, 2016

Book Review: The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-Fiction/History
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 6/3/2014
ISBN13: 9781250020208
Pages: 381
Format: Digital Review Copy
Source: Netgalley


They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.

The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Rappaort aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados.

My Thoughts

I started this book off intent on learning as much as I could about the Romanov sisters and I enjoyed around the first 4 chapters of the book and then after that the mundane facts of who their favorite soldiers were, who their tutors were and who had what illness, it just got mind numbingly boring. I did finish it though and in the end I thought it was okay because you do get to see the more human side of this story instead of telling a tale of duchesses it was really about just plain old sisters.

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Book Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Genre:Historical Fiction
Published by:Atria Books
Publication date:11/3/2015


From New York Times and internationally bestselling author Isabel Allende, an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War.

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco's parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family's Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco's charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the SpiritsThe Japanese Lover is a profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.

My Thoughts

Isabel Allende is one of my favorite author's of all time and with the reading slump I had been in, trying to get through a previous book that just well drug on, I decided it was to her that I would run to for I knew she wouldn't fail me.

The Japanese Lover is a sweeping book of historical fiction starting in 1939 and taking us all the way to 2013, it is the love stories of Alma and Ichimei, Irina and Seth, and Nathaniel and Lenny. There is of course different types of love and they are all felt in this book, the love of grandparents for a grandchild, forbidden love, a convenient love, and of course a patient love. I sighed, felt my heart swell, then I cried, and I marveled at the magic that Allende is able to magically weave on the page, it put me in a trance, so that my last book's 7-day reading horror was wiped clean from my memory and I am once again reading with joy!

Just truly a magnificent book that I think anyone who loves historical fiction and even contemporary fiction would truly enjoy. 

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel

Published by:Quercus
Publication date:6/3/2014
Format:Digital Review Copy


"The Murder Farm" begins with a shock: a whole family has been murdered with a pickaxe. They were old Danner the farmer, an overbearing patriarch; his put-upon devoutly religious wife; and their daughter Barbara Spangler, whose husband Vincenz left her after fathering her daughter little Marianne. She also had a son, two-year-old Josef, the result of her affair with local farmer Georg Hauer after his wife’s death from cancer. Hauer himself claimed paternity. Also murdered was the Danners’ maidservant, Marie.

An unconventional detective story, "The Murder Farm" is an exciting blend of eyewitness account, third-person narrative, pious diatribes, and incomplete case file that will keep readers guessing. When we leave the narrator, not even he knows the truth, and only the reader is able to reach the shattering conclusion.

My Thoughts

The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel is a little piece of fiction (168 pages) that is based upon a true story of an unsolved rural murder that occurred in Bavaria in 1922. Creepy is not the word! I lived on a farm until I was 11 years old and have been freaked out in the past by the eerie isolation that living on 100 acres in Western Maryland can bring with it, but it compares nothing to the overwhelming isolation that Andrea Maria Schenkel describes in amazingly stark detail.

The brutality of the murders and the prayers interspersed between the different sections of third-person narrative and first-person recollections caused a shiver to run down my spine. I felt chilled even though I was reading this in a hot bath and then snuggled down under all my blankets on my bed. Goose bumps dotted my arms. The wine in my glass didn't even help to warm me up. I was cold from the inside out.

The utter desperation of the murderer made me feel sad for them. Yes, I did just say that. So upset of how the beast of evil took them over and made them into something other than human, they just couldn't reconcile it with themselves that they were capable of such horror. The ending really speaks of the murderer's desperation with what they had done.

This book is a testament to how great psychological thrillers/suspense should be written. I have read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and some of her other works along with Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train and none of them made me feel like The Murder Farm did. Anything that you read that makes you feel such emotion is definitely worth the chill and the goose bumps.

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