Book Review: The Kept Woman

kept womanTHE KEPT WOMAN (Will Trent: #8) Written by Karin Slaughter

2016; 461 Pages (William Morrow & Company)
Genre: suspense, mystery, southern, police, murder, standalone

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS)

Rating: ★★★★★

WOWEE!!! Karin Slaughter has written another winner. Whenever I start a Slaughter book, I know I will not be doing much of anything else. From the first page I am hooked and I can read fast enough. I received this novel last year but I have been putting it off. I don’t really have many book crushes but Will, well he…is right up there with Gilbert Blythe (From Anne of Green Gables) for me. Slaughter is just amazing at characterization – as much as I love Will and Geoffrey for their flaws, I dislike very strongly Lena and Angie for their selfishness. Slaughter’s writing is not for the faint of heart – it is gritty and dark, very gritty and dark – so be warned.

In this one, Sara is called to a murder where the dead body is that of a police officer. Sara realizes that the extensive amount of blood does not belong to the corpse, but belongs to a woman. They must find the missing woman as she may be close to death with the loss of blood – victim or killer.

The body is found in a night club owned by a basketball star that was accused of rape. A case that Will had been investigating. With high priced lawyers, and other powerful allies, the athlete was able to walk. And if that is not enough on his plate, Angie is back in his life.

This book was a crazy ride – especially an emotional rollercoaster. We get to know Angie’s story. It gives you insight to how she got to be the way she is. I am still not a fan of her but I have moved her from the “hate” column to the “strongly dislike” one. I cannot wait till the next Will Trent book!!!

 

Next month I will be reviewing Slaughter’s standalone novels!

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The Other Girl by Erica Spindler: Review and Q&A with Author

the other girlTHE OTHER GIRL Written by Erica Spindler

AUGUST 22, 2017; 352 Pages (St. Martin’s Press)
Genre: suspense, mystery, southern, police, murder, standalone

(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★★★1/2

Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD in Louisiana is trying hard to run away from her past. Everyone, including her own mother and brothers, saw her as heading for trouble and washed their hands of her fourteen years ago. Growing up she had everything to prove to the world – that she is one of the best detectives on the force and has honour. Everything is going well for Miranda until she is named the lead on the brutal murder of a beloved professor, Richard Stark.  Stark’sr father is the president of the college and wants the murder solved soon, without any scandal. Then Miranda finds a clue at the crime scene that is a tie to her own past and the worst time in her life. As she tries to uncover the truth of the victim, Miranda stirs up things that might be turned against her.  The “beloved professor” might in fact be a dark predator.  And, when another body turns up, of a police officer, Miranda is suspected. She has to find the killer before she is arrested.

I have been a fan of Erica Spindler’s writing since I picked up her first book, as I love the suspense she creates.  I enjoyed this book, but it was not the suspense thriller I was expecting.  I expecting a grittier novel.  This one was more of a simple mystery – meaning that you are interested in knowing what is going to happen, but you aren’t enthralled at the edge of your seat. I liked Miranda as a character and the lead, but at times the secondary characters were a bit one sided. I think this was because the author was trying to create more than one suspect in readers’ mind. The killer (and ending) is a bit predictable but I still enjoyed this novel. Miranda is interesting and I am hoping we will see more of her and the town.

 

Erica-Spindler1Q&A with Erica Spindler:

Q: Start by telling us a little about The Other Girl and what inspired the story?

A: In THE OTHER GIRL, the grisly murder of a popular college professor, forces Detective
Miranda Rader to face the traumatic past she thought she’d buried. It leads her on a quest for justice that may cost her everything—even her life. A real life event close to home inspired THE OTHER GIRL. I live in a family-oriented, bedroom community of New Orleans. One afternoon the news exploded with the account of an attempted abduction of a young girl walking home from her bus stop. The girl managed to escape and the
perp got away. As you can imagine, the story was everywhere and on everyone’s lips for days. She’s interviewed, her parents are on TV. But no arrests are made, and the case goes silent. Until—the sheriff appears on TV and announces the girl made up the whole thing. I was shocked. The girl’s identity is known—so now everyone thinks she’s a liar. All her friends, teachers, family, neighbors. Everybody. What if she really was telling the truth? How would that impact her life now—and in the future? Would she bury the past? Would she long for justice? And what if she wasn’t the only girl? What about justice for them? These questions are at the heart of both this story and my main character, Miranda.

Q: Can you give us a look into the character development process, more specifically how you developed protagonist Miranda Rader?

A: I started with the “What if no one believed you question” and built my character from there, by asking more questions, defining who she is at the time of the incident—and how do I make it believable no one backs her up. Then I tackled all the ways that might have changed her life. For example, I decided she would have felt powerless against the system, so she would choose to become part of it as an adult—and what’s more empowering than a badge and a gun? This really is a psychologically driven thriller, and my end goal was justice and healing, so every decision I made had to pass the test: Will this take me a step closer to that goal.

Q: How would you describe your writing process, including getting started, conducting research, and knowing when a work is complete?

A: Beginning always starts with what I call my “Dark Gift” moment. It a goosebumps reaction to something that happens to me personally, or in my personal sphere. And it starts the worst-case-scenario, what-if snowball rolling. I usually brainstorm on paper a lot. Jotting ideas, plot points, bits of dialogue, character characteristics, or whatever. The good stuff keeps coming back, the other just falls away. I do whatever research I need to start the book, then research as I go. (I don’t love research.) I’ve recently discovered a screenwriting book titled Save The Cat by Blake Snyder and have started incorporating his notecard, three act process and have found it very helpful.  When I think I have enough of a direction, I open a document on the computer and begin. There are days writing is the hardest job ever, and other days when it’s heaven on earth—and lots of
days in between. For me, I know it’s done when all the threads are tied up and I get this euphoric feeling of satisfaction—not for having finished, but for my characters. It their happy ending, after all.

Q: Tell us about your influences, from all-time favorite authors to most inspirational works. Additionally, are there any recent titles you’d recommend?

A: Down here in south Louisiana, we’re known for our gumbo. It started with the cajuns, who would throw whatever they had in an abundance into the pot to make a rich, flavorful stew. That’s the way I think of my influences—horror like Stephen King and Peter Straub; Glitz and Glamour like Judith Krantz and Sidney Sheldon; childhood influences like the Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew mysteries; the Gothic Suspense from my teens years, like Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart; and the Contemporary Romance like Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown they all come together in my stories to create this complex and, hopefully, tasty mix.

Q: What would you say is the greatest writing tip you have for aspiring writers?
A: How about three instead? Believe in yourself, learn from your mistakes, and keep your butt inthe chair!

Q: When did you know being a writer was what you wanted to do? What was the moment like when you realized it was becoming a reality? Was the path to publication a linear one?

A: I always thought I wanted to be a visual artist, which is what I’m trained for. I’d completed my MFA and lined up a University teaching job for the fall. Then I caught the writing bug. A cashier dropped a free Nora Roberts novel into my shopping bag; I read it and was hooked. Although a big reader all my life, I’d never read romance. After a months-long reading frenzy, I decided I had to try to write one. The minute I put pen to paper, I knew I had found my true calling. I never looked back. As for a linear path to publication—if that includes rejections, rewrites, rejections, rewrites, yes it was linear. My very first novel, rewritten several times, is still in a drawer. I’ve nicknamed it Fatally Flawed, because I made every mistake a beginning writer can make. It’s my learning
curve, I’m proud of that fact, and it will never to see the light of publication. Promise!

Q: What would you say makes The Other Girl stand out amongst other popular thrillers from the last few years?

A: There have been so many awesome thrillers published in the last few years! What I hope stands out about THE OTHER GIRL is it’s main character’s authentic journey as she relives past trauma and fights for justice. I think readers will really like her and be rooting for her.

Q: Do you have any creative rituals for when you sit down to write?

A: Coffee. More coffee. And chocolate. Seriously dark chocolate.

Q: When you’re writing a suspense novel such as The Other Girl, how do you go about mapping out the plot? Did you know the ending ahead of time, or did you let the story unfold as you wrote?

A: In writing circles, you’re either a plotter or a pantser (as in the seat of your pants.) I’m
actually a bit of both. Some things I know. How it begins, who the hero is—and who the villain is. I also start out knowing what the hero desires—or thinks she desires.
I know the crime, or crimes, that make the plot move, and also what the hero has to learn from this journey. Everything else is the magic that happens as I’m writing—the story and characters take on a life of their own and things happen that I never could have planned beforehand.

Q: Are there any pieces of you in any characters in The Other Girl?

A: Yes, definitely. In all my books, there’re are bits and pieces of me scattered about. (Sounds like crime scene!) And my heroic characters are always colored with my world view.

Q: Are you a fan of Law and Order: SVU?

A: Nope, I don’t watch. I don’t want to be influenced by some cool plot twist or crime scenedetail they come up with. I do sometimes watch true crime and things like forensic files.

Q: What’s your favorite psychological thriller?

A: One of my all time favorite novels is Ghost Story by Peter Straub. Another is Along Came a Spider by James Patterson, and The Shining by Stephen King. The list goes on!

 

Erica-Spindler4_thErica’s Bio:

Catching a summer cold changed Erica Spindler’s life forever.

Up until that fateful malady, Erica planned on being an artist. She had studied for that profession, earning both a BFA and MFA in the visual arts. Then in June of 1982, she stopped at a local drugstore to pick up cold tablets and tissues; the cashier dropped a free romance novel into her bag. She hadn’t read a romance in years but once home, with nothing to do but sniffle and watch daytime TV, she picked that romance up — and was immediately hooked. For the next six months she read every romance she could get her hands on. Sometime during those months, she decided to try to write one herself.

The moment she put pen to paper, Erica knew she had found her true calling. Since that day, Erica has published more than twenty novels. Her titles have been published all over the world and Red was turned into both a wildly popular graphic novel and daytime drama in Japan. Critics have dubbed her stories as “thrill-packed, page turners, white knuckle rides, and edge-of-your- seat whodunits.”

Erica is a USA TODAY, New York Times and Amazon.com bestseller. In 2002, her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. An RWA honor roll member, she received a Kiss of Death award for her novel Forbidden Fruit and is a three-time RITA award finalist. In 1999 Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen-Up award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.

Erica and her husband — a man she describes as funny, handsome and way too sassy — met in art school and have been together ever since. They have two sons, born nine and a half years apart. Erica makes her home in the New Orleans area, although she originally hailed from Illinois.

Erica came to her present home in much the same way she came to writing — fate intervened. She and her husband, then college students, traveled to New Orleans to see the King Tut exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Without advance tickets, they had a choice: wait in line all day or spend the day sightseeing. They chose the latter and fell head-over-heels in love with the city.

Erica is currently at work on her next thriller for St. Martin’s Press.

Welcome to Cottonbloom: Book Blog Tour

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I do not read as many contemporary romances as I probably should, as mysteries are always calling my name.  When I do pick up one of these romances I usually go for small town series.  Cottonbloom was a great place to visit over the last few days.

A river divides Cottonbloom in two: the upscale enclave on the Mississippi side and the rundown, rough and tumble side in Louisiana. They’re worlds apart—but nothing can build a bridge like love…

26114466KISS ME THAT WAY (Cottonbloom: #1) Written by Laura Trentham

2016; 324 Pages (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
Genre: romance, contemporary, small town, series

(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating: ★★★

Cade Fournette was born and raised on the Louisiana side of Cottonbloom, where life has not been easy for him and his siblings. When his parents died in an accident, Cade was left to raise his younger siblings, while having everyone expecting him to fail. He does find success once he leaves Cottonbloom behind but left behind his family and maybe his heart. Cade return home and realizes just what his departure had meant.

Monroe Kirby, a physical therapist, also volunteers her time to help girls learn self defense. Many years ago Monroe could have used this training and wants to make sure other girls have it. Cade had come to her rescue and became somewhat of a protector. When he left Cottonbloom without saying goodbye she thought she would never see him again.

Cade has turned to Monroe for her therapy and soon the two discover that the feelings they had all those years ago may have never extinguished.

I found that the first book was great in setting up the town and characters. I gave this book a three because I felt like while it was a good read there wasn’t anything exceptional or unique to set it apart. The story between Cade and Monroe has been done before and while I liked them, I found the chemistry was just so-so. The secondary characters also seemed to have more characterization than the hero and heroine. I am looking forward to he next book which I hope is Nash and Tally’s story.

 

26114329THEN HE KISSED ME (Cottonbloom: #2) Written by Laura Trentham

2016; 301 Pages (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
Genre: romance, contemporary, small town, series

(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Tally Fournette, has her own business, with the help of her brother but still feels like she is not smart enough. When her childhood friend and crush, Nash Hawthorne returns to Cottonbloom to take care of his aunt, Tally feels the old feelings again. Nash has always been brilliant and has returned to his hometown to teach at a college. He has gone from being nerdy to sexy. And, the one woman he wants his Tally. As the two spend time together the flame burns brighter but the insecurities they both feel may drive them apart.

I identified a lot with Tally and loved Nash then and now. The characters were more vivid in this novel and I enjoyed the story even though it was a predictable. I did like that you knew there was a HEA coming but that there would be some tears before then. I am currently dating at this time, though a decade older than some of these characters so I did find the emotions quite realistic.

 

26114185TILL I KISSED YOU (Cottonbloom: #3) Written by Laura Trentham

2016; 320 Pages (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
Genre: romance, contemporary, small town, series

(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Finally, we get Sawyer Fournette and Regan Lovell’s story! These childhood sweethearts both had their heartbroken by one another and have made it their mission to make the other suffer. Regan is the Mayor and Sawyer is the Commissioner, each is trying to make their side of Cottonbloom the best. As the days get closer to the festival the sabotage gets meaner. The two discover they may not be the ones behind the pranks so they team up for the good of Cottonbloom.

I loved the chemistry and banter between these two characters. And, like the second book it also had better characterizations. I also liked that there was a bit of a mystery aspect and wished that part would have been drawn out more. While this third book rounded out the Fournette family saga, there is more in these series with new characters.

 

31450643LEAVE THE NIGHT ON (Cottonbloom: #4) Written by Laura Trentham

AUGUST 1, 2016; 350 Pages (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
Genre: romance, contemporary, small town, series

(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER via NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

We return to Cottonbloom, but this time we meet the Abbott brothers – four brothers running their family business – fixing and restoring cars. Wyatt Abbott, one of the twins, is set to work on Sutton Mize’s fiance’s car for a big commission for the shop. As he empty’s the car’s glove compartment he accidentally unleashes heartbreak for Sutton. They find receipts for fancy dinners and a thong underwear that was custom made by Sutton for her best friend, Bree. When Andrew, Sutton’s finace, and Bree confront Sutton together she tells them she has been cheating too…with Wyatt.
Wyatt, who has always had a thing for Sutton as kids, readily agrees and the two end up falling for each other.

I really liked this one! I found Wyatt so endearing and I could relate to Sutton (like I could with Tally). Even though I knew they were destined for a HEA I was invested in seeing how they would get there. We do see some of the characters from the first three books come through so it is a nice surprise if you have read them before. If not, they just seem like random characters with some importance and they are overly described for the part they play. I recommend this series…and is perfect for the remaining weeks of Summer.

 

Laura Trentahm IIAbout the Author:

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

 

Social Links:

Facebook

Author Blog

Twitter– @LauraTrentham

Author Website

 

Q&A with Laura Trentham

1. What inspired the novel plot?
Plots are strange things for me…I can rarely pinpoint anything in particular that triggers an idea. They usually pop into my head when I doing something else entirely like making dinner of driving the kids around.

2. What’s your favorite scene? Why?
I love the scene where Sutton gets drunk and finally propositions Wyatt for real. I hope it’s funny and sexy and the reader can feel her mortification when she thinks he turns her down.

3. Who’s your favorite character? Why?
Wyatt. He’s sexy and tough, but also incredibly sweet. He loves his family and would do anything for them. My heroes are complex and most definitely not a-holes.

4. Any other books in the pipeline?
Two more Cottonbloom books! WHEN THE STARS COME OUT (1/30/2018) features Wyatt’s twin brotherJackson. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE (8/2018) is Mack Abbott’s book. Also, sometime in the fall of 2018, I’ll have a military themed romance/women’s fiction book releasing! I’m super excited about it too.

5. What led you to write in this genre over others?
Actually, my first books were historical romances, and I’ll be re-releasing two and adding a new book in my historical Spies and Lovers series this fall (Sept/Nov 2017). But, while the historical books were on submission with publishers, my agent suggested I try a contemporary. It sold to St. Martin’s Press only a couple of months after my historicals sold. I’ve set all my contemporaries in the American south because that’s where I was born and have lived most of my life. I understand the way southerners talk and think.

6. Do you have a favorite book and author?
I’m going to have to throw it back to Mary Stewart as my favorite author. I quite often reread her books. But as far as which book I’ve reread the most, it would have to be Julie Garwood’s The Bride.

7. Why and how did you decide you wanted to write for a living?
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t even consider writing until five years ago. My daughter started preschool, and going back to work doing what I went to school for (chemical engineering) wasn’t feasible. I sat down one morning and started writing. At first, I didn’t even tell my husband what I was doing. I won’t lie, it took a lot of work and rewrites to get those first manuscripts good enough. But, eventually, I signed with an agent and sold them both.

8. What’s your favorite way to relax?

Reading! (I know that’s a shocker:) I also enjoy the mindlessness of games on my phone.

9. What’s your favorite food?

Fried rice! I just learned to make it at home. My rice cooker is my second favorite appliance (behind my coffee maker!)

10. Sounds like Sutton’s fiancé’s a cheating…um…cheats. Why did you decide to use that as an aspect of your story?
Andrew is a secondary character in the first Cottonbloom trilogy about the Fournette siblings. He’s kind of a slime ball in those books too.

11. Tell us something about Wyatt that we don’t learn from the book.
He likes to wear women’s underwear. Just kidding!! Actually, I’m drawing a blank, he’s an open, honest kind of man.

12. This book is set in Mississippi. Does this location contribute to the story in some way?
It’s actually set half in Mississippi and half in Louisiana. I wanted a southern location. But, I also envisioned a twist on the wrong side of the tracks story. In Cottonbloom, the more affluent live on the Mississippi side and the blue-collar working class live on the Louisiana side. I wanted that push-pull and rivalry between the two. It informs the relationships between my couples.

 

Final Girls: Book Review

32796253FINAL GIRLS Written by Riley Sager

July 2017; 342 Pages (Dutton, Penguin)
Genre: mystery, suspense, fiction

(I received an ARC from the Publisher via NETGALLEY)

Rating: 3 STARS

A decade earlier, Quincy Carpenter while on vacation with friends, survived a massacre and was the sole survivor. She joins two other girls with similar fates as the “Final Girls”. Final Girls refers to the girl that survives in a horror film. They become big in the media and while they have so much in common they have not met in person.

Quincy who has not been able to remember the details of that night is now getting better. She has her own business, a fiancee and has a trusting friend in the cop who saved her. Just as her life seems to be settling down, Lisa, the first Final Girl is found dead. It is thought to be a suicide but the media is all over the cases again. Then Sam comes to Quincy and reveals things that may turn everything worse.

I could not wait to read this book since it was announced! I was so happy when the publishers approved my request. I wanted to wait till the book was coming out to read it, and I set aside time to read it in one sitting. I don’t know if it was my high expectations or what but I was really disappointed with this novel. There wasn’t too much suspense so I kept putting the book down and found it hard to pick it back up. I could not like or relate to Qunicy and felt no real tension. The ending was easier to figure out, and once I did reading the rest of the book seemed like a chore. I rated it a three because it was an unique idea, and Sager seems to have promise.

Brothers and Sisters: Blog Tour

Brothers & Sisters - jacketBROTHERS AND SISTERS Written by Adele O’Neill

July 2017; 364 Pages (Aria)
Genre: mystery, family drama, detective

(I received an ARC from the publisher via NETGALLEY)

Rating: 4 STARS

“Nothing remains buried forever… What would you do to protect the ones you love?  A gripping, highly emotive story of love, survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty.

Perfect for the fans of Kathryn Hughes and Dorothy Koomson.

When human remains are found on Fitzpatrick Estate, Detective Kelly is drawn deep into the complex web of Fitzpatrick family secrets as Timothy and his sister Rose, now in their sixties, are catapulted into the centre of the investigation.
When the pathology report identifies the remains as that of their uncle, Patrick Fitzpatrick, missing from Fitzpatrick Estate since 1970, they scramble to protect their past. What would you do to protect the ones you love?”

When I started to read this novel, I was expecting a standard mystery novel, but realized a few chapters in it was more of a drama. I was pleasantly surprised as I continued to read this novel that the drama and mystery elements worked in great balance. The novel opens up with a body being found on a farm. We meet the detectives assigned to the case, and the family that resides on the estate. Then we find out that the body has been there for decades so the previous owners may have ties and knowledge of the identity. I figured out some of the mystery but there was more to the story and I really enjoyed the storytelling and felt satisfied with the ending. I am not sure if this could be turned into a series with the two detectives as leads, but I am looking forward to the next O’Neill novel!

Adele O'Neill

About the author

Having lived and worked in the UK and Dublin since college, Adele now lives in her
hometown of Arklow, Co. Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland, with her husband and two teenage daughters. She writes overlooking the Irish Sea and is an active member of the Wexford Literary Festival committee.

 

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Rapid Review: STRESSED, UNSTRESSED: CLASSIC POEMS TO EASE THE MIND

stressed unstressed.jpgSTRESSED, UNSTRESSED: CLASSIC POEMS TO EASE THE MIND EDITED BY JONATHAN BATE AND PAULA BYRNE

2016, 272 Pages (William Collins)
Genre: psychology, poetry, nonfiction, anxiety

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS)

I have always loved reading poetry, especially classic poetry. I love the flow, imagery and words of poetry. I find that as I read them it is a way to calm my anxiety. It calms my worries more than my fears. It is a way for me to get grounded. As I learn more about myself through counseling, books and writing I am getting a better handle on what keeps me going. I requested this book in order to read cool poetry and instead I learned more about my anxiety and myself. This is a great book for discovering great poems and/or exploring yourself and your stresses.

A Dark So Deadly…it must be read! Book Review

33229330A DARK SO DEADLY Written by Stuart MacBride

2017; 608 Pages (Harper Collins)

Genre: Scotland, police procedural, mystery, suspense, thriller, humour, fiction

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★★★★1/2

 

DC Callum MacGregor has been moved into the Misfit Mob squad.  That is where the POlice Scotland stick officers that have been tainted in some way.  Callum is accused of compromising a crime scene.  In fact, the real culprit is his pregnant girlfriend who needs the maternity leave pay.  For the sake of his new family he takes the blame and now must be one of the Misfits.  Being in the Misfit Mob means that you get the “no-where” cases, but Callum lands a big case.  A body has been found mummified but it turns out it has close ties to a current case. Since the other divisions are busy Callum and his team must solve the case…and hopefully without any mistakes!

This novel did take me a bit to finish but that is only because of the length.  I would stop to finish off other commitments but always came back when I had time.  I love all the quirky realistic characters and the dark humour.  I know this is a standalone novel but I do hope we see more of Callum, Franklin, Mother and the rest.  The chemistry between the characters are great and I was either enthralled or chuckling.  The ending, which I didn’t see coming was mostly great as it tied all the loose ends together. I really liked this novel and highly recommend it if you like gritty and dark humour in your suspense.

 

 

 

Mary Kubica: Double Review Feature

Last month for my book club we read, Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl.  I was really excited to read this book as I had heard good things about her novels.  I love a good suspense book so I nominated this for one for book club.  Maybe my expectations were too high going in, as this novel fell a bit flat for me.

 

the good girlTHE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica

2014; 352 Pages (Mira, Harlequin)

Genre: suspense, mystery, psychological thriller, fiction,

Rating: ★★★

Mia has gone missing.  Mia has been found.

After dinner with her boyfriend, Mia Dennett has never been seen again.  We find out that Mia goes home with Colin Thatcher who kidnaps her and holds her hostage.  Besides her mother, Gabe Hoffman (the cop) are the only ones who seem to be really looking for her.  Then Mia is found and she cannot remember her ordeal.

Kubica divides this novel into before and after – before Mia is kidnapped and after Mia is found.  In this format we are given the beginning and end of the story, but not the details of why and how. I kind of liked this aspect of the story because you build up to what actually happens.   Mia’s kidnapping is told through Colin (her abductor), Gabe (the detective) and Eve’s (Mia’s mom) point of view.  I wasn’t really interested in Eve’s point of view other than to know what Mia was going through post-kidnapping.  Gabe’s point of view gives us a bit of the inside to Colin’s life and how they find Mia.  Colin’s point of view is probably the best as it provides us with most of what is going on with Mia during that time.  BUT, a lot of the story is tell instead of show.  This seems to slow the story and pace down and also takes out the action.  I did finish the novel,  and was interested in knowing how it ended, but it wasn’t a page turner for me.  I would put it down and only the looming date of book club motivated me to pick it back up. I just didn’t connect with the most of the characters as they felt a bit distant.  Instead of hearing their point of view and feeling the emotions, it felt more like getting a third account of a story.  I didn’t care for the ending and just could not buy all of what was happening.  I gave it a three as it was an okay read but nothing stellar.  This is just one book, so I am looking forward to reading her newest novel…Every Last Lie.

 

every last lieEVERY LAST LIE by Mary Kubica

June 2017; 288 Pages (Mira, Harlequin)

Genre: suspense, mystery, psychological thriller, fiction,

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★★1/2

Before Nick and his daughter, Maisie return home from ballet class they stop off to get Chinese food.  Clara waits at home with their infant son, Felix.  Instead of returning home, Nick has been killed in a car accident (Maisie survives without a scratch).  The police rule it as an accident, with Nick at fault.  Clara is devastated.  She cannot tell her daughter that Nick is dead and soon starts to suspect maybe his death is more than accident.

This is my second novel by Kubica, and the second time she goes back and forth between before and after an incident.  In this case there is before Nick dies and that is told through Nick’s point of view.  Then there is after he dies, that is Clara’s point of view.  I liked the first half of the novel, then it started to get a bit weird.  I found the ending not satisfying at all. I get the allure of taking the story that way, but it just left me feeling disappointed.  Again it was hard to connect with the characters, but at least this time they were fleshed out a bit more.  I think I am going to pass on Kubica for now…or maybe try an audio version and see if that can bring the characters come to life.

 

 

 

 

ANGELS BURNING: Book Review

*originally published on 11/09/2016

cover75524-mediumANGELS BURNING Written by Tawni O’Dell

2016; 288 Pages (Gallery Books)
Genre: fiction, literary, psychological, mystery

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★★★★

“On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.” (From Publisher)

Tawni O’Dell’s first novel, Back Roads is one of my favourite books.  I have read it a few times, and even listened to it on audio! It is a dark story but also so realistic and very well-written.  O’Dell also has this dark humour that balances the book and keeps it from getting too depressing.  The “heroes” of her novels are always so interesting as they are not what you would expect.  I read O’Dell’s second and third books and liked them but they lacked the punch of Back Roads.  I had a chance to read and review this book, but went in with no expectations…punch! Dove reminds me a lot of Harley – an older sibling trying to take care of the little ones, while trying to grow up themselves.  Right off you feel for them, but come to realize there is so much more to them. The secrets and mystery are key to the novel’s allure but it is the characters who will stay in your mind.  Highly recommend this book!

Biography Review: Wollstonecraft Women

*originally published on 11/09/2016

cover59416-mediumROMANTIC OUTLAWS: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIVES OF MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT AND HER DAUGHTER MARY SHELLEY By Charlotte Gordon

2015; 672 Pages (Random House)
Genre: history, literature, authors, feminist, biography

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

 
Rating: ★★★★
I was in my first year of college taking my second English course, the Romantic Period, that I first heard of Wollstonecraft and Shelley.  For me, this was a difficult course but yet one of the most interesting classes.  I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and immensely enjoyed the Gothic tale.  It was amazing to know that a women wrote such a brilliant horror tale.  Then I learned that Mary Shelley was the daughter of writer, Mary Wollstonecraft.  Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman which I inhaled for a class assignment.  Since reading some of their works, I have added everything else to my tbr list. And, then I saw this biography and knew I had to get my hands on it.
Although mother and daughter, these two brilliant women never knew one another – Wollstonecraft died of an infection in 1797 at the age of thirty-eight, a week after giving birth. Nevertheless their lives were so closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so eerily similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other.

Both women became famous writers; fell in love with brilliant but impossible men; and were single mothers who had children out of wedlock; both lived in exile; fought for their position in society; and thought deeply about how we should live. And both women broke almost every rigid convention there was to break: Wollstonecraft chased pirates in Scandinavia. Shelley faced down bandits in Naples. Wollstonecraft sailed to Paris to witness the Revolution. Shelley eloped in a fishing boat with a married man. Wollstonecraft proclaimed that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.

Not only did Wollstonecraft declare the rights of women, her work ignited Romanticism. She inspired Coleridge, Wordsworth and a whole new generation of writers, including her own daughter, who – with her young lover Percy Shelley – read Wollstonecraft’s work aloud by her graveside. At just nineteen years old and a new mother herself, Mary Shelley composed Frankenstein whilst travelling around Italy with Percy and roguish Lord Byron (who promptly fathered a child by Mary’s stepsister). It is a seminal novel, exploring the limitations of human nature and the power of invention at a time of great religious and scientific upheaval. Moreover, Mary Shelley would become the editor of her husband’s poetry after his early death – a feat of scholarship that did nothing less than establish his literary reputation.” (From publisher)

I actually read this book April 2015, before the published date, but I could not write a review. Every time I sat down to write something I felt like it wasn’t good enough. How do I review two women I admire so greatly- as a reader, writer and feminist? It’s daunting but I would rather give it a try and let people know how much loved this book. This book is 600+ pages and I read this in 3 days! There is a lot of information but it reads like a novel. Gordon does a great job combining storytelling and facts. This is what I would want to read when I was in history classes. She is able to bring both women to life and made me even more thirsty for information. Next year I want to read more about and from mother and daughter. I also would love to read something else by Charlotte Gordon as her writing skills are remarkable.