Serious Subject Matter but needs to be read.

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Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn’t as lucky. Now she’s trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she’d have to experience alone. She’s hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks. That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment–without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead. (From Goodreads)

You simply just can’t imagine the terror Piper had to go through all throughout her life, and then to get out of that vicious cycle shows how strong she is. It’s sad that it had to come to severe extreme measure for her to escape but nevertheless she was able to do so is a feat in itself.

The way the characters; both Piper and Sanda are extremely well done in this book. They’re both mistrustful of others (can’t blame them) and although they try hard to learn how to integrate with society, they do tend to stand out. (Examples such as Sanda being fearful of not seeing Piper again or Piper learning how to register Sanda to school) This is so well done by Johansson. It’s very realistic of their characters and it shows how they struggle to blend in because of their fear of standing out due to their trauma. They shy away from physical contact to the point where it causes them physical discomfort. This is well written and felt by the characters accurately.

The plot itself was good as well. It just seems like wherever Piper goes horrible awful things just seem to follow. It’s serious and dark, and Piper being stalked does increase the chill factor several notches up. The idea of someone breaking into your apartment and leaving lovely goodies to freak you out is unsettling and terrifying. These moments are well written and does set the mood for the plot. There’s a moment or two where you feel so angry because of particular actions and the suffering some of the characters go through. (Yes Lily, I’m looking at you…you horrible girl you…)

I’m not sure what to think of the relationship between Cam and Piper. Sure Piper has a great deal of mistrust and puts Cam at an arm length’s distance but seriously? Romance? I know he’s trying to be friendly and has a bleeding heart for those in need but I’m not sure Piper would jump in at the chance to have a romance with him. Yes, she puts him as far away from her as possible and he tries hard to approach her through different ways but I really don’t see a romance as a thing in this story. Should there even be one? Why was there one in the first place? I found it rather unnecessary considering the serious subject matter.

This novel is nerve wracking, and props to Piper and Sanda for their inner strength. It was a good read. Not a light hearted one, but one worth the read nevertheless.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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Average Guy, not so Average London

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Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. (From Goodreads)

I enjoyed reading this one as it featured a main character who wasn’t your typical anti-hero – which we seem to have a lot lately. I’m glad to see Peter was just your average good guy who’s doing his best to be a policeman until he comes across supernatural things in which his whole life changes.

Peter’s relationship with Nightingale is pretty much a mentor/student one. Nightingale has his own secrets though and a few are revealed but there’s more to him that you think – I hope there’s more information about him in the later books to come. There are other supporting characters; I do like Leslie because she’s got the wit (possible love interest, maybe) and she’s a perfect sidekick to Peter. Molly is another interesting character that I would love to know more about. Again this is the first book in the series so I’m hoping more character development will eventually come forth in later books.

The world building is pretty good and Peter does a good job also explaining how things are in London (I admit I had to google a couple of things as I didn’t know who or what Punch and Judy were) but it gives you information on the city and events that are common there to actually make you feel as if you are following Peter around as he tries to solve the case and becomes an apprentice.

The plot was well done and I liked how the different story arcs come together in the end into one large circle. It may seem confusing at first but once you have everything laid out and you know who is who everything comes to a close and it’s a great closing. It obviously leaves room for more books coming so one can look forward to what is next for Peter.

(The Riot scene though? Holyyyyy sheeeeeee what the……)

It’s a good read, those who are into urban fantasy mysteries will likely like this type of book. Looking forward to book two!

I give it a 7 out of 10.

Great Journey of Self Discovery with Lucy

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpgOn the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever. Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England. Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore. Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for. (From Goodreads)

So what I was expecting from this book is a typical journey of a young woman and a boy she finds along the way. I was expecting a serious journey, perhaps with a few tear jerker scenes along and a bit of romance to lighten the mood. I was happy to be wrong about it when I finally finished the book.

Besides the obvious journey to London, it’s also more of Lucy’s road to developing her true self and coming to terms with it. She comes across characters that have had a hand in impacting her life and assisting Lucy in finding self finding journey.

The plot here was steady and flowing, there were some lulls here and there but it’s pretty much cut and clear. I did like reading Lucy’s character development throughout the novel. She went from spoiled entitled brat to someone who really did have a soft caring heart. It was great to see her develop into a more caring loving person of not others but also of herself. No matter how much she tries to go back to her selfish ways something always gets her back on track to show her true caring nature and that it is more rewarding helping and caring for others.

Lucy’s chemistry with Bill and Michael make the book more enjoyable to read. Bill because he brought out the caring aspect in Lucy, Michael because he challenged her and made her see things in a different light (plus, well he managed to wriggle under Lucy’s skin which was nice and fun to read as he had caught her speechless in some moments)

What I didn’t expect from the book was the funny light hearted moments. I found myself laughing here and there with Bill’s behavior and his uncanny ability to involve himself and Lucy into potentially hairy situations, or the times where Lucy fights with Michael, and it seems Michael is the only one that can render Lucy speechless and flabbergasted. Those were great moments in the book and it kept the reading at a light hearted mood despite what was happening around them.

I enjoyed this book a lot and I do recommend it if you’re in the mood for something light despite the dark setting of WWII London.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me with the review copy!

Mister Tender ain’t so sweet

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How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender? At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels. Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear… (From Goodreads)

This was a really good thrilling read. I enjoyed the twists and the overall feeling of the book really gave you the feeling you were being observed just like Alice felt throughout the novel.

Depictions of anxiety, of Alice breaking down and feeling defeated, her constant fear of being watched and followed, there’s a lot of emotions in the book and you can’t blame her as she went through a real rough patch in her past. It’s amazing she’s able to do the things she does (like owning a coffee shop for example). Alice is a very strong and determined character with considerable vulnerabilities.

I wasn’t really much into the guessing game as to who’s the one doing the following here. I was much too engrossed on how Alice was faring throughout the story as it seemed she was going to snap at any moment.

However, let’s get to the last third of the book.

Holy jeez. I don’t even know what to think.

You ever get that horrible creepy feeling when you come across something so terrible and bizarre and the only thing you can do is keep reading about it until your curiosity either gets the best out of you and you can’t sleep for the rest of the night or you turn away (but your curiosity hasn’t been satiated and you go back to step one)

That’s how I felt while reading the last third of the novel. To even think something like *that* actually exists out there (and worse) is frightening.

Now there were some unanswered and strings that weren’t really tied together or finished. Some characters just vanished without a trace and you’re left wondering what’s going to happen to them or if Alice is going to keep in touch with these particular people. Or maybe, Alice is just going to start fresh again ? who knows. I just didn’t like that some of them were just left there forgotten.

Other than that little bit, I enjoyed reading this book. You’d be surprised what awful twisted things lurk out there in the world and they’re probably just watching without us even knowing it. Great suspense and thrills. Worth a read!

I give it a 7 out of 10.

River turned out for the better in this book…

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Everyone said the Graces were witches. They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair. They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different. All I had to do was show them that person was me. Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on? (From Goodreads)

There wasn’t a substantial plot with this one. You had an idea on why River was trying to be friends with The Graces and there were hints here and there throughout the story on what River was really wanting to do all this time. You’re pretty much following River as she makes friends and tries to be part of the in crowd with The Graces.

I didn’t really like River that much in the beginning. You knew why she was wanting to befriend them however at the same time she had a great friendship with Summer and you were hoping nothing would spoil it.

The Graces did have a certain charm to them but at the same time there was also something strange. They’re close knit, secretive, and not your average family. They already had their secrets to start with, and of all the three I’d have to like Summer the most. She was the outspoken one and the rule breaker with at least some semblance of sense and logic that her two siblings didn’t have (those that have read the book would know what I’m talking about).

Back to River. Oh darling. You know this could have gone well if you HAD JUST TOLD THEM. Sometimes I hate reading books where the protagonist has this huge secret because they tend to keep it to themselves until they finally realize it wouldn’t help anymore but by that time, it would mess up a lot of things now would it? And all throughout the book you’re screaming JUST. TELL. THEM. Sheesh.

Although I know I said I didn’t really like her in the beginning, she redeemed herself in the last third of the book. I was expecting her to be sniveling, crying and pleading but she suddenly became this beacon of rage and I suddenly pulled a 180 and loved her instantly. She finally realized who she was and what she was capable of. She didn’t need the Graces at all – well maybe she needed them to put her in the right direction but it was nice to see her pick herself up and be strong about it.

Loved the ending! Such a cliffhanger and I want to know what’s going to happen next now that River has found herself. Sequel is coming out this year! So I’ll be looking forward to it!

I give it a 7 out of 10.

The horror and thrill…oh but Stella smella….

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Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Only Stella came back. Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush – until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets. Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t. She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead you have been warned***

What really got me turning the pages in this book was the horror and mystery aspect. It set the mood and the setting perfectly. It certainly gave you the necessary thrills and chills to keep you interested in the book. There’s some supernatural element to the story but as you progress into the finale well, answers will be revealed in time. 🙂

I loved the plot, the setting and the mood. There was no stalling. No dry bits. It was perfect flow throughout the book. This was so excellently written that I completely bypassed my extreme dislike for the characters. (Yes the plot was that good.)

So onto the characters. I just don’t like Stella. Not only is she particularly nasty to Sam, but her attitude and personality just stinks all around. She’s your typical mean girl (or should I say, the Queen Bee’s lackey?). I hated her treatment towards Sam, and Sam being your typical nice guy takes it like a doormat. Oh and he gets walked on not one, not twice but more than enough times to count. You know what this smells like? This smells like a dysfunctional relationship heading towards some horrible form of co-dependency. It’s horrible to read and if this is some sort of messed up way of redeeming Stella for all the things she’s done, I hardly think this qualifies.

True, Stella had a pretty traumatizing event happened to her. But I can’t sympathize with her behaviour. Zoey is just as bad and just as spiteful but one thing she had going for her was her extreme loyalty. I had to admit that was something you need in a best friend. Minus the Queen Bee behaviour of course.

This is one of the few books where I disliked the characters, but the plot just kept me reading. The elements of mystery was so well done that I enjoyed reading this one. I would recommend this one for the plot, but don’t expect to like the characters much. But thankfully they don’t make a negative impact on the plot at all.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

The Widow was a good Drama/Mystery

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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… (From Goodreads)

***Possible spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned***

For just one split second I almost thought Bella was alive somewhere because a part of me was hoping she was. Nope. What it was, instead was Jeanie’s poor tormented mind and the result of being emotionally manipulated by Glen all this time.

You couldn’t help but feel for Jeanie throughout this book. You could already tell from the beginning that she was being mentally and emotionally abused by Glen. That takes its’ toll and added with the fact that she wanted children and Glen’s got some pretty sick and twisted tastes, well that’s not going to work out now is it. So I do sympathize with Jeanie. It wasn’t until the last third of the book where she finally starts becoming her own person away from Glen, but by that point the damage is already done to her mentally. It’s sad to see. I can see why people were hating on her since she’s could have spoken out and told the police everything. Thing is, since Glen had this emotional power over her, it’s hard to overcome. You can’t help but feel frustrated but helpless at the same time when it comes to Jeanie.

I enjoyed reading the different points of view throughout the book although Jeanie takes up the bulk of the novel. The other point of view from the Police was also well done and you can see how much it takes it’s toll on everyone emotionally and mentally.

The only character I don’t have much of a like for is Kate. I understand she’s doing her job but it just seems heartless at the same time since it feels like she’s doing it at the expense of Jeanie. So I’m glad Jeanie finally grew a backbone – albeit a bit too late.

The plot was good and well done. I can’t imagine how it would feel for those that have gone through this similar ordeal. It’s tiring on all sides and by the end of the book you’re also feeling the emotional and mental drain. It was an enjoyable read though. It definitely had me turning the pages and I do recommend this to those who like a good mystery/drama.

I give it an 8 out of 10.