Fiona Barton Nails it…

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When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared? Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth–and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…  (From Goodreads)

Even though this is the third one of the Kate Waters series, it looks like it doesn’t need to be read in order. There are some references to things in the second and first book but it’s not so much you’ll be lost. So these can be read stand alone. (That being said, I will definitely get the second one. I read The Widow and thought it was pretty good)

I liked how this one has several different points of view in the book. I’d have to say I preferred reading about Kate as she was the most affected. You might see it as her getting the just desserts as she now knows how it feels to be on the other side of the news story instead of Kate herself asking the questions, but it shows a real human quality to her and also gives her a reality check as to what she’s been doing her whole life (mainly, her job) You do see the human side of both Kate and Bob Sparkes. They each have their own problems and issues to overcome.

The plot itself is pretty good and the different points of view really help it come together. I got a little frustrated with Alex because I wanted her to drop Rosie as soon as possible. But Alex was just one of those too nice girls and she just couldn’t let it go. Although you rather figured out who was behind the crime it was the build up towards it, and there were some surprises here and there that made it quite the enjoyable read! The writing is seamless and the ending, well I can only think that might come back to haunt our characters sooner or later (maybe?)

I enjoyed reading this one, and I’ll be reading The Child to complete the series. I’m looking forward to more of Barton’s work. They’ve proven to be consistently enjoyable to read. I recommend these definitely.

Thank you Berkley/Penguin for the review copy!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

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A Subject to Never Forget About…

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When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past, the present, and herself. One hundred years earlier, a single violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.  (From Goodreads)

I noticed a large trend in these kinds of books where it’s half in the present, and half in the past. It’s not a trend I particularly like as I adore historical fiction and mixing it with things happening in present day takes away the historical aspect, but I gave this book a chance. This one grabbed my attention because of the subject which interests me. I have not heard of the Tulsa Race Riot until I grabbed this book. It was an eye opener, and definitely something that can’t be ignored or forgotten.

The switch between Rowan and William is seamless and flows throughout the novel. Rowan attempts to figure out the mystery behind the skeleton while William’s story not only gives you the background information but also gives you the sense and the climate on how it was for African Americans back in those times. The historical aspects of the book is well written and gives you a good general idea.

At first, William doesn’t seem that all a likable character. As the plot progresses though, you change your mind as his behavior and outlook changes to something much  more favorable. Rowan’s side of the story is interesting too. She’s been pretty much sheltered in a good, privileged life who is also suddenly awakened by recent events affecting herself and others around her. She’s a well written character as well, but I’d have to say I prefer reading William’s side of the story more as I found Rowan’s point of view dragged in a few areas of the story.

The plot overall is well done and interesting. The mystery and historical elements of the story also keeps the plot engaging and it’s a good educational read.  Definitely something to read more into and a good subject to write about.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Peter Grant Kinda Needs to Address his Priorities…

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The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural. Body and soul. They’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned***

It is advisable to read the first one before you get into Moon Over Soho. You’re pretty much carrying on right after the events in the first book so it’s always better to get the background information before carrying on 🙂

I was pleased with this one, complete with rather macabre scenes that will stick with me for a while. I still enjoy the way it’s being narrated by Peter Grant. He tells it pretty bluntly and explains well for some of us who don’t live in London which helps understand the setting more. The setting is dark and gritty, just right to complement the mystery that is prevalent to the case. The mix with the supernatural blends quite well with real life London, I believe it’s probably even more enjoyable to read for those that are quite familiar to the city.

Supporting characters and some new ones are featured in the book. It’s nice to see Leslie again despite what happened to her (ahh but the ending though!). Peter takes a lot of beating (both verbal and physical) during the book which is to be expected. He does have a thing with Simone that covers a good latter part of the book which is ok, although I thought it provided a lot of filler and it slowed the pace down considerably. You almost wanted to ask; “Peter, don’t you have a case to work on?”

It proved to be a quick read with a good open cliffhanger ending with the mystery of The ‘Faceless One’ which makes the series even more intriguing at this point. I’ll be definitely be picking up the third one. A great series to read so far!

I gave it an 8 out of 10.

Where the Last Page had all the OMG’s…

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Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips. Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends. Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price. (From Goodreads)

What I enjoyed about this one is the twists and turns happening all throughout the novel. You think it’s one thing, but it’s leading to another, yet out comes another possible solution to the mystery however it ends up being another red herring and so on. The guessing games keep the book on your toes.

The plot flows through smoothly, alternating between past and present so you get a feel for the background story on the events leading up as to why Emma is back. There were times where you had to question her sanity  because her behavior was erratic and unstable. As mentioned before, the guessing games throughout the novel kept the plot going and exciting to read. Expect mean girl behavior and shenanigans, and Emma’s character overall isn’t too likable but tolerable at the most. Vivian isn’t any better but the role she takes upon herself as a ‘big sister’ is endearing and gets instant idolization from Emma.

What I loved the most about this book is I wasn’t expecting such a great ending. I was thinking it was going to be a lackluster one at the most with a simple explanation as to what was behind the girls disappearances. It’s not until literally, the last pages of the novel where you get hit with a mega surprise and it was instant mind blow. I was left shocked for a fair amount of time as it was expertly done.

I heard more good things about Sager’s other works so I’ll definitely be picking them up. Hope they’re just as good as this one!

I give it a 9 out of 10.  

Bleak atmosphere but the writing and storytelling are excellent

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Inspector Erlendur returns in this gripping Icelandic thriller When a skeleton is discovered half-buried in a construction site outside of Reykjavík, Inspector Erlendur finds himself knee-deep in both a crime scene and an archeological dig. Bone by bone, the body is unearthed, and the brutalizing history of a family who lived near the building site comes to light along with it. Was the skeleton a man or a woman, a victim or a killer, and is this a simple case of murder or a long-concealed act of justice? As Erlendur tries to crack this cold case, he must also save his drug-addicted daughter from self destruction and somehow glue his hopelessly fractured family back together. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers you have been warned***

I loved Jar City because of the dark bleak mood setting that’s described in Erlandur’s world. This one proves to be just the same. Coupled with a well written mystery that goes back into the past, this one lived up to the previous.

The book goes back and forth in time. It features on the past of a woman and her family and the horrendous abuse she endures. It leads up to the mystery surrounding the body found in the present. It’s good background storytelling and put in the missing pieces gradually as you progress in the book. Then as it goes forward to present day, you have Erlandur and his crew attempting to figure out the mystery but it also focuses on Erlandur’s past, and his attempt at patching things up with Eva Lind as she’s in a coma at the hospital.

Don’t expect twists and turns or any special revelations in this novel. It’s a subtle mystery but so well written that it’s a quick read and you’re so immersed into the book that the pages do fly by. It’s the writing style that makes it so good. The mood and setting is again, dark as usual. It’s more bleak than the previous one due to the subject matter and with what Erlandur experiences.

Admittedly, this isn’t for everyone. The physical, mental, emotional abuse featured in this book is hard to read. You sympathize with the mother and her children and Grimur is just one awful piece of garbage. Erlandur’s ghosts from the past is also revealed in this book and he’s got quite a lot of baggage on his shoulders (not including his ex wife and Eva Lind) but it gives his character more substance and he’s not just a presence in the novel. You also learn more about his colleagues (although I’d like to learn more about Elinborg) as they have their lives as well. I like this aspect of the novel as it shows what they do out of duty and gives them a more realistic human feel to the book.

Not much of a mystery but makes for really good reading, not only do the characters flesh out more but the writing is so well done. Recommended and I’ll be moving onto the next book after this one.

I give it an 8.5/10

 

Slow building suspense with a great ending

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgThey call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives. When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media. Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.  (From Goodreads)

So I joined the Book of the Month Club. (Husband cringes because apparently I have too many books.) This was my very first book when I first subscribed. I heard a lot of good things about this one which was why I chose it for my subscription. That being said, I’d have to say it was a pretty good choice indeed!

Don’t be overwhelmed by the substantial amount of characters in this book. Some are just stand by, you’ll want to focus on: Francie, Colette, Nell, and Winnie. (Maybe Token on the side but he’s more a supportive role) it may seem haphazard and all over the place which is why it’s best to just focus on these four moms.

The chapters switch from different points of view and there’s that one lone chapter that’s presented in first person. It’s a mystery as to who that is until much later, but it certainly does keep you guessing on who that person could be. It may seem obvious at first and during the reading you feel so sure you know who that is and what’s behind the entire story but the blind side moment comes fast in the last few chapters and you’re left with a shock.

The plot slowly builds to a good mystery and suspense. The thrilling bits get you at the end. It’s a satisfying read, the characters grate on you (Francie and Nell are the ones I disliked the most), but it’s the suspense and the ‘keeping you guessing’ bits that get the reading going.

So although it may seem like it’s all over the place, give the book a chance and read. It’s well worth it with the superb ending.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

Creepy Russian Dolls…

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Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story. Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her. Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know? (From Goodreads)

First of all I will not look at Russian Dolls the same again. They’ve greatly increased in the creep factor thanks to this book. (It’s a good thing!)

I enjoyed reading this one as throughout the novel you’re always second guessing yourself and just when you think you got it right, something else happens and you’re guessing again. Loved the twists and endless possibilities with this plot! I thought it enhanced quite a few things once Layla’s point of view is introduced because this is where it gets more complex and things start going a bit darker and uglier.

Ellen’s behavior was frustrating. You felt right up there with Finn sometimes because of her bouncing back and forth in opinions and it added more to Finn’s stress (although, it now makes sense as you head towards the ending) It’s definitely felt as it takes its’ toll on Finn. It’s hard to sympathize with him. He does have a temper and his personality and reasoning makes it hard to like him. He rather treats Ellen as a means to an end and his obsession with Layla reaches a disturbing factor.

The book is a quick read and engages the reader. I enjoyed the last bit in the end of the book, it’s well thought out and brings everything to a nice close. I liked how it kept me guessing and the thriller elements are well placed to keep the reading going.

Definitely recommended for a good thriller read!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Thank you St Martin’s Press for a review copy!