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.  

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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!

Setting and Mood is dark and gritty in Silent City

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Pete Fernandez is a mess. He’s on the brink of being fired from his middle-management newspaper job. His fiancée has up and left him. Now, after the sudden death of his father, he’s back in his hometown of Miami, slowly drinking himself into oblivion. But when a co-worker he barely knows asks Pete to locate a missing daughter, Pete finds himself dragged into a tale of murder, drugs, double-crosses and memories bursting from the black heart of the Miami underworld – and, shockingly, his father’s past. Making it up as he goes and stumbling as often as he succeeds, Pete’s surreptitious quest becomes the wake-up call he’s never wanted but has always needed – but one with deadly consequences. Welcome to Silent City, a story of redemption, broken friendships, lost loves and one man’s efforts to make peace with a long-buried past to save the lives of the few friends he has left.  (From Goodreads)

What I liked about this one is the setting and the overall mood of the book. It’s gritty, very noir, and it suits the plot. It shows the other side of Miami besides the beaches and the bustling city we are all familiar with. It’s great writing and really sets the tone throughout the story.

The plot was interesting if a little far fetched. So someone comes up to you and asks you to help find their daughter. Okay. Any other person would go straight to the police right? Although I suppose this is to show Pete’s ‘investigative’ reporter spidey senses and it piques his interest as he delves further into a downward spiral. So maybe that’s what got him going further. Now I understand (without providing any spoilers here) it gets a little more personal later but I expected maybe a little more from it. Perhaps because I’m used to other books where there’s more twists and turns, some more shocking moments, etc. This one just gets down to business and it’s pretty much cut and dry – which is fine for those that enjoy this type of story. However, there is plenty of action which does make the plot move forward.

Pete does take quite a beating in the book but I just could not really like him. He’s gone through a lot, true, but he’s just been on the pity party train and it got old and aggravating. However when he reached the point of no return and when there’s nothing to lose, something sparked in him and he managed to climb out of it (for a bit) but then you have to wonder if he’s going to go back into that void again. Meh.

The supporting characters weren’t that great or likable either. I’d suppose the only one that had something was Mike. Emily wasn’t that great and I found her an annoying pest. And Kathy. She was a piece of work and not that likable either.

I might keep going further into this series. Not sure yet. I did like reading this but at the same time I wanted more out of it. It was enough to get my attention but I really did like the mood and theme of the book. Perhaps I’ll give the second one a try and see how it goes.

I give it a 6 out of 10.  

 

Where is Book three??? I need it..now!!!

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When a high-speed train from Milan draws into the station in Rome with a carriage full of dead bodies, Deputy Police Commissioner Colomba Caselli, a fierce detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe of her own, is called to lead the investigation. After receiving a message claiming responsibility for the killings and announcing more murders to come, officers turn their attention to a small group of Islamic extremists. But Dante Torre believes authorities are being misdirected. For him the Islamic link is a smokescreen concealing the actions of a killer who has been committing murders all over the world for years: a woman who calls herself Giltine, after the mythological Lithuanian goddess of death. After further carnage, Giltine’s murderous plans escalate to macabre heights, and only Dante and Colomba can stop her. (From Goodreads)

***Contains spoilers. You’ve been warned***

Oh lordy. Lordy lordy lordy. I don’t know what to say except, yes one more time. Lordy. I finished this book and screamed. And it’s a good reaction.

This book doesn’t disappoint. It sets the bar higher than the last one, Kill the Father. It would be best if you do read them in order as you do need the background information surrounding Dante. Plus, it does add more substance to the characters.

This one was definitely more action packed than previous. As it involves a great deal more victims and there’s definitely more layers to peel once the mystery starts to unravel and we get closer to Giltine. And it’s not yet over! There’s giant revelations at the end and you’re left with a heart stopping ending.

There are many twists and turns to go through in the book; old and new characters are mentioned, and of course Colomba is in a bind and goes through very hefty events and you marvel at her mental and emotional strength. Dante is likable in his own quirky way and both him and Colomba work so great as a team, even though they have their differences. There’s a more deeper level of understand between the two of them and there is a hint of a romance. I don’t see it myself as I’ve always seen Dante and Colomba more as a sibling like relationship. (I would have liked to see Dante and Brigitte together, they seemed like they could go along well!)

There’s some major blindsiding happening in the book, you realize Giltine is both victim and perpetrator. There’s still more to uncover in the mystery and by the time we do come to the conclusion it would be a massive atom bomb waiting to drop. However on a side note, I do enjoy how Dazieri brings in these references to various historical events (Chernobyl for one) and various conditions and illnesses to make you think and realize there’s actual conditions out there that exist and people do suffer from them. It makes the plot different and substantially prominent to make this book memorable.

The plot is very engaging and you’re pretty much on the edge in the last third of the book. The last few chapters really pack it in and they were one of the most exciting chapters I have ever read in a book so far. I’m still overwhelmed and blown away by the last page. Gah! I can’t wait for the next book!

Definitely recommended. The series is going to be one of the best I have read so far in my lifetime.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

Aristide Makricosta just steals it.

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Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party—nicknamed the Ospies—is gaining popular support to unite Gedda’s four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision. Not everyone agrees with the Ospies’ philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril’s cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies’ watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone—the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies—dictate his life. Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other. (From Goodreads)

This was the type of book that when I finished it, I had to lie back down and just stare at the ceiling. It was mind blowing. There are layers of intrigue and you don’t watch it unfold, in fact it’s the opposite, you watch it form and develop as the story progresses.

The setting in this one is one of a lot of political instability. It’s explained in the earlier parts of the book. It’s a bit difficult to follow (notes may help some readers) perhaps a character list would help in this case to keep everything straight. A glossary would have helped as well as the characters have their own slang – most of it straight forward but it would help nevertheless. That being said despite these little shortcomings, the world is rich and detailed. Amberlough is decadent and has remnants of Weimar Berlin. Now I did say previously it’s hard to follow because of the slang, but it’s precisely because of this slang that makes the world more detailed and fun to read.

The pace of the plot is slow and steady as it sets up the stage for what would follow after. It is essentially, a spy novel, so it quickly leads to a lot of double dealing, moments of backstabbing and betrayal. There are only three characters that you really need to focus on as the supporting ones just add to the flavor of the novel. Of the three that are central to the plot, one must love Aristide.

With a name like Aristide Makicosta you know he’s going to be a character to remember. He’s flamboyant, street smart and clever. Despite the world burning around him he always manages to do everything in style. It’s hard not to fall for his charms and so you would understand Cyril’s love for him.  I still don’t know what to think about Cyril. He was doing the job and had to. It came at a great cost but he had no choice and he had to think for himself (although I know there seems to be a lot of hate for him).

I love Cordelia. She’s got sass, she’s just as street smart and a survivor. Her character development is on point in this book. Yes she may be just a ‘dancer’ but she soon develops into someone with a cause to defend the city she loves. Despite the horrors she goes through in the latter half of the novel, she doesn’t let it break her. It’s admirable and she’s likable not only because of her catchy personality but also because of her unstoppable strength.

That ENDING THOUGH. I felt my eyes grow wide each time I turned the pages throughout the last third of the novel. This was why I had to sit back and just absorb everything I’ve read when I finished this one. It was that good.

Greatly recommended if you like intrigue, a decadent setting, and memorable characters. I absolutely enjoyed this book.

I give it a 8 out of 10.