Book Reviews

Book Review: Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J. Arlidge

Pop Goes the Weasel is an engrossing thriller starring Detective Helen Grace. After reading Eeny Meeny (the first in this series), I was impressed and knew I would eventually check out more from Arlidge. Now that I’ve read this one, Arlidge is at the top of my list of must-read thriller authors. I’m hooked!

If you haven’t read Eeny Meeny, you can still enjoy Pop Goes the Weasel without much confusion because they’re about two completely different serial killer cases. However, Eeny Meeny provides a lot of Detective Grace’s backstory, and I must say, she is one of my favorite female characters ever. She’s smart, tough and unapologetic about the way she operates–the ultimate detective–but she’s also flawed in ways that make her vulnerable. She’s not even a real person, yet I have such respect for her. I want her to find happiness and companionship, but I also want her to keep on being the bad-ass copper she is.

A multitude of secondary characters (ranging from good to bad to good who’ve simply been driven to do bad things) are included in this story. Arlidge skillfully weaves each and every one of them into the plot. Some made appearances in Eeny Meeny and some are new, but all are relevant and developed just enough to move the story along nicely.

If you like serial killer novels that are full of intrigue and suspense, then I highly recommend adding M. J. Arlidge to your to-read list.

Memorable quotes:

“I’m a copper, Ma’am, not a spin doctor. I chase up leads and hunt killers. I catch killers. You can’t do that through protocols, or liaison or bloody politics. You do it through intelligence, risk taking and sheer bloody hard work.” (Detective Helen Grace)

“No doubt this treasured possession was Gareth’s passport to life, and Charlie felt sure that the key to his death lay within it.” (in reference to a victim’s computer)

“This was a circle Charlie couldn’t square.”

“The rain fell steadily and hard. It was attacking the city, not cleansing it…”

GOODREADS

AMAZON

 

A big thank you to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Wire (Pierce Securities #2) by Anne Conley

After reading and loving Anne Conley’s The Fixer Upper, I jumped at the chance to receive an ARC of Wire.

What surprised me most about Wire is how different it is from The Fixer Upper, which I would label as a dramatic romance with touches of humor (basically chick lit). Wire, on the other hand, is a unique blend of various genres including romance, humor, mystery and suspense, as well as insight in to the world of online gaming. In fact, there were times when I was so caught up in the mystery and suspense that I completely forgot about the romance. What a cool book!

Not only is the storyline in this book unique and engaging, but so are the characters. I’m amazed by all the details Conley provides about her MCs, making them both complex and memorable. She also has a knack for creating smart, free-flowing dialogue with punches of wit.

As for the romance aspect of the book, let’s just say lovers of the genre will not be disappointed. From chapter one, Conley never lets us forget how hot the MCs (Evan and Paige) are for each other, especially during the blush-worthy intimate scenes. Wow.

Anne Conley is a must-read author. I will definitely be reading Craze (Pierce Securities Book 1) along with any other books she adds to the series.


I usually provide a brief summary in lieu of a book’s description, but there was just so much going on in this one (albeit in an easy-to-follow manner), that I think the official description would be better:

Evan Rocco has been a hero to Paige Lawson for as long as she could remember. So when she runs into him in a bar after a major professional coup, she’s feeling celebratory and reckless. But it can’t go anywhere, because after all, he’s Evan Rocco. When she finds her gaming company in trouble, there’s only one man she can turn to.

Evan can’t get the woman who disappeared after their one-night-stand six months ago out of his head. He’d honestly thought there was more between them besides just sex—a connection he’d never felt before. When PSL, his favorite game software company is the victim of sabotage, he jumps at the chance to help them solve the mystery behind The Crimson Lady, the fan-made character who’s taking credit for murder. Maybe it will get his mind off the woman of his dreams.

When he realizes who the CEO of PSL actually is, he has to get over his own issues or else he’ll put the one woman in danger he never wanted to hurt.

This is book two in the Pierce Securities series, a stand-alone story. The first book, while not necessary to read, is Craze.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

Book Reviews

Book Review: Love Nouveau by B.L. Berry

Love Nouveau is a beautifully written new adult novel that rocked my heart and soul. It details the budding relationship (complete with sweet romance, passion and pitfalls) between Ivy and Phoenix.

Ivy, a new college graduate born into a life of privilege, is a somewhat depressing character with serious flaws. She is constantly bullied by her over-bearing ice queen of a mother and her bitchy snob of a sister, but she never sticks up for herself. While some readers might not feel very sorry for her after finding out why her mom and sister treat her the way they do, I despised the way she was treated and couldn’t help but root for her. (Maybe it’s because I believe people deserve forgiveness and second chances.)

Right before Ivy is about to choose her post-college path, she meets Phoenix, and they are instantly attracted to each other. The inexplicable attraction is totally believable. It’s the kind that makes you feel like you NEED to be near someone, an undeniable connection that MUST be explored. It’s the beginning of young love. *sigh* Before you know it, Ivy and Phoenix become emotionally involved with one another, communicating largely via text and phone conversations. However, given Ivy’s past mistakes and the way she is used to being treated by her mom and sister, she is weary of allowing Phoenix into her heart.

The characters in this story are all flawed in some way. A few make terrible decisions and some choose to grow and change, just like in real life. Something else I love about this story is the way Berry scattered poignant insights throughout. There were times when I reread portions just to soak in the words.

Here are some of my favorites:

“…you aren’t rich until you have something that money can’t buy.”

“Even after being repeatedly pushed away from the shoreline, the water always comes back, beating its rocky edges, smoothing them out, wearing them down over time. It’s kind of romantic—after an infinite number of rejections, the water doesn’t give up. Nature wills it to return. Beyond its control, it just keeps coming back. It’s a bit like love.”

“…lies are truths that you convince yourself are real.”

“…as you get older you learn that time will make a fool out of everyone. But in the end, only love will make a fool out of time.”

If you like stories centered around young, can’t-live-without-you love and can appreciate a few twists and turns that get in the way of the HEA you’re hoping for, then you should give this book a shot. I will definitely be reading part two: Love Abstract.

GOODREADS

AMAZON

 

Disclosure: I attended a book signing a few months ago in Waterloo, Iowa, where I picked up an autographed copy of Love Nouveau and had the pleasure of meeting B.L. Berry. My opinion of this book has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she is an absolute gem.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

First published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale is an oldie but a goodie. For the first five chapters, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to like it. However, slowly but surely, I fell in love with this one-of-a-kind dystopian tale in which young women with “viable ovaries” have become the servants of certain elite couples. The sole purpose of these “handmaids” is to procreate with their “commanders.”

Atwood’s writing is often poetic, which makes perfect sense because she is a writer of poetry. While I enjoy poetry, some of the more lengthy descriptive parts made me feel like I had to think a bit too hard to understand exactly what was going on. For example:

“But if you happen to be a man, sometime in the future, and you’ve made it this far, please remember: you will never be subject to the temptation or feeling you must forgive, a man, as a woman. It’s difficult to resist, believe me. But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold it is a power, perhaps the greatest.”

Hmm. Okay. These words are put together beautifully, but I found myself rereading parts like this because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Something that was intended to provide me with a deeper understanding of what was going on.

I like the way flashbacks are scattered throughout the story. They provide insight into what the MC’s life was like before she became a handmaid. We get to see snippets of the loved ones she no longer has access to, people who she may or may not ever see again. People who may even be dead. Overall, I felt that these flashbacks were well-placed, but a few times it wasn’t immediately clear whether Atwood was describing past or present events.

Due to the incomprehensible new society that has risen from a war-torn United States (which was difficult for me to swallow at first) and an abundance of descriptive language, I must admit that it took me about two weeks to get past page 25 because I kept falling asleep. However, if you decide to read this book and find yourself bored like I was with the beginning, do yourself a favor and stick with it, because it is amazing. It will upset, disgust and confuse you, and it might even break your heart. But above all, it will make you think.

I went from thinking I would rate this book no more than 3 stars to feeling that I could confidently give it a 4 1/2-star rating by the time I started the last chapter. But then the ending (or what I THOUGHT was the ending) made me angry! So I was prepared to bump my rating down to 4 because I was sick to my stomach with the open ending. Then I read the REAL ending (which I almost skipped)…the Historical Notes. That’s when everything really clicked for me. Be sure to read the Historical Notes!

Favorite Quote:

“All historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day.”

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue is disturbing yet brilliant. Inspired by countless cases of children born to mothers in captivity, this book is told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, who has lived in “Room” his entire life. But Jack isn’t alone. He lives in Room with Ma, who was kidnapped as a teen and has been held in isolation for years. It was mind boggling to imagine being confined to a room (really a backyard shed) that measures 11X11 feet.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked that the story is told from Jack’s point of view. But within a few chapters, I grew to love the innocent, matter-of-fact way in which he sees things. I also found it intriguing to imagine the amount of information a child would be able to soak in without outside influences or distractions and if constantly communicated with. Ma spends so much time telling Jack about things (anything and everything), so he is extremely mature for his age. Besides constantly talking to him, Ma also does her best to involve Jack in various activities. For example, they measure things, play games, exercise and read (rotating between the handful of books provided by “Old Nick”).

Approximately half of the book takes place in Room, so some of the scenes felt a bit redundant. However, I like to think that Donoghue purposely drew out the amount of time Jack and Ma spent in captivity together to stress how mind-numbing it would be for someone to be held prisoner. Maybe this wasn’t her intent, but after thinking about it that way, the repetitive scenes held new meaning for me. My heart ached a little bit more just imagining what it would be like. Day after day after day.

I’m not sure if what I’m about to say would be considered a spoiler, but if you really dislike spoilers, skip the rest of this paragraph. When Jack and Ma finally get out of Room, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A trial perhaps? Ma and Jack having to face Old Nick in court? Well, it turns out that the rest of the story is more about how Jack copes with being away from the only thing he’s ever known: Room. And let’s not forget about Ma. She has a lot of coping to do as well. Can you imagine finally being free after a decade of captivity? And can you imagine living the rest of your life with the child of your captor? You love the child, of course, but would he be a constant reminder of the time you spent locked away from the world?

If you enjoy true crime or fictional books that are inspired by horrific real-life events, then you must read this one.

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Don't Call Me Kit Kat

Cover Reveal: Don’t Call Me Kit Kat

DOntCallMeKitKat

Available May 15

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

Description:

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters.

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts.

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school.

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames.

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path?

And would she even want to if she could?

Add it on Goodreads.