Book Reviews

Book Review: Damaged by C. K. Green

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After suffering a traumatic event, Kiera tries to hide from her past. By doing so, she also hides from Ethan, the man who put his heart and soul into finding out the truth about what happened to her. When they are reunited, Kiera’s demons resurface with a vengeance, causing her to immediately push him away. Too bad their undeniable attraction toward each other throws a wrench in her plans…

I like how this story is told from alternating perspectives and how it’s laced with elements of suspense. While it’s extremely sad for me to imagine someone going through what Keira went through, I find it interesting the way Green conveyed this character’s PTSD. Part of me felt that she should have been further along in the healing process, but I know very little about the disorder, so my opinion could be way off. It seemed clear, though, that the way she kept everyone in her life at arm’s length stifled her ability to heal.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I have to say that I feel Ethan was a bit harsh and too forward with Kiera at times. The way he acted toward her in certain instances made me wonder if his intentions were what they seemed, but it was also kinda hot the way he was so crazy for her. Good debut, CK Green!

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*Many thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of Damaged in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

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“Hey, have you heard this one before? Two serial killers walk into a record store…”

Brother is a faced-paced psychological thriller. Its hillbilly serial killer theme reminded me of movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance, and The Hills Have Eyes. However, it wasn’t just about a bunch of degenerate killers looking for their next victim. As the title suggests, it was more about the relationship between brothers Reb and Michael and why Reb thrives on making Michael’s life miserable.

Ahlborn didn’t waste any time introducing the deranged family in this book. There’s Momma (the ringleader of the bunch), Wade (the dad and enabler), Reb (the psychopathic brother), Misty Dawn (the innocent sister), and then there’s Michael. While Michael is part of the family, he isn’t related by blood. And unlike Momma, Wade and Reb, Michael actually has a conscience and longs for normalcy. Ahlborn did a great job of making me like and sympathize with Michael.

The chapters flow together seamlessly and rotate between Michael’s perspective, Reb’s perspective, and flashbacks that clue readers in on why Reb hates Michael so much. The vivid characters combined with the brutal acts carried out by several of them scared the crap out of me, and most of the twists and turns blew my mind.

If you like serial killer books and don’t mind gore and a bit of torture, I highly recommend this book.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge

 

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Few things make me happier than finding an author I can count on to deliver one satisfying read after another.

The Doll’s House is book #3 in Arlidge’s Detective Helen Grace series. Like Eeny Meeny and Pop Goes the Weasel, I became engrossed in this suspense thriller within the first few pages. And like the first two novels in the series, this one lives up to Arlidge’s characteristic style, which I’ve come to know and love.

In this installment of the DI Grace series, a serial killer kidnaps and traps women in a soundproof room that is custom-designed to resemble the interior of a dollhouse. Why does he do it? How does he choose his victims? How many women have lived in the dollhouse? Only DI Grace can provide you with the answers. πŸ˜‰

If you’re a fan of suspense thrillers that involve serial killers, M. J. Arlidge’s Detective Helen grace series is my number one recommendation for you. All of these books can be read as standalones so you don’t necessarily need to start with book #1. However, a lot of DI Grace’s past is revealed in Eeny Meeny, and she’s definitely a complex character worth getting to know.

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

Book Reviews

Book Review: How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

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Funny how I acquired this book…My husband was shopping at Target one day and thought it would be hilarious to give me a book with such a title. Because clearly, I need tips on how to be a good wife. πŸ˜‰ Well, it turns out this book couldn’t be further from funny or amusing.

On to my review…

Told from Marta’s POV, the story gets off to a very slow start. I also felt frustrated several chapters in because I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. I didn’t know if Marta was going crazy or if there was some sort of paranormal slant to the story. All of that being said, I am so glad I pushed on because How to Be a Good Wife is a superb psychological thriller that broke my heart in the end.

Chapman skillfully took her time to reveal bits and pieces of Marta’s condition. The suspense was subtle, which made me pay close attention to every little detail as I tried to piece together whether Marta was going crazy or not. At times, I even felt as though Marta and I were in it together trying to figure out what was happening to her.

While the story never moves quickly, I was still intrigued enough to keep reading. If you enjoy books that are littered with suspense throughout and don’t mind tragic endings, then I recommend How to Be a Good Wife.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Never Part Two by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Immediately after I finished Never Never part one, I purchased part two. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t immediate. I did spend a few seconds lamenting the fact that it was over and then another few seconds cursing the authors for making me buy the next part to find out WTH is going on, but part two was definitely on my Kindle within 30 seconds. That’s how good part one is.

Here I am, 12 hours later, writing my review. And if I didn’t have kids, I would have written it six hours ago.

Never Never part two picks up exactly where part one leaves off, with Silas as the narrator. Not a beat was skipped–not for us anyway. But for Silas and Charlie, they are pretty much back to square one with trying to figure out why they are suffering from memory loss. They’re also faced with an additional obstacle; they’re separated in this book! (Boooo!) So Silas is forced to work alone to discover more pieces to the puzzle.

I must admit that I was even more miffed when this one ended than I was with part one, partly because I need to buy yet another book to find out what’s going on and partly because I have to wait until next year. 😦

I love these characters (even Charlie who can be kinda bitchy at times), and I’m crossing my fingers hoping for a happily ever after for them.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Never Part One by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Over the last couple of years, I’ve purchased several Colleen Hoover books for my Kindle. The funny thing is, the more I kept hearing about them, the less urgency I felt to read them. Sometimes I’m just weird like that–not in a hurry to check out whatever is trending. Big mistake this time–HUGE–because this book is brilliant, and I have no doubt I will enjoy the rest of Hoover’s (and Fisher’s) books. Why did I wait so long to jump on the CoHo bandwagon?!

I love a good mystery, so Never Never sucked me in from the get-go. It begins with a disoriented Charlie who has no clue where she is or who she is. She quickly realizes that she’s a high school student and must go about her day gathering info (such as her own name) from fellow classmates in hopes of understanding the haze of confusion she’s under. Things become even more interesting when Charlie realizes she’s not alone. Silas, her apparent boyfriend, seems to be suffering from the same inexplicable memory loss. From that point on, Charlie and Silas know they have to work together to figure out what’s going on.

This story is fast-paced and written in a way that made me feel like I was watching a movie. Now that’s good writing. Pieces of the puzzle are expertly revealed via the alternating perspectives of Charlie and Silas. Not only was I dying to find out what has caused the couple to lose their memories, but I also wanted so badly to know the status of their relationship. You see, they’re a couple, yet they aren’t. What’s even more intriguing is that their relationship seems to be tied to whatever has caused the memory loss.

Now, even if I was one to share spoilers, I wouldn’t be able to in this case because you have to buy parts two and three to find out exactly what’s going on! And that’s the only gripe I have with Never Never. It ends with the worst possible cliffhanger EVER! Or maybe worst isn’t the right word. Maybe I should say best because I one-clicked part 2 immediately.

If you enjoy mystery, suspense and young, rapturous love (and don’t mind cliffhangers that require you to purchase subsequent parts to find out what happens), I highly recommend Never Never.

Memorable Quotes:

“Her eyes are like two open books and I suddenly want to devour every page.”

“It’s strange how money seems to silence a neighborhood.”

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Middle of Somewhere by Sonja Yoerg

The Middle of Somewhere is the story of one woman’s quest to cleanse her guilt-ridden soul. How does she hope to do so? By hiking the John Muir Trail through Yosemite National Forest alone. However, Liz’s boyfriend Dante forces her to alter her plans (in more ways than one) when he decides to tag along.

This is one of those books that grows on you more and more with each passing chapter. Not that there was ever a point when I wasn’t interested. It was more about Liz. I didn’t like her much at first because of her steely demeanor towards Dante (who is one heck of a guy, by the way). But I kept reading because Yoerg did a masterful job of revealing the big picture bit, by bit, by bit. At first, I felt a tad let down when all of Liz’s secrets were revealed because they were such common mistakes. However, the more I thought about it, the more the point of the story resonated with me. It’s not about the mistakes. It’s about how holding onto things can prevent you from moving forward and how guilt can kill a person emotionally. I came to sympathize with and understand Liz as her tough exterior was slowly lifted.

“…there was no possibility of a clear conscience, merely the weak absolution of honesty, of confession. If only she had been raised Catholic–or within another religion that embraced the concept–she might find forgiveness and believe in it. But faith was not part of her fiber. She could not buy into the cycle of sin and penance, of death and resurrection. She would always remember what she had done, and it would always sting. She would not be washed clean.”

Besides Liz and Dante’s story, there’s a situation involving a couple of unsavory characters who are also hiking the trail. Events surrounding these characters seem unrealistic at times, but the storyline offers several good doses of suspense. It also made me realize how badly I wanted a happily-ever-after ending for Liz and Dante.

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Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Madeleine’s Kiss by Peter Gilboy

As a huge fan of suspense, the prologue of this book hooked me. College professor Adam Snow is in jail awaiting a jury verdict. He is suspected of murdering Madeleine, a mysterious young woman whom he met just days prior to her disappearance. Through a series of journal entries, he recounts their bizarre relationship–from the day they met to the moment she disappeared. Even though the facts against Snow are very incriminating, his side of the story clearly proves that he had nothing to do with what happened to her. Or did he?

This book has a unique layout. Each chapter heading features a famous painting, the number of days the jury has been in deliberation, and the time of day. Each painting is mentioned (and sometimes analyzed) in its corresponding chapter. I’m not very knowledgeable about art, but I enjoyed looking at the paintings and thought it was clever the way they were woven into the story.

Something I noted while reading was that the writing is smooth. I’ll also add that Gilboy’s style is unique and quite witty at times.

“Chance is a pseudonym God uses when He doesn’t want to leave His real name. But if that is so, then God isn’t merciful or reasonable or farsighted as the nuns said. God is a bully who plays with lives like other people play with dice. He gives us births and deaths and accidents and lovers and even terrible earthquakes, and then God watches close up to see how we’ll react. If God were human, He would be in therapy or jail.”

In addition to details about his relationship with Madeleine (and his odd attraction to her), Snow recalls many childhood memories. The back and forth nature of his narration (from Madeleine to his childhood) was not at all confusing for me. However, there are paranormal and spiritual aspects to this story that threw me for a loop and ultimately left me feeling disappointed at the end. I just didn’t know what to think. What happened to Madeleine?!

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Many thanks to the publisher of this novel for providing me with a complimentary copy via NetGalley.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

The Doctor’s Daughter is a compelling read. At first, I thought it would focus largely on Marta’s dysfunctional relationship with her misogynistic father, renowned psychiatrist Arnold Rosenblit, but slowly came to realize that there was much more to this well-crafted story.

I was intrigued by Dr. Rosenblit’s studies:

“Tonight we shall examine the topic of gender. New research has come out of America that suggests one’s gender identity may not be an issue of biology alone, but psychology too. I am eager to establish my own study and measure the perception of gender against the imposition of societal norms.” He goes on to say, “…what if gender is little more than social phenomenon?” And, “What if our sexed bodies are not as essential to our construction of gender roles as we might believe?”

However, Rosenblit’s arrogance and disrespect towards Marta caused me to dislike him throughout most of the novel:

“You have a brilliant mind my daughter, of that I have no doubt. However, you are a disciple. You are not a leader. Women, even intelligent ones, are not destined to lead…Perhaps your ideas are early manifestations of mental illness. Have you ever wondered if you are not in your right mind? Delusions of grandeur; yes that’s what they call it, or I suppose it could be megalomania.”

Marta, on the other hand, is a character that I was pulling for throughout. She’s plain in comparison to her sisters who’ve all been married off (sort of the outcast of the family), but she also possesses the intelligence to be deemed useful to her father. However, Marta has other plans–aspirations beyond being her father’s lackey. She dreams of making a name for herself in the world of psychology.

Enter Dr. Leopold Kaposi (a colleague of Dr. Rosenblit) and Elise Saloman, an aspiring pediatrician. Kaposi recognizes Marta’s intelligence and entices her to work with him, unbeknownst to her father. This is where the story takes a suspenseful turn. Does Kaposi have Marta’s best interests in mind? Or does he have ulterior motives? With the help of Elise, whose interest in befriending Marta is unknown until near the end of the story, Marta is faced with several tragic and life-changing realizations.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Doctor’s Daughter and look forward to reading more from Matthews.

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Thank you to Vanessa Matthews for providing me with a complimentary copy of this novel.

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…”

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