Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: Caged by Onaiza Khan

Release Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 146 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

"Keep your mind right, put your body in action and let your spirit guide you.”

These are the words keeping her sane after her husband kidnaps her, tearing her away from her life in India and keeping her captive in Northern Canada.

But after three months with only a servant, a television and the screams of another captive keeping her company, she begins to lose touch with reality - even forgetting her own name.

In her struggle to escape, she discovers an inner strength and powers previously unknown realigning her past, present and future.

Review:

This was a really interesting read.  Noor is a newlywed and is being held hostage by her husband.  He seems to really like her and doesn't seem cruel so why he is holding her against her will is a mystery.  Like the main character I wasn't sure what was going on at first then details started evolving and the mystery only deepened.

There were moments in this book that left me really confused, others that didn't seem to work and ones that were totally on point.  I think that Khan has a great premise and a great start to this story but this story would benefit from a re-write.  The ending felt very rushed and disjointed.  It didn't flow like the rest of the book, characters were introduced that I had no idea where they came from and other little things that seemed to happen out of the blue.

Overall the premise is very good, the writing could use some work but it was not a bad read.







Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Esper Files by Egan Brass

Release Date: October 16, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 224 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

They came after The Great Storm, the Espers. Feared and hunted by society, there are those who use their powers for good, and those who use them for evil.

When an experiment goes wrong in Victorian London, Espers, people with supernatural abilities are created. In order to counter this new potential threat, the Institute is set up to teach Espers how to use their abilities for good and how to hunt down those who want to use their powers for evil.

Gifted with a formidable but self-destructive ability, Nathan is one of the Institute’s top agents. When the evil Baron executes his plan to control the minds of London’s political leaders, peace is dependent on Nathan and his team.

Will he learn to control his powers in time to save the world? Or will he succumb to their self-destructive nature?

Review: 

This book is like a combination of X-men and the Flash.  Espers are humans who have obtained supernatural powers when an energy conductor blew apart.  The Professor responsible for creating the Espers has been ostracized and is now running the Institute where other Espers go to learn about their powers and also police those who use them for evil.

Nathan is a smart ass with an amazing ability (think Wolverine with the powers of Rogue).  He seems to be the only one who can help the young Esper who just discovered her powers and help her stop another the Baron from completing his evil task.

This world seems like a distant past and recent future combined so I'm going to say this had a very steam punk feel to it.  This was an entertaining book with lots of suspense and a bit of a cliffhanger of an ending.  The sequel to this book Esper Files: Sky Cult comes out January 25, 2016.



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: Fall (Archer/Bennet #3) by Candice Fox

Release Date: December 1, 2016 in Australia (no date for USA yet)
Publisher: Random House Australia
Format: Paperback
Pages: 252 pages
Genre: Thriller, crime
Buy: not available in the USA yet


Synopsis:

If Detective Frank Bennett tries hard enough, he can sometimes forget that Eden Archer, his partner in the Homicide Department, is also a moonlighting serial killer . . .

Thankfully their latest case is proving a good distraction. Someone is angry at Sydney's beautiful people - and the results are anything but pretty. On the rain-soaked running tracks of Sydney's parks, a predator is lurking, and it's not long before night-time jogs become a race to stay alive.

While Frank and Eden chase shadows, a different kind of danger grows closer to home. Frank's new girlfriend Imogen Stone is fascinated by cold cases, and her latest project – the disappearance of the two Tanner children more than twenty years ago – is leading her straight to Eden's door.

And, as Frank knows all too well, asking too many questions about Eden Archer can get you buried as deep as her past …


Review:

I was so excited when I saw there was a third book in the Archer/Bennet Series but my excitement was dashed when I found it wasn't available in the USA right now.  I wrote to a family member in Australia to send me a copy and I'm glad I did.

Eden and Frank's relationship is strained due to his growing knowledge of what Eden likes to do when she isn't working as his partner detective. Eden is struggling to recover from her near fatal injuries and fighting off growing suspicions that Frank's girlfriend is putting her nose where it shouldn't be. This book also introduces us to Hooky, a computer genius whose family was killed by her sister. Hooky is only 17 but helps the police investigate pedophiles on the internet.  She also has a almost fatherly relationship with Frank and his girlfriend isn't too pleased with it.

So while Frank navigates all these females in his life he is also on the hunt for a killer who is drugging and killing runners in the park in a very personal way.  How are they connected, who could be doing it?

Fox's characters are dark, dangerous and fantastic.  There are so many layers to them. Just when you think you have one pegged something else happens to realize you may be giving them too much credit for being human and the funny thing is the most ruthless character of them all Eden's father, Hades, seems to be the most human.

This book leaves us with a doozy of an ending that leaves me really wondering what comes next for these characters.  I know that the author is set to publish the first in a new series early this year, but I hope she doesn't let us stew too long waiting for answers on what becomes of our warped but fascinating friends in this series.




Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: Dragonfish by Vu Tran

Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny's sadistic son, "Junior," and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage. He finds himself chasing the ghosts of her past, one that reaches back to a refugee camp in Malaysia after the fall of Saigon, as his investigation soon uncovers the existence of an elusive packet of her secret letters to someone she left behind long ago. Although Robert starts illuminating the dark corners of Suzy’s life, the legacy of her sins threatens to immolate them all.

Review: 

There is no doubt that Vu Tran has a promising career ahead of him.  He can write vivid beautiful scenes and dark and dangerous ones. However I was left a little lost in this book.  Written with alternating chapters, one by Robert the cop pushing boundaries to find his ex-wife and one from someone writing in a diary.  At first I thought this diary entry was from Suzy's mother but then I realized it was actually Suzy herself who was writing her story of fleeing Vietnam, surviving the boat ride, and ultimately ending up in America.

I think my problem with the book is the motivation behind everyone to find Suzy, she is emotionally unstable, aggressive, and elusive.  She creates turmoil and tension in those around her. I understand that is what probably draws people to her initially but I think it would be a sigh of relief when she finally left.

This is definitely a very noir novel, from the cop who finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into the dark underworld to the missing woman and Suzy's violent husband who is blackmailing Robert into helping to find her. I guess I just expected a bit more and the ending was unsatisfying and left things still shrouded in mystery.  There was a lot to like about the writing but I just wasn't a huge fan of the story.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner: A novel by Jenny Colgan

Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Synopsis:

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Review: 

This was a charming read.  I loved how Nina went from a mousy unsure woman to a confident entrepreneur. The shy bookworm, Nina preferred books to people until she moved to Scotland to start her own bookshop inside a van she can barely drive.  Now she finds herself putting down the book and building a life in this small friendly town.

This book really shows what you can do with a dream and desire. Everyone thought Nina was crazy when she decided to move to a remote village in Scotland where she knew no one and try to start her own business, but she showed that sometimes risks pay off.

This was a great book to lose yourself in and I'm sure almost every avid reader will find themselves in these pages.  Makes me want to grab my passport and run off to Scotland and live on a farm. Beautifully written and fun well developed characters Colgan really takes you on a journey.  I may have to find another one of her books!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New Reading App

On November 16, 2016 Inkitt is launching an app for ipad and iphones which looks really great.  I don't often read on my tablet because I have a kindle but my kids use their Ipads and phones and this app looks promising. Nothing like being able to access FREE books at your fingertips that were hand selected to your reading style. Download it here

“As more people read digitally we want to make it easier and faster for people to access great literature wherever they are, whether on the go or relaxing at home,” says Inkitt’s Founder and CEO, Ali Albazaz. “Inkitt’s iOS app will better enable emerging authors to share their work with test readership groups and give readers globally the opportunity to turn the page on one of the world’s next best sellers.”

Key features include:

  • Access to 80,000 stories in every genre: fantasy, sci-fi, romance, thriller, horror, adventure, action and more
  • Personalized suggestions: hand-picked novels based on reader’s preferences
  • App customization according to user preferences (e.g. font size, colors)
  • Online/Offline: readers can save novels to their offline library to access them without an internet connection

Beyond being a platform connecting authors and readers, Inkitt has developed an in-house algorithm that analyzes reading behavior to determine if a novel has the potential to become a bestseller. Using this unique data-driven approach, Inkitt aims to help emerging writers achieve their dreams of getting published by becoming a point of reference for publishers looking to uncover the world’s next best sellers.  I've read some of the Inkitt books and I really enjoyed them, this algorithm thing may actually work! 

 
App Preview - Inkitt app for iPad - 1 Nov from Inkitt - The Hipster's Library on Vimeo.

About Inkitt


On the surface, Inkitt is a platform where budding writers can share their novels and inquisitive readers can unearth fresh content. But under the hood, we are democratizing publishing: Inkitt is built on an algorithm which analyzes reading patterns to predict future bestsellers. Using this unique data- and readers-driven approach to uncover highly addictive stories, Inkitt’s goal is to remove the middle person so that a blockbuster book is never rejected by a publishing house again. In other words, if readers love it, Inkitt publishes it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Release Date: October 25, 2016 (reprint)
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

When Kristin Chapman agrees to let her husband, Richard, host his brother's bachelor party, she expects a certain amount of debauchery. She takes their young daughter to Manhattan for the evening, leaving her Westchester home to the men and their hired entertainment. What she does not expect is that the entertainment—two scared young women brought there by force—will kill their captors and drive off into the night.

With their house now a crime scene, Kristin's and Richard’s life spirals into nightmare. Kristin is unable to forgive her husband for his lapses in judgement, or for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But for the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, the danger is just beginning.

Review: 


Talk about a bachelor party gone wrong...this is The Hangover times 10.  Alternating chapters between Richard whose life is forever altered by this fateful night and Alexandra the Armenian orphan who was taken into slavery at the age of 14. Its a well written story with a lot of depth and characters you really start to care for.  You see different points of view on what happened, how the media portrays what happened and how each persons lives are effected.

It was fascinating to see how different people interpret what happened and how it changes their view of Richard. This incident truly brings out the worst in some people and the good in others.  Its an interesting read.

This book is very graphic and has solid information on the sex trafficking industry.  How they break the girls, keep them and string them along.  Its a sad horrible life with not a lot of hope.  You learn about Alexandra's hopes and dreams and how she has coped with what she has become.

I love Chris Bohjalian's books, they are well researched and really speak to you.  The characters seem very real and very flawed like us all.  Well done, quick, interesting read.


Friday, November 11, 2016

ARC Review: By the Dark of her Eyes by Cameron MacElvee

Release Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Boldstroke Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: LGBT, supernatural romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis: 

The evil lies dormant, waiting to be awakened.

Brenna Taylor relocates to Arizona to nurse her grief and takes possession of a decrepit century-old home sitting among two hundred acres of dead citrus trees. But she unknowingly rouses an evil and stirs the darkness inside herself, a curse she’s carried since childhood. With the help of Alejandra Santana, the charismatic contractor to whom she is drawn, Brenna uncovers the violent history of the land she’s inherited.

As the tormented spirits of massacred migrant workers call out for revenge, the malevolent force that imprisons their souls begins to lure Brenna into its hell. But Alex’s love may not be enough to stand between Brenna and death.

Review: 

Tortured by the death of her husband and child Brenna flees to land that her husband had purchased in Arizona in the hopes of fixing up the old farmhouse and creating a new life.  What she finds is an evil that feeds on her anger, and guilt.  This evil may consume her if she isn't careful.

This was a great ghost mystery that spans generations of one family, filled with many cultural references to migrant workers, the Hispanic culture and Arizona politics.  Fast paced and well developed characters really speed this story along. The heat and attractions between Brenna and Alex is well written and builds nicely.  I highly recommend.


Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

ARC Review: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Kindle
Pages: 288 pages
Genre: YA Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis: 


Victoria Zell doesn't fit in, not that she cares what anyone thinks. She and her homeschooled boyfriend, Andrew, are inseparable. All they need is each other. That is, until Zachary Zimmerman joins her homeroom. Within an hour of meeting, he convinces good-girl Vic to cut class. And she can't get enough of that rush.

Despite Vic's loyalty to Andrew, she finds her life slowly entwining with Z's. Soon she's lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel Z's secrets. Except Z's not the only one with a past. Victoria's hiding her own secrets, secrets that will come back to haunt her...and destroy everything in her path.

Review:


Wow what a disturbing story of obsession and mental illness. There isn't much I can say about this book without giving away parts that I don't want to give away. This is a well written book with mysterious characters and a disturbing ending.  You may think you know whats going on but I was pretty shocked by the ending.

Vic keeps to herself and doesn't interact with anyone at school, she has horrible anxiety and seems to be afraid of her own shadow but all that changes after she meets Z. Z pulls Vic out of her shell, but their relationship is mysterious and a little off.  As Vic gets sucked into Z's orbit she finds herself doing things she never thought she would do, skipping classes, trying out for the school play and going out with friends. Vic's relationship with her boyfriend Andrew also starts to suffer.  She is torn between Andrew and her new feelings for Z and not sure what to do about it.

I really enjoyed this book, I knew there was more to it than meets the eye but I couldn't put my finger on it.  The story is told by Vic but alternating chapters are interviews from the police over something that has happened.  I was hooked from the beginning breezing through to find out what happens in the end.




Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

ARC Review: The Amateurs (book 1) by Sara Shepard

Release Date: Nov 1, 2016
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion/Freeform
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: YA/mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis:

As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she's hooked. Helena's high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It's the reason she's a member of the site in the first place. So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena's sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation. But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they've been keeping quiet. As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer's trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.


Review:


You know what sucks about getting advanced copies of books? Having to wait longer for sequels! This book was great with a heart dropping doozey of an ending.  Sara Shepard hit this one out of the park for me.  Great characters with well developed backgrounds, and they are teenagers so they are grumpy, take things way too personally and get mad at the stupidest things.

Seneca and Maddy meet online in a amateur crime solving message board and Seneca agrees to help Maddy look into a case that Seneca has been obsessed with.  Turns out Seneca had a completely different vision of who Maddy was and is a little disturbed when they actually meet.  Joining them is Madison, Maddy's step-sister, Aerin, the sister of the dead girl and Brett another amateur sleuth from the message boards.  Together this band of kids piece together the last days of Aerin's sister and in the process put themselves right in the crosshairs of a killer and other people who don't want Helene's secrets revealed.

As Seneca unravels clues you start to wonder how you missed some of them along the way.  This book really draws you in and leads you down twists and turns that bring you joy then drop you like a roller coaster.  There is no lag time in this book but the pacing is not quick enough to give you pause as to how these kids were able to unearth all this new information.  Each of them plays a pivotal role in discovering the clues and unearthing major leads but Seneca seems to be the leader.

Something about this book brought me back to the books that helped me fall in love with mystery novels to begin with, the Encyclopedia Brown series, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, something about a group of teens solving crime just makes me happy.





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

ARC Review: Highway Thirteen to Manhattan by Kourtney Heintz

Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Aurea Blue Publishing
Format: Kindle
Pages: 351 pages
Genre: Romance, Mystery
Buy: Kindle 

Synopsis: 

His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.

Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.

Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.

Review:

Kai survived her abduction and Lukas is safe but her marriage with Oliver is imploding and the Fuch family is front and center. Lukas' mom, Mickey still pines for Oliver, and Oliver is either too stupid or clueless to get the hint that she is dangerous for his marriage.  Mickey's big brother Alex is gorgeous and is just the ticket for Kai to make Oliver jealous or is it something more?

This book sucked me in right away, Kai's telepathy is on the fritz and she fears that when she came out of that cave she took something else with her.  She knows something isn't right and her powers are becoming dangerous to those who cross her.  Oliver is struggling to reconnect with Kai.  But his lies are making it hard for Kai to trust him.  Not to mention that Oliver seems to be the target for everything that is happening to her family.

Good story, well written with lots of twists turns and supernatural fun.  Nice light reading.



Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
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