Monday, August 21, 2017

ARC Review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Kindle
Pages: 369 Pages
Genre: mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis: 

As morning dawns in a sleepy Colorado suburb, a dusting of snow covers high school freshman Lucinda Hayes’s dead body on a playground carousel. As accusations quickly spread, Lucinda’s tragic death draws three outsiders from the shadows.

Oddball Cameron Whitley loved—still loves—Lucinda. Though they’ve hardly ever spoken, and any sensible onlooker would call him Lucinda’s stalker, Cameron is convinced that he knows her better than anyone. Completely untethered by the news of her death, Cameron’s erratic behavior provides the town ample reason to suspect that he’s the killer.

Jade Dixon-Burns hates Lucinda. Lucinda took everything from Jade: her babysitting job, and her best friend. The worst part was Lucinda’s blissful ignorance to the damage she’d wrought.

Officer Russ Fletcher doesn’t know Lucinda, but he knows the kid everyone is talking about, the boy who may have killed her. Cameron Whitley is his ex-partner’s son. Now Russ must take a painful journey through the past to solve Lucinda’s murder and keep a promise he made long ago.

Review:


This book is a slow character study along with a mystery.  Cameron is a bit of an odd kid, I feel that he may have Asperger but it is never stated.  He doesn't look people in the eye, and just seems off. Jade is abused by her mom, has bad skin and very angry, but she seems to understand Cameron. Russ is a cop who was Cameron's dad's partner before his dad was charged in a crime and fled the area (which took forever to find out and doesn't matter much). Russ doesn't really seem to like his job and although he seemed in love with his wife I got the feeling he didn't love her culture.

Well written this story slowly unfolds through 3 different perspectives and while the writing was really beautiful it dragged a little for me.  I read some reviews that they felt that the reveal of who killed Lucinda was too quick and there was no reason but I found that there was compelling reason and liked the twist of who committed the crime.  I also really appreciated the several chapters after the killer is revealed which helped tie things up with the characters and show what happens after mystery is solved which is something most crime stories leave out.

This is a really well written, interesting mystery by a new author who I am looking forward to reading in the future.


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

Friday, August 18, 2017

New People by Danzy Senna

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 239 Pages
Genre: dystopian fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Synopsis: 

As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows. As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria's perfect new life but her very persona.

Review: 


Did you every feel like you were reading an entirely different book than the rest of the people who have reviewed it? That's how I feel about this book.  I had a really hard time getting into this book and then about a hundred pages in I just didn't care.  I didn't like Maria, there were parts that just weren't believable and I just found myself wanting it to end.  I haven't read any of Senna's other books but they have all gotten rave reviews from different news publications.  I felt the same way about Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides I hated it but the reviews were stellar and the praise non-stop I almost felt like I had to like it. I feel the same way about this book.

Maria was just not likeable and while some of the talk about race and multi-racial identity was on point the overall feel of the book was just dreary.  I found my mind wandering, and had a really hard time relating to any of the characters.  Other than Maria I found the characters one dimensional and Maria was just not very likeable.

When I read the synopsis of this book I was excited to read it but the story just fell flat and left me wanting.




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


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ARC Review: Bring Her Home by David Bell

Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Kindle
Pages: 464 Pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family...

Review:

There is a whole lot going on in this book. Two girls are found in the park both badly beaten and almost unrecognizable.  One is barely alive.  Who could have done this? There are a few suspects but none of them seem to be panning out and Bill is frantic for answers.  With a bad temper Bill starts lashing out at everyone, his daughters friends, his neighbor, his sister.  Someone in this small town knows something they just need to find one thread to help them start to unravel the mystery.

There are many twists and turns some you see coming others not so much.  I had a few issues with this book.  There were several major plot lines like the big reveal before Part 2 that I felt jumped the shark.  I felt like I was watching a bad made for TV movie.  I also had a difficult time with Bill.  He was too volatile.  For a character that was as broken as he was in the beginning of this book he flew off in too many directions that seemed out of character.  This is a man who was still deep in mourning for his wife who had died a year ago and now he gets the call every parent dreads that his daughter is in the hospital.  His life just goes downhill from there and I just had a hard time wrapping my head around his actions coming from this same broken character.  Sitting in his daughters room half comatose would seem more in line with the man who hadn't bothered to move any of his wife's clothing, kept her cell phone turned on and charged and replayed her voicemails on the computer all the time, not running around town threatening people.

I really wanted to like this book.  The synopsis made me eager to read it, the cover is beautiful but there were parts of the story that just fell flat for me, that left me wanting. I kept waiting for it to get better and there were times that it did but I think that the main character just ruined it for me.  I had a hard time liking him or feeling connected to him in any way.

I've heard Bell's other books were spectacular.  I'm bummed this wasn't one of them.


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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Audio Book: Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Release Date: June 19, 2014
Publisher: Hatchette Audio
Format: Audible
Length: 17 hrs 22 min
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Buy: Audible | Paperback | Kindle

Synopsis:

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the number-one international best seller The Cuckoo's Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives - meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...

Review:


This is a good detective series written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. I listened to The Cuckoo's Calling before realizing that these were written by the Harry Potter author and I loved it.  I like Silkworm as well although not quite as much as the first one.  I felt that this book was a little harder to follow with too many characters and suspects that I tended to get a little lost.

The first half of the book was a little slow in building but once Cormoran gets ahold of Quine's unpublished book Bombex Moray, things really start to move along.  Dissecting the different characters in the book and where Quine could be.

The tension between Robin and Strike grows in this book.  Robin wants Cormoran to teach her to be a private detective despite her Fiances objections. Cormoran wants to help Robin but is hesitant to get between Robin and her Fiance.  Cormoran is also suffering with prosthetic which got a little annoying.  It seemed like every 10 minutes he was bellowing about the pain.

Silkworm is filled with odd characters in the publishing world whose only goal seems to be, to see their words in print. They are all very eclectic, volatile, and almost all had reason to "help" Quine disappear.

I really enjoyed Robert Glenister's reading of this book.  I often felt that there were actually more than one actor reading instead of just the one I got so lost in his voices and ability to switch his accents and voice.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Scholarship by Jaime Maddox

Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 291 Pages
Genre: Mystery / LGBT / Romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:

Looking to find harmony, Ella Townes leaves a big Philadelphia college and returns to the mountains where she spent her youth. She quickly makes a friend—Cassidy Ryan, a woman with Down syndrome who is the neighborhood busybody and sister of a very attractive ER doctor whom Ella finds equally charming. Under the watchful eye of Cass, Ella and Reese begin a promising friendship. Then Ella writes a scholarship in memory of a childhood friend who was murdered, and things begin to unravel. The scholarship stirs interest in the cold case, and soon the murderer is maneuvering to protect his secret. After Cass is brutally attacked, Ella and Reese question her. The killer’s identity becomes clear, but after twenty years, is there enough evidence to bring him to justice?

Review:

Ella returns to the town where she spent her summers with her grandparents.  Hoping to reconnect with some of the people she knew from the past Ella discovers that her best friend, Steph was murdered right before she graduated high school.

Ella finds a great housing situation, house sitting for a woman who is going out of town for a few months.  She befriends the neighbors next door one of whom is a woman with downs syndrome, Cassidy, who loves to help with the dog she is supposed to watch.  Cassidy's sister Reese is a doctor and soon the sparks are flying between Reese and Ella.

Reese also knew Ella's friend Steph and they bond over the telling of stories and sharing the past.

Well written Maddox does a great job of keeping your interest in the mystery while also spinning a sweet romance.  The murderer is kept secret with hints but not ever identifying him until the end. This was a well written book with a mystery that keeps you guessing and characters that hold your interest.



Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com


Monday, August 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Kindle
Pages:432 pages
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
            
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
            
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
          
And then one of them breaks the rules.
          
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.

Review:

This book has lots of twists and turns with a huge creep factor.  Jake and Alice receive a gift on their wedding day to join something called the Pact, its supposed to help couples maintain a healthy and stable relationship.  There are no divorces in The Pact, marriage comes first above all.

Soon this newlywed couple learns that being a part of The Pact is not like joining a club but more like joining a cult.  If you don't follow the rules the punishments are severe.  How do they know when a couple isn't following all the rules? It seems there are eyes everywhere and infractions are not tolerated.

I had a really hard time following Alice's motivations for joining The Pact as an attorney she breezed through the contract and while her personality was spontaneous it just seemed out of character. Jake seemed very weak in the beginning but seemed to grow stronger as the book went on. I wasn't really sure where the book would lead but I was a little surprised by the ending.  Not exactly what I was expecting at all.

If you like suspenseful creepy books that explore cults this is a good one - it definitely kept my attention and kept me turning pages.


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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