Wednesday, January 30, 2019

ARC Book Review: The Burglar by Thomas Perry

Release Date: January 18, 2019
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 304 pages
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio

Synopsis:

Elle Stowell is a young woman with an unconventional profession: burglary. But Elle is no petty thief - with just the right combination of smarts, looks, and skills, she can easily stroll through ritzy Bel Air neighborhoods and pick out the perfect home for plucking the most valuable items. This is how Elle has always gotten by - she is good at it, and she thrives on the thrill. But after stumbling upon a grisly triple homicide while stealing from the home of a wealthy art dealer, Elle discovers that she is no longer the only one sneaking around. Somebody is searching for her. As Elle realizes that her knowledge of the high-profile murder has made her a target, she races to solve the case before becoming the next casualty, using her breaking-and-entering skills to uncover the truth about exactly who the victims were and why someone might have wanted them dead

Review: 

When you are a burglar you never know what you are walking into but Elle is good at what she does. Unfortunately this time Elle walks into a scene that she is likely not to forget.  Three people in the bed all dead of a gunshot to the head and a video camera running filming it all.

The beginning of this book kept me very interested, then as Elle decides to play detective things go a little stale. She starts making mistakes, and her abilities take on a superhero quality that didn't really seem to fit. The ending just left me a bit cold it was so abrupt.

There are definitely pieces of this book that were really good and others that just jumped the shark so hard it was almost hard to keep reading.  The death of someone Elle knows barely makes a blip on her emotional radar for more that a few days. I understand needing to be detached as a burglar but this was a bit much.  There were other things like this that left me unable to give this book a better rating.

Overall this is a brain candy thriller that isn't that sweet and doesn't last that long. 






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

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, January 25, 2019

ARC Book Review: The Smiling Man (Aidan Waits) by Joseph Knox

Release Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Random House
Format: ebook
Pages: 373 pages
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio

Synopsis:

Aidan Waits is back on the night shift, the Manchester PD dumping ground for those too screwed-up for more glamorous work. But the monotony of petty crimes and lonesome nights is shattered when he and his partner are called to investigate a break-in The Palace, an immense, empty hotel in the center of the city.

There they find the body of a man. He is dead. The tags have been cut from his clothes, his teeth have been filed down, and even his fingertips have been replaced…
And he is smiling.

But as Waits begins to unravel the mystery of the smiling man, he becomes a target. Someone wants very badly to make this case disappear, and as their threats escalate, Aidan realizes that the answers may lie not only with the wealthy families and organized criminals connected to the Palace, but with a far greater evil from his own past.

To discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.

Review: 

I really liked this book and really wish that I had read the first one of the series before this.  I just feel like I missed some important history regarding how Aidan got put on nights. This book gives you what you need to know but I feel like there is underlying baggage that I would have loved to be privy too.

Aiden Waits is actually a very good detective, unfortunately he also had a checkered past that lead him to drugs and that was his downfall. In this book Aidan and his hand sanitizing lazy superior officer are called to an alarm at an closed hotel when they find a dead man with a smile on his face. Trying to track down what happened to this man Aidan is also constantly blindsided by the Superintendent who loves to throw Aidans past in his face and give him ultimatums, and his phone keeps ringing with only breathing on the other end. As Aidan's world starts spiraling out of control we also see the underlying good cop and kind soul that lies underneath his hard exterior.

Great police procedural with a broken cop who seems to catch hell from all sides all while trying to break free of his past and become a better man. I question how long Aiden will be able to remain a cop and what will happen to him if he isn't but I'm keeping my fingers crossed and enjoying the ride.  Definitely putting this author and this series on my list to keep watching. 






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

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Ghosts of the Crescent Theater by ML Bullock

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 3 hours 53 minutes
Narrator: Sean Crisden & Bailey Carr
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

When Cassidy begins painting her visions, she has no idea that she actually opens a door to the past. And behind that door are ghosts, ghosts that want to be seen and remembered. As the rookie member of the Gulf Coast Paranormal investigation team, Cassidy is eager to prove she has the skills required to make the cut, but will her eagerness to fit in place the team in supernatural danger? When a new client hires GCP to settle the spirits in the Crescent Theater, Midas, Sierra, Joshua and Cassidy are put to the test. Will a century-old tragedy force the new owner to shutter the doors forever?

Review:

This book is a bit different than the other two in that the ghost that the Gulf Coast Paranormal team is investigating isn't so much looking for closure but for their moment to shine and she is a bit more vicious. After Cassidy accidentally paints a mural of the Crescent theater on her friends wall in a blacked out haze she finds the ghost is also haunting the painting and her friend who bears a striking resemblance tot he long dead actress.

Again not the best writing but an interesting story and interesting characters. I'm not sure what it is that keeps me from loving these books but they are entertaining and keep me coming back. There are several more in the series so I look forward to seeing how the characters develop.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Audio Book Review: Crescent Chronicles by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Audio
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Buy: Flight | Focus | Found

Synopsis: 

Flight: Sometimes you just have to take flight.

A summer in New Orleans is exactly what Allie needs before starting college. Accepting her dad’s invitation to work at his hotel offers an escape from her ex-boyfriend and the chance to spend the summer with her best friend. Meeting a guy is the last thing on her mind—until she sees Levi.

Unable to resist the infuriating yet alluring Levi, Allie finds herself at the center of a supernatural society and forced to decide between following the path she has always trusted or saving a city that might just save her.

Focus: Freshman year of college is hard even when you're not tied to the future king of a supernatural society.

Allie dives into college head first with Hailey as her roommate and the city of New Orleans as her backyard. As things within The Society heat up, Allie realizes that whether she's with Levi or not, she's in far too deep to turn back.

Found: Levi might be hot and strong and have a cool set of wings, but it's not enough to make up for keeping Allie in the dark. Allie's tired of being left with more questions than answers. She's tired of loving a guy who refuses to level with her. Most of all she's tired of her life spinning out of control.
Desperate to save Jess no matter the personal cost, Allie has to face the possibility that the only one she can trust is herself.

Review:

I liked this shorts series.  Full of supernatural hotness set in the best city for anything otherworldly, New orleans, LA.  When Allie meets the cocky Levi she is instantly drawn to him and him to her, when she finds out that he isn't human and has a cool set of crow wings things get even better but when Levi gives her a gift, failing to tell her of its significance things start to spiral out of control.

In book 2 Focus Allie is trying to come to terms with her new position in the supernatural world, not sure if she can forgive Levi for his deception but still drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Her ex boyfriend Toby doesn't seem to be able to take a hint either stalking her and making my skin crawl every time they interacted.

In book 3 Allie figures out that her attraction to the supernatural might not just be a coincidence. It is also putting her loved ones in danger but she is tired of being a pawn in someone elses game and decides to take control of her destiny, and also give in to her desire for her hot sexy man with the black wings.

This is a fun series and I couldn't stop listening, I think I blew through all three of these in a day. There is a fourth book that is the same story told from Levi's perspective that I am saving for another time. Good fun mind candy. While there is quite a bit of sex and violence in these books they are definitely geared toward a YA audience.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

ARC Book Review: The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 288 pages
Genre:  Suspense / Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio

Synopsis:

A seemingly perfect marriage is threatened by the deadly secrets husband and wife keep from each other.

Susannah, a young widow and single mother, has remarried well: to Max, a charismatic artist and popular speaker whose career took her and her fifteen-year-old son out of New York City and to a quiet Vermont university town. Strong-willed and attractive, Susannah expects that her life is perfectly in place again. Then one quiet morning she finds a note on her door: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Max dismisses the note as a prank. But days after a neighborhood couple comes to dinner, the husband mysteriously dies in a tragic accident while on a run with Max. Soon thereafter, a second note appears on their door: DID YOU GET AWAY WITH IT?

Both Susannah and Max are keeping secrets from the world and from each other—secrets that could destroy their family and everything they have built.

Review: 

This book has many layers that are slowly peeled back. Max has a secret and there is no length he will go to to keep that secret. He is a charismatic chameleon and an up and coming newbie to the art world when he meets Susannah. Susannah is a widow with a son, she has her own secrets but they aren't revealed until 3/4 of the way into the book and they make things a bit more intriguing. She seems fragile and a little off. They have a good marriage even though it isn't exactly based on honesty. 

This book had some holes, and things that just jumped the shark for me. I was really excited about it but things just spiraled out of control a bit too fast for me and leaps were made that I don't think Max would have made so quickly since he is such a controlled man. The book is told from the alternating points of view of Max and Susannah each sharing their past and how they got to this moment. Susannah's son is barely a character until later in the book. I really wanted to like this book but the ending didn't sit right with me and neither did some of the other big moments. They just didn't make sense to me for either of the characters. 






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

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Ghosts of Kali Oka Road (Gulf Coast Paranormal Book 1) by ML Bullock

Release Date: December 29, 2017
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 4 hours 20 minutes
Narrator: Sean Crisden & Bailey Carr
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

The paranormal investigators at Gulf Coast Paranormal thought they knew what they were doing. Midas, Sierra, Sara, Josh, and Peter had over 20 combined years of experience investigating supernatural activity on the Gulf Coast. But when they meet Cassidy, a young artist with a strange gift, they realize there's more to learn. And time is running out for Cassidy.

When Gulf Coast Paranormal begins investigating the ghosts of Kali Oka Road, they find an entity far scarier than a few ghosts. Add in the deserted Oak Grove Plantation, and you have a recipe for a night of terror.

Review:

Cassidy is just discovering her strange ability to paint events that happened in the past.  She gets a compulsion to paint and can't settle until she has put the feelings on canvas and when she touches the wet paint is transported into one of the characters of her dreams. She stumbles across a flyer advertising a paranormal group that is looking for people to share their experiences. 

This is the start of Cassidy working with the Gulf Coast Paranormal agency that I missed when I accidently read the 3rd book first.  I like how we see Cassidy grow from an apprehensive person regarding her gift to embracing it.

It seems that each book starts off with a murder that has ties to the past. Through investigation and the help of Cassidy's painting the team tries to figure out how to let the ghosts rest.  Fun series, not the most literary or well written but a good fun read.  Sometimes you need mind candy and this delivers the spook and the fun.


Audio Book Review: A Piece of Cake: a memoir by Cupcake Brown

Release Date: April 12, 2006
Publisher: Random House Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 5 hours 32 minutes
Narrator: Cupcake Brown
Genre: memoir
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

Eleven-year-old Cupcake Brown woke up on the bicentennial and found her mother still in bed. She struggled to wake her up, pushing and pulling until she managed to tug her mother's lifeless corpse onto her own small body, crushing her beneath its dead weight. After squeezing out from under her mother, Cupcake calmly walked over to the phone and called her aunt Lori. "Lori, my momma's dead."

Here is the threshold of a hell for young Cupcake. Rather than being allowed to live with the man she believed to be her father--who turns out to have been her stepfather--she is forced into a foster home where the kids were terrorized, the refrigerator padlocked, and Cupcake sexually abused. She eventually fled the house, only to find herself wandering from misadventure to misadventure in the "system," while also developing a massive appetite for drugs and alcohol, an appetite she paid for by turning tricks. She settled down in Los Angeles and found a home in the Crips, where she was taken in and befriended by gangsters like the legendary "Monster" Kody Scott. For the first time she found a family, but when Cupcake was blasted in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun, she was once more taken in by the system.

At 16, her stepfather re-enters her life and engineers an "emancipation," in which the courts declare her an adult and free her, finally, from the child welfare system. Cup takes advantage of her new freedom to start a drug-dealing operation with her stepfather, who also manages a stable of colorful prostitutes. Soon she meets a man, falls in love, and gets married. He convinces her to get a real job and learn to speak proper English--but he also abuses her and introduces her to crack cocaine. Cupcake flits from job to job, miraculously, given that she never fails to show up without some cocktail of narcotics floating in her system.

She hits rock bottom when, in desperation, she steals crack from her drug dealer. He beats her nearly to death, rapes her, and then leaves her body behind a dumpster. Cupcake wakes up days later, not sure of how she ended up in this state and from that moment begins to turn her life around. She was adopted by a lawyer who ran the law firm where she "worked," and slowly he assisted her in kicking the habit--with the help of an eccentric group of fellow addicts who became, at last, a family to her--and catching up on her education. With the support of her new family, she eventually goes all the way to law school (although not without a few additional misadventures along the way) and joins one of the top law firms in the country.

Review:

Crazy, heartbreaking memoir of a young girl who was molested by her foster family, found drugs and spiraled out of control all while still trying to be a better person.  Its amazing that Cupcake was able to become a legal secretary despite being so addicted to drugs, hold even the few jobs she had and didn't die. She was shot, beaten, and had so many close calls its amazing she was able to get clean.  Its obvious that Cupcake was brilliant just from the way she was able to overcome and reach the heights she did all while having a severe drug problem.

After hitting the lowest of the low Cupcake finds her way back and goes to law school. I'm not sure I would call this memoir uplifting but I will say it is one of hope, that despite being strongly addicted to drugs Cupcake was able to bounce back and overcome to fulfill her potential as an attorney. I've read my share of recovery books and this one tops them all.  Filled with the usual horror story there is something different about this one or maybe it was just Cupcake herself.



Friday, January 11, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Haunting of Bloodgood Row ( Gulf Coast Paranormal Book 3) by ML Bullock

Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 3 hours 24 minutes
Narrator: Sean Crisden & Bailey Carr
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, mystery
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

Cassidy Wright hunts ghosts with the Gulf Coast Paranormal team, but she may be in over her head when she's tasked with confronting a ghost who refuses to leave Bloodgood Row. With the power to paint scenes from the past, Cassidy dives into her art to find clues that will lead her to the truth about the life and death of Sabrina Elizabeth. But Sabrina isn't the only spirit haunting Bloodgood Row. The malevolent ghost of a jealous, cruel doctor doesn't want to set Sabrina free, and now he's interested in claiming someone on the team.

Sierra and Joshua come to a crossroads in their relationship when a secret comes out. Midas ponders a future with Cassidy, but new clues about Kylie's disappearance force him to take things slow. Together the paranormal investigators must face their latest challenge, without becoming ghosts themselves.

Review:

I didn't realize this was part of a series until I was already halfway through. Cassidy Wright is a painter who works for a paranormal investigative team.  Her sister is missing and she has gotten clues as to what happened to her through her painting. When she touches wet paint she has visions, then she paints.

Midas runs the company and is in a new relationship with Cassidy. He was effected by the death of his cousin and his interaction with his ghost which led him to start the paranormal investigation company.  They don't charge so everyone who works for them has other jobs and does this because of their passion or their gifts.

This is a creepy mystery. Told in two time periods, you learn about what happened on Bloodgood Row and who may be haunting the property. The ghosts that are haunting the property seem to be able to pull people back into another dimension and one of the ghosts seems to want Sierra.

This is not a stand alone book and I wish I had read the first ones before I found this so I will be going back. Although this book is short it does draw you in and keep you interested. After I read the first two I'm going to track down the others in this series. I wouldn't say this is a well written book but it is interesting and definitely holds your attention.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Last Academy by Anne Applegate

Release Date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 58 minutes
Narrator: Kate Reinders
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, YA
Buy: Audible | Kindle 

Synopsis: 

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only...something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what?

Review:

This is the debut novel from Anne Applegate and its a really great story.  There is a bit too much teenage angst but given that this is a YA book geared toward that audience I can let it go.  Camden Fisher is the only one of her family to be sent off to boarding school. When she gets there things start to get strange. Kids start disappearing and the teachers seem to be hiding something.  There is a creepy old man who is a benefactor of the school whom Camden met on the plane while she was coming to the academy.  He seems to have a liking of young girls and there is just something else creepy about him.

This is a well crafted story and while the ending didn't shock me as it did for many people I was pleasantly satisfied.  It is a well crafted story of a tale of a creepy legend. Fun quick read.



Monday, January 7, 2019

ARC Book Review: Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Release Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: ebook
Pages: 321 pages
Genre:  Suspense / Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio

Synopsis: 

What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller. 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter....

Review:

What a great start to the new year with this amazing psychological thriller. I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  What I thought was just about a missing girl turned out to be much much more. I got sucked in by Alice's kidnapping, and was held there by the strange relationship between Harriet and her husband and the blame and disdain Charlotte was receiving. All of this combined together to make this a creepy, wild ride.

As pieces fell into place I still couldn't see how it would end and even now that I know it gives me chills. Well written, well woven and interesting. This is about secrets, and how well you may know even your best friend.






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

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 
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