Discussion Post: “Damaged” Characters. What’s Up With That?

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 7.15.36 AMI have been finding a very distinct thread moving throughout the books I am reading lately.  I begin reading a book, get into the plot and, inevitably, there comes the time when I am hit with a backstory of my protagonist.

An orphan at birth they grew up in foster care.

Their father was killed by a psychopath.

Their was/is a psychopath.

Their fiance was murdered days leading up to their wedding.

They had a child but they passed away.

I am finding that these dramatically damaged characters are popping up in everything single book I am reading lately.  Every. Single. One.  So, this got me thinking, why are all these protagonists so damaged.

I know, in theory, that I am supposed to connect to these types of characters faster and forge a bond as they fight crime and overcome evil.  I mean, they have already been through so much!  But, instead, I am finding myself a little irritated as I read.  Obviously you cannot have a relationship with a woman Lead Detective 43!  Your mother was a murderer who tried to sell you on the blackmarket and you have spent your life avoiding your aunt who you lived with after because you could never trust anyone.

It truly is starting to make me feel a little coocoobananas.  I mean, we complain about unrealistic plots all the time.   How about unrealistic tragedies?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that people can be hit hard in life but surely there is a story to be told about a detective who is just a regular guy with regular problems who fights crime.

If anyone knows one, please let me know!


Book Review: Caged (Ellison Cooper) @ECooperAuthor @MinotaurBooks

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 10.50.57 PM.png


If you have been a long term reader of Clues and Reviews, you will know that I have a very strange love/hate relationship with police procedural novels.  I always struggle with the pacing, the characters, and the same storylines.  So, when I picked up Caged, by Ellison Cooper, from the library, I was shocked to find out that a book I had waited for for so long was a police procedural.


Needless to say, I dragged my feet a bit before I started and decided I would read a chapter, to be fair, before I returned the book.

Well, joke is on me!  The second I opened the first page, I was completely hooked.  I read late into the night; the kind of reading night that leaves your eyes burning because you cannot put down the book.  I was obsessed.

The novel opens with the discovery of a body.  A deceased female, held in a cage, is found by police and FBI agent Sayer is notified to take lead on the case.    I loved this character.  She is sort of the no-holds-bar type of personality that makes her strong enough to hang with the “big boys”.  Intimidating, talented and strong, she makes her mark early on in the book.  She has a typical “team” that works alongside her and I found each of these secondary characters extremely likeable.

As the book moved on, I found that the twists and turns were very steady and I was unable to guess what was happening next.  In fact, I made several wrong assumptions and was impressed with how Cooper truly decided to roll out the story.  From each small detail, I found myself more invested in the plot and speeding through the pages.

I am thrilled that this is the start of a new series (the next novel releasing sometime next year) and would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy the Brigid Quinn series by Becky Masterman or even The Fourth Monkey books by J.D Barker.

Loved.  Read this book!

Book Review: Our Kind of Cruelty (Araminta Hall)

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 10.33.43 PM.png

It is no secret that I am a fan of novels where narrators are extremely disturbed and living in complete delusions.  In fact, a few of my favourite books, You by Caroline Kepnes and Perfect Days by Rapheal Montes, featured characters with these exact characteristics.   I spent copious amounts of time raving about both of these books so, when I read the back cover of Our Kind of Cruelty, I felt like this one would be right up my alley!

The first line of the synopsis stated, “This is a love story. Mike’s love story.”  If that doesn’t sound like the hint of someone living in a complete delusion, I don’t know what is!

The novel essentially follows Mike, a guy who came from a brutal childhood, and his obsession with Verity. He has dedicated his life to her and has moulded himself to be her perfect mate.  Too bad she’s engaged to another man. Told in three parts, the reader sees Mike’s descent into obsession and the tricky line between truth and perception.

Now, I read this one as a buddy read with my pal Janel (the blogger between Keeper of Pages) and we both seemed to feel pretty conflicted about this book.

The beginning was great.  I loved watching the insanity unfold and I was hooked to see how everything would pan out.  However, as the novel continued I felt like it was “missing something”.  I wanted the perspective from Verity.  I wanted to understand more exactly which perception was correct and I wanted it to be crystal clear who the “bad guy” was.  I felt like Hall left room for a lot of interpretation, which is fine, but I wanted the same direct vibe I felt when I read You or Perfect Days.

Overall, a nice, quick read and I would recommend this novel; however, if you like something a little more finite then this one will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth.


Book Review: Foe (Iain Reid)

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 6.28.17 PM.pngLately, I have really be interested in novels with a science fiction/dystopian type of spin, so, when I read the back of Foe, the newest release by Iain Reid, I decided to dive in immediately.  Luckily for me, Chelsea, from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me, was reading this one too!

The novel opens with the introduction of Junior and Hen, a quiet married couple, who are thrown for a loop when Junior is approached by a man who tells him he has been randomly selected to travel to space.

Random, right?

I had read this author’s previous novel was, truth be told, I wasn’t a huge fan.  I found the plot to be little bit confusing but, at the same time, I was unable to put it down.   Reid has a timeless effect to his writing and it reminds me of William Faulker or Flannery O’Conner; it reminds me of the classic gothic authors that I teach my classes.  His voice is strong and distinct and, regardless of how confusing I find some of the plot to be in his work, I really do find myself unable to put it down.

Worth the read?  I think so.  Especially if you are looking for a straightforward type of read.  It is written beautifully.

Book Review: The Summer Children (Dot Hutchison)

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 5.41.02 PM.png

A few years ago, I read The Butterfly Garden and was completely obsessed.   So, naturally when I found out that the book was to the first in a series, I was thrilled!!  I anxiously awaited the second book (Roses of May) and was a little underwhelmed.  However, I had high hopes for The Summer Children (the third book in the series).

The novel follows Agent Mercedes Ramirez who has a horrid past and a need for survival.  When abused children begin to show up at her door stating that an angel killed their parents and brought them to Mercedes so she could keep them safe, she finds herself in the middle of an investigation to find a vigilante killer.

My favourite part of The Butterfly Garden was the narrative style and the creepy events that took place in the garden; however, similar to Roses of May, I found that this one read more like a police procedural. Instead of being character driven, this one focused more on the police investigation and the officer’s relationships to the victims.

I did like the general story but now that I have finished, I have to say, I am very conflicted!  I know that I will absolutely continue to read the books in the series but I will be doing so to chase the feeling that I had when I read The Butterfly Garden.


Book Review: After Nightfall (A.J Banner) @AmazonPub

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 8.07.19 PM.pngIf I had to describe the writing of A.J Banner in a word, I would choose “hooked” because that is exactly what happens to me when I read the first page of a novel she has written.

I read The Twilight Wife a few years back in a single sitting so I was thrilled when #cjsreads decided to buddy read her newest release, After Nightfall, for one of our August picks.   This novel was no different from The Twilight Wife in regards to the amount of time it took me to read it as I read this one in a single sitting.

Essentially, this novel encompasses the basic plot for a noteworthy thriller.  Lying husband?  Check!  Suspicious wife?  Check!  A dead body? Check!

I find Banner’s prose to be very realistic and easy to absorb; this is probably why I am able to sit down and binge read her books.  However, I do find (and I had similar feelings with The Twilight Wife) that the conclusions are a little predictable.  I am able to predict the ending pretty early on to the plot.  Did this make After Nightfall less enjoyable?  Not for me. However, I could see that being an issue for some readers.

I think this would be an awesome lighter, thriller to bring to the beach.  Fan of Liane Morarity or SJ Watson?  I think After Nightfall would suit your fancy just fine!

4/5 stars.

Thanks to the author (A.J Banner, Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

As mentioned, this was a #cjsreads pick.  Want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: After Nightfall (A.J Banner) @AmazonPub”

Rainbow Book Challenge: 2018

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 3.04.05 PM

Happy Monday, folks!  Coming at you today with a new reading challenge that I accidentally set for myself over the past weekend.

Let me break it down.

We decided to renovate our spare bedroom (and my book room) into an office/work space where I can lesson plan during the school year.  To do this, I had to completely empty the room and, while I was putting everything back, I decided to organize my books in a different way.  Previously, they were organized by author but I figured colour might be a little more exciting. And, the Rainbow Reading Challenge was born!

For the rest of the year, I plan on reading all my personal books on my shelf by colour. I am hoping that this will help to get some books off my TBR shelf (you know the ones that have been there FOREVER) and that it will help to take out some of the indecisiveness that I have when I am choosing my own books.

So, for the challenge,  I will be reading books in the order of the colour they appear on my shelf,  starting with red!

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 3.04.26 PM.png

Wish me luck!!


Book Review: The Masterpiece (Fiona Davis) @DuttonBooks @FionaJDavis

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 9.42.43 PM.pngLast year, I was completely obsessed with The Address by Fiona Davis.   I quickly discovered that Davis was a masterful storyteller with the capability to completely entrance her reader.  Needless to say, I ran to the bookstore, picked up her other novel (The Dollhouse) and waited patiently for her next publication.  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait too long!!

The Masterpiece, the newest release by Fiona Davis, was just as brilliant as I expected.  Like her other novels, The Masterpiece tells two linear stories (fifty years apart) where two different women (Clara, an illustrator, and Virginia, a divorcee) try to figure out their place in a male dominated world.    I absolutely loved this concept and I found myself completely connecting to both Clara and Virginia.   There is such an element of nostalgia to Davis’ work and she has an ability to make me feel like the experiences were my own.   Her descriptions, down to the smallest details, are so realistic.  It truly feels like you are reading memories.

That being said, as much as I loved her writing style and the characters, there was a bit of redundancy that had me distracted towards the middle of the novel.  However, this ended very quickly and by the end, I was completely captivated.

Overall, I can say with complete confidence that I am pretty much obsessed with the work of Fiona Davis and will anxiously await her next novel.  If you are a fan of any sort of historical fiction or a story that builds tension while focusing on character relationships, you will absolutely devour The Masterpiece. I know I did.

Thanks to Dutton Publishing, Netgalley and Fiona Davis for a copy of The Masterpiece; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Since I am back to blogging, I am back to #cjsreads (YAY!).  Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Masterpiece (Fiona Davis) @DuttonBooks @FionaJDavis”

Mini Review Week: Day 5

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 7.15.36 AM

When I decided to take an extended break from blogging, I stopped reviewing anything I read completely.   YIKES!

So, to play some catch up, I decided I will be posting “mini reviews” of all the books I have read in the past couple of months while I ease back into blogging!

Since it is summer break and I am easing back in, my mini review week is continuing because I make the rules! LOL!

In previous posts, I posted about Me Before You (Jojo Moyes), No One Is Coming to Save Us (Stephanie Powell Watts) and All We Ever Wanted (Emily Giffin).  You can check those reviews out HERE!  I also discussed The Innocent Wife (Amy Llyod), The Three (Sarah Lotz), and The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini).  You can check out those reviews HERE.

So, here we go!

Continue reading “Mini Review Week: Day 5”