Throwback Thursday: The Killing Lessons (Saul Black)

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Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by book blogger extraordinaire, Renee at It’s Book Talk. She started this weekly feature as a way to highlight old favourites and read books that have already been published. This is becoming one of my favourite features on my blog because it forces me to go back and read some of the books on my shelf that have been sitting there (neglected and probably incredibly sad).

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 2.53.46 PM.pngThe Killing Lessons, by Saul Black, had been on my TBR list for a couple of years and I was encouraged by several of my book blogging (and real life!) friends to make time to read this book. Since Black’s second novel in the series, Love/Murder, was being published during the summer and featured a stellar synopsis, I figured I would get myself caught up so I could start the series from the beginning.

Two strangers turn up at an isolated farmhouse brutally murdered one and kidnapping another. The murders do not go according to plan, since one small girl survives and now holds the key to the killings. In San Francisco, homicide detective Valerie Hart is feeling the psychological breakdown of a difficult case. Are the situations related? This slow burning mystery follows the mind of the psychopath and the desperation of the woman determined to stop him.

This one left me feeling completely mixed.
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Book Review: I Know A Secret (Tess Gerritsen) @tessgerritsen @randomhouse #rizzoliandisles

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 9.10.26 PM.pngWhen #cjsreads is choosing titles for our upcoming months, we usually decide together on titles. It is easier that way.   The only general rule we try to stick by is to avoid any novels that are deep into a series; it makes sense for our sanity. However, when I discovered that I Know A Secret, the twelfth novel in the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen, was coming out this summer, I begged and forcefully pushed my friends to read this book asked kindly and, since they are nice, Chandra and Jessica obliged. Am I glad they did!

I’ve mentioned about a bajillion times on my blog how much of a Gerritsen fan I am, especially in regards to her Rizzoli and Isles series. I picked up the fifth book in the series randomly last summer, binge read it and ended up going back and devouring the first nine in the series before deciding to pace myself.   Kick ass female leads are pretty much my favourite and Gerritsen has created two brilliant characters in these novels; downright addicting, they are!!

The newest installment is no exception. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed. Gerritsen is a master storyteller and this is consistently made clear in her novels. From the rich character backgrounds to the fast-paced, dark, suspenseful plots, she leaves no stone unturned and weaves the story brilliantly. In fact, I find the series gets better with age! This novel is a highlight in the series!!

If you are a crime lover that has yet to dive into this series, you are seriously missing out! I urge you to go and check out The Surgeon (the first in the series), I promise, it does not disappoint!!!  You can absolutely read this as a standalone, but trust me, you will want to go back and read the rest of the series anyways!!

5/5 stars.

Thanks to the author and the publisher for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one…or if they regretted listening to my intense book recommendation.  Yikes.

Continue reading “Book Review: I Know A Secret (Tess Gerritsen) @tessgerritsen @randomhouse #rizzoliandisles”

Book Review: Best Intentions (Erika Raskin) @erikaraskin @StMartinsPress

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When I started reading Best Intentions, by Erika Raskin, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t heard very much about this book. Now that I have finished, I must say, this one became the surprise hit of my summer. I cannot believe more people are not talking about this book!

The way Raskin chose to narrate the novel and roll out the plot was absolute literary brilliance.

The novel opens with Marti, our narrator, looking back on the events of the story. Something bad has happened. She is facing charges. Her world has been torn apart. And, at this point, the reader has no idea why. Needless to say, I was hooked.    Told through a back and forth type of narration, the reader is able to see how the events played out and the repercussions. At about the 60% point is where the reader is finally privy to the events that led Marti to her situation and I was actually shocked with how things played out; I had my suspicions and I had my theories but Raskin does a phenomenal job at leaving small breadcrumbs so the reader stays in the dark.
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Book Review: From the Shadows (Neil White) @neilwhite1965 @BonnierZaffre

From the Shadows, by Neil White, is the first novel in a new series that follows defense attorney Dan Grant and his investigator/will they or won’t they love interest Jayne Brett.   Part crime thriller and courtroom drama, White weaves a seriously addicting and dynamic plot with stellar characters.

When Dan and Jayne inherit a case defending a man accused of murdering a 24-year-old school teacher weeks before trial, everyone around them expects them to ride the case to an obvious guilty verdict. However, Dan is not that type of lawyer.   Going back to the evidence and re-interviewing the witnesses, Dan and Jayne find themselves following a path that becomes dangerous.

I really liked the original perspective of this one; it sort of reminded me a little bit of the television show Suits; smart dialogue, sassy characters, and intense plot lines. I loved the variation away from the typical police procedural and the fact that we were able to see an inside look into how an attorney prepares for trial. White, when he isn’t writing books, is a prosecutor and this very obviously shows throughout his narrative. Everything feels so realistic.

Overall, I feel like this was a brilliant start to a new series and will anxiously be awaiting the next novel. 4/5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for a digital copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Book Review: See What I Have Done (Sarah Schmidt) @groveatlantic ‏

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I had heard of Lizzie Borden before but had never really given much thought to her actual trial until I began See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. One of #cjsreads first August picks, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I dove into this book. Generally speaking, I enjoy historical fiction but struggle when it has a mystery/thriller angle. I don’t know what it is about them, but they all feel a little “Sherlock Holmes” to me. However, with a cover quote by Paula Hawkins stating this book was “eerie and compelling” I was intrigued right away.   I would have to say that I agree with Hawkins on this one; See What I Have Done had an ominous vibe throughout.

Opening with Lizzie discovering her father dead in his study and going back and forth between the day of the murder and the days prior, the investigation into the murder begins and it doesn’t take long for Lizzie to be at the center when she begins to seem unreliable and struggles to remember events of the day. With her sister by her side and the police closing in, the novel is narrated through multiple character perspectives including a stranger and a housemaid.

The first thing that stood out for me while I was reading was how irritated I was with the multiple character perspectives. I didn’t care for the various POVs; I felt like I wanted to hear the story through the eyes of Lizzie and all the other characters felt a little bit irrelevant to me. I know they all played their role but I think I would have been completely consumed with the plot should it had been through Lizzie’s unreliable narration. I love me an unreliable narrator!

I was impressed with how Schmidt was able to take a real scenario and turn it into a fictionalized account without making it seem over-embellished or too far-fetched. I feel like it was kept realistic and took more of a rational approach. This was a smart decision on Schmidt’s part. I felt like I was truly reading more a “true crime” story instead of a work of fiction.

Overall, I felt like this was an entertaining read but, like some other historical mysteries, I found this one to be quite slow moving. If you are at all interested in Lizzie Bordon, this will obviously appeal to you and I also feel like fans of true crime will have a special interest in this tale. However, if you are looking for something incredibly fast paced, then I would skip this one!

Thanks to the publisher and the author for a copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to know what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one?  Keep reading to see what the other members of #cjsreads had to say about See What I Have Done!

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Book Review: Girl in Snow (Dayna Kukafka) @danyakukafka @SimonBooks

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I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries; it is very hard for me to find any originality in texts. Enter, Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, which felt like a breath of fresh air for me.   From the character development to the POV, I felt like this novel had something that others are lacking for me lately.

The plot opens with the discovery of a young girl (Lucinda), neck snapped, buried in the snow. From here, everything changes. Small town cop, Russ, begins to investigate while dealing with his own personal issues.   A social pariah, Jade, is irritated with the hype; she hated Lucinda. Cameron, struggling with her death, and what he knows about it, is forced to face parts of himself that he longs to keep buried.   Each character with a secret, each character seeking solace, Kukafka’s tale is weaved creating an unnerving story of love, loss and obsession.  Continue reading “Book Review: Girl in Snow (Dayna Kukafka) @danyakukafka @SimonBooks”

Book Review: The Lost Ones (Sheena Kamal) @sheena_kamal @WmMorrowBks

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I first discovered the work of Sheena Kamal when I read Eyes Like Mine, which was previously published in the UK. Now that book is being published in North American under the title The Lost Ones and I am thrilled that #cjsreads decided to read this for one of our July picks.

Not only is this book amazing, but it also features tons of Canadian content- which- let’s get real- I am completely biased about!

The book, which appears to be the first in a series, introduces a brand new anti-heroine with flawed, recovering addict, Nora Watts. Working as a PI and journalist, Nora finds herself caught up in the case of her missing daughter. Along with the help of her ex-sponsor, her employers and her sister, Nora begins the hunt for her daughter and gets wrapped up a parallel crime when one of her co-workers is murdered. This one had me glued to the pages and flipping rapidly to understand how all these moving pieces fit together.

My original review of this book can be found HERE, but since this is a #cjsreads title, keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one!

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Blog Tour: Betrayal at Iga (Susan Spann) @SusanSpann @TLCBookTours

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 9.13.35 PM.pngI am always looking for diversity in my reading; sometimes I feel like I am reading about the same people, places and time periods. These books tend to blur together. Enter, Betrayal at Iga by Susan Spann, which I have the pleasure of being on the blog tour for today!

This novel is incredibly different from anything I have read lately; part mystery, part historical fiction, this novel finds itself in Japan in the 1500s. Master ninja, Hiro Hattori and his “sidekick” Jesuit priest, Father Mateo find themselves with an enemy to make a peace treaty. This turns South when that man is murdered, war is pending and the duo is in a race against time to find the true killer before all hell breaks loose.

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Betrayal at Iga (Susan Spann) @SusanSpann @TLCBookTours”

Book Review: Trigger Point (Sean Eads) @seaneadswriter @HexPublishers

Trigger Point.pngI have said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am a sucker for a really good serial killer thriller. Trigger Point, by Sean Eads, fit my criteria entirely.

A serial killer, using online advertising services is targeting prostitutes and murdering them. Kathy, the owner of a massage school, finds herself drawn into the case when one of her students becomes the latest victim. Fighting her own feelings and the media’s perception of massage therapists, Kathy enlists Detective Greg Beacon (and her former boyfriend) to help her seek justice. But what Kathy does not know is that this serial killer isn’t targeting random sex workers. He is targeting her. And, he’s getting closer.

From the first pages, I was sucked right into the story. This one has a killer opening (I cannot help the puns, they just flow out of me!) and I found myself completely sucked into the story. Eads is able to capture his reader’s attention. The novel is narrated, for the most part, through the eyes of Kathy (a massage therapist and owner of a massage school). I found her to be a strong and likeable character and although there were parts that I found to be a little bit hokey, I ultimately the diversity and the incorporation of massage therapy and Reiki into this novel. It was a little bit different and made it stand out.

The remaining bits of the novel is told through the perspective of the unnamed serial killer and his victims. These parts were fantastic; I really love when an author is able to creep me out and Eads certainly did!

Was this the scariest book I have read? No. Did I feel like it maybe went on a tad too long? Yes. However, it did keep me guessing and I was surprised at the final revelation, which I did enjoy!

If you are looking for a serial killer thriller that is a little bit different, then check this one out!

Care to read a bit of Trigger Point?  Keep reading for an excerpt!

Continue reading “Book Review: Trigger Point (Sean Eads) @seaneadswriter @HexPublishers”