Blog Tour: Keeper (Johana Gustawsson) @OrendaBooks #teamorenda

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Last year, I read Block 46, a new novel in a French Noir series by Johana Gustawsson, and was completely blown away. Historical fiction collided with mystery and suspense bringing a fast-paced plot with memorable characters that kept me up late into the night and recommend it to all my friends and coworkers. So, when I was asked to be a part of the blog tour for Gustawsson’s second novel featuring the same detectives as Block 46, Keeper, I enthusiastically agreed!

Once again, Gustawasson combines past with the present as her story unfolds.   Just as dark as Block 46 but in a completely different time period, this time we are transported back and forth from London/Sweden in 2015 and the Jack the Ripper murders which terrorized London in the 1800s. We follow profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells as they struggle to see how these cases fit together, a copycat killer on the loose and family secrets. Once again, I found myself seriously impressed with how effortlessly the plot was weaved between the time periods.

It is extremely hard to discuss this book without giving anything away but the twist at the end was mind-blowing! Actual jaw-dropping. I was, once again, left reeling by this novel! Who knew that I would love this French Noir genre so much?! Overall, I loved the follow up to Block 46 and Keeper had me up late into the night, devouring pages! I cannot wait to see what Gustawasson will come up with next!

Highly, highly recommended.

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Book Review: The Liar’s Girl (Catherine Ryan Howard) @cathryanhoward @BlackstoneAudio

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 10.15.49 PMI was so excited for The Liar’s Girl, the sophomore novel by Catherine Ryan Howard, especially after reading (and LOVING) Distress Signals last year. I lent this novel out to several people and had everyone in my life jumping on to the Catherine Ryan Howard train. I was expecting on the edge of my seat action, tension and red herrings aplenty. Glad to say that The Liar’s Girl did not disappoint!!

We meet Allison, a college student who has met the man of her dreams, Will, and they fall madly in love. Seems like they will live happily ever after until a murder unfolds, her boyfriend is implicated and she realizes she is dating a serial killer. Ten years later, after struggling to rebuild her life, her past comes rushing back into her life as the police ask for her help in a string of new murders that appear like Will’s.

Like Distress Signals, I loved how Howard rolled out the plot in The Liar’s Girl. It all flowed seamlessly and, by the end of the first chapter, I was completely hooked. It sort of read to me like the Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine. Not too many twists or turns but just a strong, steady, creepy plot. I loved it.

Now, the ending, I have a bone to pick with. I won’t say anything other than that since I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it just didn’t feel like it “fit” with the tone of the story.

Overall, another awesome novel by Howard and I’ll be waiting anxiously for her third book. Is there any way you could write a little faster??!!

4/5 stars.

Thanks to Blackstone Publishing and the author (Catherine Ryan Howard) for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

#cjsreads read this book as one of our picks!  Want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Liar’s Girl (Catherine Ryan Howard) @cathryanhoward @BlackstoneAudio”

Book Review: Look for Me (Lisa Gardner) @LisaGardnerBks @DuttonBooks

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 8.07.57 PM.pngDetective D.D Warren is back and, this time, she has brought Find Me’s Flora Dane with her for the ride in the ninth instalment of the Detective D.D Warren series by Lisa Gardner, Look For Me. I loved Find Me so I was thrilled to find out that Flora Dane would be back in this D.D Warren novel. I found her character completely fascinating and loved her “kill or be kill, seek revenge” attitude. Fast paced and intricate, Gardner has done it again with her newest publication!

The novel opens with a family of four savagely murdered, a teenage girl, Roxy, is missing and police desperate for leads. Is Roxy in need of help or is she the perpetrator? Detective Warren is on the scene with the help of her new sidekick, Flora Dane. I loved the banter between Warren and Dane. They really cracked me up and I feel like they will be a brilliant new partnership moving forward in the series. Warren’s serious need for rule following and Dane’s offbeat justice are the perfect juxtaposition.

I found this novel to be incredibly entertaining and I was completely addicted to the storyline but found it a lot less “thrilling” than Find Me. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the story and I was glued to the pages but I feel that fans of Find Me, who are looking for that same type of FEEL that Find Me had, may find themselves a bit disappointed. Dane is fairly well behaved throughout this novel and seems to be more of a law-abiding citizen. The plot is fairly straightforward, well developed, but straightforward. I didn’t mind this at all.

This is the ninth novel in the series but I had no problems following along (in fact, the only other D.D Warren novel I had read previously was Find Me) so this can absolutely be read as standalone.

A great, entertaining crime read that I think crime fiction fans will absolutely enjoy.

4/5 stars.

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

Chandra and Jessica gave this one a read too!  Want to see what they thought of Lisa Gardner’s Look for Me?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: Look for Me (Lisa Gardner) @LisaGardnerBks @DuttonBooks”

Book Review: Force of Nature (Jane Harper) @Flatironbooks

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 7.53.50 PM.pngLast year, when the #cjsreads trio was formed, our first novel was The Dry by Jane Harper which was an atmospheric thriller starring Federal Police Agent, Aaron Falk. Pretty much as soon as we finished reading, we unanimously decided we needed more of this series and our dreams came true with Harper’s sophomore novel, Force of Nature.

This novel follows Aaron Falk and his partner, Carmen, as they investigate a missing informant from their latest investigation into some corporate money laundering. A group of five ladies went into the woods, four came out and the only one missing is the whistleblower set to testify against her employer and colleagues. There is no doubt that betrayal and deceit were present in this work place but could it have led to murder?

From the first pages, when the women emerge from the wilderness missing a member of their crew, it had a The River At Night by Erika Ferencik vibe and I was all about this. I am not a nature girl myself so anything that has to do with people fighting through the elements and battling mother nature totally creeps me out. Adding the extra layer of personal relationships and the struggle of who to trust was icing on the cake for me.   I think one of my favourite features of a Harper novel is the atmosphere. She does such a fantastic job at creating the setting as an entire character and throughout my read, ng I couldn’t help but feel fascinated by how INVESTED I was in the descriptions of the bushlands. There is no doubt that Harper’s prose excels in this landscape.

Told in back and forth between the women in the bush, fighting for their lives and trying to survive, and Aaron Falk with Carmen, investigating in the present was entertaining even though I didn’t find there too be very many twists and turns. It was a very straightforward story: this is who went missing and this is why it happened. Very blunt. No time wasted.

Overall, did I enjoy this novel? Absolutely! Will I read more in this series? Absolutely! Did I LOVE it as much as The Dry? No, but it was still a fantastic read!

4/5 stars.

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

Of course, the #cjsreads crew read this one as one of our February picks!  Want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of Force of Nature?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: Force of Nature (Jane Harper) @Flatironbooks”

Book Review: Into the Black Nowhere (Meg Gardiner) @DuttonBooks @MegGardiner1

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 6.39.04 PM.pngLast year, I was completely obsessed with Unsub, the start of a new series by Meg Gardiner that featured FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix. Heart pounding, dark and visceral, Unsub had me holding on to the edge of my seat and screaming for more. So, of course, I was extremely excited when I found out that the second book in the series, Into the Black Nowhere, would be publishing in January 2018!

Now, without giving away any plot points or information (because I absolutely consider Unsub to be a MUST READ), Unsub left off with quite a few open-ended questions and with a bit of a cliffhanger ending so I was desperate to read the next book. WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN??! I NEEDED ANSWERS! I dove into the book and, I am going to say, Into the Black Nowhere left me feeling a little bit disappointed.

It was absolutely not the writing style; Gardiner’s prose is just as smart and fast paced as I have come to know and love. The book was brilliantly written and filled with witty, smart banter between police, excellent character development and a game of cat and mouse between protagonist and antagonist that kept me turning the pages.

This novel doesn’t really touch on any of the questions I had from the first novel; skimming over the issue, the characters jump right into a new case and move quickly away from the events from the first novel. While I understand that this is an excellent tactic for a sophomore novel in a series (it keeps the readership going and pushes the issues into further novels), I really was looking forward to having some answers!!

Also, notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy, inspires this novel’s antagonist. I am not sure whether or not it was because I knew much more about Ted Bundy than I knew about the Zodiac killer (which is the antagonist that inspired Unsub), but I felt like I wasn’t surprised by anything he did. I knew his MO and I knew the general direction the story would take (I knew he would likely escape police custody, I knew he would likely attack a sorority).

Regardless of this, I really did love the novel for its entertainment value and I will be anxiously awaiting the third novel!

4/5 stars.

Thanks to the author, the publisher for a copy of Into the Black Nowhere; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Jessica and Chandra obviously loved this one too!  Keep reading to read their reviews of Meg Gardiner’s Into the Black Nowhere.

Continue reading “Book Review: Into the Black Nowhere (Meg Gardiner) @DuttonBooks @MegGardiner1”

Blog Blitz: Past Echoes (Graham Smith) @BLOODHOUNDBOOK @GRAHAMSMITH1972

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 9.09.12 AM.pngAfter reading the previous novels in the Jake Boulder series by Graham Smith (Watching the Bodies and Kindred Killers), I was thrilled to be able to read the third book, Past Echoes, as part of the blog tour for Bloodhound Books! Both of the previous novels were fast-paced, suspenseful, action-packed and led by brooding protagonist, Jake Boulder.   Used to his drunken shenanigans and sarcastic banter, I was pleased that this novel showed us the softer, more personal side of Jake Boulder as he collides with a dead woman’s secret, his estranged father and a professional assassin.

So, first thing is first, I highly recommend reading the other two novels in the series before diving into this one. Not only are they fantastic bits of literature, but the storyline in this one directly ties into plot points from the first novels. I think it would be a little hard to follow without having that background knowledge.

I won’t go too much into the plot but there is one thing that I have said before, and I’ll say it again. I find Graham Smith’s writing to be unique like the work of Karin Slaughter. His prose is completely purposeful and done with taste; all of his graphic scenes add so much to the tone and nature of the text without being overdone or offensive.  I found this to be true in Past Echoes, from shootouts to car chases, Smith lays down the action without it feeling distracting.

Overall, I found this instalment in the Jake Boulder series to be a little less action packed the prior two but I did appreciate the softer side of Boulder (mind you, he is no spring chick but more like a shark with half of it’s teeth removed- still a little bit scary but not as vicious!)

If you have not picked up this series yet, I would highly recommend adding it to your TBR pile. It does not disappoint!

Thanks to Bloodhound Books and the author, Graham Smith, for a copy of this novel.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review!

Be sure to visit the other stops on the Past Echoes Blog Blitz!

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Book Review: A Map of the Dark (Karen Ellis)

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 10.44.30 AM.pngMarketed for fans of Karin Slaughter and Tess Gerritsen (two of my favourite authors), I was incredibly excited to read A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis. Unfortunately, with the comparison to these thriller powerhouse authors, I was expecting graphic suspense and “on the edge of your seat” pacing.  This novel had neither of these things.

The novel, the first in a new series, introduces us to FBI Agent Elsa Myers- a woman who specializes in child abduction cases and has a past full of demons.  When a young woman is abducted, Elsa must balance her work life and personal life to find the missing girl while dealing with her own battles.

This book had a few moments where I felt like I couldn’t put it down.  I did like Elsa at the beginning and I did enjoy the different workings of the police case.  However, more often than not, I felt like parts were dragging.  This novel was so incredibly slow.  I struggled throughout the whole thing.

I also felt a little bit confused in regards to the narrative style.  Elsa goes back and forth between the present and memories of the past.  These happen without any warning and I found I struggled to keep up.  It took me right out the moment.  I also really did not like the amount of personal life that was introduced.  Most of the novel was Elsa grieving her father’s cancer and her lost childhood.     There really wasn’t investigating involved.   I found myself feeling this one was a bit mismarketed.  It really didn’t feel like a mystery thriller or a police procedural; instead, it felt more like contemporary family drama with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Overall, if you are looking for a new police procedural to bury your nose in this January, I think this one will disappoint you.  However, if you are interested in the inner workings of family, then this one may appeal.  Personally, it missed the mark.

2/5 stars.

Thanks to the author and publisher for a copy; it was my pleasure to read and review.

Curious to know if Chandra and Jessica felt differently than I did about A Map In the Dark?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: A Map of the Dark (Karen Ellis)”