Book Review: A Stranger in the House (Shari Lapena)

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 2.46.18 PM.pngLast summer, everyone was reading The Couple Next Door by Canadian author, Shari Lapena. I am all about Canadian authors, so, obviously, I jumped on the bandwagon. I was not incredibly impressed with the debut, but when I found out that Lapena’s sophomore novel had been released, I rushed to the library and put a hold on it. I was intrigued to see what her follow up would be like.

Now, because I am a dingbat, I ended up accidentally putting a hold on the audiobook version of this book. I don’t read (well, I suppose listen?) to a lot of audiobooks but I do find the idea of them intriguing. So, I signed out the audiobook, slid into my car and started listening.

This, I believe, was my first mistake in regards to this book. The audiobook was not a good format for this title.

To start, the voices were driving me crazy. I couldn’t handle the back and forth between the different characters and how the reader continuously tried to change or disguise her voice for different characters. I also felt consistently confused, probably because I had to start and stop this one every time I got in and out of my car. I didn’t feel any of the tension or build up that I was supposed to feel because I had to take myself out of the moment to go into work or into my house. This made me feel like there were a lot of inconsistencies in the text and I wasn’t sure if the characters were unreliable on purpose or if Lapena couldn’t keep her story straight.

After trying for a few weeks, I ended up returning the audiobook, however, I still wanted to know how the novel would end so I ended up purchasing the physical copy.

Overall, it just ended up being okay for me, but I am not sure if it was because of the actual story or because of the mess I created while trying to read it.  Is it worth the read?  Sure.  Would I run out and purchase this book today?  No.

Book Review: Gather the Daughters (Jennie Melamed)

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 2.53.59 PM.pngWhen I first read the synopsis for Gather the Daughters, the debut novel by Jennie Melamed, I was instantly intrigued. I am a sucker for anything that surrounds a cult or had any cult vibes, so, based on other reviews, I figured this would be right up my alley. Although this novel ended up being quite different from what I was expecting when I began, I ended up really enjoying Gather the Daughters.

Set on an isolated island, where ten men and their families built a society of controlled breeding and domination. Taking part in ritualistic behaviour, the daughters of the island take part in scenarios that drag them from adolescence into adulthood before their teenage years are over. However, after one daughter sees something she cannot forget, she must share it with the others and suffer the consequences. Told in alternating chapters between different daughters of the island, this dark debut will leave you disturbed and bewildered.

The first thing that stuck out to me was the tone of the novel. This one read like a mix between Lord of the Flies and the Handmaid’s Tale. I thought this was really interesting. The language choice of Melamed makes it feel like a classic and, due to the content of the novel, I felt like this was a really smart choice. It made the time period of the novel feel ambiguous and, I feel, it added another layer of unrest and eeriness to the text.
Continue reading “Book Review: Gather the Daughters (Jennie Melamed)”

Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say (Gillian McAllister) @GillianMAuthor @MichaelJBooks

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.03.27 AM.pngEarlier this year, I read (and LOVED!) Everything but the Truth, the debut novel by Gillian McAllister.   I was more than thrilled to find out that McAllister’s sophomore novel, Anything You Do Say, would be publishing in early 2018. That being said, I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister.

McAllister breathes new life into the psychological thriller genre by adding in a thick layer of morality and human emotion. This novel was extremely through provoking. It opens with Joanna, out at a bar, with her friends. After being accosted, Joanna and her girlfriends leave the bar and Joanna heads home. She hears footsteps. She is being followed. It has to be the man from the bar. She turns around. Pushes the threat. He falls and tumbles down a flight of stairs. He does not get up. Now, Joanna is faced with a decision. Fight or flight.

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say (Gillian McAllister) @GillianMAuthor @MichaelJBooks”

Book Review: The Blackbird Season (Kate Moretti) @KateMoretti1 @AtriaMysteryBus

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.17.53 PM.pngLast year, I read (and loved!) The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti, so I was thrilled to find out that #cjsreads had obtained copies of her sophomore novel, The Blackbird Season as one of our September picks!    I had absolutely no expectations going into this book; truthfully, I loved The Vanishing Year so much that I didn’t even read the synopsis of this book.  I figured that if Moretti wrote it, I would be interested.  I was right!  Moretti was able to weave a pretty stellar, mysterious novel within these pages.  One that left me binge reading late into the night.

This story surrounds high school teacher, Nate Winters as he is accused of having an affair with a female student, Lucia Hamm.  As Nate’s life spirals and Lucia goes missing, Nate is the only suspect.  As his wife, Alecia begins to question his situation, his only ally comes in the form of co-worker and creative writing teacher, Bridget, who realizes the only way to save Nate’s reputation could be using Lucia’s journals.

Though marketed as a psychological thriller, I didn’t find that this one fit that bill in the traditional sense.  When I think of psychological thriller, I think of a fast-paced, on the edge of your seat, mind-bending plot filled with unreliable narration and lots of “WHOA” moments.  In this case, I felt Moretti created more of a slow-burning mystery.  What happened to Lucia?  Who is telling the truth?  What is the deal with all these birds?  For me, this absolutely worked.

Generally speaking, choppy and disjointed narration usually gets on my nerves, but, somehow, Moretti manages to make this style of narration easy to follow and completely addictive throughout the plot of this tale.  I was on the edge of my seat as I devoured each chapter (both and back and forth in time) and tried to figure out what the true happenings were and what motives the characters were acting with.   Each character gets a distinct POV and I loved hearing the story from each of their perspectives.  I found this to be incredibly interesting.

One of my largest gripes to this story was the situation with the birds.  At the beginning of the story, we are told that thousands (hundreds?  millions?  Who knows) of blackbirds have fallen out of the sky and into the town.  People are horrified by this phenomenon and experts are called into the test the town’s water and air, looking for reasons and possible side effects of this occurrence.   I waited for the entirety of the book for this to be made clear.  And, alas, there was never really an explanation. The birds were more of a metaphor or a representation and I just wasn’t about that.  Personally, I felt like I needed an explanation.

Overall, if you enjoy a tightly woven plot with multiple characters and a compelling mystery, I think you will enjoy this book.  It really reminded me of Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia.  They both had that small town mystery vibe.

Thanks to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of The Blackbird Season; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Blackbird Season (Kate Moretti) @KateMoretti1 @AtriaMysteryBus”

Blog Tour: House of Spines (Michael J. Malone) @OrendaBooks @michaelJmalone1

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 8.58.20 AM.pngGood morning and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for House of Spines by Michael J Malone.

I am thrilled to be taking part in the tour and providing a review.

Michael J Malone is an author that I have admired from afar.   Numerous book bloggers sing his praises and his book, A Suitable Lie, has been on my TBR pile anxiously awaiting me. From what I have been told, his writing is completely addictive and captivating. Now that I have finished House of Spines, I would have to say, I totally agree.   Malone had me hooked from the moment I turned the first page and I was completely drawn into this dark, gothic world within the pages. I could not put it down.  Continue reading “Blog Tour: House of Spines (Michael J. Malone) @OrendaBooks @michaelJmalone1”

Book Review: White Bodies (Jane Robins) @alfresca @TouchstoneBooks

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.18.55 AM.pngI am such a sucker for a psychological thriller; I am always on the hunt for something new that will leave me thinking.  Enter, White Bodies by Jane Robins, a book that topped by fall TBR list and one that I was eagerly anticipating.  Chandra, Jessica and I added this one to our September TBR pile months ago so I was incredibly excited to dive in.

The story begins and develops your typical love story:  man (Felix) meets girl (Tilda), man controls girl, twin sister of girl (Callie) gets mad, man ends up dead.  Ya know, the stuff that makes ya warm and fuzzy inside.    I loved how Robins slowly built and weaved the tension throughout the plot; it truly left me feeling unsettled.    Especially in regards to the Callie character.  What a treat she was.  A completely disturbing and pretty messed up treat, but a treat nonetheless!  I think one of the first “um…WTF Callie??!” moments comes at about 13% into the book.   I don’t think I will ever look at a pair of twins the same!!

I also felt like the writing style of this one was incredibly different; the premise is like other books I have read but the execution felt more original.   The story does not follow a specific linear path; instead, it focuses on alternative narrative moments in time between the present and then two different snapshots from the past.   I think my favourite (is that okay to say something was my favourite when it was so twisted) were the Callie chapters from her childhood.  Creepy.

My biggest complaint with this novel was the pacing.  I felt like the first 100 pages or so really dragged.  I was interested.  I wanted to keep reading but I didn’t find myself tearing through the pages.  However, the second half of the book really shone and I did find myself completely engrossed.  I guess I wish it had paced more evenly so I felt entirely dedicated throughout.   I also had a hunch regarding the “reveal” fairly early on, but that didn’t deter me from completing the novel.  I loved Robin’s style.

Overall, if you want a psychological thriller that will give you the creeps, then I would pick this one up.  It is totally worth the 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.

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

Continue reading “Book Review: White Bodies (Jane Robins) @alfresca @TouchstoneBooks”

Book Review: Good Me Bad Me (Ali Land) @byAliLand @Flatironbooks

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I am all about living in Canada, the true North strong and free and all that, but I really struggle when I see a book on my wishlist that comes out so much later here than in the UK!  One of these books was Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land.  After reading a plethora of positive reviews and hype during the time of the UK release (which was in January), I waited with baited breath until I could get my hands on a copy!  Now that I have read one of my most anticipated September titles, I am feeling a little bit mixed about my feelings.

The novel opens with the introduction of Milly (aka Annie) who is new to the foster care system after turning in her mother, a serial killer, to the authorities.  Milly is awaiting her mother’s trial in which she is the star witness.   However, Milly has some secrets too; wrestling with her guilt and dealing with her troubling past, Milly is forced to face her most internal desires and question whether or not she will be good or bad.  After all, she is her mother’s daughter.

One of the first things that struck me about this novel was the characterization.  Kids are creepy.  Kids as a narrator are creepy.  This was clearly represented within the pages of this story.   Milly is such a complex character and she was really interesting to watch develop.   She seems to be quite the mess, and for good reason, and I felt like I was able to get into her headspace through my reading.  Land does a brilliant job at creating a memorable character here.  However, one of my main issues with the text came from the disjointed narrative style.  I realize that this was probably intentional due to the unreliable nature and psychological state of our protagonist but I found this style a little hard to follow.   I think I would have gotten much more from the text if it had been more of a third person narration instead of first person.  I did end up getting used to it in the end and I did find that by the end of the text, I was following it easier.

I loved the little vignettes that were placed throughout the text that gave insight to the atrocities that Milly witnessed while living in her mother’s house of horrors.  I thought this gave such an eerie and ominous tone to the text and legitimately creeped me out.

Now, my mixed feelings do not come from a hatred of the text or from a lack of entertainment because, don’t get me wrong, this novel was binge read worthy and I finished it very quickly, it was just completely different from what I was expecting.  I was thinking this would be full of twists and turns but I knew exactly where the plot was going.  I thought this would be a fast paced thriller and instead, it was a slow burning character study.  I feel like maybe I became a bit of a victim of the hype on this one, but I still really enjoyed the story for what it was.

If you are looking for a fast paced thriller with mind-blowing twists, then this one probably will not be for you.  However, if you into a character that will look deep into the psyche of a character and bring an eerie feeling to your bones, then this will be up your alley!

4/5 stars from me.

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

Want to know what my other #cjsreads members thought about this one?  Keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra had to say about Good Me Bad Me.

Continue reading “Book Review: Good Me Bad Me (Ali Land) @byAliLand @Flatironbooks”

Blog Blitz: The Accident (S.D Monaghan) @bookouture @SeanMonaghan16 #blogblitz

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 10.16.12 PMGood morning and welcome to my neck of the blogosphere where I am hosting a section on today’s blog blitz for The Accident by S.D Monaghan!

When I read the synopsis to this novel, I was instantly intrigued. I am a huge fan of domestic thrillers and this one seemed right up my alley!

One mistake could change your life forever.

Tara has it all. Married and about to move into her dream home, she can’t explain why she is tempted by one last fling with her ex before she settles down.

David would do anything for Tara. So when he finds her with another man, his world starts to crumble around him.

Ryan isn’t prepared for the punch David throws at him. Stumbling, he slips over the balcony and falls three storeys to the patio below.

In one split second a man will be killed. In one split second David and Tara’s life will change forever.

How far would you go to save everything you have?  Continue reading “Blog Blitz: The Accident (S.D Monaghan) @bookouture @SeanMonaghan16 #blogblitz”

Blog Tour: Dead Girls Can’t Lie (Carys Jones) @Aria_Fiction

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 10.07.13 AM.pngWelcome to my stop on the Aria blog tour for Dead Girls Can’t Lie!  I am thrilled to be hosting a spot today and, if you are new, welcome to Clues and Reviews!

I always get so excited when an author I have read before comes out with a new work.  I was thrilled to find out that Carys Jones, the author of Wrong Number and Last Witness was coming out with a new book this month.   The synopsis hooked me right away:

Best friends tell each other the truth – don’t they?

When North Stone’s best friend Kelly Orton is found hanging lifeless in a tree, North knows for certain it wasn’t suicide. Kelly had everything to live for – a loving boyfriend, a happy life, and most importantly of all, Kelly would never leave North all by herself.

The girls have been friends since childhood, devoted to each other, soul sisters, or at least that’s what North has always believed. But did Kelly feel the same way, or was she keeping secrets from her ‘best friend’ – deadly secrets…

When the police refuse to take North’s suspicions seriously, she sets out to investigate for herself. But her search soon takes her to a glamorous world with a seedy underbelly, and before long North is out of her depth and getting ever closer to danger. Determined to find the truth, she soon wishes that dead girls could lie, because the truth is too painful to believe… 

This one had K.A Tucker, He Will Be My Ruin, vibes (which was a book I had BINGE read a few months ago) written all over it.  Now that I have finished Dead Girls Can’t Lie, my feelings are a bit mixed.

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Dead Girls Can’t Lie (Carys Jones) @Aria_Fiction”