Throwback Thursday: Still Missing (Chevy Stevens) #tbt

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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.   I have been using this as an excuse to be able to dive into my TBR pile and try and get caught up on all my poor, lost books on my shelves!

Today, I’ll be bringing you Still Missing by Chevy Stevens.

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When I first discovered the work of Chevy Stevens, I was constantly being told by basically everyone that I HAD to read Still Missing (an abduction thriller which happened to be her debut!). The general consensus was that it was her BEST work; needless to say, I was incredibly excited!

The novel opens with Annie O’Sullivan, a real estate agent, as she is abducted during one of her open houses. She spends the next year of her life as the captive of a psychopath in a remote cabin in rural British Columbia. Following the events of her escape, Annie, through sessions with her psychiatrist, reveals her experiences, her struggles and her will to survive.

Initially, I really loved the narrative style. Told through sessions with her therapist, the narrative style is relaxed and raw as Annie struggles with her feelings, her relationships and the memories of what happened to her during her captivity. I felt like this was a really original voice; in fact, I have never read a novel narrated in this manner and that was a welcome change.

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Book Review: Strangers (Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel) @MinotaurBooks

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 8.10.45 PMLately, I have been feeling the need to expand my reading repertoire and read something a little bit different than my usual. So, when I received Strangers, a German noir novel by Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel, I was thrilled. Not only did this book fit into my Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge (a book by two authors) and have an amazing cover but also the synopsis had me completely hooked.

A woman wakes up without any memory of the strange man who is in her home, claiming to be her fiancé. The ultimate he said/she said narrative style on steroids; Strangers had me feeling actual anxiety throughout my reading. I was so stressed out trying to figure out what was happening!!

Like many other domestic thrillers, this one uses the back and forth narrative style between our male and female protagonist. This style had me incredibly conflicted throughout my reading. I would hear from Joanna, fearing her safety as a strange man enters her home, and feel for her. Then, a chapter later, Erik would enter talking about how upset he was that Joanna didn’t remember him, and I would feel for his plight just as much! I was completely divided trying to figure out whom I could trust. You want a novel with an unreliable narrator? How about two!

Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t stay continuous throughout the text. About halfway through the novel, I started feeling as if the story was becoming a little redundant. I get it. They couldn’t trust each other. Then, the novel switched gears and gave more of a conspiracy vibe. I did like this bit of narration but I think I would have been completely content with the novel to be about 100 pages shorter and focusing solely on their back and forth narration.

Overall, I didn’t love the end and I didn’t love the final twist, but I did appreciate the bit of originality.

Regardless of my feelings for the end, I did feel as if this book was worth the read and feel that fans of domestic thrillers will enjoy this one. Especially if you enjoyed SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep; they had a very similar vibe!

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

 

Book Review: They Know Not What They Do (Jussi Valtonen)

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 11.22.12 AM.pngOver the holidays, I spent several hours (okay…fine, days) binge-watching Zoo, the TV series based on the book by James Patterson. As soon as I read the synopsis for the #cjsreads pick, They Know Not What They Do by Jussi Valtonen, I got a serious Zoo vibe from it, probably based on the fact that the lead character, Joe Chayefski (a neuroscientist) has his lab targeted by animal rights activists. I eagerly dove in, anxious to see if my suspicions were correct. They were not.

Not by a long shot.

In fact, every presumption I had going into this book was incorrect.

First, this novel was not a thriller. I was sort of expecting the same sort of vibe that Scandinavian crime fiction brings me, instead, I found this novel to be more like contemporary drama mixed with some science fiction elements and it was extremely character heavy. Now, don’t get me wrong, the writing by Valtonen is superb. The characters were described with extreme finesse and their stories were beautifully developed, however, the plot itself was extremely slow moving. If you are looking for heart pounding, mind racing twists and turns, this book would leave you disappointed. I am a self-pronounced binge reader- I like to sit down and become completely engrossed in a book. However, with They Know Not What They Do, I found there was so much going on and it was written in such a long and drawn out way that I found myself disinterested and confused. There would have been no way for me to binge read this one.

Clearly, I was not the right reader for this novel, given the types of book I am drawn to on the regular. However, if you prefer something more character-centric that can be read slowly, then this could be a good choice!

I gave it 2/5 stars.

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

Want to see if Jessica and Chandra had similar feelings?  We read this one together as a #cjsreads pick.  Keep reading to see what they thought of They Know Not What They Do.

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Blog Tour: Best Friends Forever (Margot Hunt) @HuntAuthor @TLCBookTours

Best Friends Forever copy.pngWelcome to my stop on the TLC Book Tour for Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt!  This morning, I am thrilled to be able to bring you a review of this psychological-domestic thriller!

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued instantly.   Two women (Alice and Kat), best friends after a chance meeting at an airport, are rocked when one of their husbands end up dead and police begin an investigation into the suspicious death.  Who is the master manipulator?  How well do you REALLY know your best friend? From the first pages, as Alice is explaining how she has been arrested for murder, Hunt had me on edge and I read this one late into the night.  A bingeable read?  Absolutely!

Told through back and forth narration as Alice deals with the police investigation in the present and showing how their friendship unfolded in the past, I found Alice and Kat to be deliciously addictive characters; I was hypnotized by Kat’s charisma and felt sorry for Alice’s plight.  Hunt did a phenomenal job at making both character relatable and I felt like I could have known each of these women at some point in my life.   I felt like this was one of the strongest points of Hunt’s writing; the realism of the prose brought the psychological suspense to a whole other level.

Giving me a vibe between Big Little Lies and Making A Murderer,  I found myself growing increasingly paranoid as Hunt builds to the final twist.  I was a little bit underwhelmed by the ending, as I had my suspicions about the ending and I was correct.  However,  Hunt delivers a well-written thriller that is completely entertaining!

You want a chick-lit inspired thriller that will keep you up late into the night?  Are you a fan of Liane Moriarty or Michele Campbell?  Then, look no further, this one MUST be your next read!

Book Review: I Know My Name (CJ Cooke) @CJ_Cooke_Author @GrandCentralPub

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 9.35.38 AM.pngI am such a sucker for a mystery/thriller with a missing wife.  Gone Girl started the trend and, now, I cannot help but add a book to that similar thread to my TBR pile.  I Know My Name, the debut novel by CJ Cooke, had just that element.

Lochlan’s wife, Eloise, is missing.  She disappeared from their home leaving her phone, her wallet and her children behind.  Meanwhile, a woman washes up on a Greek island without any knowledge of who she is or how she got there.   Told in a back and forth narration, these two tales weave together making quite the digestible read. In fact, I sat down to read a few pages and was finished within a few hours.

Cooke’s tale is not only beautifully written but incredibly entertaining.  It becomes quite clear within the first few chapters that the missing woman and the woman on the island are one in the same but Cooke still had me on the edge of my seat wondering how she got there and how Lochlan would discover her whereabouts.

My only complaint in the novel came from sections of narration.  There were a few moments where I found the style to be incredibly confusing. Told mostly through the eyes of the woman on the island and Lochlan, as he desperately searches for his wife, there ended up being some random chapters narrated from Eloise’s grandmother’s point of view and also a few chapters from the past which felt a little bit random.  These had me flipping back and forth trying to re-orient myself in the text.

The final twist nearing the end I did find interesting and quite fitting for a novel of psychological suspense. Overall, I felt like it was a solid crime read that readers who are looking for a softer bit of crime fiction will enjoy.

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

This novel was a #cjsreads pick for January.  Want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought?  Keep reading to find out!

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Book Review: The Company of Demons (Michael Jordan) @GreenleafBookGr @mjordanauthor

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 9.46.22 AM.pngI really enjoy a legal thriller. Give me a John Grisham or Michael Connelly novel and I am one happy camper! So, when I read the synopsis of The Company of Demons, the psychological legal thriller by Michael Jordan, I dove right in.   Meeting a lawyer, John Coleman, who discovers the corpse of his friend behind their neighbourhood bar sending shockwaves through the city and bringing back painful memories of a killer who dismembered and taunted police decades earlier and vanished. As John tries to cope, he is hired by the victim’s daughter, Jennifer, to handle her father’s estate and soon finds himself entangled with a biker gang, dirty cops and romantic feelings.

Truly fast-paced, I sat down and finished this book over the course of an afternoon. I could not put it down as I watched our protagonist, John, get himself deeper and deeper into trouble. The ultimate anti-hero, I actually found myself hating him. It almost felt completely unbelievable how many terrible choices he made!! Page after page, I read (pretty much in horror) as he continued down the wrong path. I was so mad. However, kudos to Jordan who was able to create a character that made me feel so many emotions!

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Book Review: Descent (Tim Johnston)

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 8.53.55 PM.pngWay back in November, The Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews book club decided to read Descent by Tim Johnston. I was really excited about this pick since it had been on my TBR pile for quite some time and I had been looking for an excuse to read it. However, now that I have finished this book, I have some seriously mixed feelings.
This review is already feeling like a tough one to write; bear with me!

Initially, the plot intrigued me. The story surrounds a family who takes a final family trip to the Rocky Mountains before their daughter goes off to college and end up suffering a great loss. As the family patriarch and matriarch make final attempts to save their relationship, their children go missing and, hours later, their son is found injured and their daughter never returns. The family is left in shambles. The story that follows attempts to discuss what happened to Caitlin, how the family moves on and what happens when families suffer great loss.

Sounds intriguing enough, right?

I think maybe if the book was stripped down to the bare bones, I may have enjoyed it more; I am not sure if this is typical of Johnston’s writing style but I felt like there was a lot of plot points that were not completely relevant. I felt confused by the number of extra characters and scenes that felt like they had nothing to do with the actual plot of the book; there were some confusing relationships and trips. I feel like due to the amount of “fluff” and a bit of mismarketing, it didn’t feel much like a thriller. To me, it felt more like contemporary fiction.

I feel like for the reasons above, the pacing was off for me. It felt too slow and I didn’t find myself completely hooked. This one didn’t make me feel compelled to turn the pages, I felt like was reading it purely to finish what I started instead of enjoying the book.

Obviously, I was not the right reader for this book, especially since I am known to be a fan of fast-paced, on the edge of your seat style thrillers.

Did anyone else read this one?  Am I the only one who felt like it was lacking?? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Book Review: The Sin Collector (Daria Desombre)

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 9.14.58 PMThis time of year as other bloggers are rounding up their favourite books of the year and creating their top lists for Christmas gifts, here I am, struggling to catch up on all the books I had read and neglected to review! I blame my wedding and my move.

That is my story. I am sticking to it.

Forever ago, I read The Sin Collector by Daria Desombre, which is the first in a new detective series starring Masha Karavai. A work of Russian noir, I was curious to see what this genre would bring, especially since this is unchartered territory for me.

The novel opened with the introduction of Masha, a brilliant law student, as she investigates a series of recent killings and navigates her way through law enforcement.  I found Masha to be a likeable and relatable lead. I found her narrative to be extremely believable and there were more than a few moments where I found myself chuckling under my breath as she dealt with difficult and seasoned detectives.

The plot itself was pretty stellar. I love when a novel is able to make past and present collide and Desombre does a brilliant job of doing just this. Medieval rituals, modern Moscow and biblical references had me captivated and I loved the premise of the “sins”. I thought this was very different which is always incredibly important to me in a new crime series!

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Book Review: Poison (Galt Niederhoffer) @StMartinsPress

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 4.21.33 PM.pngIt is no secret that I am a huge fan of the domestic thriller genre.  Give me an unreliable narrator and an up-to-no-good husband and I am hooked.  So, when #cjsreads decided to read Poison by Galt Niederhoffer, I was thrilled.  It seemed like the exact type of book that would keep me up late into the night.

The novel surrounds a picturesque family and their suburban life.  Cass and Ryan make up a newly blended family with their three children.  However, Ryan has a dark side, one that keeps Cass looking over her shoulder, and when she confronts Ryan about his fidelity, Cass begins to wonder if her life is at stake.  As tensions rise, Cass’s sanity is questioned and she begins to worry her children are at risk.

As I began my reading, one of the things that stood out the most for me was the style of Niederhoffer’s writing.  I was drawn in immediately, almost as if I was connecting with old friends.  The prose was familiar and inviting.  It had me turning the pages.

One of the cleverest things about this novel was the use of the title and the ties to the plot; the jealous nature of Cass is poisoning her relationship and Cass believes that Ryan is literally poisoning her.  I loved this play and exploration into literal and psychological poison.  I felt captivated as I watched the story unfold.  Is she actually crazy?  Is she correct?  Who do I believe?

I really like novels with strong characters and Poison fit this bill.  Ryan was incredibly creepy and I found Cass to be very unreliable.    I also loved how Niederhoffer constantly called into question the idea of the unreliable female and the doubt that those in the legal system have with women as the victim.  I felt like this is extremely prevalent in today’s society and I found myself questioning my own judgments and assessment of Cass throughout my reading.

However, I did have a few issues with this novel towards the end.  About 40% of the way into the novel, I did find parts of the novel beginning to drag quite a bit.  The idea of the poison is brought to light very early in the novel and teased in the synopsis, so it was very clear that Cass believed she was being poisoned.  However, this was constantly drilled home for the next 30% of the book.  It felt very redundant.  Also, although I loved the little twist in the end, the final resolution left me feeling as if it had come out of left field.

Regardless of this, I did enjoy the easy prose and the compelling plot enough to finish this book over the course of a few sittings.  This novel really gave me a B.A Paris vibe and I feel like fans of this author will really enjoy PoisonPoison is published today!  Be sure to add it to your TBR pile if you are a fan of the domestic genre!

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

I mentioned this was a #cjsreads pick; want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of Poison? Keep reading to find out!

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