Book Review: The Art of Fear (Pamela Crane)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 9.06.18 PM.pngI am always on the hunt for a new crime read. I spend a lot of time scoping out book lists on the Internet, browsing Pinterest and asking other bloggers for book recommendations. So, when I discovered The Art of Fear, the first in a series by Pamela Crane, I was intrigued.

Centering on Ari Wilburn, a guilt-ridden woman struggling with sins of her past joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a woman who was trafficked and suspects foul play in the death of her father. Ari and Tina team up to try and figure out the truth and find themselves in danger.

I found this one very easy to get into. Dark and a bit brooding, after reading the first chapter, I found it difficult to put down.  Crane did not mess around with her opening page, that’s for sure!!   Although I didn’t find myself relating to the characters at all, I did find myself feeling a lot of empathy towards them and that compelled me to continue reading on. Ari is completely damaged by the death of her sister but watching her grow throughout the chapters and become more confident as she helped someone else gave me that “phoenix rising from the ashes” vibe.

One of the interesting features of the writing was the countdown to Ari’s death. The chapters are labelled this way and it really did keep my attention and drove my need to read the story. I knew the outcome but I desperately needed to know how she met that fate. I felt like this was a smart choice by the author.

Although I really loved the beginning and some of the small details that Crane added into the text, I did find the pacing to be a little bit slower than what I usually like when reading a mystery/thriller. I thought maybe the story would focus more on Tina’s past and go into a bit more detail about her time being trafficked but instead, it was more character centered and focused on Ari. This does make sense, as the series focuses on her, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting completely.

Overall, I loved the general vibe of this story and loved how it ended! I cannot wait to read more in the series!

Thanks to the author (Pamela Crane), the publisher (Tabella House) and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.
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Book Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 8.39.54 PM.pngI know what you are thinking. “Seriously…Another book with “girl” in the title?!” But fear not! The Broken Girls, the recently released novel by Simone St. James, stood out for me!   From the beautifully blended narratives to the small details, St. James creates a novel that is hard to put down. In fact, I found myself reading this one late into the night.

The novel opens with the introduction of Fiona, a reporter with a haunted past. After the death of her sister, things have never been the same and even though the man responsible has been put in prison, Fiona (and her family) have never really been able to move past it. So, when she finds out there are plans to restore the building (an old school for girls) where her sister’s body was found, Fiona cannot help but dig around. And, in doing so, she quickly finds out that the past never really stays buried.

Told in alternating time periods and alternating perspectives, I loved the way St. James chooses to tell this story.  I loved the moments that flashed back to the girl’s school in the 40s and how each member of their group of friends had an individual chapter to voice.   I found each character likeable and I was interested in each of their stories and was truly concerned about their plights. I also found that Fiona, in the present storyline, was a well-developed character.

I think that St. James did a brilliant job incorporating a bit of historical fiction; it didn’t feel distracting. I felt like it really added another layer to the story.

One thing I didn’t care for with The Broken Girls was the paranormal storyline. The ghost at the school felt like it really didn’t belong and was sort of a side-plot. I felt like it wasn’t needed.

Overall, I was a huge fan of The Broken Girls and I think that fans of Fiona Barton or Fiona Davis will enjoy this one.

Thanks to the author (Simone St. James) and the publisher (Berkley) for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

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

Continue reading “Book Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)”

Book Review: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men (Howard Schechter)

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 6.25.41 PM.pngI’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately, so, when Chandra from #cjsreads suggested we read Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Howard Schechter, I was all about it! I am a fan of historical fiction and true crime so this book seemed like it would be a no-brainer for me.

I hadn’t heard (surprisingly) of Belle Gunness before, so, before I started my reading, I did a quick Google search to get myself a little bit familiar with the story. This ended up being a huge mistake.

The book ended up being a long-winded version of the Wikipedia page. It lacked any real “story” and just ended up being more of a list of facts.

I also really struggled with Schechter’s narrative voice, which I actually found to be a little bit offensive.

Overall, I was not a huge fan.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing for the copy of Hell’s Princess; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review

Want to see if this book worked better for Chandra and Jessica?  Keep reading to find out what they thought of Hell’s Princess

Continue reading “Book Review: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men (Howard Schechter)”

Book Review: The Runaways (Sonya Terjanian) @Sourcebooks @TerjanianSonya

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 7.54.15 AM.pngEvery so often, I come across a book that I become completely engrossed in. The prose is easy, the characters are intriguing and I find myself reading late into the night so I can figure out that the story. That is exactly what happened to me when I opened The Runaways, the sophomore novel by Sonya Terjanian.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened up The Runaways and the synopsis wasn’t exactly clear. I knew it would involve a teenage runaway, trying to break free from what she believes will be a dull future and I knew she would meet a woman who is trying to escape from her mundane life.   Was it going to read like contemporary drama? Women’s fiction? Suspense? These were the types of thoughts running through my head as I sat down to flip open the first page.

What I found, as I continued my reading, was that this novel was a little bit of everything: a dark, cold landscape, deeply flawed characters that collide and secrets flow throughout the plot. It was sort of like Scandinavian Fiction meets Southern Gothic Fiction meets a psychological character study. Needless to say, Terjanian had me hook, line and sinker.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Runaways (Sonya Terjanian) @Sourcebooks @TerjanianSonya”

Book Review: Then She Was Gone (Lisa Jewell) @lisajewelluk @AtriaMysteryBus

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 11.04.22 PM.pngI really love a novel that is a nice blend of suspense and women’s fiction. I find them to be such a nice breath of fresh air in a genre saturated with serial killers and psychological thrillers (mind you, I enjoy those as well!).

After reading the synopsis of Then She Was Gone, the newest publication by Lisa Jewell, I knew this would fit that bill for me. Having read several of Jewell’s other novels, I was excited to dive into this one. Just as entertaining as her others, I flew through my reading but, truthfully, I didn’t find it to be as suspenseful as some of the other novels I have read by Jewell. I actually found it to be quite predictable but still incredibly entertaining.

Let me break it down a bit further.

So, the novel follows Laurel Mack, who is still reeling after the disappearance of her daughter, Ellie, 10 years prior. She has never been able to fully move on and this has ultimately affected most of her relationships.   This begins to change when she meets Floyd and she finally starts to feel like herself again. However, Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter unsettles Laurel when she realizes she shows a startling resemblance to Ellie.   All those memories of Ellie come flooding back pushing Laurel to find out once and for all what happened to her daughter.

I loved the writing style of Jewell, as I always do! Something about her writing is so easy to digest. It is sort of like chatting with a good friend. I really like that I can start one of her novels and them just sort of settle in and enjoy the ride.

However, like I said above, I found this novel lacking suspense. To me, it read more like women’s fiction or contemporary family drama. I enjoyed it. I wanted to know what happened. I just feel like it was a bit misleading in this genre.   Also, I felt like it was very predictable. I was able to guess what has happened very early on in the novel but was still interested to see whether or not I was correct.

Overall, I really like this novel as an easy read and will continue to read more Lisa Jewell. If you are looking for an on the edge of your seat style suspense, this will be lacking but I would highly recommend if you are looking for a well-rounded and developed story.

3.5/5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher (Atria), the author (Lisa Jewell) and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Jessica and Chandra read this one with me for #cjsreads.  Want to know what they felt about Then She Was Gone?  Keep reading to find out!

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Book Review: Let Me Lie (Clare Mackintosh)

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 7.58.28 PMClare Mackintosh is one of those “blow my mind” authors. One of the queens of the psychological thriller genre, I found myself completely gripped with her previous novels from the fast-paced plots to the “real world” situations, I loved her full of suspense writing style and dynamically developed characters.

Unfortunately, for me, Let Me Lie, the newest publication by Clare Mackintosh left much to be desired.

For starters, this one was a sloooooooooow burn. I found myself unable to read more than a few chapters at a time without feeling the need to put this one down. It just didn’t have the same “grip” as some of the previous work I have read by Mackintosh.   I like to think I have a pretty solid attention span but this one tested me!

I did appreciate the final twist in the end and was intrigued by the last 15% or so of the novel, but, truthfully, I was expecting more!

I know that I shouldn’t compare one work to another but I cannot help it! I feel like fans of Mackintosh will be a little disappointed by this one but, if you are a new reader to her work, you may be more entertained!

I, of course, will continue to read more from this author but this particular book was a miss for me.

 Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to see if this book worked better for Jessica and Chandra?  They read this one too!  Keep reading to find out…

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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.