Book Review: The French Girl (Lexie Elliot)

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 10.14.20 PM.pngI have always been a big fan of a “vacation” novel. Makes for a stellar beach read. So, when I read a basic synopsis about six friends who go on a trip and are confronted ten years later when the body of a woman is found and they were the last people to see her. The French Girl, the debut novel by Lexie Elliot, calls to question what happened during the events of the trip, which people were involved and, of course, what happens when the past comes knocking at one’s door.

As much as I am a fan of a vacation style novel, I am always wary when a “girl” novel comes into my TBR pile. That being said, The French Girl had several amazing features that intrigued me!

One thing that I enjoyed most was how the dynamic between all the characters unfolded. Elliot did an excellent job at keeping it real and I think every reader will be able to find a bit of he or she mirrored within these characters, good traits and bad! Each character is intense and rich and they shone off the pages. Elliot’s strong suit is clearly her apt for characterization. For me, it comes down to the tiny details and Elliot left no stone unturned. I felt like this was even more compelling since the entire novel is narrated from Kate’s point of view.

The thing that irked me about The French Girl was the pacing. This book moved, at times, with glacier speed, which was a real struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a novel that starts slowly and picks up steam until I am racing to the finish line but this novel did no such thing. They do say that slow and steady wins the race but, for me, I really struggled.

Overall, I felt like this was a solid debut and I will be absolutely waiting for Elliot’s next novel; I feel like she will only get better with each novel!

3/5 stars.

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

#cjsreads read this one together; want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought when they read The French Girl?  Keep reading to check out their reviews!

Continue reading “Book Review: The French Girl (Lexie Elliot)”

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: Sometimes I Lie (Alice Feeney) @alicewriterland @Flatironbooks

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 1.41.20 PM.pngSometimes I Lie, the debut novel by Alice Feeney, was a book that I was virtually bombarded with last year when it was released in the UK. I watched in jealousy as all my book blogger friends abroad devoured this psychological thriller and I patiently waited for the North American release. Now that it is here, I am pleased to report that Sometimes I Lie was worth the wait!

The novel opens with the introduction of Amber who is in a coma and unable to communicate with the world around her. All she knows for sure is that she is, indeed, in a coma, her husband does not love her anymore and that sometimes she lies. From the first pages, I was pretty much hooked. I appreciated Fenney’s slow release of information and I was eagerly awaiting more clues so I could try and figure out the wrongful parties. How did Amber end up in a coma? Was her husband involved? Maybe her sister? Perhaps her co-worker nemesis?   I loved how Feeney kept me on edge and slowly drew me in.

Told mainly through the perspective of Amber, partially in the present as Amber listens to those around her in the hospital and in the past, in the events leading up to the “incident” that put her in a coma, I enjoyed that Feeney was able to keep things fairly chronological and that I didn’t have to do a lot of guesswork to when things happened or read past pages to reorient myself. Her writing style is pretty straightforward and to the point. Aside from a few diary entries from Amber’s youth, I appreciated that it took place all in the present. This was a change from the past few psychological thrillers I have read in which we go further into the past and then shoot back to the present continuously.  I also love myself a good, ol’ unreliable narrator.

I have read a few reviews that claim the story is filled with too many of the classic thriller clichés but I personally did not mind this. Was there a lot going on? Sure. Did it work for me? Absolutely. I liked having a little bit of everything thrown in! And I loved the final twist.

Overall, I was impressed with this debut and I will absolutely read more from this author!!

5/5 stars.

Thanks to Flatiron Books, the author (Alice Feeney) and Netgalley for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to see what the rest of #cjsreads felt while reading Sometimes I Lie?  Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought!

Continue reading “Book Review: Sometimes I Lie (Alice Feeney) @alicewriterland @Flatironbooks”

Book Review: The Girlfriend (Michelle Frances) @kensingtonbooks

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 8.15.08 PM.pngI try to avoid reading reviews pertaining to titles that are in my current TBR pile but, by the time I was ready to dive into The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances, I had already read several reviews and the reviews of my fellow #cjsreads members. And, in this case, I feel like it really helped me prepare for this novel.

Marketed as a psychological thriller, I didn’t really feel like this one had a whole ton of “thrills” in the traditional sense.   Instead, I felt like maybe this one would have been better marketed as a domestic drama or maybe contemporary family drama.   There was no lack of family issues, manipulative girlfriends or overbearing mothers but I did find this one to be missing the fast-paced, twisty-turny type plot that I expect when reading a psychological thriller.

The novel opens with Laura, the woman who has it all (a successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband and a handsome, doctor in training son), who quickly becomes disgruntled when her son begins to spend all his time with Cherry, a real estate agent from the wrong side of the tracks.   Cherry wants to be welcomed into the family, but Laura suspects she is not all she seems.

From the first pages, this one had a lighter vibe to it and that didn’t bother me at all.  I have been finding myself feeling a little “weighed down” by all the heavy, dark, thrillers I have come to know and love.  I welcomed the break in The Girlfriend.     Initially, I was able to breeze through the novel quite easily but it ended up taking me a long time to finish when I started to find this one a little bit too predictable and the characters generally unlikeable.

In the end, this one missed the mark for me in regards to the plot but I did enjoy the author’s writing style and found that easy to digest.  I feel like with a different type of story, she probably would have had me hook, line and sinker!

I think fans going into the novel expecting a thriller, will be highly disappointed.  However, if you like a domestic drama, then this would be better up your alley!

2.5/5 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!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Girlfriend (Michelle Frances) @kensingtonbooks”

Book Review: Unraveling Oliver (Liz Nugent) @SimonSchusterCA

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 7.03.10 PMAs I have mentioned before on Clues and Reviews, I struggle with serious cases of FOMO! As soon as I see other bloggers reading (and loving!) a particular book, I make sure that I arrange my schedule so I can add that book to the top of my TBR pile and dive in! This was the case with Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent.

When this one published last year, I was oozing with jealousy as I read reviews from other bloggers comparing it to some of my favourite books (You by Caroline Kepnes and Perfect Days by Rapheal Montes). However, this one released in Canada much later, so, when I was finally able to dive into this book, I was ecstatic and filled with anticipation. Was this a well-written book? Absolutely! Was it entertaining? Completely. A solid debut? For sure! Was it everything I thought it would be? Not exactly…

The novel follows Oliver Ryan, a handsome and charismatic writer who also happens to be a sociopath. After beating his wife, Alice, into a coma, Oliver reflects on his violent acts and, in the aftermath, his neighbours, acquaintances and friends of the couple try to understand what happened and what forced this man to unravel.

First and foremost, I did love the many differing perspectives and found that Nugent did an amazing job at ensuring that the plethora of characters did not become confusing. Her narrative voice remained fluid and even though there were multiple characters, it never felt disjointed. I loved the fact that all types of characters were given a narrative voice that represented all stages of Oliver’s life. I found this refreshing and a well-rounded and intimate way to discover a character. I truly did feel, by the end of the novel, that I knew Oliver inside and out.

The multiple characters were one of my favourite features and, at the same time, it was kind of where Unraveling Oliver lost me. I felt like this novel, unlike You or Perfect Days, was more of a character study. In the other novels, I was able to get a first hand, continuous look at how the protagonist/antagonist was feeling due to the singular, first-person point of view. I was able to get into the mind of a psychopath. In this novel, I was able to understand the character but it lacked the gritty and unsettling details. I also felt like halfway through, I started losing interest. I realized he was a sociopath, he was clearly a messed up guy but I just felt like it went on too long with the multiple perspectives.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt like this was a spectacular debut, it just wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. If you like a dark character study, then you will absolutely enjoy this novel. However, if you prefer something a little more unsettling, this may leave you wanting more.

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.

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: 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”

Book Review: Keep Her Safe (K.A Tucker) @kathleenatucker @SimonSchusterCA

Keep her Safe.png

Ever since I read my first KA Tucker novel (which happened to be the psychological suspense He Will Be My Ruin), I have been obsessed with her writing style.  Her addictive prose, realistic characters and storylines always have me on the edge of my seat and completely entertained.   So, I was thrilled when Keep Her Safe, her newest publication came out last week!

The perfect blend of romantic suspense and fast paced thriller, Keep Her Safe follows Noah Marshall, son of a police chief whose life is rocked when his mother passes away leaving him with the skeletons in her closet and a job to do.  Meanwhile, Gracie is busy trying to survive and care for her drug-addicted mother and the ghost of her father.  As their paths cross, they realize they are trying to solve a common puzzle and soon, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department.

Now, don’t be deterred by the romantic suspense aspect of this novel.  It is not overbearing or cringe worthy cheesy, instead, Tucker is able to combine gritty, police procedural components with a few “feel good” elements of a romance to create more of JD Robb or Karen Rose type vibe.  And, if I am being completely truthful, I was more drawn into the budding romance of our protagonists than that of the actual case.  Tucker did a brilliant job at developing such complex and damaged characters; I was desperate for them to succeed.

As the novel develops, Tucker delivers a plethora of twists and turns and I found myself glued to my seat.  There were several moments that were unexpected for me, including the resolution. The final twist at the end came completely out of left field!

Described as Making a Murderer meets ScandalKeep Her Safe packs just the right amount of punch!  I feel like crime fiction fans and fans of the new adult genre (think Colleen Hoover) will really enjoy this novel, I know I did!

Thanks to the author, the publisher and Netgalley; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review

Chandra and Jessica gave this one a read as well; want to check out what they thought about Keep Her Safe? Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: Keep Her Safe (K.A Tucker) @kathleenatucker @SimonSchusterCA”

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.

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Still Missing (Chevy Stevens) #tbt”