Book Review: Mary Rose (Geoffrey Girard)

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 6.25.10 AM.pngI am such a sucker for a horror read as soon as October hits. I want to grab a cozy blanket, cuddle up in my sweats and scare myself silly. With this in mind, I began to compile my October lineup, and my picks for #cjsreads, one of which was Mary Rose by Geoffrey Girard. Going into this novel, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was intrigued by the description of this novel being “a chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story”. I was also intrigued when I found out that the premise for the story was actually written by J.M Barrie for a film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock; not sure what went down with that but I figured there was nothing more chilling than films by Hitchcock, so, if he deemed this story worthy of film, then I needed to check it out!

The general premise brings us Mary Rose and Simon, a couple of working professionals, who are about to be engaged. They travel to England to ask for Mary Rose’s hand and Simon’s plans are slightly derailed when he finds out that Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl and then randomly reappeared thirty-three days later with no memory of her time away or knowledge of where she was. Not only does this give Simon the heeby-jeebies, but he becomes obsessed with trying to solve the puzzle of where she could have been and what could have happened.

Would I call this a traditional ghost story? Not really. Did I find some moments creepy? Absolutely! Told in alternating perspectives of Simon and Mary Rose, both characters have the opportunity to show the reader their growing paranoia and fright. I think my favourite character was Mary Rose. She is quirky, to say the least, and when she was acting strangely, I was compelled to continue reading to see what her actual deal was. Would she end up being possessed? Was she actually dead? Perhaps she was a figment of Simon’s imagination? I had no idea what the actual end game would be, so, Girard definitely had me hooked in that regard. I also felt like the general setting of the story added another chilling layer to the tone.

If I am being honest, I was a little underwhelmed at the ending of the story and I felt like maybe something HUGE was missed within the pages; in reality, I feel like maybe it would have been better received on screen, which makes sense when thinking of how this story started out.

I feel like this novel had several components, which would make a chilling tale perfect for Halloween, and, although I didn’t love the full execution of the novel, I did appreciate the general tone and feel.

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

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

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Book Review: Sunshine is Forever (Kyle T. Cowan) @KyleTCowan #SunshineisForever @Inkshares

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After an “incident” and a suicide attempt, Hunter finds himself heading to Camp Sunshine, the happiest place on earth and haven for depressed teens. Once he arrives, he meets fellow camper, Corin, who hatches a plan to break out of camp.   In helping with the plan, Hunter ends up going deep within himself to figure out if he plans to run from the incident that got him to the camp in the first place or if he wants to stay and face it head on.

This is a totally different book from what the #cjsreads crew typically reads and, I’ll have to admit, when I first read the synopsis, I was hesitant.  I had some serious issues with Thirteen Reasons Why and that whole craze earlier this year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect as I delved into a book about teen suicide.    However, the tagline for this book stated it was The Bell Jar meets Chuck Palahniuk.  I was intrigued but a little bit confused.  “What a combination that would be”, I thought to myself.   So, my curiosity got the best of me and I dived in.  Now that I have finished Sunshine is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan, I totally get it.

Given the subject matter, it is no surprise that this narrative is raw and honest but it is also, ironically, pretty funny.  Using dark humour, Cowan’s narrative prose completely stood out using Hunter’s narrative voice.  As he discussed his insecurities, his feelings, and his everyday life, I found myself accepting the information as if he was an old friend.  I don’t usually read YA, simply because I don’t usually enjoy it nor can I relate.  However, I found something different about this one.  Perhaps the subject matter made it seem more mature?  I’m not sure but I had no issues flying through the pages.

In my line of work, I often come across teens with suicidal ideations and I found the perspective of this book incredibly eye opening.  You can read textbooks for days on the subject but this account felt so honest and real, it actually felt like it gave me a better understanding.

4/5 stars from me!

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

Want to see if the other #cjsreads book appreciated this book as much as I did?  Keep reading to see what they thought about Sunshine Is Forever.

Continue reading “Book Review: Sunshine is Forever (Kyle T. Cowan) @KyleTCowan #SunshineisForever @Inkshares”

Book Review: The Driver (Hart Hanson)

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 8.17.20 AM.pngLately, I have been craving an action style thriller, so, when #cjsreads decided to make The Driver by Hart Hanson one of our August picks, I was excited to dive in! I am a bit of a sucker for Hart Hanson; he is the creator of Bones and one of the main writers on the show, so I was curious to see how his television writing would transfer over to a novel. Also, although he is American, he lived in Canada at one point, so he is pretty much an honorary Canadian. Needless to say, I had some high hopes for this book!

The novel opens with Michael Skellig, an army veteran/ex-military officer turned limo driver, waiting for his high-end client behind an upscale hotel. Feeling like something isn’t right, Skellig moves inside the hotel just in time to save his client from two gunmen but is too late for one of his body guards and Skellig ends up in custody for murder. Romantically involved with both the detective on the case and his lawyer, Skellig ends up released under the condition that he becomes his high-end client’s personal chauffeur and protector. Sounds all fine and dandy, except that someone clearly wants him dead and the only person who stands in the way is Skellig.

The general premise was interesting to me but from the first pages, I found the narration to be really problematic. It felt choppy. It felt sort of confusing and I really struggled to try and figure out exactly what was going on. Really, as I was reading, I continuously thought to myself, ‘I think this would make more sense on screen”, which truly does make sense given the background of the author. I also found, surprisingly, that this one moved fairly slowly. The pace does pick up eventually, but I found it slow and steady until about the 60% mark.

I didn’t find Skellig a particularly likeable protagonist but I did love the dry wit and humour that he brought to the text; I felt like his character was well developed and complex. Hanson did a great job with him.

Overall, this one left me feeling disappointed due to the choppy narrative style but I absolutely think that this one will end up being one of those “marmite books” that people will either absolutely love or hate. I think fans of something a little less traditional will really enjoy this book.

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

Want to know what Jessica and Chandra thought of this book?  Keep reading to see what they thought of The Driver.

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Book Review: Fierce Kingdom (Gin Phillips) @RandomHouseCA @GinPhillips17

Fierce Kingdom.pngI have been eagerly anticipating the release of Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips, for MONTHS; I had read multiple posts during the blog tour for the UK release and it shot right up to the top of STAFF PICKS at Chapters-Indigo upon its release in Canada, but since the US released it later on in July and I was reading it with Jessica and Chandra for one of our July #cjsreads picks, I held off for as long as possible!  Now that I have read the title, I feel as if the hype is justified but feel like this book absolutely left me wanting more.

Let me break it down.

The novel opens with a mother (Joan) and her young son (Lincoln) enjoying an afternoon at the zoo.  Lincoln is talking a mile a minute, Joan is making lists in her head and as they head out of the zoo for the evening, Joan hears a popping sound.  Something is absolutely wrong and this is made clear when Joan sees the bodies.  There is a shooter in the zoo and the shooter is not just hunting the animals.  Scooping up Lincoln and running, Joan must try and protect him from the evil that lurks.

The general premise was absolutely gripping; I was hooked from the first pages of the book.   What a different setting for a thriller!  I felt like the zoo backdrop added an extra layer of unpredictability as our protagonist had to not only worry about the human danger but also the danger that comes from nature.   Phillips also does an excellent job at making her characters realistic and relatable.  I was genuinely concerned for their plights and found myself continuously asking myself what I would do in such a situation.    I also felt like Phillips did an amazing job at developing her secondary characters.

Now, my struggle with the book is hard to discuss without giving any spoilers but I did have quite an issue with an aspect involving a baby.  I felt like I didn’t get any resolution and I felt quite a bit of anxiety surrounding this small bit of plot.  I also struggled a lot with the ending.  Again, hard to explain without providing spoilers but it really didn’t leave me satisfied.

Overall, I felt like Fierce Kingdom was a stellar piece of fiction and would recommend it to anyone looking for something fast paced and engaging.   Gave it 4/5 stars!

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

Want to see what my fellow #cjsreads members thought of this one?  Keep reading to find out!

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Exciting Announcement! @suspensethrill

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 5.43.21 PMComing at you today with an exciting announcement!

Chelsea from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me and I have decided to collaborate and start a sort of online book club called Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews!

If you follow us both, our blogs and taste in books are very similar, so we felt it was only natural to form a feature where we could come together and work on initiating the dialogue that we felt was lacking in many of our posts these days.

Our hope is to pick one book per month to feature as our book club’s choice; the idea is to announce it a couple of weeks before we start. Ex. We are announcing our pick for August in mid-July to give folks enough time to secure and read the book. We will then post our discussion questions in August, Chelsea and I will ramble on with our thoughts and we will leave the discussion open for anyone to join in once they have read the book. 

We are still working out the details but are also hoping to offer some sort of giveaway each month for those who participate as well!

Without further ado, here’s our choice for AUGUST:

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