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”

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: Killer Harvest (Paul Cleave) @PaulCleave @AtriaMysteryBus

Killer HarvestBelieve it or not, I have never read a Paul Cleave novel before! I know, I know, from what I hear, I am seriously missing out. I was pretty pumped when #cjsreads decided to pick up A Killer Harvest, the newest publication by Paul Cleave for one of our August reads.   Chelsea, my good friend from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me, had raved about this one to me months ago so I was going in with pretty high expectations. I am glad to report that this novel met (and surpassed!) all my expectations. I binge read this one over the course of a few hours and was left with a serious book hangover.

Sort of a mix between sci-fi, thriller, and mystery, Cleave weaves a seriously addicting novel from the first pages. A detective is killed in the line of duty and his murderer (a known serial killer) is also killed. Hours later, a blind teenager, Joshua, goes into surgery to receive a set of eyes to try and restore his vision; after a mishap, the teenager receives his sight after obtaining one eye from the detective and the other from the serial killer. As Joshua gains his sight, he begins to recognize people he shouldn’t recognize (after all he has never seen them before) and seeing memories from someone else’s life, leading him to realize that perhaps he is dealing with cellular memory.   As Joshua begins to discover what this means, and another murderer hell bent on avenging his partner’s death, Joshua finds himself in grave danger.

Crazy, right??

Continue reading “Book Review: Killer Harvest (Paul Cleave) @PaulCleave @AtriaMysteryBus”

Book Review: The Lost Ones (Sheena Kamal) @sheena_kamal @WmMorrowBks

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I first discovered the work of Sheena Kamal when I read Eyes Like Mine, which was previously published in the UK. Now that book is being published in North American under the title The Lost Ones and I am thrilled that #cjsreads decided to read this for one of our July picks.

Not only is this book amazing, but it also features tons of Canadian content- which- let’s get real- I am completely biased about!

The book, which appears to be the first in a series, introduces a brand new anti-heroine with flawed, recovering addict, Nora Watts. Working as a PI and journalist, Nora finds herself caught up in the case of her missing daughter. Along with the help of her ex-sponsor, her employers and her sister, Nora begins the hunt for her daughter and gets wrapped up a parallel crime when one of her co-workers is murdered. This one had me glued to the pages and flipping rapidly to understand how all these moving pieces fit together.

My original review of this book can be found HERE, but since this is a #cjsreads title, keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Lost Ones (Sheena Kamal) @sheena_kamal @WmMorrowBks”

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!

Continue reading “Book Review: Fierce Kingdom (Gin Phillips) @RandomHouseCA @GinPhillips17”

Book Review: The Marriage Pact (Michelle Richmond) @michellerichmon @randomhouse

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When newlyweds, Alex and Jake, receive a wedding gift that invites them into an exclusive and mysterious group for married couples, they are flattered.   The goal of The Pact is simple.  Keep marriages happy and intact.  Seduced by the glamorous parties and sense of community, they embrace The Pact.  They are given a manual with all the rules, one being: don’t mention The Pact to anyone.   As Alice and Jake try to adhere by their rules, they realize how much different The Pact is and how dangerous The Pact can be.

I love any book that has a cult vibe, so when I discovered The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond it immediately moved to the top of my TBR pile.  I loved how this one took the domestic suspense genre and gave it a twist.   I was so glad to read something where the conflict lies not between the married but couple, but instead, the married couple against the world.   It really was like married people Fight Club.

Richmond is able to create two incredibly likeable characters in Jake and Alice.  They complement each nicely and were very realistic.  She also was able to create such a well put together and fast paced plot.  I was engaged throughout and was continuously worried about Jake and Alice as they navigated their way through The Pact.   Truly, at times, it became super creepy!   I couldn’t believe the lengths that the members were willing to go.  I read this one as a buddy read with Danielle from The Blonde Likes Books and we were continuously messaging each other with our worries.

I did feel like the ending was a random and kind of out in left field for me, especially in regards to the general tone of the book.

Overall, even with the random ending, I loved this book and would highly recommend it!!

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 one was a #cjsreads pick for July; keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Marriage Pact (Michelle Richmond) @michellerichmon @randomhouse”

Book Review: Watch Me Disappear (Janelle Brown) @janelleb @randomhouse

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 10.19.30 AM.pngI have never read a Janelle Brown book before but I am always eager to try a new author; so, when #cjsreads chose Watch Me Disappear for one of our July titles, I was pumped.

The book opens just about a year after Olive’s mother, Billie, has gone missing during a hiking trip.  Now presumed dead, Olive’s father, Jonathan, is in a legal battle in order to declare Billie dead and Olive is trying to get her life back in order.  However, Olive begins to see her mother.  First thinking it is a hallucination and then wondering if it is a sign, Olive shares her experiences with her father and they both, in their own way, begin to dig into Billie’s life.  While looking for the truth, secrets come to light, leaving both reeling.

My first thought once I finished reading was that this book was not marketed correctly; I didn’t find this one fit into the mystery/thriller genre.  I would have deemed it contemporary fiction.    Going in, I was expecting a fast paced, psychological type thriller and instead, I found this to be more of a slower read.  Even with this, I did feel like it was actually paced quite well.   Brown is able to string her reader along and keep them captivated.  I found myself completely engrossed with the actual plot.

Narrated through alternating perspectives by Jonathan and Olive, Brown weaves a tale of deception and grief.  I was captivated throughout the chapters; especially interested in the chapters highlighting Jonathan’s novel (he is writing a memoir about the time spent with his wife) and his struggle for answers.

The book has a very strong, sort of metaphysical aspect that I thought was really interesting.  Throughout, it remains very unclear whether or not Olive is truly experiencing something more parapsychological or if she is truly working through the grieving process.    I really like the ambiguity of this fact and it propelled me to continue reading.

My one real issue with the text was the characters themselves.  I didn’t feel particularly attached to anyone.  It could have gone either way for me; Billie could have been alive, she could have been dead.  It really made no difference to me.  I wish the author had spent more time developing the character relationships so I could have been more invested.

Another bone I have to pick with this book regards the ending.  I was SO MAD when I read the final pages.  As soon as I finished I sent a caps locked rage filled e-mail off to everyone I knew had read the book.  I was RILED up.

Regardless of my general feelings about the end, I felt like this was a stellar read.   I think that readers who enjoy a family drama or a piece of contemporary fiction will devour this one.  However, if you are looking for a fast paced thrill ride, you would be disappointed.  I gave this one a 3.5/5 stars.

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

Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica had to say about Watch Me Disappear!

Continue reading “Book Review: Watch Me Disappear (Janelle Brown) @janelleb @randomhouse”

Book Review: Devil’s Call (J. Danielle Dorn) @Inkshares @jdanielledorn

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 2.07.21 PM.pngI am going to open this review by being brutally honest.

When I received this book for our July #cjsreads titles, I almost added it automatically to my DNF pile. I don’t do Westerns and I don’t (usually) read historical fiction, let alone fantastical historical fiction; this book was set in the iconic American frontier on the eve of the Civil War and had to do with witches.   However, I decided to read the first chapter (to say that I tried) and, I must say, shame on me for judging this book!

Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn ended up surprising me!

From the first few pages, I was hooked as I followed Li Lian, a woman in a long line of witches who goes on to avenge her husband’s murder. Dorn brilliantly drew me in with the narrative style (told sort of diary style by our protagonist) and held on to me tight! I found this one incredibly entertaining.

I do think that this title was slightly mismarketed as a horror novel; I didn’t find anything about this one particularly scary. It really was more like occult fiction. Also, do not be thrown off by the Western aspect of this novel, I promise it is not overwhelming or distracting.

Overall, this novel surprised me greatly and that is not easy to do when you read as much as I do! I give this one 3.5/5 stars.

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

Keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of Devil’s Call.

Continue reading “Book Review: Devil’s Call (J. Danielle Dorn) @Inkshares @jdanielledorn”