Book Review: The Silent Children (Carol E. Wyer)

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 7.25.39 AM.pngCarol Wyer writes a seriously addicting thriller. Anyone who has read her work will know within the first few pages that it will be an absolute struggle to put down one of her books. The Silent Children, the fourth book in the DI Robyn Carter series, was no exception. I sat down to read this one and had it finished in an afternoon.

As mentioned, this is the fourth novel in the series that follows female detective. Robyn Carter. I did read the first novel in the series, Little Girl Lost, and just never got around to reading book two and three. They are in my TBR pile, it is all just a matter of time! I am happy to report that this novel did read well as a standalone. Now, be warned, Wyer is teasing out some information about her protagonist’s personal life and I did receive some of the backstory from some other bloggers so I was pretty much up to speed. This doesn’t bother me at all, but I do know that this would bother other readers, so, if you want the FULL experience, then I would absolutely recommend reading the books in their order.

This novel follows the discovery of some seemingly unrelated bodies and the story of abuse from a young boy. Told in snippets to the past and Robyn and her team working in the present, I was on the edge of my seat! Red herrings and twists and turns aplenty, I was left in the dark until the A HA moment!

I am shocked that Wyer is able to bang out these books as fast as she does and with such finesse. The series appears to be getting better and better!!  Now excuse me, while I catch up on the series and wait patiently for book five!

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 book was one of the December picks for #cjsreads!  Keep reading if you want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one!

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Buzzworthy Book of 2018: The Chalk Man (C.J Tudor) @cjtudor @CrownPublishing

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Now that the end of the year is quickly approaching (like really quickly…what in the world is happening??!! How is time moving this fast??!) I have been gearing up to read all of my most anticipated 2018 titles. One of the titles I had been most eagerly awaiting was the highly talked about, psychological suspense novel, The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor.   Now that I have finished this novel, I can understand why there has been so much buzz surrounding it. Fast-paced, completely compelling and bingeable, I sat down and read this book in an entire sitting #sorrynotsorry. From the core mystery to the intricately woven characters, I am calling this one of my favourites of 2018, already!

The novel is told in two alternating time periods in the life of our protagonist, Ed. In the present, the loner high school English teacher lives with a lodger and keeps to himself, but, in the past, Ed, known as Eddie back then, was a part of a gang of kids whose lives changed forever after a summer of chalk men and a dismembered body in the woods. As past and present collide, Ed must confront his past and through several twists and turns, the truth of what happened in 1986 will be revealed.

So, first thing is first, I am shocked that this book is a debut. HOW?? HOW?? I can not get over the perfectly fleshed out characters, the timing of the plot and the sheer genius of the prose. The plot is perfectly rolled out, building suspense and leading the reader to its perfect resolution.   There were no muddled bits or confusing characters; everything felt like it fit and were equally important. This is so rare in any book, let alone a thriller! What. A. Debut.

My favourite thing about this book, by a landslide, was the characterization.  This book, from the opening of the first flashback chapters, had a dark “Goonies’ vibe to it.   I have seen the 80s revival thing done well with popular Netflix shows like Stranger Things but had never seen in accomplished in a novel. Tudor manages to do it expertly. The flashback chapters felt nostalgic and realistic; almost like it could have happened to any kid, in any place, over the course of any summer. This familiarity brought something chilling to the text and I was hooked.   Each character is so perfectly developed, from the protagonist down to the bullies; even the secondary characters had a clear image within the text. I was completely invested in them. Truthfully, the plot became secondary to me because I was so wrapped up in the characters.

This will be a book that I will be thinking about for a long time. If you want a book for the top of your TBR in 2018, make it this one. You won’t regret it.

Can I give a book 6 stars?

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

We made this a #cjsreads pick; keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one (SPOILER ALERT: they loved it too)

Continue reading “Buzzworthy Book of 2018: The Chalk Man (C.J Tudor) @cjtudor @CrownPublishing”

Book Review: The Neighbours (Ania Ahlborn)

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It is no secret to any regular reader of Clues and Reviews that I have a serious Ania Ahlborn novel obsession. She is one of my “go to” authors when I want a novel that will make me filled with unease and keep me looking over my shoulder. With Halloween approaching, The Neighbours by Ania Ahlborn, was an obvious choice to add to my TBR pile.

One of my favourite features of an Ania Ahlborn book, besides the ominious tone and chilling content, is the ease in which Ahlborn delivers her prose. She has a writing stye that cannot be beat. One that you can curl up and lose yourself in for hours. It never takes me longer than a couple of hours to get through one of her novels and The Neighbours was no exception.

The novel opens with Andrew arriving at his new home. After a rough childhood caring for his alcoholic mother, he feels as if he deserves a fresh start and the idyllic suburban neighbourhood where his friend, Mickey, resides seems like the perfect space. Upon arrival, he meets the neighbours, a perfect couple, The Wards, who feel like they came straight out a movie or a Norman Rockwell painting. However, things are not as they appear, behind the white shutters and the picket fence, Mrs. Ward is hiding a secret; a secret that Andrew is about to find out.

Comparing other Ahlborn novels to this one, I felt like this was lacking some of the classic “horror” elements that I have come to know and love with an Ahlborn’s work. I didn’t find this one as scary as some of her novels. The characters had some creepy elements but I didn’t find myself as on edge as I usually am when I pick up an Ania Ahlborn book.

I still enjoyed the plot for what it was; I loved the Twilight zone vibe and the disorienting feeling of what time period it was taking place in. I loved the backstory of Harlow’s character. However, I feel like someone who is looking for a “scare your pants off” type of horror book (like some of Ahlborn’s other work- Brother and The Devil Crept In comes to mind!) they would feel disappointed.

In the spirit of Halloween, Jessica and Chandra decided to read this one too and make it a #cjsreads pick!  Keep reading to see what those lovely ladies thought of this pick!

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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: Without Merit (Colleen Hoover) @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA @colleenhoover

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 6.33.21 AMColleen Hoover is one of those guilty pleasure authors that I pick up whenever I just need to be completely lost in a story and am not looking for anything too heavy or anything too complex.  Pure entertainment value is what I am looking for and, Without Merit, the newest novel by Colleen Hoover certainly delivers.

The novel opens and we meet the Voss family, who is anything but normal.  We meet twin sisters, Honor (who is obsessed with dating boys with terminal illnesses) and Merit (who collects trophies anytime anything bad happens to her).  They live with their father (Barnaby), their father’s mistress turned baby mama, turned wife (Victoria).  Their mother, who is agoraphobic and never leaves the basement.  Their brother, Utah, who is hiding several secrets, Honor’s newest boyfriend, Sagan and Victoria’s brother, Luck, who turns up to add another layer to the plot.

It is hard to even pinpoint what this novel is actually about.  In typical CoHo style, there is a bit of contemporary romance, some messages about family, suicide, loss, and grief.  Many hats are worn during the reading of this novel.  Personally, I felt like it read a little bit more like a YA novel then I would have liked.  I prefer something a little bit more mature, but regardless of my feelings about that, I cannot deny the completely addicting nature of this book.

I picked it up to read and consumed it in a matter of hours.  I couldn’t put it down.

If you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, then this one is a no-brainer.  If you are a fan of books that read like YA, then I think you will enjoy this one too!

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.

This book was also our first #cjsreads picks for November.  Want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: Without Merit (Colleen Hoover) @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA @colleenhoover”

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??

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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: 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”