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.

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Book Review: The Secrets She Keeps (Michael Robotham) @michaelrobotham @ScribnerBooks

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I was incredibly excited when #cjsreads decided to make The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham a July pick; I had heard nothing but amazing things about this novel.  Now that I have finished reading it for myself, I’d have to agree.  This book is worth all the hype.

Agatha, eight months pregnant, lives her mundane life admiring Meghan, one of the mums she sees out and about.  Meghan has it all: a baby on the way, two other adorable children, a loving husband, a beautiful house and a blog that Agatha reads each night.  Both women, due around the same time, have their own web of dark secrets and when Agatha finally musters enough courage to speak to Meghan, it sets into motion a series of events that cannot be undone.

Told between alternating perspectives between two pregnant women (Agatha and Meghan), Robotham weaves a tale of deception, desperation and desire.

Initially, I felt as if this book was going to read like a thousand others I had read before.  I wasn’t 100% sure where the author was going to go with the story but I knew it had a similar dark vibe from some others I had read recently (for example, like Watching Edie).  However, after the first few chapters, I knew this would be completely different and, needless to say, I was hooked.   Fast paced plot with complex characters had me racing through the chapters.   I, in part, was turning the pages faster and faster because I wanted to see what would happen and the other part of me needed to take frequent breaks because the pages were becoming too intense!

Overall, if you like a psychological thriller that is INTENSE and will keep you turning the pages late into the night, then you will want to read The Secrets She Keeps.  I have read almost 200 books this year and this one is at the top.

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

As mentioned, this one was a #cjsreads pick for July!  So, keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of The Secrets She Keeps.

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Book Review: Bring Her Home (David Bell) @DavidBellNovels ‏@BerkleyPub

 

Bring Her HomeI read a lot of mystery and thriller books (obviously!) so, when I come across one that impresses me, I feel like shouting from the rooftops.   Bring Her Home, by David Bell, was one of those books that made me want to shout.  Fast paced and entertaining, I found myself completely invested to our protagonist and his struggles.

The novel opens with Bill, a widower, facing every father’s worst nightmare.  His fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer is missing (along with her best friend, Haley).  Days later, the girls are found in the park.  Haley is dead on the scene and Summer is badly beaten.   Bill is left begging his daughter to fight for her life but also begins to wonder if he knows his daughter at all.   As Bill searches for the truth, he discovers more than what he thought.

Instead of going for the gusto, Bell opens subtly and slowly draws his reader in.  I felt instantly intrigued.    From the first pages, Bell does a superb job at setting up lots of questions for the reader to continuously ask.  I really loved this; when I read, I love to be active in my thought process trying to figure out the plot and where the author plans on going.

One of the other things I enjoyed was the plethora of twists in the middle of the novel.  Especially since I am completely tired of the big, shocking, one moment twists that so many thrillers have these days.   I felt like this made the story even more eerie and ominous because it felt so real; this truly could have been a story that could happen to anyone.

As for characterization, I felt like Bill was relatable and the story felt very real; I really appreciated that!

I was able to guess pretty early on parts of the resolution of the novel but Bell did bring in some complex details that I would never have guessed that amped up the ending for me.

Overall, I feel like fans of the “feels real” thriller will enjoy this novel; think authors like Mary Kubica.  I absolutely relished in this one.  4/5 stars from me!

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

This one was also a #cjsreads title for July, keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica had to say about this one!

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Book Review: Don’t Close Your Eyes (Holly Seddon)

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 7.16.59 PM.pngDon’t Close Your Eyes, the sophomore novel by Holly Seddon, was a book I was very much looking forward to.  Twin sisters, torn apart by a family secret, are driven back together after one is forced to leave her family and the other is struggling to face her past demons.

There were lots of things I loved about this book; it has extremely short chapters moving back and forth between time periods and narrators.  Both twins get their POVs shown and I felt like this type of narration made the text very dynamic.  I was absolutely glued trying to figure out their individual MO’s and where their stories would intertwine.    I really liked the complex characterization in this one; filled with a twisted family dynamic, I loved watching them interact.

However, my major complaint was that I felt this book was mismarketed.  I wouldn’t categorize this as a mystery, psychological suspense or a thriller.  I would say it is contemporary fiction.  Was it well written?  Absolutely.  Did I feel compelled to finish the book?  Absolutely. Was it what I was expecting, or for that matter, anywhere close to what I was expecting?  No.   Aside from one moment in the text, right near the end, I did not find there to be any shocks or twists.

If you are looking for a psychological thriller to leave you breathless, this will not be the one for you.  However, if you enjoy a character driven narrative that is well written and intriguing, then this may be the perfect pick for you.  I, for one, gave this a 2.5/5 stars.

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

#cjsreads read this as one of our first July titles; keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one.

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Book Review: Part of the Silence (Debbie Howells)

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I had never read a novel by Debbie Howells before, so, when #cjsreads decided to add this novel to our June line up, I was excited to dive into the work of an unfamiliar author.   Part of the Silence had a beautiful cover and an intriguing synopsis involving a woman (Evie Sherman), with no recollection of whom she is, left for dead in a field and a daughter that she insists she has; however, there is no evidence of the girl’s existence. As Evie goes deeper into her own mind and her obsession with “a daughter” intensifies, she must figure out whom she can trust and how she can protect the child she knows exists.

In the first few chapters, I was really interested to see who these characters were and how the plot would develop; it opens so vaguely that I was grabbed instantly. Though, as I continued reading, one of the things I struggled with about this novel was the predictability and the actual characterization.

The novel is told through multiple perspectives; for the most part, the plot is described through the eyes of Charlotte (a local woman who knows Evie Sherman) from her high school years. Jack, the police detective on the case, and, finally, a few chapters by Evie, narrates the remaining chapters.   There are also random entries from a diary of a girl named Casey. I did like the multi-perspective narration; I am always a fan of different character views.  However, I didn’t really care about what any of these characters had to say. I found the Evie (sometimes known as Jen) character a little whiney, I found Jack to be randomly placed in the plot and I found Charlotte to be obviously off base.   These characters one-dimensional attitude gave a lot of predictability to the plot and I found myself easily able to figure this one out within the first 50 pages.

For someone who is new to the thriller genre, this would be an entertaining read. However, for someone more familiar with the genre, this one plays out like the same song and dance.

I gave this one a 2/5 stars.

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

As I mentioned, #cjsreads read this title as one of our June titles; keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought about Part of the Silence.

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Book Review: Every Last Lie (Mary Kubica) @MaryKubica

Every Last Lie.pngMary Kubica is one of my auto buy authors; everything she publishes, I read and enjoy so I was thrilled when I discovered she had a novel being published this month!

Known for her psychological thrillers, Every Last Lie, follows the life of Clara Solberg after her world is shattered; her husband, Nick, is killed in a car crash with their daughter in the car. Their daughter remarkably unharmed and the crash ruled an accident, Clara cannot help but question what happened. Tormented by grief and obsessed with Nick’s death, Clara is desperate for the truth. Who could have wanted Nick dead? Why were they after him? Who is the “bad man” that their daughter continuously refers to?

The narrative is divided in true Kubica fashion through multiple viewpoints. Clara, as she desperately hunts for answers and Nick, told through his last months before the crash.  Unlike her previous novels, I felt like this one really delved into the characters and developed them.   I had so many ideas throughout this reading. I continuously was guessing, changing my mind and adding new theories into the mix.  Did Nick have an affair? Was he attacked? Did Clara have anything to do with this? Did he fake his own death? Is this a dream? Is Clara in a psych ward? I was constantly frustrated, and entertained, as Kubica weaved the plot

I think my favourite thing about a Kubica novel is the fact that her narratives are never outlandish or far-fetched. The eeriness surrounding the plots is because they are so simple. They are truly something that could happen to anyone.

This is absolutely not a traditional thriller, this is not a rollercoaster ride with red herrings and doom around every corner, and it will not be for every reader, however, if you like a book that is eerily realistic that will keep you guessing, Every Last Lie is a brilliant choice! I gave it 5/5 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: The Child (Fiona Barton)

The Child.pngThe Child, by Fiona Barton, is a book that is topping many people’s TBR lists for summer. After Barton’s hit, The Widow, which hit shelves last summer, people were demanding a follow-up. I, however, wasn’t a huge fan of The Widow (you can check out my review for that one here) but I figured I would give The Child a chance. Unfortunately, Barton’s sophomore novel didn’t really do much for me either.

In this novel, Kate Waters, the journalist from The Widow is back and in the pursuit of a new story when a baby’s skeleton is discovered buried in a construction site. Several women, including Kate, who is after the hard-hitting story, are affected by this finding. Angela, still reeling from the disappearance of her baby girl years earlier, would love answers and closure to what happened to her child. Emma, a woman holding several secrets from her past, is drawn to the case with morbid curiosity. Emma’s mother, Jude, is trying to repair her broken relationship with her daughter, but is finding that difficult.   As each of the women’s lives is disrupted a twisted maze of secrets are revealed.

So, it sounded okay but this novel moved at a snail’s pace.  I am talking slower than slow. Glacier speed. Molasses dripping. You get my drift?   The plot seemed so redundant and the characters were flat. I didn’t really feel like any of them had much development.   I didn’t find anything particularly suspenseful or thrilling.   It felt more like a family drama or contemporary women’s fiction.

Now don’t get me wrong, the last twenty pages or so of this novel were absolutely brilliant. I loved how Barton tied everything together and the final plot twist actually had me whispering, “well played!”

Was this book worth the read? I don’t really feel like it.

I would skip it. 2/5 stars.

Did you read this one? Is it on your most anticipated list?  I would love to hear your thoughts on it, especially since I am feeling I could potentially be in the minority with this one!

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This novel was also a #cjsreads pick, so, keep reading to see if Jessica and Chandra felt the same about The Child or if it fared better for them!

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Book Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore (Matthew Sullivan) @ScribnerBooks

Midnight at the Bright Idea Bookstore

Every so often, I go into a book completely blind.  I avoid the synopsis, I don’t read any reviews and I just begin to read.  Enter, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan, a book I had been seeing everywhere but knew absolutely nothing about.

The novel opens with Lydia, a bookstore clerk, closing the shop for the evening.  When she hears rattling from the upper floors and goes to investigate, she is shocked to find a regular patron, Joey, swinging from the rafters with a photo of her as a child in his pocket.    Following his death, Lydia finds out she has been left with all Joey’s wordly possessions, small trinkets and books, but she finds them defaced and they reveal hidden messages.   As Lydia begins to untangle the messages and look into his suicide, she must look to her own violent childhood.

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Book Review: Dis Mem Ber (Joyce Carol Oates) @JoyceCarolOates @MysteriousPress

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I have been increasing the number of short story collections I have been reading lately. I love that they are flexible and I can read them along with anything else I have on my nightstand. I can read a story at a time for a little break and be back to business. However, Dis Mem Ber, a series of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, did not provide the versatility I desired; I was unable to simply pick up this book and put it down again. Once I started, I was completely sucked into these dark and twisted narratives and had to greedily finish them all!!

Each story provided a look into completely different sets of characters and scenarios. Dis Mem Ber, the first story followed a girl who became attached to the family black sheep, The Crawl Space about a grieving widow, and The Drowned Girl about a woman who becomes obsessed with a homicide victim. Ominous and gritty, each story provided a snapshot that I desperately wanted more of!

I felt like these stories gave a Southern Gothic Fiction vibe (think Flannery O’Conner or Shirley Jackson), which I loved. I also loved that each of the stories was narrated by or featured a female protagonist.

For my first experience with this author, I would say it was a win. Obviously, some stories, like the ones I mentioned above, stood out more than others, but overall, I love this collection! 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.

This book was also a June #cjsreads pick!  Keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one.

Continue reading “Book Review: Dis Mem Ber (Joyce Carol Oates) @JoyceCarolOates @MysteriousPress”