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: I Am Watching You (Teresa Driscoll) @TeresaDriscoll

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 9.48.35 PM.pngI first stumbled across I Am Watching You, the newest release by Teresa Driscoll, in a co-worker’s Goodreads newsletter.   After reading the synopsis, I was captivated by the idea of this story and I knew I would have to add this one to my TBR pile. After binge reading it for a couple of hours, I am pleased to say that I Am Watching You is absolutely worth your time, folks!

The novel opens with Ella, a woman riding the train, overhearing two young men flirting with a couple of teenage girls on the train. Listening in to their conversation, her maternal instinct is put on high alert after one of the men reveals they are fresh out of prison. However, she decides, against her better judgment, not to say anything. After all, it is none of her business.   The next day, she is horrified to find out that one of the girls, Anna, has disappeared. A year later, Ella is still wracked with guilt over what she should have done and, as the anniversary of Anna’s disappearance approaches, Ella begins to receive threatening letters. Someone is coming after her.

Continue reading “Book Review: I Am Watching You (Teresa Driscoll) @TeresaDriscoll”

Book Review: Little Secrets (Anna Snoekstra)

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 3.20.57 PM.png

Last year, I read Only Daughter, the debut by Anna Snoekstra, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the narrative style, the dark tone and the creepy ending. It was a book that I continuously recommended. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to read Snoekstra’s follow up with her sophomore novel, Little Secrets.

This novel was completely different from Snoekstra’s previous novel and, to be completely honest, it was not what I was expecting at all.

The novel opens in the wake of a tragedy. An arsonist had burnt down the town’s courthouse, killing a young boy who was trapped inside. Living in the same town is Rose, an aspiring journalist who longs for a big break, and her sisters. When porcelain dolls begin showing up on the doorstep of town members, mirroring looks of the young girls, the town beings to buzz with paranoid and Rose seems to have found her big break. As she begins to write her story, paranoia builds and, soon, her articles have a life of their own. How are all of these scenarios related? Can a small town survive when neighbour is turning against neighbour?
Continue reading “Book Review: Little Secrets (Anna Snoekstra)”

Blog Tour: The Kindred Killers (Graham Smith) @Bloodhoundbook @GrahamSmith1972

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 9.17.14 AM.pngGood morning and welcome to my stop on the The Kindred Killers blog tour!

The second book in the Jake Boulder series by Graham Smith and published by Bloodhound Books, I was so excited to crack into this one! I had read the previous novel in the series, Watching the Bodies, earlier this year and I loved it.   A fast paced, suspenseful, action packed story led by brooding protagonist, Jake Boulder; this one read like a police procedural novel…but better! I am not going to lie; I was expecting to be completely blown away by the second book in the series, especially since I loved the first one so much. I am glad to say that this book lived up to my expectations. Graham Smith blew me away with his intricate plot and non-stop action. I couldn’t read this one fast enough.  Continue reading “Blog Tour: The Kindred Killers (Graham Smith) @Bloodhoundbook @GrahamSmith1972”

Book Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise (Leah Weiss) @sbkslandmark

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.21.58 AM.pngI am such a sucker for a character-driven novel. As much as I love a story with a fast-paced plot and plethora of twists, every so often I enjoy the decadence of curling up with a story that is full of strong characters and pushed by their emotions and actions. I love to get lost in their lives.   If the Creek Don’t Rise, the debut novel by Leah Weiss, did exactly that.

The novel opens with the introduction of Sadie Blue, a pregnant and newly married teenager whose husband turns abusive the minute they are married. Bruised and broken, Sadie retreats back home to her grandmother. Through alternating POVs from various members of their small Appalachian town, Sadie’s story unfolds.

As a novel categorized as a historical fiction, I was little bit worried when I started my reading but I was pleased that this one didn’t feel too out of touch. I often find some historical fiction hard to digest, but, as I read this one, I didn’t feel that way at all. Weiss does a brilliant job at creating a piece that is historically accurate as well as inviting. I loved the touches of the dialect and I loved the narrative style. From the first pages, I was drawn into and loved the female-centric narrative; for a majority of the story, a key woman in the plot narrates each chapter. I thought this was so interesting and original, especially given context of the story and the time period it is written in.   Women, pretty obviously within this plot, did not have a real voice and Weiss chooses to give their voices a chance to be heard entirely.

Continue reading “Book Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise (Leah Weiss) @sbkslandmark”

Book Review: Copycat (Alex Lake) @HarperCollinsCa

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.21.51 AM.pngEarlier this year, I read Killing Kate, a thriller written by Alex Lake. I really ended up enjoying it so I instantly went to Kindle and downloaded After Anna, another title by the author. Needless to say, when I found out that Copycat, the newest release by Alex Lake, was coming out this month, it went to the top of my TBR pile!

The book was written extremely uniquely, which I loved. Written in parts, the first is told in alternating chapters between Sarah, a doctor who finds out she is being stalked, and the mysterious, unnamed stalker. As Sarah’s life begins to unravel and her sanity is called into question, this section is written in short chapters; very easy to get lost in. Lake does an amazing job at capturing Sarah’s anxiety and increasing paranoia. In fact, I loved the Sarah character and as the novel progresses Sarah finds herself sinking deeper and deeper into her own mind as she questions the motives of her “copycat” and the story is very intense! This section of the novel gave me a similar vibe as The Breakdown by B.A Paris.
Continue reading “Book Review: Copycat (Alex Lake) @HarperCollinsCa”

Book Review: The Good Daughter (Karin Slaughter) @SlaughterKarin @WmMorrowBooks

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 8.17.18 AM.png

Everyone needs to stay calm regarding the piece of information I am about to reveal.

I have never read a Karin Slaughter book before.

I KNOW! I know.

Usually when I reveal such news, the first thing people say to me is “WHAT!!?? Karin Slaughter is EVERYTHING!”

Now that I have read my first Karin Slaughter book, her newest standalone called The Good Daughter, I would say I undeniably agree.

The novel opens with the introduction of two sisters, Charlotte (Charlie) and Samantha (Sam- solid name) whose family is torn apart by a horrific act of violence. One girl was left behind, one girl ran away to safety and nothing was the same. Twenty-eight years later, Charlie is a lawyer and witnesses another act of violence that opens old floodgates and makes her past traumas emerge. Now that she is a witness, she must confront everything she has worked hard to forget and watch as the truth about the crime that changed the course of her family bubbles to the surface.

This will be a completely spoiler free review, which is very hard for me, especially since I want to scream about this one from the rooftops. But, I will keep my scream to a whisper and try my best to remain vague. My apologies in advance if I sound jumbled or unclear, once you have read this on, you will understand!

One of the first things I need to note is the quality of Slaughter’s writing. Her prose is clean and finely detailed. I have never read a work by an author that can be both raw in language and impeccable in execution and both graphically gory and tastefully written. Her characters were multi-layered, diverse, complex and completely realistic. Truly, I have never read a piece of crime fiction that felt so real. Going back and forth through time, the reader watches the story unfold in the present and then gets to piece together the events that transpired twenty-eight years prior.

The pacing of this one was fantastic; after a slew of busy weekends, I sat down to finally give this one my full attention and finished all 500 pages easily within the course of two sittings.   I was completely entertained.

The plot itself felt like it was divided into sections, which I loved. Not only sections within the time periods, but also sections within the character events and, it seemed, specific turning points in character dynamics. As the plot progressed, I felt more and more connected to these characters and as their stories thickened, I felt completely entranced, experiencing the story with them.   Now, for a story to make you feel THAT? That is some seriously amazing writing.

This is absolutely a 5 star read for me and I will be running to pick up Slaughter’s other works. From what I hear, I should be starting with Pretty Girls and then working my way to the Grant County series.

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

This book was also an August #cjsreads pick, keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one!

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 9.15.21 AM
Continue reading “Book Review: The Good Daughter (Karin Slaughter) @SlaughterKarin @WmMorrowBooks”

Book Review: In A Dark Dark Wood (Ruth Ware)

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 12.27.06 PM.pngIn A Dark Dark Wood, the debut novel by Ruth Ware, seemed to be a book that I had seen popping up everywhere over the last couple of years; I had purchased this book wayyyyyyy back when it had first released and it had sat on my shelf.

Poor thing.

After reading Ruth Ware’s newest release, The Lying Game and enjoying it (you can check out my review for that one HERE), I dusted off my copy and dove in!

Continue reading “Book Review: In A Dark Dark Wood (Ruth Ware)”

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!

Continue reading “Book Review: Bring Her Home (David Bell) @DavidBellNovels ‏@BerkleyPub”