Categories
Fiction General Fiction Suspense

What We Did by Christobel Kent

Title: What We Did

Author: Christobel Kent

Release date: Feb 5th, 2019

(Note: a prior edition is currently available on Amazon)

Rating: 3 stars

First off, a big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

The summary appears as follows:

Bridget has a secret—one she keeps from everyone, even her husband. One that threatens to explode when her childhood music teacher, Carmichael, walks into her dress shop. With him is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, fresh-faced and pretty. She reminds Bridget of herself at that age, naïve and vulnerable.

Bridget wants him away—away from her, away from that girl. But Carmichael won’t leave her alone, won’t stop stalking her. And Bridget’s not a little girl anymore. When he pushes her too far, she snaps. But what she thought was a decisive act only unravels more insidious threats—more than she could have ever imagined—and from which no one is safe, not even her family.

The bestselling British author Christobel Kent has written yet another thrilling page-turner with a twisted, riveting conclusion. What We Did is a nightmarish, impossible-to-put-down tale of the secrets we keep from our families, of chilling childhood abuse, and of long-awaited retribution.

Let’s start with the plot! A team of pedophiles is back in Bridget’s life from her childhood, threatening her family and at least one other young girl in the community. Her husband works at the local college with one of the men and becomes unwittingly involved as a journalist nudges him into her search for proof. The book started off predictably with the main pedophile accidentally murdered, but turned into a tangle as the plot wound and unwound with repercussions and events throughout the novel. It kept me interested but also disappointed at times as I felt like more could have happened.

A good example is outside of Carmichael’s house when a man was behind Bridget all of a sudden. It ended up being a benign event but the author makes us wait through another point of view chapter before revealing what had happened, and here I was thinking that she was going to get either abducted or rescued from another pedophile! This happened more than once. The transitions between past and present were confusing at times too, I understand that was how Bridget’s mind flashed back and forth but sometimes I didn’t know what was happening and had to read the page again. Overall though it kept me engaged through the novel.

That covers the writing style as well. As far as the characters: I ended up liking Gill a lot more than I thought I would, although I found myself skimming her point of view chapters. Her life didn’t interest me at all and she just seemed to add length to the book. Finn and Laura are the innocent characters that drive home the point that abuse can appear in all forms, to anyone. The characters were pretty neutral to me but I ended up feeling bad for most of them. Matt was my favorite, just a guy trying to do the right thing.

Overall I am sticking with 3 stars. I ended up loving how she tied everything together at the end, even if it took a while to get there. It looked like the characters were going to be able to move on and rebuild their lives in a healthier manner. The book was a decent suspense/thriller, and I would recommend to anyone who likes that kind of suspenseful fiction.

Categories
Fiction General Fiction

Turning Point by Danielle Steel

Title: Turning Point

Author: Danielle Steel

Length: 288 pages

Release date: 1/8/19

Rating: 4/5 stars

First off, a huge thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, for the eARC of Turning Point in exchange for an honest review! I normally love Danielle Steel and was not let down by her current effort!

The Amazon description reads:

In Danielle Steel’s powerful new novel, four trauma doctors—the best and brightest in their field—confront exciting new challenges, both personally and professionally, when given an unusual opportunity.

Bill Browning heads the trauma unit at San Francisco’s busiest emergency room, SF General. With his ex-wife and daughters in London, he immerses himself in his work and lives for rare visits with his children. A rising star at her teaching hospital, UCSF at Mission Bay, Stephanie Lawrence has two young sons, a frustrated stay-at-home husband, and not enough time for any of them. Harvard-educated Wendy Jones is a dedicated trauma doctor at Stanford, trapped in a dead-end relationship with a married cardiac surgeon. And Tom Wylie’s popularity with women rivals the superb medical skills he employs at his Oakland medical center, but he refuses to let anyone get too close, determined to remain unattached forever.

These exceptional doctors are chosen for an honor and a unique project: to work with their counterparts in Paris in a mass-casualty training program. As professionals, they will gain invaluable knowledge from the program. As ordinary men and women, they will find that the City of Light opens up incredible new possibilities, exhilarating, enticing, and frightening.

When an unspeakable act of mass violence galvanizes them into action, their temporary life in Paris becomes a stark turning point: a time to face harder choices than they have ever made before—with consequences that will last a lifetime.

At first I thought that keeping track of eight characters would be confusing, but it really was not. Each character got equal time in the novel and although it hopped around a lot, the style kept the pace moving right along. The doctors are eight very different people that end up bonding and becoming friends over common interests and the terrible tragedy in Paris. Those relationships and blooming romances are the primary focus of the novel, although thankfully for my tastes the romance is a small portion and not overdone.

Dealing with work-life balance is difficult, I am a nurse and know how hard it can be. The characters face realistic and relate-able issues while juggling family, kids and career goals. The plot just kept moving along, using these struggles, relationships and tragic events as hooks that kept me engaged for the entire read. I found it to be a fairly quick book but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall I give this a solid 4/5 stars and would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who likes Danielle Steel, women’s fiction, anyone who can relate to the work vs. life struggle, and anyone looking for a good book in general.

Categories
Fantasy General Fiction

Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss

Thank you to NetGalley and Mythic Delirium Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

This fairy tale filled collection of eight stories and 23 poems doesn’t release until Feb 5th 2019, but it is available for pre-order.

Theodora Goss definitely takes a unique approach to fairy tale tellings! This collection of poems and short stories takes on many well known tales like Snow White, Thumbellina, Sleeping Beauty, and others that I can’t place. Goss completely recreates or adds to the tales, imagines new endings, and makes them her own.

I personally liked Blanchefleur because even though I didn’t know the original tale, it was a good story! Rose Child was a wonderfully written shorter poem. I giggled when Sleeping Beauty’s “prince” fell into a fairy hole instead, and the author gave that old hound a happy ending!

Not what I was expecting but pretty unique and I liked these tales a lot. 4/5 stars!

Categories
Fantasy Fiction Literary Fiction

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

Title: In the Night Wood

Author: Dale Bailey

Length: 224 pages

Release Date: 10/8/18 (get a copy)!!!

Rating: 4/5 ****

Thank you to NetGalley and John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

My little summary: “Once upon a time…” a man living near an enchanted wood starts having delusions and writes a book. Many years later, an English scholar bumps into that book and his fate appears to be linked to the Story from that point on. It is a Story (capital Story) within a story… Something I wish the author had pursued more!

The book is more about grief than folklore, but there is a healthy mix of both. Charles and Erin are still reeling from the death of their child and his infidelity. Their marriage is disintegrating and they move to Hollow House trying to start over. When the visions and nightmares and story parallels start…!

In the middle of the book the grief exposition got a bit repetative, but I had no urge to skim pages. My biggest issue was that neither main character showed a tad of growth. Can their relationship change despite ?

I enjoyed learning a lot of new words but some parts seemed unnecessarily complex. It fit with the atmosphere but the writing took a bit of work and a dictionary at times.

Long story short: awesome story! Would recommend to anyone that likes a good fairy tale, atmospheric fiction, folk lore, or a good story in general!

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Categories
Fantasy Fiction Historical Fiction

Athena’s Champion by David Hair and Cath Mayo

Title: Athena’s Champion

Authors: David Hair and Cath Mayo

Release date: 11/08/18

Rating: 4/5 ****

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I absolutely loved reading this book! I may be biased because my name is Athena and I love anything related to mythology and Greece, but this was also a great story.

The description briefly states that the book is “The first in a thrilling new historical fantasy series; Odysseus must embrace his secret heritage and outwit the vengeful Gods who would control or destroy him… “

Enter a snarky version of Odysseus, Theseus, the Gods and Goddesses in the authors’ unique interpretations, and a host of other characters and you have quite an interesting story. I especially loved how they portrayed Athena and Hades.

I had to suspend known mythology/history and take the story for what it was at times, but it was still terribly entertaining for me. I liked the splashes of Greek words and insults thrown into the dialogue, but wish they had kept to traditional insults vs bringing in so much modern day slang.

This book earns a solid 4/5 stars, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes a good history, mythology, or fantasy based read!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

Love You Gone by Rona Halsall

Title: Love You Gone

Author: Rona Halsall

Publisher: Bookouture

Rating: 4/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Here is the description per Amazon:

‘Hello? Police? My husband and our children… they’re gone.’

When Mel arrives at the holiday cottage in the Lake District, she expects to find the heating on and her husband Luke and the two children waiting for her. Maybe a bottle of wine open…

Instead, there is just a note on the side, saying they’ve gone out for a walk.

But they aren’t back several hours later, and Mel knows something is wrong. Really wrong. When a search doesn’t find them, she has to confess to the police that her marriage isn’t all that it seems.
Even if that risks her own secrets being revealed

The plot: See above, then enter the story as told from Mel, then Luke’s point of view. I read the book in two days mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t put it down. There are plenty of plot twists and turns to keep it addictive. First you are pointed in an obvious direction then the secrets start coming out!

The characters: I don’t think Halsall wants you to like any of the characters, although I promise that your initial opinion of them all will change! None particularly stood out to me except for Luke’s parents, who were amazingly receptive to the entire shenanigan and I liked them.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone who likes a good suspense story.  It’s hard to talk about the book too much without giving away hints at spoilers but the entire plot does a 180 from what I originally suspected had happened, and the result was that I couldn’t put it down.  Once the cops get involved and you start hearing Luke’s story, the whole façade starts cracking and I had to fight not to skim to the end just to get the answer sooner!

Thank you again for the eARC and I hope everyone will check the book out for a quick page turner!

Categories
Fiction Paranormal Uncategorized

After Hope Dies by Lily Haraden

First off – I am so sorry for missing the publication date on this, I was swamped at work all weekend but feel bad!!

Title: After Hope Dies

Author: Lily Haraden

Release date: 10/20/18

Length: 350 pages

Thank you first to Lilly Haraden and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!

The publisher’s warning should definitely be taken seriously, there are multiple upsetting themes and rough language used throughout.
Some of those themes include child prostitution, rape, murder, suicide, racism, Lilly Haraden a lot of big ones! On the flip side she also uses some stunningly beautiful language, such as any time when the cranes of hope and despair appear. It feels like an intentional balance the way the passages are placed.

Some of the language forced a slower read for me to keep track of what was happening at times, and I got the feeling that the reader is supposed to shrug and accept the supernatural aspects- much like the characters. Sometimes it was hard to understand what happened but the idea is there. The story has some unique points such as the characters creating monsters that create more monsters/spirits/ entities, very cool.

I really did enjoy the hope, despair and death imagery. I loved Hugo’s character, and most disliked the vampire because she felt thrown into the mix and unrelated.

As a social commentary the book does it’s job, if nothing else evoking some strong feelings and making us think about class, race, desperation, and despair among brighter aspects. It definitely is not meant to be a happy story but it is a good one. I would rate 3.5/5 stars and recommend this to those with a strong stomach and big imagination. Fans of the supernatural and fantasy won’t be let down.

Categories
Fiction General Fiction

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

Title: The Rain Watcher

Author: Tatiana de Rosnay

Release date: 10/30/18

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Length: 240pages

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

This is the story of the Malegarde family, told through Paul(the father)’s written account and Linden(the son)’s memories. There is a terrible flood in Paris where the core of the family is convened for Paul’s birthday. As the waters rise, so does the tension as the family deals with illness, tragedy, and coming to terms with past traumas.

Once I figured out the flow of who was narrating at what time, this became a lovely read. Paul’s voice is so unique, here is a brief quote just because I love it:

” I played with the trees. They were like living things to me, as alive as humans. They seemed to whisper secrets. Maybe I was the only one who heard them . Trees were at the heart of things. I was four years old, but I sensed that already.” – from Paul’s transcript.

While I was not fully engaged in the story at times, the writing is truly beautiful. Linden’s descriptions of people, places, and the flood are amazingly vivid. I would have enjoyed the story more if I knew Paris – I skimmed some of the tales about the city but I could see French people truly loving this book.

The characters are very real, well developed, and likeable. Each Malegarde faces and comes to terms with a past or present trauma in the novel. The dialogue is also very well done except some times the book switches from conversation to a third person telling, right in the middle.

As a nurse I also really liked the hospital evacuation scenes, how cool would it be to work disaster relief!

I would 100% recommend this to anyone with even a vague knowledge of Paris, lovers of language, and a good fiction. 4/5 stars only because the author lost me at times in the pages of stories!

Categories
General Fiction Thrillers

Vendetta by Iris Johansen

Title: Vendetta

Author: Iris Johansen

Release date: 10/23/18

Pages: 413

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Rating & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 yes to fans of the author and genre

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for the opportunity to read the eARC of Vendetta in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

This was an honor!

In the 5th Catherine Ling thriller, a team of intelligence operatives must work together to locate and bring down the Red Star terrorist group before they wreak havoc on the west coast. I was expecting to see more of Catherine, but she plays a supporting role to Rachel Venable (Carl’s daughter) and they make a strong female team. Brandon, Hu Chang, Nate, Monty, and Cameron make up a great supporting cast of characters. I found the characters to be one of the strong points in the book – their relationships and access to international intrigue.

Johansen’s writing style is absorbing and easy to read.  My one qualm is that she used “jerkily” and “dryly” quite a few times- strong or distinct words like those stand out FAR too much to be used as frequently.  I know that Johansen has a vast vocabulary to pull from and likely she didn’t realize she was doing it. Speaking of oddball items – Cameron threw me off as well, where does one supernatural(ish) man fit into the world? He really does not and I feel like he takes away from the book, but just ever so slightly.

The plot and story itself are amazing. I love the deep level of intrigue between the CIA, Red Star, Nemesis, and the various other groups trying to vie for information and results.  At times there was too much talking, sitting around the house, chatting on the veranda…. The background is interesting and important but there is just too much of it, then the action came and went rather quickly. Very awesome and intense action though, I couldn’t stop reading once it started heating up.

Overall I would recommend it to Johansen fans and fans of action. It does work as a stand alone novel but doesn’t do Catherine a lot of justice so I wouldn’t start with it.

Again, thank you NetGalley and the aforementioned, I really was thrilled to be able to read and review this!

Categories
Fiction General Fiction

24 Hours of the Phoenix by Caroline Bertaud

Title: 24 Hours of the Phoenix

Author: Caroline Bertaud

Release date: 11/3/18 **Debut novel**

Length: 327 pages

Rating: 3.5/5 stars!

First off, thank you to NetGalley and Caroline Bertaud for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! This is Bertaud’s debut novel and I enjoyed it for the most part!

This book asks the question “What would you do if you had 24 hours left to live?” Thrown into this position, 21 year old Phoenix navigates her emotions and life review in this novel. The premise and format is fairly unique as each chapter constitutes an hour in the countdown that is supposedly left of her life. This format served to break the novel up into readable and well organized portions. I appreciate the perfect length of the chapters and it kept me hooked, I kept thinking “Yes I have time for one more!”

The premise itself didn’t quite work for me (and unfortunately the plot twist didn’t either) because I am an RN and just couldn’t wrap my head around Phoenix’s behavior while she was in the hospital. I firmly don’t believe in spoilers but the plot twist was not a realistic occurrence and it threw my nurse-mind for a loop… but the book made me think quite a lot about {certain medical conditions} – is any of it possible? A lot of Phoenix’s life review and finding of meaning in things seemed a little cliche as well – I laughed when she stated it herself! Once I put that aside, I still found the book to be a very readable and enjoyable story.

I give this a solid 3/5 stars, and would not hesitate to recommend it for anyone who enjoys a work of fiction with a twist of romance! Really, it is a great debut novel! I warn you that this book will make you think about your life and might inspire you to call your parents!

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