Have you ever read a book and by the second page thought “Oh boy, this is going to be good.”? Well I did, and it is called The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. By the tenth page I was hooked, I did not want the book to leave my hands. With a hint of horror, a dash of creepy, and tons of suspense, The Chalk Man has now set a new bar for my future reads.Read More
On a recent trip to Oregon, I noticed the trees lining either side of the highway. Autumn is my favorite season, so I always make it a point to look at the leaves with their changing colors announcing the coming of winter. However, this time I noticed more than just the beauty of the trees. I imagined myself being surrounded by these trees on all sides- the place I worked, shopped, and lived being surrounded by a tall, ever-present, and towering forest. This trip allowed me to briefly step into the shoes of Dark Pines main character, Tuva Moodyson.Read More
Gilly Macmillan is one of my favorite authors. She consistently produces stories that are compelling and addictive. With Odd Child Out, I was amazed at the different stories taking place at one time. All the stories are gripping and interesting. Sometimes when there are multiple stories being told within a novel, I tend to favor one story over the other. I sometimes even skip ahead so I can read the follow up to the story I find most interesting. This was not the case with Odd Child Out. I was captivated with each character and their story.Read More
Ambitious is the word to describe my November TBR. Compared to other book bloggers, I am probably considered a slow reader. This month I have assigned myself the task of reading 8 books. 2 of these books are for blog tours. I am hoping to utilize some of my free time during the Thanksgiving holiday to binge read. Also this month I will be attending Wordstock, a book festival held annually in Portland OR. I suspect I will pick up a book (or 3) that will throw my TBR into chaos, which is not a bad thing. In this post I will give the publisher’s synopsis and a brief overview of why I am looking forward to reading each book on my TBR.Read More
House of Spines
By Michael J Malone
Publishing Date: April 1, 2018
Synopsis from Publisher:
Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely, and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word—the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror . . . the reflection of a woman.
House of Spines has left me speechless. The only way to describe this book is AWESOME. The plot, the imagery, the characters, the pacing, it is all perfection. There are so many things I love about this book, that this review could go on until my fingers fell off. I have managed to narrow down the elements of this novel I found the most wonderful.
The Atomsphere and Imagery:
The story is set in Glasglow Scotland on a large estate which contains the “big house” Newton Hall, where Ran resides. Malone’s descriptions of the estate allowed me to create an image so vivid, that I could see myself walking up the front steps of the estate with Ran. Malone describes manicured lawns and gardens, with two lion sculptures standing guard at the front door. The large windows are covered with large draperies. Whenever I see lion sculptures in front of building I assume one of two things. You have to be very brave to enter the building the lions are guarding, or the lions are symbols of protection over the people or things housed within the structure. In the case of Newton Hall both assumptions may apply.
I was completely enamored with Ran by page 6 of this book. He is emotionally damaged and fragile but he is as sharp as a tack. Because of his mental instability he is underestimated by some of the other characters in the book. These characters quickly realize Ran is much more than his mental illness and he will not be taken for a fool.
I felt completely in sync with Ran throughout the whole book. He really has no secrets, everything he learned about Newton Hall and his family I learned at the same time. Ran is hesitant to explore the house and its secrets, I wanted to push him up the steps of the house and open the unexplored doors for him. There is a section of the book where you can tell that Ran is starting to become a little unhinged and his mental illness is starting to take hold. While reading this section I felt anxious and was hoping Ran would pull himself out of the mist. Malone has created a character that is broken but not beyond repair, you will want to reach into the book and encourage Ran (maybe even force feed him his medication) to hang in there.
Reminiscent of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is possibly my favorite book of all time. To me it is the perfect blend of psychological suspense and crime fiction. Rebecca is the book that kindled my love of suspense and crime fiction books. I could not help but draw comparisons between House of Spines and Rebecca. Both have a seemingly unsuspecting innocent main character thrown into a tangle of secrets. Both characters have to maneuver through these secrets while trying to maintain their sanity. House of Spines and Rebecca both take place in a huge house where the sprit of a beautiful dark haired woman lingers. I have read Rebecca many times over the years and I had the same feelings while reading House of Spines as I do each time I read Rebecca. Feelings of anxiety and wanting to push the main character to uncover the mysteries forced upon them.
Ran McGhie is a lonely writer who struggles daily to pay his bills and maintain his mental and emotional stability. Suddenly his fortunes turn and he inherits an estate from an unknown great uncle. Upon his arrival Ran feels uneasy but he ignores these feelings of unease and tries to settle into this new life. The house is filled with old secrets of his unknown family and something else that Ran is unable to describe. As he begins to unearth the buried secrets of the house and his family he begins to lose touch with himself and reality.
I am unable to fully describe how much I enjoyed this book. I literally had to ration out the pages so I would not finish it in one sitting. I did not want the book to end. Malone has created a masterpiece worthy to rank alongside one of my literary heroines Daphne du Maurier. Whenever I read Rebecca I will instantly think of House of Spines. If you are looking for a read that fill you with anxiety and maybe cost you a night’s sleep, House of Spines will fit the bill.
Murder and Moore Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
*Thanks to Orenda Books for my free copy for review.*
The Devil's Wedding Ring
by Vidar Sundstol, Tiina Nunnally (Translator)
University of Minnesota Press
Published: September 26,2017
Synopsis From Publisher:
On Midsummer Eve in 1985, a young folklore researcher disappears from the village of Eidsborg in the Telemark region of Norway. Exactly thirty years later, the student Cecilie Wiborg goes missing. She too had been researching the old, pagan rituals associated with the 13th-century Eidsborg stave church. And then Knut Abrahamsen, a former police officer from the area, is found drowned in the nearby Tokke River, a presumed suicide since his pockets were filled with stones.
Hearing of the death of his former colleague and friend, private investigator Max Fjellanger feels compelled to leave his long-time home in Florida and return to his native Norway to attend Knut’s funeral. Even though they haven’t spoken in more than three decades, Max is not convinced that Knut killed himself. There are details about the circumstances of his death that just don’t add up. And there seems to be a link to the case of the missing researcher in Telemark, which the two of them had worked together—until threats from a corrupt sheriff put an end to the investigation and to Max’s career on the police force.
This time Max is determined to find out the truth. Reluctantly he finds himself drawn into a dark universe in which ancient superstitions, religious cults, and sinister forces are still very much alive. And the stave church, with its famed wooden statue of Saint Nikuls, is at the center of it all.
Finding an unlikely partner in Tirill Vesterli—a university librarian and single mother who is obsessed with crime novels—Max is plunged into a menacing world of ghostly monks, severed pigs’ heads, and mythic rites, all somehow connected to Midsummer Eve, which is fast approaching. As Max and Tirill quickly learn, it’s a misconception that the past is past—the truth is that it’s never over.
This is award-winning crime novelist Vidar Sundstøl at his best, spinning a tale that is taut with suspense and steeped in Norwegian culture, past and present.
When I came across this book, I really did not have any expectations. Once I knew the book was considered Nordic Noir, I did not need more convincing to give it a try. Happily my optimism was rewarded and I discovered a great book and a new author to add to my list of favorites. The Devils Wedding Ring is a character rich twisty tale filled with myths, folklore, and long kept secrets.
The story takes place in the Telemark region of Norway. I had never heard of this region so I checked to see if Telemark was a real place in Norway and it is indeed a real place. The real names of the towns within the region are mentioned frequently throughout the book. I looked at images of the region and it looks to be just what I pictured, rolling hills, mountains, old barns, isolated roads, and lakes that mirror its surroundings. Along with the descriptions in the book, these images allowed me to fully picture myself in Telemark as I was reading.
The book is filled with tales of the past residents of this region; tales of love, death, and betrayal. These stories allowed me to get a full picture of the people and the culture of this region. These are people who acknowledge and respect their past; many still paid tribute to the characters in the legends.
Max Fjellanger returns to the Telemark region of Norway for the funeral of a former colleague and friend, Knut Abrahamsen. The cause of death is ruled a suicide but Max is not convinced. Instead of returning to the U.S. and his private investigation firm; Max stays in Norway to conduct his own investigation into the death of his friend. During his investigation he meets Tirill Vesterli, a librarian and single mother. Max and Tirill discover they have shared interests and both set off to investigate Knut’s death.
I enjoyed getting to know the main characters. Upon his return to Norway Max is filled with feelings of guilt and regret. When he was a young police officer in Telemark, a young man disappeared while hiking. Max was assigned to the search for the young man, but he knows he should have done more to find the lost hiker. He is ashamed of his lack of courage. Max believes the death of his former colleague and the missing hiker are connected. Max is now determined to find resolution to his friend’s death and the disappearance of the young man he believed he failed years ago.
Tirill Vesterli, Max’s right hand lady, was my favorite character. I loved her role as Max’s voice of reason. She basically forces herself into Max’s life and the investigation; I found her determination admirable. As a child she often felt out of place among her peers. She mimicked their behavior in an attempt to fit in. Now as a mother she is determined to be her true self, she wants to be someone her son can respect. Tirill is also an avid reader of detective stories; in her mind she calls herself Detective Vesterli. When she first meets Max she quickly figures out where he is from, where he lives, and his marital status through deductive reasoning. She immediately became my favorite character.
The author provides more character development by giving the reader insight into the characters dreams. While conducting their investigation Max and Tirill talk to relatives of victims and witnesses. Upon meeting some of these people, they sometimes recall a dream they once had. The dream is conjured up by a look on the person’s face or the feeling they got when the stepped in the room. The descriptions of these dreams made the pair seem more authentic.
The mystery at the core of the book surrounds a cult, religious rituals, and folklore. In the past I have found books with this type of central mystery difficult to follow and typically after finishing the book I would feel let down with the ending. Thankfully this was not the case with this book. The plot was not weighed down with religious customs and superstitions. The Devil’s Wedding Ring was a wonderful atmospheric read. I was completely caught up in the region and the characters. If you are looking for a Nordic Noir read for the Halloween season make sure to pick up The Devil’s Wedding Ring.
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 ½ out of 5 Stars
By Netta Newbound
Blood Hound Books
Publication Date: October 19, 2017
Synopsis From Publisher:
When sixteen-year-old Maggie Simms’ mum loses her battle with cancer, the only family she has left is her abusive stepfather, Kenny.
Horrified to discover he intends to continue his nightly abuse, Maggie is driven to put a stop to him once and for all.
However, she finds her troubles are only just beginning when several of her closest allies are killed.
Although nothing seems to be linking the deaths, Maggie believes she is jinxed.
Why are the people she cares about being targeted?
And who is really behind the murders?
Sometimes the truth is closer than you think.
Today is my turn to host the Blog Blitz for Maggie by Netta Newbound. It is an absolute pleasure to participate. Thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to be a part of the release of this thrilling book.
It is very rare for a book to stick with me after I have finished reading it. This year I have read maybe 4 books I still think about from time to time. Maggie is now among that number. Maggie is an addictive and bittersweet tale of loss and survival.
Disaster seems to follow the main character, 16 year old, Maggie like a dark cloud. After the death of her mother she is left to live with her abusive stepfather. When she realizes the abuse will only get worse, Maggie takes drastic action; soon after, people within her group of support are targeted by an unknown enemy. Maggie blames herself and wonders if she is the cause of all this misery while struggling to find the identity of her enemy.
The story is fast paced with short chapters told primarily from Maggie’s point of view, with a few scattered chapters focusing on the other characters perspectives. Some chapters also provide a quick glimpse into the mind of Maggie’s enemy. When the story begins you may wonder if Maggie will be an unreliable narrator; however the chapters told from the perspective of the other characters serve to validate Maggie’s actions and feelings. This does not take away any suspense, for me it enhanced the suspense. Ruling out the chances of an unreliable narrator kept me interested and more curious to find who was the source of Maggie’s troubles.
Usually I do not like unanswered questions or endings where I have to make assumptions. Some characters that died during the book, died without a clear indication of their motives or their role in Maggie’s misery. For some reason I did not mind this at all, I believe this is why I still think about the book from time to time.
Maggie is a story of heartbreak and betrayal that left me feeling sad yet hopeful. Through all the tragedies, dangers, and times of uncertainty, Maggie presses on with hopes of having a somewhat normal life. When she wanted to give up, I cheered her on; I was fully immersed in Maggie’s life. Readers looking for a page turning story of survival and suspense will love this book.
Please check out the other stops on the Blog Blitz.
Meet Netta Newbound:
My name's Netta Newbound. I write thrillers in many different styles — some grittier than others. The Cold Case Files have a lighter tone and are full of fun. I also write a series set in London, which features one of my favourite characters, Detective Adam Stanley. These books are a little grittier. My standalone books, The Watcher and An Impossible Dilemma, are not for the faint hearted, and it seems you either love them or hate them—I’d love to know what you think.
Originally from Manchester, England, I have travelled extensively and have lived and worked in a variety of exciting places. I now live in New Zealand with my husband. We have three grown up children and four grandchildren.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/nettanewbound
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/newboundnetta
Website - http://www.nettanewbound.com/
The Undertaker's Daughter
By Sara Blaedel
Grand Central Publishing
Publishing Date February 6, 2018
Synopsis From Publisher:
Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen. Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: Her father--who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on the family more than three decades ago--has died. And he's left her something in his will: his funeral home. In Racine, Wisconsin.
Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn't heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin. Desperate for a connection to the parent she never really knew, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father's things--hoping for some insight into his new life in America--before preparing the business for a quick sale.
But when she stumbles on an unsolved murder, and a killer who seems to still be very much alive, the undertaker's daughter realizes she might be in over her head . . .
Torn and conflicted is the best way to describe my feelings about The Undertaker’s Daughter. I am a big fan of Sara Blaedel’s Louise Rick series; so I was very excited when I found out Blaedel was starting a new series. Unfortunately, there were a few issues with this book that prevented me from loving it as much as I hoped I would.
I am conflicted over this book because I was disappointed with Ilka. I thought I would be reading a amateur detective story. I assumed Ilka was going to solve the mystery and help bring the criminal to justice. However, the mystery is more of an event that is happening around Ilka. While she is curious about the crime and does ask questions if the opportunity arrives, she is not trying to solve the crime. It’s as if the crime is a background story to Ilka’s ongoing issues with the funeral home.
Another issue I had with this book was the lack of character development. Information about the characters, Ilka included, was scattered throughout the book but details were not given. I did not get to know any of the characters which made it hard to become invested in them and want to continue reading. After reading the book, I still have so many questions about most of the characters, many of their actions and thoughts were left unexplained. I understand that this book is a part of a series, so maybe I will get answers to these questions as more books are published.
I did enjoy seeing the U.S. from Ilka’s perspective. This is her first visit to America. She had strong opinions on the American healthcare system as well as how Americans deal with death. She often compares America to Denmark, I found these comparisons comical and interesting.
I rarely read the author’s acknowledgments but I felt I had to. The concept of this book is so original I was hoping to find out what inspired Blaedel to base a new series on an Undertaker. In her acknowledgments, she shares the story behind this series. While the story is heartbreaking, I am glad I took the time to read it. When reading this book, I suggest you start with the acknowledgments, I think it will prepare you for the type of story you will be reading.
Overall, I found The Undertakers Daughter interesting but not very entertaining or compelling. It is obvious extensive research was conducted into the funeral industry but the lack of character development left me feeling indifferent to the characters. I will concede, I may have started reading this book with unfair expectations, comparing this book with Blaedel’s previous books. Despite this book falling a little flat for me, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Will Ilka become the amateur detective I was hoping she would be? We must wait and see.
Murder and Moore Rating:
3 1/2 out of 5 Stars
The Whispering Room
A JANE HAWK NOVEL (2)
By Dean Koontz
Publication Date November 21, 2017
Synopsis from Publisher:
These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun—just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.
In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide—and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals—Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But the ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue—and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive—in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.
Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them.
Assumptions can be a detriment to a bibliophile. I try not to make assumptions when looking for my newest crime fiction read but I do. I see a book, the name of the author and automatically associate that author with a certain genre and move on to another book. I was curious when The Silent Corner (book one in the Jane Hawk series) by Dean Koontz kept popping up in my searches for new crime fiction reads. When I finally read the synopsis, I was intrigued and bought the book. I was pleasantly surprised and I found a new heroine to add to my list of favorites. The Whispering Room is a page turning, action packed, edge of your seat, crime fiction story with a realistic and plausible science fiction twist.
The Whispering Room picks right up where we last saw Jane in The Silent Corner. She realizes she has enough intel to expose the evil intentions of the Techno Arcadians, but she still needs more. Jane fears the info she has can be distorted and the true goal of the Techno Arcadians underestimated. Jane continues on her quest to stop the horrendous and demented plan that has killed her husband, countless others, and continues to pose a serious danger to America.
My first observation is the way Jane seems to have settled into her new role as a fugitive/outlaw. She is now comfortable doing things she would not have been comfortable doing before. She feels her morality deteriorating and is sometimes shocked by her actions and thoughts. Jane also realizes she is in a war not a battle. She no longer believes she will clear her husband’s name and bring down the Techno Arcadians in a couple of months.
The story is fast paced but sometimes seems a little labored. In some chapters Koontz fits in some details and background from The Silent Corner. These sections seem to slow the pace of the book. I will say that my previous read was The Silent Corner, so I am familiar with the backstory and the characters. This may be the reason the book seems slower at times but these details are needed if you are starting the series with The Whispering Room rather than The Silent Corner.
There is a particular scene in the book that struck a chord with me. Jane is in her motel room alone and trying to figure out her next move. She thinks the best way to expose the Techno Arcadians is through the internet. She continues thinking of the early days of the internet. When it was growing at a fast rate, too fast to be regulated and edited, back when the law was not equipped to deal with internet crimes such as identity fraud. Jane refers to the early internet as the Wild West. She realizes that posting this info may not have the affect she wants. The info she has can be edited or removed as soon as it is uploaded. In the early days of the internet, the goal was a free and fast exchange of information. Information you would not find in a newspaper or on TV because it was reviewed and edited before it was distributed or aired. It started out as good thing, a way to get the truth to the public. I wonder if this war Jane is embroiled in started out like the internet, with good intentions gone terribly bad. We will have to wait and see.
As with The Silent Corner, The Whispering Room is filled with lyrical phrases and paragraphs. Descriptions of places and the feelings of the characters are given with loads of expressive and symbolic passages. Some readers may think this is distracting but I thought it gave a balance against Jane’s tough personality and the evil intentions of the Techno Arcadians.
The Whispering Room is a great follow up to The Silent Corner. You never really know what Jane is up to until her plan is executed. This adds action and anxiety to the story. Koontz makes sure new readers of the series have all the pertinent details from The Silent Corner but I do recommend starting with The Silent Corner. There are some stories in the first book that need to be read in order to fully appreciate Jane and her motives for finding the truth. If you are in the mood for a speedy, twisty, and suspenseful read, please add The Whispering Room to your to be read list.
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Criminal is one of my favorite Podcasts. Of all the Podcasts I listen to, Criminal is the only one I find informative and entertaining. After every episode I feel as if my mind and insights have been broadened. The host Phoebe Judge, tells stories of death, theft, identity fraud, domestic abuse, and arson. Criminal focuses more on the affects of these crimes, rather than the crimes themselves. For me that is what makes Criminal intrigueing and unique.
I was SUPER excited when I heard the intro to episode 75. Episode 75 profiles Marilyn Stasio, who since 1988, reviews crime fiction for The New York Times Book Review. I subscribe to The New York Times Book Review and I read Marilyn's column. Actually, I go straight to Marilyn's column, then I read the rest of the reviews.
I found Marilyn absolutely fascinating. She is funny, witty, and very "to the point". Marilyn's "to the point" attitude comes across in her reviews as well. Her reviews are concise and credible. She supports her thoughts and views by using quotes from the books she reviews.
Marilyn states she has always had dark tastes. As a child, Marilyn read the encyclopedia and she was drawn to the painting The Princes in the Tower. The painting portrays Princes Edward and Richard while they were locked away in the Tower of London in 1483. While they were locked away in the tower, they vanished. What happened to them is still unknown. I found the picture and I see what drew Marilyn to the painting. It is sad and mysterious and you cannot help but wonder what the Princes are seeing that we are unable to see.
During the episode Marilyn's review process is discussed as well as her she thoughts on how crime fiction has changed over the years. She also tells us her favorite crime book of all time. Please check out this episode of Criminal and read Marilyn's bi-weekly column in The New York Times Book Review, they are a must for any lover of crime fiction.
Elliott Bay Book Company | Seattle WA
Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle WA. In the middle of Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, Elliott Bay Book Company has the vibe of a neighborhood store in a big city. With its own café and reading rooms, there is plenty of room to sit without feeling rushed or crowded.
The café inside the bookstore is called Little Oddfellows (try the Victorian Breakfast tea YUM); next door is a bigger version of the café, Oddfellows. How awesome is that?! I love local businesses that support each other, it makes me happy to patronize both businesses.
Below are a few pictures I took throughout the store and cafe. Some things just stood out for me. The store was so cozy and welcoming but also organized. The staff was super friendly and knowledgeable. FYI- this store is perfect for all the bookstagrammers, it is an ideal place to take pictures of books in a beautiful setting.
Every year, I try to read a least one book that is not crime fiction. This year I picked Little Fires Everywhere for my non-crime fiction book. My full review will be coming soon. On Monday 10/2 Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere will be doing a Q & A at Elliot Bay. Below is the link for more info on the event. Also below is a synopsis from the publisher. I will be attending the Q & A, so I will have more pictures and possibly new info about Little Fires Everywhere and Celeste Ng.
Little Fires Everywhere
By Celeste Ng
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: 9/12/17
Synopsis from Publisher:
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
"Evil is unimaginative and lazy"
I have always associated Dean Koontz with science fiction; I was very curious when The Silent Corner started popping up in my searches for new crime fiction reads. I am very happy that I gave into my curiosity. The Silent Corner is a thrilling, suspenseful, fast paced story of revenge, truth, and justice with a science fiction twist.
After her husbands suicide, Jane Hawk is consumed with grief and doubt. Her FBI agent instincts are telling her that something is not quite right. She is unwilling to accept all the evidence that proves her husband's death was a suicide. Jane embarks on a journey to uncover the truth at any cost.
This book read like an action packed poem. Koontz's descriptions of the scenery and the characters emotions are lyrical. Some readers may find this distracting but I felt it gave balance to the horrible conspiracy and Jane's toughness.
I will confess, science fiction is not my favorite genre. I sometimes find the plots in science fiction over the top, unbelievable, and in some cases hard to follow; I did not have those feelings while reading The Silent Corner. I would not be surprised at all if this plot was based on a true story.
I will be reviewing the 2nd book in this series, The Whispering Room, and I cannot wait to see where Jane's war against corruption and greed takes her. If you are looking for a suspense thriller with a science fiction based conspiracy, you should check out The Silent Corner.
Murder and Moore Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
The Other Twin
By L V Hay
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Synopsis from Publisher:
When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth.
I have never written a book but I would imagine that an author does not aim to isolate their audience. I would further speculate the author also wants to remain true to themselves and their beliefs. I am guessing balancing the two is very tricky indeed. If L V Hays’ intent when writing this book was in fact a combination of expressing her beliefs while writing about sensitive social issues, I say WELL DONE to L V Hays. The Other Twin is heartbreaking story of people dealing with rejection but in the end realizing the guilt and self-hatred they felt was completely misplaced.
Poppy Wade, teacher living in London, has essentially banished herself from her hometown of Brighton. When her mother calls with news of her sister India’s suicide, Poppy returns to Brighton to face her sister’s death and the past she was intent on leaving behind. While in Brighton, Poppy embarks on a quest to learn the truth of her sister’s death. In the mist of grieving for her sister and searching for the truth, Poppy faces hurdles of lies and secrets, and the great lengths some people will go to conceal the truth.
Setting the story during winter in England, Hayes creates an atmosphere of grief and guilt that lingers through the whole book. I love that the story takes place on a beach in a tourist town. Because of the winter season, I felt the loneliness and abandonment that plagued the characters and the town. This atmosphere drew me into the story. With this sad atmosphere, I really wanted something good to happen to the characters, I knew we would find out what happened to India, but I was really hoping that the characters would find some peace. For me this is what made the book so compelling.
I found Poppy un-relatable, but not in a bad way. Her determination to find out what happened to her sister is absolute and un-yielding; I found her determination admirable. No matter how many dead ends and dangerous situations she faced, she pressed on. There were many times while I was reading, I thought she should let it go. I thought that her determination to find the truth was guilt driven and not based on facts. I found her willingness to do ANYTHING to find out what happened a bit reckless at times.
The characters in this book all have one thing in common; they cannot seem to let go of anything. Whether it is their guilt, feelings of betrayal, anger, or their quest for the truth; they are all weighed down by these feelings. The way the characters held on to all these heavy emotions is what made the story suspenseful for me. With all of these feelings, I knew that an emotional bomb was about to go off and I was not disappointed.
I found The Other Twin compelling, suspenseful, and thought provoking. I find myself thinking about this book while I am reading other books; comparing the characters to characters in The Other Twin. This is a book that will stick with me for some time. If you are looking for an emotional read that will make you think about current social issues, The Other Twin should be on your to be read list.
Murder and Moore Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
By Riley Sager
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Synopsis from Publisher:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
I have never really liked horror movies. Of course I went to the movie theater and saw all the Scream movies when I was in high school, but they just did not click for me. Not sure why since I obviously do not mind reading about murder, gore, and blood (see title of my blog). So when I read reviews that said Final Girls reads like a horror movie I was slightly put off, but I am so glad I got over it and gave Final Girls a chance.
The main character, Quincy is the sole survivor of a horrific mass murder. In addition to dealing with the guilt of surviving, she is thrust into a media storm and made a member of a club that has a terrible initiation process. Just when Quincy thinks she is moving on, a fellow club member shows up at her home unannounced. Sam’s arrival turns Quincy’s life into chaos and confusion. We follow Quincy as she tries to decipher friend from foe and deal with her past trauma that she thought she had already put behind her.
Sager does an awesome job casting doubt on Quincy, the fact that she cannot remember anything from that terrible night is cause for immediate suspicion. Actually, Sager does a great job casting doubt on all the characters. I truly could not figure out who the villain would be until the end of the book. While reading the book I switched back and forth between each of the characters casting each of them as the villain. Sager was able to set a tone of mistrust and fear throughout the ENTIRE book that kept me hooked until the very end.
The pace of the book is very fast which matches the city in which the story is based, NYC. The chapters are short and almost all of them end with a cliff hanger. The story is told from Quincy’s point of view with shorter chapters flashing back to the night that altered the course of her life. The chapters that tell the story of Quincy’s past focused on the relationships and the dynamics between her and her friends. They give a lot of insight into Quincy’ personality; I became much more familiar with Quincy during the flash back chapters than in the chapters telling the story of the present.
I found Quincy very relatable. We all have things we do not want to face and have blocked them from our mind. Hopefully these things are not as horrific as Quincy’s experiences, but we all have chapters in our lives we would like to stay closed.
On at least two occasions in the book took I notice of how Quincy describes pain. Emotional pain especially. Quincy describes pain with words like, stabbing, piercing, pushed. I do not want to give too much away, but it is as if that is the only way Quincy knows how to describe pain. To me it speaks to how much of that horrible night is engrained into her physique, while she claims she does not remember anything from that night.
Overall I found Final Girls fast paced, energetic, and entertaining. If you are in the mood for an “all-nighter” whether from fear or the inability to put the book down, take stab at Final Girls (pun intended).
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 ½ out of 5 Stars
SINCE WE FELL
By Dennis Lehane
Harper Collins Publishers
May 9, 2017
Synopsis from Publisher:
After a very public mental breakdown, Rachel Childs, once a tenacious, globe-trotting journalist, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.
I was skeptical when I started reading this book. I read reviews stating the book was slow to start. A common theme among the reviews was the amount of time spent on character background before something suspenseful happened. Character development can be very tricky. I have read books that gave too much and some that did not give enough. Since We Fell, fell (HA!) right in the middle of too much and not enough for me. Most of the character development focused on Rachel, the main character. However, there were other characters that I also found interesting and wanted to know more of their background.
At one time, Rachel was on the fast track to becoming a main player in TV journalism. After a series of life changing traumatic events, Rachel withdraws from the world. When Rachel finally starts to come out of the mist, she is drawn into a situation that is far more scary and dangerous than the fears that drove her into insolation. We join Rachel as she learns about her family, her career, friends and herself.
Set in Boston MA, Lehane does a great job pulling you into Rachel’s world. Common known Boston streets, schools, and monuments are referenced throughout the book. While reading I could picture many of the places Rachel frequents. I felt her panic as she approached a traffic packed street or a crowded walkway or subway platform.
Due to the large amount of character development, I grew to really care about Rachel. I cheered for her, I cried with her, and I shared in her emotions of fear and loneliness. While the character development of Rachel took up a good deal of the book (First 150 pages or so) I enjoyed it. The remainder of the book would not have had the effect it did without the intense character development. To put it plainly, I would not have cared about the ending of the book if I had not grown to care so much about Rachel.
The conspiracy at the center of the book was very interesting to me (NO SPOLIERS, I promise). It made me conduct some research into the subject. While greed and corruption is no stranger in a suspense novel, I found the conspiracy so surprising. It was not at all what I was expecting which made this read educational and entertaining.
What stood out to me most, was how Rachel constantly underestimated herself. She always thought she was too scared or not brave enough or could not handle a situation, but she always defied her expectations of herself. The difference between her states of mind and her actions throughout the book are HUGE. Whenever she did something that contradicted how she was feeling I cheered for her.
As interesting as Rachel was, there were other characters that I would have liked to have read more about. Rachel’s husband and his BFF/business partner were fascinating. I do not want to go any further into them because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who has not read it. However once you start reading about Rachel’s husband and his BFF/business partner, I bet you will want to learn more. I am sure their past adventures would be enough material to start their own series.
Since We Fell was a great read for me. It is the story of an innocent, vulnerable, and isolated woman who is forced to learn that she is way more than she thought. If you love a “flight or fight” story, Since We Fell is for you. I was completely drawn into the plot. I enjoyed getting to know Rachel. I enjoyed reading about a severely terrified character defying her expectations of herself. This book would be perfect for fans of Peter Swanson.
MURDER AND MOORE RATING:
4 ½ out of 5 Stars