Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

I’ve got a whole slew of mysteries and thrillers to catch up on, so I thought this novel would be a good place to start. It’s gotten quite a lot of positive reviews, and it has a female protagonist so I thought it would be right up my alley. Here is my review:

Detective Gemma Monroe knows that secrets and lies don’t stay buried forever. One of her first cases involved finding the bones of two teenage boys who had gone missing years ago. To this day, she doesn’t know what happened to them, and this is something that has always haunted her. In a place like Cedar Valley, most cases are easy to close. Like the case 3 years ago where the mayor’s son died in a tragic accident, slipping off of a cliff while hiking with friends. But when a recent murder victim is identified as the mayor’s son, Gemma must question everything she knew. Her investigation takes her from the seedy grounds of a traveling circus to the powerful homes of the Cedar Valley elite. Pregnant, and with no one she can trust, Gemma must track a killer who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden forever. 

This was quite an interesting story that attempted to connect 2 different crimes. I really liked the main character, who had a lot of spunk and had a really good backstory. There were a bunch of other characters that were also introduced, but I wish the author had spent more time in developing relationships between them and Gemma; most of them were pretty well explained but some (like the one with her boyfriend) were really not developed at all, which was a shame. The story itself had a good pacing and I found myself intrigued as to how everything would come together. I also love everything to do with circuses, so having that be a part of the story was a little treat for me! The story itself was going really well but the ending was a bit rushed, and clichéd. As usual, the perp spills the beans on everything, but the explanation wasn’t as well formed as I liked. Overall, this was an interesting story that had good pacing and a strong main character so I give this a 3.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love books where the main detective is female. Most of the books I read have male detectives, and while I have nothing against that, it is refreshing to have a change every now and then. I was super amped to get this ARC, especially from such a well known author so here I go with my review:

Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD has worked hard to get to where she is now and she has done a lot to move away from her past. Miranda comes from Jasper, a town just south of Hammond, but she was notorious for her antics. Now that Miranda has earned respect in her position as an officer, she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the girl she used to be. However, when Miranda is called to investigate the murder of a beloved college professor, she finds a chilling piece of evidence: a faded newspaper article about a terrible night from her long-buried past. When another man turns up dead, one who is also linked to her past, Miranda finds herself a suspect in her own investigation. The most damning evidence against her is when her fingerprints turn up at the scene of the first murder. Now Miranda must try to win back the trust of her colleagues, all while trying to figure out who could be behind these brutal killings – before it’s too late.

When I was reading this novel, I kept getting the feeling that I was missing out on something. It felt like there might have been a prequel to this story, as the author kept hinting at close connections between the different characters in a way that made me feel as if there was more than what was being said in this book. However, it turns out that this is actually a standalone novel. This threw me off a tad bit because I kept feeling as if some of the relationships between Miranda and other characters was not explained as well as it could have been. The story itself was quite obvious; I had figured out the plot and the suspect very early on in the game. In spite of that, I kept reading because the author writes in a very engaging way and I found it appealing. Was this my favorite thriller in the world? No. But it was definitely not a terrible one. It had a good pace, a very good main character, and a few twists and turns to keep readers happy. There is a high chance that I will check out more books by this author in the future!

Happy reading ~

 

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

And here we are with another thriller with “Girl” in the title. But I decided to ignore that when it came to this book, in an attempt to not be biased in my opinion. This book has been getting a lot of attention and I’ve been recommended it multiple times. So I finally decided to give it a go! Here is my review:

Emma
After a traumatic break-in, Emma is desperate to move into a newer, safer place. But nothing seems perfect – until she comes across One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece with its minimalist design…. but it also comes with many rules. The architect who built this house retains full control of it and only his word goes. The space is meant to transform its occupant completely – and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start – and she finds it at One Folgate Street. But it isn’t just the house she’s fallen for; the seductive creator keeps coming into her mind. Once she moves in, Jane soon learns of the untimely demise of the previous tenant, a woman who resembles Jane. As Jane tries to make sense of the truth, she unwittingly begins to make the same choices and experiences the same terror as the girl before.

I’m surprised by how much I liked this novel. The story was addictive and while I didn’t like everything about it, I can’t deny that it had the thrill and the twists that I was hoping for. The two perspectives were quite interesting and the author did a really great job of making them match up and integrate. Emma’s character gave me a lot of warning signs, and it became more and more clear that she was not what I expected as I kept reading – but that’s what I loved about the book. I love that the main characters didn’t conform to my initial assessment, and I liked to see how they acted in similar situations. This book is all about depraved characters, each who have their own mental issues. They’re very twisted and I like that the author kept them true to that trait throughout the book. I wasn’t very comfortable with some of the ways that the author handled sexual consent and rape … but it worked in the context of this story because the story itself is all about individuals who don’t really conform or believe in those norms. A lot of people are saying that this novel is a bit of a combination between 50 shades of grey and Girl on the train …. I kind of agree with the first part of that. There is a lot of sexual stuff going on in this novel and even though I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, I can see where people can draw the parallels. However, this aspect didn’t make me as uncomfortable as I expected, as I still quite enjoyed the story. Overall, this was a very interesting thriller that had me hooked from the start!

Happy reading ~

Blood Oath by Melissa Lenhardt – Sawbones #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sawbones, the first book in this series, was one of my first forays into the Western genre. And I really liked it. The story was good, the theme was good, nothing felt overdone… it was just a great experience overall. It was with high hopes that I began to read this sequel… so here is my review:

After escaping danger, Laura Elliston and William Kindle are on the run — from the Army and from every bounty hunter after Laura. But the danger isn’t just from those pursuing them. Laura and Kindle can’t escape their past and are haunted by their secrets and trauma. Exhausted, scared, scarred and surrounded by enemies, neither realize the greatest danger is yet to come.

As usual, the author maintained that awesome grittiness that I have started to associate with the Western genre. Laura and Kindle do not get it easy at all in this novel! Every time they turn, there is some struggle or the other – but that’s what I like about this book series. The author does not shy away from difficult themes like the conflict between Natives and the “Westerners”, and the trauma from rape. The story was powerful because of the topics it covered and I think the author did a good job of addressing them. There is a lot more romance in this novel but I think that the chemistry between Laura and Kindle worked very well, so it was a success for me! I will say that this novel is more of a filler between the first book and what is to come; while this novel was interesting, it wasn’t really necessary. However, with all that being said, this is definitely a good Western book series and I cannot wait to see what happens to Laura and Kindle in the next installment!

Happy reading ~

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I have been very excited to read this poetry collection. I rarely, if ever, read poetry; I think the last poetry collection I ever read was by Shel Silverstein – and it was when I was in grade 3! Needless to say, my forays into the poetic scene have been long overdue and I decided to get into it with this book by Rupi Kaur, as it has been receiving so much praise… so here is my review:

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose that speaks about surviving. It is about surviving violence, abuse, love, and loss. It is about femininity and the ways one can be ashamed of it – and be proud of it. The collection is split into 4 chatpers, with each serving a different purpose, exploring a different pain. As we journey through the most bitter moments in life, the author shows us how we can still find sweetness hidden … if you are just willing to look.

My first thought was: this is a very short collection. Seriously, I read through it all in half an hour, and that is not a testament to my reading speed. I don’t know how long poetry collections usually are but this seemed unusually small in length. But as we all know, length doesn’t matter; it’s the content that counts! What I liked was that the author was unafraid to tackle difficult material like rape and abuse. There is a strong feminist voice in these poems, one that makes you proud to be a woman. I liked that the author talked about being comfortable in one’s own skin, because it is rare to find people who are. I also liked the hand-drawn pictures in the book. However, I don’t think that there was anything really special about this collection. Of course, the more voices that preach about loving-yourself-the-way-you-are, the better. But with all the raving reviews, I expected there to be something unique about Rupi Kaur’s interpretation and message. And there really wasn’t. There was nothing that made me connect with the poems, and while I could appreciate the sentiment, it just became too repetitive. I understand: love yourself. But how many times are you going to tell me that?! Out of all of the poems, only a handful really hit hard; the others were just underwhelming. In general, I just felt disappointed, which is really a shame because I hate being mean about someone’s art. Maybe I’m just too simple for poetry? Oh well, better luck next time!

Happy reading ~

The Child by Fiona Barton

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read The Widow by Fiona Barton when it first came out and it was definitely one of my favorite books out there. I was excited to see what the author would come up with in her next novel so I was super happy to have received this ARC! Here is my review:

When an old house is demolished, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton buried for years. When journalist Kate Waters hears this, she believes this story will turn out to be a great scoop. However, she needs more answers to her questions, especially the ones surrounding the identity of the baby. As Kate begins to investigate, she discovers a connection to a crime that occurred a decade ago: a newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward and was never found, leaving the parents devastated. But there is more to the story, and Kate gets drawn into the pasts of the people who once lived in the neighbourhood being demolished. And the more secrets she discovers, the more torn she becomes on what she can and cannot reveal.

I cannot begin to describe how much I loved this book! Just like in The Widow, the novel features a journalist who is amazing at investigating and putting together the clues; in fact, she does a better job than the police! I love how kickass Kate is; for once, the woman solves things and doesn’t just get pushed to the side. Kate doesn’t make stupid mistakes. She is perfectly capable of handling the situation and doing a competent job. This is one of the many things I love about the novel. Having a journalist as the main character was really awesome to see and gave me a really cool insight into the world of investigative journalism. This book was all about motherhood and the ways in which we see mothers in the world. This book also deals with sexual violence and can be quite graphic, so consider this your trigger warning. My main attraction to this novel was its focus on multiple women and the way they handled traumatic situations in their lives. I honestly did not see the ending coming until most of the clues were given to me, and the thrill factor was definitely ramped up with this story! My one teeny complaint would be that I wished that when they talked about the court proceedings, the author had gotten into more detail; it felt a bit rushed after this amazing drawn-out story. Overall, another amazing thriller from Fiona Barton that you definitely do not want to miss out!

Happy reading ~

The Roses of May by Dot Hutchison – The Collectors #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You might recall that I read The Butterfly Garden a while back. That novel had its fair share of criticism and praise, with some readers finding it too unbelievable and others finding it right up their alley. In the case of my opinion, I fell into the latter category. I was super excited to hear that there would be a sequel to it and I requested it as soon as I could through NetGalley! Here is my review:

It’s been 4 months since the Garden was discovered, a place where young women were abducted and kept as Butterflies. FBI agents Eddison, Hanoverian, and Ramirez are still dealing with the aftermath, trying to help the survivors adjust to life on the outside. But while the butterflies go through their recovery process, the agents have their hands full with a new case: a serial killer who leaves the dead bodies of young women in churches, throats slit and bodies surrounded by flowers. Priya Sravasti’s sister was one of the victims, and it has broken the family. Now, Priya and her mother move every few months, hoping for a brighter day. But soon Priya finds herself in the killer’s crosshairs. Priya may be the only person who can help find the killer – but at what price?

At first, I was very confused with this novel. I was under the impression that this book would be a sequel to the first book, and I wrongly assumed that the serial killer mentioned in this novel was somehow connected to the Butterfly Garden. However, that was not true; these 2 novels, while sharing the same themes, are not really connected in terms of plot. Once I realized this, the novel began to make more sense. The author still made mention of the Butterflies, but it was more in passing than anything significant.

I quite enjoyed the story here, with its similar yet unique plot. Once again, we read about a madman who hunts women, but the reasons behind his behaviour are different from the madman in the first book in the series. The novel has excerpts from his perspective, but is mostly told through the voice of Priya and FBI agent Eddison, both likable characters. I had a vested interest in Priya and could understand why Eddison and the other FBI agents wanted to protect her so much.

The plot itself wasn’t as dramatic or as dark as The Butterfly Garden. In fact, this book resembled more of the usual thrillers that you see. It was still very well written and highly engaging, which is why I couldn’t stop flipping the pages. However, it lacked some of that dark maturity that I associated with the first book, and I missed that. There were also some recurring themes that were a bit overdone; literally every page was filled with something related to the theme and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at times. The other flaw in this novel is the completely unrealistic relationship between Priya and her mother. It just … didn’t make sense. I understand that the author wanted Priya’s mother to be more like a friend; my own mother and I are very close, and we bicker and fight like best friends/sisters. However, a mother is still a mother and there are certain behaviours and actions that a mother would never approve of or do. While the relationship between Priya and the FBI agents was also quite unbelievable, I didn’t mind it as much because it worked.

Overall, this novel was a compelling read that was fast-paced and thrilling. However, it wasn’t as dark or mature as its predecessor and had certain characteristics that were a tad bit far-fetched. I would give this a 4/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone looking for a dark thriller on serial killers!

Happy reading ~

You Were Here by Gian Sardar

When I first began reading this novel, it was dragging. I almost gave up on this book within the first 30 pages, but others’ reviews on this book urged me to get past the 50-page mark because “that’s where it really gets good”. So I did. And they were right. Here’s my review:

Death has always been Abby Walters’s preoccupation. She’s 33 and eager to settle down with her boyfriend, but his avoidance of a commitment is making this difficult. And now, a recurring dream from her past returns: a nightmare of being buried alive. But this time, the dream reveals a name from her family’s past, prompting Abby to return home looking for answers. For the first time in 14 years, Abby is back in Minnesota where she reconnects with her high school crush who is now a police detective on the trail of a serial rapist. When Abby tries on her grandmother’s mesmerizing ring, she discovers a cryptic note hidden beneath the box’s velvet lining. What secret was her grandmother hiding? And could this be the key to what’s haunting Abby?

Like I mentioned earlier, the first 50 pages are a drag. It’s confusing because the chapters switch perspectives so you really have no idea what is going on. But after 50 pages, the story starts to come together and make sense. In reality, this is a novel that consists of 3 stories:

1. the story of the detective and the serial rapist,

2. the story of Claire, Eva, and William (from the past)

3. the story of Abby, trying to figure out this mystery and trying to figure out her life

The author masterfully links these 3 stories to create a novel that flows beautifully and tells a complex tale about love, loss, life, and regrets. The characters were drawn up wonderfully and were each unique. The mysteries in this novel kept me on my toes and made me continue flipping pages well into the night. There were times when I felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of plot lines being thrown at me; I would get engrossed in one mystery only to be jerked out of it and placed into another one. However, it all resolved itself in the end and made for a satisfying novel. There were certain things that the author mentions but never really comes back to, and this would be my one criticism of the novel; I like for everything to be wrapped up nicely and having open-ended elements tend to bother me a bit. But in light of this remarkable story, I will forgive this! If you are looking for a deep and complex mystery, I would highly recommend this novel! Just make sure to give it 50 pages!

Happy reading ~

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin – Ashfall #2

After reading Ashfall, the first book in this unique dystopian series, I found myself eager to discover what would happen next in the lives of Darla and Alex. It took me some time to get to this next book, but once I got into the story, I finished the book in mere hours. So here is my review:

6 months after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, Alex and Darla are staying with Alex’s relatives on the farm. It’s also been 6 months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Enough time has gone by that Alex and Darla decide to venture on their own to find Alex’s parents and bring them to safety. But the landscape has changed since their last foray; things are more vicious, and settlements are more prone to violence as food becomes scarce.  As Alex and Darla try to survive, they begin to wonder if they will ever make it back at all.

Just like Ashfall, this novel is packed with adventure. There is not a boring minute in this story and I was racing through the pages as Alex and Darla find themselves in one dangerous situation after another. Like seriously. They go through a lot. To the point where I found myself overwhelmed by how terrible their journey was. While having a lot of action can be a good thing, it served to make me feel exhausted in this case. There was just a bit too much of it. I don’t need to have my main characters constantly getting in terrible situations; it’s okay for them to get a break or have some luck!

I also found that each chapter ended in a cliffhanger. I found that to be a bit irritating after a while. The story itself has so much going on for it, and I just want to get to the parts, without having this cliffhanger effect on every single chapter.

The last thing that I didn’t really like was Alex’s character. He is just a bit too good. He doesn’t want to do anything that is violent or terrible, and he has this righteous judgemental vibe going on that really bothers me. He just doesn’t seem to have adapted to the situation. It made me really not like him. Another thing I found weird was the steadiness and maturity of the relationship between Darla and Alex. And when I say weird, I don’t mean it as a bad thing, just as an unusual thing. Darla and Alex are both teenagers but their love for each other is portrayed as being very deep and very romantic and meaningful. I don’t know any teenagers who are capable of having such a strong and mature relationship with someone, but I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that they have just gone through a disaster.

While this novel had its high points, I didn’t like it as much as its predecessor. There was an overwhelming amount of action, and not enough character development for my taste. The story itself and the writing was still very good, so I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!

Happy reading ~

Medalon by Jennifer Fallon – Hythrun Chronicles: Demon Child #1

The series is called Demon Child. I mean… DEMON CHILD!!! How could I NOT read it with such an insanely cool title?! Initially, I was drawn to this series because of The Lyre Thief, which just recently got released. But when I found out that Lyre Thief wasn’t the first book in the series, I knew that I would have to start from the beginning. Which brought me here to Medalon.

Medalon is a small country bordered by the nation of Karien in the north and the nations of Fardohnya and Hythria in the south. The Sisters of the Blade rule Medalon with an iron fist, with an elite army of Defenders to enforce their rules. The Sisters forbid the worship of all gods, including the Harshini, a magical race that has been long extinct. They quash all signs of heathens with the force of the Defenders. And so, there is an uneasy peace. R’shiel Tenragan and her half-brother Tarja findd themselves caught up in a political battle when their mother takes on the role of the First Sister. In order to escape from her machinations, R’shiel and Tarja flee the Citadel for safer ground. But by fleeing, they incur the wrath of the Sisters and the Defenders, who hunt them as traitors. Meanwhile, in Hythria, Brak, a Harshini outcast, is tasked with finding the demon child, the half-human child of the dead Harshini king. But what does this have to do with R’shiel and Tarja?

I can see how I’m going to get hooked to this series! I really really liked this novel! When you read a lot of teen fantasy novels or standalone fantasy novels, there is a lot of world-building that gets missed. Not the case in this novel! You can tell the author spent a great deal of time envisioning this fantasy world; everything was well thought out and intricately put together. I felt like I was living in the story myself because it was so detailed! The story is interesting from page 1 and every perspective is explored at different intervals so you read about the situation happening in every country. There are some violent parts in the story, and rape does get brought up, so consider this your trigger warning! In general, I love power struggles; it’s one of my favorite things about GoT, so I was really glad to see it expressed strongly in this novel.

I will admit, though, there were 3 things that I wasn’t so happy about:

1) R’shiel is not a very strong protagonist; I wanted her to be more fierce but she was a lot more weak and stayed in the backseat while her brother took the main stage. Not that I didn’t like Tarja, but I wanted to see some more badassery from her.

2) There is a romance element that made me feel really awkward. It should not have happened. Seriously, it just felt really weird and I have no idea why it came about that way and I really hope it somehow…. stops….

3) Brak’s character is pretty much useless. He is supposed to find the demon child and bring them to one of the Gods but he literally does nothing except observe throughout the whole novel. It made me really annoyed because he could have had a more active role.

That being said, I still thought this was a really good novel. There was tons of action and duplicity and conniving characters and intrigue. The author really immerses the reader into this fictional world, and that allowed me to have a great experience while reading this novel. I will definitely be continuing with this series!

Happy reading ~