Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – The Shadow Game #1

This book has been making the rounds EVERYWHERE and I seriously cannot avoid it any longer. It is just far too intriguing and too many people have been raving about it for me to ignore it. So here I go!

30238163.jpgSummary (Goodreads): Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


My Rating:     2 star

Review: So I really wanted to love this book but I didn’t. While there were some elements that I really liked, there were others that I found less than appealing.

I found the idea behind this book to be really unique and interesting. Granted, I have never read Six of Crows and everyone is saying that this book shares many similarities to it, but this had a very noir vibe to it and I loved having a very different fantasy setting than the usual kingdoms.

I only wish there had been better worldbuilding! I wanted to know more about the Mizers and the way society came to be, but I either found that the author was too vague or just dumped all the information at one go. There was no smooth delivery of information and the story suffered for it; when I wanted more information, I didn’t get it and when I didn’t need the information, I got it. It also meant that the amount of information was too much to process, so I would forget details and wonder why certain things worked in a certain way in the book.

Initially, I really liked Enne and Levi. I thought they were both very unique characters. However, that opinion didn’t really stick for too long. As the story progressed, I didn’t really see how these two characters were supposed to connect when they kept doing their own thing. Each of them was handling their own separate crises that were connected through only the thinnest of plot lines. Enne was handling her issues quite well on her own, which is something I really liked because most novels make the heroine incapable of doing anything on her own. But then this meant that Levi was really not too necessary. There were all of these mentions of what Enne and Levi are supposed to be but I never actually saw any behaviour that matched it.

I also really didn’t like the romance. At first, I enjoyed the way Enne and Levi interacted with each other. However, the feelings of romance and attraction between them were too far-fetched for me. I just couldn’t understand how their emotions for each other were so deep so soon.

Overall, I thought this novel had a really unique premise but I didn’t think the execution was up to the mark. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Advertisements

The Girl I Used To Be by Mary Torjussen

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I am definitely on a roll right now with the thrillers! Most of the books that I have been reading for this month are thrillers and it has been quite interesting to see the trend in this genre, and how different authors go about trying to tell a tale that is unique and twisty enough for readers! Here is my review of this thriller:

Summary (Goodreads): The morning after real estate agent Gemma Brogan has dinner with a prospective client, she’s furious at herself for drinking so much. But there will be more to regret than a nasty hangover.

She starts receiving mementos from that night: A photo of a hallway kiss. A video of her complaining about her husband. And worse…much worse. The problem is she doesn’t remember any of it.

As the blackmailing and menace ramp up, Gemma fears for her already shaky marriage. The paranoia, the feeling that her life is spiraling out of control, will take her back to another night–years ago–that changed everything. And Gemma will realize just how far the shadows from her past can reach…


My Rating:  2 star

Review: Unfortunately, this book just missed the mark for me. I think the premise was really interesting. However, I didn’t think the story was told in an interesting way.

The story is split into Part 1 and Part 2, and Part 1 is entirely from Gemma’s perspective. Right away, I pegged the person behind her paranoia (even though I didn’t know the motive). Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I was excited to see how the author would tie things together. However, it took way too long to get to it. The story moves along very slowly and I found myself quite bored with the story. I wanted that feeling of heightened tension and the dread creeping over Gemma … but I really didn’t get much of that at all.

Part 2 was a lot faster in pacing, which was a relief since it also contained the revelations. Now, I don’t think the actual thought process behind the revelations was bad, but the way it was delivered didn’t really work for me. It was a little too easy for Gemma to figure out who was behind it all, and I really felt as if the author told me rather than showed me.

The other negative part of this novel was that I didn’t really feel any connection to the character. Gemma was okay, but lacked a lot of personality. Most of the novel was about her husband not stepping up and helping her, and while I sympathized with this, it made her come off as one-dimensional. There is a revelation in Part 2 about something that happened to her, and it took me aback because I don’t think the author created any hint of this traumatic event so it seemed like it came out of nowhere and didn’t really fit with her character.

Overall, I think that this novel had an interesting story idea but missed the mark in terms of execution. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Italian Party by Christina Lynch [eARC Review]

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Summary (Goodreads): Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany’s famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie’s Italian teacher–a teenager with secrets of his own–disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.


Review: I think this was one of those cases where the book just wasn’t a good fit for me.

The story itself was written quite well and had a ton of wry humor to it, which I really liked.

However, it was a little too political for me. I know, this sounds ridiculous, considering that this is a historical fiction but it just didn’t hold my attention. Maybe I would have enjoyed this book more if I had been in the mood for historical fiction, but I found it really hard to get through this book.

I’m not going to give this book a rating because I don’t think it would be fair since I really didn’t give it a full try. Maybe, I will come back to this book in the future. For now, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

Happy reading ~

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney [eARC Review]

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I know, I know, this book came out in March and I should have read this eARC then. But better late than never, right? I’ve heard such good things about this book and I’m so glad to finally be reading it! Here are my thoughts:

Summary (Goodreads): My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.
Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?


Review: It took me a while to get through this book, but I quite enjoyed it! However, I don’t think it necessarily lived up to all of the hype.

There are 3 different voices to the story: one is from the past, one is from the present, and the last is in the form of diary entries. The first two are from Amber’s perspective, however the diary entries are of a little girl whose identity is unknown. I thought this was an interesting way to tell the tale, and it was done quite well in that it generated a lot of intrigue.

I found the story moved a bit too slowly in the beginning for my taste, but the story started to pick up pace a little after the halfway point. It was around here that there were quite a few twists revealed. I quite liked the way they were introduced, as it brought a darker tone to the entire story and gave me that incentive to continue with the story.

The suspense continued all the way until the end, as more and more details were revealed. Even the ending has a little bit of a surprise to it.

I think the reason why this novel didn’t blow me away, considering all of the twists that were in the story, is that I had figured out quite a few of them. It’s not nearly as much fun to read a thriller when it pans out pretty much like you had imagined it would. Of course, if you hadn’t figured it out, then this novel might be more interesting to you.

I also didn’t love the writing style. I found it was a little … underwhelming in its tone; I wanted something fast-paced and full of darkness, but this was a little mellow. This novel went with a more subtle effect, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it didn’t work for me.

Overall, I liked this thriller. I thought it had a good amount of twists and turns and was quite different from other books in this genre. However, it didn’t blow me away. For those reasons, I’m giving it a solid 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

 

School for Psychics by K. C. Archer

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I didn’t know what I was expecting with this book. It sounded like a fun read and I wanted to see where the story would go. Also, I really like psychics. I’ve always wanted to go to one and see what it’s like to have someone do a reading, but I’ve never been able to. I thought this book would be enough to stave off my eagerness to meet a psychic! Here is my review:

35297405Summary (Goodreads): Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.

When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.

In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.


Review: This book definitely was not what I expected.

This was a story that I had thought was more geared towards new adults, considering that the main character is in her 20s. But it became quite clear that this novel is staying firmly in the YA genre. This was a bit of a problem for me because I was excited for an adult character who is realizing that she has something special going on with her. Instead, the voice and behaviour of the MC and the other characters in the story were more juvenile, and leaned towards the YA crowd. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I felt cheated out of a new experience.

My other major problem with this book is that it is pretty much like every other teen fiction novel out there. You have an MC who is special and she goes to a special school with other special people. As she learns to use her special powers/skills, she discovers that there is a secret – and she decides to uncover it. There wasn’t much to this book that I haven’t seen before. We have the characters going to classes, taking tests, becoming friends, flirting. Even the decisions that they take are predictable.

Now, this isn’t a bad novel by any means. If it had been clear that this novel was for a YA audience, I probably would have enjoyed it more. This novel had a very interesting premise what with the use of psychics in the government. However, this wasn’t explored as much as I would have liked and it lacked originality. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for this egalley in exchange for my honest review.

When I read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, I remember grudgingly liking it. Why grudging? Well, I started reading it and didn’t like the beginning but pushed through anyways with the expectation that it would just get worse …. and then had to admit that it got better. When this book’s premise was released, I was intrigued enough to give it a try and see if my opinion about the author and her writing style had changed. Here is my review:

37832809Summary (Goodreads): Brett and Kelly Courtney are the shining jewels in a New York-based reality TV show called Goal Diggers. One of the most popular shows on American national television, its fiercely competitive cast of five self-made women are defined by their success, beauty and ruthless drive to reach the top by whatever means necessary.

The Courtney sisters’ rivalry goes skin deep despite the blossoming business they have built together that helps disadvantaged women in Morocco. Harbouring bitter jealousies and dark secrets about their manufactured screen lives they’re joined by three other hyper-competitive women who all have their own agendas. And the latest season promises sparks to fly in the quest for even higher ratings.

Vicious backstabbing, scathing social media attacks and finely-tuned scripting draw in the viewing public every week, all orchestrated by the show’s omnipotent producers. But even they don’t know that season 4 will end in murder…


Review: The first thing I’m going to say is that the same thing that happened with Luckiest Girl Alive happened here: I started this book absolutely hating it and then I pushed through and started to like it. But unlike my experience with the first book, this time there was no grudging admittance. I honestly really liked this book.

The story starts off in a bit of a confusing way. There is an interview happening in the present time … and someone is dead. Then the story gets into the past and all the events leading up to it.

The beginning of this story is very slow but there’s a good reason for it. There are 5 members of The Goal Diggers, a reality TV show, and the first part of the story, told from alternating perspectives of 2 of the cast members, highlights their various roles and personalities to cement their characters. It wasn’t the most interesting thing for me to read, especially as the characters waxed on about social issues too much; it started to just be an act of tokenism at that point. However, these were my initial thoughts.

As the story progressed and we got to the halfway point, I realized how necessary it was for the author to follow through with the novel in the way that she did. The rest of the story is all about how the interactions between the women become tense and how their relationships start to disintegrate because of the numerous lies they have accumulated. Their messages and views about female empowerment and sisterhood get twisted and we see a deeper and more realistic view of the issues that were brought up in the first half. The story starts to lose its humorous edge a little and we see the emergence of the thriller.

Now, I say emergence of a thriller with caution. This novel is not a thriller in the typical sense. It has thrills, yes, but it is not fast-paced, does not have a lot of action to it, and is more about uncovering all of the lies and learning to live with them than about figuring out the truth. This is more of a drama. A thriller-ish drama … I’m just going to stop trying to define it.

But it’s good. The author’s writing style and witty sarcasm becomes better and better with every turning page, as we see how the established ideas in the beginning are flipped and broken down. The characters become crazier and their interactions more disturbing. Everyone has ulterior purposes and no one is as good as they seem. And it’s addicting. I could feel this novel tugging at me to get to the bottom, and I gasped aloud quite a few times as the book drew to a close, where the action really ramped up.

I think that this is a novel that is worth pushing through because it reveals a lot about people and the length that someone will go to protect their image. While slow in the beginning, this novel quickly becomes addicting with its drama-filled scenes, and still manages to address some key social issues. I’m giving this book a 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I had previously read The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz and found that I quite enjoyed it, even if it was a genre (romance) that I don’t typically read. The premise for this story seemed more pyschological, which piqued my interest right away; any connection to my undergrad work always makes me excited. I was really happy to get a review copy but I’ve been falling behind on my reading goals so I wasn’t able to get to this book until now …. but better late than never, right? Here is my review:

35083342.jpgSummary (Goodreads): They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night–was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.


Review: My feelings for this novel are very confusing, but I’m going to try to work through it here in this review. This was an interesting story but it left me with mixed feelings.

Right away, this novel began with Allison breaking up with her lover. As the breakup is happening, she receives a package from her foster brother, Roland, and she decides to act upon it. Thus begins a journey that defines family, and the lengths one will go to protect it.

The plot has 2 components to it: romance and suspense. I really liked the suspense angle, but the romance was not as great for me. The mystery of this entire novel revolved around Allison trying to figure out what happened that fateful night of the “accident” and who could have done it. As she works to understand this, she realizes there are a whole lot of other secrets that need to be uncovered. I quite liked this part because there were a lot of psychological terms and concepts. It’s nothing too difficult to understand but it was an interesting perspective on a controversial area of psychology. I enjoyed watching Allison piece things together, and I liked that she felt conflicted about the issues raised in the story. It gives the reader some food for thought, and that is always a great thing.

And then comes the romance angle. In the beginning of the novel, we are told that Allison used to be a mistress for a very rich man for 6 years. This fact is reiterated multiple times in the story. Now, I didn’t have a problem with her being a mistress. But I did have a problem with the nature of her relationship with her ex-lover. Throughout the novel, she keeps in touch with this character, and while he does play an important role as an information-finder, their friendliness with each other just felt odd. Even if you are a mistress, even if you knew that it was about sex, it doesn’t negate the fact that you would have feelings for this person and feel bitter about the termination of the relationship. But I saw none of that. It didn’t seem realistically portrayed and so, every time it was brought up, it took me out of the story.

I didn’t mind the new romance that developed but it was a little quick for my taste. The author’s attempts at humor through sex jokes were … well, a little lame. It kind of took away from the development of the new relationship.

I think that the one thing that half-worked and half-didn’t work for me was the ending. I liked most of it, but then there comes a crucial point where Allison has to make a decision about where she is going to go in her future. I don’t necessarily think that the choice she ultimately makes is a bad one … but I wish it had been better developed; the way it was done in the book made it seem like she was too weak to make the other choice.

Overall, this book gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, the mystery was intriguing and I liked the interesting debate it brought up. But the romance and conclusion were just okay for me. However, I did enjoy the book as a whole. For this reason, I’m giving it a 3/5 stars and would recommend this to fans of the author and to those who like romance and suspense!

Happy reading ~

 

Force of Nature by Jane Harper – Aaron Falk #2

After the success of The Dry, I knew I would definitely be adding this series to my TBR list. I have anxiously been waiting to get my hands on this book, but I was unable to read it for the longest time because of my other commitments. But I finally did it! Here is my review:

34275222Summary (Goodreads): Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?


Review: I’m going to start by saying this: The Dry was better. At least, that’s how I felt.

When I started reading this novel, I was hoping to have the same experience as I had with The Dry: great characters, deeply layered plot, and that buildup of tension that makes a thriller oh-so-juicy. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel any of that. This story is all about how Aaron and Cameron are looking for one of the missing women from the camping trip, who is actually their main point of contact in a fraud investigation.

But they don’t really do much.

This novel is full of Aaron walking around and thinking. Sitting in a hotel room and thinking. Driving and thinking. And he’s mostly thinking about his father and their relationship. I’ll be honest, it was quite boring. I wanted to see some active investigation going on. But there really was none. Other people were going out into the wilderness to look for the missing camper. Aaron and Cameron didn’t really go out and ask too many important questions from the other witnesses. They just talked to each other a lot, and to their bosses who only said “Get the contracts”; it was the most used phrase in the book and it drove me insane pretty quickly.

The actual interesting part of the story began around Chapter 20 for me – and this is a book with only 35 chapters. I struggled to push through to get to this point because nothing really happened. But then when I got to the end, it wasn’t that great, either. There’s such a short list of suspects that it wasn’t too hard to guess. And it all just lacked that thrill factor/twist that I was looking for.

The only thing I really loved about this book was the writing style. Each chapter was divided such that the first bit would be taking place in the present, and the second half would be recounting what had happened in the wilderness with the women, from each of their perspectives. Needless to say, I liked the latter half. The author did a fantastic job in creating a creepy vibe. I’m someone who is not very comfortable with camping and is terrified of being out in the wilderness by myself, so every time one of the women experienced fear, I felt it, too.

I also didn’t really like the characters. There just wasn’t that connection that I wanted and even though the author tried to give them backstories and substance, they fell flat for me.

In general, this novel didn’t live up to my expectations and wasn’t as good as the first book in the series. Nevertheless, I will continue to read books by this author. There is potential here, and I’m willing to give the series a shot. But for this novel, I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Thank you to Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began reading this book, I had no idea it had any ghostly underpinnings. Naturally, that just made me more excited to read it! I have been in a bit of a book slump for the past few weeks so I’ve been desperately searching for that story that will propel me back into reading – and this one was it! Here is my review:

35533431Summary (Goodreads): Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . .


Review: Let me start right away by saying this book gets 5/5 stars from me. I loved it that much. I’m struggling so much to find the right words to describe my emotions … but I’m going to try anyways.

I really liked that this story alternated between 2 different points in time. Some chapters were from 1950 and others were from 2014. The chapters from the 1950s were my favourite because every time the story switched to this time point, it was one of the 4 roommates who got to speak. This allowed the reader to connect with all of the girls and understand them – and their secrets. I thought the author did a fantastic job at this. I felt empathy for every single girl and could really feel their bond towards each other. I was also able to appreciate them as unique entities and could feel the pain of bearing the burden of their secrets. The chapters from 2014 were exclusively from Fiona’s perspective, as she searches for the truth. I will be honest, in the beginning, I wasn’t very drawn to Fiona. But as the story progressed and the different time points began to intersect, everything made sense and I grew to love every chapter, regardless of who was speaking.

I also really loved the mystery behind it all. I’m not going to say too much on it because I don’t want to ruin anything but there are 2 “main mysteries” that are the focus in this novel. Both of them made sense and were resolved beautifully, with no holes in reasoning. I loved the way the pieces fell together, and the emotions that were brought to the surface as Fiona tried to make sense of it all. Through the investigations, the novel raises difficult subject matter and does it in a very respectful way. I know I usually tell you what these are but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I’m going to stay silent.

The most surprising part of the novel was the ghostly element. I really wasn’t expecting it from this book but it was absolutely fantastic. It gave a very Gothic and haunting atmosphere to the story! I almost never get scared or feel shivers when reading a book with ghosts in it… but this book did it for me. My heart would race and I would turn on all the lights in my room because the mood was captured so perfectly. And in the case of this book, the ghost story aspect really enhanced the mystery! It added something more to the story, that set it apart and also gave it more …. substance. It reinforced the main message of the story: not all secrets stay in the past.

I have to say that this book was literally perfect for me. It had great characters, great writing, dual storylines that converged beautifully, and tons of mystery to it. The supernatural elements to the tale were just the cherry on top. I am so glad I got to read this book and I cannot wait to read more by this author!

Happy reading ~

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

I really wanted to read this book because I heard that it was being made into a movie. I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan so I was excited to watch it … but before watching, I wanted to read the novel and see how it was. I love spy-ish movies and stories so it was a no-brainer for me to choose this as my next read. Here’s my review:

15803037Summary (Goodreads): In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.

Spies have long relied on the “honey trap,” whereby vulnerable men and women are intimately compromised. Dominika learns these techniques of “sexpionage” in Russia’s secret “Sparrow School,” hidden outside of Moscow. As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate’s game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, DC.


Review: I was surprised at how long it took me to read this book! It looked fairly short but it had super tiny font – so consider yourself warned!

This is a very detailed book. I had always figured that espionage would be very meticulous and intricate, but I had no idea how much until I read this book. The author has carefully researched and outlined every small thing in this story. I really appreciated this attention to detail because it created a lot of depth and gave the reader a very full picture of what it means to be part of the espionage world. It also gives the reader an understanding of politics and the different mind games that can take place, which is where all the fun happens! At times, this level of detail could be overwhelming; it is one of the reasons why it took me so long to finish this book. However, now that I have completed it, I can see no better way of telling this story.

The characters in this novel were very unique. Dominika is fiery, egotistical, and able to adapt to every situation. She is so smart and I really empathized with her feelings of being used as a pawn; she wanted to be so much more, knew she could be so much more, and I loved that about her. However, I didn’t like that the author made her very impulsive and moody. It just didn’t fit with the image of a spy that the author kept pushing forward. I liked that she had spunk but her outbursts were a little shocking to me, and seemed incompatible with the rest of her character. I also didn’t really like Luke. There didn’t seem to be too much of substance there. While I liked that Dominika was the driving force behind this novel, I wish that Luke had been a worthy match for her strong character.

The story’s pacing is a little weird. I can’t really classify it as fast or slow; its tempo changed as it progressed, ramping up and down as needed based on the events that were about to unfold. There were times when I wish things would progress faster … but it made sense why it didn’t.

The writing style was something else I am struggling to characterize. I think that it worked for telling this kind of story. It was a cold and calculated voice that distanced the reader from the characters. I can see why a lot of people would find it off-putting but it reminded me a lot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Hypnotist so I didn’t really mind it too much. I thought it was really cool how each chapter ended with recipes of a dish that was described in that chapter; it wasn’t strictly necessary but it was an interesting tidbit.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I would give this a 3.5/5 stars. I think it took me time to start to really get into the novel; at first, I felt bogged down by all the details. Once I got used to the details and the writing style, I found myself caught up in the political intrigue. I definitely want to continue reading the rest of the books in the series, especially since this one ended on a cliffhanger. But before that, I’m going to go and check out the movie!

Happy reading ~