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 ~

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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 ~

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

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

When I received the ARC for this novel, the title was The Original Ginny Moon. I think it has since changed (slightly) but the story has, of course, stayed the same. I wanted to read this novel because of its unique protagonist. After reading this novel, I’m just so glad to have had the chance to read such an amazing story!

Ginny is an autistic 14-year-old who has spent the last 5 years in foster care, after being taken out of her unsafe home. Now, Ginny is in her 4th home that will hopefully be her Forever home. Maybe this time, her forever parents will love her. Everyone wants Ginny to feel safe and forget her past … but Ginny can’t do that. She will never stop making her Big Secret Plan of Escape. Because Ginny has a secret about something that happened a long time ago… and the only person who can make it right is her.

What an absolutely wonderful book! From the very first page, this novel had my heart. I adored Ginny. The author did such an amazing job portraying her and making her come to life. While I’m no expert in working with people with autism, from my experience interacting with them, I can say that the author’s depiction was pretty spot on! And on top of being so accurate, the author also created a very unique and interesting voice for Ginny. Her story is heartbreaking and I was tense throughout the entire book, as I saw Ginny struggle to find her place. This novel isn’t just about Ginny. This novel is about the concept of family and the different ways it can present itself: as an abusive mother, as an absent father who believes in forgiveness, as a foster family that is trying to maintain normalcy in a situation that defies normal. And it’s beautiful and tragic and amazing to see how it all works out. I can’t stop talking about how much I loved this novel and I don’t want to keep repeating myself so all I will say is that this novel will touch your heart and give you an interesting perspective on the term “family”. I hope everyone will give this novel a shot because it is absolutely worth the time and effort!

Happy reading ~

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

I have been most excited to read this novel. For the longest time, it wasn’t available anywhere near me so I would enviously read reviews about it. Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for providing me with this ARC!

Yeong-hye used to be the perfect devoted wife, quiet and willing to please. But when she begins to have nightmares involving blood-soaked images, Yeong-hye makes the drastic decision to renounce eating meat. This decision is in stark contrast to the ideals of society, and is seen as a sign of passive rebellion. But soon the passivity of her resistance manifests in more extreme forms, and with the emergence of a scandal and abuse, Yeong-hye is sent over the edge. Her dangerous endeavour will take Yeong-hye physically and mentally away from her former identity in the most tragic way possible.

This was by far one of the most confusing books I have ever read. The book is split into 3 sections, each written in the perspective of a different character who is affected by Yeong-hye’s actions. Each character describes the transition of Yeong-hye into the land of instability. The first character we are introduced to is Yeong-hye’s husband, and we are shown the first stage of her decline. I found this to be one of the more interesting chapters, probably because it set the stage and was easy enough to follow. It was clear to see how Yeong-hye’s behaviour is not within the bounds that dictate the norms of society in South Korea. I really liked reading about how perplexed those around her were, and the ways in which her husband tried to “fix” her. The next 2 sections are told from the perspective of Yeong-hye’s sister and brother-in-law, who each have their own reasons for helping Yeong-hye. This is when the story began to get a bit murky for me. I didn’t really understand the perspective of the brother-in-law, and it just left me wondering what exactly the author’s purpose was in creating this segment for the story. The sister’s perspective made sense because Yeong-hye was very close with her but other than that, it didn’t really do anything for me; nothing was resolved in the end and I still didn’t really understand what was going on. I had expected that the author would delve a little deeper into the nightmares that led Yeong-hye into her vegetarianism but it really was only hinted at at various points of the story, which was a bit of a disappointment. While this was an intriguing novel, it was very vague and left me with more questions than answers. My overall feeling was of confusion: what was the point of this novel? What was the author highlighting? I understand that the author is reflecting on a number of themes including the confines of society, our lack of understanding of others, and how an obsession can develop and fester …. but there was nothing more that I really gleaned from this novel, nothing new that made me have an “A-ha!” moment. If I’m to be brutally honest, this book was a bit of a let-down, especially after all of the hype it has generated. Maybe I’m the only person who feels this way, but this book only gets a 2/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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

Sports has never been my thing. I’ve never understood the sports culture and many of the rules of the various games just flies over my head. I’ll admit part of it is because I’ve never really given it a fair shot. This novel was me giving it a chance to win me over!

Beartown is a tiny community nestled deep in the forest. But down by the lake, there is an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. This ice rink is the only thing that makes people believe in a brighter future. Beartown’s junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys. Naturally, this is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match acts as a catalyst for a violent act that will leave a girl traumatized and a town divided.  When accusations are made and the truth threatens to come out, the reverberations  travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

You do not need to know anything about hockey in order to understand this novel. That being said, you’d probably enjoy this novel more if you are a fan of the game. There is A LOT  of hockey talk in this game. I don’t mean that the author puts in useless jargon or anything; it’s just that every other sentence has something to do with hockey. Now, you may think that I’m saying this as an off-putting thing but it actually wasn’t. It allowed me to understand and appreciate the hockey culture. This novel actually helped me see what the hype was all about and how people can make hockey the center of their lives, a fact I’m sure my boyfriend will be very happy to hear! This novel is very well-written and involves a whole host of characters, some adults and some teenagers. Each one has their own unique perspective, their own backstory, and the author does a fantastic job of making them relevant without bogging down the story. This novel is emotionally engaging, which was a happy surprise for me as I wasn’t expecting it. There is so much to this novel, so many issues that it highlights, and I could keep talking forever and ever on them…. but I won’t. I’d rather you read this novel and form your own impressions instead. This novel was something that I approached warily but by the end of the story, I was an absolute fan of this book and author!

Happy reading ~

The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

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

Meredith Oliver is not friends with Lisa Bellow. Meredith is unspectacular and Lisa is the most popular girl in middle school. It just so happens that they both are in a sandwich shop at the same time. But then a masked man with a gun enters, and Meredith finds herself ordered to the filthy floor where she lies face to face beside Lisa. The moments tick by and both girls are terrified, Lisa openly sobbing and Meredith doing her best to comfort her and stay calm. Then the man orders Lisa to stand and come with him. She does. And Meredith is left behind. After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith is a changed girl. As the story follows the trajectory of a community rocked by tragedy, it begs the question: what happens to the girl who is left behind?

When I read the synopsis for this story, I expected it to be more of a drama than a thriller. Which ended up being true. However, nothing happened. At all. The author definitely did a good job in writing this story in the perspective of a middle schooler. But seriously. Nothing happens. Meredith is a character I felt pity for at times but mostly, I was just bored with her and the entire story. There’s only so much I can read about inane things in her life, like how bad her mom’s pancakes are, and how she likes to sit in a certain spot in the car. While I don’t think the story needed to be a thriller, I still think it could have been a bit more …. interesting. It’s a sad story, but I felt that I was more drawn to Lisa Bellow than to Meredith and her family. In the end, this novel just didn’t do it for me.

Happy reading ~

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler – Joona Linna #1

This book is a translation from a Swedish novel written by a husband and wife duo. I’ve heard of this novel as being along the same line as Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I ADORE (I will make sure to put my review for that novel up soon)! Of course, I was excited to give this one a try!

When Detective Inspector Joona Linna hears about a grisly triple murder in Tumba, Sweden, he just has to take a look. The only survivor is a teenage boy who just witnessed the slaughtering of his family – and barely managed to escape himself. Now, he is in a state of shock, suffering from multiple stab wounds. With a killer still at large, and the boy as the only source of information, Detective Joona Linna calls for Dr. Erik Maria Bark to use his skills in hypnosis on the teenager. Bark himself is opposed to doing this; he had long ago promised to never use hypnosis as a form of therapy. But under such dire circumstances, he breaks his promise and does as Inspector Linna asks. No one could have predicted the terrifying consequences that would unfold from this action.

This book was creepy and amazing. Inspector Joona  Linna is a likeable character who is confident in his abilities – and it is a nice trait to see in a detective! The story itself is so intriguing and the depravity of the crime is both sickening and tantalizing all at the same time (I know that makes me sound like a psychopath but it is true)! There was a point in the story where I felt like things were a bit disjointed – I’m not going to say what it is or when it happens, but you will know when you get there – and it felt like the rest of the story from that point onwards was part of a completely different narrative. That was the only negative point to this novel, however. I loved the writing style and the fast pace kept me at the edge of my seat. Perhaps it isn’t AS amazing as The Millenium Trilogy but it is definitely up there in the ranks for me!

Happy reading ~

The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

I’ve never been someone who has been partial when it comes to books. What I mean is that I don’t go out of my way to seek out books that have a Canadian background or an Indian background. But when I do come across a novel that is set in a country that I have lived in or know a lot about, I get quite excited. I was pleased to note that this one takes place in Canada (specifically the province of Ontario) and makes mention of notable Canadian criminals. It’s one of the reasons why I waited so long on the hold list for it!

In 1983, Evie Jones’ best friend was raped and murdered. The police, although having identified the man behind this crime, was unable to capture the criminal. Evie, being 11, was naturally traumatized by this event. Now, in 1993, she is trying to make it in the world of crime reporters. In the wake of Paul Bernardo’s arrest, Evie’s own obsession with what happened to her best friend takes over and she begins to probe deeper into the past to find the killer. And when she discovers that she is being stalked by someone, she soon realizes that the killer isn’t done with her yet.

This book was a major flop for me. The most interesting thing was the personal connection I had to the locations. When I finished the novel, I really couldn’t tell what the point was. Nothing had truly changed. There was a tiny bit of a conspiracy but it wasn’t something life changing. There was no mistaken identity or true danger at all. Like I said, it was pointless. It had a lot of potential and the teaser trailer made it seem so much more than what it ended up being so I was severely let down. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, not even if you’re bored out of your mind.

Happy reading ~