Rating: 5 Stars
A top novel with a top, refreshing story.
Riley Ozaki was once a normal teenage girl trying to survive high school. When misinterpretation of her school paper turns her calm life into a hell of bullying, both in reality and online, and public-shaming, Riley decides to join a competition in a deserted island with 19 other teenagers for a chance to turn the negative national attention she got into a positive and fix her broken reputation. A secret, priceless treasure might just do the trick. In a cursed island setting, surrounded by competitors that will do anything to win the big price, Riley is thrown into a world of lies, betrayal and love where everything, including her life, is at stake.
I was convinced in the beginning that this would be a repetitive teenage-drama novel somehow and was pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise. The mystery of the treasure, the laboured tasks and the growth of the main character left me glued to the pages.
The plot is very well thought and developed leaving no loose ends. Emotions run high throughout the book and the pace of the story grows with each turning of the page.
The setting is almost like the Survivor series: an island in the middle of nowhere, filled with trails, challenges and traps growing in difficulty. The descriptions provided by the author make you want to get in there and do it too but at the same time question what your actions while faced such challenges. Series as Big Brother and Survivor gives a pretty good image of what can happen in a reality like this but Tiffany Brooks makes it look like something completely new.
The style of writing is compelling, using simple language and descriptions to bring the island and the characters to life. More than the place, Brooks takes her time in developing the characters and their relationships. Even though there is romance throughout the story, it never takes the front-stage completely; it runs in the background almost. Your focus remains on the mystery and not on chemistry and developing romantic relationships between characters. Even so, it definitely adds spice to the story and it becomes something to look forward to in addition to everything else. The description of the challenges is brilliant to the point you could see yourself participating in them and feel the adrenaline and the cold sweat of the risky tasks.
The characters are a big part of what makes this book so good. Brooks manages to write about teenagers without the stereotypical behaviour that you’re expecting for a YA novel. On the other hand, each character fits into the typical high-school categories that we can find in other books: the jocks, the nerds, the popular and the outcasts. For me, that didn’t make a lot of sense considering the competitors come from all over the country and they all a different life story and different experiences. If Brooks had explored this aspect better, it would have brought more colour and it would have made the story more interesting.
Riley is a strong main female protagonist but she’s also flawed which makes her a believable character. Brooks explores this character beautifully and the depth of her feelings and reactions make her look like a real person. Together with the solid storyline and heart-stopping setting, Riley completes the novel with her strength, determination and wittiness. Even though she comes from a rich family, she’s not spoiled but she has a very squared view of life until she starts “playing”. Riley adapts quickly to the challenges and her quick thinking make her journey worth following until the end. She’s very rational and logical as a character. Even though you can see that she feels lonely and how loyal she becomes to the people she begins to call allies, she manages to put their interests before chasing her crush and knows when to step back and just observe. Any idea of superficiality goes out the window when you realise that she puts others over her need to rebuild her social reputation.
A brilliant novel that I will definitely buy in paperback version! I highly recommend it to the fans of adventure, mystery and YA all mixed perfectly together!
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Tiffany Brooks for allow me to participate on the book tour of Reality Gold.
My Rating: 3 Stars
A nice mystery that goes deep into Egypt mixing the ancient world and the modern times perfectly!
Among the treasures of the Cairo museum, Dr Elizabeth Pimms, archaeology fan and unenthusiastic librarian recently returned to Egypt, makes a discovery. Cryptic symbols on the corner of a papyrus lead to the discovery of several unidentified mummies. How are the bodies connected to the female pharaoh and last ruler of Egypt’s nineteenth dynasty, Twosret? How did they end up scattered around the world? Between cannibals, attacks to her family, grave robbers and ancient murders, can Elizabeth solve the mystery before the mystery solves her permanently?
Even though Egyptian Enigma by L.J.M. Owen is the third in the Dr Pimms Intermillenial Sleuth series, I wasn’t disappointed at all. From the beginning, the title picked my attention and I’m glad I took a chance with it. Even though I didn’t read the previous instalments, I didn’t feel lost with the story and its characters even when the novel jumps from one timeline to another.
A great cosy-mystery involves around Egypt and the complex family trees of 19th and 20th dynasties. One would think that it will be a very boring, historical class, but you are mistaken. Owen does an amazing work in presenting the most complicated historical facts and events in very simple and easy-to-understand way that not only keeps you interested but hungry to know what follows. The amount of research done by the author is incredible and the introduction of that information is done so smoothly that you might think it’s fantasy. Additionally, Owen finds the perfect balance between ancient and modern times, which gives a vintage touch to our technological era. The pace of the story grows steady and by the time you reach the middle of the story, you’re racing to find the solution to the mystery.
The descriptions are full of colour and they contain enough detail to give the reader a simple picture of the surroundings. The chapters where the Egyptian family trees are explained blow me away. I didn’t get lost in the explanations and the simple language makes it easy to remember long after I finished the novel. It motivated me to research more about Egypt and go in-depth into the complicated family histories and their gods.
The main character Elizabeth is a machine. She works at the library, tutors archaeology students, she needs to get her papers on Mayan and Olmec ready to be published and a recently discovered older sister completely turns her family situation upside down. The passion she shows for her project and the approach she takes with her team to solve the mystery is different and refreshing. As she tries to deal with her personal life problems, she always manages to give herself completely to her work. I have to admit though, I could vividly imagine her library, and I wished several times to switches places with her.
In general, it was a pleasant novel that I recommend to the fans of ancient mysteries and Egyptian culture!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Bonnier Publishing Australia and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A nice, quick, cosy read that can be finished in a day.
Dorothy Martin goes to France, supposedly with her husband Alan Nesbitt, a retired police inspector, but things don’t go as planned. Instead, he breaks his ankle and is held back in England. While waiting for him, Dorothy explores Mont Saint- Michel and goes to visit the exposition of a dear friend, her reason for a visit to France. Talk of a near-drowning German woman, the attack on a young tourist and rumours of stolen songs by Abelard may provide the perfect puzzle while she waits.
This was my first time reading a Dorothy Martin and a Jeanne Dams book and I must say it was very entertaining.
The setting was beautifully chosen. The descriptions of the typical French streets, the monuments and the environment, in general, made the story very captivating. I could almost see the colours and the places come out of the book.
The plot has enough twists to keep you interested from beginning to end and events that don’t seem connected at all will make your head turn. With each new character introduced, a piece of the puzzle comes along too. The people are the missing pieces in a way. However, keep you with the notion of time was a bit tricky. Jeanne Dams knows fully well how to integrate events not in several days, but in a matter of hours. I noticed that, as a reader, I expect that time just flies in plots, and with this novel, I felt the author took a present approach. Much like, she is in Dorothy’s shoes.
The characters are great and they’re easy to follow throughout the story. Dams does an excellent work in managing all the characters and not losing the strings of their goal and fate. Every single character is there for a reason, even if you don’t realise it until the end of the book. Dorothy is a great female lead. I left like she was like Miss Marple (likes gossip, has no shame in picking up conversations with people) and Jessica Fletcher (for the smooth and intelligent way of gathering information, clues and her impeccable sense of logic and analysis). Alan, the male protagonist, actually becomes a fundamental part of the story. His connections to his former police office in England provide a great deal of help in making sense of everything and finding important and hidden information. I enjoyed reading their interactions and just “seeing” them together. Their relationship gave a fluffy feeling. Plus, the fact that they’re older, the level of maturity is also different. Loved every paragraph!
I recommend this book to all the fans of a puzzling mystery with historical references, a few twists and unexpected endings!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Severn House Publishers and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant mystery novel with a fantastic par of main characters! Unfortunately, I skipped the first book, which is already ordered! I can’t wait to see how this all start.
Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson don’t find that domestic life is up to their standards. After five years away from an Egyptian adventure, the only thing or person that makes that all better is their son, the abnormal intelligent ‘Ramses’ Walter Peabody Emerson. When Lady Baskerville comes to them fearing the curse that killed her husband on an expedition, the Amelia and Emerson travel to deep into Egypt and continue to work on the excavation Sir Henry left behind. However, as they make progress, people around them start dying. By curse or not, a lady dressed in white floats spreads fear and death.
For this one, I have to start with the main characters.
I can’t love a fictional couple more than do Amelia and Emerson. Amelia, the main female lead, believes she’s the smartest person in the room, observant of the details and connections missed by the normal eye. She’s this incredible Victorian woman with a mind and beliefs way ahead of her time that prefers to face ancient curses, camels and extreme height to tea parties with the neighbours. At the same time, she uses communication to get her way even without others noticing it, especially Emerson. I just love how she handles him. While she enjoys being a mother, she’s very happy to be able to escape the boredom of London with her handsome husband. She’s not afraid of admitting she needs a break from everything. Emerson is a grumpy, arrogant man that thinks he’s always right, but he has a soft side for Amelia and Ramses. His love for Egyptology is bigger than himself and sometimes even his wife but his heart is in the right place. They complement and challenge each other at each turn; they make the other stay on their toes. Their relationship is incredible and it’s hard not to enjoy the sparing between them. They make a great team.
Ramses, their son, takes after both of his parents both in the level of intelligence and wittiness. While a normal child likes to hear fairytale bedtime stories, Ramses prefers the History of Egypt. Even his parents don’t know how to react to some of Ramses comments or deep vocabulary. He’s only 4 and a half years old!
As for the other characters, Elizabeth Peter’s does a great job in developing them in depth. Everyone has a purpose and she manages to engage every single one of them in the story, both in the murder investigation and the daily life of the group of explorers.
The plot is engaging and complex. Peters masterfully brings up the Victorian and Egyptian life and completes with detailed historical facts which shows the passion of the author on the subject of Ancient Egypt. At the same time, she makes everything fit and the reader doesn’t grow bored with the history lessons. A simple yet intriguing and engaging style of writing is an essential part to achieve such a thing and Peter’s is the queen of it! I actually learned a thing or two about some pharaohs and their accomplishments. The murder storyline is also complex. Peter’s gives includes a considerable number of characters which a respectful list of suspects. The best part is that the author makes everyone look like a suspect with both motivate and alibi. I was able to figure out who the killer was before the end, but even so, the story was explored very well.
This is was the perfect novel for me. I can’t wait to see more of Amelia and Emerson in the next instalments! I recommend this novel to fans of archaeology, Ancient Egypt and a complex murder mystery with a dash of romance.
My Rating: 4 Stars
This was the first novel I’ve read of Jack Taylor and despite the dark atmosphere and writing, I found myself enjoying it.
After being misdiagnosed and being involved in a scandal due to it, former cop Jack Taylor has almost everything he needs: his whiskey, his books and his faithful watchdog Storm. Everything, but money. In an attempt to restart his life, Jack gets a job as a night security guard. It doesn’t take long before things are given a turn. When a man offering a considerable sum of money to find “The Red Book”, the first book of heresy, approaches him he knows its way over his head. When a woman from his past reappears in his life and seemly connected to the book, Jack is pulled to a probable deadly path. Haunted by the dark, unfortunate events of his life, Jack soon discovers that the city’s corner hide secrets and some more fatal than others. Unfortunately, for Jack, nothing in his life went as he expected, and this won’t either. Can he make it out alive and with the rest of his sanity?
One thing that I learned with this book is: never take a plot for granted. This is a story that starts at a steady pace and suddenly it takes a much darker and shocking turn, one where the reader realises that characters are going to meet their ends. The first part of the novel the reader faces several plot lines and different characters. In the end, everything comes together perfectly and the revelation is unexpected.
The depth of the characters was something that impressed me. Even though I haven’t read the previous books, I got glimpses of the past of each character and ended being fascinated with a few. None of them is simple, they are all complex Emerald was one of the best for me. She’s a complex character not only due to her multiple personalities but also her determination to hold on to her consciousness. She’s both the source and the weakness of poor Jack. There are moments that I felt my heart squeeze a little for him and his torments. Jack is a complex character that has been both virtues and flaws. He’s a lost character that suffers most of his misadventures due to bad decisions mostly. As the reader is taken through a combination of what he’s doing and his thoughts and feelings, one way or the other, they grow attached to him. He takes time to look back on his life, to confront some of his ghosts and to reflect on his mistakes and his decisions. For me as a reader, it taught me a few lessons.
The style of writing is great. It’s smooth, flows perfectly with the events of the story adapting to the general mood of the plot and of the characters. The author’s vivid imagination and rich vocabulary are seductive and pull the reader to such depth that even when it gets gruesome, it’s very hard to let go of the book. It’s a distinctive style, worth remembering.
I think that I should read the previous ones to truly see how much the characters and the author’s style developed through the series. It can be read as a stand-alone but it still felt like I was missing something.
I recommend this novel to all the fans of a complex, thrilling story that stands out for all the right reasons.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Mysterious Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great adventure novel about Roanoke Island and the legend of the Lost Colony.
The bizarre and unexplained event of the sudden disappearance of the 114 island inhabitants remains in the memory even 400 years later. When in the present days, 114 of Roanoke disappear without a trace, everything points to a re-run from the legend of the Lost Colony. It’s up to Miranda Blackwood and Grand Rawling to find them before they are gone for good. Between the police, dead alchemists and unrevealed secrets, the teens will race against time to stop history from repeating itself.
I finished this book in two days; it was hard to put it down. It mixes YA, supernatural, mystery with a touch of historical facts in a great way and the style of writing puts a nice ribbon around the whole thing.
The storyline is exciting and complex, full of suspense and action. It’s also very easy to follow and to understand. There are two different points of view, which makes the reader go deeper into the story. There is a steady build-up of the mysteries, details are giving along and each is important to the story. The level of research that was used for the novel was the right amount; it wasn’t a lesson in history, but it was enough to make the story believable.
The style of writing is simple, addictive and easy to follow just like the storyline. Gwenda Bond describes the settings just enough to let the reader an idea of it, which works fine for me.
The characters are very well developed and explored in depth. Miranda, the main female character, has a history of being the “bringer of bad luck” and tries to be invisible as much as it’s humanly possible. She’s bullied and the centre of merciless teasing at school. She really tries to keep her nose in her business but every time she tries to do something nice, everything falls apart. These events bring out empathy and they connect the reader to Miranda. She proves, however, she’s not a victim. She throws herself into the quest, risking her life to protect the people she loves and the ones that and actually manages to have a good relationship with the main male character, Grant, even after he publically humiliated her years before. He’s a good male lead and I enjoyed reading how his relationship with Miranda slowly evolved into the story without being in the centre of it. The other secondary characters are easy to follow and easy to memorise their roles and correspondent stories.
I fully enjoyed this novel, how this world is built and the slow rise of tensions and suspense. It blends YA, mystery, history, romance and the supernatural. I highly recommend it!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Switch Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book is like of those that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. I was expecting an adventure and instead, I was taken of a roller coaster of emotions and genres that brought this book on my top reads for this year. The perfect mix: mystery, drama, suspense and a bit horror great an almost-perfect novel.
Lydia Smith has a past marked by horrors that she wishes to forget completely. Years later, she lives quietly, unseen, working in the Bright Ideas Bookstore, towns away from her childhood home. Having cut any relation with her father, Lydia lives for her books, her close friends and energetic colleagues. Until her friend, Joey commits suicide by hanging, in her bookstore. He leaves Lydia clues and notes with information that will lead her to find a connection between him, her dark past and a killer that never truly left her life. When Raj, a childhood, reappears in her life, they have to work together to discover the truth of the event that changed their lives forever. However, the truth comes with a cost and it can be very, very, unexpected.
The novel is addictive and very well organised. The plots are engaging and they both fit perfectly, bringing an intriguing challenge for the reader. There are quite a number of characters and all of them fit the story perfectly until the end. The first plot is the search for the murderer that killed Lydia’s friend, when she was younger, and her family. The second plot is to discover the history of Joey and the search for his biological family. The story is told in the third person, jumping between the past and the present of Lydia. The main question the reader faces is if both plots are connected and why. Why would Joey leave clues? How did he know about Lydia’s past?
The style of writing flows perfectly with the story and the descriptions are just enough to give the reader an idea of their surroundings. All the given details, however, are important to the plot and they give away pieces of crucial information from time to time. Even when the story switches between the past and the present, it’s very easy to follow the story and connect with the character in both timelines.
The characters are special in their own way and the author thought very well of how they are all connected. They felt real; the reader gets glimpses of their childhoods and how their relationships develop over time. Even with the little descriptions, I felt as if I truly connected with the characters and through their actions understand them better.
A mystery novel full of suspense that I highly recommend to the fans of the genre looking for a more complex story.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Scribner and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 2 Stars
An averagely good thriller that keeps the mind engaged but doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
After a traumatizing encounter that left her adjusting to the new physical and mental scars, Cat Connolly, the first female detective in the Garda Síochána, has seen enough action to last a lifetime. When her friend and training partner Sarah Jane fails to show up to their training session, Cat decides to investigate. Sarah’s home was turned upside down, and her father, a famous Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, admits to having warned her against pursuing a story. Things get even more complicated when a dead body is found in a brutal state but it turns out it’s not Sarah. Can Cat and Detective Inspector Dawson O’Rourke find her before it’s too late? Is it just a kidnapping or is there something darker laying in the dark alleys of Dublin?
I didn’t get to read the previous novel and the first adventure of Cat and DI O’Rourke, but still, I felt that this novel could be read as a standalone.
The plot is well structured and developed. The author explores the complex world of forensics and police procedures with enough detail to make the story believable. The pace is slow in the beginning and slowly begins to get more suspenseful and picks up a bit of speed. The end was unexpected and the mystery was tightly resolved, no loose ends.
The style of writing is easy to follow and it flows easily. The deep research on forensics and police procedures is definitely a plus, it gives depth to the plot. The descriptions at times were acceptable but in others, I thought there was too much detail. There were some conversations that, for me, didn’t add anything to the story or the characters.
With the characters I found myself having mixed opinions, but may that’s because I jumped the first novel. Cat Connolly is a badass main character. After going through hell in her previous adventure, she has to endure a long road of physical and psychological recovery. I could feel her passion for kickbox, her motivation to get better and to find objectives to help her move on. I think she wanted to feel useful and when her friend goes missing, she found a way escape her nightmares and to keep her mind busy. DI Dawson O’Rourke is a fine male character and his relationship with Cat makes even the reader feel safe in his ‘presence’. For Sarah Hansen, I didn’t see the depth or felt her connection to Cat. I would have liked to read more about her background story and her relationship with the main character. I felt a bit indifferent to her disappearance: If it were a member of Cat’s family or one of the male characters, it would have had a deeper impact for me.
I didn't connect with the book or it's characters, even if I do admire Cat for her strength. Hopefully the third one will be a bit better.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Zaffre Publishing and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Honourable Miss Fisher is back and this time for a story that considered one of the best.
Miss Phryne Fisher is approached by her two friends Cec and Bert to investigate the suspicious death of two of their army friends. Paris, 1918: Seven comrades walk through the station of Montparnasse after the war. Now, only five remain. When the number grows even smaller, it’s up to Miss Fisher to discover the truth of why they are getting silenced years later. Phyrne is forced to come face to face with her demons while investigating the disappearance of a young girl. Moreover, she might also need to find a new butler, as Mr Butler threats to leave if she doesn’t permanently cut ties with Mr Lin, who is about to get married. Does the life of a lady detective ever to be easy?
As I wrote on my previous Miss Fisher review, I’m a big fan of the TV series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and of Miss Fisher as a strong female character. Even so, I will not compare them, as they are a bit different.
The plots are well developed and integrated amongst each other. The main plot is the death of the two soldiers, followed by a mystery in Miss Fisher past and then the case of the missing girl. Kerry Greenwood did a great job in going back and forward in time and not losing track of characters and details. The historical details and the integration of known individuals give depth to the novel and add colour to it too.
The style of writing is simple but classy, just like everything else in this novel. It flows through the pages and the way the descriptions are made, for me it seemed like a painting on sale in the small streets next to the Seine. It’s charming by its simplicity.
The characters are, as always, the best part of the novel. Miss Fisher is an amazing character that stands out for her strength of character, her class and her ability to help anyone in need. She’s resourceful, completely unafraid to break the rules and, at the same time, she’s also vulnerable and afraid of the ghosts of her past. In this novel, the reader gets to have a glimpse of her difficult past. As she remembers her time during the war, we’re introduced to her time as an ambulance driver, to her lover and abuser that left deep scars about to get reopened. It’s an emotional part of the book that made me feel more connected to her than ever. She is truly one of the best female characters ever created for me.
I highly recommend this book to all the fans of Miss Fisher and/or of a strong charming lady detective.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This is the type of comic that never disappoints! Beautiful art mixed with a great story.
The tale starts with Lady Mechanika on a journey, trying to put a tragic event behind her. In the small town of Santa Catrina, it’s that time of the year, the celebration of the Dia de Los Muertos. As she learns more and starts enjoying herself, a mutilated boy comes into town before collapsing. He is the latest victim of the Jinetes del Inferno, a group of gods that require sacrifices every year. If they don’t get what they want, they torture children as the warning. This time, they get more than what they bargained for. Lady Mechanika makes it her mission to put a permanent end to them.
I read and reviewed the previous volumes of the Lady Mechanika collection and this one can be read as a stand-alone. There is enough background story in the plot to make sure the reader doesn’t feel lost.
The storyline is very nice and dramatic. For the readers of the previous volumes, you will know there is nothing new to that. The story is simple, easy to follow and very compelling just as the style of writing.
The art is memorable as usual. The excellent graphics, the steampunk mixed with the typical Mexican art is simply amazing. The lines, the colours and the attention to detail blend perfectly with the story and the character of Lady Mechanika. The reader ends up being pulled into her world and her adventures.
Another great read, one that I recommend to the fans of the series and of steampunk art.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Benitez Productions and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.