My Rating: 5 Stars
This collection is the perfect read for lovers of books and mysteries. What can be better than murders themes around books?
These 15 short stories were written by distinguished mystery writers and they make every story count. The editor Otto Penzler put together an anthology of crime between books that fill fit the likes of most readers. From hidden messages inside old books, a deadly bookseller and the deep secrets a library might hide, make this book impossible to put down.
Each storyline is different but they all have something in common: books. The title was definitely well picked and it describes perfectly its content. All the stories take place in modern times and they all involve different types of books or characters related to books like booksellers, book collectors, books privately owned, public displayed books and even an old scroll. Even though most of the stories can be classified as thriller/mystery, some of them have a fantasy touch to them and one fits in the fantasy genre completely.
The authors with stories on this collection, by order of appearance, are:
The editor Otto Penzler did a great job putting this anthology together. All the authors have different styles of writing, different ways of describing and interaction with the reader which is very refreshing when you’re jumping from story to story. Some of the authors I’m familiar with and it was a treat to read some short works from them, like Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Cook and John Connolly. Additionally, discovering other authors just made my to-read list a bit longer for next year.
I absolutely recommend this anthology to all the fans of murder mysteries and books. These great authors write great stories and getting to know other creators of this genre might help you discover some great books you haven’t read yet.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Pegasus Books and the editor for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
In the sequel to Alice, the Red Queen proves to be a worthy finale for the dark story of Alice and Hatcher.
After escaping the Old City, Alice and Hatcher face the first disappointment: the awaited green fields and the smell of grass and trees are nothing but a desert of ash and dust. On a quest to find Jenny, Hatcher’s daughter, the duo faces a journey filled with obstacles and old curses. From an enchanted forest to unseen creatures, Alice will have to gather all her courage and strength to battle an old evil and save the man she loves from the hands of the Red Queen.
The Red Queen isn’t as dark as the first instalment but it still contains a bit of horror somehow. While in the first novel, the reader is confronted with rape, murder, women trafficking and a lot of dead-body scenes, this one is more of a psychological terror of losing someone that keeps the main character sane. When Alice finds herself having to make her decisions and face cruel environments without Hatcher to protect her, she is forced to grow mentally, accepting herself and her magic. She is genuine and hopeful making her a very likeable character. The Red Queen is a worthy foe even if I have a mixed opinion of her. She is both terrified by the curses she places but also a coward. Even though she has power, she avoids leaving the walls of her castle unless it’s extremely necessary. For me, a terrifying character is the Black King. He’s like a ghost that can see and feel what his victims’ fears and hopes and just play with their minds.
The writing style is very engaging and it’s able to grab the interest and the full attention of readers together with the story-line. I thought at some point that Alice’s journey to actually enter the Red Queen’s palace was a bit too long, but the author managed to create challenges that made a difference, there weren’t just there to fill the pages. The shocking twist at the end made my heart stop, I truly wasn’t expecting that and it was brilliantly thought. I would have like to read more about the what Alice and Hatcher would do next since it ends without much to go on with.
I’m sad that it is only a duology but I’m glad I got to read Alice’s journey.
I highly recommend this collection to all the lovers of the dark Wonderland universe.
My Rating: 5 Stars
One of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read this year! I’m a fan of Caine’s work on The Great Library series and it was a pleasant surprise to read something so far from the fantasy world!
Gina Royal had it all: the house, the husband and her two children, completely unaware of the deadly secrets hidden behind a perfect family picture. When a car accident brings to light that her husband is a serial killer, Gina becomes Gwen Proctor, a woman on the run from accusations and internet stalkers that find her guilty of helping her husband. In desperate need to settle down, Gwen moves to the remote house of Stillhouse Lake where she thinks her children and herself will finally have some peace. That is until the body of a woman is found floating in the lake, killed with the same method Gwen’s husband used.
It’s a horrific, thrilling and suspenseful novel that had me glued to its pages, right from the first chapter. The style of writing and the very well thought plot made this novel very addictive and compelling. The feeling of paranoia is always present and the characters will share that feeling with the reader. The atmosphere builds up perfectly and every event just adds to a great climax. The novel works perfectly on the dangers of the internet and how “internet is forever”. The author describes very well the social dilemma of how the family of a criminal is easily put in the same bag even though they had nothing to do with the acts committed by that individual. People tend to forget that there is a chance they might be victims too. Also, beware: if your husband doesn’t show you his garage, maybe it’s not just his workshop after all…
The characters are well developed and very well described. Gwen is a great main character and a warrior; I was proud to read about her deeds and the demonstration of her courage. Her first priority is always her children and if she has to break the rules and moral codes to do it, so be it. It takes a lot of courage and a strong spirit to be able to do what she does in the novel. Overall, the relationships in the novel are solid, especially between Gwen and her children and Gwen and her neighbour.
A great psychological thriller that I recommend to all the fans of these genres.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Thomas & Mercer. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
The depth of this long-short story took my breath away for all the right reasons.
KumKum Malhotra, a treat for lovers of women fiction, tells the story of a woman who lives a quiet life in the small town of Nizamudin, New Delhi with her husband and her children. Her world and her mind are turned upside down, when an unfortunate event takes place right before a family dinner, unlocking the doors to a journey into the deepest layer of the self.
The lyrical style of writing, brought together with rich vocabulary and the ability to look in depth into the inner-self make this book a must-read in contemporary literature. The reader is taken down the rabbit hole and it just kept becoming darker and darker with each passing turn as the layers of the identity of the main character are stripped away. The secondary characters give a different contribution to the construction of the plot coming together as pieces of a puzzle to create a bigger picture in the end. It gives depth to the novel and to its characters, making it easier to relate and sympathize with them.
Preti Taneja is able to match the emotions, the fast-paced events and the slow moments with the style of writing and the vocabulary creating an intense and suspenseful atmosphere throughout the story. The ending comes unexpected, leaving the reader wanting to know more, which the author leaves open for interpretation. It leaves a lasting impression on the possible fate of the characters and on the modern issues captured in the novel. The author approaches a number of themes that are still existent in contemporary India: the role of women and what they have to face in their daily lives, the truth about marriage and family life, the complexity of human relations and the clash between the tradition and modernism. In the centre of the story, the reader finds the contrast between liberal and conservative societies and how ‘freedom’ gains different meanings depending on the cultural background. Anya, the tenant that stays in their home for a short time, represents the modern way of thinking: the lack of taboos, free from the boundaries of tradition and the expectations of a community. KumKum is stunned when Anya speaks freely about sex, to which she receives the response: ‘Hey, liven up, Sisterji,’ says Anya with a smile and a shrug. ‘It’s 1993.’. It shows the two different realities like the sides of a coin and the opposition between conservative mentality and liberal openness. Moreover, there is the ability to accept and more about other cultures. Anya shows interest in the culture of the community and takes initiative to participate in common day-to-day tasks, while KomKom and her family create their own opinion based on her behaviour and her conversations. The question that is raised is if western culture is freer than a conservative culture, and if so, what does being free entitle.
This long-short story has the potential to become a longer literary work, however the narrative shouldn’t have the same lasting impact on the reader nor it wouldn’t be just as intense due to its consistency and intensity of events and writing style.
It’s a read that deserves every recommendation.
Preti Taneja is unique in her style and her voice, and I will definitely be on the lookout for her future works.
This review was published on Ofi Press Magazine 54
My Rating: 4 Stars
You know when people say that you should never judge a book by its cover? Well, this is definitely one of those cases! I must warn you right now that this book is brutal, very very graphic and definitely not for the faint of heart! I had to stop reading it and start with something lighter to be able to go through with it.
Olivia is about to start a new phase in her life: university. After her father drops her off at the campus dorm, Olivia takes a stroll in the university grounds only to be kidnapped by two masked man and thrown in a van. When she is finally able to see, she finds herself in a room that looks like the interior of a doll house; everything is pink: the bed, the walls, the furniture. Olivia quickly realises that there is no room to escape and the daily visits of her abductors show her in the most brutal way that she is at their mercy. In a house where several young women are abused and raped daily, Olivia spends five years confined in that pink room. Will she ever be able to escape?
Dark and disturbing doesn’t even begin to cover this novel. When I was younger I had nightmares about a white van and it still haunts me today. I can assure you that after reading this, I will run for the hills if I actually see one. My heart was beating on my throat for most of the reading and the level of psychological and physical horror of the story is both admirable and scary. Even though this is fiction, I know that these events actually take place around the world, and that’s why for me it was so hard to read. It’s like facing a reality that we just keep in the back of our brains.
The style of writing is great, pulled me completely into the story. There was this constant morbid curiosity to know what was going to happen next even though I knew nothing good was waiting around the corner.
I definitely want to read future novels of John Hunt but I do have hopes for something less dark and traumatic. I recommend this book to fans of hardcore thrillers with very detailed, disturbing descriptions. But again a warning, this is not for the faint of heart.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Black Rose Writing, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A beautiful and unique story that explores a journey of self-discovery.
This graphic novel tells the story of a photojournalist that embarks on a sixty-day journey of self-discovery in New York City. As he commits to this period with no human interaction, he will have to rely on memories, numbers and music to keep his sanity and in hopes to get over a painful past and to rediscover the beauty of the world.
This story was heart-warming and unique. It gives an unique perspective of life, the world around us and how we miss little moments because we are so focused on ourselves. The setting is great because it shows how even in a big and crowded city we can still feel very much alone.
The characters are great and their depth is amazing. The drawings are definitely one of my favourite details of this graphic novel with the style and the colours and how they change and grow with the story line.
I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in putting things into perspective and to remember what is really important in life.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Magnetic Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Beyond the Absurd was a delight to read. Being a fan for the Theatre of the Absurd, specially Waiting for godot by Samuel Backett and No Exist by Jean-Paul Sartre, I’m familiar with the style.
These 12 short stories, focused on the absurd, take the reader in a journey to the deepest and darkest corners of the human mind and actions, and the paradox of human choices and opinions. These tales are a mix of genres that go from fantasy and sci-fi to dystopia and even humour.
Alexander Tomov is a great writer and his writing style is amazing. The language is simple and it completely matches the simplicity of life and the banalities of our daily lives. I must admit that in the beginning I got a bit lost since I didn’t know if the stories were somehow related or not. It’s nothing that can’t be clarified with an introduction to the book. Furthermore, I think that a quotation on the subject or theme in the beginning of each story could help the reader to understand the story better.
Some of the stories were really creepy like “The machine” that can create the ghost of someone for your past or the 4-year-old boy that committed suicide because he hated the world since he was 2. My favourite stories were “The Taxicab” and the “Firekeeper”. These two stories are related to the thing but in a different perspective: time. They’re about travelling to the past or the future and an old-man that can burn ghosts from the past. For me, it’s about that human desire to relive distant memories with people that are lost and the inability to aspect that our past, no matter how dark, is what makes us who we are now.
The story that really made me laugh is the devil having an orgy in the United Nation’s room since hell is out of room and “Heaven has gone bankrupt” from the lack of pure souls. A story about power and how leaders only take notice to the details that are in their interests.
These are the type of stories that made me think and to see the absurdity of life, the contradictions of what we see and choose to see has banalities. For example, the end of world, the death of children, how we would like to change something in our lives but don’t and then wish to change the past. Tomov inserts tiny details that complete the short-stories and make them even more human.
It was a great reading that I recommend for the fans of the absurd. I’ll definitely keep an eye open for Mr Tomov’s future works.
I want to thank the author Alexander Tomov for his advanced copy of his book in exchange for an honest review!
My Rating: 4 Stars
Right on the first page of the preface, it felt like my heart was being squeezed inside my chest. To know that this novel is based on a true story and that the treatment of this person was hell both during his captivity and when he manages to escape is both scary and revolting. It really shows the flaws in the justice system and proves that justice doesn’t always prevail, unfortunately.
Blood Moon tells the story of Recidio Suarez, a man that is kidnapped from his working place for no apparent reason, blindfolded and tortured for a month, living and suffering under conditions that no human being ever should. Under the threat of his life and his loved ones, Suarez is forced to submit to the conditions of his kidnappers. When he alone manages to escape his captivity, he faces another level of torture: no one believes him. Both police and The Special Investigations Division of the Miami-Dade Police discredit his evidence and his story; refusing to take the case further. I will tell you this: It’s not a book for the faint of heart.
Bethel describes the events with accuracy and the characters are very well developed, and I think he portrays the kidnappers with frightening accuracy as well.
As I read through the novel, I’m sure I gained white hairs. Not knowing what would happen and what horrible thing would come up next left me in a state of anxiety and suspense that I sure I’ve never felt before with a book. Reading through the insane torture scenes was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the hardest things I’ve read. At some point, I just wanted to throw the book on the floor and scream at the things these people were willing to do to and how far they were willing to go for money. The arrogance of thinking they would never get caught and that they could do whatever they pleased. These people are the living proof that monsters do exist in the world. And when you think you can rely on those with the responsibility and duty of protecting the people, they completely discredit his story and completely ignore the pain, the suffering and the physical and mental scars that will haunt him until the end of his days. The indifference is revolting. Suarez proves to be a true hero, surviving through something I would never be able to and having the courage and the strength to escape.
The fact that it’s based on a true story just enhances everything that’s for sure.
A thrilling, suspenseful and horror novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat and that will put your problems into perspective.
I want to thank the author of Blood Moon John David Bethel for sending me a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 2 Stars
I will start by saying that this book was different than I was expecting. As I read it, I kept remembering "The Master and the Margarita" from Burgakov.
It was a difficult read for me. I got confused right from the beginning not knowing who the narrator was and got lost in the paragraphs. Maybe it's because I really didn't connect with the story. At first, I thought the book was about the story of Lucy but then more characters kept coming up, like Margaret and Belinda.
Even though I struggled, I really liked the style of writing and I think it matches the story and it's turns. I could see the colours or the lack of off in certain parts of the story through the vocabulary that is used, it was like music on paper.
I will re-read it in the future and see if my perspective changes. An intriguing novel.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Cosmic Egg Books, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
It's the first time that I review a book like this one, about magic and healing and I can say I enjoyed it.
I really enjoyed reading the introduction, it shows the passion of the author. The style of writing is beautiful and somehow relaxing and reassuring.
The depth of research on each tree is very good, doesn't leave any detail out and it's very informative. The way the "The Trees" chapter is organized is brilliant.
Absolutely loved the cover, it's beautiful and a great representation of what the book is about.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Llewellyn Publications, 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.