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
The type of novel take gets you hooked from page one. A mesmerising, captivating, suspenseful narrative that will keep you from putting it down.
Anne Chatham desperately needs a new start. After losing her family to Influenza and almost dying herself, Anne is ready to start a new chapter of her life as a typewriter with the Wellingtons family. But her almost-death experience gave Anne a unique gift: she can sense spirits. On her arrival, she’s introduced to the owner of the manor Henry Wellington, confined to a wheelchair, his two sons and the unpleasant wife, Lavinia. Anne soon discovers that the family hides a dark and terrible secret and that wondering spirit she senses in the house may hold the answers to the mysterious disappearance of Henry’s first wife 40 years before. Together with the less favoured son, Owen, they try to solve the mystery of what really happened to Eleanor Wellington. But someone isn’t happy with these meddling. During a masquerade ball, death strikes. Anne slowly becomes aware of the dangerous road she’s taking and the price of getting closer to a horrifying truth. Can she and Owen get out alive?
Highly addictive, captivating and impossible to put down. It’s a real page-turner.
The setting of the novel is amazing and one of my all-time favourites: an English haunted house in 1922. The atmosphere is that of a gothic novel, dark with several characters that slowly begin to reveal themselves as no so pure people. The pace is very steady and builds up suspense and thrill throughout the story. Clues and crucial information are given in a smooth way and it keeps you on your toes. There are enough twists in the story to keep you guessing the identity of the killer. The ending is completely unexpected but the author gives all the necessary pointers and leaves no loose ends.
The style of writing is captivating and the language is brilliant. Phyllis Newman was able to captivate the dark and mysterious atmosphere typical of a gothic novel. At the same time, it was some cosy mystery elements, like the romance line between Anne and Owen, which was perfectly in line with the mystery. The descriptions are perfect as they give a clear image of the setting and the actions of the characters. The best part is that you cannot get bored with them; with the style of writing runs like soft, dark music running in the background. Additionally, Newman introduces the social problems of the period in a way that gives depth to the story and the characters. The main issue is the class distinction, a characteristic from the 20th century. A young woman loses everything, she doesn’t have any rights and she has to find a way to survive. Finding a job was the only way not to end up in poverty. Newman also integrates supernatural elements just at the right times and the right places which creates spine-chilling moments in the story. I enjoyed every single one of them.
The characters are fantastic and very well developed. Anne is an intelligent young woman that even after going through traumatic events in her life keeps her head up and takes on the challenge life put in front of her. I loved her reasoning and her courage. She’s like a ray of light in that house and to the character that lives in it. Anne isn’t governed by fear, which isn’t surprising considering that she stared at death right in the face. However, she’s not reckless, she follows a logical approach and preserves herself from the people she doesn’t fully trust or understand. All this while being “ladylike”. I loved walking with her through this dark adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel: the romance, the suspense build-up and the moments of pure horror. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Thank you, Phyllis Newman, for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 3 Stars
A gory horror story 90s style that will make you run through the pages.
A haunting secret from the past comes back to haunt the present in the most deadly way possible. At the elite high school Trask Hall located on a secluded island, the life of Layna is a lively competition. When her friends start dying one by one, Layna begins to question her past and her connection to a theatre fire where a student lost his life. Can she find the truth before the killer gets to her?
Now, this is a spooky, heart-stopping novel! I usually don’t fall for high school novels but this one was definitely creepy enough to get my interest. The story is addictive by the way the killings happen and how the plot keeps twisting.
The style of writing is simple and easy to follow but gripping in intriguing at the same time. I think at times it got a bit too aggressive and a bit stereotypical when it comes to describing his characters. The descriptions are very detailed and it’s easy for the reader to jump into this world. I must admit that in some scenes were was hard to read through. It’s clear that Hutson has a passion for horror movies/books.
The novel is fast-paced right from the beginning and the story is told in the third person, which for me made the story easy to follow. The plot was both good and classic. A lot of scenes of the novel definitely brought up memories from the classic horror movies with “let’s go into the basement” and “let’s take a walk in a dark, deserted hallway with a killer on the loose”. Still, there is a definite charm to it. Thommy Hutson adds enough darkness and gory details to create something that leaves a trail of goosebumps. The idea of killing based on superstitions was good and it added spice to the story. There are enough twists to keep the reader completely involved in the story. The best part is that the reader doesn’t really know how everything is connected but in the end, all the information comes together perfectly. The end is shocking and completely unpredictable which worked fine for me. The bottom line of this story: don’t keep secrets, they might come back to get you.
The characters didn’t work out too well for me. I couldn’t connect with them and it seemed like the author didn’t have any love for them either. There is a love-triangle between characters but it felt a bit disconnected from the plot. The fact that the characters just throw themselves in the line of danger and do exactly what they shouldn’t annoy me a bit. It’s like there were created just for the killing. The killer who seemed to be everywhere at once kept messing up his image by being sloppy in some scenes, which killed a bit the mood. I think there is a lack of character development that could make the story more intriguing and actually make the reader feel for these characters.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I think the plot is great and the style of writing, in general, was intriguing but the characters are seriously lacking.
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Thommy Hutson for allow me to participate on the book tour of Jinxed.
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
I didn’t think the sequel to Still House could get any better as the first novel raised a high bar. I was wrong; I’m both glad and disturbed that it was better. This collection takes a dark turn in this novel and even though it’s cruel and agonising at times, it’s next to impossible to stop reading it. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
When Gwen Proctor won the battle to protect her children from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, she thought the war was won too. She was wrong. Things take a dark turn when Melvin escapes from prison and threatens her family’s lives. This time, however, she refuses to be the hunted. Not longer safe at Stillhouse, Gwen leaves her children, Connor and Lanny, in the custody of a well-armed neighbour and goes hunting. Who knew that knowing one of the sickest serial killers gave you some essential knowledge? Together with the brother of one of the many victims, Larry, how far is she willing to go to protect her children? Very, very far.
It’s a strong and dark sequel; it made me stay glued to its page even when it got unbearable. A complete washing machine of emotions and moments that keep the reader on the seat. The pace of the story is fast, full of action and non-stop suspense. Unlike the unique perspective of the main female character, in the sequel, the reader has four perspectives: Gwen, her children and Lanny. Rachel Caine manages the different points-of-view perfectly and it’s easy to jump from one to the other without getting lost in the process.
The setting is much darker than the previous instalment. Caine takes us on a dark journey through the world of torture, child pornography and the exchanges made on the dark side of the internet.
The characters are incredible, more than in the first book. Now that we’ve been introduced to Gwen and her works of her serial killer ex-husband, this novel explores the effect of all the moving, close calls and the lasting repercussions of being implicated in the horrid works of a monster. It was a bit heartbreaking to read the doubt in the minds of the children, questioning their mothers’ motivations and actions. Gwen is still a woman to be reckoned with, even more than before. Now, she’s tired of running and ready to do whatever it takes to have peace. Her emotions and her attitude make her one of the most believable characters I've read so far this year. The villain is both scary and incredibly imagined. The way he's described and his style of hunting had me looking over my shoulder in the street.
Caine raised the bar very high for the next installment. I can’t wait to see what she will create next. I recommend this book to all the fans of a good, heart-stopping thriller filled with action.
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
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
A memorable, unique historical thriller packed with action and an impressive research of historical poisons. It’s very hard to believe this is a debut novel.
This is the tale of a female assassin on the 16th century that uses different poisons as weapon of choice. Lavinia Maud craves for the death fashioned by her own creations, her preys both poor and rich. However, fame brings risk to a higher level. Between avoiding the anger of her patron and struggling between love and death, Lavinia finds out the hard way that the heart is hard to silence and that revenge is served better with a tasteless poison.
Now, this is a new, refreshing novel with an original plot and a fantastic main character. A femme fatale that murders all levels of society, aiming for the ultimate game of her career: what is there not to like? It’s darkly compelling and addictive until the very last page.
The plot is brilliantly thought and developed. It’s fast paced with twists and turns that will swep the floor from under your feet. The originality of the plot is a breath of fresh air in the world of historical thrillers and the level of suspense is enough to make any heart skip a few beats.
The setting is perfectly chosen, the research made by Kara Pohlkamp on the time period and the poisons are impressive and perhaps even a bit scary. The Tudor era is one of my favourites in English history so I was more than pleased to jump into the story. The author provides just the right amount of detail to give the reader the perfect view of this dark tale.
The seductive and hypnotic style of writing pulls the reader deep into the story of this murderess and turns this journey of sin, obsession and murder into a pleasant ride. Pohlkamp is a magician with words, so smooth and seductive that will make readers fall for her novel like clockwork.
The main character is great and memorable. I know she’s an assassin and I know she has an unhealthy obsession with poisons and killing, but at the same time, the way the author presents her, it’s impossible not to connect with Lavinia and admire her. She is a powerful, deadly intelligent woman that uses everything she has to survive a world ruled by men. Her battle between cold logic and her heart is mesmerising to read and her struggles give her an incredible depth as a character.
I can’t wait to see what other tricks Kara Pohlkamp has up her sleeve!
For all the fans of historical thrillers looking for something new and exciting, you can’t let this one get away.
I want to thank the author Kara Pohlkamp for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
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: 4 Stars
A great read! A mix between different genres that blend perfectly together and with a style of writing that got me hooked from the beginning.
Arriving in a new school, Annie feels out of place. When she meets Elsie, she is forced to become her best friend. Her new friend soon begins to reveal that her character isn’t at all pleasant: she is controlling, spiteful and demanding, but at the same time, she is violently bullied. When Annie ends her relationship with Elsie and joins the opposition, things take a turn for the worse: Elsie dies of influenza… and she comes back to haunt Annie. How do you release a vengeful ghost when its anger is aimed at you?
This suspenseful novel is a page-turner with brilliant descriptions and amazing characters.
The setting was very well picked; the reader is taken back to 1918 during the World War I where political tension runs high, the talk of war is current and the Germans are considered the enemy. The descriptions allow the reader to live the story instead of just reading it. The storyline is solid and its depth reveals a few brutal events and behaviours that took place during that time. There is a mix of genres that is perfectly balanced and they all come together to create a historical ghost story.
The novel is fast-paced; I couldn’t find a moment it slowed down even for a moment, one of the reasons the book was so hard to put down.
The characters are the best element in the novel for me. They are very well developed and defined not only in behaviour but also in dialogue and their actions. I must admit I found it impressing that the author managed to do this with so many characters and not once lose track or diminish their presence in the story. Elsie is a character that I couldn’t help but sympathise with. In my opinion, her actions and behaviour come from her lack of attention and acceptance and her loneliness. If she never got anything positive out of human interaction, she wouldn’t know how to actually establish contact in a friendly way in the first place. She has a difficult character, but she was also a victim. Annie is a good main character and she struggles to fit in. In the end, she chooses to be part of the bullies group and it becomes her downfall. She does learn from it though, which was a satisfying point personally. Annie and Elsie are the pole opposites of each other both in personality and behaviour, like good and evil. However, I think the point of the author is that none is really good and no one is really evil, at least not without good reason.
A great read, one that I recommend to all the fans of a good ghost story with historical highlights.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Clarion Books. 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.