Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect

The Suspect by Fiona Barton is a fast paced mystery.

Two girls are missing.  They took off from England to go on a holiday in Thailand, before starting college.

Reporter Kate Waters quickly learns, while she is investigating the disappearance, that she has become the story as her son is somehow involved.

As the mystery unfolds, Barton explores the reactions that Kate and the mothers of the two girls have regarding their children.

I enjoyed THE SUSPECT.  I particularly liked the novel’s structure.  Each short chapter is designated from the point of view of a character or is a throwback to what actually happened.  I especially enjoyed the throwbacks and emails of one of the girls to her friend back home, learning what really happened while also following the investigation.

I reviewed Barton’s debut novel, THE WIDOW (read my review here).  Some of the characters are in both novels including Kate Waters (“The Reporter”) and DI Bob Sparkes (“The Detective”) .  I didn’t get a chance to read Barton’s second novel, THE CHILD (An NPR Best Book of the Year), but understand it also features the reporter Kate Waters.

First Paragraph

Continue reading “Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton”

Review: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

once upon a river

Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield begins, (circa 1887) at the Swan at Radcot, a pub along the Thames River where folks regularly gather to drink and tell stories.  One night something considered impossible occurs at the pub.

“For another hour they talked.  Every detail of the day’s events were gone over, the facts were weighed and combined, quantities of surmising, eavesdropping, and supposition were stirred in for flavor, and a good sprinkling of rumor was added like yeast to make it rise.” – Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield  – p. 158

Each chapter in the novel becomes almost a story in itself.  I enjoyed the novel, but took breaks between chapters as the writing was intricate and I needed to take extra time to let the chapters settle in my mind.  I did indeed enjoy each chapter and looked forward to picking up the book for the next epesode as I knew I would be in for a treat.

As the novel continues and we learn about the lives of people along the river,  various tangents begin to relate to one another, the suspense builds and I did not want to put the book down.

The author asks us to suspend disbelief.  If a thing is impossible, does that mean it didn’t happen?

“just ’cause a thing’s impossible don’t mean it can’t happen.” – p. 301

Once Upon A River checked off some of the things I especially like.  It is historical fiction and the characters are fully developed.

What Others Are Saying

Continue reading “Review: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield”

Book Brief and Giveaway! The Broken Girls

the broken girls

I loved, loved, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James .  Like any good ghost story, the secrets are slowly revealed.  So, I wont say too much.

Through the years, girls in an all-girl boarding school pass messages via the textbook margins about a ghost named Mary Hand.

One example:

Mary Hand, Mary Hand, dead and buried under land.  She’ll say she wants to be your friend.  Do not let her in again!

As the story progresses we learn more.   The novel skips from the present to the past seamlessly.  It is rich with story, characters, eloquence and suspense.

The publisher, Berkley, has generously offered a free copy of The Broken Girls by Simone St. James via a giveaway (entry form is below)  on Posting For Now.

The Broken Girls would make a great movie! Continue reading “Book Brief and Giveaway! The Broken Girls”

Book Brief: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 12 hours and 13 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Audible Release Date: May 3, 2016

I enjoyed I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  I started listening to it one morning while catching up with my ironing and stayed up past midnight to finish it.  It is an impressive debut novel.  According to Clare’s website, she has a second novel out this year, I See You.

I Let You Go is about a five year old boy who is killed in a hit and run.  The novel is effectively narrated by Nicola Barber and Steven Crossley.  As the investigation into the accident continues we are given a chilling look at domestic violence.

What Others Are Saying

This novel was my local book club’s monthly selection.  On checking what others have to say on GoodReads, I was surprised many of my friends have read it.  I am not alone in my assessment.  Below are a few quotes.

“I LET YOU GO takes off like a speeding train and doesn’t stop with the suspense until the last page.” – Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews

“Wow, I LET YOU GO is an amazing psychological thriller.” –  Diana @ Book of Secrets

“This is a brilliantly written book which I couldn’t put down until I was finally finished.” – Maureen

“A chilling and dramatic conclusion left me holding my breath until the final page…and even then, I wasn’t sure that something dark would not appear at the last second.” – Laurel-Rain Snow

“I Let You Go will grab hold of you from the very opening sentence and leave you slack jawed.” – Lisa @ Sassy Cat Chat

“The ending is unexpected and shocking, and you wonder what will come next.” – Harvey @ Book Dilettante

About The Author (from the author’s website)

Clare spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time.

(purchase from amazon)

Review: The Lost Girls by Heather Young

 

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Narrators: Alice Rosengard and Laurel Schroeder 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 35 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 26, 2016

The Lost Girls is told in a steady, very somber/dark tone.  It is multi layered with many surprising twists.

There are two narrators for this novel.  One narrative is about three young sisters and their relationship while spending the summer at the family’s lake house,.  It is told by one narrator in the voice of the middle sister, Lucy.

The second narration is about Lucy’s grand-neice, Justine, who inherits the house.  Justine has two daughters.

Having two different narrators was very effective.  Lucy is writing about that summer for Justine to read and know about what happened.  The author, Heather Young’s talents are clearly on display.

The Lost Girls gives you pause for thought about families, the relationships that exist behind closed doors and the evil that may be lurking there.

If the author’s second novel, Lovelock, is as good as her first, The Lost Girls, it will be a doozy.

This novel is reminiscent of another 5-star rated novel,  A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (my review ~ 2014).

What Other’s Are Saying

“I enjoyed THE LOST GIRLS despite the gloomy feeling that seemed to overshadow everyone. Ms. Young has a marvelous, descriptive writing style that helped you understand and connect with each character and each situation.​ Her writing just pulled you into the story. ” – Elizabeth of Silver’s Reviews

“Impressive debut!” – Diana ☕ Book of Secrets

“I am thrilled to announce that The Lost Girls has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. – Heather Young 

“Young’s intricately wrought family drama tarries over details of time, place, and emotion as it gradually reveals her debut’s tragic core.” – Kirkus Review

About The Author (from the author’s website)

After a decade practicing law and another raising kids, Heather decided to finally write the novel she’d always talked about writing. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and the Tin House Writers Workshop, all of which helped her stop writing like a lawyer. She lives in Mill Valley, California, with her husband and two teenaged children. When she’s not writing she’s biking, hiking, neglecting potted plants, and reading books by other people that she wishes she’d written.

She is currently working on her second novel, Lovelock.

(Purchase Fron Amazon)

Review: The Women In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

My Review (5 Stars – Loved it!)

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 8 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 19, 2016

 Imogen Church (Narrator)

Once I started it, I enjoyed The Woman In Cabin 10 and listened to it over the course of a couple of days.  I listened to the enjoyable English accent of Imogen Church out-loud as I don’t like to wear headphones, if I don’t have to.

There was a lot of cursing, which didn’t bother me as it added to the tension in the story.  However, my husband, hearing nearby, expressed some shock!

The main character in the story, Lo Blacklock, suffers from anxiety.  When she is thrown into a whodunit murder mystery, her anxiety intensifies.  I thought the continual anxiety was a little overkill.  On second thought, that is the nature of anxiety and the author, Ruth Ware, captured it well.

To the author and narrator’s credit, I was, in a way, glued to my seat until the end.  While I didn’t feel it was a particularly clever plot, I rated it 5 Stars since it was entertaining.

On the Simon & Shuster’s website there are links for the book trailer as well as a reading group guide.

What Others Are Saying

“Whoa! This book was a wild ride.” Diana from Diana ☕ Book of Secrets

“The Woman in Cabin 10 was a riveting tale that kept me hanging on by a thread as it catapulted from one strange event to another.” – Laurel-Rain

About The Author (from the author’s website)

Ruth Ware grew up in Lewes, in Sussex and studied at Manchester University, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer.

Her début thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood and the follow-up The Woman in Cabin 10 were both Sunday Times top ten bestsellers in the UK, and New York Times top ten bestsellers in the US.  She is currently working hard on book three.

Purchase From Amazon

Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 24 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 9, 2015
  • Narrator Zach Villa

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens has some violence in it, but it is about a murderer, so it fits the story well.  The novel is fast paced and well written.  I listened to it in just a few days as it held my interest.

At the opening of the story, the convicted murderer, Carl Iverson, is an old dying man in a nursing home.  Joe Talbert, a young college student, on a school assignment to write a biography of an older person, begins a quest to find out the truth about the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl, thirty years ago.

I enjoyed Eskens’ characterizations.  In a short amount of time he was able to bring his characters to life and make them seem very realistic and in some cases sympathetic.

The various characters added another facet to the story,  Among the character’s were Joe’s bipolar mother and autistic brother and the college girl who lives next-door to Joe, but keeps her distance.  Another facet is Carl’s story from when he was a soldier in Vietnam.

The Life We Bury is an apropos title as it smartly shows, in several instances, the past that people move on from and in a sense bury.

The narrator, Zach Villa did a great job and was very easy to listen to.

Read More or Purchase from Amazon

First Paragraph (from library book)

Published 2014 by Seventh Street Books an imprint of Prometheus Books

Chapter 1

I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples.  There are people in this world who would call that kind of feeling a premonition, a warning from some internal third eye that can see around the curve of time.  I’ve never been one to buy into such things.  But I will confess that there have been times when I think back to that day and wonder: if the fates had truly whispered in my ear – if I had known how that drive would change so many things – would I have taken a safer path?  Would I turn left where before I had turned right? Or would I still travel the path that led me to Carl Iverson?

What Others Are Saying

“Allen Eskens had a way of capturing Joe’s voice in this book. The addition of what his family/home life was like was brilliant.”

“There are not many books in the last year that I can say I fell in love with right from the start, but this one earned that statement.” – Sheila @ BookJourney

“There’s a lot of action and tension so I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could.”

“I thought the storyline of THE LIFE WE BURY was strong and very compelling.” – Kathy @ BermudaOnion’s Web Log

About The Author (from the author’s website)

SHORT BIO

Allen Eskens is the award winning and USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another and The Heavens May Fall. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Rosebud Award and the Silver Falchion Award for his debut novel, The Life We Bury, which was also named a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Allen honed his creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

 by Colleen Hoover

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: August 2, 2016

Narrator: Olivia Song

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

In the past author, Colleen Hoover, wrote for entertainment purposes.  It Ends With Us, while entertaining and fictional, is different in that it is more personal to Colleen.

It Ends With Us starts out with a Fifty Shades of Grey type of sexual tension between florist, Lily Bloom and brain surgeon, Ryle Kincaid.

Ryle avoids long-term relationships, but finds Lily irresistible.

Lily occasionally thinks about her first love, but falls for Ryle.

While their romance is hot and heavy, the story suddenly takes a very dark and serious turn.

Colleen Hoover gives us a nice balance between the dark and lighter sides of the story.

It Ends With Us, touched my heart as it is about resilience in the face of tremendous obsticles.

What Others Are Saying

“A beautiful story of bravery, strength and hope – this book will change people’s lives. It’s without a doubt Colleen’s best work.” – Brandie @ Brandie is a Book Junkie

“A beautifully sad and inspirational story about breaking cycles, making hard choices, and loving the one you are meant to be with, even when someone else is also the love of your life.” – Laural Rain Snow

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Review: Since She Went Away by David Bell & Giveaway

since she went awaySince She Went Away by David Bell

New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2016

With Questions For Discussion

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

David Bell is a smooth storyteller.  I enjoyed this captivating novel.  It is an, easy to read suspense/mystery with a steady pace and great characterizations.

Since She Went Away takes place in a small town.  At the heart of this story is a single mother, Jenna Barton and her teen-aged son, Jared.  The suspense and the mystery surround Jenna’s friend, Celia, who is missing and Jared’s girlfriend who is new in town.

Please feel free to enter the giveaway contest below.  You don’t want to miss this novel!

First Chapter(s)

CHAPTER ONE

Five police cars.  Three news vans.  And one coroner’s wagon.

Jenna Barton saw them as she made the turn onto the last county lane.  The vehicles were fanned out around the old weathered barn with one all collapsing and the others hanging on for dear life.

About The Author

David Bell is bestselling and award-winning author whose work has been translated into six languages.  He’s currently an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  He received an MA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in American literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati.  His previous novels are Somebody I Used to Know, The Forgotten Girl, Never Come Back, The Hiding Place and Cemetery Girl.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and for sponsoring this giveaway contest (June 21-July 18) for a free copy of Since She Went Away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** This is the second novel I’ve read by Bell.  The first one was in 2015, The Cemetery Girl.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: 

netgalley50I received this book  free from the publisher, Random House as well as an advance copy via NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

 

No One Knows (A thriller) by J.T. Ellison

Gallery Books, March 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

No One Knows, a thriller, is the first novel I’ve read by the New York Times Bestselling author, J.T. Ellison.  Her writing style is easy to read.  I found myself quickly caught up in this twisted tale.

As the author mentions in her acknowledgements, this novel has a ‘dark side’.  The flawed characters and their shaded backstories are well developed.

Fair-warning, some parts of this novel might be considered x-rated.

Just a brief intro to the plot:

Aubrey Hamilton’s husband Josh, missing for five years, is declared legally dead by the state of Tennessee.

Aubrey is emotionally suffering.  She is missing Josh and, not knowing what happened to him, struggles to cope.

Josh’s mother, Daisy, who always despised Aubrey, does not make life any easier for her.

Ok, so that’s all I’m going to say about the story-line.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not read it yet.

Continue reading “Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison”

Review: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

 

Flight of Dreams: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon

Double Day a Division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

In Flight of Dreams, author, Ariel Lawhon puts us on the Hindenburg, from it’s majestical take off to it’s disastrous landing.
Lawhon presents a suspenseful fictional account, character driven, that shows us the luxury flight was all but ‘uneventful.’

The flight from Germany to New Jersey took approximately four days.  In Flight of Dreams we count down these days.

It took awhile to get into this novel.  There are a variety of passenger stories that intertwine.  We are cleverly moved along in the story by chapters (sub-stories) of the characters, including, but not limited to, The Stewardess, The Journalist, The American, The Cabin Boy, and The Navigator.  By the conclusion, we gain a greater appreciation for the tragedy that occurred on that fateful day in May and the humanity that was lost.

I think many people, at least my age, have heard of the Hindenburg tragedy.  Before starting this fictional account,  I wanted to see how people actually traveled in the Hindenburg, and learn a little more about the facts.  So, I checked the Internet and found some interesting photos and information, which gained more meaning after reading this novel.  Here are a couple of links:

Airships.net: A Dirigible and Zeppelin History Site: The Hindenburg’s Interior: Passenger Decks

Hindenburg disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster

The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst in Manchester TownshipNew Jersey, United States. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities (13 passengers and 22 crewmen). One worker on the ground was also killed, making a total of 36 fatalities. – Hindenburg disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster

Continue reading “Review: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon”

Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton

New American Library an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Release Date: February 16, 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

In her debut novel, The Widow, the author, Fiona Barton, skillfully presents a detective story.

The case is that a two year old child goes missing from her front lawn.
Among the main characters are Bob Sparks (a detective),  Glen Taylor (a suspect who is linked to child pornography),  Jean Taylor (the suspect’s widow), and Kate Waters (a reporter ).  The case was not solved before the suspect died.  DI Sparks just can’t let go of this.  The main suspect is dead and the little girl has not been found.

I enjoyed the setting, which I believe is in the UK.  I think the characterizations might be slightly different than if set in America.  A small example might be that often characters have tea.  Here in America, I think it might be coffee.  John O’Connell in “The Best Recent Thrillers – Reviews Roundup“, from The Guardian might phrase this notion better.

“My one reservation is Jean’s odd voice, which feels too 1950s-prim – an upper-middle-class person’s slightly dated idea of how lower-middle-class people speak. But then, Glen and Jean are nothing if not strange, so perhaps that extends to their domestic idiolect.” – John O’Connell (“The Best Recent Thrillers – Reviews Roundup“, The Guardian)

However, I felt, the author’s writing style was very engaging.

The interesting and different slant on this story is that the focus is on the suspect’s widow.  Her life was complicated by her husband.  After her husband dies, her life is complicated by the investigators and the reporters.  The reporter, Kate Waters is successful with her  approach toward getting interviews.

This novel has been compared to Gone Girl.  While the widow is introspective as the wife was in Gone Girl, the novel did not have that sudden, surprising, gripping, twist that I was anticipating.

Continue reading “Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton”