Review: Strange Things Done by Elle Wild


As winter closes in and the roads snow over in Dawson City, Yukon, newly arrived journalist Jo Silver investigates the dubious suicide of a local politician and quickly discovers that not everything in the sleepy tourist town is what it seems. Before long, law enforcement begins treating the death as a possible murder and Jo is the prime suspect.

Review

Strange Things Done is Elle Wild’s debut album and what a great debut! The story starts in the in the small town of Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. I love the dark and tense atmosphere that builds up in her narrative. I liked the way Elle Wild developed her characters, but I have to admit that I never quite warmed up to Jo. The chilling small tall narrative reminded me a bit of some of Stephen King’s great classics such as Salem’s lot. For that same reason, at times the story was a little slow for my taste. Overall, I highly recommend this dark and chilly novel.

I would like to thank Dundurn and NetGalley for allowing me to read an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Review: The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey has become the target of a serial killer who believes he’s been appointed God’s executioner. In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim’s grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter. The murderer is a “lone wolf,” a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood-and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race-not grace-provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves.

Review

This is book number two of the Gwen Marcey’s series. Gwen is a forensic artist who’s recovering from a divorce and from cancer. When Gwen’s dog finds a skull of a murder victim, Gwen uses her forensic knowledge and sets out to solve the crime. I really enjoyed this story. The Bones Will Speak is an exciting, fast-paced thriller full of twists and surprises. I didn’t read book one in the series, but I thought this book stood on its own. The parts I really liked about this book was the emphasis on forensic science and the job of forensic artists. At times Gwen came across as a know-it-all sort of person who is part forensic artist part detective. Overall, I enjoyed Parks’ writing style and I think this book will really appeal to fans of CSI and other forensic shows. I recommend it.

I’d like to thank BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 


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Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay (Tour Stop)

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her fourteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace in the woods of a local park. The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend his disappearance. Feeling helpless and alone, their sorrow is compounded by anger and frustration. The local and state police haven’t uncovered any leads. Josh and Luis, the friends who were with Tommy last, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock— rumored to be cursed. Living in an all-too-real nightmare, riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. She believes a ghostly shadow of Tommy materializes in her bedroom, while Kate and other local residents claim to see a shadow peering through their own windows in the dead of night. Then, random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear—entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the woods of Borderland; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connected them all and changes everything. As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened becomes more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

Review

Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is not your usual horror book. I’m not sure I would really classify it as a horror novel, and although I don’t usually review this genre on this blog, I do read horror books quite often. This novel, however, falls under the psychological thriller category because what Tremblay so successfully mastered here was the ability to develop a slow narrative that is both creepy and terrorizing. Psychological stress, frustration, and the unknown are factors much more successful at instilling fear than the flat-out gory and macabre.

The book starts with the dreadful call that every parent fears—that your child is missing. With that premise, Tremblay takes us on a journey with Elizabeth and Kate through the frustrations, the fears, and the pains of having a missing child and not knowing what happened to him. Perhaps because I’m a mother, but also because of the way the story developed, I can say that this is the first book of this genre in which I have felt so much emotion emanating from the pages. I really liked Tremblay’s use of Tommy’s diary entries to give insight into Tommy’s mind and the days close to his disappearance. Without giving too much detail, all I can say is that my heart went out to Elizabeth, to Kate as well as Tommy, and although parts of the plot were a bit predictable, this is not a novel so much about whodunit but also about how the events shape the people involved.

The hallmark of a great novel is the ability to remain on your mind long after you’re done with the book. The disappearance at Devil’s Rock is ultimately a sad novel, but it is a great novel. By far the best book I’ve read in this genre this year.

I’d like to thank TLC Book Tours  for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

5 star

Purchase Links
HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About The Author

Paul Tremblay is a multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist and the author of the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. He has served as the president of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous year’s-best anthologies. Find out more about Paul at:

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Review

Ok, so Dark Matter is one of those novels where the least you know about it the better. I would even say be careful with reading too many reviews because it is really easy to spoil the plot. The first chapters of this book are extremely captivating. This is a fast-paced thriller that will truly surprise you and you won’t see it coming. Suffice to say that this book was absolutely nothing like what I expected it to be. As for the genre of this book, there is a little bit of everything in this story. It’s part sci-fi, part romance, and part thriller. I thought it was a very innovative concept by Blake Crouch. Although this book didn’t get a 5-stars in my opinion, partly because by the time I really understood what was going on in the story the book lost part of its interest, I still highly recommend this book.

I’d like to thank First To Read for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Wolf Lake by John Verdon


Could a nightmare be used as a murder weapon? That’s the provocative question confronting Gurney in the thrilling new installment in this series of international bestsellers. The former NYPD star homicide detective is called upon to solve a baffling puzzle: Four people who live in different parts of the country and who seem to have little in common, report having had the same dream—a terrifying nightmare involving a bloody dagger with a carved wolf’s head on the handle. All four are subsequently found with their wrists cut — apparent suicides — and the weapon used in each case was a wolf’s head dagger. Police zero in quickly on Richard Hammond, a controversial psychologist who conducts hypnotherapy sessions at a spooky old Adirondack inn called Wolf Lake Lodge. It seems that each of the victims had gone there to meet with Hammond shortly before turning up dead. Troubled by odd holes in the official approach to the case, Gurney begins his own investigation — an action that puts him in the crosshairs of not only an icy murderer and the local police but the darkest corner of the federal government. As ruthless as the blizzard trapping him in the sinister eeriness of Wolf Lake, Gurney’s enemies set out to keep him from the truth at any cost — including an all-out assault on the sanity of his beloved wife Madeleine. With his emotional resources strained to the breaking point, Gurney must throw himself into a deadly battle of wits with the most frightening opponent he has ever faced.

Review

Wolf Lake is the latest installment in the Dave Gurney series. This is a novel with a great hook.  Imagine four strangers living in four different parts of the country who all apparently committed suicide after having the same nightmare. The one thing these four strangers share in common is that each of the victims prior to their death met with a controversial psychologist, Richard Hammond, at a thousand-dollar-a-night resort. Verdon really weaves a fantastic story even if at times it mixes elements of supernatural, paranoia and even terrorism. The plot has several twists and the ending did not disappoint. I wished I had read the previous books in the series in order to get better acquainted with Gurney and more familiar with his turbulent relationship with his wife. Overall, kudos to the mind of John Verdon for coming up with this intense and exciting psychological thriller.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

Review

One of the things that caught my attention about this book was its cover. And after reading the synopsis I was really interested in reading this book. I started reading this book unaware that this was a book in a series, but luckily for me, this small detail did not prevent me from fully enjoying and understanding the plot.

The story starts with Dr. Diana Jagger a surgeon on trial for the murder of her husband Peter.  Only months after their marriage, Peter is killed in a suspicious car crash. Although Peter’s body is never found, Dr. Jagger becomes the first suspect and Jack Parlabane is hired to investigate the case.

Black Widow was one of those books with a slow start that all of the sudden had an unexpected twist that completely set things back in motion. This book really blew me away and kept me awake until late hours of the night in expectation for what was coming next. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that this is book seven of the Jack Parlabane series. This story certainly stands alone and will certainly keep you guessing until the surprising finale. Great read!

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published November 1, 2016.


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Review: The Silence of The Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

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In The Silence of the Sea, the sixth installment in the ThĂłra GudmundsdĂłttir series, a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbor with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when the yacht left Lisbon? What should Thora make of the rumors saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing children? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore? The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an international bestselling author at the height of her powers.

Although The Silence of The Sea is the 6th book in the ThĂłra GudmundsdĂłttir series, it is definitely a book that stands alone. I can’t remember how I heard about this book, but I can tell you that I searched a few libraries for it and had to wait a few days for my inter-library loan to arrive. I’m glad I requested this book. This is my first novel from Icelandic author Yrsa (pronounced UR-suh) Sigurdardorttir (pronounced SIG-ur-dar-daughter). Wow! That’s a mouth full, so when you get passed all the different spellings and difficult sounding names in the novel what you get is a book with a great start and a great hook. Sigurdardortti’s narrative starts out slow and creepy. She sets a great vibe and atmosphere with her chilling descriptions of Iceland in the winter and an abandoned yacht. This book has a feel that is partially ghostly/paranormal and partially thriller/crime.

The book’s narrative alternates between Thora’s accounts of the events and how she gets involved in the investigation and the description of the events that are happening in the Yacht, told by one of the passengers named AEgir. I really liked this novel. It reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and towards the end when the mystery is about to be solved, I felt an element of Scooby-Doo with “and I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for….”

I’m definitely recommending this chilling, suspenseful novel. I was very impressed with Sigurdardortti’s writing and I’m looking forward to reading her other novels.

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Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

Wow! That’s the word that came out of my mouth after reading Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger. Lately, between grad school, two children, a dog, and a full-time job, long were the days I could finish books in one day, let alone in one sitting. When I picked up this book I had no idea how addicting, thrilling, and exciting this reading would be. I only have praise for Unger. From the very first pages, you are drawn into this intricate web that mixes psychological thriller, crime, and paranormal. I found this story to be very disturbing, but surprising. Every time I thought the story was going in one direction, bam! The author takes you on a completely different route.

Extremely refreshing, chilling, borderline horror (really!), page-turner, can’t-put-it-down sort of book. I highly recommend this book to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published June 7, 2016.

5 star

Review: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

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When the remains of a young child are discovered during a winter storm on a stretch of the bleak Lancashire coastline known as the Loney, a man named Smith is forced to confront the terrifying and mysterious events that occurred forty years earlier when he visited the place as a boy. At that time, his devoutly Catholic mother was determined to find healing for Hanny, his disabled older brother. And so the family, along with members of their parish, embarked on an Easter pilgrimage to an ancient shrine.   But not all of the locals were pleased to see visitors in the area. And when the two brothers found their lives entangling with a glamorous couple staying at a nearby house, they became involved in more troubling rites. Smith feels he is the only one to know the truth, and he must bear the burden of his knowledge, no matter what the cost.

Ok, so this is a novel I admit I had huge expectations from. Not only because I had heard all the praises about it, but also because this book won the 2015 Costa First Novel Award, a popular literary prize in the UK.  I can’t see how this happened. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is very well written. I really enjoyed the character of the pious mother and the gothic, eerie, creepy suspense that the author brought to the pages. However, the reason I can’t rate this book more than 3-stars is for the simple fact that some parts were extremely slow and repetitive, the ending was disappointing, and it just didn’t live up to the suspenseful atmosphere of the beginning of the book.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological Thriller by S.E. Lynes

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When  Glasgow journalist  Shona McGilvery moves with her partner  Mikey  and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.But with Mikey working offshore, the  frightening  isolation of the Aberdeenshire  countryside begins to drive her insane…That is until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…

This is the story of Shona, a mid-twenties journalist who has to move to the isolated countryside of Aberdeenshire, Scotland for her husband Mikey’s job. When Shona and baby Isla arrive in Aberdeenshire, she realizes that with her husband’s schedule she and baby will have to spend a significant amount of time alone in this idyllic cottage in rural Scotland. The thought of being alone and isolated in her new home makes Shona apprehensive. Melancholic and in dire need of adult social interaction Shona meets Valentina at a local baby nursery. Valentina is a charming Australian with a small baby of similar age to Isla. Valentina and Shona strike an immediate friendship and things seem to be finally working out for Shona in her new life until a web of deceit starts to unravel threatening this “perfect” friendship.

Valentina is the debut novel of author S.E. Lynes and let me start by saying what a strong debut this novel is! I loved how captivating this novel is from the start and it never disappoints. The characters are well developed and complex. I loved the way she told this story from different perspectives, and although part of the plot was a bit predictable, Lyne still managed to finish the book with a surprising finale. 5-stars! I’m definitely recommending it!

I’d like to thank the author and Blackbird Digital Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on July 1, 2016.

5 star