The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

Review

I absolutely loved this book. I have been reading Louise Penny for quite some time and one of the things that really impress me about her books is the richness of her characters. I love that all the characters have so many layers. This book reminded me a little of Umberto Eco’s The Name of The Rose. Probably because it’s set in a monastery. Unlike Eco’s long and drawn out novel, Penny’s novel is full of twists that keep you guessing until the end. Don’t let the theme of a monastery full of monks and Gregorian chants scare you away from this novel. This is a very well-plotted mystery! I highly recommend it.

 

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:

Website | Twitter | Facebook


Review: Lowcountry Stranger by Ashley Farley

30046609

There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay. The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year-old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity. Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.

Review

This is book number two of the Sweeney sisters, and I received a copy from Kimberly the Caffeinated Book Reviewer in exchange for my honest review. I was a little hesitant to read the second book in a series when I still had book one, Her Sister’s Shoes, on my TBR list. I’m glad I did. This is my first book by Ashley Farley, and I really loved the way she writes. It seems to me that there’s a strong family element of love, bonding, and loyalty between the sisters that truly fascinated me. I’m an only child, so I’m always amazed at stories about sibling love. This is definitely one of those stories. Another great thing about this novel is that as you read the blurb of the story you might get a feel that this is going to be one of those books that are predictable, and what I loved about Lowcountry Stranger is that it is full of twists and surprises. When you think the story is going one way, Farley adds another twist to make it even more interesting.

I absolutely loved some of the characters. I want to go back and read Her Sister’s Shoes to get to know a little more about Faith and her ex-husband. I loved their mother Lovie, the character of Moses, and obviously the sisters Sam, Faith, and Jackie. I really enjoyed meeting the Sweeney sisters, and I’m looking forward to reading her next books in the series.

This book is scheduled to be published July 1, 2016.

5 star


About The Author

6916019

Ashley Farley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. SAVING BEN is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.


Website | Twitter | Facebook


Review: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

26722820

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met–a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a curiously charming debut and a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

There were so many things I absolutely loved about this book. I want to start with the character of Arthur Pepper. What a wonderful man! Somehow he reminded me of my grandfather. Patrick’s writing is exquisite and she does a wonderful job at bringing those characters to life and making them as likable as they are. Arthur’s adventure becomes your adventure and it is so nice to experience with him all the changes he goes through during his journey. I don’t want to give too much away, but rest assured this is a delightful book that I think will stay in my heart for a while. I finished the book and I immediately missed it. That’s always a great sign of the power of a book. This is indeed a sentimental novel exploring the themes of death, grieving and moving on with life.

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

5 star

Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

27276336

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

29957613

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

Review: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

18490777

This is the story of Sarah Brown daughter of abolitionist John Brown. She is one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers. After learning the shocking news that she cannot bear children, she starts to create maps and hide them in her paintings helping save the lives of slaves fleeing north.

The narrative is split between 1850-60s West Virginia and the present day. The flow of the narrative worked well for this novel, with Sarah Brown’s narrative of the past being better developed than the present day story. Overall, this style of narrative brought the characters to life and made it to a very interesting story.

I certainly recommend this book even if you are not a huge fan of historical fiction. I really enjoyed Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children. This book pulled me right in from the very first pages. The characters are vivid and believable. A perfect blend of real historical people and fictional characters.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

5 star

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children/Author:Sarah McCoy/Genre:Historical Fiction/ ISBN:9780385348904/Publisher:Crown/Rating: 5-Stars/Read:July, 2015.