Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz

42931506When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started. Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in. Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?


Forgotten Bones is not your average crime thriller, and I will go over why. The premise of the book is excellent. Susan, a young detective upon responding to a car accident scene, comes across the body of a young child. Police quickly attributes the crime to a local pedophile. However, Susan is suspicious that there is more to the story and decides to embark on an investigation on her own. Parallel to Susan’s story we meet Eric, a geology professor going through a turbulent divorce and moves to California to get away from his ex-wife who dumped him for his brother.

Eric settles in at the new college and town in an attempt to rebuild his life. Eric is a known schizophrenic, and although he’s entirely compliant to his medication regime, he starts to worry that his illness is getting worse as he starts to have visions of a little boy in overalls. Eric and Susan’s paths will cross, and together, they will fight to discover the truth regarding the death of this little kid.

Barz alternates chapters between Susan’s story and Eric’s story. A technique that for most of the time, tends to chop the flow of the story. The reason this book is not your typical crime/mystery book is the fact that there are no red herrings. What you see, or better yet, who you suspect all along, is in fact, the culprit(s).

By the time I got to sixty percent of the book and had the mystery pretty much figured out, there was very little interest in the rest of the story. I honestly do not understand the author’s intention with making the answers to this crime so visible right off the bat. I kept hoping that the story was going to turn out a bit like a Scooby-Doo cartoon where the obviously mean, greedy, and weird were innocent, and the super lovely characters turn out to be the guilty ones.

Unfortunately, no! This novel was written with the intent to make the guilty quite evident from the start. The pitfall, however, is that once the reader has the mystery figured out there’s very little substance to carry on the rest of the book.

Some important trigger warnings to mention are pedophilia (although not explicit), child abuse, and neglect.

Forgotten Bones is scheduled to be published on August 1, 2019. I would like to thank Thomas and Mercer publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: e-ARC, Kindle 298 pages
Published: Expected publication August 1st, 2019 by Thomas and Mercer
ASIN: B07KF46YBG
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Thomas and Mercer, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Crime, Suspense, Mystery

 

 

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

37912970Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle. But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….


Less than a perfect wife and mother, Alison is an attorney with a drinking problem who is having an affair with a co-worker, and she just landed her first murder case. She is married to Carl, a struggling therapist who is also a stay-at-home-dad and mother to five-year-old Matilda (Tilly). Alison’s life is spiraling down to a complete disaster, as her marriage to Carl is falling apart she struggles with her destructive drinking and sordid affair with Patrick. Faced with her first murder case to defend, will there be hopes for Alison to regenerate, save her marriage, and become the loving, present, mother her daughter Tilly deserves?

This is an exciting, edge-of-your-seat, can’t-put-it-down sort of thriller. Tyce gets you hooked from the prologue. There are no slow, boring parts. You are taken down the same sordid and destructive path that Alison takes. Blood Orange is the sort of novel where you can’t tell the bad guys from the good guys and nothing; absolutely nothing is what it seems. My only gripe with this novel is that half-way through the book I felt the plot reminded me of some elements of another great British novel, B.A. Paris’s The Breakdown. I don’t want to reveal too much in fear that I might spoil the fun. Blood Orange is Harriet Tyce’s debut novel.


Format: Hardcover, 340 pages
Published: February 21st, 2019 by Wildfire (first published January 10th, 2019
ISBN:1472252756
Source: Library loan
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Thriller

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

 

41806986Shortly after the birth of her twins, Lauren is recovering in the hospital when she hears a woman singing an eerie song. Concerned that the woman will wake up her twins, Laura approaches her and asks her to stop singing. The woman, dressed in ragged and dirty clothes seems to be singing to her own baby twins. When Lauren approaches her, the woman presents Lauren with an offer–her dirty and filthy creatures, for Lauren’s own sweet, perfect babies. When Lauren refuses, the crazed woman attempts to steal the babies away. Fearing for her life and for the lives of her twins, Lauren hides in the bathroom and calls the police. When the police arrive, there are no signs of an intruder in the hospital. Nurses and doctors deny the presence of an intruder and everyone turns to Lauren questioning her sanity. Could she be having some sort of post-natal psychosis?

If you have ever had children and by that I mean if you have ever birthed children, you are well aware of how exhausting the process is. If you ever had twins, then you also know the amount of work and lack of sleep that comes with them. Golding is superb in describing these initial days right after bringing a baby home. You can relate to the desperation that the new parents, Lauren and Patrick, are feeling. Lack of sleep and the constant demands of two newborn babies can drive anyone a bit nuts. Golding has a beautiful way of describing a scene that puts the reader in the middle of the action, and at times it’s hard to discern if Lauren is just one over-exhausted new mother, or if indeed some evil force is trying to take her babies away. Little Darlings is the debut novel of Melanie Golding. This is a suspenseful, addictive, and intelligent drama that mixes well the themes of myth, parenthood, pain, guilt, and psychosis. The ending is brilliant and by far one of the best novels I have read this year.

Little Darlings is scheduled to be published on April 30, 2019.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: ARC
Published: Expected publication: April 30th, 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1683319974
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Thriller

 

The Breakdown by B.A Paris

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It’s late at night and Cassie is driving on a deserted road when she almost hits a car that seems to be broken down on the side of the road. When she drives by the car, she sees the figure of a woman on the driver side. It’s raining, and Cassie is hesitant about leaving her car to help a stranger. After mulling and weighing all the risks of helping strangers in the middle of the night, Cassie decides she is better off not getting involved and decides to drive home. The next day, Cassie learns in the news that a woman was brutally murdered on the same road around the same time she was driving the night before. Cassie becomes consumed with guilt over the fact that she didn’t stop to help the stranger, only to find out that the woman was no stranger at all but someone she once met at a party and even went out to lunch on one occasion. This knowledge plunges Cassie in a downward spiral of guilt, fear, and paranoia. Cassie, who once considered herself a little absent-minded now starts to forget everything from where she parked her car, to ordering an alarm system to her house, and buying a baby stroller when she is not even pregnant. Completely paranoid that she might be suffering from the same illness as her late mother–early onset dementia, the only people Cassie can rely on are her husband Matthew and her best friend, Rachael.

The Breakdown is the third book I read from B.A. Paris, and just like my last review on Bring Me Back, The Breakdown has a solid premise. Unfortunately, B.A Paris once again makes similar mistakes to her earlier novel. Unlike Bring Me Back where the end is entirely improbable, you figure out the plot of The Breakdown half-way through the book, and what follows is a series of Cassie’s constant whiny dialogues and endless pages of text messages that were completely unnecessary once you figure out the plot. The ending is anti-climatic and predictable.

On the positive side, I always give kudos to authors who can create characters that annoy me. Characters that are so well written that I can hear their voices in my head or imagine what they look like. These types of characters are alive, and Cassie was one of them, however much I disliked her as a person. For that reason and the fact that the book holds a lot of suspense and interest for the first half of the book, I’m recommending it to fans of the genre.


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Our House by Louise Candlish

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When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other.

Review

Imagine you come back from a vacation, and you find that someone has moved into your house, except that your house was not for sale. This is how Our House by Louise Candlish starts. We are introduced to Fionna Lawson, aka Fi and her horror when she enters her house to find another family moving in and all of her furniture gone. Her children are nowhere to be found, and neither is her husband, Bram.

The magic of this book was Candlish’s ability to take you on this ride with Fi as her life spirals out of control and the reader feels every bit of desperation that Fi feels. Is she insane? Is she dreaming? Is this some prank someone is pulling on her? The premise of the book is genius and you can’t help but keep on reading.

What I enjoyed about this book was how the story was told from Fi’s perspective via a recording of the podcast The Victim, tweets that people posted based on Fi’s recorded story, and Bram’s word document explaining what had happened. I think this was an interesting, although not the first author to do it, way to tell a story.

Unfortunately, I felt that the story dragged on and on towards the end. Although the ending was surprising, when it finally came it was not strong enough to pull the story through.

I would like to thank Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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: 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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AudioBook Review: Witness by Nora Roberts


Daughter of a cold, controlling mother and an anonymous donor, studious, obedient Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever. Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she works at home designing sophisticated security systems. Her own security is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town.The mystery of Abigail Lowery intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and a professional level. Her sharp, logical mind, her secretive nature, her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, even if he doesn’t know what – and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed. Accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, Gleason is about to walk into the sights of very powerful and dangerous men. And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.


Review

I’ve been a long time fan of Nora Roberts, but I’m also one to admit that throughout the years some of her books have fallen a bit short in my opinion. Since I devour books in pretty much any shape or form, and since I listen to audiobooks quite often, when I found The Witness by Nora Roberts in audio format I decided to give it a try.

This is the story of Elizabeth (Liz) Fitch, a sheltered daughter of a famous surgeon in Chicago. When precocious Liz decides to rebel against her controlling mother, she decides to live like a normal teenager. Out on the town with her friend, Liz finds herself at the hottest nightclub in Chicago where she meets a mysterious and seductive Russian and when Liz witnesses a murder she must go into a witness protection program, changes her name to Abigail Lowery and spends the next twelve years hiding as a freelance programmer.

I’d like to start by saying the things about this novel that worked for me. The first part of this book was fast-paced and interesting. I liked the premise of the book and I actually had a hard time turning the audio off. I was very pleased with the narration. Julia Whelan is a prolific narrator who has done a great job narrating many novels. Her ability to use different accents both regional and international was really impressive.

Unfortunately, the problem with this novel is that at half-way through the story, the book loses its oomph, its momentum. The story gets stuck in a plot that is unrelated to the original interesting plot. It becomes about the life of this small town in Arkansas–and sorry for the honesty, but it’s just flat-out boring. The novel manages to go back to the original plot towards the end but only to conclude in a predictable end. As for the characters, I love strong, intelligent female characters, but unfortunately there is something quite annoying about a character who has to remind us every other sentence how smart she is. Actually, it is pretty hard to relate to Liz/Abigail. She is so perfect that at times she comes off as a cross between a robot and a Stepford wife. The character of Brooks Gleason is bearable and a bit more likable of a character, but far from being an original one. I couldn’t brush off the feeling that I had read Gleason in another book, under another name. Overall, I just wasn’t very impressed.

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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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