4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Q, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network
by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network

 

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 494

Read: June 23 – July 5, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased new
Blurb: 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth … no matter where it leads.


Review: I purchased this one new some time ago and I was really excited about this one – it sounded so good! And then I did what I always do – I let it languish on my bookshelves. So I was excited to finally get around to this one.

For the most part, I enjoyed it. However, I struggled in the beginning – it had quite a slow start for me. But I powered through it and was pleasantly rewarded by sticking it out.

I definitely enjoyed it and am glad that I finally got around to reading this one. I’d definitely recommend this one!

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2/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The River by Peter Heller

The River
by Peter Heller

The River

 

Copyright: 2019

Pages: 253

Read: June 30 – July 2, 2019

Rating: 2/5

Source: Library
Blurb: Wynn an dJack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding tale of desperate wilderness survival.


Review: This book is on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide this year. And it was available at the library, so I decided to take a chance on it. I wasn’t too sure about the  outdoorsy aspect of it (so not my cup of tea), but I was a little intrigued by the blurb – who was this man? Where was the woman? What was the argument about?

To be completely honest … it fell short for me. I found it to be extremely wordy. And unfortunately it was wordy about things that simply did not interest me. I really have no interest in the outdoors or canoeing and this book really centers around this. And then I was disappointed that there wasn’t really more to the man and woman arguing aspect of the book. Had it gone more in that direction it likely would have worked better for me. I also didn’t care much for the ending.

Overall it’s a quick read but I did find myself skimming a lot more than I usually do in a book. There was just a lot of information about canoeing and the general outdoors that simply bored me. This one just wasn’t a book for me.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

 

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 415

Read: June 17 – 22, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap


Blurb
: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.


Review: I swear I am probably the last person on earth who calls themself a thriller reader to have read this book. When it came out it had all that huge buzz that sends me the complete opposite direction of the book. A few years after it came out I tried to read it but ultimately DNF’d it – I can’t even really remember why I DNF’d it, but I remember I didn’t get very far in. So I’ve been hesitant to pick it back up. Yet I still wanted to give it at least one more good shot.

I wasn’t expecting to be immediately drawn into it. It was just like revelation after revelation. And then you get to the “twist” and it was like WHOA! I was enthralled. It was so deliciously creepy I could hardly stop reading.

And then came the ending.

And it was like a freaking train wreck.

Ugh.

I cannot remember the last time I was so disappointed by a book ending. I was absolutely disgusted by the way it ended. I can think of at least three ways it could have ended better. But the way it ended? Just a total and complete disappointment.

Also – did anyone else have a really creepy reminder of Scott Peterson throughout this book when Nick would speak or was described? I just couldn’t get past the parallels of that case and some of the things in this book. Maybe that was just me – but I can’t tell you how many separate times Scott Peterson kept popping into my head while reading this one.

I can’t say much more than that. I don’t even really feel like I could honestly recommend this book without prefacing my recommendation about the terrible ending. Maybe I was just expecting too much out of this one – but it just didn’t work for me. And as a result it went from an almost 5 star read to a 3 star.

I am eager to see the movie now though – because I can totally see Ben Affleck as Nick!

AUTHOR, Book Review, D, Fiction, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer

unnamed-5About The Cutting Room

• Hardcover: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (June 18, 2019)

Detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver, introduced in the electrifying Splinter in the Blood, must stop a serial killer whose victims are the centerpiece of his macabre works of art.

While Britain is obsessed with the newest hit true-crime television show, Fact, or Fable? detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver are tormented by a fiendish flesh-and-blood killer on the loose.

Lured to a “crime scene” by a mysterious digital invitation, Ruth Lake is horrified by what she finds: a bizarre and gruesome tableau surrounded by a crowd of gawkers. The deadly work is the latest “art installation” designed by a diabolical criminal dubbed the Ferryman. Not only is this criminal cold-blooded; he’s a narcissistic exhibitionist desperate for an audience. He’s also clever at promoting his deadly handiwork. Exploiting England’s current true-crime craze, he uses social media to titillate and terrorize the public.

Ruth is joined in the investigation by her partner Greg Carver, who is slowly regaining his strength after a run-in with another sadistic criminal. But Greg can’t seem to shake the bewildering effects of the head wound that nearly ended him. Are the strange auras blurring his vision an annoying side effect of his injury, or could they be something more . . . a tool to help him see a person’s true nature?

In this utterly engrossing and thrilling tale of suspense, a pair of seasoned detectives face off against a wickedly smart and inventive psychopath in a tense, bloody game that leads to a shocking end.


REVIEW:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

Whoa! Now THIS was a thriller! It was fast paced and just a roller coaster ride with some crazy twists and turns. When I was first pitched this book I had no idea that it was actually the second book in a series, but I can tell you that while the background of that first book would have been nice, I easily fell right in with Ruth and Greg.

This book is told from multiple perspectives. Sometimes that works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. In this particular book it definitely worked for me! It really made for very well-developed characters. And can I just say that I really relished the parts of the killer? Talk about creepy!

I’m really glad that I was able to find this book and I will definitely keep any future books in this series on my radar! Definitely recommended!!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Ashley Dyer

Ashley Dyer is a writing duo based in the United Kingdom.

Margaret Murphy is a Writing Fellow and Reading Round Lector for the Royal Literary Fund, a past chair of the Crime Writers Association (CWA), and founder of Murder Squad. A CWA Short Story Dagger winner, she has been shortlisted for the First Blood critics’ award for crime fiction as well as the CWA Dagger in the Library. Under her own name she has published nine psychological suspense and police procedural novels.

Helen Pepper is a senior lecturer in policing at Teesside University. She has been an analyst, forensic scientist, scene of crime officer, CSI, and crime scene manager. She has coauthored, as well as contributed to, professional policing texts. Her expertise is in great demand with crime writers: she is a judge for the CWA’s Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction Award, and is a forensic consultant on both the Vera and Shetland TV series.

Find out more at their website, www.ashley-dyer.com.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stephanie Plum

Review: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp
by Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp

 

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 322

Read: June 12 – 16, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Goodwill

 

Blurb: While chasing down the usual cast of miscreants and weirdos, Stephanie discovers that a crazed woman is stalking her.

The woman dresses in black, carries a 9mm Glock, and has a bad attitude and a mysterious connection to dark and dangerous Carlos Manoso … street name, Ranger.

The action turns deadly serious, and Stephanie goes from hunting skips to hunting a murderer.

Ranger needs Stephanie for more reasons than he can say. And now, the two are working together to find a killer, rescue a missing child, and stop a lunatic from raising the body count. When Stephanie Plum and Ranger get too close for comfort, vice cop Joe Morelli (her on-again, off-again boyfriend) steps in. Will the ticking clock stop at the stroke of twelve … or will a stranger in the wind find a way to stop Stephanie Plum … forever?


Review: I won’t lie. These books are not much more than some brain candy – total fluff books. But they’re usually entertaining so I try and read 1 or 2 of them a year – much more than that and I burn out.

This particular installment I feel was a little better than the last few. First, Stephanie went an entire book without having her car blow up. That’s got to be the end of like an 8 book streak. And then we see Ranger having a lot more of a presence in this book. Rather than flitting in and out as he pleases he’s got quite a bit role in this book. It was interesting to see the book from his perspective, but I’m solidly in the Joe Morelli camp.

So overall an installment that didn’t necessarily leave me in stitches, but I wasn’t rolling my eyes either. Decent.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, R, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown
by Jennifer Robson

The Gown

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 371

Read: June 1 – 10, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library

 

 

 

 

Blurb: London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.


Review: This book is the June selection for the Modern Mrs. Darcy online book club. I had had it on my radar since it came out but I wasn’t entirely sure that I would like it. I was drawn by the cover, but historical fiction (while I do generally enjoy it) is not necessarily something I go out of my way to read. But I also have a fascination with the Royal Family so I kind of enjoyed that connection with this book (although that connection ends up being very, very small).

So what did I ultimately think? It was good. Somewhere between good and really good, probably. For the most part I enjoyed it, but I had some issues with one of the characters. How could Heather’s mother (Ann’s daughter) not have a few more questions about why she didn’t know more about her mother? She knew nothing about her father. She couldn’t even answer whether or not Hughes was her married or maiden name. And yet – she didn’t even seem to have any curiosity regarding the huge gaps of information she knew about her mother and her own familial history! I just cannot imagine not wanting to know more. As the reader gets the answers to those questions I can certainly understand why Ann chose to keep so much to herself, but it still irritated me.

There were some pretty heavy scenes throughout the book. Definite trigger warning right here. And honestly … I didn’t really feel like some of it was really all that necessary. It could have gone a completely different way. It almost felt thrown in there for the shock factor. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the book itself.

So now that I’ve gotten the negative out of the way, I can say that the rest of the book was really good. I enjoyed how the story unfolded, going back and forth between Ann and Miriam and Heather. I was rooting for both Ann and Miriam individually and I was sad to see that they were not able to continue their friendship long-term.

I really don’t know what else to say about this book. I enjoyed it. It’s an interesting look at the post-war years in England – something that I personally have not read much about. This book is definitely not my usual reading style, but I’m glad that I gave it a go and I would definitely recommend it!

 

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

A Woman is No Man
by Etaf Rum

A Woman in No Man

 

Copyright: 2019

Pages: 337

Read: June 3 – 5, 2019

Rating: 5/5

Source: BOTM

 

Blurb: Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining this suitors her father has chosen for her. Her desires are irrelevant, however – over the course of a week, the naive and dreamy girl finds herself betrothed, then married, and soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law, Fareeda, and her strange new husband, Adam: a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Isra is expected to bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. At her grandmother’s insistence, eighteen-year-old Deya must meet with potential husbands and prepare herself for marriage, though her only desire is to go to college. Her grandmother is firm on the matter, however: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her family, the past, and her own future.

Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.


Review: This book is AMAZING. It gave me all.the.feels. I’m so glad that I picked it up sooner rather than later, I had no idea what I was missing! And I’m definitely glad I didn’t miss this one.

When it came up as a Book of the Month club selection back in February I was hesitant. But to be honest, I didn’t feel like choosing the thriller selection that month – it feels like that’s all I pick from there. I wanted to branch out a little bit and for whatever reason this book really spoke to me. So I picked it. And then I let it sit. And sit. And sit some more. Fast forward to June when it just so happened to fit a Goodreads challenge callout that I had going I was nervous to pick it up but it was my best option for this particular callout. All I can say is thank goodness I gave it a shot!

I basically read this book in two sittings. The first 75 pages I read one night while letting my daughter watch her nightly iPad show before bed (don’t mom judge me!). I found it to be interesting but nothing spectacular at that point. It was reading easily enough. But then the next day I really didn’t want to pick it back. up. So I didn’t. But the next day I sat down with it for what I figured would be a few minutes with it. I ended up sitting there with it until I finished it. No joke! I NEVER do that. But I just couldn’t let the story go by that point. I had to know how it ended.

And whew. It’s a whirlwind of a book. There are so many emotions elicited. Anger. Disbelief. Sadness. Shock. I could go on and on. But this is kind of one of those books that I really think you have to read to fully comprehend. I could tell you the storyline but you have to feel this book to really get it. I could tell you all about it – but I think it’s best to just tell you to read it yourself. It’s an amazing book. And one that will undoubtedly be one of the best books I read in 2019.

Read. This. Book. 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES

Review: H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton

H is for Homicide
by Sue Grafton

H is for Homicide

 

Copyright: 1991

Pages: 256

Read: May 27 – 30, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: His name is Parnell Perkins, and until shortly after midnight, he’d been a claims adjuster for California Fidelity. Then someone came along and put paid to that line of work. And to any other. Parnell Perkins had been shot at close range and left for dead in the parking lot outside California Fidelity’s offices.

To the cops, it looked like a robbery gone sour. To Kinsey Millhone, it looked like the cops were walking away from the case. She didn’t like the idea that a colleague and sometime drinking companion had been murdered. Or the idea that his murderer was loose and on the prowl. It made her feel exposed. Vulnerable.

Bibianna Diaz was afraid for her life. If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that you didn’t cross Raymond Maldonado and live to tell the tale. And Bibianna had well and truly crossed him, running out on his crazy wedding plans and going into hiding in Santa Teresa – light years away from the Los Angeles barrio that was home turf to Raymond and his gang. Now she needed money to buy time, to make sure she’d put enough space between them. And the quickest way she knew to get money was to work an insurance scam – just like the ones Raymond was running down in L.A. The trouble was, Bibianna picked California Fidelity as her mark. And it wasn’t long before her name surfaced in one of Parnell Perkins’s open files and Kinsey was on her case. But so, too, was her spurned suitor, Raymon Maldonado.

He had a rap sheet as long as his arm, a hair-trigger temper that was best left untested, and an inability to take no for an answer. He also had Tourette’s syndrome, which did nothing to smooth out the kinks in his erratic and often violent behavior. All in all, Raymond Maldonado was not someone to spend a lot of time hanging out with. Unfortunately for Kinsey, she didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. Not after the love-sick Raymond kidnapped Bibianna. Like it or not, Kinsey was stuck baby-sitting Bibianna along with Raymond and his macho crew. You might say she was a prisoner of love.

It may be Kinsey Millhone’s most complicated and risk-filled case.


Review: This is the 8th book in the Kinsey Millhone series. It had been a while since I had read “G” but I remember really enjoying it, so I was looking forward to falling back in with Kinsey.

This one read a lot differently than any of the previous books in the series. It definitely had a grittier feel to it. Kinsey was in a more precarious position than I feel like she ever has been in previous books. It was a good read, I enjoyed it.

It read quickly and easily. It kept me interested in the storyline. I felt like all the characters were well-developed – even the less important characters had good development. I really liked this book.

Recommended. And I’m looking forward to “I”.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, S

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea
by Rita Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 400

Read: May 18 – 25, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library E-Book

 

Blurb: In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.


Review: This was a total impulse read based on a Goodreads challenge callout requirement. It’s not something that I would have picked up under any other circumstances.

Overall I was not that impressed by this book. It was just “ok” for me. I felt like a good 100 pages could have been deleted out and the story still could have accomplished its goal. Plus I didn’t care how there were so many points of view. Some of them didn’t feel necessary to tell the story being told.

It just didn’t work for me to be honest. It wasn’t bad, and it read easily enough. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, T

Review: Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

Monkeewrench
by P.J. Tracy

Monkeewrench

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 404

Read: May 13 – 24, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game.

But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they’ll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased – and the horror they thought they’d left behind. If they don’t, eighteen more people will die…


Review: This is the first book in the Monkeewrench series. I have had this one on my shelf for quite some time so I was excited to finally get to it.

For the most part I enjoyed it. But it had a pretty slow start for me. I’m not sure exactly why, but I struggled to get to the halfway point. I think it was the bouncing back and forth between two distinct storylines that kind of held me up. They were completely different and I had no idea what on earth was going to tie this two plot lines together. But then it finally came together as to what the connection was. And from that point on it was a race to the finish to find out exactly what had happened and why.

I am on the fence about whether or not I want to continue on with this series or not. Part of my issue is that this one felt like a standalone, the storyline wrapped up nicely. I assume it’s because this book was not written with the intention of being the first in a series.

Either way this particular book was enjoyable enough. Once you get past that slow start the book itself is enjoyable and I liked it.