Review: The Undertaker’s Daughter by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker’s Daughter
by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker's Daughter

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 320

Read: Nov. 26 –28, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: NetGalley

 

 

Blurb: Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen.  Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: her father–who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on Ilka and her mother more than three decades ago–has died.  And he’s left Ilka something in his will: his funeral home.  In Racine, Wisconsin.

Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn’t heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin.  Desperately hoping to gain some insight into her father’s life, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father’s things before preparing the business for a quick sale.

But shortly after her arrival, one of the bodies in the morgue is vandalized. The dead man, Mike, was suspected of killing his girlfriend in high school, but disappeared from Racine and was never seen again–until recently. Disturbed by the attack, Ilka resolves to find out what really happened all those years ago….


Review: I hadn’t signed on to my NetGalley account in probably more than a year … I’m not exactly sure what made me log in randomly one day last week, but I figured why not? I browsed around a little bit and checked out my auto-approved options … this book was one of those. So I figured I’d give it a shot – the blurb appealed to me almost immediately. Plus I have a friend who lives like 30 minutes from Racine, so I thought it would be interesting to read a book set there!

So what was my opinion? This book was extremely easy for me to read. I flew through it in 2 days flat. But …. it wasn’t necessarily compelling I suppose you could say. I think I was expecting this to be more mystery/thriller than this ended up being. I expected Ilka to follow through on the “find out what really happened” part mentioned in the blurb. That whole aspect of the book seemed to take more of a backseat. Yes, we did “find out what really happened” but it was not because Ilka solved the case – like I was sort of expecting.

I enjoyed Ilka’s character to a certain extent. I didn’t care for her very relaxed opinion towards sex at all. And I didn’t find it very believable that someone who had been a school photographer back home could suddenly start dealing with dead bodies (some in pretty nasty shape) with little to no problem. I did appreciate her drive and resolve to turn her father’s funeral home around. But honestly, she’s still sort of an enigma to me. The character development was a little bit all over the place. Every character had their quirks that were discussed at some point, but I never really felt like I got to know any of them. They were all still shrouded in mystery…. maybe that was supposed to be the draw of this series?

I’m not exactly sure what more to say. It really wasn’t a bad book … it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. I needed just a little bit more mystery in this book. And more character development. Plus … it ended in a cliffhanger – just, no! A huge pet peeve. I’m not sure I’ll read more in this series as it is released, but I do look forward to trying out Ms. Blaedel’s Louise Rick series in the future.

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2014.44 REVIEW – Ryder by Nick Pengelley

Ryder
by Nick Pengelley

Copyright: 2013, 2014
Pages: 280
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: Sept. 23 – 28, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 44
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley via TLC Book Tour
Series: Ayesha Ryder #1

RyderBlurb: As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?

Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant.

Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley in conjunction with a TLC Book tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

When I was first pitched this book I was immediately intrigued. I love a good action adventure novel. What I didn’t realize was that this book would have a lot of references to the Middle East. I am not a very political person. In all honesty, I know very little about what goes on in that side of the world. So for me, this book was a little over my head in regards to everything Middle Eastern.

That being said, I still liked the book. Because I liked Ayesha’s character. I wanted her to succeed. There came a point in the book when someone who I thought was trustworthy did a total 360 on Ayesha. I actually gasped out loud. And from then on I was hooked. It was at that point when I went from being slightly intrigued by this book to being full-on, Ayesha-has-to-succeed-no-matter-what. There were so many twists and turns, but it was that one revelation that really turned the whole book around for me.

The writing was very good. The action was extremely well written. The storyline, while I personally found it somewhat hard to follow just because of my lack of Middle Eastern knowledge, was still easy enough to follow that I wasn’t completely lost. The characters were interesting (Lady Madrigal Carey! What. A. Character!)

Overall it’s definitely a good book, but not necessarily the easiest book to read just because of the Middle Eastern slant. But I’d definitely like to revisit Ayesha again in the future.

Recommended.


There is a GIVEAWAY included in this tour. For a chance to win a $25 gift card to the e-retailer of your choice AND a copy of Ryder, please CLICK HERE.


About the author: Nick Pengelley is the author of the political thriller Ryder. Australian by birth, he’s had careers in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom as a law professor, legal consultant, and analyst on Middle East politics, which is his passion. Pengelley lives in Toronto with his wife, Pamela.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-a-Million | Barnes & Noble

Other tour stops:

Monday, September 22nd: Bell, Book & Candle

Monday, September 22nd: Omnimystery News – guest post

Tuesday, September 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 24th: D. L. Kamstra | Writing about Stories

Thursday, September 25th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, September 29th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, September 30th: Tales of a Book Addict

Wednesday, October 1st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, October 6th: Crime Book Club

Tuesday, October 7th: Read Love Blog

Wednesday, October 8th: 2 Kids and Tired Books

Thursday, October 9th: Queen of All She Reads

Friday, October 10th: A Fantastical Librarian

Friday, October 10th: Mystery Playground – Drinks with Reads guest post

Monday, October 13th: By the Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 14th: the smitten word

Wednesday, October 15th: Dwell in Possibility

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2014.43 REVIEW – I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers
by Barry Lyga

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 282
Rating: 2.5/5
Read: Sept. 7 – 14, 2014
Challenge: RIP IX
Yearly count: 43
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: Jasper Dent #1

I Hunt KillersBlurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I first saw this book in a NetGalley email. I don’t read a ton of young adult, but something about this book really caught my attention. I requested it and was excited to see that I had been approved for it.

Overall, I am a little disappointed in this book. It started out pretty interesting. But then somewhere along the way I really started disliking Jazz’s character and it all kind of went downhill from there. I was just so tired of his attitude. I get that he’s a teenager and he’s angsty. I get that his circumstances suck. But I could hardly stand the “oh, I think I am a serial killer because my dad is one” attitude that he kept taking. Deep down I want to believe he’s a good kid. But he seems to think otherwise. And it was a contradiction that just didn’t work out for me.

I actually got to about 70% done and was seriously considering giving up on the book. But at that point you get so far in and you don’t really want to quit. So I persevered on and finished it. I didn’t gain or lose anything from reading this book, and I think that’s why I had such a problem with it. It wasn’t horrible, yet it wasn’t very good. It was just so-so. But the potential. Oh the potential was so there. The whole idea of what happens when you’re the kid of America’s most infamous serial killer … that really was interesting. But the execution just didn’t work for me. And that’s really disappointing to me.

Maybe I didn’t “get” this book because I’m not a huge YA reader. I don’t know. But it didn’t really work for me.

2014.38 REVIEW – One Kick by Chelsea Cain

One Kick
by Chelsea Cain

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 320
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 9 – 13, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 38
Format:  E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: Kick Lannigan #1

One KickBlurb: From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test.

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound—all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children—he won’t take no for an answer.

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate—the dark corners of her own mind.

A heart-stopping, entertaining thrill ride, One Kick announces the arrival of a blistering new series by a stunning talent in the thriller realm.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

Some people went out and got drunk when they came of age; Kick had picked out a Glock with a nine-round magazine and applied for a concealed-weapons permit. (p. 25 of eARC)

When I first saw this book mentioned, I was really intrigued. I have read and enjoyed the first 3 books in the Archie/Gretchen series. But for some reason I never continued reading those books. So I was excited to see a new series and Kick sounded like a really interesting character.

And I am happy to say that I really liked this book! It reads so fast and is so intriguing. Obviously it’s a tough subject to deal with …missing children and pedophiles … but I felt as if it was handled with such care that it wasn’t hard for me to read at all. I can’t tell you what a character Kick is. She’s strong, but not as strong as she wants people to believe. And then there’s Bishop. I can’t wait to learn more about him in the future! There’s definitely something there with him and I’m dying to find out exactly what it is!

You know it’s a good book in a new series when you reach the last page and are absolutely dying to know what happens next! Sometimes that’s the bad thing about reading series books … the wait for the next installment can be a killer! But you can guarantee I’ll be on the lookout for Ms. Cain’s next Kick Lannigan book!!

Overall I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a great read. Fast paced, interesting, exciting. Just a great read that will leave you salivating for more!

Highly recommended.

2014.37 REVIEW – The Competition by Marcia Clark

The Competition
by Marcia Clark

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 416
Rating: 4/5
Read: Aug. 2 – 9, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 37
Format:  E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: Rachel Knight #4

The CompetitionBlurb: In Marcia Clark’s most electrifying thriller yet, Los Angeles District Attorney Rachel Knight investigates a horrifying high school massacre.

A Columbine-style shooting at a high school in the San Fernando Valley has left a community shaken to its core. Two students are identified as the killers. Both are dead, believed to have committed a mutual suicide.

In the aftermath of the shooting, LA Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight teams up with her best girlfriend, LAPD detective Bailey Keller. As Rachel and Bailey interview students at the high school, they realize that the facts don’t add up. Could it be that the students suspected of being the shooters are actually victims? And if so, does that mean that the real killers are still on the loose?

A dramatic leap forward in Marcia Clark’s highly acclaimed Rachel Knight series, The Competition is an unforgettable story that will stay with readers long after the last page has been turned.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I received an email from NetGalley saying that I was pre-approved for all of Marcia Clark’s novels. I have the first one already on my shelf at home, but I was really intrigued by the description of The Competition, her newest release. So I took a risk I hate to do … I requested the book out of series order! I didn’t want to really commit to all four books at the time, but I knew I wanted to give this one a shot.

And can I say that I’m really upset at myself for not taking advantage of the other offers? Ugh! Because this book sucked me in and I really am dying to know Rachel Knight from the beginning.

Overall this book is extremely good. It might seem hard for a lot of readers because of the storyline revolving around a school shooting. But in my opinion the school shooting is peripheral to everything else happening in this book. It’s really a psycho-analysis of the school shooter, in my opinion. And I really enjoyed it. I loved working the case with Rachel and Bailey. The twists and turns along the way were really exciting and disappointing at the same time.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s very well-written and so much fun to read! And I can’t wait to dig into Ms. Clark’s backlist now!

Highly recommended.

2014.34 REVIEW – The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

The Butcher
by Jennifer Hillier

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 354
Rating: 3/5
Read: July 20-July 23, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 34
Format:  E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: N/A

The ButcherBlurb: From the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Creep and Freak and whom Jeffery Deaver has praised as a “top of the line thriller writer,” The Butcher is a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I first saw this book mentioned in a NetGalley email and was immediately intrigued. So I requested access and was glad to snag an e-galley.

This one is a tough one to describe. Here’s the deal: you know exactly who the Butcher is within the first chapter. I’m not entirely sure I liked that strategy. Nothing … and I mean nothing was a surprise in this book. I hate to use this word, but it was so predictable. That’s why I can’t rate it higher than a 3.

Overall it was a good book in general. I would recommend it, but if you like a lot of twists and turns, this one might not be for you. But it does read quickly and easily and kept me quite entertained.

2014.32 REVIEW – The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three
by Sarah Lotz

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 395
Rating: 2/5
Read: July 5-July 15, 2014
Challenge: What’s in a Name
Yearly count: 32
Format:  E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Series: N/A

The ThreeBlurb: Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioral problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behavior becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I originally saw this book mentioned in a Shelf Awareness email. It sounded really good and I was excited when I got the notification saying that I had been approved for a copy on NetGalley. Then I do like I seem to do with every single e-book I get … I let it sit. And sit. And sit some more. I decided it was time to clear this book off my review list and loaded it up onto my Nook and took off with it.

Now that I’ve finished this book, I’m just confused. First of all this book is billed as “horror.” To me there’s not a lick of horror in this book. I can’t even bring myself to call it creepy in any way, shape or form. I think horror fans are going to be sorely disappointed by this book.

The premise behind the book sounds really interesting. But the execution was just lacking in my opinion. I was okay with the book within a book format, but then it took a really strange turn at the end that I didn’t understand. The ending was so ambiguous and I did not like that at all.

Obviously the book wasn’t horrendous, because I finished it. But it just didn’t work for me.