Monthly Archives: May 2015

Book Review: Only the Brave by Mel Sherratt


Only the Brave (DS Allie Shenton Book Three)
By Mel Sherratt
Releases 5/26/15
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating:  4 bones(out of 5)

I’m usually not a fan of series, too many details for me to keep up with and with the volume I read, I honestly can’t remember!  But I stumbled upon Follow the Leader a few months back (one of my only 5-bone reads this year) and found out it was Book Two in this series!  I hadn’t read Book One – Taunting the Dead – but felt that for that one it didn’t matter.  However, for Book Three, I wish I had read the first one.

In this book, the family of a Terry Ryder is involved, who I’ve come to learn was the center of the case Allie worked in Book One.  It alluded to a very traumatic time for Allie, that I feel would have helped me/the reader, understand the animosity held by some of the current characters and Allie’s apprehension entering into this case.  But, that’s neither here nor there as I didn’t read it, so I’ll focus on the current story, but I would like to go back and read it now!  And if you are new to this series – I would suggest starting from the beginning.

The book begins with the murder of a local man as well as a bag of cash found.  Tangled in his own mess already, now Allie’s team is involved, as well as a whole host of characters that live in the adjacent apartment building, Harrison House.  Soon this man, Jordan Johnson, is tied to Terry Ryder’s (now in jail from a previous case Allie worked on) daughter, and the whodunit case begins.  From nosy neighbors, to local troublesome teenagers, to notorious thugs, to colleagues, even family, no one is safe from the suspicion of guilt in this case.  I really enjoy books that keep you guessing until the very end, really brings out the mystery spirit that has me hooked!  And as the description said, lots of double-crossing, you never know who you can trust!

And again, as I did in Follow the Leader, Detective Allie Shenton is just a very likeable, down to earth character and very easy to relate to.  I can’t help but route for her.  I feel tense when she is tense, scared when she is scared, you get the point, I want her to succeed and be safe.   I like her relationship with her husband Mark, and the details of her sister Karen, tied in with the main story line of each book.  Attacked many years ago, with her attacker still on the lose, in the background of all Allie’s cases, Allie is working on solving her sister, Karen’s.  Not without additional prompting of course, as she receives cryptic messages from him/her.  And with both books I’ve read, the tension continues to build as Karen gets worse and her killer gets closer.

I can’t help but compare this book to the first book I read in the series, Follow the Leader, in that I felt that was a better stand along book and it had me a bit more captivated than this story line.  Maybe because the action kept coming, in terms of murders (sounds awful typing it out), whereas this one, it was just (not said lightly) one murder being investigated!  I just wasn’t as invested in the actual case.  Not to say it still wasn’t good, just not AS good (the bar is set high!)

But what did hook me and earn this review an extra star was the last 10%.  Talk about action.  I think my heart was in my throat.  I was worried things wouldn’t be wrapped up and I’d have to wait for another book in this series, but an action packed ending was exactly what this book needed for me to walk away content.  And that I’m happy to say, I did!

I have definitely found an author to follow in Ms. Sherratt.  I was honored that she approached me to review this book and as always appreciate being able to preview through NetGalley and Amazon Publishing.  Don’t miss this one – actually don’t miss all 3 – I think this series would make for some great summer reads!

Book Description:

When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.

DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.

As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.

Set over forty-eight tension-filled hours, Only the Brave is the latest gut-churning police procedural from acclaimed author Mel Sherratt.

 

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Book Review: Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies
By Sharon Bolton
Released 5/19/2015
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4 bones

I’ll admit this was the first time, especially in the same year that I have read two books by the same title and by authors with the same initials!  See my other review here, but other than title (and my enjoyment of the book), the similarities of these two books mostly stop there.  This book actually really reminded me of another read from this year: The Missing One, even the covers kind of look similar (and oddly enough I read it right after the other Little Black Lies and did compare the two!)  Have I confused you yet?

But this book, which just released this week, was filled with mystery until the very end.  It held true to the mystery genre and had the reader suspecting every character at different points, with a jaw-dropping ending.  I seriously had to read 4-5 times to make sure I understood!  The subject matter is one that I don’t dive into much, missing children, just because it is so sensitive to me as a mother.  But I had seen a lot of hype around this book, that it made me want to dive in and I’m glad I did.

The beginning is quite disturbing and I was worried I would have to walk away.  One thing I dislike as much as hurting children, is hurting animals.  And you’ll find out very soon upon starting this book what I am referring to.  It is disturbing yet a defining moment for Catrin’s character.  I had to separate from this part, and thankfully was only referred to in the remainder of the book.  And I did try to see her point of view and understand what happened and I will commend the author was doing that so eloquently.

The book centers around Catrin Quinn.  Having lost her 2 sons in a tragic accident a few years prior at the hands of a trusted friend, she is quite the complex character.  Since her sons had passed, 3 boys in her small community have gone missing and no one knows who they can trust.  I really got a great sense of community as each of the characters were so fully developed, no one wanted to think there could be a killer among them.  Relationships were destroyed, dissected, and tested to the limits.

Packed full of action, there was never a dull moment in reading this book.  In efforts to keep it a mystery to you as well, I’m going to leave it at that.  This book will keep you hanging on to the very end and hopefully with your jaw on the floor with mine!  Beautiful writing, great book.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to preview!

Book Description:
In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely…

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.

But three islanders–Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum–are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

In Little Black Lies, her most shocking and engaging suspense novel to date, Sharon Bolton will keep the reader guessing until the very last page.

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Book Review: Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry


Black Dog Summer
By Miranda Sherry
Released 2/10/15
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

I was approached by the publicist for this book to do a review.  The description of this book interested me, although I like to keep things real (not a fan of paranormal), but thought this would be something new.  I did see it compared to The Lovely Bones in a few reviews, which I have not read that either, but a lot of people really enjoyed. I do like the title for unrelated reasons (I love black dogs!) and enjoyed the symbolism of the black dog throughout the book.  Check out my teasers here!

This one review really nailed it for me too:

“A story about murder but not crime, with black magic but no horror, and narrated by a dead woman who is not a ghost, this debut novel is a delightful mix of paradox and melancholy.” (The Sunday Times (South Africa))

The book is narrated by Sally, now dead after her brutal murder.  She is hovering in the “in between” and coasts around checking on her loved ones or following their “threads”.  Much of the focus being on her daughter Gigi, now moved in with her estranged aunt, uncle, and cousins.

As I re-read the book description I pasted below, it is a very detailed one, so I will direct you to that for more information on the characters and story-line and focus more on my opinion.  At times I really like the book, at others not so much, but it was full of secrets, some of which I never saw coming.  The characters were all interesting, no one I really latched onto.  My favorite was probably Bryony, the younger cousin of Gigi.  Her thoughts were just so raw and innocent and drew me into the story more than others.  And the ending was more action packed than I expected with a good solid ending.

Overall a good book, definitely worth my time, just didn’t have the whole package for me personally.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to preview!

Book Description:

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

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Teaser Tuesday: May 12th

Happy Tuesday!!  Getting this out a bit late today – but better late than never!

A bit behind posting my review of Black Dog Summer, but stay tuned!  I’m about 2/3rds through Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton, a NetGalley read releasing next Tuesday!  (Not to be confused with Little Black Lies by Sandra Block, also read and reviewed this year!)  So far so good, no idea where this one is going to go!

“I’ve seen men bigger than me sobbing for their mothers, as they die lonely, freezing, deaths on the opposite side of the planet.  I thought it was impossible to shock me.  How wrong I’ve been.”
(62% into book*)

What do you think?  Thanks for coming by – please leave your teaser in the comments!

Book Description:

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely…

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.

But three islanders–Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum–are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

In Little Black Lies, her most shocking and engaging suspense novel to date, Sharon Bolton will keep the reader guessing until the very last page.

*Pulled from ARC – may not match exactly to final.

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB/Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Teaser Tuesday: May 5th

Happy Tuesday!!  Happy May!!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!!  Lots to celebrate this month – including Mother’s Day and my birthday!!

Published two book reviews in the last week: When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord, and Maggie by Marie Maxwell.  Both from NetGalley and both released in the last few weeks!

This week I started Black Dog Summer by new author Miranda Sherry.  It released in February and I was approached by the publisher to review.  The description seemed like one I would pick up, so I dove right in and am just about finished.  I have to say it wasn’t what I was expecting, but in a good way.  I also love when I find a quote about the title of the book, so I’m including two teasers this week for fun!


“Seeing a black dog in the clouds?  That forecasts murder.”
(47% into book)

“Black dog symbols can sometimes appear when something bad is about to happen.  Lesedi’s answer brings the first rumble of distant thunder.  Bryony could be in danger.”
(59% into book)

What do you think?  Thanks for coming by – please leave your teaser in the comments!

Book Description:

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB/Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

14 Comments

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Book Review: Maggie by Marie Maxwell


Maggie: A gripping saga set in the swinging sixties
By Marie Maxwell
Releases 5/1/15 (TODAY!)
Provided Free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones(out of 5 bones)

Quick read.  I would probably put this more in the Young Adult category as I was a bit disappointed at the lack of historical details of this book (the reason I had chosen this read.)  It was set in the 60’s, but other than a few references to record players, it could have really been set anywhere at anytime.

It’s a story about a young girl, Maggie Wheaton, who loses everything she knows and loves and discovers secrets about her past.  It makes me dread having a 16-year-old someday!  The reader sways back and forth between feeling sympathy for Maggie and wanting to slap some sense into her.  It was also very predictable.

It includes many issues facing teenagers, both now and I’m guessing in the 60’s too.  Wanting independence, to be heard, and to decide things for themselves.  But ultimately realizing that grown-ups may have a bit more wisdom than they want to admit and there is a reason 16-year-olds shouldn’t be making decisions for themselves.

Not a bad read, just not what I was expecting and it left me wanting more.  A common theme for me these days! So I’ll leave it at that, a short story that maybe would be good for teenagers and their parents alike to open up communication.

Thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for allowing me to preview.

Book Description:

1960s. Maggie Wheaton’s life is almost perfect. Confident, bright and popular, she lives with her loving, wealthy parents in a close-knit Cambridgeshire village. But, just days after her sixteenth birthday, her world falls apart: an accident kills both her parents, and then she suffers the ultimate betrayal when she learns a life-changing family secret. Maggie has no choice but to go and live with her appointed guardian, Ruby Riordan, in the seaside town of Southend, where she sets out on a deliberate path of self-destruction. Will Ruby be able to save her from herself, or is it all too little too late?

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