Mini Reviews #12 Deep Down Dead & Deep Blue Trouble

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Welcome to a new edition of mini-reviews, this time it’s all about Steph Broadribb!

Release: 2017/2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller

Deep Down Dead and Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb are fast-paced, action-filled thrillers featuring the brave and extremely likable Lori Anderson, a young bounty-hunter with dark past and a lovely daughter, a woman who needs to make quick money no matter what.

In Deep Down Dead, Lori takes a job that is supposed to be simple, but of course, there’s nothing simple in the bounty hunter profession. Three days later, her life has completely changed and there’s no going back. Forced to take her daughter with her, Lori and Dakota are in trouble from the very first day of the job. And at the center of the game, there’s JT, her former mentor, a man who shares a very special connection with her…

In the second book, Lori’s job is to keep JT alive and that’s why she takes another dangerous mission… Deep Blue Trouble is pretty similar to Deep Down Dead in the sense that they’re both fast-paced and filled with action and I particularly liked that it ended with a cliffhanger, just like a tv show episode that makes you want to keep on reading! I see potential for a reaaaally long series featuring Lori.

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Mini Reviews #11

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Hello and happy start of the week to everyone! Today I want to talk about two books, The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, which seemed perfect for me at first sight but ended up being a bit disappointing. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, but not as much as I had hoped.

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Release: 2018
Publisher: Cornerstone
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

I really loved the concept of this book, as I’ve always enjoyed creepy stories and I’m fascinated by women who write letters to convicted men. However, Samantha wasn’t a character I could connect with and I struggled with most of her decisions, as she wasn’t crazy enough for me to find her remotely interesting. I actually liked the first part of the novel better than the other half.

Of course, I never liked Danny at all either, but the book was actually really entertaining and overall an easy read. I’m sad to say that I didn’t care much for the mystery. It wasn’t entirely predictable but it wasn’t surprising either.

Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my copy

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Release: 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary

I read this book as part of a ReadAlong , and it was a very interesting novel to discuss. The book deals with racism and discrimination and the different points of view gave it a deeper approach. Small Great Things grew on me as the plot advanced (the second part of the book was much better in my opinion), but I found it so incredibly manipulative that I can’t really say I liked it.

I had read a couple of Jodi Picoult’s books years ago and loved them, but I think I’ve just outgrown them. I’m not in the mood for being taught a lesson on every page and she is basically the opposite of subtle writing. Everything is so dramatic and hey, the book talks about racism, so of course the main character’s daughter is going to want to dress up as Moana and there will be a debate about the blackface issue, even if it’s totally unrelated to the main plot.

Turk was a horrible human being, but his perspective was fascinating, I love to “hate-read” and he gave me exactly that. The trial was entertaining, but then again, I love trials. Oh, and that last twist was completely ridiculous in my opinion.

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Mini Reviews #10 He Said/She Said & Now You See Me & These Violent Delights

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I initially didn’t set out to write a #feminist Mini Review post today, but all the books I wanted to review had that theme in common. It wasn’t on purpose, but I’m glad I can talk about these three books because I believe they’re timely and important. Unfortunately, these aren’t books I can say I loved, but they all have interesting aspects and I believe some of you might enjoy them a lot.

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As she saw his face for the first time, she knew he was going to kill her. She just didn’t know when. When the dismembered body of Lydia Steiner is found washed up in the waters of a blisteringly hot Louisiana swamp, Detective Jess Bishop knows for certain this isn’t the murderer’s first kill. Three other dismembered bodies have been found, all bearing the same marks. Marks that strike fear into Jess’s heart. They are identical to those from a case she’s spent her entire career trying to forget. As Jess and her team try to link the victims, another body is discovered and they fear the serial killer is taunting them. They know it’s only a matter of time before he kills again. As the body count rises, and the hunt goes cold, Jess knows she has to confront her past in order to catch the killer, even if that means making herself the bait…

Now You See Me is a new crime procedural featuring a bad-ass female FBI agent investigating a series of murders in Louisiana. Jessica Bishop has a dark past that wishes to keep secret and she’s used to deal with men who don’t take her seriously. I loved how she managed the relationships with her partners and defended the victims no matter their profession or status. She was strong and brave and I admired her for that.

The book was gripping and entertaining, and the Louisiana setting was great. I felt like I was there. The writing was engaging and I was never bored. Overall, this is a solid crime novel, but I can’t say I loved this book because of the predictability and the romance-focused relationships. I was silently begging for someone not to be the killer. It was way too obvious, I thought. It can’t be that person. I’m sure it won’t. And for a while, I was glad. But then I realized it was exactly who I thought it would be and that had me quite disappointed. In addition, there was way too much focus on Jess’s romantic life and her jealousy towards her partner’s wife and that bothered me because the case was more interesting than that and, to be honest, I believe that a man and a woman can be friends and that’s it.

Netgalley, Bookouture, 2017

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At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.

These Violent Delights is an easy-to-read novel that deals with a very important topic nowadays. Following the Hollywood scandal and all the Spotlight-like cases, I can’t think of a more timely book today. However, although the topic is not a happy one, I didn’t think the book was a particularly tough read, and that was kind of weird.

I enjoyed this book and I’m certainly interested in the topic, but I didn’t feel emotionally attached to the characters, perhaps because of the structure or the writing (too much dialogue/articles/e-mails). It felt a bit like non-fiction in the sense that the importance relies on the case per se and not on the characters’ experiences. We never witness their pain directly, only through their e-mails and texts.

Have you ever read a book and thought that you liked what was said but not so much how it was told? This was my experience with These Violent Delights.

Netgalley, Griffith Moon Publishing, 2017

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In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

This is another book that I believe it’s important to read right now. He Said She Said is the story of a couple who witness an attack and the consequences of their actions. I don’t want to say too much because I think this is a book that deserves to be discovered without knowing anything about it.

However, as much as I agree with the book’s message and its relevance today, I must say I was kind of bored during the first 60% of the novel. I know, I’ve read other reviews stating this was a slow-burn type of book, and it’s true , but despite loving the last few chapters, I’m afraid that didn’t make up for the rest.

Basically, I love the moral of the story and how the author embraces sorority above everything, but I wish I had been more engaged from the beginning. To be honest, the eclipse metaphor didn’t help much, and Kit chapters were kind of tedious to read.

 Hodder & Stoughton, 2017

Mini Reviews #9 Heaven’s Crooked Finger & Lie To Me

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Happy Saturday! Today I’ll talk about my most recent reads.

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Earl Marcus thought he had left the mountains of Georgia behind forever, and with them, the painful memories of a childhood spent under the fundamental rule of his father RJ’s church–a church built on fear, penance, and the twisting, writhing mass of snakes. But then an ominous photo of RJ is delivered to Earl’s home. The photograph is dated long after his father’s burial, and there’s no doubt that the man in the picture is very much alive. As Earl returns to Church of the Holy Flame searching for the truth, faithful followers insist that his father has risen to a holy place high in the mountains. Nobody will talk about the teenage girls who go missing, only to return with strange tattoo-like marks on their skin. Rumors swirl about an old well that sits atop one of the mountains, a place of unimaginable power and secrets. Earl doesn’t know what to believe, but he has long been haunted by his father, forever lurking in the shadows of his life. Desperate to leave his sinful Holy Flame childhood in the past, Earl digs up deeply buried secrets to discover the truth before time runs out and he’s the one put underground in Heaven’s Crooked Finger.

This was a novel that really caught my attention because of the creepy/amazing cover and, of course, the intriguing blurb. I usually love this kind of southern-gothic-horror novels about families and dark secrets. I was sure I was going to enjoy it. And I certainly did, but unfortunately, not as much as I had hoped.

Don’t get me wrong, this was an ok book. The mystery was appealing enough, it was easy to read and it didn’t drag. There were some twists and turns and the setting was undoubtedly a great one. However, I never felt that “spark”, I never really connected with the characters or the story, I felt mostly uninterested when it should’ve been the opposite. In the end, I guess this happens sometimes. Some books win you over and others don’t.

Heaven’s Crooked Finger was a good gothic mystery and an interesting beginning for what it seems it’ll be a series featuring Earl Marcus. Don’t hesitate and give it a chance if the blurb catches your eye. You might love it (I know some have!).

Netgalley, Crooked Lane Books, 2017

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Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her. Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Lie To Me is a gripping and easy-to-read domestic thriller that is perfect for fans of Gone Girl and toxic marriage books. Is it entertaining? Definitely! Did I love it? I’m afraid not.

It seems like I’m in the minority once again. I enjoyed the first half of Lie To Me, although I kept thinking I had read too many similar books in the past. However, I expected something much more unique and special based on some reviews I had read. I think this is merely a case of not being the right reader for this book, at least not at this moment. The first part of the book was fun and I was definitely curious. What was going on? Should I believe Ethan? Or was he lying? Who’s the mysterious narrator? Unfortunately, it all fell flat for me when I began reading the second half. I found the ending part too unbelievable even for my taste. I never bought the villain’s motives and I thought the whole final act was over the top, it never clicked for me. Plus, the last chapter made things even worse.

Gone Girl is one of my favorite books and I think it’s also because the genre wasn’t so popular back then. I loved the psychology of it all, the way Gillian Flynn made each twist believable because of every character’s personality. I’m sad to say I never felt this with Lie To Me.

Netgalley, MIRA Books, 2017

Mini Reviews #8 The Address & The Rules of Magic

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Happy Monday! Today I’ll talk about my most recent reads: one historical fiction, the other part historical, part family drama.

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After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility–no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children. In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda–Camden’s biological great-granddaughter–will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

I don’t know why but I had been postponing for a couple of months, even though it looked interesting and just my kind of historical read. What I loved the most about this book was the context and the location: The Dakota building in New York. I learned a lot about its history and I wish I could have seen what it looked like back then (in person, I already spent too much time checking out pictures yesterday haha).

This time I don’t have any complaints about the importance of one storyline over the other. Although, of course, the past is always more appealing to me, I also wanted to know what would happen to Bailey, who I really liked despite her flaws. The mystery was interesting although slightly predictable, but there was something unexpected that I’m sure felt super satisfying for everyone.

All in all, this was a good and atmospheric read that I would recommend for fans of historical fiction and Kate Morton-esque books. It didn’t amaze me, but I’d read another book by the autor without a doubt.

Netgalley, Dutton, 2017

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For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

Practical Magic is one of my favorite films ever, but I will talk about that later this month. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure about The Rules of Magic. I didn’t enjoy the first book, Practical Magic, and I thought it would be the same for this one. But my love for the film is still strong and I was curious. So I decided to try it out. This is a prequel, so it tells the story of Aunt Frances and Jet (and their brother Vincent).

At first, I was sure I wasn’t going to like it, but I decided to keep on reading. And you know what? I ended up enjoying The Rules of Magic. It’s not my favorite book ever, but I think Alice Hoffman’s writing is gorgeous and despite feeling like the story has some wasted potential, the book started off pretty bland for me but progressed into a beautiful tale. And yeah, I guess I love it when stories connect together (think it like watching Rogue One and knowing how A New Hope begins), so overall it was a positive experience for me.

Still, when I’m reading a book about witches, I want more magic, I want more spells. Because I’ve always felt that despite certain elements, these stories could be about ordinary families too. And believe me, I have nothing against that, I love family dramas. But witches are more fun.

Edelweiss, Simon & Schuster, 2017