Review: Shadow Man by Alan Drew @AlanArthurDrew

30453315

Detective Ben Wade has returned to his California hometown of Rancho Santa Elena for a quieter life. Suddenly the town, with its peaceful streets and excellent public schools, finds itself at the mercy of a serial killer who slips through windows and screen doors, shattering illusions of safety. As Ben and forensic specialist Natasha Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the killer, Ben’s own world is rocked again by a teen’s suicide. Ben must decide how far he is willing to go, and how much he will risk, to rescue the town from a long-buried secret, as well as from a psychotic murderer.

This book wasn’t what I expected at all, an in a good way. Shadow Man is a contemporary drama and a mystery of sorts as well, although I wouldn’t say that the crime aspect is the main aspect of the story. Those looking for a fast-paced thriller won’t find it here. However, if you’re willing to give it a chance, I think you could end up really enjoying this little gem.

I warmed up to Ben Wade from the very beginning. Since that first scene with his daughter, I was sold. I loved their interaction. I highly enjoyed reading about Ben and his family, too: their struggles, their obvious love for each other. It was heartbreaking and realistic and I really felt for them. Wade was a tortured man, still fighting demons every day, but that made him even more interesting. The story was set in the 80s, but it could’ve also happened today, as the themes portrayed in this novel are equally important now.

I don’t want to say much about the plot, especially because I read a review on Goodreads where they spoiled the main idea. I think it’s not that hard to figure it out after a while, but I would’ve loved it if I hadn’t known what the book was about before reading it. And believe me, it was not an easy book to read, but it was beautifully written and everything was treated with delicacy.

There are two cases going on, one featuring a serial killer and the other revolving around a potential teenage suicide. It’s not that the serial killer aspect wasn’t interesting, but I didn’t think it was the main focus. I preferred reading about the other case, which was the one that made me more emotional. I remember feeling angry when the main character chose to do something that left me utterly confused. Fortunately, as it usually happens with great novels, it all makes sense in the end.

It is not a book that should be rushed through but rather savoured. I found it compelling and unforgettable and I’m still thinking about it even after a few days. Tragic and beautiful. Don’t miss it.

Buy Here

Netgalley, Random House, 2017

The Lost Daughter of India (Sharon Maas)

32913100

When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha. Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind. Ten years later … Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have any chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years, until now.

I remember wanting to read this book after reading Diana’s review. The cover didn’t do anything for me but I liked what she said about the story and I decided to read it. However, when it was finally time, I didn’t really remember what it was about and I mistakenly thought this would be similar to Dinah Jefferies’ Before The Rains. But I was so wrong!

So first things first, this is not a historical novel. Yes, part of it is set in the XXth century, but it doesn’t really focus on that. And it’s not a romance novel, either, although it does feature a love story. I’d say this is a contemporary novel that deals with heavy themes and is definitely not an easy read at all. Human trafficking, child prostitution, poverty, abuse… Not exactly what I was expecting.

But that was a great thing, as I absolutely loved this book. I liked that it wasn’t what I thought it would be, that the cover didn’t really do it justice, that it told an important story. I knew it from the very first chapters, as I was already engaged. I think you need to know that you will find it hard to understand Caroline and Kamal’s actions. I know I did. I mean, how could they give up their daughter just like that? Why didn’t they return more often? But once I got past that, I was completely on board with the story.

Perhaps, my favorite aspect of The Lost Daughter of India was the multiple perspectives. I know some of you don’t really enjoy them anymore, but this time I thought they gave the book more depth. Asha’s (the main protagonist) story was told from a first person perspective and you could actually believe you were reading a young girl’s thoughts. And then we had Kamal and Janiki’s tale, as well as my favorite, Caroline’s. Caroline wasn’t the best character (Janiki was!) but she was the most complex and interesting to read about in my opinion. I adored how the author described her initial dreams about India and the consequent disillusion. I deeply enjoyed reading about her relationship with Kamal and their determination to find Asha.

One thing that I found curious about The Lost Daughter of India was that the second part read like a real mystery/thriller novel. Okay, so I would never say this is a thriller, but it was full of suspense, as the characters got together and worked like proper detectives to try to find Asha’s whereabouts.

The weakest part for me, and probably the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending, mainly because I thought it was all too convenient. There were no loose ends at all, which felt kind of unrealistic. And no, I’m not really convinced about a certain relationship… please tell me I’m not the only one. Anyway, this is a great book and so different from what you could expect at first.

Buy Here

Bookouture, 2017

‘Round Midnight (Laura McBride)

30753569

Spanning the six decades when Las Vegas grew from a dusty gambling town into the melting pot metropolis it is today, ‘Round Midnight is the story of four women—one who falls in love, one who gets lucky, one whose heart is broken, and one who chooses happiness—whose lives change at the Midnight Room. June Stein and her husband open the El Capitan casino in the 1950s, and rocket to success after hiring a charismatic black singer to anchor their nightclub. Their fast-paced lifestyle runs aground as racial tensions mount. Honorata leaves the Philippines as a mail order bride to a Chicago businessman, then hits a jackpot at the Midnight Room when he takes her on a weekend trip to Las Vegas. Engracia, a Mexican immigrant whose lucky find at the Midnight Room leads to heartbreak, becomes enmeshed in Honorata’s secret when she opens her employer’s door to that Chicago businessman—and his gun. And then there is Coral, an African-American teacher who struggles with her own mysterious past. A favor for Honorata takes her to the Midnight Room, where she hits a jackpot of another kind. Mining the rich territory of motherhood and community, ‘Round Midnight is a story that mirrors the social transformation of our nation. Full of passion, heartbreak, heroism, longing, and suspense, it honors the reality of women’s lives.

‘Round Midnight is the second novel written by Laura McBride, whose debut We Are Called to Rise was critically acclaimed and quite big success (and I still haven’t read it!) I admit this was a case of cover love, pure and simple. Isn’t it gorgeous? And then I saw it was set in Las Vegas and in the 50s…

The book was divided into three different parts, all set in Vegas. Firstly it’s the 50s, with June, then the 90s with Honorata and Coral and then Engracia in the present time. But don’t worry if you miss June, Honorata and Coral, as they will keep showing up in the future, although they won’t be main characters.

My favorite storyline was June’s, maybe because it was the first, or perhaps because it was the one we got to spend more time with. And her tale was a great one, as it featured racism, love, and sacrifice. I really liked reading about her life and definitely wanted to know more, but then it was the 90s and she was not the center of the story anymore. I was a bit disappointed, although the other two sections were still interesting.

The writing was simply amazing in this novel. I loved how the author introduced every section (someone watching the main character from a distance) and the way the stories were told: it was beautifully written and easy to read at the same time. And those are the best ones in my humble opinion. When the writing doesn’t feel simplistic at all and yet it flows.

Still, something weird happened with this book. I was thoroughly captivated by the story and the pages flew by, but at the same time, I wasn’t feeling what I should. I think it lacked that essential ingredient that usually makes me fall in love with a book. I’m fully aware that it might only be me, as I’ve seen glowing reviews all around! It’s a really good book, believe me. It just didn’t touch me as I hoped.

Buy Here

Netgalley, Touchstone, 2017

The Roanoke Girls (Amy Engel)

33015034

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away. Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again. As it weaves between Lane s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

The Roanoke Girls had been on my radar for so many months! That beautiful cover, the intriguing blurb, the glowing reviews… It was one of my most anticipating reads and I couldn’t wait to finally get to it. I’m proud to say that it didn’t disappoint… but it wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

I guess I thought this would be some kind of domestic-psychological thriller, but I was so incredibly wrong. The Roanoke Girls had me hooked from the very first page with its simple yet beautiful writing. This is a deeply disturbing book about a very special family: the Roanokes. There are family secrets and a bit of mystery, but this is mostly a family saga that tells us the twisted tale of Lane, Allegra and all the other Roanoke girls.

Don’t expect a big twist… I had read many reviews and I suspected what it was about before I even started to read it. Turns out I was right, but the book actually makes it obvious from the very first chapters, so you don’t need to worry if you think you know “the secret”. This doesn’t mean the book is boring or predictable, because it isn’t. At all. It’s actually a highly gripping read: short, fast-paced and completely unputdownable.

“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

The structure was perhaps what made it so unique and enjoyable. Lane is our main narrator and we get to follow her steps THEN (her first time in Roanoke) and NOW (when she finally returns, eleven years later). But that’s not it. Every few chapters, we discover what happened to each one of the previous Roanoke Girls. And what we find out it’s not pretty…

Fortunately, the ending wasn’t as depressing as I thought it would be, as it was hopeful and beautiful at the same time. I’m a sucker for unhappy endings, but this time I think the characters deserved something different. I would recommend this book to those who aren’t easily impressionable. The topic is quite disturbing and it’s one of those novels that you never know if your friends are going to enjoy or not. I think it was amazing; but then again, I’m kind of weird sometimes 😉

Buy Here

Netgalley – Crown, 2017

A Mother’s Confession (Kelly Rimmer)

32284387.jpgOlivia and David were the perfect couple with their whole lives in front of them. When beautiful baby daughter Zoe came along, their world seemed complete. But now David is dead and Olivia’s world is in pieces. While she is consumed with grief, her mother-in-law Ivy is also mourning the loss of her son. Both women are hiding secrets about the man they loved. Secrets that have put the family in danger. Something was very wrong in Olivia and David’s marriage. Can Olivia and Ivy break their silence and speak the truth? A mother should protect her child, whatever the cost…shouldn’t she?

To be honest, I wouldn’t have picked up this book if I hadn’t read all your stellar reviews. The cover did nothing for me and the title felt kind of sappy, so I thought this would be some kind of cheesy story… I know, I know, I was so wrong. This was a sad, poignant and beautiful novel and it’s one I’d recommend to almost anyone. It was so good that it made me reflect on how important it is to raise a kid properly (and I don’t even have kids).

Even though this wasn’t a mystery at all, it read like my favorite kind of book. It featured a past story and a present one and both were so compelling and addictive I had a really hard time putting the book down. I was so intrigued by what had happened and I got so emotionally invested… You’ll see by reading this review that I’m really passionate about the book. And I wouldn’t be able to choose between the two storylines. The present storyline features Olivia, a young woman whose abusive husband has just died. We keep learning the details of his death as the book advances, but I absolutely enjoyed reading her story and felt so sorry for what she had endured. I especially loved how she progressively became much more independent and was able to come to terms with what had happened.

Remember when I read Behind Closed Doors and got so frustratingly angry with Jack? Now I have another character to hate with all my soul. Ivy. I know, if you’ve read the blurb you’re probably thinking that the husband has to be the bad guy in this story. And he is, he was disgusting and I wanted him to suffer, but Ivy was the one that got me on my nerves (probably because she was more of a main character). I hadn’t been so furious at a fictional character in months. And I couldn’t stop reading, so that was definitely thanks to Kelly Rimmer’s wonderful writing.

The ending… well, I cried, I’m not gonna deny it. It was so damn sad, you can’t possibly imagine. I don’t remember reading anything this tragic that didn’t feel manipulative or overly dramatic, ever. It’s been a few days and I’m still thinking about this book. So please, even if by looking at the cover or the title it doesn’t seem like your kind of novel, I promise you that this is a truly powerful story.

I wanted to add that I had a great time sharing my reading process with Diana (@ A Haven For Book Lovers, check out her awesome blog!). I had read her review and she got me interested because she said there was a twist and everyone was raving about it. When I reached 20% I got really frustrated and I asked her if the twist was something that had been bothering me all day. Her response was a firm: “Nooooo, how could you even think that?” And I was like: “Okay, this time you’ve gone too far, Annie“. Imagine my surprise when I got to the end and I realized she had lied to me because I had actually guessed it. She did the right thing, though, I didn’t really want to know! Also, we discovered something curious about this book and we couldn’t believe how clueless we had been…

What I liked the most
I think A Mother’s Confession‘s theme is fresh and incredibly relevant. Because let’s be honest, I’ve read tons of books this year about domestic abuse (and I loved them all), but this one was completely different because it offered a new perspective: the abuser’s mother. Because, why do men become abusers? We’ve seen them being cruel to their partners, but do we know where this hatred towards women comes from? And I’m not talking about mothers being cruel to their kids, but quite the opposite, actually. This book is about a mother becoming so obsessed with her son that she can’t accept that he might not be perfect at all. She’s jealous, manipulative and completely blind to anything cruel he does. I had never read such a story and I found it fascinating (and horrible at the same time).

What I didn’t like that much
Initially, I was going to give this four stars but then I realized I had only a small complaint, and it was that the “vet” storyline was, to me, the weakest part of the book. It’s not that I didn’t want Olivia to be happy, but I thought the book would’ve worked without it anyway. Without saying too much, I just don’t think David even needed that push in order for everything to blow up.

A Mother’s Confession is a powerful and fresh book that sheds light on a very important matter. It’s also emotional, sad and completely worth your time.

Other reviews:
A Haven For Book Lovers
Hanging With Amanda
My Chestnut Reading Tree
Novel Gossip

Similar books:
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
Behind Closed Doors
A Suitable Lie

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Bookouture, 2016 – Netgalley

Buy Here