Hingston’s Box (Decima Blake)


31673313Since investigating the disappearance of fifteen-year-old twin boys, Hingston – a young, talented Detective Sergeant, has been tormented by night terrors. On waking, he remembers a vast, golden meadow that glows with warmth and carries the sound of rapid footfalls and trouser legs pushing through grasses. A curly haired boy runs tirelessly through the meadow. The promise of adventure is lost when the sickening ache of death seeps into Hingston’s bones. Feeling suffocated and tortured, melodic chimes calm him and his panic subsides. Signed off and leaving the office, a key inexplicably falls from Hingston’s investigation file. Intrigued, he takes it with him, escaping London for Dartmouth where his investigative race begins. Stalked by a challenging elderly woman and hindered by his boss, his determination to solve the case draws him into the supernatural world that connects a murderous past to the present.

Hingston’s Box is Decima Blake’s debut and it was also a very special book in terms of genre. Why? Because it was both a police procedural and a supernatural story. How many times we’ve read novels about crimes in the present that are connected to other crimes in the past? And you know how much I love those.

This time, though, the connection was not the usual one. DS Jason Hingston is tormented by the disappearance of two teenage boys, so he’s asked to take a leave and rest. While visiting his uncle Zack in Devon, Jason meets a mysterious woman who seems to know something about the crime… And then he discovers that he has a key that magically opens a musical box he’s just found in an old store. This musical box used to belong to a family whose twin teenage boys also disappeared many years ago…

I don’t think you need to love fantasy or supernatural strorylines in order to enjoy Hingston’s Box, given that this detail doesn’t make it less of a crime novel. The most important aspect of the book is following Hingston’s investigation and trying to help him decipher the enigmatic musical box. To whom did it belong? What does it mean? Can this past crime help Jason solve the current one? You’ll see…

What I liked the most
This was a short read and Decima Blake’s writing was wonderful. Despite the supernatural part, the crime aspect of the book felt realistic and Jason was clearly a very sympathetic character: kind, smart and loyal. I loved how he never gave up and insisted on following his instincts.

What I didn’t like that much
I’m afraid I couldn’t connect much with this story. I thought it lacked a bit of “passion” and the criminal case wasn’t one that I will remember for a long time. I wished we could’ve seen Jason’s relationship with more of his colleagues. I felt sad that he was so lonely, as he seemed to be a really nice guy and a great detective.

A special mix between mystery and supernatural for those who love present cases that connect back to past crimes.

Similar books:
Every Dead Thing
Close Your Eyes

Other reviews:
Dorset Book Detective

Pegasus Publishers, 2016 – From author

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The Witches Of New York (Ami McKay)

30233919.jpgThe year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits…

Ever since I joined Goodreads, I’ve always wanted to read a book by Ami McKay. Her two novels (The Birth House and The Virgin Cure) seemed so exotic and special. Historical, women’s issues… They definitely caught my attention. When I found out that she was releasing a new book about witches, I jumped at the chance to review it. I don’t usually read fantasy, but I thought this would be more “magical realism” (which I really like). Turns out, it was a bit of both.

After finishing the novel, I can say that while I loved Ami McKay’s writing, this was one of those books where I enjoyed the setting and the characters more than the story itself. I thought New York’s characterization was wonderful and we had three interesting main characters here: Adelaide, Eleanor and Beatrice (I’m in love with Adelaide, by the way). Even though I found them captivating, it still took me a while to connect with the story and once again, the blurb spoiled something that only happened in the last section of the book. I really hate when they do that (Don’t worry, I removed it here).

The “action” takes part almost exclusively at the end, so the first part of the book moved rather slowly because of that. At first, I didn’t mind because I was delighted to get to know our lovely witches and their peculiar shop better. However, I believe the story dragged out a bit and I wished it had been a shorter book. I believe I would’ve enjoyed it way more.

The book edition was beautiful and it’s definitely one I’d recommend reading in physical format. It featured handwritten letters, drawings, newspaper stories and other amazing surprises and it was one of the most special books I’ve encountered lately.

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What I liked the most
The world Ami McKay created here was compelling and fascinating. The historical part was a pleasure to read and I loved how strong these women were. This is a truly feminist book and makes New York seem so magical and special!

What I didn’t like that much
As I previously mentioned, I would’ve wanted a stronger storyline. I usually don’t mind reading quiet books, but this was a bit different and I really think it had the potential to be even more memorable novel.

The Witches Of New York is a strange and alluring novel that I liked but didn’t manage to love as much as I expected at first.

Other reviews:
What’s Better Than Books
Ola Reads Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Orion Books, 2016 – Copy from publishers

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A Murder In Time (Julie McElwain)

25790952Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates. While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact. Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

I think this is going to be one of my favorite reviews ever. Mainly because I absolutely adored this book, but also because I disagree with lots of the other reviews I read (especially on Goodreads) and I want to declare my  love for this book!

After falling in love with its stunning cover (I could look at it for ages), I read what this was about and knew that I had to read it. I’m loving time-travel books more every day and AMIT had an FBI agent traveling back to 1815. What’s not to like? After deciding that I’d read it, I started checking out other reviews and I felt immediately disappointed. There were tons of people saying that they had DNF’d the book and others who criticized its lack of realism. The main character got a lot of hate, too. I was afraid. Would this story focus only on love/sex like Outlander? (I really don’t like that book). My expectations were low.

As soon as I started reading, I realized I was having a lot of fun. The story was unique. The mystery was compelling. I liked Kendra very much. The supporting characters were great as well. I even laughed out loud several times! It’s true, I thought this book was hilarious at certain parts. Imagine that you’re an FBI agent, a professional profiler, who happens to travel in time to 1815 and ends up working as a maid. Imagine trying to convince the posh ladies and lords that there’s a serial killer out there. Saying things like: “The unsub is a white male, aged 20 to 35, probably has mother issues”. The reactions were priceless. Kendra was smart, fierce and brave and I loved how she kept trying to solve the crime even if she wasn’t always taken seriously.

The more I read, the more I kept thinking: When will it get boring? When will I start hating Kendra? The answer is simple: it never happened. Besides, I found the lack of realism endearing, as it wouldn’t have been so fun if she hadn’t been able to help with the investigation. Suspension of disbelief? Sure, but I didn’t care at all.

In fact, and some might say I’m crazy, but A Murder In Time reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s novels. You know, Poirot, with his strong personality, his weird theories and everyone thinking he must be crazy? That’s exactly how this felt. The humourous tone was definitely similar.

In addition, the “love story” was only like 5% of the book, something which definitely surprised me (in a good way). The rest of the book felt like a classic murder mystery, a traditional whodunnit where all the main characters are in the same location and everyone could be guilty. I loved it and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Can’t wait to continue with Kendra’s adventures.

Similar recommendations:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Agatha Christie)
11/22/63 (Stephen King)

Other reviews:

A Bookaholic Swede
The Book Lover’s Boudoir

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 Pegasus Books, 2016 – Copy from publishers

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The Deviants (CJ Skuse)

518q1tsobdlGrowing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her. Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level. When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

Before The Deviants, I hadn’t read a YA book in a very looooong time. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about diving into this, especially since I didn’t like my last at all. However, The Deviants looked awesome and the cover was so stunning that I requested it on a whim, hoping it wouldn’t disappoint. Fortunately, it didn’t: it was pretty amazing.

This is the story of the famous five: Ella, Max, Fallon, Corey and Zane. They used to be inseparable, but something happened and they pretty much lost all contact with each other. Except for Ella and Max, who have been dating for many years, although their relationship isn’t as good as it seems. But why? And then Corey’s cat suddenly disappears and Ella and Max decide to help him, reuniting with Fallon again. And the summer of revenge begins…

This is one of those novels where the less you know about it, the better, and that’s why I won’t give more details about the plot. I wasn’t sure at first (okay, so what this is even about?) but The Deviants simply got better and better with every page. I especially love when that happens, because the final feeling is always much more gratifying than when a book starts off really well but quickly goes downhill.

After a slow and fairly weird start, the middle of the book was incredibly thrilling and engaging and the final part simply had me on the verge of tears. I loved how even though the theme was dark and dramatic, the novel still managed to present a beautiful ending. One of the most powerful ones I’ve read in quite some time.

Chapters were short but poignant and I particularly liked how the author finished them with a question. I was confused at first, but it all got answered at the end. I found this an extremely satisfying read, a book where all genres were perfectly mixed: mystery, revenge coming of age, romance, friendship…

The Deviants somehow reminded me of We Were Liars, but in my humble opinion, this one is far better. I saw the twist coming in that one and found the writing a bit too flowery for my taste. On the other hand, The Deviants was the perfect YA book, deep and meaningful, entertaining and emotional at the same time. I still prefer reading adult fiction, but I certainly hope my next YA is as good as this one.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mira Ink,2016

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I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.