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Category: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Review: Ice Shear by M. P. Cooley

[ 2 ] July 29, 2014

18769649Reviewed by Meghan Hyden

Officer June Lyons works the night shift at her station in Hopewell Falls, New York–a quiet little town where nothing really happens and everyone knows each other. The most she has to deal with is the occasional drunk driver or disorderly conduct. No one in this town was ready for what would happen when, one night, June finds the body of Danielle Brouillette impaled on an ice shear at the local river. This is no accident. The murder stuns everyone, especially Danielle’s parents, Congresswoman Amanda Brouillette and her husband, Phil, a local businessman.

The police have lots of suspects – Danielle’s husband, Marty; Marty’s brother, Ray; Danielle’s ex-boyfriend from high school, Jason; the Brouillette’s pilot, Craig – but no real evidence.

As the investigation goes on, things go from bad to worse–Ray is murdered, his body found on the Brouillette’s property, where June also finds a meth lab. Everyone is convinced that it was Marty who killed his wife and then killed his brother, but the evidence leaves them with more questions than answers.

And when Marty and Ray’s parents, the Jelicksons, arrive on scene …

Ice Shear was a little slow starting out, but then it got really good–local cops, FBI, the government, a big biker gang, meth, murder … and a lot of secrets. And talk about two messed up families–the Brouillettes and the Jelicksons, neither of which could see what they had done to their children.

The author did a great job with most of the characters. I really cared about what was happening to them, was hoping the murderer wasn’t this person or that person, felt sorry for some, got angry at others. My only problem is that I really didn’t feel for Danielle. She was murdered before we ever met her (which does happen, especially in police procedurals), and the way that she was described by others didn’t really make me care that she had died. I mean, I did because I’m human, but I didn’t feel heartbroken over it, not like I did when I found out that Ray had died. Danielle, the more I got to know her, the more I just didn’t like her, but the way her character was, I think I was supposed to, at least on some levels.

The last several chapters were one big thrill ride. I’m talking edge-of-your-seat-what’s-going-to-happen-next moments. And the murderer? All I will say is that I love a mystery where I am completely shocked at the end by who it was.

I would like to see more with June Lyons – and Hale, the FBI agent – and Ice Shear has a nice little opening at the end that could make this possible. I liked June and Dan, her partner–the chemistry they had was great.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

You can find Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) over on her book-ish blog The Gal in the Blue Mask. She’s an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, and the best aunt in the world. She loves gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time at the zoo, library and museums. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Forgotten Roses by Deborah Doucette

[ 4 ] July 28, 2014

032914-N Forgotten RosesReviewed by Marisa Deshaies

Deborah Doucette’s The Forgotten Roses blends mystery and suspense with lessons about marriage, child-rearing, and self-identity in a unique novel that captivates readers with its many plotlines. Set in the fictional town of Havenwood, New Hampshire, Doucette’s characters wind their ways through the sleepy New England town that offers its inhabitants much more variety to their days than any post-card depicting a standard lighthouse set along the Atlantic coast could ever represent. In fact, the hypocritical nature of setting and characterization exemplifies Doucette’s most important lesson: the face of a person or place often is only a shadow of what lies inside.

In a blend questioning, parenting, rebellion, and mystery, Doucette’s novel brings abnormality to what would normally come across as a common experience. Her characters seem ordinary: a working mother, a busy father, and two daughters weaving daily lives around jobs, school, and family obligations. Doucette layers her novel with complications, however, that make The Forgotten Roses stand out amongst competitor novels of straight romance or friendships plots. The teenager daughter, for example, is not merely of rebellious nature—instead, she actively pursues avenues of danger and uses language that cuts down adults; the female lead, a mother as well as a real estate broker, often chooses actions that many people probably consider taking but would never follow through with in real life. Throw in glimpses of the female lead’s extended Italian family and Doucette has created a world of the senses readers can only dream about.

The Forgotten Roses is a novel of many facets; readers need to prepare themselves for a litany of plots that at times do not seem to coincide. Like Doucette’s lesson about identity (mentioned above), her symbolism for the novel’s themes is two-fold: Havenwood, roses, houses, and a prison—amongst other places and objects—not only serve to move along the story but also to bring readers a fuller meaning of the author’s lessons. Nevertheless, remembering the various plotlines and their purpose holistically when, for a majority of the story, they seem to have no relevance to one another can be cumbersome to the reader. Chapters are short, and each one focuses on a different subplot and character’s point of view. Have a pen and paper by your side to jot down notes since the rapid switching is anything but smooth.

Pick up Doucette’s novel for a reading experience that combines love and mystery in a manner different than common boy-meets-and-saves-girl. The author’s plot is creative and her style unique in that suspense truly holds out until the end of the novel. While enjoyable for its differences from standard romance or mystery novels, The Forgotten Roses still is only for the most adventurous of readers because stylistically the book lacks in plot comprehension and its end is inconclusive.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

An alumna of the University of Delaware’s English department, Marisa holds a Master’s degree in professional writing from New England College. Her dream job is to work as an editor for a publishing company. A voracious reader of all types of literature, her favorite genres include the classics, contemporary and historical fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s “chick-lit”.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Deborah Doucette. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

[ 2 ] July 22, 2014

Book-the-feverReviewed by Lindsay Yocum

Deenie, Lise, and Gabby have all grown up together and remained best friends all through school. High school proves to be the hardest on their friendship as new friends seem to pull them in different directions, especially Gabby.

Lise comes down with a mysterious and potentially life threatening illness that puts her in the hospital after a seizure like episode occurs at school. Deenie, who is closest to Lise, is shaken by witnessing her friend’s episode and finds little comfort in Gabby. Gabby is constantly surrounded by the new girl who is always less than thrilled to see Deenie.

Rumors swirl about Lise’s illness and other girls begin to report similar symptoms as the days pass. Some blame the new vaccine, Gardasil, and the community holds on to this as the answer, swearing their daughters were never the same after receiving the vaccine. No answers actually come, but Deenie becomes worried when she remembers the warnings given to them as children to stay out of the lake. Apparently, people are never the same after entering the lake. Deenie knows this from experience–whatever the lake has going on made her mother sick and she eventually died. But all the warnings didn’t stop the girls from sneaking through the fence and ignoring the “Keep Out” signs surrounding the lake.

As the days pass, Lise gets worse and worse and there doesn’t seem to be any viable explanations for her illness. Are the sudden onsets of new illnesses related to Lise? And if so, who or what could be the cause of this? Just when Deenie thinks she has it all figured out, she is blindsided with new information after months of coming up empty. Is it enough to save her friend?

I have to say, I enjoyed The Fever. It was a little weird at times, but there was always this suspense that stuck with you through the entire book. It definitely kept me guessing and I have always enjoyed a book that keeps me on my toes. There were some parts in the book that I think could have been either left out or elaborated on more, but overall, it flowed together really well. I give this book a rating of 3, because while it was a good read it may not be everybody’s cup of tea. It had a very young adult feel to it and I am sure anyone in that audience will love it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Lindsay is a young, Christian entrepreneur, owner of Spectra Marketing Solutions and Co-Founder of ChairWear Fashion, creator of the Chirt (a patent-pending custom office chair cover). In her spare time, she works as a promotional model for various talent agencies and enjoys reading, blogging, home improvement, Pinterest, and especially enjoying life as a new mom with her amazing husband and business partner.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Little, Brown and Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

[ 2 ] July 21, 2014

downloadReviewed by Jessa Larsen

David Ullman is a literature professor at Columbia University and is among the world’s leading authorities on demonic literature, with his specialty being Paradise Lost, an epic poem about Satan and his court of fallen angels. Not that David believes any of it. Not God, not Satan. He simply studies it as a work of intriguing art. No more, no less. So when a mysterious woman arrives at his office and invites him to witness a phenomenon, he promptly turns her down. The woman is not to be deterred, however, and leaves a plane ticket, an address, and one last bit of advice… or is it a warning? Her employer sent her specifically to extend this invitation to David and he is not often disappointed.

As if his day couldn’t get any stranger, David’s wife greets him at home with the simple statement that she is leaving him. With this news, David impulsively takes the mysterious woman from earlier in the day up on her invitation and heads to Venice with his 12-year-old daughter, Tess. He has recently noticed that Tess has become increasingly more withdrawn and melancholy and figures, well, why not? It might cheer the both of them up and distract them from their current stressful situation.

Unfortunately, what happens in Venice isn’t what the pair was hoping for. Not even close. It starts with a visit to the address David received. He arrives to witness a man tied to a chair and muttering the craziest things. Could this be a man possessed or has he just gone clinically insane? Before David can decide, the man begins to speak in the voice of David’s dead father, repeating, word for word, the last words David ever heard him speak.

David rushes back to the hotel, clearly distraught, and discovers Tess perched on the edge of the hotel’s roof. Before he can get to her, she falls in the waters of the Grand Canal below and extends a final plea: “Find me”. Now David must rely on his expert knowledge of Paradise Lost, solve the devil’s riddles, and hope with all his heart and soul that it’s not too late to get his daughter back.

My first instinct was to dislike The Demonologist for its slow, meandering ways. But I fought against my desire to treat this as an action packed horror film and began to really enjoy the thoughtfulness that Pyper put into the work. I found myself recalling the mythologies of Lucifer and his demon apostles as I tried to solve the riddles presented to the character. It’s definitely a mind boggler and you get sucked into the story pretty good. I finished the book still thinking and a little unsure, but satisfied all the same. I will definitely be checking into more works by this author.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

[ 3 ] July 14, 2014

The Sea GardenPlease join Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Sea Garden, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours.

Reviewed by Colleen Turner

When I read Deborah Lawrenson’s debut novel The Lantern a few years ago I was swept away with her ability to transport the reader to the vibrant lavender fields of France and to spin a story that not only grabs the reader with its taut mystery and brilliant characters but with its sensory-drenched descriptions. Needless to say I have been excitedly waiting for Ms. Lawrenson to come out with her next book. I’m happy to say that The Sea Garden, a collection of three short stories that all twist around to relate to each other in a most surprising way, was just as memorable and exciting as its predecessor and just as impossible to forget once read.

“The Sea Garden” tells the story of Ellie Brooke, a British landscape designer hired to restore a memorial garden for an eccentric man and his elderly mother on the French island of Porquerolles. Desperately trying to recover from the death of her lover who died fighting in Afghanistan, Ellie is hoping this project will not only help advance her career but give her some space from her grief. But unsettled by the strange and malevolent goings on, echoed by the angry woman who owns the garden, Ellie isn’t sure she should continue with this commission. Something isn’t right on the island of Porquerolles and it might be too late by the time Ellie figures out what it is.

“The Lavender Field” goes back in time to 1944 to explore how a young, blind apprentice perfumer in Nazi-occupied Provence will put everything on the line to not only help the French Resistance but the family who gave her a home and a career she never imagined she would find. Marthe Lincel is one of the most unforgettable characters I have come across, so full of life, bravery and human decency, and it was amazing to see this woman who has lived much of her life in darkness able to navigate this terrifying terrain better than those that can see exactly what lies in front of them. And for those readers like me who loved The Lantern, you will find a nod to that story as Marthe is the sister of one of its main characters, Benedicte Lincel.

The final story, “A Shadow Life”, is set in London at the same time as “The Lavender Field” and finds a junior British intelligence officer named Iris Nightingale falling in love with a French agent working with the British SOE spy agency. When he goes missing Iris will spend much of the remainder of her life trying to not only find him but determine if their love affair was even real. This story continues back around to present day and connects back to the actions that occurred in “The Sea Garden”.

Each story was unique and entertaining in its own ways and I was truly surprised to see how they all fit together. I kept guessing how they would all connect and, much to my everlasting delight, I was completely wrong. There is a very different feel to each story – “The Sea Garden” being thrilling and somewhat supernatural in feel, “The Lavender Garden” being taut with anxiety and beauty and “A Shadow Life” being an incredible insight into how much went into the various spy rings working together and separately to bring an end to Nazi domination – but each is similar in that they all deal with some aspect of war, love and loss. While “The Lavender Field” was my favorite each had its marvelous points and would find an audience with a wide variety of readers.

Anyone knew to Deborah Lawrence might enjoy starting with The Sea Garden as each story can be consumed in a day or two and gives a wonderful insight into the author’s talent for setting and story development. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Missing You by Harlan Coben

[ 3 ] July 13, 2014

81ZKLLcPDPL._SL1500_Reviewed by Lindsay Yocum

Missing You by Harlan Coben revolves around Kat Donavan, a police officer from New York, who is still coming to terms with the unusual circumstances of her father’s death. She is also trying to get rid of the emotional baggage she has been accruing thanks to a broken engagement eighteen years ago. Her gorgeous and hilarious friend, Stacy, thinks she has just the trick. Kat needs to try online dating, so Stacy sets her up with a profile and hopes that this will finally help Kat enter the dating world.

While hesitant, Kat agrees. What could go wrong? After scrolling endlessly through accounts of possible matches, she lands on none other than her ex finance, Jeff Raynes. Kat is left stunned at seeing his face again and after a few days decides to send him a message. His response doesn’t quite go as planned, and leaves Kat confused and a little bit hurt. How did he not recognize that it was her? Had he truly forgotten about her? It sends her mind racing and when she approaches their old mutual friend, Aqua, about Jeff, she’s only met with coldness and a warning to stay far away from him. Kat doesn’t have a lot of time to dwell on the matter though. After a visit with her father’s killer in the hospital, Kat is surer than ever that there is something more to her father’s murder. She is determined to find out for her own sanity.

Meanwhile, another side of the story is happening. Gerard let go of his inhibitions and decided to meet the woman of his dreams, Vanessa. He met her through an online dating profile, and he was smitten. Consumed with giddiness over meeting the woman of his dreams, Gerard is taken aback when he wakes up in a box. With absolutely no recollection of how this came to be, he worries the worst is yet to come. Was Vanessa just some lie? Was this her doing?

After being blown off by the police station in Connecticut, 19-year-old Brandon seeks out Kat at her station in New York. He is convinced she is the only one who can help him find his mother, Dana, who had told him she was going on a trip with her new boyfriend in the Caribbean. After days of no contact, Brandon senses something is not right, and tries his best to convince Kat of the same. She doesn’t bite, until Brandon brings up the dating website her mother met her boyfriend on and Kate realizes that it is the same one that she is using. And then there is the fact that Dana’s supposed boyfriend and Kat’s ex-fiance are one and the same. Did Brandon find Kat by chance? Or is there something more to him choosing her to help in his quest to find his mother? And what exactly is Jeff trying to hide?

Harlan Coben is one of my favorite writers. He has this way of captivating your attention so that you’re hanging on to every word, thinking you’ve got it all figured out and then left thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?!” when the book ends.

This was a great book and extremely well written. The topic of choice – “online dating” – wasn’t really something I am into reading about, but the way it fits into the story doesn’t make it seem as much of an after school special as I initially thought it would be.

I give this book a rating of 4. I think most people  – and especially those who love a good thriller – would definitely enjoy this book. (Coben fans will love it) Harlan Coben did what he does best– the suspense, drama, and humor in this book will not let you down.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Lindsay Yocum resides in California with her 5 year old firecracker daughter, Bear, and her hilarious husband. She spends her free time traveling, baking, ruining DIY crafts she finds on Pinterest, and running, when she isn’t nose deep in a book.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Dutton Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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