Always With a Book

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review: Her Pretty Bones by Carla Kovach


Title: Her Pretty Bones
Author: Carla Kovach
Series: Detective Gina Harte, #3
Published: January 2019, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 330 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
She’s just the girl he’s looking for…

A young woman falls from a van speeding down a quiet road. Battered and bruised, she turns her head to the person who comes to her aid. ‘Help her’, she whispers before her eyes close.

Days later, the body of another young girl is found in a shallow grave just a few miles away. The similarities between the two girls are startling – same age, same frail body, same shocking red hair.

As the town fears there’s a serial killer living amongst them, Detective Gina Harte must put aside her own struggles at home, and catch the killer before he finds another perfect girl.

AN ABSOLUTELY HEART-STOPPING CRIME THRILLER FROM CARLA KOVACH – if you like Lisa Gardner, Robert Bryndza or Clare Mackintosh, Her Pretty Bones will have you hooked.



My thoughts:  This is the third book in the Detective Gina Harte series and  I think this series just keeps getting better! It's so addicting and compelling...I just love when I find these crime fiction/police procedural series with a strong female lead.

While this third book can definitely be read as a stand-alone - something that I am finding most books in series can be done these days - I will say that I highly recommend reading the previous books first. There is quite a lot of backstory on the characters that I think is helpful in really understanding the characters more fully. Plus, this book in particular does reference quite a few times events that happened in the previous book, events that if you were to read it after the fact, would in fact be considered spoilers.

Once again, I love that Detective Gina is pulled into a case and you see that she is putting all of herself into solving it. But, and this is a huge but, this time, there are a few mitigating factors standing in the way. First, she might have come back to work a little too soon after the last case...I won't say too much due to spoilers, but just know that this causes a bit of a rift between her and her daughter. Her daughter seems to think that Gina always puts work first, and this time she might just be correct! I really like that we see this family feud play out and that we see Gina struggle with her new-found anxiety throughout this case. It's real and it's definitely not without warrant.

This latest installment is told from multiple points of view and the three threads that keep the story moving are woven together to form quite an unforgettable story. The twists and turns really keep you guessing not only as to what is going on and who is involved, but also it keeps the suspense ramped up. 

I hope there is another Detective Gina Harte book out soon. I really like this series and cannot wait to see what is in store for Gina and her team next!



Books in this series:

  1. The Next Girl
  2. Her Final Hour
  3. Her Pretty Bones
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Short & Sweet Review: The Trial by James Patterson


Title: The Trial
Author: James Patterson
Series: Women's Murder Club, #15.5
Published: July 2016, BookShots
Format: Paperback, 110 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
"I'm not on trial. San Francisco is."

An accused murderer called Kingfisher is about to go on trial for his life. Or is he? By unleashing unexpected violence on the lawyers, jurors, and police involved in the case, he has paralyzed the city. Detective Lindsay Boxer and the Women's Murder Club are caught in the eye of the storm.

Now comes a courtroom shocker you will never see coming.




***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.



My thoughts:  This is the first BookShots to be part of the Women's Murder series and it was a good novella to feature my favorite ladies - and with the nature of the Bookshots being what it is, that of a fast-paced story - there is not a whole lot of room for any character development here. We jump right into the action and there is little room for anything else. 

I liked this little novella - it's like having a little teaser in-between the regular full-length novels. It's quite an intense read and it focuses on one case, which I happened to like. This book grabs you by the throat and pulls you right in and doesn't let up until the end, which a great ending. I like how this was incorporated into the series and will be curious to see how the next one is worked in...



Books in this series:

    
1.   1st to Die                                    13.   Unlucky 13
     2.   2nd Chance                               14.   14th Deadly Sin
     3.   3rd Degree                                15.    15th Affair
     4.   4th of July                                 15.5   The Trial
     5.   The 5th Horseman                   16.    16th Seduction
     6.   The 6th Target                          16.5   The Medical Examiner
     7.   7th Heaven                                 17.    The 17th Suspect   
     8.   The 8th Confession                  18.   The 18th Abduction - due out April 2019
     9.   The 9th Judgment
    10.  10th Anniversary
    11.   11th Hour
    12.   12th of Never     
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson


Title: Unwanted
Author: Kristina Ohlsson
Series:Fredrika Bergman & Alex Recht, #1
Published: November 2012, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary:
In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken, and, in what seems to be merely a coincidence, her mother has been left behind at the previous station. Inspector Fredrika Bergman and her team of federal investigators are called in and assigned to what at first seems to be a classic custody dispute.

But when the child is found dead in the far north of Sweden with the word "unwanted" scribbled on her forehead, the case soon turns into the investigation team's worst nightmare -- the pursuit of a brilliant and ruthless killer.



My thoughts: A few years ago, I read The Chosen, the 5th book in Kristina Ohlsson's Fredrika Bergman and Alex Recht series, when it was released, and I immediately ordered the previous four books. Of course, they have just been sitting on my shelves, waiting for me to find the time to pick them up...so this year, I am determined to do just that. 

I really liked how this book, the first in the series, is a really good combination of police procedural and psychological thriller. It has many points of view, including the police detectives as well as the criminals - which I always love because these chapters tend to be chilling and twisted, giving us access to the inside thinking of the mastermind behind the crimes. I also like that these parts, the parts narrated by the criminal, are relatively anonymous - our only hint that it is male, given that he is referred to as "The Man." 

The team working on the case is comprised of three investigators: Alex Recht, who is the most experienced, and senior, detective of the three, Peder Rydh, who is a young, ambitious detective, and Fredrika Bergman, who is a civilian investigative analyst. They all bring different strengths to the team and I liked that, as this is the first book of the series, we got plenty of backstory on each of the three characters. They are all complex and well-drawn and I am looking forward to seeing how each of them develop as the series continues. 

The characterization in this novel is fantastic. The author really does a great job making the characters feel relatable and yet you might even find them unlikable at times, but you also can understand their problems. The way they are written, you end up finding out what it is they have to cope with and why it is they act the way they do. Their inner dialogue allows us to see their strengths, weaknesses and even their insecurities. This allows you to get a better feel for them on the whole. 

I liked how the book focuses as much on the mystery as it does on each investigator's approach to the case. They each have a very different take on how to solve this case and I liked this. We see just how different these three investigators are, and we see the case coming together from different angles.

I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to continuing on with this series. This book kept me completely engaged and invested from start to finish and I hope the rest of the books do the same!



Books in this series: 
  1. Unwanted
  2. Silenced
  3. The Disappeared
  4. Hostage
  5. The Chosen   
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Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag


Title: The Wolf and the Watchman
Author: Niklas Natt och Dag
Published: March 2019, Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
In this breathtakingly bold, intricately constructed novel set in 18th century Stockholm, a dying man searches among the city’s teeming streets, dark corners, and intriguing inhabitants to unmask a ruthless murderer—perfect for fans of Perfume and The Alienist.

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.




My thoughts: Last year, I watched the TV mini-series The Alienist and loved it - and it happens to be one of my husband's all-time favorite books...he owns THREE copies of the book, including a first edition! I still need to read the actual book, but when I saw that this book, THE WOLF AND THE WATCHMAN was being compared to The Alienist, I knew I wanted to give it a go - a historical fiction crime thriller - sounds right up my alley!

This is a dark, gritty, macabre read...not sure what that says about me as a reader, but I was fascinated with the story. It is a little slow going and it does take a while to get into the rhythm of the story, but I tell you, I found myself captivated. It's certainly not a fast, thrilling read - this is definitely a different kind of absorbing read, yet one that still had me invested in what was going on.

I will say this is not a book for everyone - it's violent, at times graphic, in nature. But if you can get past that, it really is quite an intricately woven tale that will take you down a path in history you probably know nothing about. It takes us into the underbelly of Stockholm in the late 1700s and believe me, it's not really a time you would want to live. What kept me going was the compelling descriptions that we get and the characters we meet. There are a few mysteries and of course I needed them to be solved! I needed to know how everything tied together.

The characters in this book are so well-drawn. We get their full back story so that they have depth and complexity. This draws you in as much as the brilliant descriptions of the setting. You really get a sense of what Stockholm was like back in the 1790s - it comes alive with the author's writing. There is such a sharp contrast between the haves and the have-nots and this is clearly due to the writer's talent.

This was quite a compelling read and one that is not soon to be forgotten. I will absolutely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this author...his writing is quite remarkable.


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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Spotlight: The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage -- With Giveaway!!!

Yesterday, Vanessa Savage's debut novel, The Woman in the Dark,was published in the United States. To help the publisher get the word out, I am hosting a giveaway for two lucky readers...one giveaway is being hosted here & one is being hosted on my Instagram page. 

I just finished reading this book and posted my review earlier today - you can find my review here.  


Read on to see what others have to say and then you can find out where to enter the giveaway below!!!
 



Title: The Woman in the Dark
Author: Vanessa Savage
Published: March 2019, Grand Central Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Summary: 
A debut psychological thriller about a woman who moves with her family to the gothic seaside house where her husband grew up--and where 15 years ago another family was brutally slaughtered.

Sarah and Patrick are happy. But after her mother's death, Sarah spirals into depression and overdoses on sleeping pills. While Sarah claims it was an accident, her teenage children aren't so sure. Patrick decides they all need a fresh start and he knows just the place, since the idyllic family home where he was raised has recently come up for sale. There's only one catch: for the past fifteen years, it has become infamous as the "Murder House", standing empty after a family was stabbed to death within its walls.

Patrick believes they can bring the house back to its former glory, so Sarah, uprooted from everything she knows, pours her energy into painting, gardening, and giving the rotting old structure the warmth of home. But with locals hinting that the house is haunted, the news that the murderer has been paroled, strange writing on the walls, and creepy "gifts" arriving on the doorstep at odd hours, Sarah can't shake the feeling that something just isn't right. Not with the house, not with the town, or even with her own, loving husband--whose stories about his perfect childhood suddenly aren't adding up. Can Sarah uncover the secrets of the Murder House before another family is destroyed?



What readers are saying:

"Kept us utterly spooked and utterly hooked."Heat
  
"Savage carefully sustains the growing tension to the final twist. Psychological thriller fans will be rewarded."Publishers Weekly 

"Claustrophobic and compelling."Good Housekeeping"Unputdownable."Laura Marshall, author of Friend Request 

"A vivid portrait of buried tensions."Daily Mail 

"An intense tale of deceit, treachery and loss."The Sun

 "Scary, pacy and compelling."Claire Douglas, author of Do Not Disturb  

"Creepy and atmospheric."Amanda Jennings, author of The Cliff House

"Atmospheric, creepy...Combines the intrigue of thrillers like The Wife Between Us and Behind Closed Doors, coupled with the delicious terror of a haunted house story."Booklist 

"A real page turner....The book has twists and turns you don't see coming and lead to a shocking climactic reveal...[Savage] will be one to watch in the future."Red Carpet Crash


*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Giveaway Details -- (US or Canada Only) 
Thanks to the publisher, two readers will win a finished copy of  The Woman in the Dark  by Vanessa Savage. 

There are 2 options to enter: by the rafflecopter here on this page and by heading over to my Instagram page to this post (will update post once IG is working but for now, look for the post with the photo below). You can enter on both if you so choose. Both giveaways will end on Wednesday, March 20th, and are not affiliated with or sponsored by Instagram or Blogger. 



  a Rafflecopter giveaway


 
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Review: The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage


Title: The Woman in the Dark
Author: Vanessa Savage
Published: March 2019, Grand Central Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publishing

Summary: 
A debut psychological thriller about a woman who moves with her family to the gothic seaside house where her husband grew up--and where 15 years ago another family was brutally slaughtered.

Sarah and Patrick are happy. But after her mother's death, Sarah spirals into depression and overdoses on sleeping pills. While Sarah claims it was an accident, her teenage children aren't so sure. Patrick decides they all need a fresh start and he knows just the place, since the idyllic family home where he was raised has recently come up for sale. There's only one catch: for the past fifteen years, it has become infamous as the "Murder House", standing empty after a family was stabbed to death within its walls.

Patrick believes they can bring the house back to its former glory, so Sarah, uprooted from everything she knows, pours her energy into painting, gardening, and giving the rotting old structure the warmth of home. But with locals hinting that the house is haunted, the news that the murderer has been paroled, strange writing on the walls, and creepy "gifts" arriving on the doorstep at odd hours, Sarah can't shake the feeling that something just isn't right. Not with the house, not with the town, or even with her own, loving husband--whose stories about his perfect childhood suddenly aren't adding up. Can Sarah uncover the secrets of the Murder House before another family is destroyed?



My thoughts: It seems that I cannot get enough of the psychological thriller genre, but when a book is pitched to me that is all about a "Murder House" you can bet I am going to read it, especially considering I now live right across the creek from the Amityville Horror house...doesn't that just scream perfect creepy setting? And let me tell you...this book totally has just the right amount of horror vibes coming from a "Murder House" to keep you up at night!


"He sees the beautiful Victorian house he grew up, with its pitched roof and gabled ends -- a fairy-tale house before it became the county House of Horrors. He sees happy memories of a childhood lived by the see. He doesn't imagine blood on the walls or whispering ghosts. He doesn't see the Murder House, but I do."


Ok, that totally did it. That passage right there gave me ALL the Amityville Horror vibes and right from that moment on, I was in love with this book - and that was only at the end of chapter 1! But I was totally mesmerized and that feeling never once let up. This book totally sucks you in, and whether it's the horror vibes or the sense of foreboding you get that you know something is going to happen that shouldn't, I'm not sure, but I was all in!

This book is dark and mysterious. The characters are fantastically drawn and complex, yet you just can't help but wonder if they are trustworthy - and I absolutely love that! And there are some that are so deliciously devious that you just can't help but despise them, no matter what they do. I'm not going to name names, but just know that there are one or two that will grate on your nerves. The lies and manipulations that go on will keep you rooted to the story, wondering if you are ever going to get to the truth.

This book is also full of atmosphere. From the house itself to the location - the seaside with the fog, wind and rain, it's almost as if this is another character. This all combines to add to the already growing tension. The house gives the sense of claustrophobia at times - the peeling wallpaper and cold spots - and that just adds to the creepiness of the story. I'm telling you - you might think twice about reading this book at night and definitely might rethink reading this during a bad storm!

I am astonished that this is a debut novel and cannot wait to see what comes next for Vanessa Savage...she is certainly one to keep on eye out for! If you like psychological thrillers with a bit of horror thrown in, I highly recommend this book...you won't be sorry!!!


***And stay tuned...I'll be posting a #Bookgiveaway for this book a little later today!!!



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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Review: Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter (audio)


Title: Until the Day I Die
Author: Emily Carpenter
Narrator: Jess Nahikian, Kate Orsini, Patrick Lawlor
Published: March 2019, Brilliance Audio
Length: 10 hours 45 minutes
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception - the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover - she was sent to disappear.


My thoughts:  I have long been a fan of Emily Carpenter's books, especially on audio, ever since coming across her debut novel, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, on one of those Audible Daily Deals...what a find that turned out to be. Since then, I've listened to every one of Emily's books and each one just gets better and better - and this latest one might be my favorite one yet, though her debut novel still holds a special spot in my heart!

This book is all kinds of crazy - it's fast-paced and thrilling and I just could not listen to it fast enough. I loved how it alternated between the mother, Erin, and her daughter, Shorie - this at times really amped up the tension, and believe me that tension was super high where you felt you couldn't breathe! This book takes a regular place and turns it into a nightmare. You won't be able to look at a Caribbean Island and resort the same way again after finishing this book and all with good reason.

I think this book is a mix of action thriller and character study in that the beginning is definitely a slow burn where we see just how our main characters, Erin and Shorie are handling the death of Perry, Erin's husband and Shorie's father. Once we get past that, then the action picks up and once that starts, it really never lets up. 

What I loved is that as we meet the rest of the cast of characters, I started to feel uneasy about them. I'm not exactly sure why, but I did and maybe there was a reason. That unease never really let up as the book progresses and then strange and dark things start happening. This book is tense and mysterious - there is a mystery and there is deception and I think that is what keeps you captivated. Just what is going on? On top of that, the tech stuff that is involved is just plain intriguing.

I absolutely loved this book. It was fun, thrilling and, while a bit over the top in some parts, really interesting. I didn't guess who was behind everything and that's always a good thing because it keeps me totally on my toes trying to put it together and constantly thinking. I can't wait to see what comes next from Emily...she really has outdone herself this time!


Audio thoughts: This was a great book to listen to and the narrators really did a great job bringing it to life. Kate Orsini was the perfect Erin - she really gave this character the best voice and I can't think of a better narrator for Erin's personality than Kate Orsini. Her intonation was perfect, and her pitch and the tension in her voice when needed really made this audio stand out. I love Kate Orsini and she did an outstanding job here. This is only the second time I've listened to Jess Nahikian and I thought she did a great job with Shorie's parts. She has a younger voice, so she was perfect for this role. It was believable and I felt her emotions come across loud and clear, as well as the stress. This really was a fun, thrilling audio to listen to and the casting was perfect!


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