Wow! I didn't start this book with any expectations and I ended up LOVING it. I was hesitant to read it because I had the impression that it would be...moreWow! I didn't start this book with any expectations and I ended up LOVING it. I was hesitant to read it because I had the impression that it would be pretentious, literary New York-y fiction, which I have very little patience with (at this stage of my life). It wasn't! Yes, New York was one of the settings in the book, but there were two other darkly beautiful, compelling locations featured in NIGHT FILM. The main character, Scott McGrath, is a journalist who's traveled to some of the most war-torn regions on earth but the scoop he wants more than anything is to learn the truth about genius horror filmmaker, Stanislas Cordova. Cordova has a huge cult following with obsessive fans all over the world and there are all kinds of insane rumors about him.
When the story breaks that Cordova's daughter, Ashley, has committed suicide, McGrath begins a quest to research the last days of Ashley's life. His research draws him into a mystical, twisting, turning series of events and he meets up with Nora and Hopper, two twentysomethings that also have an interest in finding out what happened to Ashley before she died. I don't want to say anything else about the plot in my review, because it will be SO much more fun for you to read it without knowing about anything that happens in advance!
This book is also a lot of fun from a graphic-design perspective because it is peppered with "screen shots" from websites, "articles" from the New York Times and Rolling Stone, and more graphic snippets that give clues to the life of the fictional Cordova. This book was a great adventure, perfect to read in the weeks before Halloween when the skies are gray and the leaves are falling.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing the advance reader copy of NIGHT FILM, which I read on my Kindle!(less)
After hearing the author read the prologue of this book on the Diane Rehm Show, I had to check it out. This is one of the best books I've listened to...moreAfter hearing the author read the prologue of this book on the Diane Rehm Show, I had to check it out. This is one of the best books I've listened to on audio for a long time. The main character, Rob Ryan, experienced a traumatic event in his childhood: two of his best friends vanished while they were playing in the woods near their neighborhood. Later, Rob becomes a detective with the Dublin Murder Squad and returns to his childhood neighborhood, and the woods, when he is assigned to investigate the murder of a young girl.
While the mystery around the teenager's murder case comes to a suspenseful and chilling conclusion, the truly enthralling part of this book is Rob's description of the downward spiral of his relationship with his partner on the squad, Cassie. There is a lot of foreshadowing so the reader knows that something terrible is going to happen to their closer-than-siblings bond, and the implosion of their relationship is even more depressing than anything you could have expected. The author is remarkable at bringing the emotions of the characters alive through her descriptions, and the expert narration by Steven Crossley made me feel like I was face to face with Rob, Cassie, Sam and all the other characters in the novel. Although I'm sad that Crossley doesn't narrate the rest of the books in the series, I'll definitely be listening to all of them. (less)
A young mother, haunted by unresolved mysteries from her past, reconsiders her comfortable suburban life in this atmospheric novel. Readers who enjoy...moreA young mother, haunted by unresolved mysteries from her past, reconsiders her comfortable suburban life in this atmospheric novel. Readers who enjoy a strong sense of place will love Brown's lush descriptions of the New England countryside and its coastal areas. While Karen Brown's writing is wonderfully descriptive, I had trouble engaging with the characters in the book. I think the author tries to show how detached the characters are from one another, but it also makes the reader feel very detached from the characters. Some characters never seem to develop at all. I think this book could have been much more suspenseful and exciting if Brown had not tried so obviously to project such a high level of suburban ennui. Don't get disappointed if you don't quite connect with any of the characters; this book is still worth a read for its descriptive language and exploration of a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship. Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Washington Square Press via Netgalley for review purposes.(less)
I can't wait to read more of McKenzie's books after sampling this exciting psychological thriller. Geniver is still grieving after the loss of her sti...moreI can't wait to read more of McKenzie's books after sampling this exciting psychological thriller. Geniver is still grieving after the loss of her stillborn baby daughter after eight years. Her husband, Art, wants them to keep trying to get pregnant again but she's not so fond of the idea.
Geniver's life is turned upside down one day when a woman shows up on her doorstep to tell her that her child actually lived, and was taken from her at the hospital. And even worse, that her husband knew about the plan to take the infant. Geniver and her husband quickly begin to grow apart as she can't give up her investigation to discover whether her daughter might still be alive. The plot of this book is loaded with twists and turns, and there is a great monster twist at the conclusion. I couldn't put it down, and I'd love to read a sequel to this expertly plotted tale. (less)
An exciting and unique thriller debut featuring an unconventional main character, Becky Masterman's "Rage Against the Dying" will captivate anyone who...moreAn exciting and unique thriller debut featuring an unconventional main character, Becky Masterman's "Rage Against the Dying" will captivate anyone who loves creepy thrillers featuring a strong woman tracking a terrifying serial killer. Ex-FBI Agent Brigid Quinn is committed to settling down and living the peaceful life of a retiree with her new husband, Carlo, in Arizona. She's succeeding fairly well until a killer attempts to capture her one morning while she's out rock hunting.
She learns that the attacker may be connected to one of her biggest cases, the Route 66 killer. Her beloved protege was one of this killer's victims, and the unsolved case has always haunted her. When a truck driver comes forward to confess to the Route 66 killings, she must work with a much younger FBI agent, Laura Coleman, to find out if he's really guilty.
Brigid is a truly unique character in thriller-world as she is a Baby Boomer age retiree dealing with creating a life outside the career that previously consumed all her time, and she doesn't want to expose her husband to all the horrors she has seen. She's gritty and realistic and will stay with you long after you put down the book. I love Arizona, so the desert setting was also an enjoyable feature of the book for me. I hope we get to read more books about her adventures!(less)
This diverting thriller set in Ohio Amish Country has a plot full of fun twists and turns and compelling characters, but is sometimes undermined by cl...moreThis diverting thriller set in Ohio Amish Country has a plot full of fun twists and turns and compelling characters, but is sometimes undermined by clunky writing. Police Chief Kate Burkholder grew up Amish, but a traumatic event and a family secret led to her departure to "English" life and a career in law enforcement. When a serial killer begins preying on young women in her small village of Painters Mill, Kate and her small staff find themselves over their heads as Kate tries to protect a family secret that may be related to the killings. I listened to this title on audio, and the unique setting and characters kept me interested, but the author uses a lot of cliches in her writing which took me out of the story a bit. The female narrator of the audiobook also has some trouble doing men's voices, which distracted me at times. I'll probably try the second book in this series to see if it's as fun as the first, and maybe the writing will improve. If you like thrillers with strong female main characters, you may enjoy Sworn to Silence.(less)
I loved this book and sped through reading it while I was sick and couldn't do anything else. Readers will immediately be pulled into the story becaus...moreI loved this book and sped through reading it while I was sick and couldn't do anything else. Readers will immediately be pulled into the story because Miranda takes many of the cliched tropes of a "paranormal" teen book and turns them upside down. After Delaney falls through ice on a lake in her Maine hometown, she's technically dead for 11 minutes. After waking from a 6-day coma, she discovers she has a supernatural power. She's torn between her lifelong male best friend and a mysterious new guy in town. It all sounds pretty generic but you won't believe how all those plot elements play out! Delaney's mental state after waking from her coma, her recovery, and her depression are all deftly handled by the author as well. A quick, dark, and satisfying read. I don't think this book necessarily needs a sequel.(less)
This is the first book I've read by Suzanne Brockmann - her usual type of contemporary, military romances is not my style - but I couldn't resist the...moreThis is the first book I've read by Suzanne Brockmann - her usual type of contemporary, military romances is not my style - but I couldn't resist the premise of this book, which reminded me of a more realistic X-Men. I chose the audio version of this book, and listening to it was like watching a big, effects-heavy summer action movie in my head. Dual narrators keep the action moving along and help the listener keep all the points of view straight.
This first installment in a paranormal/action/suspense series is set in an alternate-reality/future Boston in which the economic crisis has deepened and most government and law enforcement services are privatized. Our protagonists are members of a law enforcement team employed by the Obermeyer Institute, which studies the powers of "greater-thans" - those individuals who can access a greater percentage of their brains than the rest of society. The greater-thans have a range of psychic and mental powers, and everyone's powers are unique.
Born to Darkness focuses on romances between three main couples involved with the team, and sets up a rivalry between the Institute's team and the shadowy Organization, a criminal drug ring which manufactures the designer drug Destiny - a drug that also grants enhanced mental, physical and psychic powers to its abusers, until they "joker," or go completely, homicidally crazy.
The reason this book only gets three stars for me is its focus on the romance between Institute team member Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie and Shane, a former Navy SEAL who joins the Institute's fight against the Organization. Mac's hand-wringing about the vulnerability she feels because of her growing love for Shane takes up a ridiculous portion of the book, or at least that's how it felt to me. I found myself zoning out every time a Mac and Shane scene began. the other main characters in the book were much more engaging: Dr. Bach (he's kind of like the Professor X of their team - the leader and most powerful) and Anna, and Elliott and Dr. Diaz (an adorable gay couple who have admired each other from afar as coworkers and finally get together). I'm excited to read the next books in this series because I connected with these characters so much more.
The two series may seem quite different, but I would recommend Born to Darkness to fans of P.C. Cast's House of Night series, because the multiple points of view, the special Institute, and the diverse relationships between characters all reminded me of the House of Night books - but these are much better written and definitely for an adult readership. I'll be looking forward to following the rest of the Destiny fighters' adventures!(less)
THE ROPE is author Nevada Barr's prequel to the Anna Pigeon mystery series. This volume will be a treat to fans of the series, because we get to see a...moreTHE ROPE is author Nevada Barr's prequel to the Anna Pigeon mystery series. This volume will be a treat to fans of the series, because we get to see a young Anna who's plunked straight from the streets of New York into the Lake Powell recreation area in the Southwest. She's still reeling from the death of her husband Zach, dresses in all black, and is pale and scrawny. Her co-workers in the Park Service are all immediately obsessed with the mysterious theater type in their midst - so much so that it strains credulity - some love her, some can't stand her.
So, when Anna goes missing, everyone first thinks she's fled back to New York. Actually, unknown assailants have knocked Anna out, drugged her, mutilated her leg and trapped her in a solution hole, a natural prison formed by the desert landscape. While Anna is trapped in the hole, she learns to understand and appreciate the solitude of the desert and the sensations of being alone in the natural world, and finally, to think quickly and make a plan for her first daring escape.
Here, the author returns to her wonderful descriptions of the outdoor landscapes that I missed SO much in the last Anna Pigeon book, BURN (set in the urban landscape of new orleans). All the descriptions of the natural area are wonderful and vivid. It's also a treat to see how Anna's theatre experience helps her in many of the situations she encounters as she solves her first mystery, and to see her grow from the pale urban theater geek into a buff, crime-solving ranger.
However, this book still has the darker undertones (domestic abuse, rape, evil acts, constant tension between women and men) that characterize all of Barr's more recent books (WINTER STUDY and beyond) - they are not "light" mystery reads like the earlier books in the series are and some readers who lean more to the cozy-mystery side may not enjoy that.
If you have been thinking about starting this series, start now with THE ROPE! And, if you're already a fan, you'll enjoy reading Anna's "origin story" - it will only make you love her more : )(less)
This sequel to "Across the Universe" amps up the action and politics onboard the spaceship Godspeed, which carries a crew of humans toward their new h...moreThis sequel to "Across the Universe" amps up the action and politics onboard the spaceship Godspeed, which carries a crew of humans toward their new home, Centauri-Earth. Amy and Elder continue their romance and partnership as Elder struggles to control the ship's population now that they are off of the influence of the mind-control drug, Phydus. While Elder attempts to quell mutiny and revolution, Amy is sent on a treasure-hunt following clues that lead to revelations about the true status of Godspeed's settlement mission. While the treasure-hunt and the clue-following plotlines get a little tedious and unbelievable, (the pair still spend hours chasing clues while the ship is being overthrown by the would-be revolutionaries?!? There wasn't another way to allow them to find out the truth about the ship?!?) That's why it doesn't get 5 stars for me) the big reveals about the ship's status in its course toward Centauri-Earth are pretty mindblowing. I won't include any spoilers in my review but let's just say the end of A Million Suns will definitely leave readers anticipating the next book, as everyone's lives will change! Can't wait for Part 3 : )(less)
This fascinating and multi-layered look at five childhood friends who grow up keeping a secret together will keep readers hooked until the final revel...moreThis fascinating and multi-layered look at five childhood friends who grow up keeping a secret together will keep readers hooked until the final revelations at the end of the book. This book reminds me of a darker version of the movie "Now and Then" with the atmosphere of "The Ice Storm," another great film about 20th century coming of age. The five friends' experiences are described from their childhood points of view in the late 1970s, and as adults in the present day. Relationships between the main characters' parents are also described, with alternating points of view in the past and presesnt. No character is a cardboard cutout in this book, all have deep and disturbing histories. This book is more literary and less straightforward suspense than Laura Lippman's other books - you'll want to keep reading to find out what happens to the relationships between the characters, not necessarily because the "mystery" is so compelling. I've read several of her stand-alone books, have not gotten to the Tess Monaghan series yet, but so far I love everything Laura Lippman does. (less)
All right, I'll admit that I picked up the audio book of "Basketball Jones" because of its cover image! : ) This is the first book I have read/listene...moreAll right, I'll admit that I picked up the audio book of "Basketball Jones" because of its cover image! : ) This is the first book I have read/listened to by E. Lynn Harris and I'm very sorry to see he passed away in 2009 because I think I am a fan. The story centers around an issue I had never really thought about before: closeted gay male athletes in professional sports.
Aldridge "AJ" Richardson is the secret boyfriend of a hot NBA player, Drayton Jones. Dray has been taking care of AJ ever since they began their relationship years ago in college. Once Dray feels the pressure to conform and marries his rich heiress wife, Judi, AJ's life begins to change drastically. At first there didn't seem to be much of a plot to this book but readers will be able to guess that eventually someone will threaten to take AJ and Dray's relationship public.
Soon the secret lovers are dealing with one (or more!) mysterious blackmailer(s) that want to tear them apart. Some of the plot twists I could see coming miles away, while others came as a total surprise. While the tone of this book overall was quite "fluffy", AJ's deliberation about whether or not to end his relationship conveys a deep emotional resonance to readers.
On the audio book version of "Basketball Jones," Narrator Mirron Willis does a truly masterful job of evoking each character with his voice. I felt like I could picture each of the characters in my head very clearly, especially AJ's new friends Jade and Cisco the trainer. I'm going to pick up Willis' narration of "Invisible Life" next!(less)
"The Tale of Halcyon Crane" is a fast-paced, eerie ghost story in the spirit of Stephen King's "The Shining." Hallie James is shocked when she receive...more"The Tale of Halcyon Crane" is a fast-paced, eerie ghost story in the spirit of Stephen King's "The Shining." Hallie James is shocked when she receives a letter in the mail - from the mother she never knew was still alive. When her newly-discovered mother and her father die within days of each other, she is devastated and decides to travel to the Great Lakes resort community of Grand Manitou Island to find out what happened to estrange her father and mother.
Hallie soon learns she has inherited the entire estate of her famous photojournalist mother, including the sprawling island home which has been in her family for generations. When the islanders give Hallie a chilly welcome, she's forced to depend on a few new-found confidants to help her navigate her twisted family tree, and to defend her against the sinister ghosts she begins seeing on the island.
Hallie soon learns that her ancestors were both gifted and cursed by witchcraft, and she must use her gift - the greatest in generations - to set things right. Part murder mystery and part fairy tale, this book is more lightweight than I had expected but it was a fun ride, and the spooky ambiance of the island (a ringer for Mackinac) is perfectly described by the author. (less)