Black Ice is one of the toughest books I’ve had to review. While I enjoyed the plot, and though parts of it were completely unpredictable and suspenseful, I absolutely loathed the characters, especially our MC, Britt. I kept on reading till the end because I just had to know how it finished, but still I couldn’t feel anything except disgust fo Britt. Although, I’m starting to wonder if maybe that’s how the author intended it. Let me explain.
Britt is everything you don’t expect a YA heroine to be. She’s highly dependent on the men in her life, previously her boyfriend (now ex) Calvin, who happened to be her best friend’s brother. We see flashbacks of their relationships every now and then, and while there’s no actual abuse, Calvin certainly doesn’t treat her very nicely. He cheats on her, he pretends she means nothing to him, and so on. Even though they broke up and it’s been months since she heard from him, all Britt can think about when she talks about her camping trip with her bet friend, is…you guessed it, Calvin. Even though he gives an entirely new meaning to the word ‘jackass’, she’s still infatuated with him and thinks of him as some freaking saint.
Then there’s her BFF, Korbie, who is even dumber than Britt, and even more dependent. Korbie flirts with every boy she sees – not even recognizing if one of them is potentially dangerous. She’s a whiny brat with zero survival skills or survival instinct. But heck, I would’ve been able to look past that if she was a supportive friend who had Britt’s back. Guess what? She’s not. She puts Britt down at every chance she gts, she didn’t even tell her that Calvin cheated on her, and so on. Friend? I think not.
Anyway, the two girls head up to a mountain for a camping trip, which they’re going to spend in a cabin belonging to Korbie’s parents. Calvin will be there too, to keep an eye out for them. But when the girls drive to the cabin, they get hit by an unexpected snow storm and their car breaks down. They stumble to the nearest cabin which is inhabited by two strange young men. They’re hot, so of course the girls immediately call dibs on each one, although by now the “these are bad people with bad intentions” vibe is so high any sane person would’ve run out of there screaming. But of course they have to wait until Shawn, one of these guys, decides to reveal his utter evilness by pointing a gun in their direction before they decide maybe trying to hook up with them wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Let’s jump forward in the story, to the moment where Britt and Mason (the buddy of gun man) are travelling down the mountain, and Britt…falls head over heels for him. Because one semi-abusive relationship wasn’t enough, now she’ll hang out with someone who threatened to kill her as well. Yeah….And then that entire romance/kidnapping/Stockholm Syndrome story is connected to a bunch of unexplained murders taking place on the mountain during the last few years, which was easily the most intriguing part of the book.
All in all…meh. I liked the plot, the whole kidnapping part, the murders, definitely had some suspense. But the characters were so awful I couldn’t enjoy reading about them. I want to smack some sense into Britt, and please for the love of all that is holy, I want her to stand up for herself for once. Make a decision on her own. Anything that shows she’s not entirely dependent on any man that crosses her way. (less)
The moment I read the synopsis for Slide, I knew I had to read this book. Everyone belives Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep: when she passes out, she slides into someone else’s mind and experiences the world thorugh their eyes. That’s how she’s certain that her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself, but was murdered. Now it’s up to Vee to unmask the killer before he strikes again. There were quite a few twists and surprises, and the book definitely has a high creepy factor. (less)
When I read the synopsis for Creed, I thought the book would be reminiscent of Silent Hill – a creepy town, mist crawling through the streets, and something wicked lingering deep inside the abandoned town. Unfortunately, Purity Springs, the town in question, is not tormented by anything supernatural as I hoped at first, but instead by regular, albeit slightly crazy, people. The town is overrun by a cult, led by charismatic leader Elijah Hawkins.
The book starts out promising with Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike on their way to a concert, traveling through the middle of nowhere when their car breaks down. They walk to the nearest village to get some gas and maybe some help, but the town is seemingly abandoned. With night setting in, they find cover in one of the abandoned homes – which is an exact replica of every house in the street, even inside. In a drawer, they find a strange book that puts them all on edge, but it isn’t until morning that they they find out what messed up situation they ended up in.
Connecting with the characters proved almost impossible. Even Dee, our main character, seems to have a chaotic personality that jumps from one conclusion to the next. The plot is so over the top it’s ridiculous. Dee is incapable of acting on her own, of fighting off any evil without being saved by someone else. She has no backbone, and is all too willing to comply even to things that sound insane. She goes on and on about why Luke is amazing, but we never get any reason why Dee would be amazing, or even interesting.
The ending is implausible as well, and leaves too many open questions. It almost sounds like the author wanted to make room for a sequel – I hope that’s not the case though. The material is already paper-thin, and I doubt that’ll get any better if the plot is stretched even thinner.
This book has great potential, but overall, fails to deliver. (less)
Secret underground societies? Count me in. Cameo is an interesting novel that provides a few different elements: suspense, romance, and typical teenage problems. The book reminded me of Gossip Girl: Nia, our main character, is a mix of Selena and Blair from Gossip Girl, which makes for an interesting personality. She’s the school’s beauty queen and seemingly has it all: the popularity, the beauty, the reputation. But she also has her own struggles, like when someone from an underground society starts stalking her. She doesn’t know who to trust anymore, and who is out to hurt her.
The writing was okay, and the pacing was fast, as is required from a thriller. The stalker didn’t come across as scary up to the point of terrifying the reader, but it was certainly suspenseful enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Nia’s trouubles, from boy troubles to issues with her girlfriends to wondering what she’d wear the next day, make her sound like a real teenager – she definitely behaves and acts like one.
Nia’s voice is down to earth and has some sarcastic jokes thrown in here and there, which I enjoyed. She’s the kind of person who I might not have gotten along with at first, but by the end of the book I was fully cheering for her. She goes through a lot of character development, even in this somewhat short book (at just above 200 pages) and is another person by the end of it.
An intriguing book, recommended to anyone who likes young adult romance and suspense. (less)
The Gift of Darkness is a thrilling crime novel about a homicide on a family of four, the connection to a kidnapping twenty-five years ago, and the detective caught in the middle of this investigation. While the plot is chilling, the characters are great and not stereotypical, it’s the writing and editing that leaves a lot to be desired here.
Anyway, let’s start with the good. The plot is solid. We have a homicide on a family (two kids, mother, husband) and there’s a possible suspect, connecting to a kidnapping of three young boys that happened decades ago. One of the boys dissapeared, the others turned up later, hurt but alive, and it’s never been clear what happened that night. The characters, especilly the main character, are flawed and intriguing. Alice Madison, our protagonist, harbors dark secrets from her past that have shaped her into the detective she is today. Her flaws may be turned against her, and that’s exactly what works great about this book.
The novel was atmospheric, but had a slow start. The plot jumped often from one character to another, which was at times, confusing. But all of that, I could live with. The thriller aspect and suspense were good, so I didn’t mind forgiving a few flaws…But the editing. God, the editing. It was so horrible at times that I almost stopped reading.
Past and present tense are used interchangeably, odd sentence structure, and the book could’ve lost at least one hundred pages. This was an ARC, so I hope it goes through another solid round of editing before being released to the general audience.
Either way, I would recommend it to fans of mystery books / thrillers, but if you’re nitpicky about grammar, then you better stay away from this one. (less)
Shattered Secrets is a mystery/thriller set in the town of Cold Creek, Ohio. Tess Lockwood grew up in Cold Creek, where was abducted and held captive as a young girl. While she has no memories of what happened to her, saying it ruined her childhood would be a severe understatement. Now, eighteen years later, Tess is a grown woman, who has a bright future ahead of her, and who is certain she can put the past behind her. But when she inherits her old family home, and moves back to Cold Creek in an effort to sell it, all those old demons come crawling back.
Gabe McCord was the one in charge when Tess disappeared. He’d been a teenager, ordered to look out for the smaller kids. Now he’s the town’s sheriff, and when another kid goes missing, he digs back into the cold case, seeing a connection no one else though about before. But solving the case isn’t easy. There’s a cult in town, and they won’t allow anyone near, or any investigations on their property. Tess is struggling with her past, and a bit reluctant to work with Gabe. But when they start falling for each other, the past catches up with them.
I struggled to finish the book. The writing was sloppy, and could use another round of edits. It’s only an ARC, I get that, but it still needs some work. The characterization was too standard as well – we have the heroine who can’t deal with her past, and the hero who tries to save her. Neither Tess nor Gabe brings anything new to the table – they’re the standard characters I’ve seen over and over again in romantic suspense.
Small towns usually bring forth a sense of claustrophia, but this one didn’t at all. Usually, that atmosphere helps set the mood, but it’s lacking here.
Overall, the book was quite boring. The mystery had its good points, I suppose, but it never really reached the complexity I was hoping for. The writing caused the suspense to disappear almost completely, unfortunately. Had the writing been slightly better, I would’ve enjoyed this one more. The mystery wasn’t that surprising, but it had me guessing for a while.(less)
Reviewers either seemed to love or hate this book – I definitely fall in the “love” category. This book was great, dark, and gritty, and with a lot more substance than I thought at first glance. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but it had a few interesting twists and characters. A solid read.(less)
I haven’t read the first book in this series, Calculated Risk, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Hostile Takeover. It’s easy to pick up, even without previous knowledge, and the books is highly entertaining. I had to read this one in one sitting – staying up until two o’clock at night just to finish it.
Rafe McTarvish is a security expert and CEO of interplanetary mega-corp EcoMech, and yes, that’s just as awesome as it sounds. Rafe has a complicated personality – he’s not always straightforward, and deciphering his motives can be tricky. But that’s what adds to his mystery and makes him more interesting.
Kama Bhatia is a hacker, corporate spy, and Rafe’s undercover ally. I liked her even more than Rafe, because she proved to be even more en enigma. Tough, stubborn, but sometimes compassionate too. Caring, sometimes even too much. It made for a nice mix.
The setting and world-building were spot on. I’m not always fond of scifi because often authors oversimplify the setting, but that’s definitely not the case here. We get solid world-building, and things actually make sense.
The thriller/mystery aspect added the necessary dose of suspense, and overall, this was a highly enjoyable read.(less)
A strong heroine in a riveting thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire duration of the book. Stays true to teen’s voices, and has a realistic main character who struggles with real issues. Suspenseful and atmospheric.(less)
More engaging than most crime novels, but not the very best I read. A solid 4 rating. The writing is decent, the setting is atmospheric, and the characters each bring an unique spin to the story.(less)
In The Hexed, a murder takes place that is an almost exact replica of another murder that took place thirteen years ago. Craig Rockwell, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, was the one who discovered the first body, a friend of his. He can hear voices of the deceased, and that’s what brings him to the Krewe of Hunters, and what got him to find his dead friend in the first place.
Devin Lyle has returned to the Salem area just when a woman gets murdered nearby the cabin she inherited from her great-aunt. She’s an author who writes about the witch trials, and witches in general. When Devin is being led to a third body, and there’s some connection to the Salem witch trials and the murders, she can’t help but get involved.
The two “detectives” unravel clues from the past. The friends of Craig’s past are questioned, and old friendships are tested. Add in ghosts, and I’m sold.
At least, I thought I’d be. And the plot is pretty decent, I’ll give you that. I liked the tie-in between the witch trials, the murders and the ghost. I wasn’t too fond of the characters though – both Craig (or Rocky, as he calls himself) and Devin are paper-thin characters, with no real personality. Whatever personality they do have, never develops throughout the book. The writing wasn’t spectacular either, but it was good enough.
All in all, I did enjoy the book, and particularly that it focused less on romance, and more on plot.(less)
Primal is dark, gritty and suspenseful. When a camping trip goes wrong, it’s up to one mother to save her family when four armed men invade their holiday home. Will she kill them, or watch her family die? The story was intense, and the characters were great, especially Alison.(less)
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Last Ancient. The book opens up with reporter Simon Stephenson investigating some bizarre crimes in the Nantucket area. Strange, ancient coines are left on each crime scene, and the search leads him on a journey through mythology, numismatics, the occult, and alchemy. Mystery and the supernatural blend and mix in this well-written novel.
Simon is an intriguing protagonist, and he’s easy to relate to as well. His struggles, especially when he discovered more about his own family’s heritage, felt very real. The plot is what was most engaging about this book though, and it kept me at the edge of my seat from start to end.
A creative, suspenseful novel that combines several genres masterfully, and provides an unique reading experience.(less)
The Murder Farm is based on a true crime, a murder on a family and their madservant in a rural, quiet community, which was never solved. The reader crawls into the mind of the detectives, who talk to several witnesses and people of the community and try to figure out what happened to the family, and who murdered them.
I decided to pick up this book because it was inspired by true events, and I like reading about unsolved murders (and trying my hand at solving them), so I figured this book would be right up my alley. However, the book ended up being rather dissapointing. We jump from one character to another, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of who is who. Everyone seems to have an opinion of what happened or who is behind it, and sometimes the witness interviews seem a bit repetitive. The most dissapointing part however was that, while inspired by true events, the author took creative liberty one step too far (as far as I’m concerned). Instead of sticking to the original time era, she moved the story several years into the future, from 1922 (the actual year of the murder) to just past World War II (the date in the book).
The resolution missed a climax – it all seemed rather straightforward. It made sense, but it wasn’t nowhere near as spectacular as I’d hoped. The characterization lacks depth, none of the characters provoke empathy. What the novel does get right is the slightly claustrophobic feel of a small, rural community where everyone knows everyone, and no secret is safe.
I would call this a mediocre lead. The story material was intriguing, but the rest could use some work.(less)
This was an intriguing debut. Fegan is haunted day andn ight by twelve ghosts, the ghosts of his innocent victims. This is a gritty, haunting novel with great prose, and a main character who gives a whole new dimension to the word ‘intriguing’. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.(less)
While the book offers an intriguing plot, the characters are as thin as a sheet of paper, the language feels outdated, and while a huge part of the novel is build on the psychological state of the main characters, the characters themselves lack personality and character development. Gripping writing though, and an interesting plot, but fails to deliver.(less)
Two young boys kill themselves months apart. Nobody seems to care, so the boy’s Mom calls in the help from a deformed detective. Atmospheric reading, a noir graphic novel where tragedy meets mystery and suspense, and one of the most intriguing casts of characters I’ve read about in a while. A definite recommendation for fans of horror / mystery.(less)
Made in Bionia is a fast-paced techno-thriller focusing on William Carrot, a highly-enjoyable main character, who must protect the world from an ecological catastrophe while Rasa A., the world’s most secret society, wants him dead. The author combines the very real threat of oceans dying with terrorism, ecological warfare, betrayal, and even a hint of love.
The writing is great, and the plot flows as easily as the words, as if it took no effort at all to write this book (although I’m certain it took great effort!). The setting is unique yet familiar, mixing original elements with more familiar tropes. There’s tons of science though, and sometimes the narrative slows down a little to explain what’s going on. I didn’t mind, but other readers might.
I admired the light, quirky writing, and how such writing can make sense of a plot as complex as this one, and subject matter as complicated to understand as an ecological catastrophe. However, it works, and I’m impressed.
I look forward to reading more of William Carrot’s adventure, because with a rather abrupt ending, I’m left waiting for more.(less)
Hangman begins with the escape of a pscyhotic serial killer known as “The Hangman”. Abbie Kearney is a profiler with the Buffalo Police, and she’s set on the case to find this twisted serial murderer before he makes another victim. But as the clock starts ticking, and terror rises in the otherwise sleepy town, Abbie and her team realize they may have more than one killer on their hands. What if the Hangman has an accomplice? And how the heck can they find out who he is? Abbie tries to get to the bottom of the Hangman’s personality. She wants to find out who he is, why he kills people, and why he targets a specific group of girls, and hopefully before it’s too late.
Abbie is an intriguing main character. With a haunted past, a healthy dose of determination, and a knack for profiling, she’s an enjoyable protagonist to read about. The pacing is set on high from the first pace, and the writing was brutal, suitable for the genre, and for the characters passing the revue. It’s dark, gritty, nail-biting suspense, just the way I like it.
As a downside though, there could’ve been more character development. Even though Abbie goes through a great deal from start to finish, in this book, her personality never changes or grows because of it.
Apart from that, I loved the book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery/suspense novel.(less)
Five is an interesting crime novel combining geocaching with a mystery and murder. For those who don’t know geocaching, you enter GPS coordinates into your cell phone, and then go searching for “treasure” hidden by others. The item could’ve been there for years. Usually it’s something small, but in the case of “Five”, things are a little more gruesome. Think along the line of body parts. Yep, that gruesome.
The writing is excellent. I started this one at eleven thirty at night, hoping to read about half an hour before heading to back. Yeah…that didn’t work. I had to read this book in one sitting, even if it was two o’clock by the time I was finished. Main character, detective Beatrice Kaspary, is an intriguing protagonist. She’s a bit of a cliché character – the angry ex-husband, living for the job – but she makes it work. She’s so genuine, she could be a real person. Florin was a great sidekick, and the underlying attraction between both of them made for an interesting turn of events.
But it’s the murdering itself, the killing, and the killer, that really make the book shine. The geocaching elements screams originality (heck, at least to me, it’s the first I’d heard of it) and the killer himself is elusive. This isn’t a madman, which makes it all the more exciting. I kept on reading, even though my eyes were half-closed and I could barely reach the end of a page without yawning, because I simply had to find out who the killer was. In the dead of night, that’s quite a feat.
All in all, an intriguing mystery / thriller, and I’m confident we’ll see much more from this author. She has a great talent for describing characters and scenery.
P.S. Yes, I did go geocaching afterward. It was a blast! And no, I didn’t find any body parts. Thank God.(less)
I have to admit, the thing that lured me in about Fathers House was the cover. Once I started reading, I felt ‘meh’. The story offered a lot of different characters, and I couldn’t really grasp them, or even keep them apart. There was Mayo Fathers, owner of Fathers House. There was Ben, his family, and a whole bunch of other characters passing the revenue. Each chapter seemed to introduce us to a whole new cast of characters. By chapter five, I was ready to quit.
But then, the story came together. Dots connected in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Twists and turns meandered into one big whole, a story so complicated it feels like a Sherlock Holmes book. Except bloodier.
There’s death upon death, mystery behind mystery, a criminal organization, an evil mastermind of sorts, the wickedness of people in general, and tons more. When a murder happens at Fathers House, Ben is forced to go back to the house he grew up in, along with several other boys. But when Ben goes back, he starts to unroot dark secrets better left buried, that change his perspective of Fathers House forever…
With a healthy dose of suspense, mystery and nail-biting cliffhangers, Fathers House kept me to the edge of my seat.(less)
Niko, her brother Jared, and Ben, escpae from Amaryllis City to find refuge in the Black City. But as it’s obvious together the three of them won’t get in, Ben stays behind, Outside. While Niko pleads with him, it’s no use, and she ends up going inside on her own. No sooner does she get inside, or she’s attacked. A young thief named Songhay comes to her rescue, and his fighting skills impress her enough to tag after him. He introcues her to his sister, Roosevelt.
Niko and Songhay grow closer to each other, forming a band of Slither hunters and trying to free the slums from their continuous presence. But when Niko thinks life is finally settling down, an unexpected secret from her past comes back to haunt.
I loved Songhay. He’s fun, charismatic, confident, and even a little bit goofy, which is quite a feat considering the dire circumstances they find themselves in. I also liked Roosevelt. She has a lot of guts, courage, and she’s also quite intelligent. It was great how she and Songhay started calling Niko “Harm” almost right away, as if they’d known her for years. They also treated her like family.
There’s definitely a lot of dystopian stuff going on, but there’s also a hand of fantasy and mystery that made it even more intriguing for me. The Slithers were cool monsters to battle too.
Harm came as a pleasant surprise. The writing is pretty good as well. Definitely looking forward to the next part in the series.(less)
I tend to read a lot of thrillers, but almost none of them grab me in the way Fear Nothing did. With a unique protagonist, villains you feel oddly connected to as a reader and and an intelligent plot, this is one of the must-reads on your reading lists for this new year.
Fear Nothing has two protagonists. One of them is the familiar trope – a female detective, struggling to balance the job with life at home. She’s intelligent, clever, and not afraid to think out of the box. But when she investigates a murder scene on her own and gets attacked by the murderer, something inside of her breaks.
She’s sent to a therapist, Adeline Glen, who helps D.D. get over the anger she feels toward her pain now she can’t use her arm anymore. While Adeline helps D.D., she also reveals clues about herself, and gets more and more involved in the investigation. Because Adeline is no ordinary therapist. She hides two dark and terrible secrets.
She can’t feel pain. And her sister is Shana Day, a murderer in her own right. They’re both daughters of Harry Day, a serial killer who’s legacy runs on, even today.
When the investigation leads toward Adeline’s sister, Shana, who’s been locked up in prison for several years, Adeline realizes she has no choice but to confess the truth. Because whoever is murdering these women – skinning them – may be after her too.
D.D., our lead detective, didn’t surprise me all that much. She was an enjoyable character, not all too grumpy, thank God (it seems like the grumpy detective is the new way to go if you read the latest thrillers) but she’s not that original, nor refreshing. Adeline on the other hand…wow. Now that’s a character so complicated it’s dazzling. With a background story that would make any reader jump in their seat, and an ever-changing personality, she’s drawn between the person her adoptive father wanted her to be, and between the person her real family made her become. With a fascination for her own legacy, a deep, dark secret, and her inability to feel pain, her difficult relationship with her sister, she’s one of the most fascinating, intriguing characters I’ve read about in ages. If she were the main character of this book, only her, without D.D., or she’d been forced into the role of the detective, that would’ve been fireworks.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and it’s time to talk about two other intriguing characters. Shana Day, Adeline’s sister, so observative she notices everything that goes on around her before anyone else does. Shana, who portrays no emotions, but would go to any length to protect her sister. Shana, who was forever scarred by what her father did to them. She was a lot darker than Adeline, yet not truly a villain either. I felt for her, wrapped up as she was in her own sadism, and anti-social personality, messed up by those early years of life, the most fragile ones. It was hard to grasp her, to figure out what was going on in her mind, and that made her interesting.
Then the last protagonist – the villain. I won’t say much about it, except that it left me guessing for a long, long time.
As for plot, it’s a complicated story that has enough twists to entertain even the most well-read mystery fans. More even than about catching the killer, the book is about family, about what makes a murderer, and about the traces that leaves, not just to the victims and their families, but to the murderer’s own family.(less)
House of Bathory was a mixed read for me. There were parts of the book that I absolutely loved, and other parts that I disliked. To recap the plot, part of the novel happens in 1610, the age when Elizabeth Bathory lived, who also happens to be one of the main cast of characters for this book. I’m sure the Countess needs no introduction (and if she does, you should really google her, if you’re a history fan, or love scary stories, or bloody legends). Anyway, the other part happens in 2010, and talks about Betsy, a psychiatrist, and her patient, Daisy.
Betsy inherited her love for psychology from her Dad, who was quite famous in the field. He passed away several years ago, and she’s still very shaken up about it, since he was her best friend and always looked out for her. From Eastern European descent, Betsy’s parents have always had a strange bond with that part of Europe. Her Mom even teaches history classes on the subject, and, at the start of the book, is working on a new book about Countess Bathory, when she goes missing.
Betsy’s patient, Daisy, is a Goth girl who has several issues she can barely talks about, and who connects instantly with Jung and his philosophy, the moment Betsy shows her one of his books. Daisy believes in shared dreaming and intuition, and when she gets the feeling something bad will happen to Betsy while she tries to find her mother in Eastern Europe, she instantly books a ticket as well.
Now, let’s start with the good. There’s plenty of history, geography and pscyhology thrown in, which I always enjoy. The writing is okay, even though it drags here and there. The book could’ve done with about fifty pages cut – it’s pretty big, at 537 pages, andI don’t think it needs all of those. Often there’s wordiness, or passages are dragged on, while other times it seems to rush without reason.
Betsy makes a likeable character. She’s a scholar, she’s still obsessed over her father’s passing, apart from her patients, she has little else going on in her life. While likeable, this did make her quite boring. She ended her marriage to a guy named John several years ago, but calls upon him now, when her Mom goes missing. There’s zero passion between both characters. There may be love, but otherwise, they kind of act like family more than two potential partners. Betsy isn’t adventurous at all, she has no hobbies we’re aware of, no strange quirks, nada. Apart from being a psychologist, there’s little else to her.
Daisy is more interesting. She’s Goth, looking for a deeper meaning in life, and severely traumatized after something that happened in her past. She instantly feels a connection to Betsy, and isn’t afraid to act on instinct, so she’s got that going for her. However, her sister Morgan, was more intriguing, and she got a lot less space time. Morgan was mysterious – an enigma, which I sensed the moment she walked into Betsy’s office. If the book had evolved around her more, I probably would’ve liked it better.
The secondary cast is basically just meh. They have no personality – they’re there to fill pages and add extra storylines. Like, Daisy meets some kid while hanging out in the snow, and he only makes one other appearance in the book, while at first it looks like he may be important for the plot. John tagging along with Betsy seems important too, at first, but then proves to be almost useless (until maybe at the end, but then again, not sure there). Her mother, Grace, has no distinctive personality traits, and rates only slightly more interesting than her daughter, simply because she had a prophetic dream once, and is obsessed with Eastern Europe and history.
The plot was decent, and if some questions hadn’t left unanswered, it could’ve even been great. But there were so many unanswered questions, or stupid responses to some of them, at the end of the book that I almost wanted to stop reading. I don’t want to spoil this for anyone, so don’t read past her if you don’t want any spoilers. The spoiler is in brackets.
(By the end, I’d expected there’d be some weird connection between Daisy and Betsy. Like, maybe Daisy was the reincarnation of Elizabeth Bathory, or maybe her sister was, and that’s how they were connected, since Betsy was a descendant from the Bathory’s. Unfortunately, nothing like that happened, and there’s still no explanation why Daisy dreamed about Bathory’s castle, the walls bathing in blood, or why she connected to Betsy like that. On top of that, Daisy’s sister looks almost exactly like Elizabeth Bathory, so it would make sense if she was her reincarnation, then. But no. Again, no real link – then how or why are they involved?)
People also seem to turn up at the most random places for the most random reasons. The villain’s plan is predictable, and it would’ve been a lot more intriguing if some supernatural elements were actually involved. From the synopsis, I kind of gathered there would be, but reading it again, I’m not sure why I thought that. Either way, if you’re looking for something supernatural, you won’t find it here.
Some other things annoyed me. Why talk about Elizabeth Bathory if you’re not going to let the Countess herself do the talking? We meet Zuzuna, a servant girl, and Janos, the horse master, but neither of them is awfully interesting. I would’ve much preferred to see the countess’ view point. At least every now and then, especially if we’re going to headhop from one character to another anyway.
Then comes how literally they’ve held on to the Bathory legend here. I don’t mind this interpretation at all, but I doubt Elizabeth Bathory was truly the bloodthirsty countess the world has deemed her to be. There are interesting discussions on the top all over the academic world (and all over the internet, too) and I’ve always firlmy believed that, while the legend may be the most interesting brought to literature or movies, the more down-to-earth logic of a possible conspiracy against her, since she was the wealthiest woman of Europea, and the king of Hungary had a giant debt to be paid to her, had a lot more chances of being true.(less)
I loved “The Crossing Places”, so naturally, when I stumbled upon “The House at Sea’s End“, I have to give it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed at all. While “The Crossing Places” intrigued me slightly more, Elly Griffiths delivers here again with strong, real characters, a gripping mystery, a fash of folklore and mythology, and a subtle romance that can’t be classified under one simple category.
When a team of archeologists discover six bodies at the foot of a cliff, Ruth Galloway is called to the scene to investigate, along with DCI Nelson, who is the father of her newborn daughter, Kate. Unfortunately though, Nelson is also still married to Michelle – which means he’s more of a nuisance to Ruth than anything else, because clearly she has feelings for him. Feelings he will probably never return…
As they investigate the mystery that has to do with the Germans invading Britain in World War II, two elderly men involved suddenly meet their end. At first, the police thinks it’s just an accident and coincedence, but that doesn’t last for long when they start connecting the dots.
While World War II history is, at least to me, nowhere near as intriguing as the ancient history handled in “The Crossing Places”, I still liked it. Ruth is an interesting main character, and for one weird reason. She’s a little dull, and nerdy. Kind of like Bonus, except maybe even more boring. But I like boring. Ordinary people don’t go around raiding tombs or having parties all night long when they have a newborn. Ruth is real. She’s a real person, with a real, sometimes dull, sometimes exciting life.
Another top character is of course, DCI Nelson. He’s completely unpredictable, and that’s what I love about him. He bounces from Michelle to Ruth and back, all the while not realizing what the heck he wants. And again – that’s real. Who would be able to decide between his wife (who he still loves) and the mother of his newborn daughter (who he kind of likes too) right away?
But what I love the most about this series, is how the romance very obviously takes the backseat for the story. The story is the meat, the romance just a side thought.
If you’re into mystery and suspense novels, Elly Griffith’s “Ruth Galloway” series should get a spot on your bookcase.(less)
It’s been a while since a book grabbed me around the throat in such a way as Intelligenz one did in the opening scenes. A young woman, trapped in a shower. The door won’t open, and she’s dying, slowly, losing consciousness and slipping away. It immediately set the mood, which is dark and brutal, and the theme.
The book reminded me of a movie I once saw of a robot who started to behave like a human, and wanted to kill the dad of the family he worked for, and take his place. But no matter how dark that movie was, this thriller is even darker.
Nanobots, gadgets and technology have slowly taken over civilization. We need them for everything. In “Intelligenz”, set in the near future, that is even more so. After we witness the death of the young woman, we meet Brandon, one of the main characters, and spokesperson for the organization behind the technology that attacked her. At first, Brandon is convinced it’s nothing more than a computer glitch. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. But when Clara, a rookie journalist, has to investigate the case by her boss’ orders, she stumbles upon something more than just a computer glitch. At the same time, college drop out Karl starts his own investigation into what’s going on. They make a few startling discoveries – maybe the glitch was on purpose?
The novel grows increasingly darker with every turning page, showing us the kind of plot Hollywood would turn into a scifi thriller in no time.
The characterization was all right. I found Karl a little immature, but I liked Clara. She had insight and spunk, and didn’t back down, no matter what. The writing was okay too, but the book could’ve been a little shorter. Sometimes it dragged a little because of lengthy descriptions and use of adverbs.
However, the plot was strong and compelling enough to look past that, and I really enjoyed this read.(less)
The college of Riverhearst is the target of a serial killer. Four students will die at his hands, he promises. Even though college knows about the treat, they think it’s a stupid practical prank, until the bodies start showing up. The first body is Christie Wilkens, is found soon after. Police investigates the case, but the only lead they’ve got so far is that Christie had an affair with her professor.
Simon Green has always been troubled. Now he wants to show others’ impurities as well. Starting with Christie Wilkens, and then crossing off others who were also having an affair with their professors, like Kelly, Tiffany and Mel. However, Simon’s plans don’t always work out, and sometimes even the most well-thought-out plan can backfire. He’ll have to be very careful if he wants to murder all of them and get his message across.
The book is told mostly from Simon’s POV. He’s a murderer, a violent man, and obviously very troubled. His attitude to women is despicable. However, he makes for an intriguing main character. There are tons of books where the detectives try to solve the murder, but here the perspective switched from the professors who are troubled by what’s happening, to the detectives working the case, to the killer committing the murders. I enjoyed the switch of perspectives. Simon’s POV was my favorite, because it allowed a clear view in the mind of a psychopath.
The plot was fast-paced and strong. I didn’t always know what was going to happen next – it reads pretty much like an updated, improved version of CSI, or maybe a college-level version of Dexter. The characters were interesting, especially Simon and the professors – in particular John Lewis – and the writing was great as well.
An excellent read for fans of suspense novels and thrillers.(less)
I had no idea what to expect when I began reading Ruler of Demons, but the book turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Sam is a small-town attorney who has been having more and more trouble from the side of supernatural as of late, since he defeated evil once before. However, Sam is still traumatized by finding a chopped-off head in his fridge, and he wants nothing more than to stay away from the supernatural. Unfortunately, his reputation proceeds him and a wealthy Chicago law firm hires him on a sensitive case.
Three nuns have been murdered – one in Paris, one in Chicago, and one in Jerusalem – in terrible circumstances. The law firm suspects that whoever is behind it, wants to unleash the apocalypse on earth. They have an ancient scroll ready to prove it, and they fear the only man capable of doing the job might be Sam. Sam isn’t so convinced about that – until he finds a cut off tongue in his fridge, another traumatizing event. He decides he’s in, and invites his best friend Bob along, mostly because Bob has proven his worth before.
Sam and Bob go to Jerusalem first, where they visit an ancient site, where the nun was murdered in search for clues. They’re visited by an evil entity with sinister intentions, and narrowly escape the city to head to Paris. As the plot thickens, the two of them may be the only ones capable of saving the world from the impending apocalypse.
What pulled me in about this novel, were the characters. Sam and Bob have a great friendship. I loved how Bob always started about food, and how Sam managed to stay calm, no matter what. Their inside jokes made me feel connected to them. Sam was a bit of an average Joe, which made him all the more intriguing when he’s thrown in the world of the supernatural. He’s just a regular guy, and now he’s dealing with all this stuff he knows next to nothing about, all because of that one time he fought evil and won. The way they manage to keep being lighthearted, even in the face of danger, made this book unique.
When the author described Jerusalem and Paris, I felt like I was really there. I liked the added touch of how Sam and Bob travel across the world to unravel clues. The descriptions and wording were great, and the book was edited well.
If I had to say one pet peeve (and the reason why it’s a four stars and not a five stars), then it would be the “telling” instead of “showing” in the narrative. The author will tell us Sam or Bob is concerned, worried, hungry, scared, etc. instead of show us. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happened often enough to stand out for me.
All in all, a great, enjoyable read. I’d love to read the first book, and I’ll keep an eye out for any follow-ups by this author.(less)
I was pleasantly surprised by The Goddess and The Great Beast. The setting is Baghdad in the middle of World War II, at least that’s where the story starts. Vivian, the hero of this story, is bored and spends most of his time hanging out with Farouk, a smuggler who also happens to be a member of a secret cult, which intrigues Vivian endlessly. He begs Farouk to take him to one of the cult meetings, and what he sees there, changes his life forever.
He takes a secret drug no one should know about it, and enters a hallucination about an ancient Babylonian Goddess. Afterward, he nags Farouk to bring him along again, and he does so, even if it’s against custom. But the further Vivian gets trapped into the world of ancient rites and customs, the more he feels the rituals may be dangerous. Until the goddess attacks him with a knife, then he decides it’s time to quit.
The goddess, Ishtar, continues to torment him though, while he travels through the Middle East. After the war, he settles down in London, convinced the Goddess has finally left him alone. He gets a girlfriend, JJ, and starts to enjoy life again. That is, until he meets Ishtar once again, this time as a singer in a London bar.
The story is unique and intriguing, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. The author has a way with words that is definitely intriguing to read. He knows his vocabulary well. The characters were also very interesting, especially Vivian. They’re not your standard cardboard cut-out characters. They’re three-dimensional, with enough qualities and flaws to make them stand out.
An excellent read, and one I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys supernatural thrillers.(less)