Short stories are a tricky business. Getting everything right, from the characters to a good storyline and a neat ending, in such a short amount of time is, I think, quite difficult. There were many occasions in the past couple of years when some of my favourite authors ventured outside their comfort zone and gave short fiction a try but, as much as it pains me to say this, they failed miserably. Their novels might be spot on but when they were restricted to 80 or 90 pages, their stories either felt terribly rushed or fell a bit flat for me. And this is why I’m still a bit sceptical about short fiction. However, If Snow Hadn’t Fallen didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, I found it just as gripping and fast-paced as Now You See Me (the first book in the Lacey Flint series) was.
The book starts off almost exactly where Now You See Me ended and is, again, narrated by London detective Lacey Flint. Lacey’s boss Dana Tulloch and her friend, reporter Emma Boston make an appearance as well which I was thrilled about – I loved both of them in the previous book so it was lovely to ‘meet them’ again. However, since this book is – obviously – not as detailed as a full length novel, it’s probably better if you read Now You See Me first (if you haven’t read it yet), so that you have a better understanding of the characters and what they’ve been through prior to this story. It’s a great thriller on its own but knowing Lacey’s background story will make it even better.
I absolutely loved this book and I can only echo what I said about NYSM few weeks ago: it’s a must-read for fans of crime fiction. If there is one person who can keep you on the edge of your seat and make you hold your Kindle in a white-knuckle death grip, heart racing and not having the faintest idea what’s coming next, it’s S.J. Bolton. It’s very rare that someone manages to create something so full of twists and turns, something so intriguing in merely 85 pages, but Bolton nailed it. I loved every second of it and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!(less)
Wow, wow, and wow. It’s been a few weeks since I finished this book and to tell you the truth, I’m still speechless. Based on what people were saying...moreWow, wow, and wow. It’s been a few weeks since I finished this book and to tell you the truth, I’m still speechless. Based on what people were saying about it when the first proof copies came out and how many times I saw it being mentioned on social media, I knew it would be a memorable story, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as powerful and mind-blowing as it was. Saying that it was perfect wouldn’t completely be true because there were a few minor details I wasn’t particularly keen on but I found it unputdownable all the same and it’s definitely one of my favourite books this year.
In fact, it’s typically one of those books where two sentences in you already know it’s going to be an amazing read. Not only because of the arresting opening and the plot, which are brilliant in themselves, but mostly because Zan’s writing is so powerful, so eloquent that it’s impossible not to be completely captivated by it. I was immediately hooked and wanted to find out more about the two girls: how did this list come about? What happened in their childhood that made them write this list? What happened to them down in the cellar? And most importantly, how and why did Sarah get out and Jennifer didn’t? Who was this sadistic person who kept them captive for all these years and what was his motive? And while these questions quietly whirl around in your head, Zan slowly reveals the girls’ past and what they went through… one secret, one tiny morsel of information at a time.
After reading and absolutely enjoying three (or four, if you count If Snow Hadn’t Fallen, a Lacey Flint short story) books by...moreOriginally reviewed at:
After reading and absolutely enjoying three (or four, if you count If Snow Hadn’t Fallen, a Lacey Flint short story) books by S.J. Bolton, I think it’s safe to say that no matter what she comes up with, I’m going to end up loving it. Needless to say, Like This, For Ever was a great read full of twists and turns, which kept me guessing right until the end.
Perhaps what I enjoyed the most about this book – apart from the obvious, i.e. trying to figure out what on earth is going on and who the murderer is – is the narration. Unlike the previous books in the series, most chapters in Like This, For Ever are narrated by an eleven-year-old boy (who happens to be Lacey’s neighbour) called Barney. Telling the story from a kid’s point of view can be quite tricky but Bolton pulls it off and both Barney’s and the adult characters’ narratives sound totally believable. (I’ve read a few books in which kids of Barney’s age sounded like adults and way too mature for their age, which eventually ruined the whole story for me – Like This, For Ever is definitely not like this.)
Is it the best book of the series, though? No, for me it wasn’t. What I was missing from this story is the creepiness and the ability to scare the living daylight out of you from the very first page, something which the first two books in the series were quite heavily relying on, something in which the author is brilliant at, and something which, despite the fact that they gave me a few sleepless nights, I absolutely loved. I’ve seriously never been as freaked out as when I was reading the previous two books. Like This, For Ever just didn’t have this effect on me for some reason. It might be down to the fact that a) I found this story a bit more predictable than the previous ones. While the first two books had me at a loss and I hadn’t the faintest idea who was guilty and who was innocent, I managed to recognise some of the red herrings quite soon in this one. Mind you, I still had no idea who the killer would be and it did surprise me when I read the last chapter – I would have never guessed. But I figured out who some of the innocent ones were (no matter how shifty their behaviour was) surprisingly fast. Or b) this book is centred around children and teenage boys, which obviously makes the whole issue a lot trickier (after all, you can’t have the same amount of brutality in a book about Jack the Ripper – one of the most notorious serial killers of all time – and one in which young boys are being murdered, unless you want to piss everyone off), I don’t know. All I know is that while I enjoyed the investigation part, loved Lacey and Mark’s subplot and once again, the killer’s identity took me by surprise, it just wasn’t haunting enough to keep me up till the crack of dawn as the previous books did.
Having said that, I still enjoyed the book, still can’t wait to find out how Lacey’s (and Mark’s) story continues, and still believe that Bolton is an outstanding representative of this genre and whose writing style is still one of my favourites. If you’re new to this series but would like to give it a try (because frankly, you SHOULD!), keep in mind that while the previous two books worked fine as standalones, this one might contain a few spoilers and some of the characters and references might be a bit confusing for those who haven’t read Now You See Me and Dead Scared yet – so make sure to read those two first.(less)
I don’t know what it is that draws me to plane crash/survival stories but they’ve always fascinated me. Judging by the synopsis, Survive sounded just like my cup of tea but in all honesty, it turned out even better than I expected. There are actually no words to describe how much I enjoyed reading this book, other than: oh my goodness.
In terms of the plot itself, it’s not the most mysterious story you’ll ever read. Basically, a girl called Jane Solis, who’s been living in a mental hospital for the past 12 months or so, is on her way back home for the Christmas holidays – the problem is, she doesn’t intend to leave the plane alive. She carefully planned her own death down to the tiniest details – but things don’t go her way. Just when she’s about to hit the switch and swallow a handful of pills, the plane hits turbulence and crashes. They landed on a snowy mountaintop in the middle of nowhere and no one seems to be alive but her. Jane, who was about to take her own life a few hours ago. Then he finds a guy called Paul and as much as they irritate each other at first, they join forces and try to figure out how to stay alive and get out of there as soon as possible. Since most of these are given in the synopsis, things don’t take you by surprise – but still, there was something about this book that made me keep on reading. I’m quite a slow reader but I devoured the first half of the book in one sitting. I think that says it all.
One of the things I loved the most about Survive is how much Jane changed during those 6 or 7 days they’ve spent on the mountain. She’s definitely come a long way from being a suicide, someone who’s constantly angry, anxious and just bored with her own life. I also loved how her relationship with Paul has changed during their adventure and how they kept motivating each other to go on and fight. I pretty much sobbed my way through the last 40 or 50 pages – it was beautifully written.
My only issue with this book is that there are some plot holes in the story. The one that bugged me the most was the fact that Paul was able to bring some matches and a knife with him on the plane. I’m not an expert on airport security rules and regulations but I’m fairly sure you’re not allowed to walk around with knives in your hand luggage. Having climbing ropes and knives is very useful for our two main characters but it does make you raise your eyebrows. I mean, what are the chances that the only time you’re about to kill yourself and/or get into a plane crash you’re travelling with a group of rock climbers who happen to have all their equipment and snow gear with them on the plane? It’s very convenient but … is it realistic? I’m not a hundred percent sure that it is. Having said that, it still didn’t put me off. It made me raise my eyebrows here and there but all in all I still ended up loving this book.
If you’re looking for a quick but captivating read or something heartbreaking but still hopeful, you’ll like Survive. It’s a fast paced emotional roller-coaster that is guaranteed stay with you for a long time.(less)
I first saw this book on Dani’s blog, Pen to Paper – and I have to say, I got hooked right away. I loved the synopsis and the fact that Dani rated it so high and seemed to enjoy it made me even more interested. Even though I don’t normally read indie books, Straight to Hell was an exception – and I’m so glad I did pick this up! It was a very pleasant surprise and I have to agree with Dani – it is a page turner.
The narration is just spot-on: it is Lilith who tells the story and boy, she’s a great character. She has a great sense of humour and she’s a bit sarcastic as well. (I always mention this but yes, I love sarcastic characters!) I loved Lilith from the very beginning – there’s something about her that draws you in and even though Michelle Scott did a great job with all the other characters, Lilith will still remain my favourite. I love the fact that even though the plot is a bit, well.., far-fetched (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) and definitely not something that would happen to any of us, she’s still a down-to-earth, everyday character, just like us. She’s worried about getting her daughter to school, paying bills, finding a job and all these everyday problems while she works for Miss Spry (i.e. a Devil-like creature who works in Hell) as a succubus. I loved how one minute she’s on a mission in Hell and she’s back to her apartment with her odd family and unpaid bills the next. The difference between these two worlds and the fact that Lilith is involved in both at the same time is incredible and for me, it made the book even funnier.
The only negative thing I can mention in connection with this book is punctuation. I don’t know whether it was my edition only or if it was edited since I downloaded my copy but the lack of question marks at the end of certain sentences was a little bit distracting. I’m terrible when it comes to grammatical mistakes or punctuation, I know, but it does annoy me. Dani -who read and reviewed this book earlier than me- said she doesn’t remember any mistakes so it might have been my copy only, I don’t know.
All in all, I would definitely recommend Straight to Hell to anyone who’s looking for a relatively quick read – something fast paced, something funny with a bit of a twist and some paranormal elements. Lilith and her family will no doubt leave a lasting impression on you and you’ll look forward to Straight to Heaven, the second instalment of the Lilith Straight series, just like me.(less)