Review: The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle #1) by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1)The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m speechless.
Those last couple of lines gave me the deepest chill.

Naomi was once a missing child.
Now as an adult, her solitary focus is finding others who need to be found.
She remembers nothing of her life prior to being ‘found’. The only thing that is clear is that she escaped from a horrific situation.

Her current case is to try to discover what happened to little Madison, who went missing in the mountains while hunting for a family Christmas tree. Long thought dead, as how could a little girl survive alone in deep snow and freezing temperatures, Madison’s parents hold out hope that she is still alive.

What struck me most about this story is the overall tone of the writing. Obviously, Naomi is experiencing lasting effects from her early trauma. She is plagued with strange dreams and over time more and more pieces become available in her memory. We learn about her foster mother, Mary, and adoptive brother, Jerome, and their relationships.

There is a lot about this book that is heartbreaking but it is told in such a magical, whimsical way. It’s like all of the horrors of the real world packaged into a old-time fairy tale.

I can see how some people may not enjoy this as much as I did. It is a slow-burn and there is nothing about it that will keep you on the edge of your seat. However, if you love to sink your teeth into some good, solid writing with engaging characters, this book is for you.

There is a second book set to release later this year following Naomi and I absolutely will be reading it. This one leaves off in a perfect place to continue on with Naomi’s personal story and I am really looking forward to reading about what she ultimately finds.

Well done!

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Super Delayed Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been thinking about this book a lot lately.
Why, you may ask?

The answer is because this was my favorite book of 2018 and I never wrote an actual review for it. Full disclosure, I preordered this, started it on release day and then took my sweet ass time completing it, finishing in August of 2018. The fact that I never reviewed it haunts me.

Am I the only person this happens to?

In an effort to appease some of my guilt, let me get a few thoughts down:

I really enjoyed the topics explored in this book. Particularly, the idea that sometimes the court of public opinion is much more unforgiving and harsh than any court of law.

I also enjoyed how King showed vignettes of various flawed characters in the town where our drama unfolds. He described so well the way that the main event affected various people throughout the town like when a stone gets thrown in a pond. It created ripples spreading out and enveloping many lives. I loved this. It reminded me a bit of the way things roll out in Needful Things.

And of course, most of all, I loved my second favorite character from The Bill Hodges trilogy making an appearance!

I knew it was going to happen and I waited and waited and waited and then…

Reunited and it feels so good!!!

The supernatural elements were also fantastic in my opinion. There were classic King scenes that gave me absolute chills and left me wanting to leave the light on when I went to bed.

I would definitely recommend reading The Bill Hodges trilogy first. If you do and you don’t like it, this may not be the book for you. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m on the fence. I think for people who are huge fans of that trilogy, it makes this book extra special.

I suppose you could read this on its own, I just can’t attest to what your experience will be. For me, half the thrill was getting a character I thought I would never see again back in my life.

I know I will end up reading this again someday. I love to reread King books. Most likely if I do read it again, I will read the entire BH trilogy with this one added on the end.

Original: This officially wins my ‘Favorite Book I Read in 2018’ prize. Forever may it reign.

I do still plan to write a review for this someday. I really do. I annotated and everything but how do you review perfection? Just, how?

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Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting PartyThe Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Emma’s turn rolls around to plan the annual ‘Friends Getaway’ for the New Years Eve holiday, she is looking to impress. By pairing up with Mark, Emma has, through default, become included with the group but has never felt that she really belonged.

The rest of the crew: Samira, Miranda, Katie, Mark, Giles and Julien, have been friends since their days at Oxford and thusly, have a complex and well-rooted history together. Emma desperately wants to be accepted and this is her chance, by hosting the best getaway they’ve ever had. She goes all out, booking a swanky, private hunting lodge in the remote mountains of Scotland.

Anxious for their holiday, the train ride and first night start off with a bang. Everyone is in good spirits, the champagne is flowing and although there are a few tense moments, all goes fairly well.

But as the days drag on and the friends find themselves snowed in at the lodge, tempers flare, resentments surface and unrequited feelings come to light.

Frenemies.
Murder.
Whodunit?

I loved this book. It was fun from start to finish for me. I enjoyed the format, the dynamic among the friends, the mystery and the reveals. I understand that this book may not be for everyone but if you enjoy atmospheric, ‘locked-room’ mysteries, you should definitely check this out.

This felt like The Lying Game meets Murder on the Orient Express with modern, taboo twists. This seems like an odd mash-up, I know, but it is definitely more of a feeling of all those stories. The format follows multiple narratives and even dual timelines but I never had any issues following it. I think Foley did a great job of weaving it all together. It was tense and compelling and I could not put it down!

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow, for sending me a copy of this book to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Foley in the future. I will definitely pick up anything else she writes!

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Review: She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens #1) by Gytha Lodge

She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens, #1)She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

1983: Topaz. Coralie. Jojo. Benners. Connor. Brett.

Aurora.

When Aurora Jackson accepts an invitation to go camping with her older sister and her friends, she has no idea it will be her last night on Earth. The younger girl feels shy and out of place as the older kids get to drinking, drugs, dancing and more. The party goes late into the night and everyone basically passes out. In the morning, when they wake, the older kids find nothing of Aurora but her cold sleeping bag.

No trace of her is ever found and suspicions circle the group of friends for the next thirty years.

Present Day: A young girl on a camping trip with her family, stumbles upon the bones of a human hand in a small cavern at the base of a tree. Aurora has been found and so begins the cold case that may finally end up concluding what happened on that ill-fated night in the woods.

The small-town cop in charge of the investigation, DCI Jonah Sheens, knew the kids involved that night. In fact, when it happened, he was just a kid himself, at school with all the rest. Trying to keep his own past to himself, DCI Sheens and a great cast of fellow officers slowly unravel what happened to poor Aurora.

This gripping crime thriller is told in a format of alternating timelines. You get to see what happened on that camping trip in 1983 and the police procedural aspects of the current investigation. I thought the timelines were really well done and the pacing, for me, was perfect. I was so impressed with the fact that this is a debut novel. I hope that Lodge continues on with DCI Sheens character. I enjoyed him and the other officers he had on his team. I would absolutely continue on with this series, no question.

If you like police procedural and split timeline narratives, you should check this one out. Plus, it is always great to support new authors. Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to getting my hands on more Gytha Lodge books in the future!

Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual assault, drug use and emotional abuse.

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Review: Abandoned (Max Revere #5) by Allison Brennan

Abandoned (Max Revere, #5)Abandoned by Allison Brennan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Investigative reporter, Max Revere, sets out to solve the most important cold case of her career in this 5th installment of the Max Revere series. Abandoned by her Mom at the age of 9, Max was left in the care of her very wealthy grandparents. Eventually her Mother stopped sending postcards on Max’s birthday (always belated) and withdrawing from her trust fund; she disappeared without a trace. Now aged 32, and a successful television personality and author, Max is finally ready to uncover the truth behind her Mother’s disappearance.

This is actually the first book I have read in the Max Revere series and I don’t think that diminished my enjoyment for this book at all. You could definitely pick this up as a stand-alone novel if you wanted. After reading this, I am absolutely interested in reading the other books in the series. I loved Max as a character. She was smart, strong, independent and not afraid to make it through life on her own. No matter how dangerous her investigation became she never backed down. She was willing to do whatever it took to get to the truth and I respect that.

Overall, this is a very solid mystery with strong investigatory elements. There were a lot of leads to follow as there is so much going on in this book: family drama, small town secrets, art theft and forgery, con-men/women and more! I usually do enjoy mystery/thrillers where the protagonist is a journalist but this one is especially well done in my opinion. The story leaves off with a lot of changes going on for Max so I definitely think this series will be continuing and this won’t be the last time I read about Max Revere. That’s for darn sure.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Max is just the kind of protagonist I love so I had a really great time reading this!

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Review: Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Find You in the DarkFind You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Dark and twisted, this book had me glued to the pages from start to finish. I flew through it. Almost as soon as I started reading I was sucked in. Find You in the Dark mainly follows Martin Reese, a retired tech guru with an amazingly odd hobby. He was a really unique character. Not super likable in the mainstream sense, he is definitely morally grey, but personally, I like that. I got major Tony Stark vibes from this guy without the iron super-suit. Super smart, wealthy, cunning, dry and harboring a lot of secrets.

We also get the perspective of Detective Sandra Whittal. I loved Sandra, she was my favorite character. She’s on to Reese and his extracurricular activities and she’s pretty much the only one. Dogged in her investigation, Detective Whittal refuses to back down, even when reprimanded by her higher-ups. Along with her sexy partner, who she may or may not be intimately involved with – you’ll have to read to find out – she commences a wonderfully plotted cat-and-mouse game with Reese.

Okay, we have a cat, we have a mouse, then a dog gets thrown in too just to make the game a little more interesting. That’s right, we get to climb into the mind of a serial killer. It’s dark and I loved every second of it. There were twists and turns in this I did not see coming. In a few places I was absolutely floored. I thought the plot progression was wonderful and the characters fleshed out, messy and complicated though they were. As you can tell, I had a heck of a lot of fun with this one. I hope there is a continuation to this book. It left off in a place that could stay here and let the reader decide the rest or could be progressed further. I would love to see Sandra and Martin meet again for a rematch!

A big thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and really look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Original: I am planning to start this one this week as I feel it will be perfect for Spooktober. A little nervous because the ratings aren’t the best so far but I have odd tastes, so who knows, maybe I will love it! I mean a bloody shovel on the cover is intriguing to me, so there’s that…

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Review: Hangman by Jack Heath

Publication Date: June 12, 2018    |    Rating: 4-gritty STARS

WICKEDLY entertaining~ Sherlock Holmes meets Hannibal Lecter!!! I really enjoyed this one. It is so bizarre in theory but somehow it just works. Let me break this down: our main character is a cannibal (you read that right…a cannibal) who ends up making a deal with an FBI Agent that he will help with investigations in exchange for free bodies from death row inmates. Why? Why would an FBI Agent want this man working with him you ask? Well, the guy is a freaking genius of course! A modern day Sherlock Holmes with a photographic memory who obviously can see into the minds of criminals because, well, he IS one…oh, and of course, the cannibal knows about the Agent’s coke habit… Intrigued yet?

I would recommend this book to ANYONE who loves a new twist on the thriller genre. Obviously, you need to be a open-minded with the whole concept behind this but I tell you, that Timothy Blake (our MC) is pretty lovable. Honestly the first cannibal I have ever rooted for in a novel. But in addition to the weirdness of it all, this is actually a really taut crime thriller. There were a few times that I was convinced I knew what the answer was to the string of kidnappings that Blake was trying to unravel, but in the end, I turned out wrong every time and was surprised by the reveal. The writing style was fast paced and the mystery well developed. It’s definitely dark and gruesome, so if that is something you aren’t into, best to stay clear of this one!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Hanover Square Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review! I really hope that this becomes a series. I would hate to think that this is the last I am ever going to see of Timothy Blake. There’s more to his story, I can just feel it! I look forward to hearing other opinions on this book as well. If you have read it, what did you think??

Review: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Publication Date: March 8, 2018    |    Rating: 3.5-stars

I liked this one. Some aspects of the story I really enjoyed and others were just okay for me. There were moments, toward the beginning in particular, that I was a little confused as to what type of story this was trying to be. Thinking back on those early chapters, I am still a little confused by them. A literary sleight of hand perhaps; they got your brain going in one direction which, at least for me, ended up being flipped completely on its head. The book follows multiple perspectives but the two main ones being, Anna and Murray. Anna is a young woman who recently lost both parents to suicide. Murray, is a semi-retired criminal investigator, who ends up looking into Anna’s parents suicides when she begins to suspect that foul play may have been involved.

There were plenty of twists and turns in this and the end in particular was so wild in bordered on ridiculous. This being said, ridiculously far-fetched plot points aside, it was also wildly entertaining. It did keep me engaged the whole way through; I was particularly drawn to the chapters from Murray’s perspective. Although his chapters were not as wrought with turmoil as Anna’s, there was something very relatable and likable about his character and experiences. I also liked the way this book took classic societal gender roles and challenged them; it challenged what the reader would typically expect to happen. I really enjoyed that actually. I felt like someone had played a trick on me which made it very unique!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I very much appreciate the opportunity! I had some fun with it and really look forward to checking out other reader’s reviews now that I am done.

Review: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Publication Date: April 5, 2018

5-stars!!!! – A tour de force of brutality & ambition!!!

I was so excited when I discovered that the Hogarth Shakespeare series was adding Macbeth to its line up. It is my favorite of all the Shakespeare tragedies and I was looking forward to seeing how Nesbo would give it a modern twist. I have never read any of his books before but had heard very good things. He certainly did not disappoint – this soared above even my highest expectations.

The action takes place in a drug and crime-ridden city in the 1970s. Drug dealers and local crime lords hold as much power and sway over the people as do the police and politicians. The whole atmosphere is dark and visceral; you can smell and feel the dankness and despair. You are instantly dropped into this world and admittedly, at first, I was a bit confused as you are right in the action and all the players are already there. However, it didn’t take long (about 15% on an e-reader) before the tale truly starts to take shape and for me, I was so engrossed, I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are true to their roots as Shakespeare created them and I felt that the main premise of the action was extremely well planned and executed. The modern versions of the plot points were richly imagined and expertly woven into the final narrative. Macbeth, so strong and weak at the same time, so influenced by his Lady, easily steered, brutal yet kind, haunted and driven. Ughhh, it was soooo good! No one in this town was safe once Macbeth and Lady were set on their ultimate drive to power – aspirations and political intrigue, love for one another, plagued by their pasts – their relationship was just so spot on, there is no better way for me to describe it.

Slytherin book recommendation all day long – I absolutely adored this book! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. I cannot wait for this one to hit the streets -everyone needs a dose of this! Shakespeare himself would be proud!