The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy #bookreview

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Title: The Telling

Author: Alexandra Sirowy

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: August 2016

Genre: YA Contemporary, Horror/Thriller/Mystery

Page Count: 389

ISBN: 9781481418898 (hardback)

 

 

 

synopsis

Lana used to know what was real.

That was before, when her life was small and quiet.

Her golden stepbrother, Ben, was alive.

She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars.

Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief.

But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.”

My Review

I picked this book as my Five Star Prediction read for Contemporaryathon. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed.

“For the girls who are sharks, and those who are kittens, and those who are heroes, and those who are villains.”

The Telling is about a teen named Lana becoming a different person after she witnesses her stepbrother’s murder. Before his murder she was a quiet “kitten”, worried about what other’s thought of her, spending most of her time with her close friend Willa. After his murder she’s becoming a more confident “shark”, hanging out with the popular group of friends known as “the core”: Josh, Carolyn, Rusty, Duncan, and Becca.

My favourite characters are Lana’s stepbrother Ben, a good guy who couldn’t stand living on rich Gant Island after volunteering in Guatemala, and Lana’s best friend Willa, studious, cool-minded, and not impressed by “the core”.

I liked the paranormal aspect of Ben’s stories coming to life. It was a page-turner, but only because I guessed who the killer was really early on, and wanted to find out if I was right (hoping that I was wrong so I could be surprised).

I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters, and wasn’t upset when any of them were in danger. Detective Sweeny and Wood are flat, uninteresting, one-dimensional, typical good cop/bad cop.

It’s disappointing that we never get to meet “Skitzy-Fitzy“, even though he’s mentioned multiple times.

I was really confused when the parents let Detective Sweeny and Wood interview Lana, Willa, and “the core” without a parent or lawyer in the room. The detectives told Lana details about Maggie’s death during the interview which I think should have been kept private. It felt extremely unbelievable that a detective would be giving a suspect that much information about a possible homicide.

The Telling felt like a cheesy horror novel with stereotypical characters that lack real emotion. Pardon the pun, but The Telling did just that – too much “telling”, not enough “showing”.

Even though I didn’t like it, a lot of my friends on Goodreads did. So don’t take my word for it! I recommend The Telling to readers who are into YA horror/mystery stories.

About the author

“I WRITE ABOUT GIRLS WHO RESCUE THEMSELVES, TRUE LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, SECRETS AND LIES, AND MONSTERS AND HEROES THAT LOOK LIKE ME AND YOU.”

http://www.alexandrasirowy.com/about.html

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The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle #review #netgalley

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Title: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (originally published as The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle)

Author: Stuart Turton

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Date of Publication: September 18, 2018 (first published February 2018)

Page Count: 432 (e-book)

 

 

 

 

synopsis

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

My Review

I’m going to try to write a review worthy of this amazing début novel by Stuart Turton. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a mind-twisting story with characters that leap off the page. This multi-perspective mystery has murder, manipulation, and a feeling of desperation, but in the end delivers a message of kindness, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is one of the BEST BOOKS I have EVER read.  I’ll try to keep this post at a reasonable length because I could ramble for pages about the writing quality, descriptions, and symbolism.

I have NEVER read a book with so many moving parts. Turton must have lost his mind trying to keep track of who was doing what, and when. Mentioned a few times in the novel, chess is a symbol of the theme of dark and light throughout the story with Aiden moving each host towards checkmate. Trying to figure out who killed Evelyn is like putting together the most complicated puzzle you’ve ever seen.

As Aiden embodies the eight hosts he initially complains about their limitations, but learns to focus on their unique talents. The plot is very twisty, at times confusing, and I loved every second. The ending clearly explained all the confusing parts and I felt extremely satisfied.

The characters are FANTASTIC. I could picture each unique person clearly in my mind. The mansion, Blackheath, is one of my favourite characters. “Blackheath shrinks around me, shriveling like a spider touched to the flame.” The Plague Doctor is a mysterious character who keeps you wondering if he’s good or bad. Anna is “fierce and fearless”. I love to see authors write about strong, smart, women.

Hooked from beginning to end, I recommend The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle to fans of mystery/thriller who like a dash of magical realism (time travel).

Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for the complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.

 

The Death Of Mrs. Westaway By Ruth Ware #NewBook #Thriller #Mystery #Netgalley

📓 The Death Of Mrs. Westaway is a new atmospheric thriller from best-selling author Ruth Ware. I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. This review is spoiler-free 📚 😌

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Title: The Death Of Mrs. Westaway

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

Date published: May 29, 2018

Page Count: 384

 

 

synopsis

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.”

 

My Review

Gypsy Caravan, Tarot Wagon, Seaside

 

The Death Of Mrs. Westaway is a mystery novel about dark family secrets that takes place in England, during November (the perfect dreary weather for a thriller). The story is told from Harriet’s perspective in present day, and by journal entries from the past. After her mother is killed in an accident, Hal takes over the family business reading tarot cards on a pier in Brighton. I became attached to Hal pretty quickly, and found myself hoping she’d be able to pull off the fraud of walking away with someone else’s inheritance. Mrs. Westaway’s family is a loveless group of people who barely have anything to do with each other. I especially enjoyed cranky Mrs. Warren who helped run Mrs. Westaway’s ancient mansion for many years. Her sharp, uninhibited tongue reminded me of Lady Crawley from “Downton Abbey”.

Tarot Cards Magic Fortune Telling Gypsy Es

The setting of the Westaway mansion, Trepassen, is my favorite character. I loved how the five-sense descriptions of the house helped me feel like I was there, causing the creaks and secrets to haunt my dreams after reading late into the night.

I kinda saw the twist coming, but I almost always guess the “surprise ending” for books and movies. The secondary characters were one-dimensional for me. I would have liked to have been given more opportunity to get to know Mrs. Westaway, and Hal’s mother. Mrs. Westaway seems like an entertaining character that would probably make a great protagonist for a prequel 🙂

There was some fact repetition and I feel like one more big edit could have polished this one to a 5 star read for me.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a suspenseful thriller that is a slow-burn, however, it will keep you turning the pages. I definitely recommend you pick up this new book by Ruth Ware.

About the author.jpg

“Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9013543.Ruth_Ware

Find her on twitter at www.twitter.com/ruthwarewriter, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ruthwarewriter or via her website – www.ruthware.com

May Wrap Up [2018] #reading

I read 6 books in March:
2 Young Adult (Fantasy, Contemporary Romance)
2 Adult (Anthology/Fantasy, Mystery Crime Thriller)
2 Middle Grade (Fantasy Graphic Novels)

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I follow the Goodreads rating suggestions:
🌟= did not like it
🌟🌟= it was ok
🌟🌟🌟= liked it
🌟🌟🌟🌟= really liked it
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟= it was amazing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Title: Our Dark Duet

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Date Published: June 2017

Page Count: 510

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟 Our Dark Duet By Victoria Schwab #BookReview

 

 

 

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Title: Some Of The Best From Tor.com

Author: Various

Publisher: Tor.com

Date Published: January 2017

Page Count: 667

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟  Some Of The Best From Tor.com 2016 #BookReview #Free #KOBO

 

 

 

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Title: Find You In The Dark

Author: Nathan Ripley

Publisher: Text Publishing

Date Published: April 2018

Page Count: 352

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟  New Thriller by Canadian Author #Findyouinthedark #Netgalley

 

 

 

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Title: The Last Council (Amulet #4)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi

Publisher: Graphix

Date Published: September 2011

Page Count: 219

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10537195-the-last-council

 

 

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Title: From Twinkle With Love

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Published: May 2018

Page Count: 336

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟 New Teen Contemporary Romance #BookReview #Netgalley #FromTwinkleWithLove

 

 

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Title: Prince of the Elves (Amulet #5)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi

Publisher: Graphix

Date Published: September 2012

Page Count: 203

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2400981523?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

New Thriller by Canadian Author #Findyouinthedark #Netgalley

📓 Find You In The Dark, Canadian author Nathan Ripley’s début novel, is an Adult Thriller (Crime, Mystery).  I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review📚 😌

findyouinthedark

 

Title: Find You In The Dark

Author: Nathan Ripley

Genre: Adult, Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Publisher: Text Publishing

Date published: March 2018

Page Count: 352

 

 

synopsis

Martin Reese has a hobby: he digs up murder victims. He buys stolen police files on serial killers, and uses them to find and dig up missing bodies. Calls in the results anonymously, taunting the police for their failure to do their job.

Detective Sandra Whittal takes that a little personally. She’s suspicious of the mysterious caller, who she names the Finder. Maybe he’s the one leaving the bodies behind. If not, who’s to say he won’t start soon?

As Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder, Martin makes a shocking discovery. It seems someone—someone lethal—is very unhappy about the bodies he’s been digging up.

Hunted by a cop, hunted by a killer. To escape and keep his family safe, Martin may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever imagined.” Goodreads

 

My Review

 

Martin Reese and his wife, Ellen, have a teenage daughter named Kylie. Ellen’s sister is missing for twenty years. The serial killer charged with her disappearance is dead. After selling his tech company, Martin starts buying info from a dirty cop about missing women, trying to find his wife’s sister, and during the process he becomes obsessed with digging up the bones of murdered women. Find You In The Dark made me ponder the gray area between right and wrong, and ask myself just how far I would go to find someone.

The Ragman! Oh how I enjoyed his character. I wanted to read more of his dark, twisted, thoughts, motivations, and actions. What an interesting monster he is.

This is a slow burn, but somehow I found myself longing to read it, wondering what was going to happen next, and staying up way past my bedtime trying to figure out who Martin Reese really was. I now realize I love to read stories about people who live a secret life.

I disliked the cliché rich-man-not-paying-attention-to-beautiful-wife story line. Ellen is a spoiled, selfish woman. I didn’t care about her at all. She is overprotective when it comes to her daughter, yet doesn’t wonder what her own husband is doing on overnight solo camping trips.

The pace is slow for a thriller over the first half of the book, and I felt like the characters didn’t come to life until the last quarter. If you like a fast-paced thriller, this is not the book for you. However, if you’re into a slow burn with a sprint to the finish, then be sure to check this one out.

About the author.jpg

According to a note from the publisher on Netgalley, Nathan Ripley is the pseudonym of Naben Ruthnum, a winner of Canada’s prestigious Journey Prize for best short story published by an emerging writer.

“Originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, Ruthnum is of Mauritian descent.[5] He has a master’s degree from McGill University, where he wrote his thesis on the role of Oscar Wilde in the development of the ghost story in British literature.” Wikipedia

“Nathan Ripley is the pen name of literary fiction writer and journalist Naben Ruthnum. His stories and essays have appeared in The Walrus, Hazlitt, Sight & Sound, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other places. He lives in Toronto.” Fantastic Fiction

Nathan Ripley on Twitter

The Broken Girls

📓 The Broken Girls is a suspenseful, ghostly, mystery novel about two murders that took place at a girl’s boarding school. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. This review is spoiler-free 📚 😌

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Title: The Broken Girls

Author: Simone St. James

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Ghost Story

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Date published: March 20th, 2018

Page Count: 336 pages

 

 

synopsis

“A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare…

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .The Broken Girls: Goodreads

 

My Review

The Broken Girls tells the story of a journalist named Fiona trying to uncover the truth about her older sister’s murder. Followed by the ghost of Mary Hand, Fiona uncovers the tragic story of Sonia, a student at Idlewild Hall boarding school in Vermont.

Some of the creepy Mary Hand ghost parts left me on the edge of my seat, all of my senses heightened in fear of hearing tapping on the window and the voice of a girl asking to come in. I enjoyed the Gothic feel to this read. The Broken Girls is a character-driven story, leaning more towards mystery than thriller. Idlewild Hall, looming over many souls for over a hundred years, was a character on its own.

There were some facts repeated multiple times which makes me feel like the author thinks I’m not smart enough to remember that particular fact after it’s mentioned the first or second time. We are also given a character description when she looks in the mirror. This info could have been woven into the story elsewhere (and it was, multiple times). The whole journalist dating a cop thing was a predictable relationship. For me, there was a lot going on, and maybe some editing could have made this a five-star read.

Chilling, unpredictable page-turner about overcoming hardships and the power of truth. I suggest this one to mystery fans who like a dollop of supernatural with a big spoonful of romance.

About the author.jpg

Simone St. James is the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two RITA awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.

http://www.simonestjames.com/

The Man Who Died #Thriller #BookReview #SpoilerFree #Themanwhodied #Netgalley

📓 I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.  📚 😌

The man who died

Title: The Man Who Died

Author: AnttiTuomainen

Translated from Finnish by David Hackston

Genre: Adult Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date published: May 1st, 2018

Page Count: 245

 

 

synopsis

“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.

With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” Goodreads

 

My Review

Setting: Hamina, Finland

 

Jaakko Kaunismaa: CEO of mushroom business. After finding out he is dying, he walked in on his wife cheating on him with one of his employees. Jaakko suspects his wife, Taina, she is poisoning him and decides to embark on an investigation to discover the truth. I often found myself chuckling to Jaakko’s dark sense of humor.

The other characters were pretty boring for me and lacked personality. This story focused more on plot than characters, which is often the case for thrillers. I couldn’t put it down and read it quickly. I just HAD to know if his wife was trying to kill him, what the guys from the new mushroom company were up to, and if the cop would figure out what Jaakko’s been up to.

The Man Who Died is a dark, odd, funny thriller about a quirky mushroom business man.

“Finnish author Tuomainen has come up with an irresistible crime comedy caper /…/ More than just a whodunit, but a gripping tale of self-loathing, investigation and desperate floundering /…/ Both a thriller and a dark laugh a minute journey that will keep you hanging on to the end. The story of a man investigating his own death has been done before but not with such gusto. ” – Crime Time (UK)

About the author.jpg

“Antti Tuomainen is the award-winning author of seven novels: A Killer I Wish, My Brother’s Keeper, The Healer, Dark as My Heart, The Mine, The Man Who Died and his latest – Palm Beach Finland. He has been called ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ by the Finnish press and his writing has garnered attention worldwide.

In 2011 his third novel The Healer was awarded the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel and has subsequently been published in 27 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, China, Iceland, Turkey and Greece, among others.

His fourth novel Dark as My Heart was optioned for feature film in 2013 and is in development at Making Movies Ltd., the production company behind the Finnish film sensation Black Ice. Dark as My Heart has been voted the best crime novel of the past decade by the readers of a Finnish crime fiction magazine. The novel was also nominated for the prestigious Petrona-prize in the UK in 2016.

His sixth novel The Man Who Died was published in Finland in September 2016. The novel has been optioned by Finnish production company Luminoir and is currently in development for feature film. Publishing rights for The Man Who Died have been sold to the UK, France and Germany, among others.

Antti’s seventh novel, titled Palm Beach Finland was published in September 2017 in Finland.

Antti has been a featured guest on numerous literary festivals, events, panels and book tours in the UK, Germany, France, the United States, Spain, Italy, Romania, Iceland, Norway, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland.

Antti was born in Helsinki, Finland where he lives with his wife. In addition to novels, he also writes short stories and magazine articles. You can find him easily on Facebook and he will be happy to hear from you.”

http://anttituomainen.com/

Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

The Wonder

 

Title: The Wonder

Author: Emma Donoghue

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Ireland

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date published: September 2016

Page Count: 291

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

 

 

synopsis

“An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder—inspired by numerous European and North American cases of “fasting girls” between the sixteenth century and the twentieth—is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.” (Goodreads)

 

My Review

The Wonder is told from the perspective of Lib Wright, an almost thirty year old woman widowed after just one year of marriage. She’s a nurse trained by Florence Nightingale (a real person, founder of modern nursing). Lib is an English woman, not impressed by the conditions of the rural Irish town where Anna O’Donnell lives. The O’Donnell family claim that Anna hasn’t eaten for four months. Lib and another nurse, Sister Michael, have been recruited to watch over Anna twenty-four hours a day to ensure the validity of Anna’s fast. Lib and Sister Michael are working for a seemingly unintelligent doctor named Dr. McBrearty. Anna claims she doesn’t need food because she lives on “manna from heaven”.

In University I completed a few courses about Irish history and culture and quite enjoyed the Irish dialect and cultural references in this story. My favourite character is Lib’s romantic interest, William Byrne, a journalist correspondent for many English papers. The Wonder made me laugh, cry, and feel an insane amount of anger, particularly towards Anna’s family (wish I could slap her mother in the face).

Lib’s annotations of Anna’s daily vital signs were an extremely effective technique to help increase the reader’s concern for Anna and was an important piece of this psychological thriller. The plot starts with a slow heartbeat, but by the end my heart was pounding along with Anna’s.

The lengthy chapters create a slow pace for a thriller. I felt quite annoyed by the main character Lib. She’s irritated by just about everything and everyone, and I didn’t feel like she changed much throughout the story.

The Wonder is a thought-provoking, atmospheric, emotional Irish historical mystery. This is a quick, easy read that will leave you feeling satisfactorily disturbed.

About the author.jpg

Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. Since the age of 23, Donoghue has earned her living as a full-time writer. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their son and daughter. (Goodreads)

Book Review for Upcoming Mystery/Thriller “A Guide for Murdered Children” by Sarah Sparrow

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.

 

Title: A Guide for Murdered Children

Author: Sarah Sparrow

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Expected Publication: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 400 pages

 

 

synopsis

We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.” (Goodreads)

 

My Review

A Guide for Murdered Children is separated into three books: “Closely Watched Trains”, “The Spirit Room”, and “Local and Express”. While reading the first 25% of this book the first time around I was terribly confused. I honestly had no idea what in the world was happening. The story flipped from past to present and it was challenging to keep everything straight. I almost decided to stop reading it, instead I flipped to the beginning to try again. I’m SO GLAD that I did, because I understood it much better the second time around.

Detective Willow “Dubya” Wylde is presently at a rehab in Arizona. He’s made some really bad choices in life, ruining his career and family. It’s time to make amends and restore balance. The story flips to the past where we meet brother and sister, Troy and Maya on the day they were murdered in Saggerty Falls, Michigan. Back to the present we meet Deputy Lydia Molloy as she falls to her death at the Macomb Orchard Trail and Deputy Daniel Doheny, who dies from a heart attack. In the present eleven year old Winston is also murdered around the same time that Renée “Honeychile” Devonshire dies from an asthma attack. The murdered children’s spirits enter the body of those who have recently died (usually adults except for Honeychile) in order to achieve their moment of balance by killing the person who took their life.  As the murdered children’s spirits enter their “landlords”, the “landlord” body comes back to life – so the people who know the “landlords” don’t realize they have died. I hope that made sense. I’ll wait while you go back and re-read that part…Okay, you following me?

Annie, the Porter, greets the new arrivals on the train, giving them the address for the meeting.  There are also Subalterns on the train, who are ancient, shadowy beings. Annie, The Porter, knows her replacement is coming soon but doesn’t know who it is yet.  At the meeting the murdered children are given the Guidebook of rules they must follow.

Detective Willow has a recurring dream of being on a train. In the dream the Porter gives him an address. When he wakes up he decides to go to the address, discovering it’s the new house of his ex-wife and her new husband Owen, who is Willow’s old cop partner. He makes up a story that he’s there to make amends with both of them, and Owen asks Willow to join his new Cold Case team. In Book Two and Three there are a lot of twists and turns, it kept me turning the pages wondering what in the world was going to happen next.

A Guide for Murdered Children is an extremely out-of-the-box concept of balance and forgiveness. It’s a little far-fetched for a Mystery/Thriller, you’ll have to put aside your questions and just let it be revealed to you.

The main character, Willow, is seriously annoying. I don’t think he experiences enough of a transition to make me like him in the end. If you like unlikable characters he might be right up your alley.  Although I did not enjoy Willow’s character, I enjoyed Annie, and Willow’s ex-wife. I would have loved more information about the Subalterns.

The book is too long and can benefit by an editor not afraid to trim the unnecessary bits.  If you can get past the first 25%, and let your mind wander outside of reality, then I think you’ll enjoy this thriller.

 

About the author.jpg

From what I could figure out A Guide for Murdered Children is written with a pen name, Sarah Sparrow. I attempted some digging around online, but wasn’t able to figure out the real name of the author.

A Stranger in the House – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

stranger in the houseA Stranger in the House

Large Print Copy: Published August 2017 (first published July 2017)
Random House
Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Tom Krupp arrives home in a rich New York neighborhood to find his wife isn’t there, and has left in quite a hurry. She left her purse, phone, and didn’t lock the door. He is concerned because it’s not like her to leave the house unlocked. The cops show up to tell Tom that his wife Karen has been in a car accident. The police say she was driving recklessly. Karen wakes up in the hospital and can’t remember why she left the house so quickly, or why she was driving so fast in the “bad part” of town. Officer Kirton and Office Fleming visit Karen in hospital to question her, and let her know that she will be charged with reckless driving. Karen and Tom hire Jack Calvin as their lawyer. He’s confident that with Karen’s clean record she’ll be able to have the charges dropped.
Brigid Cruikshank is Tom and Karen’s nosy neighbour, she’s also Karen’s best friend. Her husband Bob works long hours and doesn’t pay much attention to Karen. She spends her time watching the neighborhood through the front window, knitting, and waiting.
When Karen arrives home she begins to notice things have been moved around and she’s quite sure that someone has been coming into their home. She’s suffering from a pretty bad concussion so Tom is sure her short-term memory is a little fuzzy.
A man and woman stumble into the abandoned restaurant looking for a place to make out when they come across the dead man’s body. Detective Rasbach and Detective Jennings are on the case to find the murderer. Not far from the scene they find a pair of pink dishwashing gloves. The gloves have tire tracks on them, which seem to match the tire tread of Karen’s Honda Civic. The detectives become extremely suspicious of Karen and pay her and Tom a visit.
Did Karen really murder someone? Is Tom in on it? Did Brigid see anything? A Stranger in the House is a fast-paced, page-turning thriller.
The characters were a little one-dimensional for me. I would have loved a little more background about Bob and Brigid. Tom, Karen, Brigid, the cops, the detectives…they all annoyed me. I found some of their actions slightly off. I don’t think I could even pick a favourite character to be honest with you.
I also found it a weird that Tom would keep telling the police how it’s so out of Karen’s character to be in “that part of town”, and she never speeds, etc…BUT they’ve only been together a few years. That’s not very long at all. I wish Tom and Karen would have been married for longer, because then when he said it’s out of her character it would have been more believable.
There was too much telling and not enough showing.

And the ending…ugh…I did not like the ending at all.

I’m not a fan of using amnesia as a tool to help set up twists in a thriller. I didn’t like it when it was used for The Girl on the Train and I don’t like it in A Stranger in the House.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy, non-gory thriller then I’d recommend A Stranger in the House.