NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson

SO lucky to be able to read the second book in the series immediately after the first!

"The bright day is done, and we are for the dark."

Katie Flanagan, a medical doctor and scientific researcher, after the events from book one, is bound for Antartica for an 8 month stint as the second doctor on the Wilson outpost base. She'll be there to examine the effects of how humans adapt to the long months of darkness and isolation. There are only 9 other peeople on the base, all but one are males -- and she will be shut up with them for the duration of the dark. Despite her anxiety and trepidation, things are going as well as can be expected until her friend, and the only other female at the site, the doctor in charge, Sara, has gone missing. A hunt for her has gone without result and there are other issues that take Katie's former training and expertise to the forefront.

Meanwhile, attorney Daniel Marchmont, his wife Rachel, and their daughter, Chloe, continue the treatments for Chloe's genetic blood disorder -- Diamond Blackfan Amemia (the research that Katie was working on before her whistleblowing got her in trouble). Daniel is again working with Lyle on a new theory, with his new company, Thesus, whose had a breakthrough in cancer research. When the head of that project goes missing, Daniel and Lyle are at a loss to go further with the development of the theory and the acquisition of the patents. Could there be a connection to missing Sara? In another of those wild coincidences in this series -- there is -- but NO SPOILERS.

Despite the necessity to suspend disbelief over the fact that Katie's situation is related to the disappearance of Dr. Flora Mitchell, the story and plot are very entertaining and will keep the reader glued to the pages. The missing women aside, the main character is really Antarctica. The details about life on the base and the strain of living in that hostile environment are very compelling and interesting. Katie continues to be someone that we want to get to know better and I am quite eager to see where she will go next after her experiences in wintering over in Antarctica.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lion Fiction for the ARC to read and review. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone interested in medical thrillers. The suspense lies in the mystery of what happened to Sara in Antarctica with only the 10 people on the base. I totally enjoyed it! Can't wait for #3 in this series! I was so lucky to be able to read the second book in the series immediately after the first -- these should be read in order.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Deep Water by Christine Poulson

How far over the line would you go with millions at stake? Millions of lives, millions of dollars...

Very tightly plotted scientific/medical thriller with a focus on the ethics of the laboratory scientist. The fast paced narrative also relates the degree of pressure that researchers are under to get new treatments and therapies to those who need them -- the patients, and to those who want them -- for profit.

This suspenseful novel has a large cast of characters and quite a few parallel plots that the author cleverly navigates with ease. The main character is Katie Flanagan, a post doc, newly hired at Calliope Biotech to work on a biotech cure for a rare blood disorder. Her cell lines and western blot are a disaster and she's on a deadline. Attorney Daniel Marchmont is a patent lawyer, hired after an accident kills the former attorney handling the case involving a dispute of which lab was first to produce a substance that might cure obesity. It so happens that Daniel's daughter, Chloe, has that very rare blood disease (the first of several major coincidences that had potential to defy belief). There is a lot happening in this short book (252 pages), but the essence of the science is related to the reader through very effective narration and description by the author so is easily understandable.

The main focus of the story is that many things are going wrong in the lab and there are several who could be responsible for the bad luck and negative results. Without spoilers, just know that Katie is trying to figure out what is going on with the lab and the blood disorder research while also trying to figure out why her experiments are total failures.

Easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable, I'm glad I finally picked this up after reading a review by a Goodreads "friend" (Rachel). I had won this from LibraryThing a long time ago as an ARC and I'm sorry it took me so long to get to it. Medical thrillers are my favorites in the mystery and suspense genre so I'm always happy to find a new author. In fact, I'm reading the second book in this series next!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Silent Children (DI Robyn Carter #4) by Carol Wyer

Greed. Betrayal. Secrets. Lies. All components of a compelling plot.

Cannock Chase in Stafford:  A 33 year old male, Henry Gregson, has been found shot dead inside a car. With little evidence to go on, DI Robyn Carter and her team -- Mitz, Anna, and David -- begin the tedious and painstaking investigation that they hope will lead to the killer. Days pass without much progress when a second victim, Tessa Hall, is found dead on her kitchen floor. Are the two murders connected? Then, Anthony Hawkins drops dead on a deserted golf course in the early hours of a Saturday morning. Did these three people know each other? Every single person that the police interview seems to be hiding something, and Robyn cannot figure out if these deaths are the result of actions by a single perpetrator since Hawkins had a heart attack. Yes, indeed, there is a relationship, but DI Carter can't seem to work it out.

Mostly a police procedural with the solving of the case the main focus, there is a lot going on in this complicated narrative. Included are chapters from the POV of a child describing his life with his sister and the abuse they suffered. You know it has something to do with the "why" of what has happened, but it's very unclear. Until it isn't. I figured out where this was going fairly quickly but it took quite a while for me to understand the motive behind it all because of the many characters and their relationships.

As far as Robyn -- this is the first in the series I've read, and it's #4, so I've missed a lot of the backstory and it did affect my whole perception of her and I wish I'd started with #1. I felt like I came into the middle of something that everyone else knew and I didn't! She's definitely a character I would like to know better, and I sure hope she gets some resolution to her personal situation that seems to be occuppying a lot of her time, emotion and energy beyond the job. The other members of the team show potention for a lot of development as well. I'll probably try to find the first 3 books in the series at some point. I'd definitely read another in this series because this one ended with a bit of a cliffhanger and I just hate an unanswered question!

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the e-book ARC of this novel to read and review.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney


I usually like to start my reviews with a quote, but there were so many good ones in this extremely well-written debut that I couldn't pick one that hadn't already been represented in others. The best thing about this book was the quality of the writing as Alice Feeney has an incredible command of a turn of phrase.

That said, I just sit here, my head still reeling from the story within the covers of this psychological thriller. I read this one tonight in a couple of hours, couldn't put it down, had to find where it was going, tried in vain to figure out who was writing the diary, who was in the coma -- you get the picture. The phrase, "Sometimes I lie" totally kept me trying to anticipate and, regretfully, experiencing one (or two or three) of those WTF moments!

Here's the gist -- a woman lies in a hospital bed in a coma. Her husband and sister visit her in present tense. There are diary entries back from childhood, but you have no clue who wrote them. And then there is a first person narration of events that occured the week before the accident that led to the coma with a lot of backstory thrown in. Confusing? You bet! Mindblowing? ABSOLUTELY.
If you want a book that causes you to reread significant portions of the sections even after you've finished, then this is the one for you. After doing some extensive review after finishing, I think I've finally GOT IT. But, please, if you are thinking about picking this one up -- don't read any of the reviews or the questions with their spoiler alerts.

I'm afraid I'll be thinking of this one for some time as those books that make you delve deeper always stick a bit longer in the mind. Thank you to the publisher for the book to read and review and to NetGalley for the digital ARC. If there is a sequel, I'll certainly want to read it.!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Last Cry (Detective Dan Riley #1) by Ann-Lou Weatherley

"Fear is the most debilitating of all the emotions. It paralyses you, governs your every waking moment and thought. It conditions you. And I lived in fear."

When a wealthy older man is found with his wrists slit, bled out in a bathtub at an expensive hotel, DI Daniel Riley is called to the scene. It becomes immediately apparent that this was only made to look like a suicide. Something more sinister is going on here. As he and his team investigate and find ties to "Goldilocks" and "Daddy Bear", they are quite certain that another murder will soon take place as the killer completes the story. But what is the reason for The Three Bears theme and the deaths? "Sometimes there is no why." NO SPOILERS. You must get this immediately and read it to find out!

This was a very fast paced and extremely well written thriller with some interesting characters -- in fact, I can't wait for #2 so that I can get to know DI Riley better. I really empathized with him, (but can we give the whole Rachel thing a rest now - it was a little much) and he seems to be a good, decent man who likely will get his head back in the game shortly. The other members of his team aren't that known to us yet, but very curious about them as well. I see a lot of potential for developing this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the e-book ARC to read and review. I definitely recommend it as one of the best detective novels I've read lately. It was very hard to put down! SO, Anna-Lou Weatherley, a new author to me, where is your second book -- please don't make me beg or wait too long!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

No Cure for the Dead by Chrstine Trent

This is the first in a series, ostensibly about Florence Nightingale.

It is 1853. Lady of the Lamp Florence Nightingale has just accepted the position of Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London.

As soon as she is installed, Florence discovers a dead nurse hanging in the library. Instead of a novel focused on the real accomplishments of Florence Nightingale, the reader is relegated to a tale of how she solves the case. Her entire day consists mostly of trying to ferret out the killer rather than to discuss the many amazing accomplishments of this nurse. I found it mostly tedious to read about the daily occurences in the house and grew incredibly disdainful each time the word "miasma" was mentioned (so irritating that the author would focus on this completely INACCURATE THEORY OF Florence Nightingale so long disproven). In short, the book was not about anything really medical or nursing related, it was about FN becoming some sort of Nancy Drew and so thus, sold FN incredibly short. Florence Nightingale was an amazing woman for her time but the way she was portrayed in this novel totally sold her short. Whether or not she was romantically challenged (her relationship with Richard Monckton Miles) and her feelings about her family aside, I expected this to be more about how she changed the face of the art and practice of nursing -- not about how she was pretending to be some sort of sleuth.

I know this sounds harsh, but honestly -- I've been a nurse for over 40 years and Florence Nightingale's history and accomplishments are well known to me. Putting her in this scene and making her, quite frankly, a completly unlikeable character, were anathema. Sure there were a few paragraphs about changes she wanted to make with the nurses she was forced to train (a cut above prostitutes), and yes, historically her ideas did propel the profession forward -- it is just that this story does her character no justice. We don't see her caring much for patients, sure a rare turn, but yeah, she's an administrator LOL. Anyway, I am well familiar with the history of Florence Nightingale and her life. Turning her into a quasi detective took away from her modest life long work.

Some of this may be historically sound as far as research goes, but I felt throughout that the Florence portrayed here was nothing like the real woman I've reseearched myself. Making her focus on the murder and solving the crime as the main point of the novel took away from her stature -- not to mention dwelling on the "miasma" theory so much -- give it a rest, we know it's not true. Many of her studies, however, did advance and elevate the practice of nursing -- but nothing she ever did gives evidence that she'd spend so much time away from actual patients to work on solving a murder case. That's the problem with fiction based on real life characters.

Regardless, I did read this and I don't know if I would attempt a second in the series considering this is labeled as #1. I want to read historical fiction that uses real life people in their own element. Please let Florence Nightingale pursue MEDICAL or NURSING issues and not murder mystery. Thank you, however, to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Let Me Lie by Claire Mackintosh

Beware the lies...this psychological thriller has many twists and turns as it reaches an incredibly surprising conclusion.

Anna Johnson, with her weeks old baby Ella, is very sad -- she can't get over the fact that both her parents committed suicide and left her alone. Her partner, Mark, is supportive, but he never met her mom and dad so he doesn't really understand her emotional turmoil. When Anna receives a card that indicates that perhaps it was not suicide, she contacts the police. A nearly retired civilian desk officer, Murray, investigates on his own time. And then, the strangest thing happens... NO SPOILERS.

The narrative is told in mulitple points of view and often the reader is not sure who is speaking because one is unidentified by name. Anna's voice is the main speaker driving the plot forward. It's Anna who contacts the police and who is totally confused by the transpiring events.

This was not a particularly fast-paced novel with way too much internal angsting going on within the characters. It's not action based at all. I can't honestly say that I liked the main character, Anna. I could not identify with any action or decision she made. None of the women in the book seemed very "all there" mentally, and I didn't relate to any of their reactions or behavior. Murray was a dogged and determined investigator with an interesting sidebar concerning his mentally ill wife. But there was way too much description that was dragging down the forward motion of the story.

I found myself sort of rushing through to the end, confounded by the "ah ha" moment and the ensuing drama. It's all tied rather neatly up at the end, except...

If you're in the mood for a psychological family drama, then this is the novel for you! Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishers for the e-book ARC to read and review.