NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Currently reading...

Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge

Liar Liar: DI Helen Grace #4 

(Detective Inspector Helen Grace)

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Ah that feeling -- when you just finish a great story and only want more -- more of the characters and another great suspense thriller to capture your interest and enthrall you for a couple of hours. That's how I feel after finishing this 4th book in one of my new favorite series.

DI Helen Grace is a very complex and interesting woman. In this case, she is investigating a series of arsons that have left several dead women in the ashes of burnt out houses. An excellent police procedural, the reader follows Helen and her team as they try to put the disparate pieces of this puzzle together to stop a killer without conscience. Red herrings abound, and I was stunned by the denouement and revelation of the killler and the motives.

I cannot wait for the next one (LITTLE BOY BLUE) -- and I hope  NetGalley will provide me the e-book ARC to review. If you like strong female lead protagonists and lots of action with supporting characters who add to the depth of the story within, you will like this series.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge (#3)

The Doll's House: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller
 (DI Helen Grace Thriller Book 3)

4.0 out of 5 stars -- The third suspense thriller featuring Southampton DI Helen Grace is another winner in the series!

Part police procedural and part mystery, this novel  focuses on the hunt for the person who has abducted and killed 3 women -- and now has possibly taken a fourth.  The women share common traits, most specifically they have dark hair and blue eyes. In addition, each of the bodies discovered on the isolated beach has another commonality -- a bluebird tattoo. Helen knows that the man they are desperately seeking must be linked in some way to all four of the women and she and her team are out pounding the pavement and knocking on doors trying to find the latest victim, Ruby, before she too becomes another. 

The reader has the benefit of the points of view of Helen, Ruby, and glimpses into the psyche of the man behind these crimes. In addition, Helen is still dealing with her personal problems and work issues with her subordinates and superiors. It is important that you read the first two in the series before opening this one as Helen's character develops and we get more insight into what makes her tick with each book. I like the fast pace and the characters --  the story line is good, and the investigation methodical. If you haven't tried Arlidge before, I'd recommend this series if you like an entertaining thriller that's not too gory.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group NAL for the e-book ARC to review.  I am looking forward to reading #4 -- Liar Liar.

Previous books in series
Eeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton

From Edelweiss - the ARC I have been holding my breath to read!!
Wow, those were some vicious times...

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Brutal historical fiction

Alexander's reign was marked by blood -- and there are far too many deaths to recount during his saga of endless war and battle to conquer the lands that became his empire. This novel centered on the women connected to Alexander -- and there were many who were there for him during his lustful drive for power. But, he was a man, not a God, and even in death, he left behind those who wanted to secure that role of conqueror for themselves.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't really like this book that much, and I grew weary of reading the unending saga of torture and execution. I did not care for any of the women who were connected to him, not even the ones whom the author decided to cast in the role of champion. Most of the time I was aghast at the senseless deaths, the treachery and the betrayal. The narrative shifts in point of view between the main women -- Thessalonike (sister), Roxana (wife), and Drypetis (warrior). Also heard is the voice of Hephaestation -- Alexander's best friend, fellow soldier, and lover. All of them held in thrall to Alexander the Great.

I've read the authors previous books and loved them, but this is one that I should have passed up as I am left without redemption or satisfaction for all that befell the people who blindly followed the ruthless leaders. I had so looked forward to the release of this new book but am left disappointed in the outcome.

Thank you to Edelweiss and to the publilsher for the e-book ARC to review, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Way too much description of mutillation of humans and animals for my taste. Perhaps it is historically accurate, I don't know, but it was just not for me. I am glad that I forced myself to finish it -- but I note that it took me 10 days rather than a few hours to get through -- and that speaks volumes for someone who is as prolific a reader as I am. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Finally finished this book after many endless painful reading days. Two words: Skip this!

Don't believe the publicity and the blurbs -- this is NOT "THE MUST-READ THRILLER OF THE YEAR." Who wrote the book synopsis below?? Exaggerate much? 

Description from publisher
From #1 bestselling author Dean Koontz—the must-read thriller of the year, for readers of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure.
The girl who said no to death.
Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.
  She replies, “We'll see.”
  Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.
  An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.
  But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?
  Bibi's obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.
  Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.

This is hyped as the "thriller of the year" and geez, I miss my old Koontz ... or maybe he is an author whose work better appealed to me when I was in my late teens and early 20s.

This wavered between 1 and 2 stars for me -- I did not enjoy it and that was obvious to me by how often I didn't bother to even open my book to try to finish it. I used to love Dean Koontz and have read nearly every book he's written, usually more disappointed than entertained especially by his recent titles. This is the last one I will read.

To say that you will need to suspend disbelief is an understatement -- the premise was interesting, but then the story became completely ridiculous when I reached chapter 90. NO!!!! I said aloud. I should have stopped right then, but I labored through the rest of it, skipping the endless descriptive and repetitive prose, riddled with overuse of simile and metaphor, to the scoff-out-loud conclusion and I'm sorry I wasted my time. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I am Your Judge by Nele Neuhas

(Bodenstein & Kirchhoff #7)

3.8 out of 5 stars -- Police Procedural dealing with themes of revenge, retribution and vengeance.

Bodenstein and Kirchhoff investigate murders committed by a sniper in this 7th book in the series. The killings are not random, and the duo soon finds the link between the victims but it takes quite a long time before they solve this case.

This is not a fast-paced thriller, nor is it extremely suspenseful, but the reader gets a sense of the frustration and meticulous attention to detail that is the real meat of a detective's job. The police seem to be behind at every turn and their exhaustion and anger at the perpetrator is evident really demonstrating the depth of these characters and their commitment. The case touches on issues of organ donation and transplantation and may hit a nerve or two in the readers from the medical community. The urge for money, power, and fame often corrupts.

I enjoyed this and believe that there would be a lot in here that would make for a great book club discussion. I like the characters and learning more about their personal lives. I think it best if you've read the previous books in the series as those cases are often mentioned in the narrative. I'll be looking forward to the next.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Blissfully Dead by Louise Voss & Mark Edwards

4.0 out of 5 stars "In this secular society, celebs were the new gods.", October 7, 2015

"Fandom and social media can collide to create what can only be described as hysteria."

DI Patrick Lennon and his partner, DS Carmella Masielllo, were first introduced to readers in FROM THE CRADLE. Returned now, together again, they tackle a case that could be taken from today's headlines. When the pair is called to a murder scene, they find that the victim is a teen-aged girl -- tortured and strangled in a hotel room. When a second girl is found similarly killed, the detectives find a connection -- both were massive fans of a popular boy band, OnTarget, and spent most of their lives on social media and forums discussing the members and their obsession. The investigation takes Lennon and Masiello into a storm of rivalry and new heights of fandom -- and what others will do to protect and nurture ANY connection to their much-loved band.

This novel is a commentary on social media and its effects on impressionable teenagers, as well as a sad reflection of how easily an insecure girl can be affected by what goes on online. Just how far will someone go to protect a reputation or to seek revenge for any slight -- real or imagined? Not only do Lennon and Massiello and their colleagues work on the case, they are also dealing with other personal issues and complications introduced in the first book. It's a solid police procedural with characters who are developing and changing through their interactions with each other and with the discoveries made in the case. I would say that it is important to read the first book featuring this team before this one.

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced thriller and look forward to more novels written by this author team and fans won't want to miss other books they've written. Told in multiple points of view, the scenes shift seamlessly as the reader follows the detectives toward the satisfactory conclusion. Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Historical fiction set in 1880s New York features Anna Savard, physician and surgeon and a large cast of characters so extensive that a few pages at the beginning of the book are needed to list and describe them all.

First off, if I had known that this was apparently the start of a new series and that there would be many unresolved issues in the narrative, I would not have read it. At 791 pages, the length just seemed extreme and may explain why it took me forever to actually finish this one -- though I normally read other books with this many pages in a day or two. The level of detail and minutiae dealing with every aspect of Anna's life is partly the reason for the length, and much of it not relevant to the story line. If you enjoy that type of meandering, this would be the book for you.

The author sets up quite a few different subplots and relationships for Anna to deal with and some of them were more interesting than others. As a lover of all things medical, I was most interested in her medical practice and had hoped for more description of this. Instead, there is a romance and a lot of household drama. In addition, Anna (who has a whirlwind courtship) marries a police detective and becomes embroiled in the investigation for a serial killer -- but I'll say no more about that in this review to avoid spoilers.

I enjoy historical fiction and the synopsis of this appealed to me because of the main character being a female doctor and surgeon in a time when that was rare. I expected her to face prejudice and disrespect, but Anna falls to the level of typical romance novel heroine -- brilliant, strong, opinionated, beautiful, well off, independent, etc. as the love story took up more space than the mysteries. The plight of the poor, the orphans, the pregnant women who wanted birth control were mentioned as were many other social aspects of that time period but Anna was no real activist or crusader for change. Try as I might, I could not find much depth in Anna, nor in any of the other characters.

I'll have to think about picking up a sequel -- which I assume is coming since the novel just stops short rather than to finish off some of the stories.

Library Book.