NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Anything for Her by Jack Jordan

3.0 out of 5 stars -- What lengths would a mother go through to protect her daughter? What would a man do to make her suffer because of it?

This is a revenge story with what I consider a perfect cast of fairly despicable and unlikable characters. The reader knows at the outset about "that night" changing everything but is not told exactly what mother and daughter did, but it was pretty easy to guess quite quickly. They cover up a crime and try to go on with their lives but keeping the secret ruins their family. When Louise's husband reveals his affair with her sister, Louise leaves their family home and seeks to lick her wounds in the Cotswalds at their other house. She leaves her son at home with his father. Someone else has followed Louise and he proceeds to torment her by leaving dead birds for her to find. Brooke follows her mother to the house but when ordered back to home in London, she vanishes from the train station. Police get involved. Climax. And then a long "letter" at the end explaining every detail in case the reader didn't get it.

Louise is histrionic and overwrought all the time -- I got totally sick of her. None of the others fared much better in my care, concern, or empathy. Everyone is crying, sobbing, shedding tears, too much emotion. I never felt any tension build or felt any menace. Was sort of hoping for exactly the outcome of the story. Well. That was at least a real ending and everyone ended up where they should have, except perhaps for poor Dominic.

Thank you to NetGalley and JJP for the e-book ARC to review. I'll probably read this author's follow up novel to see how it has improved over this debut.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Into the Light by Aleatha Romig

3.5 out of 5 stars - First in a duology (The Light #1) Interesting premise and well-executed mystery that involves a religious cult and an investigative reporter. Told in alternating chapters and different points of view from the world of The Light (a cult led by Father Gabriel) and from the city of Detroit by Stella Montgomery, the reporter on the trail of her missing friend.

The Light is scary and a place where a woman is subjected to a man's rule. Sara awakes in the hospital, blind, and without memories. Her husband, Jacob, is right by her side. She requires discipline and has trouble with obedience. Jacob is there to help.

Stella's best friend vanished into thin air and there are no leads on her disappearance. While working on another story, Stella discovers that there are other women who have gone missing in Detroit and finds a pattern that leads her into some dangerous areas of the city.

Back and forth between The Light (in Alaska) and Detroit. I liked the way this narrative evolves and the reader is not sure what is really going to happen. Jacob explains his ties to The Light and his position. Sara tries to reintegrate after being released from the hospital. Stella searches for answers. Her police detective boyfriend is worried for her safety...

I broke my cardinal rule. I do not read books that end on cliffhanger unless I have the next book at my side ready to read as soon as I finish. I did not know this would end in this fashion and I am pretty unhappy about it. forewarned should you think about picking this one up now. Wait for #2 AWAY FROM THE DARK to be released first. Unless you like being left dangling with a very unanticipated twist. I am sure I would have rated this higher had I been able to read both at the same time.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to review.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession...

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Psychological drama. When Esther, vanishes from their apartment, Quinn begins an intense investigation and quickly discovers that there is much she did not know about her roommate. In a parallel narrative, Alex watches a young woman newly arrived in his town. and becomes infatuated with her. Quinn searches and Alex watches. What happened to Esther and why did she disappear? What is this girl, who Alex has secretly named Pearl, doing in this cold place near to Lake Michigan.

Slow pace with some tension created with the ominous tone. Lots of rambling stream of consciousness prose from the two main characters. Quite implausible and very predictable. I think most readers will have figured out some key clues by 19% in. Not enough action or suspense for me.

I've read all 3 of this author's books now and this was my least favorite. I am sure I will read the next by this author. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin MIRA for the e-book ARC to review. 

Mercy by Daniel Palmer

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Mercy or murder? That's the moral debate at the heart of this novel. Is self-determination a fundamental right? Do the terminally ill or the severely disabled "deserve the right to hasten death to avoid inhumane suffering or escape from a life turned unbearable?" To die with dignity. Or should suicide or assisted suicide in those cases remain illegal and generally thought immoral? Would allowing it lead to abuse or reduce care?
Dr. Julie Devereux is a critical care physician working in Boston. She's also an advocate for death with dignity. She believes that patients should be able to end their suffering on their own terms. Her certainty ends, however, when her fiance Sam is severely injured in a motorcycle crash. When he begs Julie to help him die, she enlists the help of a volunteer with the organization Very Much Alive to help Sam recover his desire to live. Sam is getting better when he suddenly dies. His death is so surprising that Julie requests an autopsy. Then she notices that other severely ill patients are also dying at an unusual rate. And from a very odd cardiac event. Julie is determined to find out what, and who, is killing certain sick patients at the hospital. And why.
Medical thriller! Oh how I've missed this genre with too few new authors writing realistic and suspenseful books with lots of medicine and science. Intensive care, pathology, laboratory analysis -- it's all just how I like it -- DETAILED. As a nurse, I love the jargon and the information. Of course this is a bit far-fetched as far as the condition and Julie's investigation but there is always license with fiction to go a bit "out there" in a story. 
This is not the first book by Daniel Palmer that I have read, and he has moved up on my wish list as I await his next endeavor. It's not easy to assume the mantle of a popular author, but Michael Palmer's son has done it -- in fact, he's done it even better! And he's not even a doctor! Talk about meticulous research putting this complex story together so that even something so obscure becomes believable. It was a very fast-paced fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Provides for a great philosophical debate as well.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Going backwards to DI Kim Stones book #3 -- because so many people seem to rave about this series and I want to know what I missed by starting with #4.

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Can you imagine having to bid against your best friends for the life of your daughter?

Two girls
are kidnapped and the ransom is due. The person(s) holding the children don't ask for a specific amount -- they just want to know what it is worth to the parents to have their daughter come home alive. The catch is, the loser of the auction also loses their child.

DI Kim Stone of the West Midlands Police is assigned to the case right after the abduction and a press blackout is put in place because the same thing had happened with disastrous results just 13 months previously. The two sets of parents are frantic and one couple moves in with the other while the police set up shop in their dining room. Events escalate quickly and Kim her team have only one goal -- to bring both girls home alive.

I recently read #4 in the series and apparently am reading backwards as this is the third. Although the story is fast-paced and well plotted, I just can't get past the fact that I don't like DI Kim Stone. She is the typical brash and reckless cop who is stubborn and rarely follows orders, and she manages to always save the day and close the case (I don't think that is a spoiler as it is something we expect in this genre). She gets beaten up and keeps on going. She eats, sleeps, and breathes her cases while never being wrong. The rest of her team seem like flunkys. And in this one, a hostage negotiator seems romantically interested in her. Kim is also, of course, damaged by her past with a background that is vague. Regardless, I find myself still wanting to go back to books #1 and #2 because SO MANY people rave about them. I just don't know why this character leaves me cold.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the e-book ARC to review. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Play Dead (Kim Stone #4) by Angela Marsons

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Whatever the horror that happens to you as a child, you must not let it define you. You should not seek revenge. Some can't let it go...

The corpse of a woman is found on the grounds of the body farm, Westerley, and DI Stone of the West Midlands Police discovers that this is one of the victims of a serial killer. She and her team think they catch a break when one of the intended next victims is found battered, but alive. Unfortunately, the woman cannot remember anything and is unable to help with any identification of the killer. Nor can she provide a possible motive for why she was targeted.

The narrative jumps around in point of view as the police begin the investigation. The voice of the killer tantalizes with snippets of childhood memories. A reporter gets very involved in the hunt when she realizes that she knew one of the victims back in her school days. All the while, Kim Stone tows the typical hard line to see the case through. And in the usual plot device, Kim almost becomes a victim herself.

This is the 4th book in the DI Kim Stone series, but the first one that I have read. My enjoyment of this thriller might have suffered because I do not know anything about this character nor about her past though there are some references in the narrative. I suppose nothing surprised me, however, as it seems to be the norm in this genre for the female lead investigator to be "damaged" in some way. This prevents them from having typical relationships and behavior -- and does not predispose me to really feeling the empathy that the author may hope to invoke. I'm sympathetic to a degree, and I was quite thankful there was no romance with a colleague in this book, but aren't there any "normal" women in police work? I believe that most of them are and would prefer more realistic portrayals of females in the police in leadership positions.

I would possibly read another in this series and definitely wish that I had started with the first three before picking up this one. Somehow I missed the fact that this was a series when reading the book synopsis and becoming intrigued by the premise. The pace was a bit slow in places and was not particularly suspenseful and I enjoyed it overall despite not feeling "gripped" with thrills.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the e-book ARC to review.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

4.0 out of 5 stars -- This second in the DCI Erika Foster series is just as creepy and entertaining as the first installment.

The Night Stalker creeps in when darkness falls. Phone lines and power are cut. Victims are single men and they are found with suicide bags on their heads. What do they all have in common and why are they being targeted?

This police procedural thriller takes the reader through the investigation with tantalizing clues, red herrings and a solid plot that keeps you glued to the pages. Even though you know who is doing this -- and why -- fairly early on, the well-developed characters and the well-written narrative provide a very satisfying read as it all comes together for a fitting and believable conclusion.

I'm looking forward to the next book in this series. The only thing that I wish is that Erika not be turned into a stereotype of a renegade "never follow orders" cop who is always in trouble at headquarters even though she ends up being right. I also hope that she doesn't end up as just another "damaged" heroine. I do really like that she is not involved in any romance and that her co-workers are interesting.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the e-book ARC to review.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blood Defense by Marcia Clark (#1)

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Fast-paced legal thriller, first in a new series keeps you guessing.

Samantha Brinkman is a sassy, sneaky, snarky defense attorney who tries to get away with more tricks than many of her sleazy defendants. When a high profile double murder case involving an actress comes her way, she's eager to get the media exposure and the courtroom time. And, of course, she does want to get her client, an LAPD detective, a "not guilty" verdict no matter what -- and she is willing to resort to some desperate measures to cast doubt so the jury won't convict. Assisted by her two employees: her best friend and an ex con hacker, she tries to find evidence of some kind that will at least get the jury's attention off her client. While investigating, she is derailed because of a shocking revelation by her client, Dale, and begins to have some serious doubts about him.

Lots of action, the body count rises, and there are many red herrings as Samantha et al prepare for and work the trial and put on Dale's defense. Since I have no experience in the real world of courtroom drama, I have no idea of some if the things that happen in this book are too farfetched to be realistic, but even while shaking my head in a bit of disbelief, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. I liked the character of Samantha -- with all her issues, she's an interesting woman and even though she definitely walks a thin line with some seriously questionable behavior that is totally immoral -- I can't wait to read the next in the series.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I would like to thank NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to review.