NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

4.0 out of 5 stars - A poignant and unique story involving an unsolved attempted murder that occurred over 15 years ago. The catch is -- the victim is still alive, is paralyzed, but has "locked in" syndrome.

Amy Stevenson was just 15 years old when she was left for dead in a park. Severely beaten, possibly raped, she survived, but barely. She lives in a neurological ward and cannot communicate, and in fact, according to her internal dialog, she has no clue of what has happened, and is not oriented to place or time. Years pass.

Alcoholic ex-reporter, Alex Dale, has burned all of her bridges, spends her days completely drunk and has such bad liver damage that she will be dead within a year if she doesn't change her ways. In a desperate attempt to rehabilitate herself, she is trying to write an article about the new breakthrough treatment at the neuro hospital. While interviewing the doctor there, she hears a little about Amy. Intrigued, and with her instincts kicking into gear after all this time, Alex decides that she is going to find out what really happened to Amy.

Alternating in point of view with shifts back and forth in time, this is a great story about an obsession that redeems a lost soul. Resolution and redemption. I really enjoyed it. The characters are quite quirky and flawed with messy lives and relationships. Even though it might be obvious to the reader who the villain is, the progression of the tale is such that you don't mind being led so slowly to it through Alex's dogged, determined efforts. I liked the writing style and the descriptions, even the dream-like state that Amy's voice delivers, all felt authentic though I don't know about the science of the MRI in communicating with locked-in patients.

Genre: Literature/Fiction - Adult

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pop Goes the Weasel by MJ Arlidge

4.0 out of 5 stars -- The second in the DI Helen Grace series is a fast paced thriller that has the haunted cop investigating a series of brutal murders. All the victims are married men, all were in the habit of visiting prostitutes. In common, they had each visited a website wanting more information on a particular girl named Angel -- who, it was said, would "do anything."

Helen Grace is haunted by her past and scarred by her recent case. She has a lot of secrets and the reader is finding out more about her so it is quite important to have read the first book in the series prior to this one. Her character is developing and has become more three-dimensional though she is typical of the dark, disturbed protagonist that seems to be the current persona in much current fiction that has a female cop as the main character. Her relationships with other people on the team are explored, and some of her motives and behaviors explained further. I really like the fact that Helen has no romantic partner or snarky sidekick. The novel is full of grisly details and investigative procedure, interviewing family, poring over reports.

I really enjoyed this second book and am definitely looking forward to reading the third, The Doll's House, due out in USA February 2016.

Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW for the e-book ARC to review.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

3.0 out of 5 stars -- The first in a new series featuring Veronica Speedwell is Victorian era historical romance with a bit of intrigue and mystery.

Newly orphaned Veronica Speedwell is not bound by conventional society and is no stranger to adventure. When her spinster caretakers finally die, she is ready to resume hunting for butterflies and engaging in romantic dalliances with mysterious men -- who aren't English (her rule). Instead, she finds herself mixed up in a plot that involves murder and secrets from her own unknown past. Could it be that Veronica will finally have some answers?

Against her will, Veronica finds herself paired up with the enigmatic and unrefined Mr. Stoker (who has a checkered past of his own) when she is almost abducted and then accused of murder. Veronica and Stoker are soon on the run as they elude police while seeking to clear her name and figure out why she is in danger.

This was lighthearted fare with the typical witty sparring between man and woman who obviously are attracted to each other but pretend otherwise (hate that farce). Not much substance to the mystery and the revelation was a bit of a stretch for my credulity. I didn't really like either the stereotypically clever and plucky heroine (who just seemed domineering) nor the stoic and "rough" man-with-a-past (who sounded like he needed a good bath). I may or may not read another one in the series, but it took me so long to plow through this that I don't know for sure. Much of the book seemed an exercise in reciting the genus and species of various butterflies and other creatures (both are sort of naturalists - how nice, they have that in common).

I've read all of Deanna Raybourn's other books that are not part of series so the author is not new to me. The personality of her female characters remains about the same in each novel.

Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW for the e-book ARC to review.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

3.0 out of 5 stars -- a certain kind of atonement...

Grace Blades suffers a trauma as a child and is left orphaned and in the care of protective services. Shunted from one foster to another, she grows into a self-sufficient girl who can take care of herself, and later on, becomes a brilliant psychologist specializing in the care and treatment of patients who have suffered similar situations. Grace lives a quiet, controlled existence most of the time -- except for when she feels compelled to take a "leap" away from her oceanfront home and her psych practice. It's on one of "those" nights that she meets a man in a bar. It's after this satisfying encounter that the real story in this novel begins. I'll say no more about the plot particulars to avoid spoilers.

I'm not quite sure what genre this book fits into because it's not particularly a mystery, and though it is graphic with details in some parts, it's not really a thriller either. Although the reader is meant to feel that Grace is in danger, the suspense really never builds and there's little tension, so this is more a narrative about an unusual woman trying to seek some sort of justice and retribution when she faces off with a sadistic killer she first met as a child. I didn't really like Grace, nor did I buy into all her behavior, skills, and supposed brilliance though the author reminds us often. Oh, and did I mention Grace happens to be super rich was expensive fast cards and limitless cash? She just seemed like another "wonder woman" stereotype seen so often in this kind of novel these days -- and I've grown rather bored with this type of character: the ones who are dark and damaged and dangerous.

Now, what kept me reading on despite my lack of interest in the outcome of Grace's mission is that Kellerman can write! His vocabulary and sentence structure make even his descriptions of all the roads in Beverly Hills and surround interesting. I'm not sure he has got the psyche of women down very well, and I note this is a standalone -- a departure from his Alex Delaware series with its strong male protagonist. Regardless, he does know how to keep a reader turning the pages. There is a lot of time and energy spent on explaining the backstory of Grace and I'm wondering if this is a set up for a series featuring this character. Not sure the book world needs another "Dexter"-like protagonist or vigilante plot. Not sure if I'd read another. Also, the title of this doesn't seem to fit given out the story plays out.

Anyway, check it out if this all sounds appealing to you and let me know what you think!

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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

3.0 out of 5 stars -- "One person bumps into another, and off they go, their lives spinning in totally different directions."

This started out with high octane energy and a completely compelling introduction -- Kristine goes into a deserted rest stop bathroom on the way from Las Vegas to California for a 4th of July getaway when she is attacked and left unconscious. When she comes to and hobbles out to the car, her fiance is gone! Her phone pings with a message: "follow my instructions."

What follows is a frantic and grisly trek across the desert to meet the abductor's demands in order to find her fiance, ER trauma surgeon, Dr. Daniel Hawthorne . Who has taken him and why -- this person who seems to know her all too well.

Without saying more to avoid spoilers, the premise was good and it was intriguing to the halfway point after which it got redundant and ridiculous and fell apart. I ended up disappointed -- no woman is capable of the superhuman feats that Kristine performed. Not really a psychological thriller, but plenty of action and gore after the suspense winds down.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

3.0 out of 5 stars -- "Eventually you'll come to realize that everyone comes from a dysfunctional family. There is no other kind."

Molly and her husband, Aidan, are both attorneys who live in San Diego. After the loss of her pregnancy and subsequent hysterectomy, Molly can't have children so they are looking into adoption. The process of seeking a birth mother for an open adoption brings back some bad memories for Molly. Told in flashback form in alternating chapters, the reader learns of one particular summer when Molly was 14 years old. It was the worst summer of her life, and it changed everything.

The astute reader will figure out the details and zoom in on the source of Molly's angst fairly quickly, and might even wonder about her reaction and behavior -- and it was a bit difficult to believe. I keep reading Chamberlain's novels for some reason though I'm not really drawn to contemporary family drama and keep hoping for her return to writing books with more compelling mystery and suspense.

I've read all of Diane Chamberlain's previous books, and if you're looking for a sweet, sentimental story with a happy ever after ending, then this is one you'll want to put on your list. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and provides many topics great for book group discussion and argument.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Die Again Tomorrow by Kira Peikoff


3.0 out of 5 stars -- OK this was my MOST anticipated read of 2015 as I love a medical thriller that is both technologically fascinating and suspenseful. Right now I feel a little let down and just disappointed as I have read both of this author's previous books. I had expected more. 

The main character was not someone I could admire and envy for her brains and gumption but a melodramatic and histrionic "survivalist" with simply a knack for getting into impossible situations that were not only improbable but sometimes ridiculous. The outcome was totally predictable. I don't know what else to say right now. 

I read this book in one sitting because I had been so excited about it having read the other two of her books. It was like I was not even reading the same author but I definitely would like to give Ms Peikoff another chance with a future book. Being a nurse myself and reading every type of medical thriller out there, I really was looking for much more from this author. The idea of resuscitation and bringing back the dead (reanimating) is not new, however, the way it was presented herein was just not believable (the ship, the scientists there, etc.) and that main character...UGH UGH UGH. Hoped she would die.

Bummed. 

Thank you to Kensington Books Pinnacle for the e-book ARC to review.