Review: “Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)” by Rachel Caine

Review- Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

A review by Amanda.

I read this book for free as part of the Prime First program, offered to those with Amazon Prime memberships.

Gwen Proctor, new resident of Norton, Tennessee, used to be Gina Royal. Gwen’s former life ended the day she, and the rest of the world, discovered that her husband was a serial killer. An accident revealed the truth about Melvin Royal and everything turned upside down for Gwen and her two children. Not everyone was satisfied with the outcome of his trial; many people believe that Gwen knew about her husband’s heinous activities, or that she was his accomplice. Vile threats against Gwen and her children prompted her to run and hide with them, changing identities as needed.

In the four years since the discovery, Gwen has trusted no one. She has taken precautions against potential threats and only accepts help when absolutely necessary. Her first and only priority is making sure her children are safe even when it causes friction. When she realizes that her paranoia is causing more problems than it solves, Gwen considers putting down roots and trusting a few people. But then a woman is murdered in a fashion eerily similar to her ex-husband’s M.O., she discovers that she can’t protect them from everything, and that sometimes it pays to stay vigilant.

This book was thrilling in the truest sense of the word. The author offered a unique twist in a classic thriller trope, and raised several excellent questions that aren’t typically considered in the mystery genre. The perspective from the family of a serial killer is a complex one full of horror, rage, betrayal, guilt, and plenty of doubt. The story is told exclusively from Gwen’s point of view in present tense. This added a sense of urgency that complemented the fast pace and made it impossible to stop turning pages. The story is character-driven, with the mystery acting as a catalyst rather than the main focus. Readers will be immediately drawn into Gwen’s life. She is intelligent, fierce, driven, and very human. She doubts her decisions, questions her parenting abilities, and makes mistakes. She appears cold at times but doesn’t apologize for it. Her kids, Lanny and Connor, are balanced precariously between childlike and adult attitudes tipping back and forth throughout the book. The other supporting characters are richly developed. Even those who appear sparingly give a feeling of being actual people with histories that extend beyond the pages of the book.

There are several fairly graphic descriptions of violence and death throughout the book, as well as mentions of torture and rape, but nothing that seems gratuitous.

Rachel Caine is also the author of the young adult series The Morganville Vampires, as well as The Great Library series, the Weather Warden series, and several others. Stillhouse Lake will be released on July 1st, 2017.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Unforgiving” by Alisic Adnan

BOOK TOUR Review- "Unforgiving" by Alisic Adnan

A review by Domoni.

Meho is a teenage boy with teenage problems. He lives at home with his family, goes to school everyday, can’t figure out how to talk to his crush, and has problems with a bully. Meho also has problems a typical teenage boy doesn’t have. Meho is from Sarajevo. His village destroyed, he was adopted by an American family; a mother and father who give him everything he needs and a brother, Bucky, who worships him.  Meho is haunted by what he has done to survive and what he will do to those who destroyed his home and family.

This was a dark but interesting story. In a lot of ways it was easy to relate to the way Meho behaved. His early life was harsh and cold. Killing meant survival, and who wouldn’t want to off the people who have taken so much from them? Many of the things in this story were just too farfetched though. Meho and Bucky are incredible hackers, who were able to hack into the biggest banks and siphon off millions and not get caught.  They also were trained in biochemistry by their grandfather, enough to work in a lab alone apparently. The calculated way a teen can plan and execute professional killers was a bit of a stretch.  Looking past that, Meho is not an average boy and the story has some twists and turns I did not expect.

The author is a good writer and does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters and keeping the reader on their toes. The world is full and vibrant so the story is easy to read. I think it would have been easier for me if the characters were a little bit older as some things wouldn’t feel as implausible. Over all it is a good read and I would read more by this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

This page contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.

Unforgiving
Alisic Adnan
Publication date: January 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

12 years after surviving horrific massacre, 15-year- old Meho commits ruthless murders and sets in motion the event which could change the world order.

The murders are followed by the trial of the century, where media vilifies Meho as a psychopath, mass murderer, and a monster — all under the influence of FBI, who are trying to conceal the identity of the victims and protect the National Security.

The only person who believes that Meho is innocent is his 10-year-old brother Bucky, who will turn heavens and earth to free Meho. After learning the truth, Bucky is devastated, but not all things are as they seem, and the truth will be revealed at the very end.

Add to Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

After witnessing terrible war atrocities, Adnan Alisić escaped from Bosnia and came to Phoenix, Arizona where he became a successful businessman. Entangled in a gambling addiction, he was forced to execute this sensational casino heist. He can be reached at Alisic.adnan6@gmail.com or http://www.AlisicAdnan.

Website / Goodreads

 

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Fallen Star” by Allison Morse

Review:

A review by Domoni.

Kate Bloom wants to make movies. She doesn’t want to be in movies like her famous grandmother she so resembles, though. When she finds the missing footage from her grandmother’s lost film, she sets out to preserve it and try to expose who murdered her grandmother. She enlists the help of her great aunt and fellow film maker Dylan to help repair and protect the old film. Kate’s frequent nightmares seem to be telling her to leave, but are they nightmares or a message from beyond?

This book opens with a 13 year old Kate dressing up as her famous grandmother to impress a director who tried to rape the child. The story then continues nine years later and though Kate is affected by that event, she has grown to be a strong woman. This story does a good job of capturing the portrayed eras of Hollywood. Kate is a stubborn woman and the type of feminist that bristles at a man holding the door open for her. She is determined to be who she wants to be and has no interest in being who other people want her to be.

I struggled to like this book as many of the characters just bothered me. They were hardly likable and each had an ulterior motive of their own. I felt like the story couldn’t decide between being a supernatural mystery and a sort of noir mystery. Though the writing style was good and the author can create a clear picture easy to imagine, the story did not capture my attention easily and I struggled through it. I did manage to connect enough to enjoy it in the end.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

This page contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.

review_tourbanner_fallenstar

Fallen Star

by Allison Morse

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GENRE:  Psychological Mystery with Strong Gothic Elements

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Who killed 1940s screen goddess Gloria Reardon? Her unsolved murder hypnotized the public with its scandalous details and shocked two generations. 

In this coming of age gothic tale, avid feminist and aspiring filmmaker Kate Bloom discovers long lost footage that holds the key to who murdered her grandmother. Legendary movie star, Gloria Reardon, may be dead, but friends and lovers from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday are still very much on the scene, and it seems everyone has something to gain or lose from Kate’s discovery. Enlisting the youthful and brash film restorer Dylan Nichols as her closest ally, Kate becomes haunted by Gloria’s glittering past. Caught between glamorous Old Hollywood and the gritty, exciting New Hollywood of the 1970s, Kate is determined to find out what really happened to her grandmother and in the process, becomes the killer’s new target.

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Two hours later, she sat in Dylan’s rumbling Mustang, heading toward her childhood home. The companionable silence of the drive was made all the more soothing by the summer sun dappling through the shade of the elm trees lining blocks of Claremont Village. That was, until he parked in front of her house.

She felt the now familiar lap of moist heat brushing her skin.

She gritted her teeth. Weren’t ghosts supposed to be cold! This feeling was too warm, too seductive to be ethereal.

Ghosts? No. That’s crazy talk.

Yet, maybe gothic castles and windswept moors weren’t the only places where spirits lingered. Here, at her celery green home with its single car attached garage, small lawn, and one lonely palm tree, she sensed her mother’s anger at a world that had taken so much from her. And she felt Gloria as if she sat right beside her.

With a sense of panic, Kate double checked what she was wearing. No swan pin, no revealing bathing attire, only her wonderfully large tee shirt, scuffed jeans and boots.

Yeah! She was still herself!

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Allison is the author of two novels: The Sweetheart Deal and Fallen Star. She lives with her husband in a house in the hills that’s filled with books.

For book club resources and to learn more about Allison and her new fiction, please visit her Website at http://www.allisonmorseauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allison.morse.16

Twitter ID:  AllisonMorseLA

Buy links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2fyc7Vq

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/2bnsv8Q

KOBO – http://bit.ly/2bntdDm

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Allison Morse will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “A Lady Never Lies” by Stephanie Burkhart

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

A Lady Never Lies is the third story in The Windsor Diaries series. I have not read the previous stories, this did not seem to be a problem in following this tale. The Windsor family are the adult children of the modern day British Royal family. With the permission of the government they use a time machine to travel back to Victorian England. This story centers on a young woman from the Victorian time period named Jocelyn Dunkirk. She is a noble lady of unconventional character who is more interested in tinkering and inventing with her father and trying to help clean the air of coal dust and smoke, than with sticking with expected protocol and gender roles. Richard Windsor is the modern day Prince of Wales and next in line to the throne. During his travels through time, he fell hard for Jocelyn but duty required he leave her, and now he is returning to her time to capture her heart.

The story opens on the night of the wedding of Edmund Windsor, Richards brother, and his new bride Keira, a woman from the Victorian time. Like Richard, Edmund fell for a woman out of his time. He chose to stay with her in her time and marry her. While at the wedding, the ring Richard left Jocelyn with to prove his affection, began acting strange and heating up. When she removed it from her fingers, her father noticed it sparking. As he leaned over the ring to inspect it, ash from his cigar fell on the ring and it causes a massive explosion. The ballroom is rocked and Jocelyn is thrown backwards, injuring her ankle. When she recovers her wits, she finds her father badly injured and burned. Festivities are halted as the Lord Ridgecroft, Jocelyn’s father, is carried from the room. At this moment Richard Windsor returns in time to see the woman he loves, terrified and angry that the ring he gave her caused this event, rushing out after her father.

The Lord Ridgecroft’s injuries are severe, but there is no time to dwell. The coal miners of England are on strike and the country is quickly starting to suffer. Parliament assigns Jocelyn to help convince the miners and the bosses to settle and she must be off to handle this business in her father’s place. What she did not expect to learn is that an unknown male cousin will be set to inherit her father’s title and lands if he were to succumb to his injuries. Due to a condition in her grandfather’s will, only males may inherit. So now Jocelyn must meet this cousin and take his measure while he accompanies her on the mission to settle the coal miners strike. During all of this stress, Jocelyn must decide where her heart lies. Can she be with Richard? He cannot stay in her time, but she cannot leave her father behind.

This book was described as steampunk, though I don’t find it to be so. Yes Jocelyn tinkers with a couple of items, which don’t get much description, and there seem to be steam engines, it is more like a time travel story with a small nod to steampunk. I was hoping for more on that front.

The bones of the story were good. Though I felt it lacked the support to be great. It was a quick read with little atmosphere or description. The love scenes were short and lacked description or heat. The personalities of the characters were not developed, nor were the relationships. To me it felt very rushed and I could have used much more detail to get me invested. I was never able to latch onto a character’s motivation for why they behaved the way they did and in the case of the main character, was conflicted in her behavior. She repeatedly said nothing mattered but being with her father, but didn’t argue or second guess the trip to deal with the strike. I suppose duty to country is important, but without enough insight to understand the characters, it made little sense.

I loved the idea of the story, but I just wanted more from it. It does end with a tie-in to bring the reader back for the next story and I may start from the first and read the series to see if the characters get more fleshed out with time.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

TOUR GIVEAWAY!

Stephanie will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour! 

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour here—the more you comment, the higher your chances of winning!

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Review: “The Assassin Game” by Kirsty McKay

The Assassin Game by Jesse McKay

A review by Amanda.

At Umfraville Hall, an isolated Welsh school for gifted and genius teens, The Game is everything and sixteen year old Cate is ecstatic when she is invited to play. Cate isn’t particularly gifted, nor is she a genius. She attends Umfraville because her parents own the island that it was built on. Being initiated into The Assassins Guild is her dream come true because it means the she has been accepted by the in-crowd. It also means that she and her two closest friends, also members of the Guild, get to have some extra fun this school year. The Game is known by many names in other parts of the world – Assassin, Murder, etc. One player is secretly chosen to be the “Killer”; they have to “kill” their fellow players one by one without getting caught. There are rules, of course. The kills are actually harmless pranks meant to simulate gruesome deaths. No one should ever actually be injured while playing The Game. They must also be discreet enough to not disrupt school life and annoy the staff. The Killer must eliminate everyone in entertaining ways while the rest of the players have to do their best to figure out who the Killer is before being taken out and removed from play. Whoever is left standing at the end is the winner.

The Game begins as it always does, with a disgusting initiation for the newest members. Then, chaos happens. Rules are bent to allow a new student to play, a boy from Cate’s past whose appearance rattles her in more ways than one. Awkwardness abounds as Cate has to deal with the emotions of two boys that she kissed and then jilted, as well as some threatening notes that may or may not be part of The Game. Her focus is torn when people start getting hurt, for real. Is someone taking The Game a little too seriously, or is there a wannabe serial killer at Umfraville?

The Assassin Game had plenty of intrigue and thrills to keep my attention. Cate narrated as though she was confiding in a friend; she even addressed the reader directly once or twice. The mystery was a good one and the author did a great job of concealing the culprit until the very end. I definitely enjoyed the thriller aspects, as well as the descriptions of the setting. Emotionally, however, I felt like I was in the mind of a sociopath – Cate reacted to various situations appropriately but it felt as though she was simply going through the motions. I knew what emotions Cate was supposed to be feeling, according to the writing, but I could not connect those emotions to her character. It was a struggle to care about what she was experiencing. The other characters had even less depth, which made the story feel oddly lacking.

Ultimately, I liked this book but did not love it.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

This page contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.

Review: “The Axe Factor” by Colin Cotterill

The Axe Factor by Colin CotterillA review by Hannah.

Jimm Juree was a crime reporter in the big city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, until her family moves to a rural village in southern Thailand.  Now, she splits her time between running the family resort, editing the English signs in the area, freelancing for the local paper, and stumbling upon mysteries.  She is assigned to interview a farang (European) author who writes award winning murder mysteries.  At the same time several local women have left town abruptly, leaving their possessions behind.  Among these women is the author’s young Thai wife and a local doctor.  With a severe storm coming in, can Jimm Juree solve the mystery and save the day?

Jimm is an excellent guide to Southern Thailand.  Even though Maprao, the small village she now lives in, is a fairly backward place, there is a wry fondness in the way Jimm sees her new home.   The joy of riding her bike in the rain, the frustration of trying to find a solid internet connection, and the nosiness of her neighbors all add up to a charmingly rural fishing village.

Jimm loves her country, but she is very aware of its shortcomings.  From the English signs so badly translated that they’re comical, to the blatant corruption of the local authorities, Jimm doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is.  The author’s depiction of Thailand is done in such a way that the foreign is familiar.  As a reader, you get to experience a new country without feeling like a tourist.

Jimm is lead to believe one thing while the reader is lead to believe another.  Both the Jimm and the reader are wrong in the best way possible.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Touching Evil” by Kylie Brant

Touching Evil by Kylie BrantA review by Amanda.

Touching Evil begins a few days after the end of Chasing Evil. Mason Vance, the man who kidnapped Dr. Sophia Channing, is behind bars but his accomplice is still out there. Agent Cam Prescott of Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation hasn’t slept much since Sophia was found. He has made himself responsible for her safety and is keeping her in protective custody at his place, fearing that Vance’s unidentified partner may come back to finish the job. They’re right to take precautions, but Sophia isn’t the doctor who catches the partner’s attention… Medical Examiner Lucy Benally is. Cam and Sophia have their work cut out for them as more questions arise and everything turns upside down.

The second book in the Circle of Evil trilogy was even more thrilling than the first. I couldn’t put it away, reading far past my bedtime. Picking up right where book one left off, “Touching Evil” was non-stop action and mystery. I appreciated getting to see Cam and Sophia dealing with the trauma. My biggest issue from the first book, Cam’s sexist attitude, was less obvious this time around. Sophia showed believable signs of being affected by the trauma she had experienced, which is something some authors tend to gloss over. She was still able to function and assist in the investigation, despite Cam’s protests and her fears. Lucy’s background was somewhat of a cliché but still added much-needed depth to her character. The plot had a few surprising twists that I didn’t see coming and the cliffhanger ending has guaranteed that I will read the last book in the trilogy.

 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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