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.

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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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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.

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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: “Seven Ways We Lie” by Riley Redgate

Review of "Seven Ways We Lie” by Riley Redgate A review by Amanda.

Seven Ways We Lie tells the story of seven high school students, whose lives are rocked when a scandal erupts at their school. An anonymous email claims that a student is having an affair with a teacher. No names are given so the school administration must open an investigation. Meanwhile, life unravels in different ways for Olivia, Juniper, and Claire – best friends since the sixth grade; Olivia’s twin sister Kat; Claire’s ex-boyfriend Lucas; quiet stoner Matt; and social outcast Valentine. Rumors abound, lies are told, secrets are spilled, and relationships develop and change as everyone tries to figure out who the illicit lovers are, while trying to juggle the usual high school issues on top of everything else.

This might be the best book that I have read in 2015. The narration switched between the seven students and each one had a distinct, natural style. Each character had pieces to the puzzle, and most didn’t even realize. They all had their own, separate dramas happening, with connections to others, that it was easy to set the bigger mystery aside for a bit. Every one of the seven main characters was a fully developed individual, and the writing reflected that when the narrator changed. No topic was off limits. These characters dealt with breakups, divorced parents, abandonment, sexuality and sexual preference, jealousy, drinking, pressure to do well in school, loneliness, bullying, gossip, basically everything that high school students go through in real life. There was a mix of happy endings and bittersweet ones; not everything worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. I enjoyed the candor with which the story was written. The difficult issues were not sugar-coated or glossed over. I believe that any teenager, or adult for that matter, could relate to some aspect of this story and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary fiction.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss” by Max Wirestone

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone A review by Amanda.

Dahlia Moss is going through a tough time. Her boyfriend cheated and had the audacity to dump her when he got caught, instead of the other way around. She has been unemployed for almost a year, despite going on interviews for any job opening she can find. Her roommate Charice has been very understanding about the rent but Dahlia is determined to find a job and pay her own way. An opportunity that seems too good to be true, but also too good to pass up, falls in her lap when handsome jerk Jonah hires her as a private detective. It seems that something important has been stolen from him and he needs her help to track it down. This is no ordinary case, however, because the item is a spear – a digital spear, from an online MMORPG. Jonah claims to know who took it. All Dahlia has to do is meet with the suspected thief and convince him to return the spear. The meeting doesn’t go quite as planned, and then everything goes topsy-turvy when Jonah turns up dead. Dahlia might be in over her head, but she’s determined to find the truth.

This book was a fun, clever read. Dahlia’s inner monologue was immensely entertaining and reminiscent of Rory and Lorelai from the TV show Gilmore Girls. She was an intelligent, nerdy girl with a love of online computer games, which came in handy while she worked the case. She was also a bit flighty, easily distracted, and socially awkward. While I liked and identified with Dahlia, her over-the-top personality was also a detriment at times. She often overshadowed the mystery aspect of the plot with her humorous, but irrelevant, observations. Romance was present but very much in the background. As far as the case went, it was intriguing and kept me guessing until the end. I enjoyed this story and would like to read more about Dahlia, although I would prefer to see more of a balance between her personality and the plot.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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