The Child by Fiona Barton

The ChildThe Child by Fiona Barton

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…–goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a phenomenal book if you enjoy mysteries. I love it when I can’t figure out the mystery in a book until the very end, and this is like that. Throughout reading this I guessed a lot, was wrong quite often on what I thought was going on, and then was satisfied at the ending when I found out there was even more to it than I had originally thought. So…it’s a great book.

Right away when you begin reading this, you know that there is something strange going on, but it isn’t immediately clear what is at the heart of it all. I liked the way the author combined many different story lines to create a complex book with a lot going on in it. Her characters are strong and memorable and the past meets with the present in just the right way to make the book work.

Fiona Barton takes a strong plot and makes it that much stronger by using well-designed characters and a descriptive setting that makes it easy to imagine being there, right alongside the action. The relationships she creates are believable and last in the memory of the reader long after the last page has been read.

Highly recommended for those who love mysteries.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Reported Missing by Sarah Wray

Reported MissingReported Missing by Sarah Wray

Four months ago, Rebecca Pendle’s husband disappeared. So did 14-year-old Kayleigh Jackson.

Just a coincidence? Rebecca wants to believe so… But as the police start to draw parallels between Chris and Kayleigh, it’s getting harder for her to trust his innocence.

Faced with an angry town that believes Chris has abducted the teenager, Rebecca tries to discover the truth.

But what she finds shocks her more than she ever thought. How well does she really know the man she loves?

A completely gripping, suspenseful thriller, with a shocking twist. Fans of Louise Jensen, K.L Slater and and The Girl on the Train will be hooked until the very last page. –goodreads

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book had a really interesting premise, but I was never sure that it lived up to the potential of the idea.

Whilst I didn’t expect the tone of this book to be light and happy based on the subject matter, I wasn’t prepared for it to be as dark and gloomy as it was. The main character wasn’t the type that I felt close to throughout the story, and I felt like the author took this too slow. I kept wanting something major to happen that would keep me hooked and turning pages, but it never happened. Even when the truth was revealed toward the end, I kind of just shrugged. It felt like effort to get there, so it wasn’t all that enjoyable.

This wasn’t a bad book, but I certainly wouldn’t say it was one of the better psychological thrillers that I’ve read, either. The story moved from one event to another, but without much excitement and at a relatively slow pace. Perhaps if I could have felt more connected to the main character I would have enjoyed it more. I was hoping for a better turnout at the ending, perhaps a surprise that I didn’t see coming, but that didn’t happen either.

It is a thought provoking book, but one that I wouldn’t read again.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief (The Curious Affair Of, #1)The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle

Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .

Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .

For several years Miss Lane was companion, amanuensis, collaborator and friend to the lady known to the Psychical Societs only as Miss X – until she discovered that Miss X was actually a fraud.

Now she works with Mr Jasper Jesperson as a consulting detective, but the cases are not as plentiful as they might be and money is getting tight – until a case that reaches across the entirety of London lands in their laps.

It concerns a somnambulist, the disappearance of several mediums, and a cat stuck up a tree . . . the links with the cat are negligible, but there is only one team that can investigate the seemingly supernatural disappearances of the psychics and defy the nefarious purpose behind them.

Jesperson and Lane, at your service.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books set in the age of spiritualism and this novel was perfect to satisfy that kind of reader craving. The plot works with an interesting idea that the author took to the next level, providing the reader with a richly detailed atmosphere and a story that won’t let go of you once it grabs your attention. If you like literature set in Victorian times, this will be one that you don’t want to miss.

This book takes you on a perilous journey, slowly building up the mystery with the introduction of new characters and impossible to figure out situations. I liked that the author took the time to create a good, solid background for her characters before she set out to solve the mystery. I felt like these characters were old friends and there is a certain sly humour to her work that keeps you smiling even at the most intense points in the novel.

Overall, this was a great book that kept me fascinated from the first page to the last and I look forward to hearing the thoughts and opinions of others who have read it. Definitely recommended for the amateur sleuths out there.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Toward a Secret Sky

Toward a Secret SkyToward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by what a great book with an intriguing story line this turned out to be. Sometimes I pick up a YA novel and just struggle the whole time to connect to the characters and get into it, but this one was different. I liked Maren, the main character right away and feeling close to her led me to enjoy the rest of the book. There is a bit of a Twilight feel to this–especially when one considers how Maren feels during the absence of her love interest, but it was different enough that it didn’t feel like a copy.

There is plenty of action in this novel to keep you going and the romance is sweet, but not overdone–as in it doesn’t take centre focus on every page of the book. I liked the way the author portrayed the secondary characters as well. No one felt like useless padding and everyone served a clearly defines purpose within the story.

I am looking forward to seeing where she goes with this series, and to reading the next book. If you want a book that will keep you busy for hours and make you feel things–this is a good one to choose. The descriptions were lovely, the story was exciting and the ending made me want more.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Twilight Wife

The Twilight WifeThe Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting mystery with a few unexpected twists that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

The first couple of chapters in this book drew me in and I was hooked by the third. I liked the main character right away and wanted to know what was going on with her. After she began discovering that things weren’t as they seemed, my curiosity grew and the pages started flying by. This is a very exciting book from the beginning and only gets better as you get farther into it.

I love psychological suspense books that keep you guessing at what is really going on all the way to the end, and this one does that well. Even when you think you have it figured out, there is still something left to be revealed around every corner.

If you love the kind of books where you and the main character have to figure out the mystery together, this would be a good one to pick. Recommended.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Little One by Timothy G. Huguenin

Little OneLittle One by Timothy G. Huguenin

Death is cold.

Kelsea Stone can’t remember her childhood, and frankly, she doesn’t really care. She’s doing fine on her own in L.A. without any family to tie her down. But when she finds out her estranged birth parents have died and left her their house in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, she discovers more than just an inheritance waiting for her in the mountains. An angry presence lingers there, and it won’t rest until it has had its revenge.–Goodreads

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t think this was a bad book, but perhaps it was a little more on the younger reader side than I would have imagined from reading the description. Some of the actions of the characters seemed a bit silly to me and at times the story felt a little clunky, like it was afraid to move forward.

The plot is interesting and I was looking forward to solving the mystery at the heart of the book, but then I would fall into a spot where the story seemed to bog down and wonder if I really had the desire to finish it or not. Eventually, I did make it all the way to the end, but it was not without a struggle to keep paying attention.

My honest opinion is that this is a talented author that has a great imagination, but could have benefited from giving this book further consideration and the use of good beta readers before releasing it. If you cut out the portions of this that slow the story down, it would have been great. The setting was interesting and the descriptions were good.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

the Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well-written, highly emotional novel about family and second chances–perfect for a quiet afternoon to yourself.

If you enjoy reading books that mirror real life and include tough decisions for the main character, this one will do nicely. I liked a lot of things about this book. The way the author described the relationships and emotional upheaval of her characters made me feel very close to the story early on, and there was enough going on in the story to keep the pages moving quickly. The setting was described adequately but without the minutia that can slow a story down.

Lucy was someone that I could easily identify with, and I cared what happened to her right away. I thought the author did an excellent job of hinting at what had happened to her earlier in life without giving away the entire end of the book early on. I was especially enthralled with the relationship between Lucy and her stepdaughter, as it rang so true.

This was an entertaining book that kept me busy for an entire afternoon and I would happily recommend it to those who like serious novels. It made me cry–but in a good way.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Dead Seeping Shaman by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Dead Sleeping Shaman (Emily Kincaid Mysteries Book 3)Dead Sleeping Shaman by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

The End Timers, a cult-like group, have descended on part-time journalist and aspiring mystery author Emily Kincaid’s small Michigan town. With dire warnings that the end of the world is just two weeks away, the entire community has been disrupted by psychics, cult followers, believers and disbelievers alike. But when Emily’s latest job assignment leads her to an eerily motionless woman propped against a tree, she realizes that at least one person’s world has come to an end all too soon.

Emily soon learns that the victim, an eccentric psychic and leader of a shamanic healing group, harbored painful memories of the area and had mysterious ties to certain members of the cult. Turning to her friend Deputy Dolly Wakowski for help, she’s stunned to learn that Dolly has turned in her badge and joined the cult, leaving Emily to fear for her friend’s sanity and forcing her to try to solve the case on her own.

As the days tick away to the end of the world, Emily has to navigate her way through a crowd of true believers, a group of shamanic well-wishers, and a suspiciously secretive cult leader to rescue her friend and catch a killer—all the while dreading that these few precious days may be her last.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is a rather rare jewel among writers. She can make you laugh, keep you interested and make you angry with a certain character all at the same time. It is these conflicting emotions that make me return to her writing time and again.

In this book, Emily literally stumbles upon the scene of a murder and once more, things are not as simple as they might first seem. I am always thrilled to see what she and Dolly do with the information they gather. I love the interaction between those two ladies, and for me, Dolly is always what makes the book.

There is more ex-husband drama to be had in this story, and it gave me a good reason to smile, watching the way Emily shuts him down. I liked the way the story flowed and thought the mystery was interesting and original.

I love the setting of these stories and the way the author describes the place that her main character lives as well as the surrounding areas. She makes great use of not only proper word choices, but of the seasons, the time of day, etc. for a full immersion reading experience.

This book kept me entertained for the better part of a day, with few breaks in between. If you like mysteries that think outside the box, this is perfect.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

The Missing Ones (Detective Lottie Parker, #1)The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really not sure what to think about this book when it comes to recommending it. It was a great book, with excellent writing and a strong plot that never let me down, but it is also a rather graphic novel that included subjects that I try to avoid if possible–including sexual abuse. I think it takes a strong individual to read a novel with this kind of subject matter and not recoil a bit.

The crimes are interesting and the web of intrigue the author builds makes you want to keep turning pages to find out how things are connected and why they happened in the first place. There is a wide net of suspects and it is hard to guess the ending, particularly with the red herrings the author tosses into the mix. I liked the descriptions of the setting and the way the weather and time of year played into the story.

For the first book in a new series, this was complex, engaging and exciting and made me want to read the next book before I even finished this one, but, as mentioned above, there is some tough subject matter in this novel, and it may not be for everyone.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book and really enjoyed the voice of this author.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

Serpentine by Thomas Thompson

SerpentineSerpentine by Thomas Thompson

With compelling style and suspense this true-crime book reconstructs the bizarre, bloody journey of a mesmerizing but sinister young man named Charles Sobhraj. Sweeping back and forth over half the globe — from the boulevards of Paris to the slopes of Mount Everest to the underbellies of Bangkok and Hong Kong — Sobhraj left in his wake a trail of baffling mystery and inexplicable horror. He also led the police of a dozen nations on a chase that ended at least twelve and possibly twenty-four corpses later with a mere seven-year prison sentence in Delhi. Besides offering a riveting narrative of serial murder and a years-long manhunt, this singular volume examines the lives not only of the intelligent, charismatic, conscienceless, and thoroughly dangerous Sobhraj but also of the unsuspecting victims that he drugged, robbed, sometimes tortured, and without a qualm often killed. A chilling tale of deadly coincidences set in exotic, glamorous locales, Serpentine offers a reading experience as frightening as it is unforgettable.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst the story of Charles Sobhraj is an interesting one, this book could have benefited from being shorter, in my opinion. The author did a excellent job of researching and fact collecting, but the book was so bogged down by minutia that at times, it became boring and the flow of the story was lost on me.

Even so, if you can wade through the many details, you will likely find this book very interesting. The early life of serial killer Charles Sobhraj was recounted in such a manner that you can get a clear and concise portrait of his mental struggles, including his co-dependent relationship with his mother and his fiery temper, often fueled by the fair-weather relationship with his biological father.

As the book progresses and Charles ages, it becomes clear that he has a very elastic sense of right and wrong and that he lives his life as he chooses, with only his own satisfaction in mind. His moral sense is absolutely misguided and the author makes this perfectly clear.

If you are looking for a true crime book that will make you stop and think about nature Vs. nurture, this is a good one to choose. Overall, I thought it was very entertaining.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.