Archive of ‘mystery’ category

Review: The Walls Around Us

From Goodreads: On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

Erin’s Thoughts: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! This book completely wowed me! I should start by saying that the unreliable narrator is easily my favorite literary trope. I love the mystery of trying to figure out who and what to believe…what’s reality and what’s not. The Walls Around Us sings with unreliability in the best way. Nova Ren Suma has done a wonderful job of creating dual storylines, linked together, each with a distinct air or unreliability, all while keeping the plot moving. It’s truly an impressive piece of writing, and I’m eager to read more from her.

This is part ghost story and part murder mystery with a cast of creepy, detached characters to guide you through the book. I think it’s important to go into this book realizing that you will likely be confused.  Things will be unclear. That’s part of the fun of reading this. I found myself constantly trying to suss out what was what, even while I wasn’t reading. I very much anticipate this being a top book of 2016 for me!

Review: Ruins of War

Ruins of War by John A Connell

From Goodreads: A chilling novel of murder and madness in post-World War II Germany…

Winter 1945. Seven months after the Nazi defeat, Munich is in ruins. Mason Collins—a former Chicago homicide detective, U.S. soldier, and prisoner of war—is now a U.S. Army criminal investigator in the American Zone of Occupation. It’s his job to enforce the law in a place where order has been obliterated. And his job just became much more dangerous.

A killer is stalking the devastated city—one who has knowledge of human anatomy, enacts mysterious rituals with his prey, and seems to pick victims at random. Relying on his wits and instincts, Mason must venture places where his own life is put at risk: from interrogation rooms with unrepentant Nazi war criminals to penetrating the U.S. Army’s own black market.

Andrea’s Review:  This book, a first in a series, grabbed me immediately.  I like WWII fiction, but have never really read anything about post-war Europe. Even though this was a completely fictional story, Connell really painted a strong picture about the troubled aftermath and general animosity between Americans and Germans in Munich after the war ended.

I liked Connell’s development of Mason Collins’s character. I felt like Connell was trying to portray this typical early 20th century detective in a 21st century way, but I liked the guy. Supporting characters were well developed and generally believable.

As far as the story went, I’ll be honest- it got a little gruesome once we got into the meat of the book- no pun intended. I like a thriller as much as the next person, but this isn’t a book I’d recommend to someone with a faint heart or stomach. With that being said- I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know if Collins caught the guy, and if so, if it was before or after The Next Gruesome Murder. So as far as entertainment goes- if you like a bit of blood & guts with your cranky, charismatic tough guy- this book has it all. I rated it with 4 stars on Goodreads, and I was conservative only because I can’t quite bring myself to give the big five yet. BUT…. I’ll definitely be reading more by John Connell, and specifically this series.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from my local indie bookstore, The Bookshelf in exchange for my honest review. Shop local, folks!!

Andrea’s first quarter 2015 wrap up

Recap: my list of reading goals included

Reading more physical books, non-fiction, the Dark Tower and Narnia series… etc etc. for a total of 52 books (including the 26 book challenge for Bringing Up Burns)


How did I do through March 31?

So far I’ve read 14 books in 2015, so I’m 2 ahead of schedule per Goodreads.! This does include a re-read of The Sea of Tranquility, but I don’t even care. If you’ve never read that, stop what you’re doing and READ.IT.NOW. If you HAVE read it, you know what I’m talking about and you’ve already abandoned this post in favor of rereading it.

Five of the 14 have been ebooks, and four have been “real” books.  That means I’ve only listened to 5 audio books so far this year.

I’m currently listening to Wolves of the Calla, so I’m on book 5 of 7 of the Dark Tower series. The narrator on the audio is different beginning with book 5, but it’s still enjoyable. Basically it’s like going from Brad Pitt to…Leo? vice versa? Equally good but no reason to change in the first place.

Narnia has been on hold for some time, so maybe I’ll pick it back up with Megan; maybe I won’t this year. We’ve read Book 1 in the past, and she is only 5 and missing some of the context, so I’m not holding myself to this particular goal. (even though I’d *like* to meet it)

As far as the 26 book challenge goes…I’m obviously on track with it but haven’t really assigned any titles to specific categories since January. I’d like to do that soon, but it takes more energy than this momma has at the eleventh hour.

How are your reading goals progressing? Any titles I just have to read?

Review: Burnt Mountain

Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons

From Goodreads:

Growing up, the only place tomboy Thayer Wentworth felt at home was at her summer camp – Camp Sherwood Forest in the North Carolina Mountains. It was there that she came alive and where she met Nick Abrams, her first love…and first heartbreak.

Years later, Thayer marries Aengus, an Irish professor, and they move into her deceased grandmother’s house in Atlanta, only miles from Camp Edgewood on Burnt Mountain where her father died years ago in a car accident. There, Aengus and Thayer lead quiet and happy lives until Aengus is invited up to the camp to tell old Irish tales to the campers. As Aengus spends less time at home and becomes more distant, Thayer must confront dark secrets-about her mother, her first love, and, most devastating of all, her husband.

Andrea’s Review: I really liked this book- gave it three stars on Goodreads- but I’ll be honest. I felt like the ending had little to nothing to do with 80% of the book. I mean, the characters and story lines tied in, but around the last chapter or two the story took a sharp detour into Side-EyeVille.  I’m not going to post spoilers or anything, of course, but it definitely had me scratching my head. Maybe it would’ve been easier to follow in hard copy instead of audio; I dunno. But, I still gave it three stars for merit. All in all? Meh.

Review: The Secret Place

The Secret Place, by Tana French

A quick aside before I get into my review: I hit my reading goal with this one! I was aiming for 75 and made it way earlier than I excepted. I’m going to keep my “official” goal at 75 and pat myself on the back but the overachiever in me is hoping to make it to 100. Are you on track to hit your goal? 

And, for my review:

I seriously love this series. I reviewed Faithful Place last year and gushed about just how great Tana French is and talked about how she has a knack for writing really solid characters. Usually her focus has been primarily on the detectives (It is the Dublin Murder Squad series, after all.) but I felt like this one was a little different.

The two detectives, Stephen Moran, who we had met before, and Antoinette Conway, who we had not, head to a girls’ boarding school after they receive a tip on a year old murder. As they start to question a couple groups of girls and their stories start to fill in, the detectives realize that they have one chance to solve the murder and it is right now.

Tensions mount, lies stack up and stories change. There are two groups of girls who had access to the crime scene on the night of the murders, and as Stephen and Conway question these girls, they are thrown into an insane world of jealousy, deep friendship and a billion lies. These eight girls are clearly the characters that Tana focused on this time. While we get to know the detectives a little bit, the girls are fully fleshed out and while you know from the get-go that one of them is the murderer, I found myself hoping against hope that none of them did it.

Boarding schools have always been endlessly fascinating to me and they always make for great crime books- kind of a closed door murder mystery but on a bigger, creepier level and only filled with high schoolers. Yes, please.

I don’t think that you necessarily have to read these books in order, but you do get little bits of backstory that are helpful but not essential. If you haven’t started this series, I highly recommend it. If you’ve read her other stuff, this will not disappoint.

Two Reviews Just for You!

So I just realized today, as I sat to write a review that last week, I failed you. I was on vacation and lost complete tracks of days and real life and all things that weren’t sandy and beachy. But beach vacation means beach reading so two reviews this week!

Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King

So I’m a big time Stephen King fan. Like, big time. I have really liked his other crime books (Colorado Kid and Joyland) and was thrilled that this one was coming out just days before I was to leave on vacation. I bought it and forced myself not to read it and…

You guys. It was not awesome. I was so bummed. The first 150 pages or so were so slow that despite an 11 hour car ride, it still took me like 4 days to get through. Once I that point, it seemed like it picked up and he did hit his stride but honestly by that point I was already kind of over it. I did end up liking the characters but never felt super invested in the characters and kind of walked away disappointed.

Push Girl, by Jessica Love

I told you guys a little bit about this book when it first came out because I was so excited, but much like the Stephen King book, I stored it away like a book loving squirrel because vacation reads are supremely important. 

You guys. It was awesome. I was just in love with it. I think that an enormous part of my love was because it just seemed so real. I didn’t have to suspend my belief for a single minute and there was not a moment where I was taken out of the story- I was just in it from page one until the very end.

The dialogue is what impressed me the most. It just seemed exactly, exactly real and right. It made the characters come to life and it took me about 4 pages to fall wildly in love with everyone that I was supposed to be in love with.

Ok, I lied. I loved the dialogue, but what I was most impressed by was Kara. I thought that the authors did something awesome: wrote a minority character who was more than just a minority. Yes, she was in a wheelchair but first she was this vibrant person with normal, human feelings. I thought that they wrote this impeccably and I walked around with a new respect for people in wheelchairs, especially young people.

I thought that the romance bits were great but thought that the parts that focused on friendship are where this book shone the brightest. There is little that compares to a good friendship story in my book and this one did a fantastic job.

Read this. Buy it for your friends. It’s phenomenal.

Review: Innocence

Innocence by Dean Koontz

From Goodreads: He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

Jennie’s Thoughts: I’ve been a DK fan since I was in high school. I should’ve been reading assigned books, but I was getting lost in Dean Koontz’ creepy mind. Totally normal, right?

Many of his older books are dark and twisted and just plain crazy-pants. His more recent books…not so much. They’re still full of crazy people, but the weirdness just wasn’t as strong and out there. Because of that, I haven’t been dying to read his most recent releases. I put myself on the hold list for this one on a whim, and I’m glad I went with it.

This story definitely had the twisted characters and creepy darkness, not quite up to say Hideaway but still, I didn’t want to read it if I was home alone and it was night.

It wrapped up pretty clean, which was satisfying, but not so clean I was annoyed. I’ll be putting his next release on hold too, in hopes it’s as good as this one.


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