Tag Archives: genre: suspense

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

As Red As Blood

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

Series: Lumikki Andersson, Book 1
Published by: Crown Books for Young Readers on January 17, 2017 (US release)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Lumikki Andersson is what many might describe as a loner. She purposely stays out of other people’s business and problems. To do otherwise will just lead to trouble that she knows she doesn’t need. But when she ends up in the middle of a life-or-death situation that three careless classmates stumbled into, she finds she has no choice but to see it through to the end. And the danger runs deeper than any of them can even imagine…

The overall story arc here is interesting. Action starts right away and pulls the reader into the world of these characters. And it’s a plot that I know I found I wanted to see to the end from the first few pages. But there are a few things that just didn’t quite settle for me. First, Lumikki is just a high school student but she acts like a highly-trained super agent at times, which I found difficult to accept. Second, the resolution seems a bit too tidy and abrupt for such a complicated story. But it is an entertaining and interesting read. It’s still a page turner even with those reservations. So I’d suggest giving it a read if you like suspense.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Published by: Riverhead Books on January 13, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Synopsis

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”

Rachel’s life is not in a place where she’d like it to be. She’s divorced from her husband, who found a new woman while they were still married. She was terminated from her job. Living with a friend, she’s trying to get things back on track. But until then, she goes through the motions, taking the train into London each day, staying there for the work day, and returning home.

But the train goes right past her old neighborhood, making it hard to leave the memories behind. Interestingly, though, it’s not Rachel’s husband and his new wife that catches her attention. It’s a new couple who has moved in down the street. Rachel sees them almost every day, and the love they share for each other is clear to her. They are, as she describes them, a perfect couple.

One one of her trips, however, Rachel sees something that shatters her image of this couple. It hits home in a way that she never expected, and she finds herself returning to her old neighborhood, despite her husband’s pleas that she stay away. But drunken courage and impaired judgment prevail. When Rachel wakes the next morning, everything changes. The woman from Rachel’s perfect couple has gone missing. The husband is a suspect. And while Rachel can’t exactly remember what she saw, she knows he wouldn’t hurt his wife. She’s certain of it. But should she rely on what is nothing more than an incomplete memory? Should she trust her instinct, even if she’s not sure why her belief is so strong? And if the police don’t believe her, why should she believe herself?

Review

I enjoy a good mystery. I adore a well-written thriller. And I love stories where we, as readers, get the chance to really understand the protagonist. And The Girl on the Train is all those things and more. It’s a well-paced, thought-provoking read that is deceptive in that it tackles a number of issues that one may not expect when looking at the synopsis or the story from a very high-level perspective.

There’s a part of me that wants to list through the various issues, but I also want to be mindful of spoiling what I consider is one of the best aspects of this story. But I think I can summarize by at least saying that one key theme is that relationships aren’t always what they seem from the outside. And they also aren’t always what they seem to the people in them. To know someone and to trust them is to have faith in both our own judgment and perceptions. It’s a matter of giving ourselves over to something and someone else and hoping we made the right decision.

My only qualm with this book is that I started to suspect the resolution a little earlier than I think the author intended. As I watched the final clues roll out, I had already placed a very high suspicion on who I thought was responsible. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just really like when an author can keep me guessing until right near the end. But there was still some new information that came out as the last few scenes played out.

There’s no question for my why this became such a hit so quickly. And I am absolutely looking forward to seeing the film adaptation.

Love is a Stranger by John Wiltshire

Love is a Stranger

Love is a Stranger by John Wiltshire

Series: More Heat than the Sun, Book 1
Published by: MLR Press on May 16, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★☆☆)

Ex-SAS soldier Ben Rider never expected that when he joined a secret intelligence department that he would fall in love with his boss. After all, Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen is married to a beautiful woman, but he’s so intriguing that Ben doesn’t really stand a chance. He might feel bad about carrying on an affair with a married man, but he’s never felt anything as intensely as what he feels for Nik. But the life of a shadow operative is a dangerous one, and things can change so quickly one doesn’t know where to turn. And when such a turn happens that might allow Ben and Nik more time together, Ben is cautiously optimistic. He really shouldn’t dismiss the cautious part of that optimism, though, because he beings to realize more and more that he really doesn’t know much about Nik at all. Well, except that he knows Nik is his soulmate. But is that enough to look past any dark secrets that might be lingering in Nik’s past?

I had a hard time putting this one down. There’s such a great combination of relationship development between these two and suspenseful plot elements, that when I wasn’t caught up in Ben and Nik, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for what would happen next. There’s some complex history that lingers underneath the surface for both of these guys, and neither of them is really willing to confront it. And even when Ben does start to learn the truth, I felt like his reaction was very authentic and made a lot of sense for him as a character.

The only thing that really bugged me about this one–and it’s what brought this very quickly down from four stars to three stars–is the ending. There is a great deal of build toward the ending–chapters, even–and then it cuts off RIGHT before what should be the climax of that aspect of the plot. I know this is part of a series, but it was such an abrupt ending that it was jarring; it didn’t really feel like a cliffhanger, either. It would have been smoother to cut it off a bit sooner and leave some lead in to start the next book.

Love is a Stranger at the MLR Press website

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Published by: Crown on February 16, 2016 (re-release)
Rating: 4 stars (★★★☆☆)

Ruby lands in Alaska, excited to see her father. That’s why her mother, Yasmin, said they were traveling. He should be waiting to pick them up at the airport. But when they get off the plane and a police officer greets them, they know something’s wrong. Ruby, who is deaf, must rely on reading lips and the little bits her mother will tell her. She learns there was an accident and her father may be dead. Yasmin and Ruby refuse to believe it, and set out to search for him when the police have all but given up. But winter in Alaska is dangerous. There’s a storm rolling in. And there’s a small chance someone may be following them. But neither will rest until they know the truth. Whatever that truth may be…

This one pulled me in a bit more than I expected. The writing style, which includes many flashbacks, took a couple of chapters to grow on me. But once I was into it, it seemed to take on a life of its own. The suspenseful adventure for this mother and daughter makes a compelling story. Some of the twists will surprise you. Recommended for readers who enjoy stories that take the reader on the characters’ journey.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Quality of Silence on the Crown website

Third Eye by Rick R. Reed

23489343Title: Third Eye
Author: Rick R. Reed
Published: November 11, 2014 (originally published 2008)
Pages: 264
Publisher: DSP Publications
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

When Cayce D’Amico goes out in search of his son Luke during a thunderstorm, the most he expect will happen is that he’ll get soaked by the rain. So when lightning strikes a tree causing a branch to fall and knock him unconscious, he already has more than he bargained for. When he wakes, however, he finds that he now receives visions about other people, notably two young girls who have recently gone missing. Because the visions are so vivid, Cayce can’t help but feel he must help them, even though no one believes him. No one, that is, besides local report Dave Newton, who has piqued Cayce’s interest as well.

I did enjoy this even though it’s a bit different that some of the other Rick R. Reed stories that I’ve read before. It’s not so much a murder mystery as the reader knows who is responsible from the beginning and sees their actions parallel to the other characters involved. But it is still very compelling, though I’d have to say it’s not really one for the weak of heart.

Snowcroft Safehouse by Christi Snow

24528173Title: Snowcroft Safehouse (Snowcroft, Book 2)
Author: Christi Snow
Published: April 24, 2015
Pages: 235
Publisher: Christi Snow
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Declan ‘Dex’ Jasper was the lead singer if the immensely popular Black Rainbows until a year ago when tragedy struck. An explosion during one of their concerts left the entire band dead with a member of an organized crime family to blame. But what the world doesn’t know is that Dex survived and has been hidden away in witness protection. That hasn’t been the best of journeys for him, either, leaving him now transferred to the protection of an FBI agent who has secured him a cover story as a middle school band teacher in a small New Mexico town. Dex isn’t thrilled about the prospect, but he’ll do what it takes to be able to testify at the upcoming trial to get justice for the friends he lost. Keeping a low profile might be much harder than he expected once he realizes how invested the town is in the band program and when he meets Jack, the proprietor of the town’s bar and grill. Jack is everything Dex never knew he wanted in a man. But will getting involved with Jack risk Dex being found out? Could hit put Jack and his daughter Kelsey in danger?

I loved the first book in this series. It was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was certainly very excited to go back to Snowcroft once again. I will say this book did not disappoint in that regard. It’s got a different feel to it than the first book, but I think that’s largely due to the focus of the story (there’s no real mystery to solve here). I was glad to see Law back–and I would have like to see more of him, but I understand there’s a third book coming for him–as well as the Snowcroft locals that popped up in the first book. Getting to know Jack better, was also a welcome bonus, too.

This doesn’t need to be read after the first book; the stories aren’t strictly connected. It can be helpful to have some of the backstory of the town and others, but it’s not necessary.

I am definitely looking forward to book three…

Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft

23484503Title: Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues, Book 1)
Author: Alex Beecroft
Published: February 9, 2015
Pages: 290
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Michael has been released from his work as a police officer for not being able to control his temper. With seemingly nothing else to do, he returns to his hometown and to the house that is now vacant after his father’s death. He expects there is nothing for him there, but he can busy himself with getting the house ready to sell. But then he meets Fintan Hulme, proprietor of the town’s bookshop. There’s attraction and chemistry, but can that overcome Michael’s policeman tendencies and Fintan’s criminal past?

I want to describe this as a smooth, easy read. When I finished, it felt much shorter than it actually is, but not because of lack of story or pacing. It’s just an engaging and well-written story. There’s a bit of suspense and action here with some romantic elements thrown in for good measure. This is the start of a series that looks to be more of a ‘takes place in the same space but doesn’t involve the same main characters throughout’ type, and I’m certainly looking forward to continuing it.

A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland

15847019Title: A Reason to Believe
Author: Diana Copland
Published: October 22, 2012
Pages: 217
Publisher: Carina Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
When detective Matthew Bennett is called in on a missing child case on Christmas Eve, the last thing he would ever expect is for the child’s ghost to lead him to her body. He’s never believed in ghosts and can’t seem to wrap his head around what happens. He soon crosses paths with Kiernan Fitzpatrick, a famous medium, who challenges him in more ways than one and is taken on an adventure that changes the way he views his life and himself.

This one was chosen for me in a challenge based on the types of books I like to read and it definitely hit the mark. Mystery, paranormal elements, tentative/slow building relationship, and generally adorable characters: all things I enjoy on their own and even more when they’re together in one book. I find myself wanting to know what happens next for Matt and Kiernan, though I don’t know that there are any plans for author to bring us more in the future.

Fair Play by Josh Lanyon

21880559

Title: Fair Play (All’s Fair, Book 2)
Author: Josh Lanyon
Published: November 10, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 250

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
Elliot Mills hoped that he’d left his crime-solving life behind after leaving the FBI and becoming a college professor. He was wrong. But surely after he found himself wrapped up in a serial killer case that almost led to his own death, he’s done with all of that. When his father’s house catches fire in the middle of the night and the investigators immediately suspect arson, he Elliot knows he’s deep into it again. But who could want to harm his father? Considering his father’s anti-government antics in his youth, it turns out that list might be longer than Elliot thinks. And with things just starting to settle between Elliot and his former FBI partner turned live-in boyfriend, Tucker, there’s an added layer of complication to Elliot’s attempts to help ensure his father is safe and to keep his relationship on solid footing.

I have to start out by saying that I liked this better than the first installment in the series. In part, I think it helps jumping in when Elliot and Tucker’s relationship is better established and there’s some consistency there between them. I also felt like this one was a bit more plot/story-driven than Fair Game, which made it a bit more suspenseful and engaging. And I love a mystery that can keep me guessing until as close to the reveal as possible – which is something that Fair Play certainly delivers. Fans of Josh Lanyon will definitely love this, but anyone who is interested in a good mystery with a healthy side of M/M romance (and some sexual tension in that relationship) is sure to enjoy it, too.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Delivery With a Smile
Author: Megan Derr
Publication Date: June 20, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
This is only 4 stars instead of 5 because I wish it was longer – not because there are any elements missing from the story, but because I really want to know what happens next for these two.

Jack is a dedicated delivery driver who seems content with his life. He does his job well, even though sometimes he bends the rules to spend some time with one of his customers who bakes him cookies (and tells him he would be great for her own son). But when he walks in one day on a bit of a situation and finally meets her son, he learns a lot more about him and reveals a lot more about himself than he would have expected.

Brilliantly executed, the dynamic between Jack and Allen is wonderful and author writes the face paced story quite well. As I said, the only real drawback is that I want MORE. Highly recommend this one.