Here There Are Monsters

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Author: Amelinda Berube

Genre: YA Fantasy/Thriller

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

Skye has grown up being the protector to her younger sister, Deirdre. Deirdre was always caught up in her games of queens, castles, and knights, and drug Skye in to them with her. She named Skye the Queen of Swords, the one that would protect her against everything, and that’s what she became. She also became an outcast because of it, the weird girl’s weird sister. When they moved to their new home, far away from their previous residence, Skye felt it was time for a new start. When they arrive, Deirdre is delighted that their new home is surrounded by woods and swamps to explore and create new kingdoms in. Skye, however, is done playing Deirdre’s games and makes a new circle of friends to call her own. Left to care for Deirdre while their parents are out one evening, Skye falls asleep and is awoken by her mother frantically looking for Deirdre. Deirdre is gone. Rescue crews continue searching to no avail, until Skye knows that she is the one who must go and find her. She must become her sister’s protector and play the games once again. 

Let’s start with the cover of this book. How creepy and beautiful is that?! It’s very fitting with the tone and story, and I just love it. Now that I got that out of the way, on to the book itself. It started out a bit slow for me, so I was a bit anxious that I wasn’t going to like it and I was not happy about that, as I went in to this very hopeful (this is definitely my kind of read!). Fortunately, it did pick up after a bit and I got in to it. The story is told in alternating time periods, as it flashes back between earlier in the girls’ childhood and present day. I did enjoy that as it gives a clearer picture as to what may have led up to the present day situation. The characters, especially the main characters, were well developed. The two main characters, Deirdre and Skye, however, were not particularly likeable characters in my opinion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the main characters do not have to be likable for a book to read well. I do know that some readers are put off by this, so I wanted to throw it in in case this is a sticking point for you. There are some supernatural elements that come in to play as the book moves on, and this was a fun element. It is a very atmospheric book, which I believe may have been my favorite thing about the writing of this book. The author did a wonderful job of building the world/atmosphere and making it fit the story well. Where the beginning of the book suffered from a bit of a slow start, the end could have used a bit of a slow down. It felt a bit rushed to tie everything up, and left me feeling like a may have missed something. Overall, though, it was a solid read and if the author were to write something else in the same genre, I’d pick it up. 

This book will be released on August 1.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to review this.

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Black Wolf (Natalya Ivanova, Book 2)

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Author: G.D. Abson

Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller/Noir

Publisher: Mirror Books

Pages: 336

A woman is found dead outside of St. Petersburg. After investigating, Captain Natalya Ivanova links her to an anti-Putin activist group. A government group that has been looking in to this group steps in and shuts down her investigation before it gets anywhere. After another activist disappears, Natalya is forced to go undercover in an attempt to discover what is really going on and find the murderer. This decision could put not only her career, but her family and personal life at risk. 

I was hoping for something a bit different than my “normal” thriller when I received this copy of Black Wolf, and boy did I get it with this wonderfully written crime fiction noir. This novel grabbed me and pulled me in to the story from the very beginning, and I did not want to put it down. The writing is beautifully atmospheric, and although I’ve never been to Russia, I could picture everything vividly. The story is very much character driven, so thankfully the author does a wonderful job of writing complex and multifaceted characters. I enjoyed getting to know each of them and their stories, especially Natalya, who presented a wonderful strong female lead. This was exactly the gritty crime drama that I was looking for, and I enjoyed it immensely! This is the first of Abson’s books that I have read, but it is the second in this series. The first is Motherland, and you can bet that I will be picking that one up! 

This title releases on May 16. 

Many thanks to Mirror Books for the ARC! 

Small Kingdoms and Other Stories

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Author: Charlaine Harris

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Publisher: JABerwocky

Pages: 176

Anne DeWitt is not the kind of principal that one wants to cross. Before coming to Travis High she had quite a different job at a very different type of school, and a different name. That was before the incident, of course. She now has her new name, new job, new town, and new life- unless her old one catches up with her. Anne likes her new life, a lot in fact, and she’s willing to do anything to protect it… anything. She may have to put that resolve to the test when her past makes an appearance in her present. 

As a long time fan of Charlaine Harris’ work, I was very excited to receive her latest work for review, and I was not disappointed! This is a book of four short stories centered around Anne and another character (introduced in the first story) Holt, and their exploits under new identities and new lives. Both of the main characters are well developed the first story and continue to become more fleshed out as the stories continue on. The secondary characters that are introduced in each story are also interesting and well developed. These stories were very different from my favorite series’ of Harris’ (Midnight, Texas is one of my favorite trilogies!), but it is definitely written with her voice and style. While I certainly wouldn’t say that it is laugh out loud funny, there is some great snark and sass combined with a bit of dark humor from these characters that I found quite enjoyable. I truly didn’t want these stories to end, and hope that there are more to come from this world! 

Many thanks to JABerwocky for the ARC! 

This is out May 28! 

 

Big Little Lies

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Author: Liane Moriarty

Genre: Thriller/Psych Thriller

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 460

 

Someone is dead… Was it murder, an accident, or somewhere in between? Welcome to the Pirriwee Peninsula in the suburbs of Australia, where everyone knows everyone, or so it would seem. Jane, a young mother to five-year-old Ziggy, has just moved here to start over. She is young enough that she is mistaken as a nanny. She befriends Madeline, who is as outspoken as they come, has a teenage daughter whom she fears that she is losing, and a son in Ziggy’s class. Her ex-husband and his wife have also moved to the Peninsula, and have a daughter the same age, in the same class. We also meet Celeste, a beauty to behold, with rambunctious twin boys, a wealthy corporate husband, and a mind that is constantly running in circles. With them, along with the rest of the cast, we learn that it’s the little lies, that could have the largest impact.

This is the first of Liane Moriarty’s novels that I have read. I admit that I, initially, picked it up because I wanted to watch the miniseries, and I won’t watch until I have read the book. (Yes, I am one of those people!) I am very glad that I picked it up! This book reminds me of a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Desperate Housewives- It was delicious! Once I got in to it, I didn’t want to put it down. The characters are all well fleshed out, with very individual personalities that allow the reader to decide to love or hate them (or somewhere in between). It really took me until very close to the reveal to decide what the answer to the actual mystery was, but I didn’t see the twist coming! I will definitely give another of her books a try in the future.

Shanghai Bandit

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Author: Eric Qiao

Genre: Fiction/Light Thriller

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Pages: 276

 

It all started with a bank robbery…by two parties…at once… Oh, right, then one robber has a stroke during the heist. Enter Vietnam Vet turned bank teller Major Chin, who offers to help the robber escape, and take the dude to the hospital. While travelling, the guy recovers from his stroke, and decides to hijack the earnings. Major Chin decides that he has a better plan for a heist, and they’re off for another robbery…

This was a quick read, that was quite a bit of fun to get through. It was filled with a great cast of characters, who each had personality. The main characters were pretty well fleshed out, and were fun to follow, though maybe not as well as in his debut (I will give that the debut focused on fewer characters and was bit longer). The book had some nice, subtle commentary on racial profiling/stereotyping, that is relevant to our society at present, but was nicely tempered with the abundant humor throughout the book, so it didn’t feel like it was being forced upon the reader. After reading this sophomore novel, it is clear that Qiao is finding his writing style, and I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories

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Author: Stephen King

Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Horror

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 512

 

As I have said many times before, short stories are one of my favorite things. This newest collection by King did not disappoint. In fact, it is what finally got me out of my reading slump. I had already ready several of the stories in previous collections/editions, although a couple were reworked or rewritten for this collection. Regardless of having read them before, they were all worth reading again. It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite story from this collection, but UR (a kindle with some very interesting features), Dune (an elderly judge has been making the canoe trip to a dune outside of his home since he was a boy to see the names of people who are to die soon written on its shore), and The Little Green God of Agony (a very wealthy man, who was in a plane crash and can’t get rid of the blinding pain, calls in a preacher to help him) are a few of the gems in this edition that I really enjoyed. The thing that I think that I loved the most about this collection was the pages that actually came before the stories themselves. Before each short story, King gives the reader a glimpse in to how the story came to him, what or who inspired it, and some of what his thought process was when he was penning it. It is incredibly interesting to get a glimpse in to this great author’s mind. Overall, I loved this collection, and would recommend it to any King or short story fan.

The Girl on the Train

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Author: Paula Hawkins

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Pages: 336

 

Rachel takes the same train in to town every day. Every day she sees the same couple, and watches as their lives (as she sees them) unfold before her. Their lives that are being lived just a few houses down from the life that she so recently lost. She has made up her own story about their perfect life. In her mind, it is a wonderful life. It is wonderful, until the day that it isn’t. Rachel sees something that shatters her image of “Jess and Jason”. Not long after seeing this, “Jess” goes missing. Rachel is suddenly thrust in to the middle of, not only the investigation, but their lives and the lives of everyone around them- including her ex-husband and his new family. Will they believe what Rachel has to say?

I will start by saying that it actually took me two tries to really get in to this book and read it all the way through. I believe that was a “me” thing though. It is a book that you have to be in the mood for, and I don’t think that I was in the right frame of mind the first time. The second time, however, I really enjoyed it. It is told from different narrators, but mostly from the unreliable narrator that is Rachel. It would be easy to feel a bit lost if you aren’t paying attention to the book as you’re reading it, as the narrator is an unreliable one (a drunk), so it can be difficult to tell if you’re really getting the story or not. That being said, it is a great psychological thriller with a wonderful twist! If you enjoy books that keep you thinking and guessing, this is a good one for you!