When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks Review

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Synopsis: Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.

Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a sepent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity-a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth-and convince anyone to believe her-before she becomes a victim herself?

My Thoughts: This book provided some very interesting insight into some unusual practices involving snakes in church. I had never heard of this practice and was fascinated and kind of horrified to read about this. I despise snakes, they are my least favorite animal and the thought of them makes me cringe, so this book was difficult to read at parts. There are many scenes that are gruesome and creepy but also kept me on the edge of my seat.

Throughout the book you are with Gwen, a forensic artist, who was called in to help with finding a serial rapist. When she arrives, she is rebuffed by the sheriff and begins to receive threats. She then is presented with an opportunity to look into a mystery involving a church that uses snakes and drinks poisons as well as refuse medical treatment.

There was a lot going on in the book and it became a bit confusing at times. I did find the story to be very unique and liked the main characters profession…as a forensic artist (which the author also is), Gwen is skilled at interview skills as well as knowing when people are lying.

When I finished the book, I still felt like some things were left open…a few things didn’t seem to be addressed to the point that I expected them to.

I didn’t expect the culprit at all! I loved this part of the story, it was very clever and unexpected but also a little bit far fetched.

I requested this without realizing that it is the 3rd book in a series but it still can be read as a standalone as the author explains some of the characters’ backstories.

Overall, this was an enjoyable Christian mystery.

My Rating:

3 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Missing by Lisa Harris Review

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Plot according to Goodreads: Nikki Boyd Enters the Deadly World of Counterfeit Drugs to Find a Missing Woman.
Nikki Boyd isn’t usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she’s ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant–and another dead body–Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business–including Nikki.
Christy Award-winning and bestselling author Lisa Harris puts readers right into the action in this fast-paced thriller that will have them turning pages long into the night.

My Thoughts: The cover of this book really intrigued me so I was excited to read it. This was an enjoyable thriller/ police procedural story with some big surprises. The story read like a movie, it was very easy to picture and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. I had a few problems with the story though…there were a lot of characters and it was difficult to keep everyone straight. I also didn’t like that there is the story line of the main character’s missing sister that ran parallel to the main plot. I hadn’t read the first book so I was a bit in the dark when it came to that story line. I also didn’t find that story line particularly interesting. The author gave a bit of new information as far as that part of the plot went but it was left open for the next book.

Overall, this was an average thriller worth reading but it didn’t stand out.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

 

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

My Thoughts: At first I was a bit wary of this book because of the writing style but after about 20 pages, I was hooked. This book kept me guessing until the very end.

Nora, the main character, is definitely an interesting person. Because she is telling the story, you never really know if she’s reliable or not. The author is very good at showing her emotional decline after he sister’s murder. Nora reminded me a lot of Libby Day from Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places…damaged and unlikable.

There are many twists and turns, which I love, and most were unpredictable.

The book is fairly short at 219 pages but it is very dense…there were no moments when I felt like it dragged. I would much rather read a shorter book that packs a big punch than a long book that drags on and on.

I would definitely recommend this one to all of the thriller lovers. It was a great story!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Penguin Publishing company in exchange for an honest review.

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl–before it’s too late.

My Thoughts: I was thrilled to receive this book. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew it was something I wanted to read…I love everything about the cover: the font, the title, and the creepy tunnel. I expected a creepy story with some thrills. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected but I still enjoyed it. The story was more of a crime fiction story then a horror or thriller.

The story has a lot of mystery. For most of the book, the reader doesn’t really know why certain things are happening and what is really going on. I was also unsure who was a “good guy” and who was a “bad guy” at first.  By the end, things are clearer, but I was still left with a few questions and felt that some parts of the plot were left unresolved. This is the first book in a series so I’m assuming that as the story continues, things will be explained.

I loved Annabel’s character, a very intelligent 11 year old girl, she was a great protagonist. The investigators, Coffey and Hill were also likable and will be fun to follow throughout the series.

Something about the pacing felt a bit off. I never felt like I couldn’t put the book down and it took me a while to get through. There were a few times when I felt bored with the plot.

The book is classified as Christian fiction, and although the author touches on Christianity, it doesn’t feel forced or preachy.

I am happy to have read Annabel Lee, but it wasn’t the amazing book that I hoped for.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing in exchange of an honest review.

 

 

 

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets.  She lives in a small Oregon town and keeps mostly to herself.  Her few friends and neighbors know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless.

What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name.  They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago.  They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption.  They don’t know that she’s now in witness protection, regretting ever making a deal with the Feds, and missing her children with a heartache so strong it makes her ill.

Then, she learns that her daughter has gone missing, possibly kidnapped.  Determined to find out what happened, Freedom slips free of her handlers, gets on a motorcycle, and heads for Kentucky, where her daughter was raised.  As she ventures out on her own, no longer protected by the government, her troubled past comes roaring back at her: her husband’s vengeful, sadistic family; her brief, terrifying stint in prison; and the family she chose to adopt her kids who are keeping dangerous secrets.

My Thoughts: I had no interest in reading this book when I first saw the cover, but I read the synopsis and thought I’d take a chance (I’m glad that I did). This story follows Freedom, who is in the witness protection program and has a slew of issues. Freedom was the kind of character who I really disliked in the beginning of the story but as it progressed and I began to understand her, she grew on me.

The story has many facets and subplots that all merge together. It explores a religious cult which was extremely interesting and chilling. As a reader I went through a range of emotions, from anger to frustration, to fear, and sadness.

The story touches on religion, which often frustrates me in secular fiction, but the author handled it very well and I was pleased with the way things were presented.

Overall, this was a fast paced, action packed story that was enjoyable to read.

My Rating: 4 stars

 

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange of an honest review.

Sister by Rosamund Lupton Review

sisterGenre: Adult Fiction, Mystery

Plot According to Goodreads: When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.
Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered.  Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life–and all its secrets.
Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong.  As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder–and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

My Thoughts: This story was a police procedural with a twist…instead of the police and detectives investigating the disappearance of Tess, the investigator is Tess’s sister, Beatrice. This approach was a nice change from the standard approach to crime fiction stories.

The Good:

  • The relationship between the 2 sisters in the book was very special. Bee would stop at nothing to find out the truth of what really happened to her sister.
  • The author does a great job slowly peeling back the layers of the story in a way that keeps the reader interested in the mystery.
  • This is one of those books that has a large twist that I was unable to see coming…it’s the kind of twist that causes the reader to rethink the entire story.

What I didn’t Like:

  • The author uses a unique narration in the story…it’s told by Bee, speaking to Tess about what has happened (almost as told in a letter or journal form) and also told by Bee, speaking to the District Attorney after events have occurred. This was very unique and interesting but also became confusing at times, trying to orient yourself to whether the narration was occurring in the present or the past.
  • There were some dry moments that dragged and were a bit boring.
  • The story was enjoyable but not very memorable.

My Rating: 3/5 stars.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas Review

dgGenre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery

Judging the Cover: The cover pictured is the edition of the book that I own. I love the color combinations but I prefer the original cover of the book, which features a pair of handcuffs buried in the sand…that image goes better with the story.

Plot According to Goodreads: It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.
As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

My Thoughts: I had only heard positive things about this book so my expectations were high. I was not disappointed. This book was easily one of my favorites of the year, possibly even number one of all the books I’ve read in 2015. The young adult thriller genre seems to be a bit lacking, but I am hoping that we will see more books like this in the future. This book has not received the attention it deserves, so if the synopsis sounds interesting to you and you are a fan of mystery, pick this one up!

The Good:

  • The book opens with a bang…it begins with the 911 call transcripts from when the group of friends discover their friend’s body. I was glued to the book from the first page.
  • This story jumps around to many different time periods throughout the book. For the most part, I dislike the jumping from past to present, at least in the format of a continuous story in the past and a continuous story in the present (leaving the reader with constant cliffhangers). This book jumped to many places in time in a way that made sense and did not leave me feeling confused or frustrated with the changes in time. It is done very well.
  • There are several twists and turns, which I love as a reader. I had an inkling of one of the bigger twists but still found myself surprised when reading it.
  • The ending is done in a very clever way that leads the reader to use their imagination instead of spelling everything out. Some people would probably hate this, but I love pondering over the possibilities.
  • There are a plethora of suspects in the story so the reader is constantly trying to solve the case. My final guess was not correct but I had fun trying to figure it out.
  • It was an unputdownable book. I could easily see myself rereading this one in a few years.
  • This book caused me to think about the impact the media has on crimes. The court of public opinion is a scary thing.

What I didn’t Like:  I got nothing…I tried to think of a negative for this book but I truly loved it all.

My Rating: Without a doubt, this was a 5 star book. Definitely worth picking up!