Review: Lisa Unger – Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone
Lisa Unger

Finley Montgomery hears things that noone else can, and they block out her perception of reality. A squeak-clink is the newest sound to interfer with her studies – could it have something to do with the abduction of Abbey?

30073778This didn’t quite have me on the edge of my seat, but close enough! I felt like all the girls were already dead, and that Finley might bring the perpetrator of crime to justice, but it was too late for the children. Finley didn’t seem to catch on that she usually sees dead people… So the ones she is seeing and hearing can’t possibly be alive!

Ok, so I admit I was a bit slow to get the title of this novel. Having read another novel titled Ink and Bone, I kept being a bit confused when I saw the title on my shelf. I’m not sure about the ‘bone’ in the title of Unger’s novel, but the ink certainly makes sense.

To me, this felt complete, but incomplete at the same time. I barely got attached to Finley’s grandmother and the blurb suggests that this is the beginning of Finley’s training – yet she seems to have been there a while. A quick google tells me that this novel is a stand-alone but there are other novels set in The Hollows. I don’t know whether those novels also have something to do with Finley’s grandmother, but I’d perhaps suggest to the reader to try reading those first, even if this is a standalone novel.

A psychological thriller, but not too thrilling that I felt haunted afterwards (or tried to avoid picking it up!). I’ll give it 4 stars.

4star

Simon & Schuster | July 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

Review: Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen – The Naked Eye

The Naked Eye
Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

Colby should be safely dead, but Kendra can’t shake the conviction that the guesome serial killer is just biding his time hidden somewhere. Drawn to murder scene after murder scene, it seems like Kendra might be too close this time to avoid being pulled into the scandal surrounding her work. How can she protect everyone?

23014581Kendra! I love you! I love you every time I read you. You’re plucky, irritating, and yet becoming more human all the time. I do wish you weren’t so stubborn, you should know that your friends will go first, but ah well. Everyone has their blind spots right? [How punny!]

The novel is going to catch you, pull you in, and keep you reading all night long. Or all work day long if you are guilty old me. The plot introduces a couple more characters of direct interest to the reader  so you don’t get too bored with her rather uptight point of view.

Ooh, that ending! I can’t even begin to imagine what the next and final novel is going to be like. The first three have been linked (Close Your Eyes, Sight Unseen) but the next one has got to have something new in it…

Even just in returning to the first page to check the publication date lead me to want to reread the first chapter. Guilty confession here, I did reread that little bit. Just so I could love her again. So this will be 5 stars, and maybe I should go back and re-star the others…

5star

Macmillan Australia | September 2016 | $9.99 AU | ebook

Review: Peter James – Love You Dead

Love You Dead
Peter James

There is a Black Widow on the loose – having first turned to plastic surgery to make her beautiful, all that remains for Jodie Danforth to make herself rich by marrying a rich man. She isn’t all that excited about remaining married though – and she kills them off almost as fast as she gets married.

27993438There is no need to have read the 11 books in the Roy Grace series before this. Other reviewers have complained that it took ages for the Detective to enter the story – I didn’t miss this because I didn’t know what to expect of him. I actually loved being in the mind of the ‘Black Widow’ and the other criminals.

I liked the criminals. I perhaps liked them more than the Detective himself! I was excited to get inside their thoughts and experience things. I actually sympathised with the petty house thief the most and wished he could have gotten straight before, well, dying.

If you have a thing for reptiles and interesting poisons, the thing you’re going to love about this novel is the reptile room. I would have loved to learn more about the poisons, but there are still limits on facts you can include in a novel, even one this large.

I really enjoyed reading this novel, and would have given it 5 stars, had it not been that I was reading a Iris & Roy Johansen crime novel with my favourite heroine Kendra at the same time. All in all, this was ‘just’ another crime novel, albeit a very well written and researched one. I’m certainly not going to turn down other novels by Peter James!

4star

Pan Macmillan | 26 July 2016 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

Review: Sarah Armstrong – Promise

Promise
Sarah Armstrong

Anna hears screaming coming from her new next door neighbours, and recognises the sound as a child in danger. Calling protective services seems to do nothing, and when it seems as if the child is likely to be murdered, Anna takes matters into her own hands.

9781743535844How accurate are the court scenes in this? I think that this author will have done due diligence in her research. But please! Don’t take the law into your own hands! I know that child protective services will often err on the side of caution to not take a child away. As I learnt in How (not) to Start an Orphanage, the best place for children to grow up is in a caring (usually biological) family environment. This book takes that to extremes.

There are a number of interesting interlocking situations that have led Anna to feel this way about a child. I sometimes felt that these overshadowed the main point of Charlie’s welfare, but I also understood that the author included them in order to add depth to her character. It’s interesting to see how the past influences the future.

My goodness gracious me. It took a lot for me to pick up this novel. Then I happily read until I was about a third of the way through. Then the pace stopped. I kept reading until halfway, and then stopped reading for a bit. It was just so slow from there on! By the time I got to the end of the novel, I was barely invested in the outcome.

For this reason, I’ll only be giving it 3 stars. If it had been able to maintain the momentum from the first third of the novel (including perhaps a more exciting ‘chase scene’), that would have pushed it over the line to 4 stars just for the concept. If you enjoy Jodi Picoult’s thought provoking works (I’ve read and reviewed four of them, as linked), this is going to be for you.

3star

Pan Macmillan | 28th July 2016 | AU $32.99 | Paperback

Review: Valerie Davisson – Forest Park

Forest Park
Valerie Davisson

Logan loves her new job, and can’t wait to learn more from pioneers in the area. Little does she know that a Vietnamese family will take her heart, and that she will be lost in a mystery while losing her faith in men once again.

28230074What sold the first novel to me was missing in this novel. While there were interlocking storylines, it didn’t ‘have the mystery of the first novel. It also lapsed back into too descriptive prose – the one line that has stuck with me is that Logan wears Burt’s Bees Cranberry flavour.

It had potential with everything, yet failed to deliver. Logan, where is your head? Why can’t you just talk to people? The passive-aggressive ignoring is not doing you any favours. What kind of woman are you anyway? And honestly, you didn’t do any mystery solving this time.

As for the last novel (sorry to keep comparing them), the title of this novel means very little. Much of the action appears to take place in Logan’s head and bedroom, rather than in the park the novel is named for. In fact, the park doesn’t seem to play a big role until somewhere near the end, and it seems like an afterthought.

I was really excited for this novel, and then turned out very disappointed. I’m tempted to give only 2 stars, but it wasn’t that badly written compared to some stuff I have read recently. Perhaps if you REALLY think you might like it, or have already been invested in Logan by Shattered, give it a read.

3star

Review: Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen – Sight Unseen

Sight Unseen
Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

Kendra is a successful FBI crime solver, despite her best efforts to stay out of it and focus on her music therapy students. When old crimes she has solved begin to be bloodily reenacted, she has to return to dealing with murder that is too close for comfort.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 1.40.49 PMKendra deals with crimes that would make  a squeamish person nervous in a way that makes you think she has no feelings. In this novel though, you start to see her coming apart at the seams, and what her family and friends need to do to let her recover. I want Kendra to be happy, but I also want her to do more awesome things!

This is a thriller that you will feel comfortable reading by yourself. There aren’t too many cases where Kendra is on her own and the reader would be scared to read it at night! That’s not to say there is an tension or drama – there’s lots of it.

I feel certain that most crimes aren’t dealt with in this way, and that serial killers don’t go in for a particular detective quite so badly, but I loved reading about it anyway. We don’t have the death sentence in Australia – and it seems like it isn’t that effective anyway! There are always people who think that they won’t be caught (and some never are).

Oh Kendra. You can’t protect everyone, no matter how hard you try. You seriously should check to make sure your students are ok though – this is the second time they have come into danger because of you. I don’t know how to feel about that. Maybe you should work anonymously? You know enough about disguises to make it work.

This was an ebook I accepted because I had loved the first in the series so much (Close Your Eyes). There’s going to be two more books with Kendra in them, and I’m hoping that I will see copies of those too. It is a real shame that these are only ebooks, but they are worth picking up anyway.

 

4star

Macmillan Australia | August 2016 | $9.99 AU | ebook

Review: JM Peace – The Twisted Knot

The Twisted Knot
JM Peace

Sammi is on desk duty, unable to face going into the field after her abduction by a killer two years ago. When she is faced by a mob of people demanding that a pedophile is caught by police, she finds the courage to start active work again on a case which is as twisted as any you will have read about.

9781743538678It’s nice to see a crime novel where I can follow where some of the places are (ie. Australian). To think that crime used to be one of the genres that I turned down to review as a matter of course! I was selling them short by only imagining old-time detective novels.

I wasn’t sure why we were constantly reminded of Sammi making sure her gun didn’t catch on anything. Was it because the author wanted us to see this as something important to her as a plot device? Sammi developed nicely as a character, and I was certainly kept enthralled and up past my bed time.

Pedophiles are some of the most disgusting people on the planet, and I can’t think of a biological imperative for why it might be ok. Consenting adults people, consenting adults only. There is likely a psychological issue, as there was in this novel, and you can do more reading about it if you are interested. Remember that not all pedophiles act on their desires, just like some gay people never admit that they are gay.

I didn’t realise there was a ‘first book’, where Sammi is the one who is being investigated. This novel was a true stand alone though. In the back, it suggests other novels like itself, which I also enjoyed.

Ooh, this one was good. I really enjoyed this crime novel that wasn’t a thriller! I could stay up late to read its satisfying conclusion, but not be too scared to sleep. I’m giving this one 4 stars.

4star

Pan Macmillan | 28th June 2016 | $29.99 | Paperback

Review: Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen – Close Your Eyes

Close Your Eyes
Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

Kendra was born blind and spent years honing her remaining senses in order to avoid danger. After a stem cell operation restores her eyesight at age 20 years, her uncanny perceptions make the FBI call her in for case after case where they are baffled and she can solve a crime scene by simply walking in the door.

image001This novel was trying to see itself by other reviewers as a ‘thriller [and] a titillating delight’. Sorry, the sexual tension that Kendra seems to feel towards Lynch isn’t even that tensioned for me as a reader. I saw it, yes, but the gripping storyline was what did it for me.

If you liked Angel Killer, you’re going to love this one. This one does have some danger to Kendra herself, so if that’s your thing, this is going to tick the right boxes. Ok, so some of this one is a bit gorey and I really wanted to look away, but other times it just made me sympathise with Kendra even more.

I didn’t see this as a thriller, because I didn’t make the connection with a couple of ‘coincidences’. That being said, I kept reading and reading because I couldn’t work out what might happen next. I was sad when I finished it, because it hadn’t explained all the questions I had – but that just left us in the same position as Kendra.

This reminded me of the movie ‘The Librarian’, where the guy is just so geeky he can work out random things about others from the merest hints. Being so observant seems to make people a bit prickly though. I wouldn’t like people much either!

This was a fantastic novel that a publisher sent me, and that I ended up reading anyway even though it was an ebook. That’s what being stuck in an airport for 2 hours does to you, it makes you read ebooks when you’re too lazy to pack a novel in your carry on (because you are supposed to be working). I’ve giving it 4 stars.

4star

Macmillan Australia | July 2016 | $9.99 AU | ebook

Review: Valerie Davisson – Shattered

Shattered
Valerie Davisson
Logan is going to lose her job, she’s lost her music, but at least she has her car. And going back to work at the fairgrounds where she grew up seems like she’s stepping backwards in time. That’s the sort of thing she needs to keep going.
Logan’s relationship with her friends starts out with her being supported still from her husband’s death. Then in turn, she supports them when things get rough. Logan is not a simple character, she keeps growing.
I have to say that in a couple of points in the novel, I was thrown out of the rhythm by some overly descriptive passages, and some rough dialogue. The rest of the time though, it was compelling.
Something I really loved, and that make this book ‘pop’ and remain fascinating the whole way along was that there were several interlocking storylines, and it didn’t feel like the minor ones were put in just for show. It created a real world.
Ben and Logan’s relationship is touching, not too cloying, and it seems very ‘real’. Both are characters in their own right, although Ben could have done with a bit of fleshing out. Nevertheless, it wasn’t overstated and I felt like it fitted in nicely with the other elements of the story.
Something I have to say disappointed me was the title. ‘Shattered’ didn’t really describe the way I felt about Logan’s life. Yeah, she’d had a rough time, but it wasn’t that bad! And ‘Shattered’ didn’t really reflect the murder weapon, although I see now it’s perhaps because there is a focus on glass blowing in this first novel. I didn’t realise it was a series until I googled for an image.
Would I give it 5 stars? I’m not sure, but 4.5 for sure. A nice read, even if mysteries aren’t really your ‘thing’, there are plenty of other elements to keep you reading.
I received this novel for free, in both PDF and paperback formats. As always, my opinions are my own.

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