Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts

Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review: House Of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Author: Nicola Cornick
Series: N/A
Audience: +18
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: October 17th 2017
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Publisher
Blurb (from Goodreads):
The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House--a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of romance, deceit and destiny...

1662--A queen

Bound by sex and birth to live for everyone but herself--and to love always in secret--Elizabeth Stuart entrusts a pair of arcane artifacts to her faithful cavalier to keep safe for her rightful heir. But fate will not be generous to the Winter Queen, throwing the question of succession into turmoil, the aftermath of which will resonate through the generations.

1801--A courtesan

Lavinia Flyte wanted so much more from life than to be a courtesan at the mercy of the cruel Lord Evershot. He has brought her to Ashdown, the home of his ancestors, for reasons he guards greedily. But the maids' whispers of hidden treasures--a pearl with the power to foretell the future--consume her with a curiosity she confides only to her diary, unaware of the misfortune that threatens.

And the mystery that binds them

Alarmed to hear her brother has gone missing at Ashdown Park, Holly Ansell is inexplicably drawn to the clues contained in the journal of a Regency courtesan who was living at the historic home when it burned to the ground two hundred years ago. Lured by the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly's search leads her not only to the truth about Lavinia, but deeper into her own connection with the Winter Queen.

For fans of Kate Morton and Barbara Erskine comes an unforgettable novel about the power one lie can have over history.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from Harlequin Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

Every once in a while I get to return to my first love in life, history, through the magic of books. More accurately, I get to enjoy the thrill of trying to piece together the puzzle of people's pasts, while also going on a hunt for lost artifacts. House Of Shadows has that and more.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: N/A
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Wattpad
Blurb (from Goodreads):
The Dead List is a full standalone novel, coming in at roughly 93,000 words. It’s a Young Adult Romantic Suspense Yes. Lots of Romance. Sort of like Don’t Look Back, but a throwback to movies like Scream and the sort of campy fun ones. Think I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Scream. But with more romance.

There are authors out there that stick with you. They have a certain writing style that you fall in love with and you always feel the need to keep reading their stories no matter what. One of those authors for me is Jennifer L. Armentrout. Something in her writing style makes me want to keep coming back, regardless of what genre she writes in, no matter if it's YA or New Adult. I need to read every book she's ever written.

The Dead List is pretty creepy. You might not know this about me, but I'm not one of those people scared of clowns. I don't particularly like them, but they don't freak me out. If I'm at a carnival and some random dude is dressed as a clown, I don't run away screaming. (I know, I might be the only human that doesn't get freaked out by them...). However, this book managed to make me fear the creatures a little bit.

You can easily figure out that something bad happened to one of the characters. It's in the tone of the story, it makes sense. But what happened and why remained a mystery until the very end for me. I liked the pacing of the book a lot. There's a movie-esque feeling to it, with really important parts being separated by flash-backs.

Ella was an interesting character. I love how JLA wrote her as a strong character. I loved the fact that Ella decides to not be a victim, but instead she chooses to find means to defend herself. Of course, JLA never fails at writing strong women in her books, so this character is no different.

I honestly didn't imagine the ending being what it was. The twists were interesting and really made it feel like I was watching a thriller. I loved this book a lot. I can't wait for more books like this one by Armentrout.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Never Sleep by Cady Vance

Author: Cady Vance
Series: -
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: February 23rd 2015
My Rating: 5 cups
Blurb (from Goodreads):
127 days without sleep.

Thora Green had a life once upon a time. But that ended the day her parents enrolled her in sleep clinic prison. At the facility, her chronic months-long insomnia is observed by scads of doctors, but she is never actually treated for her dire disease. In a feat of desperation, Thora escapes and heads straight for New York City. Buried deep in the city’s underbelly, there is rumored to be a secret haven called the Insomniacs’ Café: a place where people like Thora can find relief.

As Thora joins forces with Aiden and Florence, two fellow insomniacs, their midnight quest will take them from the dusty bookshelves of The Strand, to the smokey underground clubs in the Lower East Side, to countless taxi and subway rides. Clues leading to their final destination are waiting for them at every turn. But so are Sleepers—a powerful core of sworn-enemies to all Insomniacs— who wish to see Thora and her friends destroyed at any cost.

I won this book in a giveaway on BookLikes.

Oh wow. WOW! I don't even know where to start talking about this book. I so did not see that one coming! Okay... *deep breath* So here's the thing. I was so surprised by this book. The idea of this book was so new to me. I've never read about insomniacs before.

I liked the twists and turns, some of which I did not see coming at all. The pacing was fantastic. The author gives us tiny scenes from the past, to see how it is that Thora and her brother got to be patients at the Clinic. Those scenes were placed so well in the story, making the tension from the present time seem a little bit bigger, since I wanted to get back to Thora and her friends. And I loved the little quotes at the beginning of the chapters, which kind of set the tone for that chapter and gave an additional explanation as to what and why things were happening.

I loved Thora. She was very sarcastic at times and very funny. She was brave, very brave in some situations where most people would have given up on everything. It was amazing to see how she would gather up whatever energy she had left and keep going, keep trying to find a way to get people to safety. She also knew how to be vulnerable and when to be scared, but also how to not let her fear overwhelm her. I was sad for her, because I kept wondering what the hell were her parents thinking about when they sent her to the Clinic. Why they were acting the way they did when they visited her and her brother. I did get to find the answer to that question at the end of the book, though it was so, so not what I thought it was.

I can't say much without giving the plot away, but the last few chapters were very fast paced. There were a lot of things that happened that were huge and that explained in a way what was happening to the insomniacs and why. The only thing I'm hoping is that a sequel is coming out and that it's coming out soon, because I absolutely adored this world and I'm not ready for it to be over.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker

Lowcountry Punch

Author: Boo Walker
Source: review copy from the author
My Rating: 5 cups
Blurb: (from Goodreads):

After the worst Christmas Eve of his life, DEA Agent T.A. Reddick leaves Miami for the magical city of Charleston, South Carolina, hoping a return to his roots will heal a broken heart and the guilt of killing a friend. The sleepy and sultry town of Charleston is filled with echoes of the Old South: genteel playboys, society debutantes, and quiet cobblestone streets. But as Reddick will soon discover, there's danger lurking under her charming veneer. When a movie star's death shines a national spotlight on Charleston's underground cocaine trade, he must go undercover to find the main supplier and shut him down. As a hurricane bears down on the port city and the DEA gets ready to spring its trap, Reddick must contend with more than he ever could have imagined.

Brash and bold, TA Reddick is a hero you won’t soon forget. Lowcountry Punch is an action-packed novel that will have you on your knees begging for more.

This is one of those "don't judge a book by its cover" situations. Of course, now that I read the book I understand the cover more than I did before.

I'm glad I got to read this book. It made me stay glued to my e-reader and glare at anyone who dared to interrupt me (yes, I'm that type of reader). It was a very fast-paced mystery novel and I truly, truly loved it.

It's been a while since I've read a story that's told only from the hero's perspective. I forgot how fun it was to be inside a guy's head. TA Reddick is actually a fun character. I liked his sense of humor, the fact that he was brutally honest with everyone, the fact that he was able to admit his feelings without thinking he was less of a man for talking about them. I loved his sense of justice and the fact that he was able to do the right thing even if he didn't like it. I respected him for that a lot and that's probably why a lot of the people he worked with and people who knew him respected him. He was an incredible character, one of those that stick with you even after you've finished reading the book.

There were a lot of scenes full of suspense and those scenes kept me on the edge of my seat a lot. Also, there were moments that were very funny and tender moments and some sad ones. It had everything I could ask for from a mystery novel and I couldn't be happier.

I'm actually sitting here hoping there will be a second book with this character. It's easy to love him and I feel like I could spend a lot of time reading about his adventures and his cases. I think this is one of those "must-reads". Especially if you're a mystery thriller fan.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: Fighting the Devil by Jeannie Walker

Fighting the Devil: A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison, and Murder

Author: Jeannie Walker
Source: review copy offered by the author
My Rating: 4 cups
Blurb (from Goodreads):

A Texas millionaire rancher discovered his wife and bookkeeper had stolen thousands of dollars from him. After he demanded the money back, he started getting sick. While in the hospital, doctors were mystified as to how an otherwise healthy, energetic man could become so deathly ill. The dying man told everyone within earshot that his wife and bookkeeper were killing him. The man's wife said her husband was hallucinating from drugs the doctors were giving him. The millionaire rancher succumbed in the hospital while strapped down to his bed with restraints on his hands and feet and tubes in every orifice. After the rancher died, an anonymous caller tipped off the police. The widow was the sole beneficiary of the estate and a $350,000 life insurance policy. A week before the man's death, a teenager visited the rancher's home and became deathly ill after he drank juice that was in the rancher's refrigerator. Two years after the millionaire's death, a bottle of arsenic was found in a storage locker rented by a woman under an assumed name. The millionaire's ex-wife, the mother of his children, became a sleuth to help solve the murder. No one could have predicted the aftermath with its strange twists and unexpected results.

Every now and then I feel the need to read a book based on reality. Non-fiction if you like, though my head tells me non-fiction has more to do with text books, exams and sleepless nights. But what do I know? Anyway, like I said, sometimes I need to read something autobiographical.

I have to say, Fighting the Devil wasn't what I expected. I was expecting suspense, drama, some really intense moments, maybe a little scary scenes. What I didn't expect was to be so emotional while I was reading. From sadness to anger, love, hate, fear, pity, revolted, I felt them all. I wasn't expecting that or the fact that I couldn't put it down.

The story is, I think, one of the saddest I've read this year. It's even sadder because it's true. I always get amazed by some people's cruelness and greed and their lack of compassion and conscience. It's something that to me is extremely disturbing sometimes. Of course, I did get to read about murder cases, so it's not exactly news to me, but it is still a little weird and sad.

The only thing I felt was a little too much were the religious references or the little scenes around that subject. But that's just because I'm not an overly religious person.

If you like non-fiction, true crime stories, you should try this one. It's a book that won't let you put it down.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors by Sherri Hayes

Behind Closed Doors (Daniels Brothers #1)

Author: Sherri Hayes
Series: Daniels Brothers #1
My Rating: 4.5 cups
Blurb: (from Goodreads):

Elizabeth Marshall spent the last nine years doing all the things she was supposed to do. She went to a good college. Married a man with a promising future. Elizabeth even had a nice house in a respectable part of town. There was even the promise of 2.4 kids in her future. From the outside everything looked picture perfect.

One night, six months ago, the world she lived in came crashing down. Her husband dead and her friends gone, Elizabeth moves to the small town of Springfield to start a new life for herself where no one knows who she is or anything to do with her past.

Christopher Daniels enjoys the simplicity of his bachelor life. After his divorce three years ago, he swore off women. He has no desire to change that philosophy.

When Elizabeth Marshall moves into the apartment below him in the small Victorian house, she makes him begin to reconsider the motto he’s lived by for the last three years: women are trouble. She is everything is ex wife was not and it doesn’t help that she is his wet dream come to life.

He is determined to resist her charms, however when someone starts sending threatening messages to Elizabeth, he finds himself in the role of protector. Can he protect Elizabeth and still be able to resist the pull she has on his body and his heart?

Behind Closed Doors is a great book and an amazing first book in a series. I think the first thing that drew my attention as I was reading the book was that the action wasn't rushed. I didn't at any moment felt like things were happening too fast or too slow or that they were forced. It felt sort of natural for things to happen at a precise moment and it was a really good thing.

I liked Elizabeth so much and my heart was breaking for her the entire time I was reading about her past. I liked the fact that in the end she finds closure and she gets to move on with her life with a man that really loved her. Elizabeth had that innocent air about her that I like a lot for some heroines. Not naive, but innocent, despite her past.

Chris was a very interesting hero. I liked the fact that he wasn't the type of guy who jumped to conclusions and the fact that he wanted to protect Elizabeth even before they got romantically involved. And I loved that he was always reassuring her, trying to make her feel wanted and precious without telling her that her insecurities were foolish. I also liked that he had sexy brothers *grins*

Behind Closed Doors has a lot of the themes I love, like mystery, romance, suspense and, my personal favorite, the story about second chances. It was a very sweet story and I am really curious about the other Daniels brothers. I really can't wait for their stories.

It was the first book by Sherri Hayes that I've read, but I know for sure I'll keep reading her books.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: Death on Heels by Ellen Byerrum

Death on Heels (A Crime of Fashion Mystery #8) 

Author: Ellen Byerrum
Series: Crimes of Fashion #8
My Rating: 5 cups
Blurb (from Goodreads):

Never! D.C. style scribe Lacey Smithsonian always swore she would never go back—back to Sagebrush, Colorado, that scruffy hard-luck Western boomtown where she'd earned her reporter’s spurs. But then three young women are murdered, their bodies left barefoot on lonely country roads, and the accused is her old boyfriend, Sagebrush rancher Cole Tucker. Lacey cowgirls up and heads out West (in her best cowboy boots) to prove Tucker's innocence. And perhaps to resolve the last of her old feelings for the man she had loved and left. Naturally, Lacey's plan doesn’t sit well with her current beau, private investigator Vic Donovan, who has his own history (and game plan) in Sagebrush.

Tucker takes one look at Lacey and kicks over everyone's game plan: He abducts her in a daring courthouse escape into the badlands of northern Colorado. On the run from the law with her old flame, in stolen vehicles and on horseback, with Vic and the posse in pursuit, Lacey's world turns upside down. Who can she trust? Tucker or Vic? The law or her own feelings and her reporter's instincts? Caught between two men, with a vicious killer on her trail, Death on Heels is a whole new—and potentially fatal—frontier for this fashion reporter.

Amazing! That's the first word that comes to my mind when thinking about this book. I don't even know where to begin, since I loved the entire book. It had everything: it had humor, sarcasm, action, romance and everything in between.

I loved Lacey. She's so funny, sassy, sarcastic, incredibly curious, stubborn. It was so fun reading about her adventures. I also loved her fashion articles and recommendations. They were fun to read and for someone who has nothing in common with fashion they were actually full with good ideas. Though I'm not sure I want to give up my old, favorite bag yet :P

I am new to this series and I am very sorry for that, because I feel like I almost lost an amazing story and a great heroine. I have to go back and learn more about her friends, Brooke and Stella, and about how Lacey and Vic reunited. Also, I want to read more of Lacey's Fashion Bites columns and about the troubles she's getting into.

If you haven't yet started this series and you want to read something fun and entertaining and something new, don't wait any longer! Read this series NOW!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Review: On Message by Joyce T. Strand

Currently Reading

Author: Joyce T. Strand
Series: Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries #1
Rating: 5 cups
Source: copy offered by the author
Blurb (from Amazon):

Murder intrudes on Jillian Hillcrest’s routine as head communications executive at a small Silicon Valley biotechnology company. She is eagerly staying “on message” to inform investors, the media, and the community about her company, Harmonia Therapeutics, and its latest drug candidate in Phase 2 clinical trials for the difficult-to-diagnose and treat autoimmune disease, lupus. When someone near to her is murdered, a determined San Francisco police inspector involves her in the investigation, convinced she is key to solving the crime. She co-operates fully only to find that solving a murder is more hazardous than writing press releases. On Message is the first of a series of Jillian Hillcrest mysteries.

A mystery after my own heart. There are so many things I loved about this book I seriously don't know where to start. First, I had no idea who the killer was. I was thinking of a different person so I was so happy and pleasantly surprised that I was wrong. Second of all, I liked that there was always a phrase or a small scene or a detail that changed my opinion of certain characters. Then there's the fact that I couldn't figure out the motive for the murders. For me, that was one of the things that kept me reading the book. I really wanted to know why.

Jillian is a wonderful character. She's smart, strong willed, funny, stubborn, friendly. Also (and this is one thing that made me love her more) she's a coffee addict. She's also still friends with her ex husband and I liked that. That might be a strange friendship, but I'm fond of those. And the romance addict in me hopes that maybe they'll get back together and stay that way :P

I loved the pacing. The book didn't stall when it didn't need to and it didn't rush when it wasn't necessary. Another thing I loved were the smaller chapters with POVs from other characters. I loved that. Besides having the previous chapter end with a cliffhanger, you would also get a view inside some other character's head and that made the entire book feel multidimensional. Sort of like one of those "meanwhile" moments in movies. I loved that.

Oh, I also loved Cynthia Anderson, Jillian's neighbor. Reminded me of one of my older neighbors back home and how much I loved her. I do believe everyone needs a neighbor like Mrs. Anderson.

I don't know if it's good or bad (if you ask me, it's a very good thing), but I can't think of a single thing I didn't like or that I wished was different. I think it's one of those mystery books that any mystery fan should read, so it's definitely on my Recommended list. I also can't wait for the next installment, Open Meetings, sometimes this year I think.

Do read this wonderful book, you won't be disappointed!

My Rating:
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: Lethal Remedy by Richard L. Mabry

Lethal Remedy (Prescription for Trouble, #4) 

Author: Richard L. Mabry
Series: Prescription for Trouble #4
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: NetGalley
Blurb: (from Goodreads)

What happens when the race to stop a lethal bacteria becomes a race to stop a killer?

Dr. Sara Miles’s teenage patient is on the brink of death from an overwhelming, highly resistant infection with Staph luciferus, known to doctors as “the killer.” Only an experimental antibiotic, developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll, can save the girl's life.

Seeking to put his life back together after the death of his wife, Dr. John Ramsey joins the medical center faculty staff. But his decision to do so could prove to be costly and even fatal.

Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late. What is the missing puzzle piece? And who is hiding it?

I was very excited when I heard there was another book in the Prescription for Trouble series coming out. Granted, I didn't manage to read the first two books yet, but I was still excited.

I have to say I liked this book better than the third book, Diagnosis Death. I think it was probably because it was a bit different than what I read before. The idea that there's a magic drug that can cure a lethal virus was brilliant. I was expecting the secondary effects, what I didn't expect was the way the characters  out what the drug did and how it did that. I liked that. I also liked how Mr. Mabry explained certain medical terms and made them understandable for someone with little or no medical training.

I also liked the characters. Sara was a very strong woman, one who has been through a lot of pain, but managed to live through it. She's also dedicated to her work and trying all she can to save her patients. Rip was an interesting character. He's a very good friend and a good doctor. He's the kind of guy you can depend on.

There are other characters in this book that I loved, but I'll let you judge them as you see fit.

I can't wait for other books from this author. I'm going to read the other books in the series very soon.

My Rating:
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Cedardale Court by Nathan Lee Christensen

Cedardale Court

Author: Nathan Lee Christensen
Blurb: (from Goodreads)

Cedardale Court is a neo-gothic murder mystery with enough fools and old flames to keep you happily mixed up for most of a long weekend. When Canner Connelly and his daughter, Chloe, move in with their Uncle Henry, and a simple drainage problem turns a normal Sunday morning into a slightly darker affair, it's not easy to tell where everyone might end up, or if they'll even make it at all.

About the book

Picture a small town, where everyone knows everyone. You know when your neighbor is having a fight with his wife, when the old lady living next door is cooking, when somebody new is into town or when your neighbor is physically abusing his wife. Every day is the same and news travel really fast. So when a body is found chopped into hundreds of pieces after an accident, everyone knows about it. The victim is a school teacher with a lot of secrets.

The characters in this book are amazing. You have the grumpy old guy in love with his neighbor, the nice old lady next door, the couple that fights every single day, the depressed guy who doesn't have the will to "not die". In the middle of this town full of colorful characters Canner Connelly and his daughter, Chloe, try to find peace, to escape from the suffering that has been haunting them for the past 10 years.

What I liked

I loved how the author managed to get inside every character's mind, the way Mr. Christensen leaves the reader to get to know all of them better. And I think he does it wonderfully. It didn't leave me with a sense of exhaustion or with the feeling that I didn't need to know a certain detail. And he did so, while keeping the mystery and the suspense up to date and it didn't feel like the action wasn't moving. You have many subplots that develop or are revealed while the main plot is moving forward. Even if at times a subplot forces you to turn back in time, you actually understand the reasons for that.

Every character has a voice and I think it's what gives this book a complex feeling.

What I didn't like

It's not exactly a thing that I didn't like, it's more of a question of how I viewed Chloe. She didn't seem like a ten year old girl to me. I felt her more like a twelve, even thirteen year old girl. And it's not because she's more mature than the other girls her age. Maybe it's because of her story and the story of her parents, that may have forced her to act like she's older.

I think this is a good book and for being a debut novel, I think it's even more amazing. I definitely enjoyed reading this book and I can't wait for the next book by Mr. Christensen.

My Rating:
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

The Heart of a Killer (The Killer, #1)
Author: Jaci Burton
Series: The Killer #1
Blurb: (from Goodreads)

Before the Special Forces hero has even unpacked his bags from twelve years of active duty, he's embroiled in murder—corpses bearing the brutal trademark he's seen only once before—on the worst night of his life.
The last time Detective Anna Pallino saw Dante Renaldi, they were in love. Now, he's part of the connection to a string of fresh homicides and a horrible assault Anna only survived thanks to him.
More than anything, Anna wants to trust Dante. But as the bodies and the coincidences stack up, Anna will have to decide, and fast: Is the man she owes her life to the very same one who wants her dead?

I've been reading Ms Burton's books for years now and I've never encountered a book that I didn't like. This book is no exception.

The first book in the series The Killer, The Heart of a Killer is a wonderful story of teenage lovers reunited, second chances and a serial killer. If there's one author that can make this story work, I think that's Jaci Burton. 

First of all, I loved the fact that I couldn't figure out who the killer was. I was absolutely shocked when the killer was revealed and even more when his motives surfaced. I did not expect that. And I think that's what makes a good suspense, or at least for me. The not knowing something. It's not suspense for me if I can anticipate, you know?

Second, the characters were amazing and complex. Dante was a bad boy as a teenager and twelve years haven't changed him that much. He's still a bad boy, only his lethal now. The army polished him, making him more dangerous, sexier and more mature. He is still in love with Anna, even after not seeing her for over a decade, and he's willing to do anything to protect her. He's also very fond of his foster brothers, even if he didn't keep in contact with them. I'm guessing he didn't do it because of the temptation of coming back.

Anna is very different than when she was a teenager. If she was shy and innocent and sweet before her attack, now she is tougher, more serious and more careful about who to trust. Even so, I think she too couldn't forget Dante, although I'm sure she tried. 

I think this series will be a very good one. I can't wait for the next book, see if we're going to find out more about Gabe. 

My Rating:
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: The Shakespeare Secret by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Author: Jennifer Lee Carrell
Series: Kate Stanley #1
Blurb: (from Goodreads)

A long-lost work of Shakespeare, newly found.
A killer who stages the Bard’s extravagant murders as flesh-and-blood realities.
A desperate race to find literary gold, and just to stay alive. . . .

On the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet, Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. But before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe burns to the ground and Roz is found dead . . . murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet’s father. Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, high-stakes treasure hunt.

From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and decipher a tantalizing string of clues, hidden in the words of Shakespeare, that may unlock literary history’s greatest secret. At once suspenseful and elegantly written, Interred with Their Bones is poised to become the next bestselling literary adventure in the tradition of The Thirteenth Tale and The Historian.

 Two years ago I was browsing my favorite bookshop in Italy in search for something fun to read on the plane on my way back home. I was a very happy camper that the bookshop had a special floor just for books in English, so I just HAD to buy at least one book. I saw the cover, which I absolutely loved, and the blurb convinced me that this might be a good book. I was wrong. It's an amazing book.

The book starts with the scene of the original Globe Theater burning on June 29, 1613. That prologue left me with so many questions, I felt I had to read the rest of the book, to at least find some answers. In the present day, we meet Kate Stanley and her former teacher and mentor, Rosalind "Roz" Howard. Fast forward a few hours, and Roz is dead, the Globe Theater is again on fire and Kate is followed by a killer. The only link between these events is Shakespeare.

I won't go into details, for fear of giving something away. I can tell you what I liked about the book, though. First of all, I liked the way Ms Carrell managed to throw little scenes from the past, adding even more mystery to the book. I can't comment on their accuracy, but the small details, the little hints and the cliffhangers, everything was perfect about them, from my point of view.

I loved Ben. Ben is a man hired to protect Kate if she starts searching for the truth behind the gift that Roz gave her on the night she died. I don't think there's anything lacking about him. He's British, he's smart, he reads, he helps Kate get out of dangerous situations, he's very intuitive. Even though he lacks deep knowledge about Shakespeare, Ben manages to keep up with Kate's thinking, with their search and he even points out some things that maybe Kate missed.

I also loved the fact that I didn't get to figure out who the killer is until the very end.  I don't know about the others who've read the book, but I totally didn't expect the killer to be who it turned out to be. And I loved that, because I couldn't figure out the killer's motives. I mean, he had more than one chance to kill Kate, and yet he doesn't. Why? What does  Kate have, that Roz didn't?

Then come the details about Shakespeare's work and about the mystery surrounding the real William Shakespeare. The details are many and you can see the author did her research very well. I didn't mind them, though for someone not interested in knowing more about the Bard, they can be a little difficult to get past and a little "too much" history. They did get a bit too in depth at some time, but I believe those details helped combine the real, non-fiction mystery behind the Bard, and the mystery from the book.

I loved the book the first time I read it, and I love it even more now, while I'm rereading. It doesn't feel boring or less thrilling on the second read. Even though I know the story and I know who the killer is, I still can't figure out if there was a point where I could be able to say "Here is the hint that the killer is who he is". Of course, now that I'm rereading it, I can manage paying more attention to the historical details about Shakespeare and the attempts many historians and scholars have made to uncover who the Bard really was.

I was extremely happy when I heard there was a sequel and I read on Ms. Carrell's website that she plans on writing more stories about Kate and Shakespeare. I'm only hoping we'll get a new book about them sooner rather than later.

My Rating:
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Author: Raymond Khoury
Blurb (from Goodreads):

In a hail of fire and flashing sword, as the burning city of Acre falls from the hands of the West in 1291, The Last Templar opens with a young Templar knight, his mentor, and a handful of others escaping to the sea carrying a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master. The ship vanishes without a trace.
In present day Manhattan, four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights emerge from Central Park and ride up the Fifth Avenue steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the blacktie opening of a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. Storming through the crowds, the horsemen brutally attack anyone standing between them and their prize. Attending the gala, archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen hones in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic Latin words as he takes hold of it with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the night.
In the aftermath, an FBI investigation is led by anti-terrorist specialist Sean Reilly. Soon, he and Tess are drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, plunging them into a deadly game of cat and mouse with ruthless killers as they race across three continents to recover the lost secret of the Templars
This book has been sitting on my shelf for about a year after I bought it before I finally got to read it. Being the history nerd that I am, I saw the title and I couldn't resist buying it. I kept putting it off because I was afraid this was going to be another hit and miss for me, like other books on this subject were.

I can't say I didn't like the book, because I'd be lying. There were some great parts that this book had, like the flashbacks from the past. I love it when an author manages to combine the present actions with past scenes and Raymond Khoury did that very well in my opinion. And the historical details were very well introduced in the book, though I feel that at times the history lesson was too much. The suspense, the not knowing what artifact is the one being searched was good. It wasn't about what it was, but more of to whom it belonged in the first place. Who was the first person who had that artifact, before the templars got hold of it.  I think that was an interesting question to answer.

The plot isn't new, it's not something you haven't yet read. It's very well told, but it's not new. The characters surprised me though, and not in a good way. It might be a stereotype, but aren't detectives supposed to be...well, detectives? I mean, Sean Rilley wasn't the detective he came across, he wasn't intuitive, he didn't manage to get inside the criminal's mind, he lacked that certain something that I believe detectives should have. Not to mention the fact that Tess manages to somehow become the boss in this little adventure. Tess would've been a perfect detective. And it's not because she has the historical knowledge to back her up, it's because she has the traits that Sean doesn't. Then there's the romance that develops between them that feels so premature to me and a bit unprofessional. I mean, they could feel attracted to each other and explore those feelings after the investigation is completed.

I think this is a book the readers of The da Vinci Code would enjoy.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout

Author: Jennifer Armintrout
Blurb (from Goodreads):

Buried in the Heartland is a town that no one enters or leaves. Graf McDonald somehow becomes its first visitor in more than five years…and he was only looking for a good party. Unfortunately, Penance, Ohio, is not that place. And after having been isolated for so long, they do not like strangers at all.
Jessa's the only one to even remotely trust him, and she's desperate for the kind of protection that only a vampire like Graf can provide. Supplies are low, the locals are ornery for a sacrifice and there's a monster more powerful than Graf lurking in the woods. New men are hard to come by in this lonesome town, and this handsome stranger might be Jessa's only hope for salvation.
Even if she has to die first…"

This is the first Jennifer Armintrout book I've read and I think it's a good book to start with. It has romance, adventure, mystery, suspense and, dare I say, a little coming of age theme. I do believe it's the first novel with that combination that I've read.

Graf isn't your typical hero. Yes, he's a vampire and he loves vintage cars and leather, but he's not what I'd call a hero. He's not very mature, on the contrary, he acts like a thirteen year old all the time. He has that "mine is bigger than yours" attitude. But, as the story progresses, you can see him maturing. He stops acting like being a vampire makes him king of the world and starts thinking of others before himself. I do believe he was very unfortunate to end up stuck in Penance, but I also think he deserved it. Even the town's name says it: he had some sins he needed to atone for and grow up at the same time. The Graf at the beginning of the story wouldn't have put himself between the angry townsmen and Jessa and he wouldn't have saved her life.

Jessa is one of those women who don't accept their age and can't let go of the past. On the night 'It' appeared, she lost her family, leaving her all alone in a town that didn't have anything to offer her. Her ex-boyfriend married her best friend, though he couldn't let go of their "high school sweetheart" relationship. I don't think Jessa likes that kind of life, but she clearly isn't making any move to change it. Maybe she's waiting for a sign or maybe she believes everything that happened is her fault. She is a little bitchy at times and that kind of annoyed me at some point. But she too grows up as the story is told and she manages to let go of the past.

The book was funny. I laughed at some parts and the snarky remarks between Jessa and Graf made me smile a lot. Some parts of the book were a bit too much for my tastes, but the book kept me in its grasp from start to finish. I will definitely try other novels by Ms. Armintrout.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: Diagnosis Death by Richard L. Mabry

Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4 cups

Blurb (from Abingdon Press):

When her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner began. Another death during her training puts her under suspicion. When the pattern is repeated in the hospital where she is attempting to start over, the whispers turn into a shout: “mercy killing.” What is the dark secret that keeps Allison’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself?

Despite her move to a new city, the midnight phone calls that started after her husband’s death follow Elena. Who is the woman who sobs out, “I know what you did?” What does she mean by “You’ll pay?” And what can Elena do to prevent it?

Two physicians, widowers themselves, offer support, telling Elena they know what she is going through after the death of her husband. But do they? And is it safe to trust either of them with her secret? 

 I just finished reading this book about half an hour ago and I must say I was impressed. Before I did the request for this book at NetGalley I asked myself a million questions about it. I was afraid this was some ER/House M.D. medical drama. I am really sorry I believed that. While it is a medical drama, it's also a mystery novel.

At the center of this novel is Elena Gardner. She is a few weeks before she completes her residency and will be able to start her own practice. Her husband, Mark, died a few months before due to a stroke, after being for two weeks in a coma. She's a very complex character. She's a very good doctor and she knows how to interact with both patients and their families. I also liked that she admitted her mistakes, when she made them. I think that in makes her look more...let's say human. Instead of the "I can never get it wrong" attitude that some doctors have, she realized she did a mistake and she accepted it. I liked that very much.

You can also tell that she really loved her husband and that his death was something that was really hard for her to deal with. She's almost scared to move on with her life, feeling that "her sense of security died with her husband".

Her "shoulder to cry on" is David. They met in the resident school and they've been very good friends ever since. He's the one that knows her better than anyone and the person she goes to when she needs an advice, a friendly face or just someone to eat dinner with. He also has very strong  feelings for her, but I think he waited for a sign that she was ready for his feelings. I think her decision to accept to move to Dainger was his sign and he finally tells her how he feels.

I really liked how the author managed to keep the mystery up until the last 30 pages or so of the book. I really didn't guess who the killer/stalker was. I liked that a lot and also the fact that it wasn't predictable to me.

What I didn't particularly like was the fact that the novel was a little slow at first. It didn't really bother me, I was just anxious I guess.

I liked the book and the author's writing style. And since I learned it's the third book in the series Prescription for Trouble I think I'll go hunting for the other books to read them.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

Rating: DNF

Blurb (from Goodreads):
FBI Special agent Brad Raines is facing his toughest case yet. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and he's picking up his pace. Unable to crack the case, Raines appeals for help from a most unusual source: residents of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals whose are extraordinarily gifted.

It's there that he meets Paradise, a young woman who witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped his hand. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Paradise may also have an extrasensory gift: the ability to experience the final moments of a person's life when she touches the dead body.

In a desperate attempt to find the killer, Raines enlists Paradise's help. In an effort to win her trust, he befriends this strange young woman and begins to see in her qualities that most 'sane people' sorely lack. Gradually, he starts to question whether sanity resides outside the hospital walls...or inside.

As the Bride Collector picks up the pace-and volume-of his gruesome crucifixions, the case becomes even more personal to Raines when his friend and colleague, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector's next target.

The FBI believes that the killer plans to murder seven women. Can Paradise help before it's too late?


When I read the blurb I couldn't wait to sit down and devour the book. It had me at "serial killer". What could be more interesting for a psychology graduate than a book about a serial killer? The cover and the title also attracted me. The book starts with a crime scene, which I thought was very well described. It made me picture the scene very clearly, which I thought was very good. I also liked Raines partner, Nikki, a forensic psychologist. I liked her not only because of her job, but also for how the author imagined her: she knows when to ask questions and when to listen, she admits that she can't "figure" everybody out, even though that's her job.

I also liked how the people with a high intelligence are described. Yes, geniuses sometimes have mental problems and yes, they are outcasts. And I liked that the author managed to show that.

The book lost me the moment the killer was revealed very quickly. I know that the police have no clue who the killer is, but I do. And I like the mystery and the thrill of not knowing who the killer is. Maybe the idea is to show that the killer was a genius and how he manages to avoid looking too suspicious to the cops. But I'd rather "feel" that he's a genius without knowing his identity. I would have liked a little exercise, a little more mystery. The few scenes from the killers POV that I read didn't give me the image of a genius. Instead he appeared like any other sociopath to me.

I do think that the book has potential and maybe some readers wouldn't be put off by the early (dare I say prematurely) reveal of the killer's identity.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book review - Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Blurb (from Goodreads):

"July 2005. In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice Tanner, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery - two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls and the pattern of a labyrinth; between the skeletons, a stone ring, and a small leather bag. Too late Alice realizes that she has set in motion a terrifying sequence of events and that her destiny is inextricably tied up with the fate of those called heretics eight hundred years before.
July 1209. On the eve of a brutal crusade sent by the pope to stamp out heresy, a crusade that will rip apart southern France, seventeen-year-old Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father as he leaves to fight the crusaders. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. As crusading armies led by Church potentates and nobles of northern France gather outside the city walls of Carcassonne, it will take great sacrifice to keep safe the secret of the labyrinth, a secret that has been guarded for thousands of years. "

My review:

The book starts in modern-day France, with Alice Tanner discovering two skeletons in a cave. Scared by the ghosts of the past, she runs back at the camp and soon the police start interrogating her. Who is she? Why did she feel the need to get away from the camp? Why dig there? What did  she see in the cave? All questions that confuse her and make her feel threatened. So she runs, convinced there's something weird about the detective questioning her. Just when an innocent man gets killed and Alice is forced to run again the story goes back in time, in 1209. We meet Alais, a young woman who discovers a body in the river next to the town she lives in. Scared, she runs to tell her father, certain she'll be chastised for getting out of the town without an escort, but her father's attitude is nothing like the one she suspected. Soon, her father's secrets will change her life forever.

One of the things that I loved about this book were the historical details. Being nuts about history made me devour every bit of historical paragraph in this book. And there were many. I'm sure the author had to research a lot in order to get as many accurate details as possible in the book.  I admit I had to Google some information I found there, in part for checking the accuracy of the details, in part because I wanted to learn more about them.

Another thing that I loved was the way the author changed time frames. The cliffhangers drove me crazy, making me want to read faster, until my vision was blurry. Plus, the change of scenery and time frame made the mystery more...believable for me.  At some point though I got confused because of the many characters in the book, maybe because some of them are so much alike.

I found it very similar to The Da Vinci Code, but better. I think Labyrinth was a lot more easier to read and the action started right away and it didn't stumble along the way, it didn't stall. Even if the main plot didn't have twists and turns at every page, the subplots did. The characters seemed believable, not a little bit fake. I can't say more about the similarities, because I couldn't finish Dan Brown's book, but I'm sure I won't make a mistake by saying that Labyrinth is the better of the two.

I believe the author did a great job at combining history with mystery and a little bit of romance.

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