The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood ~ Fiction Book Review

16171281I enjoyed walking the perilous tightrope that was this book. I don’t believe in adding spoilers in my reviews. That said, most people probably read the back cover before they read the book, so here’s the premise – two eleven year old girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they’re murders. How could I resist a plot like that?

This book covers the subject from almost every angle. What really happened that fateful day is revealed in flashbacks throughout the book until we’re left with a scene which could easily happen to any adolescent who merely steps their toe across the line of responsible behavior – and at that age, who doesn’t?

The book follows the women 25 years later, exploring the lives they’ve made for themselves and the issues they deal with as they struggle to reconcile the past that haunts them both. One of the themes of this book seems to be that one mistake, a single instant of poor decision making in life can stay with you forever, a dark cloud shadowing the rest of your days. I loved the ending of the book, the last few pages where the author slides in another slice of damnation in an almost tongue in cheek sleight of hand. 5 stars.

Wolf by Mo Hayder ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb27.jpgMo Hayder has done it again. She never fails to astound me with a tale that is both sharply crafted and breathlessly astounding. Hayder is one of my favorite authors, but I haven’t read all of her books. Instead of the instant gratification of consuming everything she has ever written, I dole out her works sparingly, as a special treat.

Hayder is the mistress of brutal story lines. She unflinchingly confronts the darkest nightmares of humanity. And I love her for it.

But she is more than just a shock jock. Her prose is beautifully crafted. Her characters’ lives extend beyond the pages. She is a  master craftsman, a writer one can learn from, no matter what genre they spin. Hayder has a supreme ability to convey setting. Each silken thread of the spider’s web you find yourself in has been spun with a loving touch. Without her uncanny ability to create setting and atmosphere with such precision that her words practically surround you with a hologram illusion in the room you’re reading in, her stories wouldn’t have such the powerful effect that they have. 5 stars!

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb26I LOVED this book!!! The Kind Worth Killing has received a fair amount of attention. Usually I’ve found that you can’t believe the hype, especially when a book is touted as the next Gone Girl ‘fill in the blank’. I don’t like this marketing ploy. I think it’s unfair to both authors and readers, but especially readers. Who’s to say what it is about a book you love that made you love it? Just because another book has similar qualities, it doesn’t necessarily make it a comparable work. Take, for overused example, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train – maybe if my hopes hadn’t been built up by the hype and comparisons, the latter book wouldn’t have been such a disappointment.

I almost didn’t pick up The Kind Worth Killing for that very reason. But I’m very glad I did. I don’t want to hop on the comparison bandwagon and say that if you liked Gone Girl then this is the book you’ve been waiting for, but it’s the most apt book for this comparison that I’ve come across.

  • Interesting, well developed characters? Check
  • Engaging plot? Check
  • Sharp dialogue? Check
  • Successful plot twists? (As in actually catching the reader by surprise with a turn of events that they didn’t see coming). Check

I can’t say that everyone will feel the same way I do about this book, but I was extremely happy with this novel. I couldn’t put it down. It inspired me to be more creative in every way that I can. It made me think. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read it, and it’s still on my mind. That is the quality that I LOVE most in a book. 5++++ stars!

Nine by Jan Burke ~ Fiction Book Review

wpb16I read my first Jan Burke book over ten years ago and really enjoyed it. Yet, for some strange reason that I still can’t figure out, I never picked up any of her other books until a few months ago, when I read her short story anthology, Eighteen, which I loved so much that it inspired me to write a fresh batch of my own short stories.

I know Burke’s Irene Kelly series is wildly popular, but I’m fickle about series. You get attached. You make (imaginary) friends. Eventually the author takes the characters you know and love down a character arc you can’t forgive, and you lose a loved one. I no longer see the point in entering what is bound to be a tragic relationship doomed from the start.

Nine is one of Burke’s stand alone novels. It seems as though she feels that it’s important for the reader to really know the characters, to understand where they’re coming from and what their motivation is. That may have slowed the pacing in this book a bit. By the end of the book, it didn’t matter at all. If she had sped through the plot instead of building the slow and steady suspense that culminated in a big, breathless climax, it wouldn’t have been the same ride. (And this book is a ride.) 5 stars.

Faithless by Karin Slaughter ~ Fiction Book Review

book20.jpgKarin Slaughter is a #1 internationally bestselling author of mystery and crime with over twenty novels under her belt – and yet, surprisingly,  I’ve never read anything she’s written until now. I jumped right in with #5 in the “Grant County” series, and quickly fell into stride – she includes enough of the backstory from past books in the series that I never felt lost or struggling to catch up.

I enjoyed the plot more than the characters, but this may be due to picking up a book in the middle of a series – I didn’t ‘grow’ with them from the start. The writing is fast paced, easy, and enjoyable. The subject matter is hard, not as brutal as Mo Hayder, but definitely violent. The book left me feeling satisfied. Should I stumble upon another book by this author in my travels, I won’t hesitate to read it. Five stars.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult ~ Fiction Review

book9I picked up this book not knowing anything about it but the author. I had no idea about the plot or the significance of 19 minutes. I was pleased to find myself immersed in a controversial subject ripped from the headlines – something that Picoult does well.

Jodi Picoult is a storyteller. I love the way she writes, the way she puts herself (and the reader) in the shoes of such a wide array of characters. I especially love it when she pushes you into the uncomfortable position of considering circumstances from a point of view you’d rather not experience.

The good news, besides really enjoying this book, is that I finally made it through a Jodi Picoult book without crying! The bad news is that once I finish one of her books and pick up something written by another author, it tends to pale in comparison because Picoult has mastered the trifecta of fiction writing – the plot, pacing, and emotion always work together to create a dynamic vehicle that drives the reader to race through the book, unable to put it down.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn ~ Fiction Review

book8I really liked the premise for this book. I thought the idea was fresh and exciting. The characters were well developed and as damaged as you’d expect, this being a book written by Gillian Flynn. The novel was rife with her characteristic psychological mayhem. The pacing was perfect. All in all, it was well done.

But sometimes, I’m hard to please. I was left feeling slightly disappointed. I didn’t love the ending. It didn’t leave me breathless, which is in large part my fault. I couldn’t help but to compare it to Gone Girl, which isn’t fair. After readjusting my expectations back to reality, this was really quite a good book and one I would recommend. 4.5 to 5 stars.

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