Tag: #bookreview

“If She Wakes” by Michael Koryta

“If She Wakes” by Michael Koryta

Narrated by Robert Petkoff

Tara Beckley is a senior at idyllic Hammel College in Maine. As she drives to deliver a visiting professor to a conference, a horrific car accident kills the professor and leaves Tara in a vegetative state. At least, so her doctors think. In fact, she’s a prisoner of locked-in syndrome: fully alert but unable to move a muscle. Trapped in her body, she learns that someone powerful wants her dead – but why? And what can she do, lying in a hospital bed, to stop them?

Abby Kaplan, an insurance investigator, is hired by the college to look in to Tara’s case. A former stunt driver, Abby returned home after a disaster in Hollywood left an actor dead and her own reputation – and nerves – shattered. Despite the fog of trauma, she can tell that Tara’s car crash was no accident. When she starts asking questions, things quickly spin out of control, leaving Abby on the run and a mysterious young hit man named Dax Blackwell hard on her heels.

This story is fascinating, thrilling, and a little bit creepy. All the things I look for in a thriller. There is an urgency to the story from the very first words. A sense of something ominous about to happen. Tara is just trying to be friendly with the guest speaker she is escorting to the college event. Then it all goes terribly wrong.

I love the way the author uses Tara to push the investigation forward, even though she is suffering from locked-in syndrome and seemingly has no way to communicate. I really appreciated how he explored what was going on in her thoughts, the feeling of indignity when the nurses talked about her like she wasn’t in the room, the desperation she feels when she realizes that she can’t communicate, and the relief when her sister fights for her rights when she is helpless. This aspect of the story is a reminder that just because a person is medically unable to talk to you doesn’t mean that you can treat them with disrespect.

Abby, the investigator, is a whole different kettle of fish. She is intent on finding the truth but must confront her internal demons in order to get through this investigation alive. The path to the truth is twisted and full of the unexpected. When she finds herself at the mercy of a serial killer she uses every resource she can muster thwart his deadly intentions. I found it easy to identify with Abby and cheer her on. Her methods may be unorthodox to some but they are definitely effective.

I listened to the audiobook version of this story and was on the edge of my seat throughout. The narrator’s pacing was excellent and it was a real pleasure to listen to. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon

“Running Blind” by Lee Child

“Running Blind” by Lee Child

Narrated by Johnathan McClain

Across the country women are being murdered by a killer who leaves no evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to a motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. In fact, the only thing that links the victims is the man they all knew: Jack Reacher.

Warning: this story has a lot of potentially triggering scenes about crimes against women. Jack Reacher is my latest fictional hero. “Running Blind” is his 4th story. The FBI suspects him of murdering women across the country who had, while in military service, reported sexual assault. Reacher had been the investigator in all the cases, therefore he must be guilty. Then the tables turn and he’s helping the FBI find the real killer.

I find Jack Reacher so fascinating because I just can’t quite figure him out. Every book reveals a little bit more about him and just when I think I’m starting to understand him he throws me another loop. This is a character that keeps my interest. In this book, he’s paired with an FBI agent who, I’m sorry to say, has no redeeming qualities in my mind. She’s just way more nasty than she needs to be, but Reacher just takes it all in stride.

The plot of this one really had me guessing. I’d say I was about 85% through the book before I started to think that maybe I was wrong about the suspect and of course I was. Because Lee Child is good at unexpected twists, there are plenty of them. I was also impressed with the way the author handled the trauma that the women experienced. He doesn’t dismiss or trivialize what happened which I appreciate, especially from a male author.

I would definitely recommend the audiobook version of this story. I think Mr. McClain did a great job of voicing this one. The characters are distinctive and his narration is very well paced so you don’t have a chance to “zone out”. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

Other books in this series:

“The Only Child” by Mi-ae Seo

“The Only Child” by Mi-ae Seo

Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to anyone until now, asks specifically for her. Seonkyeong agrees out of curiosity.

That same day Hayeong, her husband’s eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, shows up at their door after her grandparents, with whom she lived after her mother passed away, die in a sudden fire. Seonkyeong wants her to feel at home, but is gradually unnerved as the young girl says very little and acts strangely.

At work and at home, Seonkyeong starts to unravel the pasts of the two new arrivals in her life and begins to see startling similarities. Hayeong looks at her the same way Yi Byeongdo does when he recounts the abuse he experienced as a child; Hayeong’s serene expression masks a temper that she can’t control. Plus, the story she tells about her grandparents’ death, and her mother’s before that, deeply troubles Seonkyeong. So much so that Yi Byeongdo picks up on it and starts giving her advice.

I find myself on a bit of an international tour with my reading. Recently, I was in Nigeria with a police procedural and now I’m visiting South Korea with this intense psychological thriller. I had a little difficulty getting going with the story at the beginning because of the names but once I decided in my head on a pronunciation this book was hard to put down. The writing also struck me as a little stiff at times but I’m wondering if that is due to translation rather than any failing on the part of the author. The author so effectively takes the reader into the minds of her characters that is was impossible for me not to be impressed.

What really fascinated me with this story is the psychology behind the three main characters. The reader gets to go right along with Seonkyeong as she works her way through her own reactions to Yi Byeongdo and Haeyong and tries to use her training as a psychologist to understand how each of them has been shaped by their experiences. There are unexpected twists along the way and the ending could have gone a few different ways and wasn’t quite what I expected. Overall, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Even though the story is set in South Korea, the issues addressed are universal.

Alinefromabook’s rating:

Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon

 

“Hill Women” by Cassie Chambers

“Hill Women” by Cassie Chambers

Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills.

Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers’s Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn’t hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth—the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county—stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma—the sixth child—became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world.

Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her “hill women” values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services.

Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.


Alinefromabook’s rating:

Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

Another great Appalachia book:

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

First published in 1944 Fell Murder sees E.C.R. Lorac at the height of her considerable powers as a purveyor of well-made, traditional and emphatic detective fiction. The book presents a fascinating ‘return of the prodigal’ mystery set in the later stages of the Second World War amidst the close-knit farmerfolk community of Lancashire s lovely Lune valley.

The Garths had farmed their fertile acres for generations and fine land it was with the towering hills of the Lake Country on the far horizon. Garthmere Hall itself was old before Flodden Field, and here hot-tempered Robert Garth, still hale and hearty at eighty-two, ruled his household with a rod of iron. The peaceful dales and fells of the north country provide the setting for this grim story of a murder, a setting in fact which is one of the attractive features of an unusual and distinctive tale of evil passions and murderous hate in a small rural community.

I loved this mystery! This is the second classic crime that I’ve read from this author and the writing is just so rich and descriptive that I just feel like I’m there on the farm with the characters. And the Garth family is a fascinating group of personalities. This is a shorter book than the mysteries we get today but it really packs a punch and lacks not at all in twists and turns. The villain is not immediately obvious and the means of murder are vicious. This story has everything a good mystery should have and I highly recommend it. If you’ve never tried a classic crime novel E.C.R. Lorac is a great place to start.

Alinefromabook’s rating:

Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

Other books by this author:


“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series #7

Wealthy Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, reluctantly agrees to a charity race. He’ll drive his beloved yellow Mercedes on the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed. His teammates are a young Errol Flynn and the well-known driver Joan Richmond. It’s all good fun. But then people start to die…

The body of a journalist covering the race is found murdered in a House of Horrors. An English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations dies in a Maroubra crash. Reporters stalk Rowly for dirt while bookmakers are after an edge. When someone takes a shot at him—it could be anyone. Then the police arrest one of Rowly’s housemates for murder.

This is the second book I’ve read from this series and I have to say that the character of Rowland Sinclair and his various companions continue to grow on me. Ms. Gentill has crafted some incredible personalities for the lead characters which all work together to keep the reader engaged and at times on the edge of their seat. While this book is not a thriller it does contain some harrowing moments, this time centered around a racetrack which by its very nature is a threat to life and limb. There’s also a coven of witches coming out to play and complicate the mystery, and a quirky young lady trying get break in to the art world. Although I was never a big fan of the actor Errol Flynn, his appearance in this story helps to draw you into the time period. Overall, I found this to be a fun romp through Australia in the years between the wars and look forward to more installments in this series.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Find it on Amazon!

Other books in this series:



“Tripwire” by Lee Child – Audiobook

“Tripwire” by Lee Child – Audiobook

Narrated by Johnathan McClain

Jack Reacher, ex-military policeman relaxed in Key West until Costello turned up dead. The amiable PI was hired in New York by the daughter of Reacher’s mentor and former commanding officer, General Garber. Garber’s investigation into a Vietnam MIA sets Reacher on collision with hand-less “Hook” Hobie, hours away from his biggest score.

Jack Reacher is quickly becoming my newest hero. Parts of this story were very gruesome and hard to listen too, but that was definitely outweighed by the complexity of the story. Reacher starts to develop a personal life which I enjoyed and adds additional dimension to him as a character. The Vietnam War connection in the plot really points out Jack Reacher’s former years in the military and the death of his former mentor will have a completely unexpected outcome on his life. Reacher continues to be a loner, for the most part, and someone who wants to live by his own code, which I have to admit is an archetype that I relate well too. The ultimate resolution of this mystery took me by surprise by seemed very appropriate to the events that had taken place. This story represents to me another way in which war can destroy lives, and that’s something that I think we should all be reminded of frequently. There are multiple lives at stake in this story and the action is riveting. I think this story translated well to audio and the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

Other books in this series:



“The Course of all Treasons” by Suzanne Wolfe

“The Course of all Treasons” by Suzanne Wolfe

Blurb:

England, 1586. Tensions rise as threats to the realm abound. Traitors are plotting for Mary Queen of Scots to depose Elizabeth I and take the throne. Rumors of a Spanish invasion by sea mount daily. And the body of one of Sir Francis Walsingham’s agents is found floating in the Thames as other agents face enemies armed with crossbows and vials of poison.

Nicholas Holt, a spy in Walsingham’s employ, narrowly averts the same fate while setting off in pursuit of the killer–or killers. And when he surprises a suspect in the company of a Spanish agent, he believes he’s close not only to solving the case but preventing an act of high treason.

But soon, the attacks begin to threaten Nick’s circle of friends. As those he loves face mortal peril, Nick must unravel the tangled plot, all the while steering a careful path through the fierce rivalry between Walsingham’s agents and those of the Queen’s favorite, the upstart Earl of Essex. Now it’s a race to the breathless conclusion as Nick desperately searches for the answers that can save the day–and a vestige of loyalty that can save his own life.

My Thoughts:

When I picked up this book, I was honestly shocked to find myself in Medieval England. I had completely forgotten why I originally selected this one and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. It turns out that this story took me on a rollicking adventure across London. And the tour was guided by the handsome Nicholas Holt. This is a different kind of investigation because it’s in medieval times and Nicholas doesn’t have all the fancy tools that we have today but it forces you to pay more attention to the characters and their motives. My favorites were Nicholas and Rivkah. I also really enjoyed Annie as a counterpoint to Nick. The author did an excellent job of bringing Nicholas’s part of London alive and incorporating the differences between wealthy parts of the city and the impoverished parts. I found the politics of the time that influence the events to be really interesting too. This story is very much driven by the characters themselves, no gun fights or high speed chases, but that’s why it was such a good read.

Alinefromabook’s rating:   Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

 

 

“Music Macabre” by Sarah Rayne

“Music Macabre” by Sarah Rayne

Blurb:

Music researcher Phineas Fox has been enjoying his latest commission, gathering background material for a biography of Franz Liszt. But although he has – as anticipated – uncovered plenty of scandal in the 19th century composer’s past, matters take a decidedly unexpected turn when his investigations lead to Linklighters, a newly-opened Soho restaurant built on the site of an old Victorian music hall, and unearth evidence of a possible murder involving the notorious music hall performer known as Scaramel.

Just what was Liszt’s connection to Scaramel … and, through her, to the infamous Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper? As he delves further, Phin’s enquiries uncover clues to a fascinating and extraordinary story – and plunge his own life into jeopardy.

My Thoughts:

This is the 4th book in this series, but the first one I have read. I found Phineas Fox to be a delightful character. The story here I thought was very unique, with 3 different story lines taking place but they all come together in the end. I’m not sure how much of the story is historically accurate but the historical parts felt real to me. There’s a supporting cast of great characters. The movement between the 3 stories keeps you engaged in trying to figure out the mystery. There are some thrills also to keep you on the edge of your seat and a good dose of London fog to give you that little chill down the spine. This was a great read and I hope to have a chance to read more from this series.

Alinefromabook’s rating:

Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!

 

“Front Page Fatality” by LynDee Walker

“Front Page Fatality” by LynDee Walker

Narrated by Therese Plummer

Blurb:

When two rookie cops are killed in a fiery crash near Richmond, Virginia, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke is sent in to investigate.

But as Nichelle digs deeper into the case, she discovers this was no ordinary accident.

People and evidence soon begin to disappear. Someone is one step ahead of her. A master criminal with a deadly secret, covering their tracks with ruthless efficiency.

The killer will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden. But as she draws closer to unraveling the mystery of two dead cops, Nichelle realizes that she’s become the next target.

My Thoughts:

This one had a little different feel for me because the main character is an investigative reporter, not a detective. That being said, I really liked Nichelle. She’s still figuring out her job to some extent, but she is eager and ready to learn. What she doesn’t know is what she’s getting herself into when there is an explosion and two cops are dead. As the case heats up, she begins to wonder who she can trust. I really enjoyed the pacing of the story and the secondary characters who added drama and interest. I think the plotline is well crafted and executed. Overall, I found the story to be engaging from beginning to end. The narration was excellent if you prefer audiobooks.

Alinefromabook’s rating: Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

Happy Reading!

Find it on Amazon!