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Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Sweet Little LiesSweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. A solid mystery, with a bang-up ending that caught me entirely by surprise!

Cat Kinsella hasn’t quite been the same since the summer of 1998, when her family visited her Gran in Ireland and a local girl disappeared. Cat always suspected her father had something to do with it. Now a police detective, Cat is suddenly drawn into a case with echoes of the past when a body turns up near her father’s bar. Cat tries to remain emotionally distant from the case, but finds she can’t as more information comes to light.

This book was like a roller coaster ride. Things start slowly, but then speed up, only to have the case stall and then *BOOM*, things fall into place. And the ending is quite a big one – almost impossible to guess, I’d say. But it is satisfying and makes sense based on the rest of the book.

There’s also a lot of moral ambiguity in this book, really blurring the lines on conduct and honesty. I still don’t know how I feel about all the decisions Cat made in the book, but it seems to all work out in the end. It gives some complexity to Cat’s character, though her character was already well developed and had me hooked from the beginning.

I really hope we see more of Cat because I’d like to explore some of that complexity and see how she handles other cases. She seems to really care, without the dispassion that can seem to permeate other police procedurals. Hopefully, this will be the start of a series.

I really enjoyed this book. It has family drama, mystery and some mayhem.

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The Mayfly by James Hazel

The MayflyThe Mayfly by James Hazel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First things first: This book was FANTASTIC. If you’re a mystery/thriller fan, you need to check this book out. OK, now on to the details.

I don’t want to give too much away because the reveals are great, and you’re going to want to stay up late reading.

The book follows Charlie Priest, a former cop turned lawyer with his own issues. But despite his flaws, he’s a fantastic investigator, who is attacked by a strange man one night in his home. The next day, the man is dead – killed brutally – and the victim’s family wants to hire Priest to figure out what happened. The answers lie deep in history, from the horrors of Buchenwald in 1945 and a remote farm post-war, all leading to to the present day. Priest must fight to figure out what is going on as the body count rises.

The elements of the book are blended really well, creating an atmosphere that just screams “thriller.” This book combines dark history, creepy families and just enough gore to make you want to sleep with one eye open. Figuring out how all the pieces fit together is a great challenge and I did not figure it out before the ending.

The scenario presented in the book is just real enough to really scare you, which also adds to the fun. The characters are fantastic; well written and flawed, but with enough character to like them. I think this is the start of a new series, and I’m ecstatic to see them again.

Overall, I throughly enjoyed this book. It is one of my top reads so far this year.

Highly recommended.

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Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Last Breath (Detective Erika Foster, #4)Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s something very exciting about seeing an author you’ve enjoyed reading in the past put out a new book. Hopefully, you get to enjoy a new tale in a style you’re familiar with and like.

Robert Bryndza is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and, like “Dark Water” previously, “Last Breath,” is creepy, suspenseful and will make you check your locks at night.

The book follows Erika Foster as she finds out about the death of a young woman, found stuffed in a trash dumpster. Soon, Erika finds a similar death in the records and begins to think there’s a sick serial killer prowling the streets of London. As she finagles her way onto the case, she not only works to deal with her personal issues, but with the knowledge that she’s working against the clock to prevent more deaths.

This book is the fourth in the series, but can be read as a standalone (though you WILL want to read the other because they’re equally as good).

The killer is revealed in the first third of the novel, but the suspense is kept high as you keep wondering what’s going to happen next and what the heck is going on. It’s really the sign of a great author that you can continue to feverishly turn pages after they’ve “revealed” big info to you. The story needs to be great at that point, and this one is.

Again, as in “Dark Water,” Bryndza draws in current themes to the writing. It’s like an episode of “Law and Order,” “ripped from the headlines!” I really enjoyed this (I’m trying to stay vague to avoid spoilers) because it really ups the creepy factor. It makes you wonder about the “ordinary” people you see walking past you on the street.

The ending ties things up nicely, though I do have some questions lingering in my head….nothing major. I guess I’ll have to read it again to try to catch anything I missed! 🙂

I’m really looking forward to more in this series – it’s a great series of stories, about characters that are realistic and likable.

Highly recommended.

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The Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward

I’m so excited to finally be able to share my love of “The Girl from Rawblood” with you all! The book is out now – don’t forget to check out the preview and giveaway for your chance to win a free copy!
The Girl from RawbloodThe Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every so often, I read a book that is so good, when I’ve finished it, I find myself wanting to read another book just like it. The experience was that good.

“The Girl From Rawblood” is one of those books.

It’s a gothic novel that gave me a Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein-like vibe. And please note: it is dark and depressing, just like that novel. If you’re looking for happy endings, please find another book.

But I seriously couldn’t put this book down once I got into it. I devoured it.

The novel begins with Iris, a young girl whose father doesn’t allow her to venture outside the confines of their home, Rawblood, or have friends, since their family is haunted by a strange curse which will kill them if they invite love into their lives. The pair are the last of the Villarca line and the story then begins to tell, from their own perspectives, the story of their family and how the curse, known as “Her,” came to be.

As I’ve said, this novel is very much in the style of classic gothic novels and is a dark, sad tale which will rip your heart out in places. But it’s also a tale of the power of love and how much it pervades our lives, no matter how much we try to push it away. Love reaches all of the characters, no matter how hard they push it away.

I think some of the lower reviews were from people expecting a modern-day style novel, and it’s not. It’s very much classical literature-style. You have to go in knowing that. Also, FYI: This book does contain some scenes where animals are harmed. Not anything over-the-top, but it may give you pause.

I do have some questions about the ending, since it’s very symbolic and tries to tie together all the loose ends of the novel, but I can deal with that – most is explained and revealed, there’s just some details I need to confirm. Hopefully, once the book comes out I’ll be able to read some fan theories.

Overall, I’m really still processing this book. It will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. If you’re a gothic horror/romance fan, buy this book, yesterday. I loved it.

I will definitely be buying more from Catriona Ward.

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My Not So Perfect Life by Sophia Kinsella

My Not So Perfect LifeMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As soon as I saw Sophia Kinsella’s new book was available for review, I jumped on it. I am a big fan of Kinsella, who is probably most famous for her Shopaholic series, but who also writes some amazing standalones.

While some classify her as “chick lit,” she really is the master of creating hilarious, slapstick-style books which also add in a touch of drama. Just enough, in my opinion.

I’m so happy to say that “My Not So Perfect Life” is yet another winner for Kinsella.

The story centers on Katie Brenner who is trying to make a successful career in London. However her boss is a bit of a nightmare, with her Instagram perfect life, compared to Katies’ efforts to make it look like she has everything together. When Katie gets fired she has to move back home and help her father and stepmother with a new vacation venue on the family farm – “glamping.” When her old boss shows up as a guest, Katie discovers that everything she sees online may not be exactly as it seems.

It’s a fairly simple premise – someone trying to live up to the social-media filtered perfection they think their friends are experiencing- but Kinsella adds in her traditional humor and wacky characters which round out the plot into a great story. I laughed out loud at some points, I cringed at some of Katie’s awkwardness at others – you really feel so engrossed in the book.

I did get frustrated with Katie a little bit when she seems so focused on one thing that she really “couldn’t see the forest for the trees,” but I think that was really part of the overall concept which is that sometimes we get so focused on our online lives that we don’t end up living our actual “real world” lives.

I guessed the major “twist” fairly early on, but I didn’t really hold that against the book – I did, however wonder why it wasn’t revealed sooner, since it was hinted at so strongly. Maybe taking away some of that foreshadowing or somehow revealing things sooner would bump it up to 5 stars.

Overall, I really liked this book. Fans of Kinsella’s other works will love it, as will new fans! Highly recommended.

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