Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Shadow by Melanie Raabe

Title: The Shadow
Author: Melanie Raabe
Publisher: Spiderline
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Ruth Ware meets Shari Lapena in this internationally bestselling psychological thriller about the inescapable pull of destiny and revenge.

Norah Richter has recently moved from Berlin to Vienna, hoping to put her old life behind her. While walking to her new office one morning, Norah is approached by an elderly homeless woman who utters these chilling words:

On the eleventh of February, you will kill a man called Arthur Grimm . . . With good reason. And of your own free will.

Norah is unnerved — many years earlier, something terrible happened to her on February 11 — but she chooses to shrug off the encounter as mere coincidence, until a few days later when she meets a man named Arthur Grimm.

Soon Norah begins to have a dreadful suspicion: Does she have a good reason to hate this man she’s never met? Could he be responsible for the tragic event in her past? And can Norah make sure that justice is done without committing murder?

On the eleventh of February, you will kill a man called Arthur Grimm . . . With good reason. And of your own free will.

Well, that certainly is enough to wake up Norah!  Who needs espresso when a fortune teller is telling you are going to commit murder on a certain date?

Norah Richter is starting over. She is a journalist and due to a piece she wrote, she has lost her job, her relationship and now she is ready to reinvent herself. She moves from Berlin to Vienna and starts a new job which she is happy to take on until a homeless woman approaches her and speaks those chilling words. 

Norah's greatest fear is to kill someone so she is sure nothing will happen on February 11th since there is no way she will do what she is told. Although, February 11th does have a meaning for her. She lost someone dear to her on that day. But how does Arthur Grimm connects with any of it? 

Quite an interesting story! Norah was in pain and dealing with a lot. However, I was upset she was getting all these signs but instead of carefully examining them, she was drinking, smoking and sleeping around too much. Her saving grace was her trusty friends who were there for her despite it all. 

Every time, Norah described her surroundings, I was transported back to Vienna. I could feel the chill in the air and the threatening darkness. 

Kudos to the author and to the audio performer for the atmospheric surroundings.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Spiderline via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Heart of a Runaway Girl by Trevor Wiltzen
Mabel Davison #1

Title: Heart of a Runaway Girl 
Series: Mabel Davison #1
Author: Trevor Wiltzen
Publisher: Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
Release Date: January 10, 2021

An original, captivating mystery series debuts

In a 1980s mountain town fueled by the drug trade, a young couple gets into an argument at Mabel's Diner. Then the teen girl winds up brutally murdered, and the black boyfriend automatically jailed. Haunted by the tragedy, big-hearted, big-haired, single mom and waitress, Mabel Davison steps in and asks questions few want answered. But she's unprepared for the secrets she uncovers, and now more lives may be destroyed, including her own.

Get your small-town mystery with a twist today!

When a young woman is found murdered, Mabel Davison is touched by her death. She had met the girl the day before at her dinner and knew she needed help. Her black boyfriend, Winston is taken into custody and charged with the crime. Yet, Mabel doesn’t believe Winston did it. She knows someone else is the responsible party and she will do anything to prove it. 

Larson, the town's drug lord, and his skinhead's cronies are terrorizing the town and when Winston was taken into custody, his men have tried to kill him. Mabel helps the Sheriff protect Winston but now Larson knows her name and is paying attention. Mabel is tired of Larson getting away with everything while providing drugs to the town. Someone has to stop him. 

In order to help Winton prove his innocence, Mabel begins her own investigation to find the murderer but Larson doesn’t want her asking certain questions. Can she help Winton without putting her family and herself in danger?

I like Mabel. She was straightforward. She cared about her family and her town. She was always trying to help others and she didn’t hesitate to help Winston despite attracting Larson's interest. 

Larson's character was easy to hate. He was pure evil and I was worried he was going to hurt her. I’m sure Mabel has not seen the last of him.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by IBPA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Title: Pretty Little Wife
Author: Darby Kane
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: December 29th 2020

Debut author Darby Kane thrills with this twisty domestic suspense novel that asks one central question: shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

I breezed through this book!

Pretty Little Wife had two excellent female characters. The cool aloof Lila Ridgefield and perseverant Ginny, the detective investigating her.

Lila becomes the center of an investigation when her husband goes missing. Lila learned something terrible about Aaron, her husband, just a few weeks before he disappeared. Did she kill him and if she did, why?

In addition, through a popular podcast, a total of three women have disappeared in the area. Are the cases connected?

Really loved reading Pretty Little Wife. From the first chapter, I could tell, I was going to enjoy it. I rooted for Lila from the getgo. From the outside, she was a mixture of a trophy wife and a Stepford wife. She was beautiful, always dressed well, she seemed untouchable. Yet, on the inside, she was a mess. She suffered from anxiety and possible PTSD. 

Ginny was great too. She could read Lila when no one else could. She knew Lila was hiding something and she wanted to know what it was. 

I also like Tobias, Lila's only friend and also a lawyer.

The ending is wrapped a little too well but no harm done. 

Pretty Little Wife is one I can recommend.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris
The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2

Title: Cilka's Journey
Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2
Author: Heather Morris
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: October 1st, 2019

In this follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author tells the story, based on a true one, of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again.

Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis--with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to survive.

I still can't fathom how some humans can endure so much pain, mentally and physically, and survive it and find happiness.

I don't think I could've survived Auschwitz-Birkenau. I couldn't have survived the Vorkuta gulag in Siberia and most definitely, I wouldn't have survived both places. 

How can a sixteen-year-old survive all of those thirteen years of misery? I have no clue. Like Lale Sokolov said: "She was the bravest person I knew".

“Everyone affected by war, captivity, or oppression reacts differently — and away from it, people might try to guess how they would act, or react, in the circumstances. But they do not really know.”

Even though this is a work of fiction, Cilka Klein was a real person. She was a Jewish girl born in Bardejov. She was a prisoner in both Auschwitz and Siberia. She endured rape, abuse, hunger, and so much death. Everyone she loved, was taken from her. Yet, she found new friendships and a doctor in Siberia who was sympathetic to her and decided to help her and train her. 

The story is devastating in the horrors humans inflict on other humans. Despite it all, it does end up with a sense of hope that all is not lost. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Thursday Murder Club #1

Title: The Thursday Murder Club
Series: Thursday Murder Club #1
Author: Richard Osman
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: September 3rd, 2020

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves. A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…

The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?
A thriller where the bad guys are not that bad...maybe?

The Thursday Murder Club involves a retirement community (Coopers Chase), a murder, a recently relocated cop (PC Donna de Freitas), and four friends in their seventies.

I don't know why it happened but I just couldn't read this book at my usual pace. It took me about a week to finish it. I had to buy the audio which made all the difference. I just didn't understand it, I enjoyed the main characters: Elizabeth, Ron, Joyce, Ibrahim, Chris and Donna and I liked the story as a whole. Who knows why I couldn't get into it at times!

Anyway, the book begins with 4 retired friends, Elizabeth, Ron, Joyce, and Ibrahim. They meet at the Jigsaw Room every Thursday and what do they do? They tried to solve cases of different murders. 

Then a real murder occurred, Tony Curran, a local builder is found bludgeoned to death. The four friends will insert themselves into the investigation forcing Donna and her boss Chris to work with them in order to find the murderer.

Like I said earlier, the characters were engaging, and I liked them. Yes, I did think that there was no way in real life that the cops will share all their secrets with them. I also don't believe they were able to be one step ahead of the cops but regardless of those issues, it still works.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

Monday, January 18, 2021

Chosen Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #12


Title: Chosen Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #12
Author: John Sandford

A New York Times bestseller! Lucas Davenport returns in the most harrowing and unexpected Prey novel yet—the story of a congenial man, and his most uncongenial obsession...

An art history professor and writer and cheerful pervert, James Qatar had a hobby: he took secret photographs of women and turned them into highly sexual drawings. One day, he took the hobby a step further and... well, one thing led to another, and he had to kill her. A man in his position couldn't be too careful, after all. And you know something? He liked it.

Already faced with a welter of confusion in his personal life, Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport decides to take this case himself, hoping that some straightforward police work will clear his head, but as the trail begins to take some unexpected turns, it soon becomes clear that nothing is straightforward about this killer. The man is learning as he goes, Lucas realizes, taking great strides forward with each murder. He is becoming a monster — and Lucas may have no choice but to walk right into his lair...

Lucas Lucas Lucas, you my friend are a very interesting character. I have come to love you in a special way. You might be a sociopath too but at least you're on the right side of the law. 

It's a pleasure going back to this world in between my other reads. Lucas and his team make me laugh over and over. I've spoken about their camaraderie in a few of my reviews but I have to say it again. I'm entertained by them. I know them all now. 

Now, the crazy one this time is James Qatar. He is crazy. He enjoys killing blondes by strangulating them with a rope. Crazy bastard. Unluckily for him, Lucas is on the case. The Grave Digger's days are numbered.

In regards to Lucas's personal life, color me surprised, he doesn't sleep around and Weather is back on. Furthermore, she wants a baby with Lucas, and Lucas is not running for the hills. 

Chosen Prey was quite an interesting addition to this great series. On to the next one...

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
The Folk of the Air #3


Title: The Queen of Nothing
Series: The Folk of the Air #3
Author: Holly Black 
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: November 19th 2019

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

And that is how you should finish a trilogy! Well done Holly Black!

So I got way invested in this series. The Cruel Prince was a good beginning, The Wicked King so much more interesting (with a WTH ending), and then we get The Queen of Nothing which was everything I wanted it to be.

Jude's schemings were the best. She could forge a plan in her head even better than her father and that is saying a lot. 

At the end of The Wicked King, Jude is exiled but when Taryn needs help, Jude agrees to go back as Taryn to help her get out of her ordeal. To be honest, her "ordeal" really surprised me. I wasn't expecting it but I'm guessing the author has her reasons for doing it.

What did I love about the Queen of Nothing? 

*Sisters. When push comes to shove, the sisters were together, fighting together.

*Cardan. What he tells Jude when she is finally back. Sigh!

*Vivi in every scene.

*Jude and Cardan finally telling each other the truth.

The best was seeing the change in Jude. She had a tough choice ahead of her and her humanity and her ambition were doing their own battle of sorts.

I know Taryn has to come next. There is no way the author implies certain things without giving us more of this world. 

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

The Wicked King by Holly Black
The Folk of the Air #2

Title: The Wicked King
Series: The Folk of the Air #2
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 8th 2019

The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

What a cliffhanger ending! If you know me, you know I don't like cliffhangers but this one was a masterful one. Thankfully, luck is on my side and the last book is already out so with one click, I will know what is next for this couple. However, before I go there, let me tell you what I think about the Wicked King.

When the Wicked King begins, five months have already passed. Jude's time as a seneschal is running out. She needs to obtain a new bargain from Cardan before it is too late. Yet, there are other pressing things happening. Queen Orlagh from the Undersea is ready for battle. Jude believes she has created an alliance with Cardan's brother, Balekin despite him being in prison and she's sure her brother Oak's life is in grave danger. She is ready to protect Cardan, the crown, and Oak in every way possible with the help of the Court of Shadows. But can she?

I thought The Wicked King was superb. I love the fights, the betrayals, the scheming, the twists.

I also love to hate the baddies like Madoc, Queen Orlagh, Locke, and Balekin.

The court of Shadows which included Ghost, Roach, and the Bomb have all become an important part of the storyline and I was upset with one of the twists despite expecting it.

I can't wait to read the conclusion....

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Folk of the Air #1


Title: The Cruel Prince
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Author: Holly Black 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 2nd 2018

Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

I kept on seeing this book on my TBR and I thought it was time to read a fantasy in between my thrillers. It was a good choice. 

The Cruel Prince was an interesting first book in the Folk of the Air series. 

Jude is a mortal. When she was seven, Madoc, the High King's general shows up at her front door and kills her parents. Then, she and her sisters are taken to the High Court of Faerie. It turns out that Madoc is Jude's sister Vivienne's real father. As time passes, Jude and Taryn (Jude's twin) start getting used to Faerie while Vivi wants to go back to the mortal world. 

Jude dreams of becoming a knight and fighting and defending the king. She seeks Madoc's approval and she tries to best the other Folk her age. Especially, she wants to best Cardan, the sixth-born to the High King Eldred. Cardan enjoys being cruel and he never misses a chance to tell Jude she is a mortal and not worthy.

As Jude's plans change, her destiny becomes something different. 


I had some issues with the main story.  A mortal girl against all the fae was a hard pill to swallow. Yes, she was trained since she was taken to faerie and she was able to lie and be cunning but I just couldn’t get out of my head how young she was and how unprepared to become a spy she was. 

Leaving that aside, I did like the story. I liked how what I thought at the beginning was not the same as when the book ended. Meaning I hated Cardan less and Locke started making me want to kill him with my bare hands.

One of the best things about the book was the dichotomy of Jude's feelings towards Madoc. I could understand how upsetting it was to feel that Madoc was like a father to her when he was actually the reason she didn’t have her real father anymore.

I would definitely read the next one.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

Title: The Chestnut Man
Author: Søren Sveistrup
Publisher: Harper 

The heart-pounding debut from the creator of the hit Scandinavian television show: The Killing.
If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene. Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

The Chestnut Man was an atmospheric thriller with the right amount of suspense.

A murder has been committed and detective Thullin and Hess are the ones investigating it. 

Thullin is a single mother and a very good detective. She has done the time in the department she is in but she's ready for an upgrade and recently has applied to the cyberunit. 

Hess has been working with Europol solving cases. He's a nomad and doesn't really put any roots anywhere. He recently got in hot water during his last investigation and he was sent to Copenhagen as a form of punishment. At first, nothing is really interesting to him until the dead woman is found. He becomes even more invested when the fingerprint of an abducted twelve-year-old is found at the scene of the crime. The killer has left his calling card, a chestnut man and her prints are on it. 

The twelve-year-old is presumed dead. Someone confessed to raping and murdering her over a year ago, so how can her fingerprint be there?

That's the million-dollar question. 

There is one undeniable fact about the gruesome murders, the women who have been targeted have all failed their children in one way or the other. There has to be a connection but what is it?

The audio (which I did parts of it) was excellent. I felt like I was there, experiencing the cold dark days. I liked both detectives and I wanted to learn more about them. I do think that they needed to interact a lot more than they did. 

I would love for this to become a series. I want more Hess and Thullin's cases.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs