Review: Wrath – T.R. Ragan

0

Faith McMann #3

SYNOPSIS: Those who hunt monsters must be careful not to become monsters themselves.

In another life, before human traffickers murdered her husband and stole her children, Faith McMann was a wife, mother, and teacher. Now she has become Furious, a merciless avenger on a deadly mission to retrieve her young son and daughter, no matter the cost.

Aided by unlikely but steadfast allies, the giant Beast and fragile Rage, Faith plunges ever deeper into a sickening underworld of sexual exploitation and slavery with steel-forged determination and righteous anger.

In this powerful, suspenseful conclusion to the Faith McMann trilogy, Faith is haunted by questions: Even if her children are recovered, will they be broken beyond repair? What terrible sacrifices will their rescue require? What are the limits of loyalty and love in a world that preys on innocents? And after her brutal awakening to the darkest aspects of human nature, what will remain of her own self? – via Goodreads

There we go, wrapped up and all done. I totally raced through these books, I was so hooked from book one, so I have to give this trilogy credit for that. Yeah, there are flaws, but the story keeps you hooked if you can overlook a few blunders to get to it. Then when you are there? Fantastic.

This book immediately picks up after the events of the Outrage, and keeps going. The story is at least finished here, as anymore would have started to feel like we were being taken for a ride. Faith is still damaged as all hell and desperate to find Lara, now that she has Hudson home. Faith’s family is still something lovely, and Beast, Vinnie, and Rage all gang together. It was nice to have a look see some more at the relationship between Beast, Vinnie, and Rage, and I was stoked to see some happiness what with Rage reuniting with her son. It was a good silver lining.

The book continues to deal with the sticky, icky world of human trafficking, and it’s still quite an intense read.

Wrath provides a satisfying finale to a solid trilogy. It is well paced, delivers all the goods, and is well worth the read provided, of course, that you are willing to suspend belief and hop along for the ride. I recommend this.

Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

2

SYNOPSIS: “Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. – via Goodreads

Man, a while ago Mettel Ray spoke of Dark Matter on her blog, and I decided it would be my next Crouch read, as I have a few on my Kindle and just didn’t know which one to go with, and man, I am glad I went with this one. I really don’t want to say too much about this book to avoid spoilers or to give away too much of the story, so I guess we will see how this review goes down.

Dark Matter is a super fun read. I was hooked essentially from the off. It took a few pages to get rolling, and I was wondering if I was sitting with another version of Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy, when suddenly it kicked into overdrive and built a truly fascinating story for itself.

The book might have been a tad too long, but that didn’t slow down the reading, just made it a touch more bloated than it should have been. The story is sharp and drags you in and really gets you thinking about a lot of things. Jason is a character you sympathise with and want to see succeed, but you are also not entirely sure exactly how he is supposed to emerge victorious, or what is really going on.

Okay, I don’t really want to say anything more, except that this is a great read. Dark Matter is smart, engaging, twisty and extremely entertaining. Without a doubt my favourite Blake Crouch  novel to date. It wasn’t missing anything, and delivered the goods in a solid fashion. I can highly recommend this one.

Review: Outrage – T.R. Ragan

2

Faith McMann #2

SYNOPSIS:  The happy life Faith McMann knew as a wife, mother, and teacher was destroyed when vicious criminals murdered her husband, kidnapped her children, and left her for dead. After paralyzing grief, fear, and despair, there was nothing left for her to feel…except fury. But striking a staggering blow against a brutal ring of human traffickers was just the beginning of her uphill battle.

Though her daughter remains missing and her son is lost in the wilderness, Faith’s relentless efforts have reunited some children with their families. They’ve also made her and the rest of her family the targets of a sadistic crime boss. But Faith has learned plenty about survival in the lawless underworld she’s storming. And she’s forged an unbreakable bond with two no-holds-barred allies in the war against evil. As they dodge assassins and take down predators, Faith travels deeper into the heart of darkness, determined to rescue her children at any cost. – Goodreads

So I blew through this one directly after having finished the first as I liked it that much. I thought that this was another solid read, and I quite liked it. There are a lot of things going on in this one, but it never gets messy in the way that it detracts from the story.

We get a closer look into the relationship between Beast and Rage, and especially with Little Vinnie in the mix, you have to appreciate it. It is also nice to get to know a little more about the characters and make them tick. Faith, too, grows a lot more and you can totally understand her frustration. Yeah, there are plenty “convenient” plot devices and things, sure, but it tells the story. Naturally you are not expecting a totally realistic story when going in for something like that. I still really like the family bond in Faith’s family, they truly do stand together.

This trilogy deals with a rather heavy concept – trafficking is not a light subject, and this book takes the horrors and weaves a fictitious story between it, but never minimizes the fact that the issues are real and truly despicable. The suffering is real and never undermined or forgotten. Miranda gets some more time and some payback in here, and I like that.

Outrage barrels along just as rapidly as Furious, never losing you along the way and keeping you hooked throughout. Again, it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of filler in this, which makes for another great read. As you guys can tell, I am highly enjoying this series of T.R. Ragan, and highly recommend it, providing you can deal with a heavier story than most authors are willing to tackle.

Review: Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

4

SYNOPSIS: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.  – via Goodreads

Yeah, uhm, this one was certainly not my favourite Green novel. I thoroughly enjoy his work, and some of it is definitely better than other stuff, but unfortunately this just wasn’t my jam. There was a lot to be appreciated in this book, to be sure, but for the most part, I found it to be rather bland and disappointing and really trying to be… I don’t know, too smart and sassy for its own good.

Turtles All The Way Down deals with a mentally ill main character, which is not something commonly handled in a book, and I thought Green did a great job bringing Aza and all her issues to life. There were times where her compulsion of picking open the callus on her finger and made it bleed made me squirm. Okay, not so much that as the rinsing it with clean alcohol over and over again. I could feel that burn. The mental illness issue is handled really well here – it never came across as just a ploy, or something Green is writing about because it is in vogue right now, or just to give us a quirky character, it comes across as genuine.

So while Aza is genuine mentally ill, as Daisy puts it, Aza is extremely selfish and closed off from the world. At times she is infuriating, at others you sort of get what is going on, so well scored there. That being said, the story was really just about Aza and her mental illness and dealing with it, but I thought we would get more. Davis is a character I enjoyed and really way more understanding than I expected, but overall each and every one of the characters, including Aza and the extreme attention to detail due to her condition, just felt empty. I know my opinion won’t be a popular one, but I wasn’t a fan of this.

Something that really got under my skin was Mychal’s name spelling. I swear to goodness, that is one of those new age things where names have to be quirky and unique, and these poor kids look like idiots. UGH. I mean my brother is a good, old fashioned Michael and it works just fine. Names deliberate being spelled differently really just… no. People,  NO. STOP IT THIS INSTANCE! #VentOver

Turtles All The Way Down is a quick read that deals with some serious issues, but it definitely isn’t my favourite John Green novel, and not one I am sure I want to be rushing to reread.

Review: The Woman In The Window – A.J. Finn

2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems. – via Goodreads 

Uhm… I don’t really have an awful lot to say about this book. Not really much at all. It is not a bad read, at all. It is predictable – I mean we have all seen this plot in some book or some movie somewhere – someone housebound who sees something they should not and all the shenanigans that follow that.

The Woman In The Window had some interesting parts to it and some concepts that I enjoyed, and Anna’s situation is a quite fascinating – agoraphobic in the extreme, but a therapist helping others in a similar situation, and an alcoholic struggling to pull her life together. I thought at times this was overdone and other times it was underutilised. I feel that the only character that had any real depth is Anna, though that could truly be by design.

Anyway, the book is slightly longer than it strictly needs to be, though it is a pretty fast read. It’s decent but not fantastic, though I do think Finn writes quite well. I don’t really want to say too much because the book has some twists and turns, whether you expect them or not. I will certainly check out future works.

Review: The Fear – C.L. Taylor

2

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey… – via Goodreads

You know, it rarely happens that a book makes me uncomfortable when I read it, but this was one of those that did. It just… I didn’t like that. It was weird. This book gives you a look see at how the victims of a paedophile feel about him and what is happening to them, and it makes me both sick and mad. Ugh.

Now let me get straight into the book – the story flips between Lou’s present and her past, so you get a look at her as she is now, scarred and emotionally broken, and then to the past, when she was kidnapped and groomed by a paedophile of note. Ugh. My stomach rolled reading about how she was so in love with him and how he understood her and loved her like nobody else, and to read how he preyed on her was absolutely horrifying.

I think with that being said, there will be triggers for some people, that’s for sure. I was both frustrated and disgusted reading this, and intrigued in other places (not the parts about the feelings of the victims that were preyed on, but the aftermath, and then there is the odd section featuring Wendy). I thought that it the story actually comes together quite well, and while making you queasy, keeps you interested enough to continue and see what happens.

There were so many unsavoury characters peppered throughout this book, but there were also some really nice ones, so the balance struck is decent. I don’t foresee myself rushing out to reread The Fear, and it is not necessarily a book that would be easy to recommend, but it isn’t a terrible read, but also didn’t strike the highs I was hoping for.

Review: Furious – T.R. Ragan

2

Faith McMann #1

SYNOPSIS: Faith McMann comes home to a nightmare: her husband is killed and her son and daughter are taken. Although the intruders leave her for dead, she survives. Crippling grief and fear for her children make life unbearable. Until her anguish turns to anger…and she trades victimhood for vengeance.

Frustrated with the law’s efforts, she takes action to rescue her children—and wreaks havoc on the brutal criminals who tore them from her. With her family and newfound allies at her side, Faith descends into the hellish underworld of human trafficking, determined to make those who prey on the innocent pray for mercy.

The forces she’s up against have already proven that their ruthlessness knows no bounds. And there’s nothing they won’t do to turn Faith’s crusade into a suicide mission. But they’re about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a mother fighting for her children—especially one who’s earned the nickname Furious. – via Goodreads

Well, well, well. I picked this trilogy up on special on Amazon the other day as I was interested to see how Ragan would put this trilogy together. So far I have felt her books can be hit or miss, and upon thinking about it more, it’s mainly her Lizzie Gardner series that annoys me, as I am rather enjoying the Jessie Cole books and then there was this outing for Faith McMann and I was hooked! The more I read from Ragan, the more I look forward to checking out her work.

Furious deals with an icky story. It’s a little preposterous in the beginning, and takes a few seconds for you to give a damn about what is going on, but before you know it, you are dragged into this whirlwind horror of human trafficking and a mother going above and beyond to recover her children. The book flows really well, making this a super fast read, and it is engaging throughout. It doesn’t have any sections that drag too much, either, which I appreciated.

For the most part, the most fleshed out characters are our lead protagonist and shortly after that we have Beast and Rage, and they are more fleshed out than other characters. The others all serve their purpose, but they are just there. Faith really has a solid, supportive family, too, which I like.

Trafficking is not a joke, and it sheds a little look into the horrors of it, but doesn’t linger too long on the super nasty bits. I think if it delved into that too much there are a lot of people that would not be reading this based on the content. I wasn’t uncomfortable so much as sad to know that trafficking is a real thing and it is horrendous how people would use actual people as commodities without giving a crap about them being real people. This is a tough topic I am not going to get into, just know that it is a driving factor of the book.

Furious is a fast read that truly gets under your skin but keeps you coming back for more. It is an interesting story, albeit far fetched in some places, with a lot of things happening conveniently. It does not detract from the read, making it a fast paced action you cannot resist. Highly recommended.

Review: Good Me, Bad Me – Ali Land

0

SYNOPSIS: How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter. – via Goodreads

Well, I remember seeing this book and thinking it looked like it was a decent read, and then just never getting to it. It happens, don’t even judge me! Then I stumbled across it the other day quite a while back now on an Amazon deal and figured I might as well give it a shot, it looked interesting and like something I might like, what with my affinity to the darker elements of books.

Good Me, Bad Me is a decent read. The content is something that you are drawn to reading about, something that is dark and messed up, something that makes you want to see the larger picture to understand the extent of just how despicable Milly Annie’s story is, because that is human nature. You go for all of this and instead you get a relatively generic read.

The sentences are staccato and short, making it frustrating to read. Yes, I understand why this was written the way it was, but that doesn’t make it any better. It is also extremely difficult to pick apart when Annie is thinking something or when she is remembering something or if something is happening right now and it is her interpretation of the current issues. But still, all that being said and done, it doesn’t save this.

The story is winding and rather interesting, even while it is annoying and not enough answers are ultimately provided, though there is a lot of hinting. I saw a lot of rave reviews for this book, so I thought it would be better. Good Me, Bad Me is not a bad read, but it won’t linger with you long after, and it is rather forgettable.

Review: Triptych – Karin Slaughter

3

triptych

Will Trent / Atlanta #1

SYNOPSIS: In the city of Atlanta, women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’s lover before she became his enemy.

But another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer’s trail in the most coincidental of ways—someone who may be the key to breaking the case wide open…  – via IMDB

GRADE 8Karin Slaughter has again proved how she is a phenomenal writer, and not just good for the Grant County series. We have met a whole new array of characters, some that tie into the Grant County series (such as Amanda Wagner that was the negotiator in Indelible) and others that are brand spanking new and fresh. It stands testament to Slaughter’s writing that she could bring in a whole new angle and story and still be good, and not be too caught up in her previous work – this stands alone really well.

The writing style is again tight and very well laid out, and the story skips between present, a few months prior to that, as well as the past from a couple of decades ago (yeah, this book is really aptly named). The story weaves together effortlessly and has you hooked from the beginning. It takes some time to get a read on certain characters (intentionally), and it just ratchets up the tension, too.

You get to learn about a new cast of characters, and they are fresh, new, and totally different from Grant County books. Will and Angie have such a heartbreaking past, and it is really difficult to read about. Their relationship is so dysfunctional, and it makes you pity them a bit more. Will Trent is a character you cannot help but adore the more you read about him, I am definitely a fan! Angie, on the other hand, is a right piece of work, but there is some part of her, so inextricably tied up with Will, and the relationship between them is so complex.

The story told in Triptych is a solid one, one that draws you in and delivers all the goods you could possibly hope for. The pacing is just right, the storytelling does not leave the reader lost and wondering what is going on, and you get pretty invested in the outcome as well as what is going on. I also quite enjoyed reading about the interactions between Will and Amanda, as that is something that is fascinating.

This is definitely a brilliant way to start a fresh story, independent from the comfort zone that she is used to, and she pulls it off so well! Man, Slaughter is totally my cup of tea. Flawed characters, loads of development, horrendous gore and a solid thriller? She never fails to impress me!

Review: The Empty Chair – Jeffery Deaver

3

Lincoln Rhyme #3

SYNOPSIS: A quadriplegic since a beam crushed his spinal cord years ago, Rhyme is desperate to improve his condition and goes to the University of North Carolina Medical Center for high-risk experimental surgery. But he and Sachs have hardly settled in when the local authorities come calling. In a twenty-four-hour period, the sleepy Southern outpost of Tanner’s Corner has seen a local teen murdered and two young women abducted. And Rhyme and Sachs are the best chance to find the girls alive.

The prime suspect is a strange teenaged truant known as the Insect Boy, so nicknamed for his disturbing obsession with bugs. Rhyme agrees to find the boy while awaiting his operation. Rhyme’s unsurpassed analytical skills and stellar forensic experience, combined with Sachs’s exceptional detective legwork, soon snare the perp. But even Rhyme can’t anticipate that Sachs will disagree with his crime analysis and that her vehemence will put her in the swampland, harboring the very suspect whom Rhyme considers a ruthless killer. So ensues Rhyme’s greatest challenge — facing the criminalist whom he has taught everything he knows in a battle of wits, forensics, and intuition. And in this adversary, Rhyme also faces his best friend and soul mate.  – via Goodreads

Well, this one has been really different from the previous two books in this series. Like, totally different. I read this fast on the heels of The Coffin Dancer, which I liked a lot. This one… I just don’t know. It was just not at all what I have started getting used to in the series. While not terrible, it certainly is a rather weak entry, to be sure.

The characters are odd. I am not talking about the new ones brought in for this book’s story (that’s a whole different kettle of fish), I am talking about our mains. Rhyme and Sachs didn’t feel true to themselves and came across and forced and awkward, and there are massive jumps in their relationship that just randomly popped up (kids being a big one here), and it was really jarring. That being said, there also seems to be this massive distance between Sachs and Rhyme that has not been there previously. Sachs is  also more headstrong and less logical than usual, and Rhyme is far too emotional about thing.

I found the humour to be very limited in this book, but Thom and Rhyme together are, as always, an absolute treat. The Empty Chair really came across like it was painting these Southerners as backwards and revenge-fuelled and crazy. It seemed overly stereotypical, and that didn’t come across as natural. The story is, of course, twisty as hell, and it was an enjoyable ride, it just feels like it is not nearly as sharp a story as I have come to expect, and fell flat a bit. I guess what I am saying is that this book is a bit messy.

The Empty Chair is not as smart as its predecessors, and while it is a bit messy, it is still a fast, entertaining read, just a weaker entry to the series is all. Maybe because the characters were out of their element, it threw the reader out of their element, too, but yeah. Decent but flawed read.