Book Review: The Forgotten Girls

review-cover-the forgotten girlsTitle: The Forgotten Girls [Stevens & Windmere 6]

Author: Owen Laukkanen

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected—a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice.

But someone has noticed now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues—and where it ends, even they will be shocked.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen more than I did, but honestly, I’m not sure I was the right audience. The cover was gorgeous, the description sounded interesting—the plot kept me involved with the story… but I tend to prefer character-driven fiction, and even though I do enjoy thrillers and mysteries, I had a hard time connecting to the characters in this story.

The first part of the story was built around Mila, a girl who’s best friend has gone missing, and then part way through the book, the majority of the story switches to the killer. It was a strange dynamic to get so involved with one character and then switch to another. That aside, there wasn’t a lot of time put into getting to know any of the characters deeply, and because of this, I found them rather interchangeable. I didn’t feel upset over any of the deaths, I was only mildly irritated with the killer, and by 70% into the book, I’d completely lost interest. I did finish the book, but it was a slog to get through the ending, because I just didn’t care about the characters, and the murders were so briefly touched upon that I didn’t have a macabre fascination to keep me interested in what was happening.

Was it a bad book, though? No. It was well edited and well written. I didn’t get hung up on the sentence structure, vocabulary, or any other sort of technical error. The story moved smoothly and cleanly from one event to another, and I never got confused or lost—but there was a lack of tension that I felt should have been present, and because of that and my lack of interest in the characters, I found it hard to push through the slow pace of the story.

I think if you like mystery books that aren’t too complicated and don’t have too much gore, you may enjoy this book quite a bit—like I said, it was well written, but if you’re like me and prefer character driven fiction or gripping thrillers, this may be a little bit off the mark for you. I gave this book 3 stars because it was a bit of a “meh…” read for me. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either, it just didn’t interest me as much as I’d hoped.

Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo

review-cover-cloud cuckooTitle: Cloud Cuckoo [The Never Dawn 2]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following their shock discovery, Noah and Rebekah reluctantly return to the lower levels of The Ark. Isolated and apart once more, Noah struggles to remember what happened at the surface and suspects Mother has altered his memory.

But Noah’s attempts to unite the workers to rebel are halted when Mother begins The Purge. Her cruel, relentless trials bring Noah to breaking point as he fights to survive when faced by his worst fears. Forced to accept Mother’s terms after a month in Re-Education, Noah finally learns the truth about his people’s past that leave him determined to defeat her once and for all.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Cloud Cuckoo by R. E. Palmer was a great addition to the Never Dawn trilogy. Often after a good book, subsequent books in the series don’t always live up to the quality or the hype of the first book, but in this case, that definitely wasn’t true. My daughter and I read this book together and often found ourselves reading for several hours at a time, often into the wee hours of the morning. We were sucked into Noah’s world.

Technically speaking, much like the first book, I was given a copy that had quite a few typos/errors in it, but again, these didn’t bother me. None of the errors were jarring or subtracted from the story in any way. The writing was clean, concise, and easy to follow, and the story moved at a good pace. It was constructed in such a way that by the end of every chapter, I couldn’t keep myself from continuing on into the next chapter. I was drawn in.

Much like the previous book, the characters were a delight and the world building was expansive and well constructed. One of my favorite parts of this particular book, however, was the change in scenery for Noah. We got to see new parts of the ship. We got to spend more time with characters we hadn’t previously gotten to. There were the same old mysteries, but also a lot of new ones as Noah found out more and more about his world and the people in it.

Overall, I loved this book. I love this series, and my daughter would easily say the same. R.E. Palmer has become one of my new favorite authors. If you enjoy YA or dystopian stories, I would highly recommend you pick up this series and give it a try. You will not regret it. I am so excited to see what the third book has in store for us when it’s released!

Book Review: The Never Dawn

review-cover-the never dawnTitle: The Never Dawn [The Never Dawn 1]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.

But when Rebekah, the girl of his forbidden desire, discovers a secret their leader has been so desperate to keep, Noah suspects something is wrong. Together, they escape and begin the long climb to the surface. But nothing could prepare them for what awaits outside.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Never Dawn by R.E. Palmer was so much more than I ever expected. The writing was clear, concise, easy to follow, and flowed at an easy pace. There were quite a few typos in my copy, but I’m honestly not that upset about it. None of the errors were enough to jolt me out of the story.

The characters were interesting and at times, painfully naïve, but their naiveté is also what made them so fascinating. The world Noah and his dorm-mates inhabited was so well crafted, and the characters so well defined, that it was impossible not to get sucked into their monotonous life. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the Ark and the lives of the people there and it kept me reading.

In fact, I liked it so much that at the end of chapter 12, I put the book down and restarted reading the entire book with my 13-year-old daughter—and when we stopped reading at 50% so she could go to bed… I sneakily read the rest of the book on my own. I then read the second half of the book a second time with her the next day.

If you like post-apocalyptic, dystopian, YA, or mysteries, I would highly recommend you invest in this book. I can’t wait to continue with the series! My daughter lamented last night that she’ll probably never find a book as good as this one again—it has replaced her favorite book. I am blown away that this author has gone relatively unknown for the past four years.

Book Review: I Was A Bitch

review-cover-i was a bitchTitle: I Was A Bitch

Author: Emily Ruben

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Discover the story of Lacey Jones, former queen bitch, as she tries to put together the pieces of the puzzle that has become her life.

After a horrific accident, Lacey Jones wakes up from a two month long coma only to realize that she’s lost all memory of the last two years. In this time, she has turned from a wallflower into the gorgeous and popular Queen Bee of her high school. Adding to the confusion, she is confronted with two guys who claim to love her; her football star boyfriend and the mysterious and attractive Finn.

Now Lacey has to figure out who she can trust as she starts to put her life back together and slowly discovers what really happened on the night of the accident.

Will she be able to resist her developing feelings for Finn and stay loyal to her boyfriend?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was so much fun! I’ll admit, there were a few pretty blatant typos—the grammar especially seemed to be a problem in the dialogue, but although it stood out, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the story as a whole.

As for the characters—I liked them. Some, like Derick, or Lacey’s two popular best friends, were a bit one-dimensional, but Lacey and Finn were full of depth. As a couple, they were at times sweet, funny, and even steamy. So steamy, in fact, that I’d caution that although this is a YA book, I probably wouldn’t hand it to my 13-year-old. It’s bordering on NA.

The only true problem I had with the story was the ending. There was a cheesy, very Mean Girls moment of social confrontation and apology, and I get it… it was an ideal teen drama moment—but…. it was very cheesy.

Overall, I really liked the story. I think it could have used a little polishing, but I’m glad to have read it, and I’d probably read it again. If you enjoy teen romance stories full of mean girls, amnesia, and popularity drama, you’ll probably like it too.

Book Review: The Longest Con

review-cover-the longest conTitle: The Longest Con

Author: Michaelbrent Collings

Genre: Mystery, Humor, Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Would you like to know – I mean, REALLY know – what they’re doing when they go to those fancy comic-cons? Because it ain’t just writing.

See, every year, thousands of people attend comic-cons dressed as monsters.

Of course, you probably already knew that.

But did you ALSO know that…

every year, thousands of MONSTERS attend comic-cons dressed as PEOPLE.

Sure. Nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong there.

Luckily, the con organizers have placed Wardens throughout the conventions. These undercover supernatural troubleshooters are tasked with stopping mayhem before it starts . . . or solving the murders after they happen.

I’M MICHAELBRENT COLLINGS: author of this book, and one of the Wardens. My job is to go to the cons, where I sell books, make fans, and kill the occasional monster.

It’s not just me, either. Those authors I told you about, and even more . . . you’d never guess what many of your favorite authors are REALLY up to at the conventions.

Luckily, though, you don’t have to guess.

JUST READ THIS BOOK.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would—but oh how I’d hoped I would! The Longest Con by Michaelbrent Collings was a quirky mix of Comedy, Urban Fantasy, and Detective Mystery. It’s full of hilarious, often snarky comments from the main character, and strange colorful characters that range from ex-succubi, mafia-like nerds that seem to rule conventions, and Kevin Bacon look-alike brownies.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were a few minor typos, but nothing book-breaking. In fact, the only real complaint I have about the writing throughout the entirety of the book is that sometimes the comedy of the narrative style and the main character tended to overshadow the plot of the book. There were lots of asides and quirky comments that made me laugh out loud, but it did tend to distract from the mystery.

That aside, I loved the book. The author has a definite talent for humor, and the strange and unique characters I encountered kept me interested in the story. If you want something fun to read, and you enjoy conventions and general geekdom, I would highly recommend you pick up this book and give it a try. It was a spectacularly fun adventure, and I am most definitely a fan.

Book Review: Resthaven

review-cover-resthavenTitle: Resthaven

Author: Erik Therme

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The last thing Kaylee wants to do is participate in a childish scavenger hunt–especially inside the abandoned retirement home on the edge oftown. When she finds a bruised, deaf boy hiding inside one of the rooms, she vows to lead him to safety . . . only to discover the front doorsare now padlocked, and her friends are nowhere to be found. Kaylee isabout to learn that not everything that goes ‘bump in the night’ isimaginary, and sometimes there are worse things to fear than ghosts.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAYE ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Resthaven by Erik Therme was not exactly what I was expecting when I opened the front cover, and yet, was everything it promised. A good old-fashioned YA Thriller set in a creepy, abandoned retirement home, the pages of Resthaven were filled with terrifying moments, a vivid atmosphere, and ever-present danger. The book was thrilling, scary, and engaging in a way that kept me reading as I devoured the story of Kaylee and her group of angsty teenage friends.

Okay, so they weren’t really friends in the strictest sense of the world. In fact, as far as I could tell, none of the teens even liked each other. Jamie was a wreck of a spoiled trust-fund teen who drew in broken people around her and continually told them how lucky they were to even be in her presence. Personally, I couldn’t stand her. For the most part, the characters were selfish, cowardly, and at times very close to being considered crazy. Kaylee though not perfect, seemed to be the most stable of the bunch.

My favorite character by far, though was Corbin, the deaf, dinosaur-loving kid who lived in little more than a closet. Without him, this story would have been vastly different. He really helped to solidify Kaylee as the protagonist and kept the plot moving.

Honestly, I liked the book a lot, but I wasn’t a fan of the characters. I found it hard to identify with them, and the story leading up to the scavenger hunt at Resthaven seemed flimsy. Did I enjoy the book? Yes. It was engaging, well edited, and the danger was exciting… but I don’t think it was as good as it could have been. In the end, I gave it a solid 4 stars because even though it wasn’t perfect, it was still an engaging read, and I’m glad to have read it.

Book Review: Midnight Burning

review-cover-midnight burningTitle: Midnight Burning [The Norse Chronicles 1]

Author: Karissa Laurel

Genre: Mythology, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, I’m not sure how best to categorize Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel. Going into the story I didn’t know a lot about the book, and at first, I was under the mistaken impression that this was going to be a werewolf-oriented paranormal romance. Don’t ask me why. It was so much more than that.

The book was part romance, part paranormal thriller with a whole lot of Nordic mythology thrown in.

The plot was interesting and complex, filled with healthy doses of danger, a smoldering love triangle and supernatural powers woven together with a new spin on a very old mythos. I was engrossed from the very beginning. The book was well written, fast paced, and I never felt the need to pause, re-read, or put the book down until the very end. The characters were complex and distinct (with the exception of some of the minor Valkyrie characters, but who cares?).

Honestly, my only real complaint about the book at all is that I was kind of perturbed by the abrupt ending. It seemed like just when the romance was about to break through into something juicy, the book ended. My inner fangirl died a little as I was really looking forward to seeing where the relationship between Solina and Thorin might go. Instead, the situation was left open-ended. On one hand, I understand. I’m sure (read: I hope) there will be further books in this series that will delve further into the romance, but on the other hand, my romance-reader heartfelt unfulfilled.

Either way, it was a good book. I loved the mythos, the danger, Solina’s ever-growing and out of control powers…and I can’t really argue the ending because although it wasn’t what I wanted, it was intriguing. I enjoyed my peek into the work of this new author, and I can’t wait to see how this story will evolve as the series goes on.

If you’re looking for a solid paranormal thriller with a bit of romance and mythology mixed in, I’d highly recommend you check this book out.