Book Review: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins is back! I was not a fan of Into the Water but a big fan of Girl on the Train. This is a pretty compelling mystery about broken people. Each of the characters had something horrific that makes them all capable of murder if it was the right person which makes this mystery good and hard to find out who did it. There is no big twist but a lot of little twists act as the embers to A Slow Fire Burning. I guessed wrong on who I thought the killer was, but was okay with the killer and the outcome. My favorite character was Irene who is no nonsense and the only character with morals. This is a very fast read that sucks you in with the little twists and cliffhanger chapter writing where you have to keep reading. Everyone is connected through someone in this story, at first it was dizzying trying to keep up with all the connections, and then the book slows and let’s you really get to know the character’s making them hard to forget and formed a better link to the way the character’s connected to one another.

The Plot: Daniel is murdered on a house boat. A week before his mother died of natural causes, or did she. Daniel is discovered by a nosey neighbor, with a history with the family. She see’s two women A young woman seen fleeing with an arm bleeding and another woman that could be his older lover. The body is discovered 26 hours from death making opportunity for even more suspects.

What I Liked: how fast paced this story is from the get go. I liked that it did not take me long to get hooked. I can’t stop gushing over Irene, she was my favorite, I did used to work at a retirement home and have known a couple Irene’s. I liked the little twists, it answered all the loose ends, except one, which I will talk bout in my dislike section. I like that Hawkins made fun of her writing with in this story. The finale was fun and wrapped up nicely.

What I Disliked: is that Irene makes a discovery about two characters and how they are linked, the reader has already found the secret out, but I was bummed that nothing comes of it. It is discovered one night and never mentioned the next night. The beginning will make you dizzy as you sort out all the characters and who they are related too.

Recommendations: This book is a return to form for Hawkins, after I was disappointed by Into the Water. I recommend you check out this fun little mystery/ thriller. I have read all 3 Paula Hawkins novels and A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins I rated 4 out of 5 stars. Not as good as her debut the excellent Girl on the Train but a fun mystery that will keep you guessing.

Book Review: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica is a uniquely told mystery because it is told in reverse, but you still don’t know all the facts making it very compelling. There are some big twist that will make you change your whole theory of what is going on. The writing was good with just enough description to let you visualize what is going on. The narrative is told at three different times by four different people in the story, at first this is a little dizzying, but then starts to fit in to place. The way the story is told makes it brilliant, if it was told the normal way it would still be good but they way it is told makes you question and doubt everything. This is my first Mary Kubica and I was blown away I have heard her name mentioned in mystery but didn’t expect to be this blown away and frankly jealous that I did not think of this brilliant way to tell a story. The finale is heart ponding and the villain gets what they deserved. This book does have LGTBQ characters. There are trigger warnings of extreme child abuse that could ruin this book for some. I would like to thank Netgalley and Harlequin trade publishing for giving me an advanced reader’s copy of Local Woman Missing. Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica is published on may 18th 2021.

The Plot: A girl escapes people that have been torturing her for 11 years, the girl is famous of a sort for missing. The novel jumps back 11 years to the day of the missing girl, and we know she is not the only one missing the mom and another local woman are missing as well. Then the novel jumps back even further to 11 years and 3 months, where the mom receives a threatening text message saying I know what you did years ago, you will be punished.

What I Liked: The plot and the way it is told add so much tension. The past will change you perception of the future, it was really cool how that was done. I liked the psychological aspect to the book on the toll of reintroduction of a girl missing takes on her and the family, having Leo, the younger brother of the missing girl be the narrator was great as we get in his head. I did like there was a lesbian couple that no one batted an eye at and trusted there kids with. The finale was tense you already know who the villain now you want to find out if they get caught or they do more destructive things. I was very satisfied with the ending and the turn of events.

What I Disliked: There was one plot twist about a cheating husband, an accusation, then we find one girl had an affair I was bummed that it wasn’t tied into the husband, and that the husband having an affair just went away in the story, I kind wanted to know if it was true, or the accuser was just paranoid. I liked having the perspective of Leo a young 14 year old, but he has some lines about love and sex that felt more like a 40 year old that has been through the ringer not a 14 year old virgin.

Recommendation: Read local Woman missing it is a really smart mystery, that takes the reader for a ride shows you all the suspects and slowly fill in the details of the past and the present. Be warned of the trigger warning for extreme child abuse and entrapment. If I had to compare the narrative style to another book I would say it was closest to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, as close as it is the two are very different and this book doesn’t have a perspective that you can not trust. I rated Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica 5 out of 5 stars. I will definitely be reading more Mary Kubica in the future.

Book Reviews: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is a tightly wound thriller at an isolated hotel with it’s own horrific past. The thriller gets off to a fast start with a murder. we later learn the significance of it and when it happened. This is a novel of a lot of twist that will mess with your head as to is behind all this. The setting is unique a former Sanatorium that treated female tuberculosis patients that is turned into a swanky hotel in the Swiss Alps. This book was on Reece Witherspoon’s book club which gave it some extra hype. The Sanatorium is a solid mystery, with easy to remember character’s. I did guess the killer, but it wasn’t for the reasons that I thought, my guess was more a shot in the dark, so the narrative was still fun. The killer’s lament was too long and didn’t have the reason I felt were grounds to murder so many. I enjoyed it the ending could of been a little more satisfying, but all together a solid mystery from Sarah Pearse.

The Plot: A former sanatorium that treated female tuberculosis patients in 1920’s is getting turned into a swanky new hotel in the Swiss Alps. The town people protest the remodel and want know one to take it over, one of the builders checks out the construction as he is stalked and stabbed by someone in a old gas mask and a rubber suit, like the doctors wore when treating the TB patients. Is this a former patient, an angry townsperson, or someone else with a grudge. Despite the murder the hotel is opened on time Elin Warner is a detective on leave that got invited to celebrate her estranged brother Issac who is engaged to her childhood best friend she stopped speaking to. Elin is a brilliant detective but suffers panic attacks thanks to her last case, since going on leave. The meeting is awkward because of a past trauma that Elin believes that her older brother killed her younger brother when they were younger. Issac’s fiancĂ© goes missing and an avalanche snows them in Elin is left to investigate, but can she do it. A body then bodies start piling up with nowhere to go Elin has to find out the truth.

What I Liked: Elin was annoying at first but I grew to really like her character and her observations. The other characters are interesting enough that I could remember who they were when the mystery really starts. I do like how the culprit was caught what feature lead Elin to them. The pace is really fast, and made a pretty good little page turner. I liked the killers garb and the connection to the past. The hotel’s backstory was really interesting. I liked that the hotel found out that Elin was on leave and not in fact a detective.

What I Disliked: The killer’s lament was too long and it ruined the past of the hotel, that the was interesting and was made to be so important, was really diminished.

Recommendations: I recommend you to check out this fun little isolated thriller. This was Sarah Pearse’s debut and it is a good one. If you like thriller that make you isolated, and can’t trust the detective’s sanity, then you will like this mystery. I rated The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter

The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter is a good who done it? mystery. You know right up front there was a murder, and you know the who said they did it is lying. The narrative moves really fast supplying the reader with a little bit more information at each turn. This is not a big twist novel but a series of twist that add up to tension and betrayal. The novel does look at the British class system which I found the weakest part of the novel. I haven’t read a mystery in a while and this novel was just what I needed a good quick mystery that kept me guessing. I’m really liking these domestic mysteries that focus on a small knit family that is driven apart by a dark secret. The Dinner Guest is very LGBTQ friendly as the family that is torn apart is a gay couple. Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK , One More Chapter for giving me this ARC. The Dinner Guest was published on April 1st 2021.

The Plot: There’s a body, Matthew that has been stabbed on the dinner table. Charlie the Husband looks on in amazement at the body, Titus, Charlie and Matthew’s teenage son, sits silently at the table not looking at the body, and Racheal holds the bloody knife and calls the police, telling she murdered Matthew. Charlie thanks why did she confess to a murder she didn’t commit. Secrets and lies lead up to this twisty murder mystery.

What I Liked: The way is was told having Charlie and Rachael tell the before and after of the death of Matthew, then at the end we get a new voice. The POV worked really well and added up to tension. I liked the family drama not dealing with the mystery at all was good. Titus is a handful. Blackmail is something all the characters do at one point. I liked the book club scenes and Anita is hilarious, I could have seen a whole lot more of her. The flow is really good the scenes lead to the next really easily. It is easy to understand which character is narrating at the moment.

What I Disliked: Every time the excuses go to class, I’ve read some good interesting class arguments, but every time it was brought up in this story it felt forced, there’s not too many scenes, so it didn’t hamper my enjoyment too much. A big secret is revealed which leads directly to the murder, where the individual just takes the word of someone and doesn’t check if it is true, the person had it’s own reasons for telling. Every thing I had read about that character previously would have to see it with their own eyes to believe it. So that felt false.

Recommendations: I will recommend this pretty good who done it? It is a good escapist read. It reminded me of Shari Lapena’s The Couple Nest Door. I rated The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten Is a atmospheric horror that is slightly unnerving. The Lost Village is a Swedish book that has been translated to English. The descriptions make it feel like characters are constantly being watched by the village, it makes the reader feel pretty unnerved. The mystery is pretty captivating, and the way the story is told by amateur documentarians, really works since they bring their own problems, to a place that feeds off those problems. The Lost Village reminded me of parts of Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery meets the film The Blair Witch Project. I was slightly underwhelmed my the climax, but the rising action to it was so cool I thought of all these other cool scenarios that would have made it epic, and the climax was just good. Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press through Minotaur books for letting me have early access to this title. The Lost Village by Camilla Sten was published in Sweden in 2019 and translated/published in America on March 23 2021.

The Plot: Alice is crowd funding for a documentary, on a village called Silvertjarn which was named for it silver mine. The other thing Slivertjarn is known for is in 1959 all 800 village members went missing and never found again with the exception of one baby found in a school house and a body strung up and stoned to death. Alice has ties to the village through her grandma’s sister, she has rare correspondence in the form of letters days before the missing village. She brings on a team of people that believe in the project but with secrets of their own some about the village but some about Alice herself.

What I Liked: The atmosphere that this horror story starts right in the beginning and goes all the way to the end. Are the documentary crew experiencing mass paranoia or are they being watched. The flow of this book made it hard to put down. It reminds me of The Blair Witch Project as little things added up slowly. The flashbacks really work and add intrigue to the story, it is told through letters and then we see what really went down through one characters eyes. The mystery of the crew members was good as well.

What I Disliked: I wanted to know a lot more about Pastor Mattias, we only learn a few things, it was too much of a mystery for the end. The climax could have been better.

Recommendation: I would recommend my readers to take this wild unnerving ride. It is a good addition to the horror genre with real people with real problems inserted into a horror village with no cell phone and civilization 45 miles away. I rated The Lost Village by Camilla Sten 4 out of 5 stars. This novel was very close to 5 stars but the climax brought it down. I will be picking up Camilla Sten’s next novel I like the descriptions and atmosphere a lot.

Book Review: The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is a throwback to old score horror like Rosemary’s Baby where it is more psychological horror. The author T. Kingfisher said one device of found manuscript is straight from a 1904 called The White People by Arthur Machen, who I’ve never read and probably most people have not read. What the novel does good is set up a horror mystery, that hooked me pretty easily. The pay off happen in the last 1oo pages, which I was satisfied with. The middle could have been a lot better and really test the reader with barely anything happens. The creatures are pretty scary when they are eventually revealed in the book. The book has a few zingers from the narrator who is remembering this as she’s writing it after the fact.

The Plot: Mouse a woman in her early 40, goes to clean up her grandmother’s house after her passing. Mouse escaping her love life and needing money decides to take on this task with her hound dog Bongo. Her Grandmother was a hoarder and the house is full of newspaper and china dolls. The house is way out in the country with not cell phone service. The house hasn’t been touched for a number of years, her grandmother was a difficult lady that the town revered. The mystery starts when Mouse finds and old journal from her step-grandfather she only has vague memories but they were not bad. The journal talks about her grandmother taking his original journal which he needs to keep the twisted ones away. With no cell service she decides to read this journal and grows obsessed with finding the journal that her grandmother hid. She find strange statues in the woods that are all twisted, with hills that don’t make sense. There’s things that go bump in the night and she finds a strange ritual involving dead animals hanging in a tree. She’s haunted and at her wits end when she’s ready to leave her dog goes missing and needs to find him and the journal to survive.

What I Liked: The creepy factor is high in this story, you feel the isolation in the writing. Mouse is a great character that is easily identifiable as she tries to rationalize the horror in her head. There’s a great scene when mouse find out here step-grandfather was driven insane by a song, she starts singing Jingle Bells since that is the least scary song in her mind. The creatures take a while to get there but they’re pretty scary, it did take a while for my mind picture to totally see them, since they are hinted as a lot or she will see a flash of them. The ending was pretty exciting and I could not put down the last 100 pages. The lore of the creatures was interesting and how it connected to the step-grandfather was scary.

What I Disliked: The middle was too long, half of the coffee shop visits needed to be cut, and did not contribute to the story. The lore was ultimately good but at first very confusing and too long.

Recommendations: I will slightly recommend The Twisted Ones, it’s unnerving horror that will play on your mind. It has a pretty action packed ending that is a lot of fun. Horror mystery is the genre for this book the horror is slow but building and the mystery is intriguing. I rated The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher 4 out of 5 stars. I was was circling 3.5 but the ending was really good with bumped it up to a 4.

Book Review: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a horror set in the 90’s that is a take on Scooby Doo and his gang grown up and dealing with real monsters and not some man in the mask. I is a little similar to the new DC run Scooby Apocalypse, where the gang is a little more grown up and deal with real monsters. Meddling Kids is a combination of Lovecraftian creatures meet the Goonies being portrayed by the Scooby Gang. The twist and turns mainly come at the end a few are a stretch but some I really enjoyed. It has LGTBQ representation in the lead character of Andy. The book is a slow build up to an exciting finish but it will test the readers patience by having slow pacing. A. Z. Kimrean the lead of This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us Cantero’s follow up book makes an oh so brief cameo in a mental ward.

The Plot: In 1977 a group of kids started the the Blyton Summer Detective Club where four kids and a dog solved local crimes. The last case when they caught an old man in a creature mask, and admitted to the crimes calling them ,meddling kids. But 13 years later the group is still haunted by what they saw, on member Peter has recently committed suicide. The criminal has been released and when confronted he admitted it didn’t commit the crimes, but lied so he would be protected in jail. The Blyton Summer Detective Club decides to get back together and solve the crime they missed.

What I Liked: there’s a lot of clever pop culture references. Nate seeing a ghost of Peter device is used really well, and adds to the mystery. I like what they did with the dog to make it “Scooby-like” at the very end. I liked what they did with the town bully, Joey. The climax was really exciting with a couple twist and turns. There was a lot a well placed Scooby references. One of the coolest cover art’s Ive seen for horror.

What I Disliked: The pacing is super slow at the beginning, it takes the gang way to long just to get to the town on their road trip. The monster’s could have been described with more detail, it was hard picturing. Never have a I read a story that needed a flashback scene so bad, I think a flashback scene would have solved most of my problems with it.

Recommendations: I think Edgar Cantero is a really clever writer, but this one didn’t live up to my expectations after liking This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us so much, so therefore I can not recommend this one. In This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us the plot is very focused, where Meddling Kids the plot keeps going off in tangents. I rate Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a deeply psychological mystery thriller. This is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust. I really like the way it is told you have the perspective of him, a detective for a small town, and then you have her, a BBC news correspondent. But there is also another voice the killer’s voice, the clever thing this novel does is make you find out who the third voice belongs to is it Him, Her, or is it some one else. This novel is best not knowing too much, so my plot summary will not be too long to keep the story vague. The story had a great pace and was really hard to put down. This novel is easily in my top 10 published this year. This novel would be perfect for a movie.

The Tag Line: There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

The Plot:Her:Anna has been the fill in correspondent for the one o’clock hour of the BBC for almost two years. Cat Jones the original host is back from two back to back pregnancies and Anna is demoted to a desk and to be used only for on site broadcast. A murder comes up in her old home town and she’s assigned it. But she knows the victim and saw them the day before and has had some relationship to the detective. Him: Detective Jack Harper investigates the murder of the young woman Rachael, but he knows her and has been seeing her secretly for months the body is discovered where he last saw her, and he knows the reporter that seems know insider information. The Voice: we are in either Him, Her, or Someone else the voice says I will kill them all for what they have done. Rachael is the first of many victims.

What I Liked: The Tag line is brilliant and made me pick this book. The layers to this mystery kept me going back and forth with interchanging subjects. The writing is really clever everything makes sense. The two main characters Anna and Jack are great and well rounded with a crazy connected past. I was able to really like the characters and not trust either one of them. One of the better reveals to a twist leaving it all at the end to know the whole story. One of the better written villains at the end you know why they did it, it is really messed up but you can emphasize what they wanted to achieve and did achieve. I guessed the killer early on but there was so many twist and turns I was convinced early that it wasn’t them. I liked the three perspectives narrative and trying to find out who the third voice was. There was more than a few moments where, I was blown away by twist and turns.

What I Disliked: To throw the reader off they have a sequence of events that were a little hard to believe that one character would act one way, and not have a conversation about it. It was a cool moment but I wanted some dialogue spoken not just action.

Recommendations: This is a perfect thriller with more twist and turns than I can remember. The killer is viscous, and will keep you guessing until the end. If you like thrillers with unreliable narrators who blatantly lie, then this book is for you. The closest book I would compare it to is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I rated His & Hers by Alice Feeney 5 out of 5 stars. This is author Alice Feeney’s third book, I am a fan and will add Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are to my TBR.

Book Review: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Next by Karen McManus is the sequel to the best selling One of Us is Lying. In this one the story is more complex, and the novel pulls double duty introducing us to new characters, while catching us up with the old characters from the first book. The book for the most part does a good job of blending the new characters with the old, I did feel at beginning it was too much of the new characters. The mystery is way more complex, it reminded me of the newest Veronica Mars storyline. Instead of 4 characters perspectives, we get 3 which was okay but it took away the rapid paced smaller chapters of the first one. The finale was really fun and exciting. There was a late twist almost at the end that I was not excepting. I did not like this book as much as the first one, but this is a pretty good follow up book with a good mystery and lots of characters I already loved and a couple new ones too.

The Plot:18 months after the what happened in the last book, Bayview High is finally getting back to normal, the school has just recently allowed cell phones back after all the trouble with Simon’s gossip App. There have been a couple of copycats but nothing has stuck around until Truth or Dare, you either take a date or get a truth revealed. Phoebe is the first victim as she refuses to play and gets a huge truth bomb delivered that she slept with her sister’s boyfriend. Phoebe is ridiculed in school and soon everyone starts taking it seriously. Dares start happening over town, until death happens. Mauve who helped solve the last mystery, is with out her brainiac sister Bronwyn this time.

What I Liked: I Liked that we got to see characters from the first book still grow in this book. I liked the character of Knox most of all, and is was good to see a genuine good character get beaten down but chose to say good and ends up not finishing last. The finally was exciting and involved characters new and old. The mystery was way more involved but good, it needed better pacing, but looking at all the twist and turns it was pretty solid. The final twist was really good, there was someone that was obviously involved in the plot, that I was disappointed because of how glaringly obvious it was, but the final twist added an extra layer to it that I liked. I liked side characters like Luis getting a bigger role in this.

What I Disliked: The flow was messy at times, making chapters feel overly long. This one took too long to get the mystery started, McManus chose to catch everyone up to what characters in the last book were up to first before trying into the new mystery.

Recommendations: Not as good as the first but a worth while sequel, that lets you spend a little time with characters you loved from the first book. If you thought the mystery was too simple in the first one, then this one is way more complex. The first book blew me a way with how fun it was, this one is not as fun but that was a high bar, and remains in the fun category. I rated One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a clever mystery that blends the characters of the Breakfast Club with the secrets of Pretty Little Liars. The storytelling was really simple with an easy to follow mystery with so many twist and turns. I’m happy to say that I did not guess the killer, kudos to those who did. The story gets going right from the beginning 5 people go to detention, but only 4 make it out alive. We get to live the lives through perspectives of the four survivors, the jock, the brain, the beauty, and the criminal. I really enjoyed this one, and fell in love with all the characters in the end. The ending will stick with me for some time.

The Plot: Five students of Bayview High meet for detention after school, there is Simon, the outcast, that run a gossip app exposing everybody’s secrets at school, Bronwyn, the brain, valedictorian looking to go to Yale, Addy, the beauty, who was homecoming queen, Cooper, the jock, already getting scouted from the Major Leagues, and Nate, the criminal, currently on probation and deals drugs. All are in detention for having cell phones in their bags that through conversation seems like they were set up. The conversation doesn’t last long as Simon goes into shock from a severe peanut allergy and dies. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the death Simon was always careful and there was no peanuts in the room. The whole school gets a confession from an anonymous person that details how they killed Simon, with all the details from the room, knowing that the killer has to come from the room, it’s your job to find out which one is lying.

What I Liked: The characters are great and really make you care for each one. The twist ending is one of the better ones I have read in the Young Adult genre. I like that The twist made sense and was backed up with evidence, and really worked, I say bravo to McManus for pulling it off. The relationships were easy to get invested in, especially the one at the end, you really wanted to shout get over yourself. The LGTBQ storyline worked it kind was the same as Pretty Little Liars but with the media’s reaction to it as well. I liked that the group did form a bond with this even if they can’t totally trust each other.

What I Disliked: The dialogue was sometimes stale, don’t know if I ever bought in to the fact that Cooper was Southern.

Recommendations: This is just such a fun read. The story pulls off an incredible twist, and it makes you fall in love with the characters. Fans of Pretty Little Liars will enjoy the twist, turns, and drama. If you’re looking for an entertaining Young Adult mystery then this is the book for you. This book was pretty minimal on swear words, since some YA are filled with them this is in the low spectrum. I rated One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus 5 out of 5 stars. This book was between a 4 and a 5 but the fun factor pulled me to a 5.