The Archived By Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion

First Published: January 22nd 2013

Blurb:

“The dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead, called ‘Histories’, rest in the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper is dangerous and a constant reminder of those she lost, Da and her little brother. Mac wonders about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. Yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.” (From Goodreads, 20th January 2015)

Review:

One of the things any book lover enjoys is a book about books, libraries, and drama. The archive however, is a different type of library, the books contain the histories of the dead individuals. However, violent histories break free and Mackenzie must stop them. Moving house, she has found her new home has many more histories waking up, needing to be returned to the Archive. Soon she is pulled in to a deeper mystery within the Archive as not all is as it seems.

This novel is fast paced and a very quick read. It is a book to grab the attention of reluctant readers, young adults, teens and adults alike will enjoy this novel. This book is the first in a series and I am yet to read any further, however, I definitely will be.

5 out of 5

Advertisements

Race to Death By Leigh Russel

Title: Race to Death

Author: Leigh Russell

Publisher: No Exit Press

First Published: September 2014

Blurb:

When a man plummets to his death from a balcony at York races, his wife and brother become suspects in a murder enquiry. Meanwhile Richard is being stalked by a killer issuing death threats. Richard is reluctant to go to the police, for fear his own dark secret will be exposed. Newly promoted Detective Inspector Ian Peterson is investigating the death at the races when a woman’s body is discovered. Shortly after that, Richard is killed. With three murders and no suspect, the investigation seems to be going backwards. Ian is determined to discover who is responsible. (From Goodreads, July 2014).
 

Review:

I received ‘Race to Death’ from Real Readers and asked to provide an honest review. This is the third Leigh Russel novel I have read, and the first DI Ian Peterson novel. I have to admit it was nice to get away from Geraldine Steel, Leigh Russel’s original series, however, the writing style is too similar across all the novels and I am beginning to lose interest in this authors novels.

I enjoy psychological thrillers, and now and again a good murder mystery. However, I like a novel where you are continually guessing who is involved in the deaths, yet this novel I felt you did not get this aspect. There was not enough clues given throughout this book and I felt that I was given information that could not and did not lead me to any answers.

Leigh Russel has fantastic ideas but the writing style is not my ‘cup of tea’. There is just something ‘missing’ and this being the third novel I have read by this author I have to say those who enjoy interesting ideas over more in depth characters and story lines, this may be an author you enjoy. If character development is important then not so much.

This is a personal view, and I am not an avid murder mystery fan. Therefore, I do not have a wide range of authors to compare with in this genre.

For me this is a 2.5 out of 5.

A Novel Death By Judi Culbertson

Title: A Novel Death

Author: Judi Culbertson

First Published: 1st June 2011

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Blurb:

Like many other used booksellers, Delhi Laine, proprieter of Secondhand Prose, dreams of making the Great Find–if not a Shakespearean Folio, then at least a fragment of an Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allen Poe manuscript. But after receiving a very rare and valuable children’s book into her collection, she finds out such treasures can come at a terrible cost–the suspicious death of one colleague and another left for dead days later. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘A Novel Death’ is one of those novels that has sat on my Kindle for ages due to being overlooked and put off due to more popular and raved about books. However, I am glad that I put this novel on my 2014 TBR and eventually started reading it! For all book lovers, I’m sure you will agree reading a book that is about books and set in a book shop is always good!

In ‘A Novel Death’ we have a collection of second hand book dealers who competitively attempt to uncover that ‘Great Find’ which will first provide them with riches and also respect from others in the business. However, such finds bring about a whole other side, a murderous side. And so we are pulled into a confusing, page turning thriller with a strange sight into what one would imagine to be a safe business. This is a thriller that goes away from the typical formula, and therefore is a breath of fresh air.

I would recommend this novel to those that are new to reading thrillers, for book lovers and for those who like a more gentle thriller that isn’t from the view point of a detective or police officer. ‘A Novel Death’ may not be the most suspenseful or complicated murder mystery out there however, it was still an excellent book and a very fast and enjoyable story line that kept me from putting the book down!

4 out of 5

The Medea Complex By Rachel Florence Roberts

Title: The Medea Complex

Author: Rachel Florence Roberts

First Published: 31st October 2013

Publisher: CreateSpace

Blurb:

1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?

Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.

The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014)

Review:

A novel based on true events within Bethlem Royal Hospital in the 17th century, sounds really interesting in my opinion and therefore I was really happy to see this book on the Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library. And for that I am grateful, because I would have been disappointed if I had paid to read this  novel. Harsh? Maybe. Maybe not.

We are flung in right at the beginning with Anne waking up unaware of where she is and quickly we are taken into her world within the psychiatric ward, or solitary confinement in which she begins her stay at Bethlem Royal Hospital. Anne is confined because she killed her own son, however she cannot remember this or the fact that she had a son. The narrator switches to include Anne’s husband, father, her psychiatrist and others. I personally enjoy novels with changing narrators however I felt this novel would have benefited from only two or three maximum narrators, this is a personal opinion. Further, the novel started off intriguing to me then quickly just fell apart, with the story losing focus and flow.

There is very little I can say without giving away the story line, but there is so much more that could have been done with this novel in my opinion and it feel short of my expectations.

This is not a novel that I recommend unfortunately. I say unfortunately because I saw so much potential, especially near the beginning, the beginning was excellent, but as I said above it just lost focus and drive for me by the second half.

2.5 out of 5

Human Remains By Elizabeth Haynes

Title: Human Remains

Author: Elizabeth Haynes

First Published: 1st January 2013

Publisher: Text Publishing

Blurb:

When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.

Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared? (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘Human Remains’ was a book I really wanted to enjoy, but unfortunately Elizabeth Haynes just didn’t manage to capture the suspense, the creepiness and the terror I felt she managed to capture in ‘Into the Darkest Corner’.

Any readers who fell in love with ‘Into the Darkest Corner’, and I know there are many of us, I cannot suggest you read ‘Human Remains’. ‘Human Remains’ is a very unique idea which is why I kept reading, and why I cannot be too harsh. I must credit Elizabeth Haynes for her ideas as they are fantastic, however, the spark of her first book has faded for me. These sparks emerged near the end of the novel but I really had to push myself to get there, but the ending was worth it. The drama I know Elizabeth Haynes is able to produce reemerged. But it was too little too late for me.

I feel like I am being harsh, but I am being truthful. We find a decomposing body near the beginning of the novel, but more and more begin to be found. But why is this happening? Why does no one notice their neighbors disappearance. Have we reached that point in society where we will not be missed. The theme and the questions posed by this novel are intriguing and are fascinating to think about, and I can imagine that they would be good talking points for book clubs.

So in summary, this is an interesting novel, with fantastic ideas just not pulled off in the most gripping of fashions.

2.5 out of 5

Fatal Act By Leigh Russell

Title: Fatal Act (A Geraldine Steel Mystery)

Author: Leigh Russell

Publication Date: 19th November 2013

Publisher: No Exit Press

Blurb:

A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives – and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant’s life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues. (From amazon.co.uk, 12th May 2014)

Review:

This is the second Leigh Russell book I have read, and the second Geraldine Steel Mystery I have read. Fatal Act is the 6th Geraldine Steel Mystery that has been released, with Stop Dead being the 5th Geraldine Steel Mystery, and to see my review of Stop Dead click here!

I enjoyed Fatal Act, however, it is not the most suspense driven mystery I have read. I have the same criticism as I did with Stop Dead is that it is slightly too methodical for me, Geraldine, the main protagonist does not feel truly human for me. However, this criticism is what makes Leigh Russell’s writing for me average rather than astounding. The plots and twists and turns are excellent and kept me pondering what will happen, who-did-it, and therefore, keep you reading.

Personally, for me these are nice reads in between more serious or heavy going novels. Also I can imagine them being good for holidays, for those of us who are not so fond of the romantic chick-lit holiday reads.

Fatal Act uses the complexities of the acting industry, the competitiveness, the complicit nature, and the truly murderess nature that jealousy can cause. An interesting theme, which keeps you guessing at all turns.

3.5 out of 5.

 

The Hangmans Daughter By Oliver Potzsch

Title: The Hangman’s Daughter

Author: Oliver Potzsch

Translated: Lee Chadeayne

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

First Published: 1st April 2008

Blurb:

Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan. (From Goodreads, 23rd December 2013)

Review:

It is not often that I read historical fiction, but when I do I really do enjoy it. This year, I have read two books set in the 1600’s and I think I will read more fiction books set in this time period. I feel that dipping into historical fiction, now and again, gives me a nice change in scenery, shall we say, compared to my typical reads.

‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ was another book that I came about by chance – whilst trying to remember the name of another book! I am glad I did. ‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ is a novel that is fast paced and perplexing. The death of a young boy is being blamed on witchcraft, however, the hangman, an intelligent man whom is interested in the way the body works, does not believe in witchcraft. Therefore, when the midwife of the village is incarcerated, the hangman begins to look into finding the true murderer, before it is too late.

This is a crime novel, just set in a different time period to most crime fiction that I have read. The story jumps right in, and keeps getting more and more intense right to the end. A simple death blamed on witchcraft quickly becomes complex and perplexing. The hangman joins forces with the doctors son, who is ironically in love with the hangman’s daughter, in an attempt to find out what is really going on in their town. Soon the two men become entangled in a mystery that may take their lives.

This is a gripping, edge of the seat read, and one I would recommend to those who enjoy crime novels but are needing something different, and a crime novel set in the 16oo’s is different to most crime novels out there that I know about!

4 out of 5

Saving Max By Antoinette van Heugton

Title: Saving Max

Author: Antoinette Van Heugten

First Published: 28th September 2010

Publisher: Harlequin

Blurb:

Max Parkman – —autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive— – is perfect in his mother’s eyes. Until he’s accused of murder.

Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max’s behavior has been getting worse—using drugs and lashing out. But she can’t accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous.

Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death.

Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that’s all too eager to convict him.

Review:

I really enjoyed ‘Saving Max’ much more than I thought I would. This was a book I came about by accident really, hadn’t heard anything about, had not read any reviews, and had not seen anyone talking about it. I had never heard of the author, or any of her other books, books that I will now be checking out!

The primary aspect which attracted me to ‘Saving Max’ was that it was a book about a boy with Autism. I find Autism a fascinating disorder, and mixed with murder, well that is not something you come across so often. If you are worried that this is a book that reflects negatively on people with Autism and associates their behaviour with violence please don’t. The author has dealt with this issue in a sensitive yet realistic way. People with Autism can be violent, but more often can be violent to themselves, rather than others and this is captured well.

Max is a teenager who is struggling with life and when his mother finds out he is planning to commit suicide their psychiatrist sends them to a specialist hospital. Here Max’s behaviour begins to dramatically change and the son Danielle once knew is gone. When Max is found next to another patient, both covered in blood and Max the only one still alive, we witness the frantic love of a mother attempting to save her son and prove his innocence. But has her son changed so far beyond the boy she once knew?

Once we get to the murder trial we are thrown about in all directions, and completely gripped. The novel becomes so bizarrely dramatic that it is just hard to believe but so fascinating! I absolutely loved it. It just had so many twists and turns and moments where you really don’t know what has happened.

If you are wanting a light read, do not read this. If you are wanting a gripping, hard hitting, drama filled, crime novel with a mental health aspect this is perfect!

Antoinette van Heugten is a skilled writer and story teller. An author everyone must add to their collection!

5 out of 5

Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

First Published: 2012

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Blurb:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (From Goodreads, 19th November 2013)

Review:

I was disappointed with ‘Gone Girl’ after everyone saying it was a fantastic mystery thriller, and it being voted for so many awards in 2012.

Nick’s wife has gone missing, and soon Nick becomes the main suspect. Nick initially seen as an amazing husband but soon this persona begins to unravel. But did Nick kill his wife?

The premise was one that enticed me, and from what everyone was saying I thought ‘yes, this is going to be a book that I will love’.

However, the first half of the novel bored me, but was saved with the twist in events during the second half. I am glad I kept going with ‘Gone Girl’ and would advise others who feel the same as me, just keep going! The second half is fantastic and a real page turner. There are a lot of shocks, and a lot of suspects. A psychological mind warp that makes you really wonder about the nature of people.

‘Gone Girl’ is a well planned and laid out thriller which does keep you guessing and shocking you throughout. But I cannot give ‘Gone Girl’ a high rating due to the slow first half, which nearly caused me to give up.

3 out of 5

Sister By Rosamund Lupton

Title: Sister

Author: Rosamund Lupton

Publisher: Piktus Books

First Published: 2010

Blurb:

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life—and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficulty with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life. (From Goodreads, 22nd October 2013)

Review:

Sister is a fantastic novel with beautiful prose. Rosamund Lupton’s writing is fantastic, with attention to detail that pulled me in instantly.

Imagine your sister dying and it being pronounced a suicide. Imagine that not sitting true with you. Imagine everyone ignoring you, and telling you to just ‘get over it’ without taking you seriously when you believe your sister to have been murdered. Imagine the frustration. Imagine the loneliness. All of this is conveyed fantastically in Sister.

Out of the multiple psychological thrillers I have read, Sister is one of my favorites. There are so many aspects, so many possibilities, whilst the understanding of human nature is spot on.

However, someone I know who tried to read Sister disliked it due to the descriptive writing. If you are one of those who do not get pulled in with fantastically descriptive and technically impressive writing style then Sister is not for you. If, like me, these aspects pull you in, along with the edge of your seat genre Sister is perfect reading. Especially for this time of year.

4 out of 5