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I hate being sick!

So, I was looking forward to a weekend off from working since I every other week work Sundays. I got sick, and I never ever get really sick. How splendid is that? The kind of sick that makes it hard to read and sit by the computer. So, I watched movies instead, not that bad. It's just that my books to review pile is not shrinking a tiny bit this weekend. Vice verse actually since I late last night found my reading mojo again...*sigh*

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Never Let You Go - Chevy Stevens

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Chevy Stevens targets her readership with a novel that hits all the notes they come to expect from her—and ratchets up the stakes even more in a novel that explores the darkest heart of love and obsession.

 
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Reading this book made me wonder if I have read too many thrillers lately or if this book was too easy to figure out. I guess a bit of both, to be honest. I'm not saying that I did not enjoy the book, however, when everything in a thriller points to one thing (or in this case to one person being behind something, that's when I often grew suspicious.

Never Let You Go is a thriller that is not groundbreaking or even really thrilling, to be honest. It does have an interesting story and the main characters, Lindsey and her daughter Sophie, are easy to like. But, what the story really lacks is some great twist. There is just no shocking twist to the story. I was suspicions towards one character that turned out to be good, but looking back I see that he was just a red herring. But, the ending was just not surprising enough to raise my pulse. It was so ... logical. Even the reason for everything was something that was easy to figure out.

The book's strength lies in that both Lindsey and Sophie were so likable. Especially, Sophie. I fully understood her wanting her father to have repented. To be a good man, despite everything pointing to the contrary. I do admit that I was at first not really appreciating Lindsey. I do have a very black and white view of abuse and don't see why anyone would stay in such a relationship. However, love and fear can make people do all sorts of crazy things.

Never Let You Go may not have been so thrilling for me, but I enjoyed reading the book. While the twist may have lacked the shocking punches I was after did the characters impress me. This was the first book I have read by Chevy Stevens and I wouldn't mind reading more books from her.

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

 
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Uprooted is a book that, despite seeming so interesting did it take me a long time to get to it, mostly because it seemed so thick and time-consuming. And, when I finally started to read it did I read it during one day. I'm actually a bit impressed by that myself since the book is 435 page long. But, then again I did start it after (or around can't really remember) midnight, slept and then read all through Saturday. A perfect day!

What I like about Uprooted is that the blurb doesn't give away the story, it only gives a hint to the beginning of the book, there are just not any spoilers to what will happen. And, that's pretty much how I'm going to do with my review. Try to spoil as little as possible because the story is so good, and the best is going in blind and just discover everything for yourself. What I can tell you is that Agnieszka starts off in this book as very clumsy, seriously, she drives the Dragon nuts. However, she will evolve through the books progress, and the person that we get to know at the beginning is, but a memory towards the end of the book. Speaking of the Dragon, I liked how Agnieszka and his relationship evolved through the book as well. They really start off on the wrong foot and it will take some time (and clumsy accidents) for them to be more of a team.

Also, the setting of the book, the worldbuilding, and the history of the land is a strong point with this book. I could easily imagine the world and its characters. One of my favorite moments is towards the end of the book when we get an explanation for what went wrong in the past, why the Wood is corrupted. It's a sad and very moving tale.

Uprooted is a great fantasy book. I liked it very much. However, I did not love it enough to give it a higher rating. It was not hard to read, but I had moments when the story felt a bit sluggish. Not that it was boring, I just didn't feel captivated all the way through the book. That said, it's still a fabulous book, and I recommend it warmly.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!

In a Dark, Dark Wood (I en mörk, mörk skog) by Ruth Ware (SWE/ENG)

In a Dark, Dark Wood - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

SWEDISH REVIEW

 
En oväntad inbjudan dyker upp i den tillbakadragna författaren Noras mejl – det är barndomsvännen Clare som ska gifta sig. En av Clares väninnor håller på och organiserar en möhippa, och vill gärna att Nora kommer trots att det var åratal sedan Nora och Clare hade någon kontakt.
 

Väl på plats, långt ute i skogen, för en helg med sprit och lekar, gör alla sitt bästa för att bjuda till, men snart uppstår spänningar mellan både nya och gamla bekantskaper. Är alla verkligen där på samma premisser? Varför är Nora bara bjuden på möhippan men inte på bröllopet? Och vem är det egentligen Clare ska gifta sig med?


Kontakten med omvärlden är i det närmaste obefintlig i det isolerade huset. Mobiltäckningen är usel och den fasta telefonen fungerar inte. Inom loppet av ett dygn går möhippan från krystad och märklig till våldsam och katastrofal – och Nora hamnar på sjukhus.


Frågan är bara vad som hänt från det att hon och de andra lämnade huset tills det att hon vaknade upp i en sjukhussäng. Hur har hon fått alla skador? Var är de andra? Och varför sitter det poliser på vakt utanför rummet där hon ligger?


Och framför allt – varför minns hon inte vad det är som har hänt?

 
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I en mörk, mörk skog är en intressant psykologisk thriller om en ung kvinna, Nora, som vaknar upp på ett sjukhus, skadad, och utan minnen av vad som hände med henne. Nu måste hon pussla ihop allt som hände från det ögonblick hon fick ett e-postmeddelande om en möhippa för Clare, en vän att hon inte har sett på tio år. För Nora är denna inbjudan ganska förvånande, särskilt eftersom hon inte är inbjuden till bröllopet, och hon vet inte ens vem Clare ska gifta sig med...
 
Jag måste erkänna att i början tyckte jag inte att berättelsen vara särskilt engagerande. Lätt att läsa ja, men jag hade bara svårt att riktigt gilla karaktärerna eller historien. Jag menar att det var ganska lätt att se att någon kommer att dö och någon kommer att vara mördaren. Skulle den stora twisten vara att Nora själv skulle vara mördaren? Vem vet. Men det kom en punkt när jag plötsligt fann mig väldigt engagerad i vad som hände. Karaktärerna började avslöja saker om sig själva och jag fick en känsla av att svaren på allt låg i det förflutna...
 
I en mörk, mörk skog visade sig vara en riktigt bra bok. I början, kunde jag som sagt inte riktigt se vad som gjorde boken så speciell, men historien visade sig vara riktigt bra och det fanns några oväntade ögonblick i boken. Kanske inte den mest överraskande slut, men den passade historien. Allt och alla en riktigt bra bok!
 

Tack till Lind & Co för recensionexemplaret!

 

ENGLISH REVIEW 


What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

 
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In a Dark, Dark Wood is an interesting psychological thriller about a young woman, Nora, who wakes up in a hospital, injured, but with no memories of what happened to her. Now, she has to piece together everything that happened from the moment she got an email about a bachelorette party for Clares, a friend that she hasn't seen in ten years. For Nora is this invitation quite surprising, especially since she isn't invited to the wedding, and she doesn't even know who Clare is marrying...

For the first part of the book did I not think the book to be especially engaging. Easy to read yes, but I just had a hard time warming up to the characters and the story. I mean it was quite easy to see that someone is going to die and someone will be the killer. Would the great twist be that Nora herself would be the killer? Who knows. But, there came a point when I just found myself quite caught up with the story. The characters started to reveal things about themselves and I got the feeling that the answers to it all lie in the past.

In a Dark, Dark Wood turned out to be a pretty good book. Yes, in the beginning, I failed to see the big deal about the book, but the story turned out to be really good and there were some unexpected moments in the book. Perhaps not the most surprising ending, but it fitted the story. All, and all a really good book!

 

Thanks to Lind & Co for the review copy!

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong - S. Jae-Jones

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

 
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WINTERSONG is a book I have wanted to read since the first time I laid eyes on the cover and read the blurb. Yes, even, despite the fact that it's young adult, a genre that I don't often read, did I feel the need to read this book. I found the description of the book, about a young girl that has to save her sister from the Goblin King fascinating and I was very happy to get the chance to read the book.


READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman - Mindy Mejia

Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she's found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie's dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del's, Hattie's high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.

 
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The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is such a bittersweet story. I found the hardest thing about reading this book was that I liked Hattie so much. She was such a likable character, such a sweet girl, full of life and with the whole life ahead of her. And, then she was brutally murdered. Someone took her life, but why?

For sheriff Del Goodman is this case especially hard, he has known Hattie all her life, her father is a good friend to him and now he must find her killer. I loved that the story is told through three different perspectives, Del's, Hattie's and Peter, Hattie's English teacher. By giving Hattie a voice does the story come to life, this is not an anonymous dead girl, this is a girl that dreamed about Broadway, about becoming a star. It's the saddest thing reading this book, knowing that she will never ever fulfill her dreams.

I have to admit that the ending took me by surprise, I had the killer all figured out when the truth came out and I was astonished. It was not at all whom I had thought it would be.

Mindy Mejia has written a heartbreaking thriller with strong characters and a great ending. I look forward to reading more from Mejia in the future! PS. Love the cover for the book!

 

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

The Kept Woman (De fångade) by Karin Slaughter (SWE/ENG)

The Kept Woman: A Novel - Karin Slaughter

SWEDISH REVIEW

 

Män och fruar. Mödrar och döttrar.

Hemligheter binder dem samman. Hemligheter som kan bli deras död.

En före detta polis med tvivelaktigt rykte hittas mördad. Blodiga spår på brottsplatsen avslöjar att det finns ytterligare ett offer: en kvinna. Men nu är hon försvunnen. När Will Trent börjar nysta i fallet leder frågorna till hans eget förflutna. Snart inser Will att hans tillvaro är ett korthus som kan fall sönder vilken sekund som helst.

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Jag var lite osäker på om jag skulle läsa De fångade utan att ha läst någon av de tidigare Will Trent böckerna. Jag har läst bokrecensioner som varnat för att det är svårt att förstå boken utan att ha läst de tidigare böckerna och jag ville inte att läsa denna och känna att jag inte förstod hälften av vad som hände. Lyckligtvis tog jag risken  och jag måste säga att boken är fullständigt lysande.
 
De fångade anspelar på tidigare händelser, men jag kände aldrig att jag inte hängde med när jag läste boken. I stället sögs jag in i historien och det är en bok som jag knappt kunde lägga ner. Jag fann berättelsen redan från början mycket spännande. Boken började starkt med fyndet av den döda kroppen och hur allting ledde till Angie, Wills hustru. Boken har sådan fantastiska vändningar och det var svårt att räknade ut vart allting skulle leda till. Vem är den döda mannen, vad har han med Angie att göra? Vad är det som pågår?  Det är en fantastisk bok och jag gillar verkligen Will Trent, denna trasiga karaktärer som Angie inte kan sluta plåga.
 
På tal om Angie. Hon är en intressant kvinna, en av de värsta karaktärer jag någonsin har stött på. Hon är den typ av kvinna som går genom livet och förstör allt som är bra. Och Will, på grund av deras förflutna, tyvärr, den som får ta den värsta stöten av det. Jag är nyfiken på Will och Angie och det ska blir intressant att gå tillbaka och läsa tidigare böcker i serien.
 

Tack till HarperCollins Nordic för recensionexemplaret!

 
ENGLISH REVIEW
 

Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.

Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.


The author of the acclaimed standalone Pretty Girls returns with this long-awaited new novel in her bestselling Will Trent series—an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges the Georgia detective into the darkest depths of a case that just might destroy him.

With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.

Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found. 

 
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I was a bit unsure whether I should read The Kept Woman without having read any of the previous Will Trent books. I've seen reviewers warn that it's hard to get the book without having read the previous books and I did not want to be reading this one and feel that I didn't understand half of what's going on. Fortunately, did I risk it and I have to say that the book is bloody brilliant.

The Kept Woman may allude to past events, but I never felt that I was lost when I read the book. Instead, was I sucked into the story and it's a book that I hardly could put down. I found the story to be very engrossing, with the finding of the dead body and Angie, Will Trent's wife role in it and all the twist and turns kept my interest up until the end. Who is the dead man, what has he to do with Angie? What is going on? It's just such a marvelous book and I really came to like Will Trent, this broken characters that Angie keep tormenting.

 

Now, speaking of Angie. She is an interesting woman, one of the worst character I have ever encountered. She is the kind of woman that goes through life destroying everything that's good. And, Will is because of their past, unfortunately, the one that has to take the brunt of it. It will be interesting going back and read the previous books to get to know Will more and learn more about his past.

Thanks to HarperCollins Nordic for the review copy!

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

The author of the New York Times bestseller I Let You Go propels readers into a dark and claustrophobic thriller, in which a normal, everyday woman becomes trapped in the confines of her normal, everyday world...

Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her...

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose...A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

 
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Clare Mackintosh's debut book I LET YOU GO was a real hit when it was published. I read the book earlier this year and I liked it; however, it was not a favorite book of mine when it came to psychological thrillers. Nevertheless, I was curious to read this book to see what Mackintosh would think of next.
 
READ THE WHOLE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION

The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes - Lyndsay Faye

Internationally bestselling author Lyndsay Faye was introduced to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries when she was ten years old and her dad suggested she read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” She immediately became enamored with tales of Holmes and his esteemed biographer Dr. John Watson, and later, began spinning these quintessential characters into her own works of fiction—from her acclaimed debut novel, Dust and Shadow, which pitted the famous detective against Jack the Ripper, to a series of short stories for the Strand Magazine, whose predecessor published the very first Sherlock Holmes short story in 1891.

Faye’s best Holmes tales, including two new works, are brought together in The Whole Art of Detection, a stunning collection that spans Holmes’s career, from self-taught young upstart to publicly lauded detective, both before and after his faked death over a Swiss waterfall in 1894. In “The Lowther Park Mystery,” the unsociable Holmes is forced to attend a garden party at the request of his politician brother and improvises a bit of theater to foil a conspiracy against the government. “The Adventure of the Thames Tunnel” brings Holmes’s attention to the baffling murder of a jewel thief in the middle of an underground railway passage. With Holmes and Watson encountering all manner of ungrateful relatives, phony psychologists, wronged wives, plaid-garbed villains, and even a peculiar species of deadly red leech, The Whole Art of Detection is a must-read for Sherlockians and any fan of historical crime fiction with a modern sensibility.

 
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I have read quite a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories written by authors than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Some good, some less than good. However, this collection is one of the finest I have ever read and the stories really feel like they were written by Conan Doyle himself.

The book's stories are both before he met Watson and both before and after his "death". All stories are high in quality and some are easier to solve than others. I especially like the dynamic relationship between Watson and Holmes. Sometimes, Watson is made out to be a stumbling buffoon, but in this collection is Watson more a fitting partner to Holmes. They work well together, and they are very good friends.

In this book, we meet damsels in distress, murders, thieves, etc. One story that comes to mind is one that takes place during The Hound of Baskerville because it's told through Holmes point of view, and also because it explains why Holmes stayed back in London while Watsons traveled to Dartmoor with Sir. Baskerville. And, that is just one story among many good.

It's a splendid collection, and now I want to read Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye!

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror by Stephen Jones

The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror: A Novel (All Hallows Horror Trilogy) - John Llewellyn Probert, Stephen Jones

There has always been something wrong about All Hallows Church. Not just the building, but the very land upon it stands. Reports dating back to Roman times reveal that it has always been a bad place—blighted by strange sightings, unusual phenomena, and unexplained disappearances.


So in the 1990s, a team of para-psychiatrists is sent in to investigate the various mysteries surrounding the Church and its unsavoury legends. From the start, they begin to discover a paranormal world that defies belief. But as they dig deeper, not only do they uncover some of the secrets behind the ancient edifice designed by “Zombie King” Thomas Moreby but, hidden away beneath everything else, something so ancient and so terrifying that it is using the architect himself as a conduit to unimaginable evil.

After four days and nights, not everybody survives—and those that do will come to wish they hadn’t. Imagine The Haunting of Hill House, The Amityville Horror, The Entity and The Stone Tape rolled together into the very fabric of a single building. And then imagine if all that horror is accidentally released . . .

 
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The Lovecraft Squad is a book that promising in the beginning of the book, but unfortunately didn't manage to be interesting all the way until the end. 
 
I loved the beginning of the book. Two boys are investigating a building site and they find a skull, a bone and a pot in the place where H.G. Wells house once upon a time had stood. I found this part chilling and the story just kept on being interesting, the discovery of scrolls that tells about the end of time. It was fascinating and intriguing and the idea of 7 people entering the haunted All Hallows Church and spending four days there sounded so incredibly awesome. 
 
However, it's here the story started to drag a bit. At first, I loved the events (apparitions, etc.) at the church, but it came to a point when the story just didn't intrigue as much as it had before. The "surviving" members of the team is going beneath the church and into another world, it was pretty easy to see which world this was, but it took some time before this was addressed by one of them (hint a classic book about hell). And, they traveled from one level to another and I grew more and more bored and I had a suspicion that a certain twist would occur here and I was right. 
 
But, despite this did the book end in an interesting way, and yes I would read the next book in the series. Partly because of the cliffhanger ending, but I did find the book, for the most part interesting.
 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman

The Widow's House: A Novel - Carol Goodman

This chilling novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages blends the gothic allure of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and the crazed undertones of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the twisty, contemporary edge of A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife—a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career.

They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It's been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, and sees strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

 
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I read The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman a couple of years ago and was deeply impressed with the book. After that, did I read The Ghost Orchid and The Sonnet Lover and was not as impressed (not bad books, just not as good as The Lake of Dead Languages). So, when I saw this book and read the description did I immediately want to read it. I love old mysterious houses and the description of this book, about a couple moving there as caretakers made me think of The Shining. Especially since the husband is a writer.

I quite enjoyed reading The Widow's House, the story is good, and I felt that the characters are complex and there is something very weird going on. Clare Martin has had problems in the past, for instance, a miscarriage when she was in college and her childhood was a hard one. And, now at the house, is she experiencing things that make her wonder if the house is haunted or if she is losing it.

One thing I truly loved about the book is how not everything is at it seems, Clare's husband Jess didn't make a good first impression on me, and although the book did I feel that he was a self-centered son of a bitch. But, the ending, without wanting to give anything away, I love how Carol Goodman decided to write an ending that just turned everything around.

The Widow's House kept my interest up from the beginning until the end. I've been a bit tired of reading psychological thrillers with a woman in center trying to solve a mystery, but this book felt refreshing to read. I felt that I connected with the story and its characters and I was eager to learn the truth about the house.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!

The General's Women by Susan Wittig Albert

The General's Women - Susan Wittig Albert

Set during the chaotic years of World War II, The General's Women tells the story of the conflicted relationship between General Dwight Eisenhower and Kay Summersby, his Irish driver/aide, and the impact of that relationship on Mamie Eisenhower and her life in Washington during the war. Told from three alternating points of view (Kay's, Ike's, and Mamie's), the novel charts the deepening of the relationship as Ike and Kay move from England (1942) to North Africa (1942-43) to England, France, and Germany before and after the Normandy landing (1944-45). At the end of the war, Ike is faced with the heart-wrenching choice between marrying Kay and a political future.

The story continues into the post-war years, as Ike (returning to Mamie) becomes Army Chief of Staff, president of Columbia University, Supreme Commander of NATO, and president of the United States. Kay, meanwhile, struggles to create a life and work of her own, writing two memoirs: the first (Eisenhower Was My Boss, 1948) about her war work with Ike; the second (Past Forgetting, 1976) about their love affair. An author's note deals with the complicated question of the truth of Kay's story, as it finally appears in the posthumously-published Past Forgetting.

 
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I wanted to read this book ever since I read that Susan Wittig Albert was writing a book about Dwight Eisenhower and Kay Summersby. I have previously read Loving Eleanor and A Wilder Rose by the author and I love how she can write about real life people and making them come alive and I'm happy to say that she has once again managed to do that with The General's Women.

It's not only the people that she manages to portray in an authentic way, Wittig Albert has a knack for writing about the time and milieu that makes it feel like you are both learning more about the period at the same time you are enjoying the story. In The General's Women is the focus heavy on WW2 and I loved reading this book because not only did I get a vivid description of the people of the time, but I also got to follow the war from a close perspective as Kay Summersby followed Ike to North Africa.

This book is not heavy on the romance. Sure there are special moments between Ike and Key in the book, but it's not a saccharine kind of romance. I mean Key was not at all pleased when she first had to drive Ike, he was only a two-star general and Ike in return was displeased with her being late to pick him up with the car (all because she had to eat). But, then as the story progressed one could see how they started to warm up to each other. I like that Wittig Albert also included Mamie's POV, and I found it interesting to learn more about her, her devotion to Ike and her jealousy towards women in his life.

The General's Women is an engrossing book to read and I loved reading about Dwight Eisenhower and Kay Summersby. I think the best romance stories are the ones that are real and I do have a weakness for doomed romances.

 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! 

The Shogun's Queen by Lesley Downer

The Shogun's Queen: The Shogun Quartet, Book 1 - Lesley Downer

Only one woman can save her world from barbarian invasion but to do so will mean sacrificing everything she holds dear - love, loyalty and maybe life itself . . .

Japan, and the year is 1853. Growing up among the samurai of the Satsuma Clan, in Japan's deep south, the fiery, beautiful and headstrong Okatsu has - like all the clan's women - been encouraged to be bold, taught to wield the halberd, and to ride a horse.

But when she is just seventeen, four black ships appear. Bristling with cannon and manned by strangers who to the Japanese eyes are barbarians, their appearance threatens Japan’s very existence. And turns Okatsu’s world upside down.

Chosen by her feudal lord, she has been given a very special role to play. Given a new name - Princess Atsu - and a new destiny, she is the only one who can save the realm. Her journey takes her to Edo Castle, a place so secret that it cannot be marked on any map. There, sequestered in the Women’s Palace - home to three thousand women, and where only one man may enter: the shogun - she seems doomed to live out her days. But beneath the palace's immaculate facade, there are whispers of murders and ghosts. It is here that Atsu must complete her mission and discover one last secret - the secret of the man whose fate is irrevocably linked to hers: the shogun himself . . .

 
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The Shogun's Queen is such a fantastic book. My knowledge before this book about Japan during 19-century was very limited and I enjoyed both getting a fictional version as well getting a history lesson all in one book. It's actually a very tragic book, the end of the Shogun's regime in Japan that we get to see through the eyes of Okatsu, a girl that was chosen to try to stop the barbarians from taking over the realm either by forcing or by bullying the leaders into giving in. Reading how the Americans and the British, etc. practically set an ultimatum to the leaders to open the borders so they could get into the land made my blood boil. The audacity to think that they had that kind of right is infuriating.

Okatsu, later Princess Atsu, life is fascinating to read about, and through the book did I really hope that she would achieve her goal, and save the realm, but she faces a lot of obstacles in the Women's Palace. To get the Shogun to listen is hard, especially since he is controlled by his mother. And, the Shogun mother is not a woman that will see reason, all she wants is to control her son and what happens outside the walls of the Women's Palace is second that. It would perhaps be easier if the Shogun had been more of leader, but this is a man that should never have ruled. He may have been born to be the Shogun, but he had not the mental capacity for that. Which his mother took advantage of.

The Shogun's Queen is an engrossing book, well-researched and it left me with a need for reading more about Japan and the Shogun's. I loved that it's through Princess Atsu that we get an insight into the chaotic time period. She may be trapped in the Women's Palace, but it's there that so much happens, and it's there that the faith of Japan will be decided...

 

I want to thank the author for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc - Jennifer Kincheloe

It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels, but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding. Midway into her investigation, the police chief's son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity, and shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail. Anna must choose - either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.

 

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The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, what a splendid book! This is one of those times when I struggle to write down my feelings towards the books. I mean it's so bloody good and I loved listening to it. It's one of those books that draw you from the beginning and then not let you go.

 

Anna Blanc is a plucky and yes a bit naive character. She has grown up quite sheltered from the world and several times during the book is she reminded of that when she sees how those less fortunate are treated. In the beginning of the book is she trying to break free from her father grip by eloping, but it doesn't end that well and now is she stuck with a chaperone that will not let her out of her sight. However, the temptation to apply for the job as a police matron (She has long dreamed of solving crimes like Sherlock Holmes) may make her take drastic methods to ensure that she gets the job.

 

I found the story to be very engaging and I loved how Jennifer Kincheloe managed to write a story that's both funny and serious. I especially liked how she portrayed the women in the book and men's attitude to them. How they are not taken seriously and often being downright patronized. I often went from happy to angry will listening to this book.

 

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc is such a wonderful book, and it has a perfect mix of action and romance. Yes, I'm the pickiest person when it comes to romance is loving the more light part of the story and there are several scenes that almost made me laugh when and a certain gentleman friend get a bit frisky with each other.

 

In the end, I just want to say that Moira Quirk is a perfect narrator. I especially loved how she skillfully voiced the different characters from. There is a fellow called Joe Singer in the book, and he often sings and she does the lines so perfect!

 

All right, there is so much to say about this book, but I honestly don't want to spoiler anything so I'm going to end it here with telling you all that it's a brilliant book and you should read it!

 

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!

In the Month of the Midnight Sun by Cecilia Ekbäck (SWE/ENG)

SWEDISH REVIEW

 

Midnattssolens timme är en historisk spänningsroman om människor, hemligheter och ett mytiskt berg som kastar sin långa skugga över de invånare som lever där.

Sommaren 1856. När Magnus Stille blir skickad av sin svärfar, justitieministern, att kartlägga området runt Svartåsen i Lappland tjänar det som täckmantel för ett helt annat uppdrag. Tre män – en präst, en lagman och en ännu oidentifierad man – har nyligen hittats mördade i en prästgård i den avlägsna regionen. En äldre same påstås ha utfört dådet och Magnus uppdrag är att försiktigt ta reda på vad det är som har hänt. Kungen är på väg att sälja de olönsamma gruvorna i Lappland och ingenting får störa den kommande affären. Svartåsen har redan rykte om sig att vara en plats med mystiska krafter och dolda hemligheter.

Men Magnus svärfar har även ett annat mer privat uppdrag åt honom. Eftersom han starkt ogillar sin dotter Lovisas sätt att leva låtar han henne följa med Magnus på den mödosamma resan norrut. Detta omaka par – en man uppfostrad till att tjäna staten och en ung, rik kvinna som vägrar att leva efter samhällets normer – reser tillsammans från den civiliserade huvudstaden upp till den mytiska trakten kring Svartåsen. Området är befolkat av nybyggare, med sitt grovhuggna sätt att bedriva politik och religion, och samer som med sin förkristliga tro alltid har bott runt Svartåsen. Magnus och Lovisa har ingen aning om vad som väntar dem, men resan in i midnattssolens land och mötet med den äldre samekvinnan Ester kommer att för alltid förändra dem. 
 
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Midnattssolens timme innehåller alla de element som jag verkligen gillar i en bok. Jag är oerhört förtjust i att läsa historiska spänningsromaner och den samiska kulturen har i flera år fascinerat mig. Jag har inte läst Cecilia Ekbäcks tidigare roman I varjavinterns land, en den ligger högt på listan på böcker jag vill läsa.
 
Magnus Stille är svärson till justitieministern i Sverige. Magnus skickas upp till Svartåsen i Lappland för att kartlägga området. Men han är egentligen där för att undersöka omständigheterna till mordet på en tre män som brutalt mördades av en same. Med på resan är också Magnus svägerska Lovisa som har tvingats av sin far att resa med då hennes beteende inte passar in hur en kvinna ska bete sig på den tiden. I alla fall är det vad hennes far anser. Väl upp i Svartåsen så märker de att något inte står rätt till, det vilar ett mörker över det lilla samhället uppe i Svartåsen...
 
Jag fann boken oerhört fascinerande att läsa, förutom den spännande historien ger boken en insyn i svenskarnas behandling av samer, hur de skulle kristnas och hur marken togs ifrån de, Ekbäck berättat skickligt i denna bok hur samerna har behandlats. Hur de klassas som andra sortens människor, som om de pga av utseendet och sättet de lever på är dummare. Tyvärr det denna rasism inte något som har försvunnit i nutid. Boken är oerhört intressant och då jag älskar när berättelser har en övernaturlig udd så fann jag denna bok speciellt intressant då gränsen mellan verklighet och det övernaturliga mellan varven suddas ut. 

I Midnsattsolens timme är en fantastisk bok, en av den bästa historiska spänningsromaner jag har läst. Förutom det mystiska fallet med de döda männen så tycker jag att Ekbäcks beskrivning av kvinnors liv på 1800-talet i Sverige är fascinerande att läsa om. Magnus svägerska Lovisa kan inte som sin mor och syster anpassa sig och för henne blir det då antingen klostret eller dårhuset, det är upp till Magnus vad hennes öde blir. För det är en mans värld de lever i... 

Tack till Wahlströms och Widstrand förlag för recensionsexemplaret!

ENGLISH REVIEW

An orphaned boy brought up to serve the state as a man. A rich young woman incapable of living by the conventions of society. Neither is prepared for the journey into the heat, mystery, violence and disorienting perpetual daylight of the far North.

Stockholm 1856.

Magnus is a geologist. When the Minister sends him to survey the distant but strategically vital Lapland region around Blackasen Mountain, it is a perfect cover for another mission: Magnus must investigate why one of the nomadic Sami people, native to the region, has apparently slaughtered in cold blood a priest, a law officer and a settler in their rectory.

Is there some bigger threat afoot? Blackasen seems to be a place of many secrets.
But the Minister has more than a professional tie to Magnus, and at the last moment, he adds another responsibility. Disgusted by the wayward behavior of his daughter Lovisa - Magnus's sister-in-law - the Minister demands that Magnus take her with him on his arduous journey.

Thus the two unlikely companions must venture out of the sophisticated city, up the coast and across the country, to the rough-hewn religion and politics of the settler communities, the mystical, pre-Christian ways of the people who have always lived on this land, and the strange, compelling light of the midnight sun.

For Lovisa and Magnus, nothing can ever be the same again.
 
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In the Month of the Midnight Sun contains all the elements that I really like in a book. I am extremely fond of reading historical suspense novels and Sami culture has for years fascinated me. I have not read Cecilia Ekbäcks earlier novel The Wolf Winter. However, it is high on the list of books I want to read.


Magnus Stille is son-in-law to the Minister of Justice in Sweden. Magnus is sent up to Svartåsen (The Black Ridge) in Lapland to survey the area. However, he is really there to investigate the circumstances of the murder of the three men who were brutally murdered by a Sami. On the trip is also Magnus sister-in-law Lovisa who have been forced by her father to travel with Magnus because her behavior does not fit how a woman should behave at the time. At least that's what her father thinks. When they arrive at Svartåsen do they notice that something is not right, there is a darkness over the small village that they are staying at in Svartåsen...

I found the book extremely fascinating to read, in addition to the compelling story does the book also give an insight into the Swedes' treatment of the Sami people, how they were christened and how the land was taken away from them. Ekbäck skillfully tells the reader in this book how the Sami have been treated. How they are classified as different kinds of race and that the appearance and the way they live are dumber. Unfortunately, this kind of racism is not unheard of today. The book is extremely interesting, and I love when stories have a supernatural vibe so I found this book especially interesting because the line between reality and the supernatural is often crossed.

In the Month of the Midnight Sun is an amazing book, one of the best historical suspense novels I have read. Besides the mysterious case of the dead men, do I think Ekbäcks description of women's lives in the 1800s in Sweden was fascinating to read about. Magnus sister-in-law Lovisa cannot like her mother and sister adapt to the life that is expected, and because of that will it either be the cloister or madhouse for her. It is up to Magnus what her fate will be. For it is a man's world they live in...
 

Thanks to Wahlströms och Widstrand förlag for the review copy!

Where the Lost Girls Go by R.J. Noonan

Where the Lost Girls Go: A Laura Mori Mystery - R.J. Noonan

Rookie cop Laura Mori catches her first investigation when the fiery crash of a sports car lights up the night sky. The fire burns the body beyond recognition, but the police are able to identify the car as that of Kent Jameson, celebrity author and benefactor of Sunrise Lake. And Jameson fears that the unidentified body is his seventeen-year-old daughter Lucy, who stormed out of the house that night after an argument.

When lab reports reveal that the body was not Lucy, but a teen runaway named Kyra whose disappearance has been linked with other missing persons--more than half a dozen “lost girls” who disappeared while living on the streets of Portland--the investigation takes a drastic turn. How did Kyra come to land at the Jameson estate in rural Oregon, and what was she doing driving their car? And who cut the brake lines on the vehicle?

Just when Laura is making progress in the case, she comes across a suspicious lane in the forest that uncovers new evidence that will once again alter the course of the investigation and rock Sunrise Lake to its core. R. J. Noonan's electrifying mystery will resonate with fans of Lisa Gardner and Lisa Jackson.

 
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I have to admit that the cover was the first thing that made me want to read Where the Lost Girls Go, that and the great title. So, it was a plus that the blurb made the book seem very interesting.

Rookie cop Laura Mori has finally gotten her first case when a young girl crashes her car. However, this is not an open and shut case. It seemed that the body in the car doesn't belong to the owner's daughter Lucy. So, who is the dead girl in the car and where is Lucy?

I really liked Laura Mori. I liked that she is new to the job, her problems with her family and that she has a crush on the neighbor guy for years and that he doesn't seem to notice that. All this made her very likable and human. The case is also interesting, especially when Mori discovers that more girls have gone missing and that Lucy's family and those are are acting a bit weird. And, then there are all those kids out in the woods living there with their leader Prince (yup his name, hard to take someone serious with that nickname) Unfortunately, despite the interesting case did I feel that the story never really got really thrilling. Not boring either, it was just OK. I think the problem was that I never really got surprised over the turns of events in the book. There was no great twist.

 
Where the Lost Girls Go is a decent book, and I would definitely read more about Laura Mori because I found her to be an interesting character.
 
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!