Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake
Series: Gwen Proctor, #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


When I heard Rachel Caine was releasing a thriller, I was excited. I read her YA Morganville Vampire series years ago, and I really enjoyed her writing style. I was interested to see how that writing style would transfer to an adult thriller.

Stillhouse Lake was an addicting read. Everything about the story held my attention. It was fast paced and constantly changing directions. I loved the depth of the characters and the fact that everyone was hiding something. It made it fun guessing who the bad person was. (I guessed correctly!) It also had a great cliffhanger. I wish the next book was available!!!

I’m not going to go into the plot or characters in this review because I would hate to give anything away. If you like a great thriller, I highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. It was such a fun ride.

Release Blitz Review: The Iron Tiara by Beth Flynn

 

BLURB

Anthony Bear and Christy Chapman are from two completely different worlds.Anthony’s the leader of a motorcycle gang that terrorizes Florida’s West Coast. As a child, he ran away from his family and the Cherokee Indian Reservation to enter a life of crime. As an adult, he leads a multifaceted life managing his two businesses—his legitimate landscaping venture, and his loan shark and underworld dealings. Driven by anger and betrayal, Anthony begins the hunt for Christy’s father, Van Chapman, after he runs out on a loan.

Christy’s privileged life is not as it seems. She has kept painful family secrets and hidden some of her own. She’s determined to find out the truth and expose Van, but her search delivers her right into Anthony Bear’s hands, adding kidnapping to his list of crimes.

Their worlds are as contrasting as the color of their skin. The only thing they seem to have in common is their mutual disdain for Van Chapman…and each other.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The Iron Tiara is a spin-off novel from The Minutes Trilogy. It can be read as a standalone, and does not contain a cliffhanger.
 

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MY REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: I received an ARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Iron Tiara is one of my most highly anticipated book releases of the summer. I’m a HUGE fan of the Nine Minutes trilogy, and I was so happy that Beth Flynn decided to grace her readers with a spin-off. I could read a book about any of the supporting characters from the original series. They had so much life and personality!

Fans of Nine Minutes will want to know how The Iron Tiara compares to it. The Iron Tiara is a more straight forward story than any of the books in the original series. That doesn’t mean that it’s without its own twists and surprises. There are definitely some of those in store. It reminded me of both Nine Minutes and Out of Time. It started out and ended by jumping around in time and perspective like Out of Time did, but the middle was all continuous story like Nine Minutes.

The majority of The Iron Tiara is told from Anthony and Christy’s points of view. There are a few other points of view strategically placed throughout the book that help explain the plot to the reader. The entire book is written in third person narration that can change from chapter to chapter or sometimes back and forth within a chapter. The latter was a little weird at first, but it gave me the feel of knowing what each character was thinking during a conversation or event. I ended up appreciating it.

Anthony and Christy’s story was engrossing. Their lives somewhat paralleled Grizz and Kit’s, and the two couples’ stories intersected at times. I remembered Anthony and Christy from the original series, but this book helped make sense of their roles in Nine Minutes. It also made me fall in love with them. Their story was just as interesting and eye-opening. I never thought I would fall for another character like Grizz, but Beth Flynn had me shamefully falling for Anthony Bear.

Overall, I loved The Iron Tiara. I loved the characters. I loved the twisted story line. I loved being back in the world of Nine Minutes. Like I said before, I would read a book about any of the characters from that series and now this book. I’m invested, so I’m crossing my fingers for more spin-offs and more pieces of the puzzle.

I know this review doesn’t really tell you anything about Anthony and Christy’s relationship, but it’s a book you’re going to have to experience for yourself. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone. 😉

 

ABOUT BETH FLYNN

Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 19 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 33 years and have two daughters and a temperamental pit bull named Lady , Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a seven-year breast cancer survivor.
 

 

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Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


This is Karen M. McManus’ debut novel? I’m having a hard time believing that because One of Us Is Lying was so well written. It’s rare to find a YA thriller/mystery that’s as intricately woven as this books was. That fact that a début author wrote it blows my mind! 

One of Us Is Lying kept me guessing from beginning to end. I thought I might have known the killer, but every twist and turn made me reexamine what I thought I knew. The four different points of view spurred that on. Every time the character narrating changed, something new and important was revealed. Those revelations were key in keeping the story moving and changing.

I loved every minute of reading this book. It’s one of best YA debuts I’ve read in a while. The fact that author’s inspiration was The Breakfast Club with criminal twist makes it even more of a gem! I can’t wait for Karen M. McManus to publish her next novel. I will definitely be reading it!

Review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Saint Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo’s help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death–and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.


Before I start my review, I would like to thank Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings for giving me the chance to read an ARC of Saint Death. We trade books often, and she’s amazing to trade with. She also runs an awesome YA book blog. Make sure to check it out.

Saint Death is the second book I’ve read by Marcus Sedgwick. I read The Ghosts of Heaven right after it was released, and it blew my mind. When I saw Kelly wanted to trade an ARC of his upcoming release, I had to talk her into trading me. I wanted to see if Saint Death with its creepy title and amazing cover would be just as good.

I can’t compare The Ghosts of Heaven with Saint Death. They’re so different. It’s crazy how different they are. Usually an author’s books at least have a similar writing style. These two don’t. They only similarity they have is the slower pace.

Saint Death is a dark book. Very dark. There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it. It made me feel sad and unsettled. I can’t say I liked it because I didn’t enjoy reading it. Saint Death may have been fictitious, but I can imagine the life described in it is very real.It was eye opening, though. I hurt for the main character, Artutro. His life was not easy or happy.

I’m honestly not sure what else to say. I may not have enjoyed the Saint Death experience, but I do think it is an important book to read and very relative to everything going on in the world today. It’s worth giving a chance. It definitely made me appreciate the life I live.

Review: Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

Bad Mommy
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighborhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.


Bad Mommy is a mind$#%^. I don’t know how else to explain it. It was everything I expected from Tarryn Fisher, but nothing like I expected. Every time I thought I had a grasp on what was going on, I would start a new section of the book and become completely disoriented. It was such a trip!

I want to go back and read Bad Mommy a second time. That’s high praise because it’s rare for me to re-read a book. I feel like I would grasp more from the story a second time, and enjoy it even more.

Anyone who loves a great psychologically suspenseful novel will enjoy Bad Mommy. It’s dark, deceitful and will keep you turning the pages long after you should have gone to bed.

And that’s all I’m saying because I’m not going to ruin this book for anyone. 😉

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


I know what you’re thinking. Deanna read a YA science fiction novel??? Yes, yes I did. Well, actually I listened to it, but same difference. And I had so much fun doing it, too. I know, I’m just as shocked as you are.

One of the problems I have reading science fiction is that I’m just not interested in the topics many of them contain. I’m not into stories about science or the future of technology. I’m definitely not into aliens, zombies, or any of the other things that cross between fantasy, horror and science fiction. I don’t like reading about the world ending. So, why would I want to read Ready Player One? First, I saw the cover and was drawn to it. Second, I read a lot of great reviews. Third, I heard about the multitude of 1980’s references. Fourth, Will Wheaton narrates the audio version. It was pretty much the 80’s and Will Wheaton thing that made me give it a try.

Ready Player One was a fantastic book. I was obsessed with the story from the minute I began listening to it in my car. I would find myself sitting in my drive way long after I had returned home. I’m very happy I chose the audio version of Ready Player One. By listening to it I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of information I was being given. There was so much to take in, and I think I would have been easily overwhelmed by everything if I was reading it. All the information would have slowed down the pace of the story, but it didn’t in this format. Plus, Will Wheaton did an amazing job narrating. I actually pictured a younger version of him as Wade while listening.

As for the story, it’s really something you need to experience for yourself. It’s wrapped around a future video game called the OASIS and Wade’s quest to win its creator’s fortune. I loved how the story progressed and how action packed it was. The amazing number of references to classic video games and 80’s pop culture were really cool. I wasn’t a teenager like Halliday was in the 1980’s, but I was alive, and I absolutely loved every reference to the decade I got.

I’m not sure what else to say about this marvelous book other than I think you should listen to it, too. Rumor has it a Ready Player One movie is coming, and I’m excited to see what they do with it.

Review: Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

22253643Marrow
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: April 16, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In the Bone there is a house.

In the house there is a girl.

In the girl there is a darkness.

Margo is not like other girls. She lives in a derelict neighborhood called the Bone, in a cursed house, with her cursed mother, who hasn’t spoken to her in over two years. She lives her days feeling invisible. It’s not until she develops a friendship with her wheelchair-bound neighbor, Judah Grant, that things begin to change. When neighborhood girl, seven-year-old Neveah Anthony, goes missing, Judah sets out to help Margo uncover what happened to her.

What Margo finds changes her, and with a new perspective on life, she’s determined to find evil and punish it–targeting rapists and child molesters, one by one.

But hunting evil is dangerous, and Margo risks losing everything, including her own soul.


Um…I don’t even know where to start when reviewing Marrow. This book was just so…disturbing. There wasn’t one thing about it that didn’t get under my skin or make me uncomfortable. It disturbed me so much at times that I take breaks from reading it. This shouldn’t surprise me. I felt the same way while reading Fisher’s Mud Vein. Still, I wasn’t prepared for what this story had to give.

Marrow is the story of Margo Moon. Margo barely exists. She lives with her mother in a horrible neighborhood filled with horrible people and horrible things. The only bright light in Margo’s life is her friendship with Judah. Despite being in a wheelchair, Judah sees the good in life. Their relationship gives Margo hope she hasn’t had before. That hope lasts until Margo’s young neighbor girl goes missing. Margo takes it upon herself to find out what happened to Neveah. What she finds will force her into avenging the wrongs taking place around her.

Margo was an interesting character. In the beginning, I loved her because I felt so bad for her. Margo was stuck in a situation created by her birth. There was nothing she could do to change it. She was a child who deserved more from life. Margo just didn’t have any positive support until she became friends with Judah. He made her want things to be better. I loved seeing that change in her.  As she grew older and horrible things began to happen around her, Margo changed again. Her new-found confidence created a person who felt the need to take justice into her own hands. That Margo freaked me out.  The more Margo took on her role of punisher, the darker the story became — and it was already pretty dang dark to begin with.

I never saw the twists and turns coming in Marrow. There were moments where I was disgusted. There were moments when I was sad. There were moments when I was completely confused. When I got to the end, all I could say was,

What the heck did I just read? 

I’m still not sure of the answer to that. My mind has been messed with in ways only Tarryn Fisher can accomplish. Once again, she’s written a beautifully disturbing tale. Marrow will suck you in, torment you and leave you thinking about it for weeks after you’re done. If you’re a fan of dark storytelling, this one is for you.