Tag Archives: murder

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

9 Mar

Burial Rites

author : Hannah Kent

pages : [hardcover] 322

memorable quote : To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.

favorite characters : agnes & margret

summary :

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

review :

I was very fascinated by the idea for this novel and nearly as soon as I began it I couldn’t put it down. Historical fiction for me can either be a hit or a miss. Burial Rites for me was a fantastically enjoyable read, set in an unfamiliar setting with struggling characters I couldn’t help but feel for. The book really explored how the thoughts and stories of others can affect how one’s life turns out and throughout the entire novel the reader is shown several perspectives. The characters speculate as to what could have truly happened the night of the murders and you’re left to wonder and read on to see if Agnes will take the opportunity to tell her side of the story or die with the truth still unspoken.

Agnes was a very complicated woman and I absolutely loved that. Flawed characters abound in this novel, making it more realistic so that I really felt like I was reading a historical account of what had happened. Adding to the effect were the letters and other documents posted at the beginning of every chapter. The author explains that these are translations from original sources. That’s noted at the end of the book, which makes me want to read through everything again so I can really put myself in the mindset of the times.

I can’t imagine what it would be like, being sentenced to death. Although at a few points in the novel Agnes seems very passive and I grew frustrated with her, I think this only added to the story. She chooses to deal with or ignore her problems as they come and we’re right there alongside her, viewing the days of a convicted murderer.

If you’re looking for a fascinating historical read based on actual events I highly recommend this novel. It’s very captivating and I flew through the pages, though the content was weighty enough that it will stick with me for a while. This is definitely a book that I’ll need to read again.

5/5 stars

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten

12 Dec

The Tulip Eaters

author : antoinette van heugtan

pages : [hardcover[ 368

favorite characters : anneke & nora

summary ;

In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child’s life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family’s troubled history in the dark days of World War II…

It’s the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.

Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents’ attic leave her with as many questions as answers—and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family’s darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her.

As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she’s drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother’s alliances may have long ago sealed her own–and Rose’s—fate.

review :

I’ve always been fascinated with the World War II era and just in the summary of The Tulip Eaters I could see there were going to be aspects included that I haven’t heard or read much about. The Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, the impact that this has had on the people there, was one story that I’d never considered researching further. Combining those aspects of history with modern incidents, this novel seeks to embrace and explain mysteries from both time periods.

I liked not knowing some answers until the end of the book because I found myself second-guessing my assumptions a lot and this helped me realize that this book is very unpredictable. The main, modern focus of the plot can get a little muddled because there are so many different people involved in it, some of whom are mentioned and never brought back into the story again. Nora sometimes makes leaps that I know, logically, would most likely never be made by people, even someone as desperate as her. Even though in reading the story I knew when she was right and wrong because I had more facts than she did, I also knew that she would never had that same level of confidence.

One other part of the book that distracted me somewhat was the prose. Sometimes when the characters were speaking the dialogue was written in a way I knew no one would naturally say.

Of course the plotline was interesting enough to grip me so that I didn’t consider these aspects constantly. I liked the suspense built over time and the dangerous situations Nora placed herself in because she wanted to get her daughter safely back home. I liked the air of mystery around the crime and the historical significance of it. This makes me what to read more by this author to see what else she might come up with!

I’d recommend this book to fans of history, crime novels, and suspense.

5/5 stars

Blog Tour! Second Verse by Jennifer Walkup

24 Nov

Second Verse

author : jennifer walkup

pages : [paperback] 261

memorable quote : My eyes meet his and I understand exactly what he’s saying. He’s my person. He’s my home.

favorite characters : Lange & Vaughn

summary :

Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.

Murder Now
Lange Crawford’s move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake.

Murder Then
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse’s eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it’s begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.

Murder Yet to Come
But someone doesn’t like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny’s past and their own, and how closely the two are connected. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself.

review :

There is so much more to this book than immediately meets the eye. So much mystery and suspense comes into this plot, and there are so many twists and paranormal elements that I loved and just hadn’t been expecting! Some of it was a little much to comprehend, at first, as it was integrated in the plot. I ended up loving all of these extra elements, even with the building intrigue of the Hunt and the violent past that comes with Lange’s house.

I was trying to solve the mystery alongside Lange and wrongly guessed at what was going on several times. Unlike most YA novels that follow murders and intrigue, I wasn’t actually ever able to come to the right conclusion! I only started to get a feel for what was happening as soon as Lange started to expect it and by then I just couldn’t put the book down because I needed to see how it would all play out.

I really loved Lange and Vaughn. They were so cute together! I like how he kept trying to come up with creative nicknames for her strange name. But didn’t he ever notice that he has an odd name, too? Their personalities meshed so well, I think, because they’re both incredibly creative and really care about the people around them. I liked seeing how they were going to face certain situations and handle the new revelations that were flying at them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think that a wide variety of people can as well. It’s written in a simple way yet the style still has a beautiful, ghostly tinge to it that only enhances the plot. I’d recommend this book to fans of mysteries, paranormal books, and YA novels that keep you guessing.

4/5 stars

Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

17 Aug

Darkest Hour

The Mediator #4
Book 1: Shadowland
Book 2: Ninth Key
Book 3: Reunion

author : meg cabot

pages : [paperback] 316

memorable quote “My mother’s psychologist says I have a over active anger switch, but people just keep pissing me off.”

favorite characters : suze & jesse

summary :

When the nineteenth–century ghost of Maria de Silva wakes her up in the middle of the night, Suze knows this is no ordinary visitation — and not just from the knife at her throat, either. In life, Maria was the fiancee of Jesse — the same Jesse who was murdered a hundred and fifty years before. The same Jesse Suze is in love with.

Maria threatens Suze: The backyard construction must cease. Suze has a pretty good idea what — or rather, who — Maria doesn’t want found. But in solving Jesse’s murder, will Suze end up losing him forever?

review :

This series is just so incredibly brilliant, fun, and gripping I can’t take it any longer. This is a review from a reread of the book, which I haven’t read in a few years and remembered I loved it. It really shows just how clever and awesome a book (especially a YA book) is when it can be read at any point in a person’s life and be enjoyed. There are serious, action-packed parts to this book, funny moments, romance, suspense . . . Anything you could ask for, this book delivers it exceptionally well.

First of all I just need to comment on the writing style and how fabulously it brings us into Suze’s mind. Told in first person, the way it’s written really makes you feel that she’s sitting there telling you this story. It’s wonderfully informal and addictive, like you’re talking to a very articulate best friend. Who happens to have a hot ghost as a roommate, and other murderous ghosts coming after her every so often.

We get to actually hear Jesse’s backstory in this one! Up until now he’s been pointedly mysterious and I love him anyway for that. He’s always been there for Suze and I love the twist in this one-now she needs to be the one there to save him!

There is so much more to this story than the previous three books. Now there’s a deeper plotline and everything isn’t wrapped up so neatly by the end. There’s still a little edge to it, leading you to wonder what exactly will happen in the next book. Which I must start reading immediately!

Because the ending of this one . . .

I’d recommend this book to anybody, any age! There’s always something to enjoy in this series! :D

5/5 stars

Frozen by Mary Casanova

17 Dec

Frozen

author : mary casanova

pages : [hardcover] 264

favorite characters : owen & sadie

summary :

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years—ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the remarkable story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn’t know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother—and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.

One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half dozen faded, scandalous photographs—pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life’s great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel—did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?

Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama—a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way—but is utterly determined to find it again.

review :

I was originally interested in this book because the concept of an event being so traumatic that it leads to over a decade of silence was interesting to me. But the novel behind the idea seemed to fall flat. It almost felt like there was a good idea, right within reach . . and then everywhere it could have turned in that direction, it went the other way.

I’m trying not to spoil, so one of the main things that annoyed me cannot be detailed. But things from the past that I thought she would have trouble remembered, she recalls with intense detail at the strangest moments and it makes it feel as though she has had these memories with her all along. More than that, she can’t seem to decide whether she wants to fight for herself or give into other people’s expectations of her, sometimes in ways that make no sense.

The romantic interest seemed to be thrown in as a last minute detail. Actually, many parts of the story seemed to be underdeveloped, something I think could have been solved by making the story longer. There were portions of it that were interesting and I wanted to learn more about that were simply left behind and never mentioned again, something that greatly distracted my reading.

I had high hopes for Frozen, but they grew colder the longer I immersed myself within the pages. Especially the ending. While I did like the turn that it took, again, it fell flat and just felt monotonous.

Jennifer’s Body by Diablo Cody

2 Jul

Jennifer’s Body

author : diablo cody

pages [paperback] 192

favorite character: chip

summary:

Someone needed to put a stop payment on Jennifer Check.

The sign says Welcome to Devil’s Kettle, Pop. 7,036. Come See What’s Cookin’  No, seriously . . . that’s what it says.

Some people find it hard to believe that a babe like Jennifer Check would associate with a dork like me, Needy Lesnicki. But we had history. We’d been the Wonder Twins since we were preverbal, and sandbox love never dies. Or at least that’s what I thought.

But after that night in the woods, Jennifer was different. She “looked” different. And then the killings began. . . .

A lot of people ask me if I’m sorry I did it. I’m only sorry I didn’t do it sooner.

review:

I don’t know when, exactly, I got it into my head that it would be a good idea to read this. It was like seeing an accident and not being able to leave without finding out the details. Because I’ve only seen parts of the movie, and this actually looked vaguely interesting, so . . . Well. It was an . . . experience.

The parts that were supposed to be funny (I assume they were meant to make me laugh. Otherwise I would be more horrified) were simply cringe-worthy and all of the gory, gruesome details that I knew were coming (because, c’mon, it’s a book about mysterious ‘killings’) were just laid there plain and simply while Needy didn’t seem bothered by it in the slightest. There was no emotion from her, nothing really from internal dialogue, although it was in first person. But, really, I shouldn’t have expected much more from a novelization of a screenplay.

I really don’t recommend this book. Particularly for those looking for a fun, easy read that is partly horrifying and partly humorous. You won’t find anything to take away from this. It contradicts itself, leaves some things unanswered, is very bland and boring. Even when people are dying.

How do you make that boring? How?

Search elsewhere for better, well-written horror stories. You’ll be a happier person.

2/5 stars

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

14 May

Gone, Gone, Gone

Author:
Hannah Moskowitz

Pages: 288

memorable quote:

favorite characters:
lio & craig

summary:

In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer.

It’s a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives. Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him…and if he’ll do it again…and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody. Lio feels most alive when he’s with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable…and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.

review:

This is my first Hannah Moskowitz novel and I can’t wait to look at her other two novels, which look positively fabulous. I’ve already fallen in love with her wonderful writing style, ability to draw forth her characters and present them for better or for worse, and accomplishments in twisting a plot into something both moving, suspenseful, and addictive.

Lio and Craig were awesome and frustrating and unique and full of problems and quirks and little things that made them them. I like it when characters are out of the ordinary and express them in ways that people would normally steer away from, like Lio with his hair and Craig with his animals. I loved how each was obsessed with their respective thing for their own personal reasons. Random traits weren’t just thrown at them in an attempt to make them better. They just were.

 I think the pacing could have worked better for me because there were moments when I was so drawn into the story I couldn’t pull away and others where I was sitting back, itching for something else to happen. Everything was in clusters of action, for practically the entirety of the novel, and though most of the time that worked well enough, it needed a bit more . . . oomph.

But, that said, it’s the only negative thing that I can come up with to say, really. All of the important elements were right on target. I don’t usually read LGBTQ material-not by choice, just by fault of availability-but this is one of my favorites. For anyone who is looking to branch into that, enjoys reading it, wants a good book, likes great characters, or wants to fall in love with another author’s writing, this is the book for you.

GOING, GOING, GONE. 4.5/5 stars

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

21 Jan

 

Anna Dressed in Blood

Author:
Kendare Blake

Pages: [hardcover] 316

memorable quote:
“It feels so separate, like I’ve touched something that’s taken the color out of me. Or maybe I’m in color now and they’re in black and white.”

favorite characters: Thomas & Cas


summary
:

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. . .

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

review:

 I started this thinking I was in for a good, creepy ghost story, and knew that somehow romance would be thrown into the mix. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be a conventional paranormal story, it fell slightly short of my expectations, though I still enjoyed it.

For those looking for a psychological horror, this isn’t for you. It’s full of horrific ghosts, murders, mayhem, battles with spirits-and great descriptions of all of those. The writing in that respect was brilliant, and I could easily imagine a movie being made of this. The dialogue fell a little flat, as did the characters. Some of the things they did didn’t seem to make any sense, with their pasts, and some didn’t have reactions at all when something extremely life changing happened to them, just because they weren’t the main guy. Even he had his down moments.

I liked the new-ish take on the bad guys. While it’s hard to be original about ghosts, these weren’t the typical bump in the dark kind. Each one had their separate story, their own tricks up their sleeves, and a knack for killing people who happened to wander their way. This book isn’t for those who get squeamish at death scene descriptions.

 I did not, however, know that this is going to be a series. While I’m going to read the next book, whenever it comes out, I really need to start paying attention to that, so I’ll know what to expect. I thought everything would be resolved by the end of Anna Dressed in Blood, and while most was, there was still enough to keep me hooked. Which was the point. And . . I think it could have worked well enough as a stand alone.

GHOULISHLY GRUESOME. 4/5 stars

Envy by Gregg Olsen

18 Aug

Envy

Author: Gregg Olsen

Pages [hardcover]: 352

Empty Coffin #1

Favorite Characters: Taylor & Hayley

Summary:

Murder is such a dirty word…

New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with EMPTY COFFIN, a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch.

Crime lives–and dies–in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen–and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town’s victims and culprits.

Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins’ old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out–and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.

Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge–and push you right over.

Review:

Because I’m just starting to get into crime writing, I wondered whether I’d like Envy, even if it was young adult. But I shouldn’t have doubted that gorgeous cover (the greatest mix of creepy/mystery/curiosity I’ve seen in a while) because from the first page, I couldn’t put this book down.

The novel switches points of view several times, mainly focusing on the twins, Taylor and Hayley, as they look into their not-really-a-friend, Katelyn’s, death. There are a host of original, interesting characters to back them up, from the reporter that seems intent on stalking their lives to the woman next door who never leaves her house. Even the most minor ones seemed to have something gripping and real about them.

The plot twisted and turned in ways that I could never have expected, and I loved that! I wanted to figure out what had happened to Katelyn, and what was going on with the twins, but only began to suspect about a page before I was actually told what was going on. With so many books easily predictable, Envy definitely different in that respect. And what makes it even more interesting is that nearly all of it is based on a true crime.

The only complaint I have is that sometimes it felt like the writing was strained into being some representation of what someone who isn’t a young adult thinks that young adults talk like. Or text like. One of my favorite parts of the book was that it showed text conversations between some characters. Yet the words were abbreviated so much, it was obvious that it was more work to figure out how to not spell out a word than to actually do so. No one I know would text like that.

Despite that tiny detail, I loved Envy, and give it 5/5 stars. I really hope to continue on with this series, and see where it goes from here! I recommend this to anyone, even those who haven’t read crime/murder mysteries. I haven’t, and I ended up enjoying it immensely.

Envy is set to release Sept. 6, 2011! Look for it in stores then, or preorder it now!

‘Carrie’ by Stephen King

11 Jun



Carrie

Author: Stephen King

Pages [paperback]: 253

Available Now

Opening Lines: It is reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlain on August 17th. The stones fell principally on the home of Mrs. Margaret White, damaging the roof extensively and ruining two gutters and a downspout valued at approximately $25. Mrs. White, a widow, lives there with her three-year-old daughter, Carietta.

Memorable QuoteShe knew with suddeness and ease that this moment would be with her always, within hand’s reach of memory. She doubted if they all sensed it – they had seen the world – but even George was silent for a minute as they looked, and the scene, the smell, even the sound of the band playing a faintly recognisable movie theme, was locked forever in her, and she was at peace.

Favorite Character: Tommy

Summary:

Carrie White is unaware of her extraordinary telekinetic powers, until she is pushed over the edge by her classmates and transforms the quiet New England town into a holocaust of destruction.

Review:

I love Stephen King’s work. I like getting freaked out, though sometimes I regret my choice of picking up one of his books because he does horror a little too well. ‘Carrie’ is one part creepy, one part sad, and a billion parts oh-no-she-didn’t.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Carrie, after reading about how badly she was bullied by the other students at her school. Degrading her daily, no wonder she eventually snapped. No one could have suspected her hidden powers, or just how much chaos she could create . . .

I’ve never seen this movie, but I’ve heard it’s just as good and ghastly as the novel. After reading this, I’m determined to watch that.

Compared to his other books, Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ is fairly short. I went through the book in only a few days. It was gripping, the plot moved along swiftly. There are no chapter numbers, but brief ‘newspaper articles’ are inserted here and there, adding the element of reality and bringing the story even closer to home.

I think ‘Carrie’ is a great book for any fan of horror. I recommend you read it right away. I give it 5/5 stars.

Warnings: Violence, some adult content.

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