Tag Archives: mystery

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

20 Dec

The Clockwork Scarab

author : colleen gleason

pages : [hardcover] 356

favorite characters : mina & evaline

summary :

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

review :

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for ages, ever since I first heard about it! A young adult steampunk novel with Sherlock Holmes’ niece and Bram Stoker’s daughter as the protagonists? How could it not be awesome? I’m so glad that the writing in this book lived up to the fantastic premise because I loved every part of this book. Every twist in the plot, every alternating point of view, seemed to fit in perfectly. And then, of course, there were the steampunk elements that I absolutely loved. I really need to read more steampunk books but this version of London impressed me.

Once I finished the book, I was still trying to decide which girl I loved and related to more, Mina or Evaline. They both had their shortcomings and their advantages. I think I’d love to be as badass as Evaline was during her scenes but also feel more intellectual and uncomfortable in social situations like Mina. And the boys in this book! I was really relieved when I found out there’s going to be more than one book because I went into this not knowing whether this would be a series. I don’t feel like I got to know enough of the men in the novel, as mysterious and dashing as they are, and I hope more answers and their backstories will be revealed in the next book. Until then, I’ll eagerly wait and try not to worry about it too much.

This is the kind of book with a setting that immerses me in a new world and left me imagining new stories and details in it. I didn’t want to let it go when I closed the book. I could easily see so many new mysteries these two ladies will need to work together on. I can’t wait to see how their odd partnership develops!

If you like mysteries, steampunk, wonderful leading ladies, and a new series to get addicted to, you should pick up this book!

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

Blink Once by Cylin Busby

13 Mar

 

Blink Once

author : cylin busby

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite characters : west & olivia

summary:

West is a high school senior who has everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, West is terrified and alone. Until he meets Olivia.

She’s the girl next door-sort of. A patient in the room next to his, only Olivia can tell what West is thinking, and only Olivia seems to know that the terrible dreams he’s been having are not just a result of his medication. Yet as West comes to rely on Olivia-to love her, even-certain questions pull at him: Why has Olivia been in the hospital for so long? And what does it mean that she is at the center of his nightmares? But the biggest question of all comes when West begins to recover and learns that the mysterious girl he’s fallen in love with has a secret he could never have seen coming.

review :

Wow. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long while and knew that it had the opportunity to be a really powerful read. I love the fantastical element in it of not knowing whether or not Olivia truly exists or if she is just a figment of West’s damaged mind. Because he’s trapped in his hospital bed for so much of the novel, it was definitely at risk for falling flat or trying to overreach and become philosophical in the times when West contemplates this change in his life and what it currently means for him. I love the way that it was all handled and hope to read more from Cylin Busby in the future.

West and Olivia were both imperfect characters just like the rest of the cast and that’s what I think I liked so much about them. Olivia is erratic, with mood swings that generally center around West, while he’s unable to do much more than communicating through blinking his eyes and then attempting to write some things out. But only Olivia is the one who allows him to try this with her. She’s the one he can really come to and he seems to be the only person she’s comfortable around. They need each other desperately and it’s in that that the reader can see that they’re really still two kids who are struggling to get through this stay in the hospital.

I really recommend this book to fans of suspense novels, medical mysteries, odd romance, and intriguing plot lines. I typically lean toward fantasy and dystopia this days so Blink Once is a refreshing voice in the YA genre. If you’re interested in picking up a great YA novel that might be unlike anything you’ve read lately, definitely reach for this one!

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.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

26 Apr

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Author:  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Pages: [hardcover] 150

memorable quote:
When I wake up,” he said, “remind me that I’m going to marry her.”

summary:

A mysterious and haunting tale of romance and murder, that begins with the marriage of a man and a woman in love. But when he inexplicably mistreats his beloved on the night of the wedding, he is in turn murdered by her brothers, and we are left with a strange sense of inevitability and passions gone terribly awry.

review:

I was reluctant to start this one-even if I was being forced to read it for an assignment-because, really, how much can you do with a tiny little story like this where you know before you begin that Santiago dies? Well, a lot, apparently, because I ended up devouring it in a few hours and loving it immensely. It’s written like a long newspaper article, with the narrator referring to investigations, personal witness accounts, his own experiences, and adding whatever details come his way. And the whole mystery of it is entirely captivating. Did he or didn’t he do it?

The setting and culture were greatly described both with the plot and with the characters. I loved that it was so different from how different things are here and now. In the story, women have less rights, men have different responsibilities, there are obligations of religion and honor. Of course I don’t agree with half of what went on and it annoyed me, as a person, but I was able to become fully immersed in the action and see things from their perspective.

I didn’t like how everything was so jumbled; it would have been nice to get the information in a more convenient order, chronological or by way of the person being questioned. While this method did add to the intrigue and really had me working to think it over, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I could spend less time pondering the intricacies of how it was made up.

I recommend this book for people who like puzzles, only have a short amount of time for reading or who like fast and short reads, or who enjoy elaborate settings and don’t need much action within the plot. I give Chronicle of a Death Foretold 4/5 stars. While some points of it frustrated me, I really enjoyed it overall, and will definitely come to read it again!

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

Held by Edeet Ravel

1 Jan

Held

Author: Edeet Ravel

Pages [hardcover]: 252

Summary:

What happens when the source of your worst fears becomes the object of your affection?

Seventeen-year-old Chloe’s summer vacation in Greece comes to an abrupt end when she is suddenly bound, gagged and whisked away to an unidentified location. Waking up from a drug-induced sleep, she finds herself in a squalid warehouse. Chloe can only imagine the worst.

After several days of total isolation and utter despair, Chloe faces a new threat when her kidnapper appears, but she also feels a sense of relief. His revelation that she is being held as ransom for a prisoner exchange, however, does little to allay her fears.

The weeks pass and, haunted by terrifying dreams and with only her thoughts to keep her company, Chloe fights to remain calm in an impossible situation. At least her kidnapper, although cold and distant, visits frequently, often bringing gifts. Before long, Chloe begins to have feelings for him that take her by surprise. Though still fearing for her safety, she now fantasizes about a life together. And is it her imagination, or does her captor share those feelings? Even when she is finally released, Chloe vows to protect her captor at any cost.

This powerful psychological thriller, written by renowned novelist Edeet Ravel, leaves readers wondering at every suspenseful turn: Is Chloe experiencing Stockholm syndrome

Review:

I really loved this book! Not only was it impossible to put down, it also really made me appreciate everything that I have today and every day. Maybe people shouldn’t take the things they have for granted. Not that everyone will be kidnaped and held like Chloe, but it poses a multitude of ‘what if’ questions. Chloe’s time in captivity presents a mystery that haunts a majority of the pages. Is what she feels for her hostage-taker real, or not? Is she just a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome? Are they just trying to brainwash her? Or does she actually see something in him worth appreciating?

And, most importantly-can you trust anything that she says? She makes herself into an unreliable narrator, making it so that the entire thing could actually be a well fabricated lie. A fantasy world. And if that doesn’t mess with your mind . . .

Chloe is an awesome character, and not only because she’s the only one the book fixates around for a while. You see everything purely from her perspective as she reflects back on her time in captivity. As soon as I started the book and realized that right on the first pages we are told she is saved, I figured that was a horrible move by the author. I was so glad I was proved wrong. Every page was addicting, because it was more a representation of psychological struggles and survival than one of how she actually physically got away.

This is one YA novel that will stick with me for a long, long time. I hope to read more by this author soon. Held was brilliantly crafted, and anyone who thinks a book with so few characters and settings will be boring can prove themselves wrong by giving this a read. You won’t regret it. At all.

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!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 475 other followers

%d bloggers like this: