Review: Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

Wicked Ways (Wicked #4)
by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

coffeesynopsisdThe Greatest Terrors

Elizabeth Gaines Ellis is an ordinary suburban wife and mother. That’s what she tells herself as she flits between her realtor job, yoga class, and caring for her daughter, Chloe. But for months now, Elizabeth has worried that she’s far from normal…that she’s somehow the cause of a series of brutal, horrible deaths.

Are The Ones

Her mean-spirited boss. A bullying traffic cop. Her cheating husband. Elizabeth had reason to be angry with them all. She didn’t mean for them to die. No one will take her fears seriously–except the private investigator prying into her past. . .

Too Close To See

The more scared and angry Elizabeth becomes, the higher the death toll grows. But those who wrong her aren’t the only ones in danger. Because others have secrets too, and a relentless urge to kill without mercy or remorse…

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Whenever Elizabeth is crossed or confronted by someone she really abhorred, she thinks ill of them and sometimes wish them to die. And yes, they soon do! People die a few days after Elizabeth wish for them to disappear forever. From the unfriendly police officer, to her bitch of a boss, and then next, her husband and his mistress. Elizabeth is someone you really should steer away from.

I think this was a fine book, but I can’t help but look for something that seemed off with the pacing. I really like Lisa Jackson, having read some of her books before, like Unspoken. But this time, I have to say I was underwhelmed by the rather long narrative and timeline jumping between the past and the present.

Please don’t take this as a negative comment or review, but rather as a constructive criticism. To tell you the truth, I am really not impressed with stories that goes switching from current storytelling to recalling the past, all under one chapter. Timelines like this a rather leaves me with an unpleasant taste and a confusing state.

Trust me, I have read other books that could expertly jump from one timeline to another but can still hold the interest of the reader and won’t get confused whether or not the specific event is still in the past or in the present. Aside from that, the too much detailed narrative also somehow put me off, too. It was like a long, winding road before I get to the real destination of the story.

Ravinia really got it going at the start of her narrative, but then she started babbling about something that happened here and there, and then thinking and rethinking about her mission and so on – it was exhausting.

To be fair, there were things I liked in the book: The supernatural aspect surprised me a bit and somehow caught my attention. Elizabeth also has the power to see the future and then later on in her life, people die around her. It isn’t everyday that I encounter characters dying after having been wished to be dead. A mean curse, a guilt-ridden one, too.

Overall, this was different from the other Lisa Jackson mysteries I’ve read before. This is not what I expected from her. Although I must admit I haven’t perused one from Nancy Bush, (although I remember reading something about her being Lisa Jackson’s sister!) but I was entertained and somehow got sucked into the supernatural realm. Totally great read!

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3cocu (2)

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Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls
by Riley Sager

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Quincy Carpenter, Samantha Boyd and Lisa Milner – what do these ladies have in common?

They survived three different kinds of massacre. They were the last women standing. They were the Final Girls.

Ten years ago, Quincy and her friends met a horrific tragedy in the remote Pine Cottage, but only one girl survived. The press people hounded her for months, her story was vehemently featured in all TV news channels, newspapers, tabloids, podcasts and on the interwebs. She endured it all, until she could finally moved on.

Until Lisa Milner, the original Final Girl was found dead. The second survivor, Samantha Boyd who initially had gone missing suddenly appeared in Quincy’s doorstep, and soon they found themselves in Pine Cottage again, reliving the manslaughter that happened a decade ago, fearful, anxious, scared to death. Literally.

This has been a bone-chilling, mouth-gaping, mind-boggling suspense thriller that had me wide awake at night even after reading it. The deaths, the ripper, the screams, the blood, the weapons, the murderer – everything was a haze and for the rest of the story, I thought I got the murderer right. Until I was deep into the latter chapters when I realized, my guess was wrong. I was mistaken not just once, but thrice.

I won’t further go into detail about the plot or story because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But know this, Riley Sager’s writing is clean and fresh and chilling and something to look forward to. If you’re a fan of thrillers/suspense/whodunnit mysteries, Final Girls is a good pick!

Throwback Thursday: A Time To Kill by John Grisham

Throwback Thursday is a new meme created by Renee of It’s Book Talk (https://itsbooktalk.com/) as her way of sharing some of her favorite oldies but goodies books that were published more than a year ago. I started joining last week and I loved the idea so I am participating again.

This week, I pay tribute to one of my favorite crime-novel authors, John Grisham with A Time To Kill.

 

ATimeToKill

A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance #1) by John Grisham

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle — and takes justice into his own outraged hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life…and then his own.

Dateline: Clanton, Mississippi. Early 1980s.

One day, ten-year-old girl Tonya was found almost a breath away from death. Two vicious drunk drug addicts had earlier assaulted, raped and tied her and they thought she was already dead. Fortunately, she survived and the men who violated her were caught and arrested.

That’s where lawyer Jake Brigance came into the picture. Carl Lee Hailey asked for his help to bring the evil thugs to justice. But Brigance noted that Carl was a black man and he was barking on two white supremacists, thus there was a possibility that they could be freed. Pissed and mad about the discovery, Carl took matters into his own hands and killed her daughter’s perpetrators.

Brigance formally took Carl’s murder case, the townsfolk not entirely on their side because, in this quaint little town of Clayton, black people weren’t really welcomed. Thus began the grueling, life-threatening journey of Carl, Tonya, their family and the entire black race.

This was the very first John Grisham courtroom drama that I have read almost 20 years ago after watching the movie adaptation. (Okay, I admit, I had a huge girl crush on Sandra Bullock at that time and I found Matthew McConaughey quite dapper when he was still wearing clothes & Americana suit. Spare me the ridicules because he was totally different back then. LOL)

Anyway, earlier this year, I re-arranged my super disorganized book shelf (or should I say, book box) and found this classic treasure sandwiched in between Sidney Sheldon and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. I couldn’t help but read it again. John Grisham has been one of my early favorite authors, next to Nora Roberts and Sidney Sheldon. A Time To Kill was one of the first books he wrote and he wrote it with intensity, candor and audacity. Grisham clearly knew what he was writing and he took care of people’s race and dynamics in every situation. He made me believe that I was part of the jury and a questionable justice system.

Racism, justice, morality and thought-provoking questions grabbed me from the start. Twenty years ago, I was dazzled by the book and the movie. Twenty years later, Grisham still had the same effect on me. Impressive!

Review: BLOWN by Chuck Barrett


Title: BLOWN (Gregg Kaplan series- book 1)
Author: Chuck Barrett
Published May 19, 2015

Gregg Kaplan is not an ordinary man, but a man with special skills, courtesy of the United States Government.

His assignment is to stay off the grid when he innocently stumbles into a blown witness protection detail in Little Rock, Arkansas. He simply could not walk away from the impending mayhem.

After the dust settles, a mortally wounded Deputy U.S. Marshal makes him promise to personally deliver the witness to a U.S. Marshals Service safe site.

Not just a promise, an oath. A pledge between ex-Army Delta Force comrades.

A trust that could not be broken—Once in, never out.

Kaplan soon suspects the witness he vowed to protect has secrets of his own; secrets that go beyond his testimony for the U.S. government. When he discovers the witness is being tracked, Kaplan teams with a WitSec Deputy U.S. Marshal assigned to recover the witness, but soon realizes some merciless people are dead set on preventing the witness from reaching the safe site.

But the witness has a hidden agenda of his own—One that could cost Kaplan his life.

I was literally blown away!

After an unexpected gunfight, Gregg Kaplan gets involved with a witness from the Witness Security Program and from there, the action never stopped.

Greg Kaplan ain’t no ordinary guy. He’s a badass with a heart riding a Harley-Davidson Fat-Boy. The twist and turns will shock the readers in the most surprising way. Kaplan is the kind of man you would want to lead your security. Kaplan’s character is hardcore, powerful and a force to reckon with.

From one great plot to another this thrilling story doesn’t seem to end. Chuck Barrett never ceases to impress me with all the action-adventure-thriller facets of the book. It’s been a while since I’ve read an action thriller from Barrett and the flow of his stories continue to intensify on every page.  I’ve read one of his other series, the Jake Pendleton political mysteries, and that kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. With Gregg Kaplan series, I felt the same rush and adrenaline I experienced when perusing Pendleton.  Chuck Barrett is indeed someone to watch out for! Barrett proves again that he’s one of the best thriller writers in this generation!

 

Review: Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Title: Black Hills
Author: Nora Roberts
Paperback; 544 pages

coffeesynopsisdLil Chance fell in love with Cooper Sullivan pretty much the first time she saw him, an awkward teenager staying with his grandparents on their cattle ranch in South Dakota while his parents went through a messy divorce. Each year, with Coop’s annual summer visit, their friendship deepens – but then abruptly ends. Twelve years later and Cooper has returned to run the ranch after his grandfather is injured in a fall. Though his touch still haunts her, Lil has let nothing stop her dream of opening the Chance Wildlife Refuge, but something – or someone – has been keeping a close watch. When small pranks escalate into heartless killing, the memory of an unsolved murder in these very hills has Cooper springing to action to keep Lil safe. They both know the dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. And now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey .

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The story is set in a wildlife refuge in the Black Hills of South Dakota, hence the title. Lil Chance met brooding city boy named Cooper Sullivan, who clearly had family issues but won’t admit it. Soon they became close with each other and remain friends until their adolescent years.

But in their case, absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder. Because during the times that they didn’t see each other, their feelings had grown apart and the long distance had deviated their attention… well, mostly in Cooper’s case actually.

One day, when Cooper decided to go back to the ranch after something terrible happened while he was on duty as a cop. His feelings towards Lil changed. But a psychopathic killer was on the loose and had been stalking Lil. She and Cooper teamed up to discover the truth behind the mystery surrounding Black Hills.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been reading a number of YA/Fantasies/Paranormals lately and most of them are about shapeshifters. Thankfully, this book, Black Hills isn’t one of them, even if there are cougars and wolves present in the story. Black Hills is actually a suspense mystery that is very much a staple on Nora Roberts’ books.

As expected, Nora Roberts writes with passion and her characters really pull you into the story. Cooper and Lilian found themselves embroiled in a romance that needed to be nurtured. The mystery part of the story is awesome, although the main characters were a little complicated, in my opinion. I would have given this a 5star rating, but something held me back – maybe because I see some Montana Sky anecdotes in the story, specifically on the animal protection part. Nevertheless, Nora Roberts still is one of my favorite authors ever!

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4cups

Review: Gone (Deadly Secrets) by Elisabeth Naughton

goneenGone (Deadly Secrets #2)
by Elisabeth Naughton

coffeesynopsisdThree years ago, Alec McClane and Raegan Devereaux lived every parent’s worst nightmare: their one-year-old daughter, Emma, was abducted from a park when Alec turned his back for just a moment. Emma was never found, and presumed dead. The crushing trauma, plus Alec’s unbearable guilt, ended the couple’s marriage.

Now a four-year-old girl matching Emma’s profile is found wandering a local park. Alec and Raegan are heartbroken to discover she’s not their daughter but are newly motivated to find closure…and each secretly feels desperate to be in the other’s presence again.

Alec suspects his vengeful biological father is behind Emma’s disappearance. But as Raegan investigates other abductions in the area, she sees a pattern—and begins to wonder if Emma’s kidnapping is actually linked to something more sinister.

As Alec and Raegan race to uncover the truth, a long-burning spark rekindles into smoldering passion, and they realize they need each other now more than ever.

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When their child had gone missing three years ago, Alec McClane and Raegan Devereaux parted ways and took matters in their own respective hands differently. While Alec’s faith faltered and wavered, Raegan didn’t lose faith and still held on to that tiny hope that their daughter Emma was still out there, alive.

After three excruciating years, another girl was found in the park where their daughter was taken, and Alec’s biological father John Gilbert was about to be freed from prison. Alec knew his evil father was involved in his daughter’s abduction, all he needed was to prove it.

As the case developed and progressed, the estranged couple found themselves cooped up under one roof during a snowstorm. Alec’s and Raegan’s feelings seemed to blossom again, but both were still haunted by their divorce.

With Alec and Raegan’s situation, everything was pretty messed up in the beginning, until they thought they finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel, only to get to the detour and realized, there’s still another tunnel they needed to unearth. Deadly secrets abound this novel indeed!

First thing that always come to my mind when I see a new book from Elisabeth Naughton?

“If it’s from Elisabeth Naughton, it must be great!”

And this latest offering from the Deadly Secrets series is another accomplishment! Gone was well-written, action-packed and teemed with scenes only Naughton can deliver. Issues about alcoholism, abduction, syndicate and revenge were discussed heavily in this book and it was all intense. Had to keep my eyes from shutting down, what with all the mystery and suspense in this book.

Elisabeth Naughton weaves stories that are compelling and thrilling and definitely unpredictable. Just when you thought you’ve already know the story after a few chapters, you’d be shocked once you get to the succeeding pages and you realized there’s still more. And the twists and turns will blow you away. This is definitely a must-read!

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5cups

Review: In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware

In A DarkDark wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware

 

coffeesynopsisdNora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room…

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

 

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Leonora Shaw, a crime-fiction writer who now preferred to be called Nora, received a Hen Party invitation from a friend she hadn’t been in contact with for the last 10 years. Nora had walked out of her friend’s life and never looked back, and had every intention of never going back. Until her s0-called friend’s new BFF insisted she come.

Flustered yet grateful that their other common friend Nina was going with her, Nora kept a lot of thoughts about Clare and her impending wedding. She kept on asking why.. Why did Clare want her at the hen party? Why reconnect with her after 10 long years? Who was Clare getting married to? Why is she even thinking of going to the party?

In a dark, dark wood, all her questions seemed to have doubled when she met the other people joining her and NIna. In a dark, dark wood, the past began to haunt her, grip her control, refresh her memory. In a dark, dark wood, a skeleton in the closet is revealed. And in a dark, dark wood, someone was going to die.

It is a gripping novel that kept me wondering about the main characters from start to finish. This is not a book you would want to read alone at night. This is not a story you would want to stop reading. I swear I’ve got goosebumps just by staring at the woods! Trust me, this had been a highly engaging and riveting murder mystery that would have you keep pushing the next button (on your Kindle) and have you guessing until the murderer was finally revealed. Nah, this isn’t a horror story, nothing grisly nor gruesome nor gory in the setting, but there’s a gun, a pool of blood and a number of deaths. Totally horrifying, nonetheless.

I believe this is Ruth Ware’s first book and I can tell that there’s a bright future ahead of her. Her writing kept me interested and the momentum she built didn’t falter. If she’s got another book after this, I am sure it’s going to be another must read.

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4cups


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

AUTHOR LINKS:

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