Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

black-eyed susans

Black-Eyed Susans Blurb

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans just outside her bedroom window. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.

My Review of Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed SusansBlack-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quick and easy to read. I ended up staying up late to finish it because I had to know who did it.

It switches between the present and main character Tessa’s therapy sessions directly after the attack when she was younger. With the therapy sessions it slowly reveals what happened to Tessa after the attack and when she had to testify in court, but because she has lost her memory we don’t find out much about the abduction itself.

I liked the way it did this because it kept a sense of mystery. Right up until the end secrets were still being revealed and it kept me guessing.

I didn’t get much of a sense of Tessa’s personality. The younger Tessa is much more vivid and real than older Tessa, and I think this was maybe intentional. Older Tessa is quiet and reserved, her daughter Charlie does bring some life to the story, but I found it hard to care about any of the characters.

I’m a bit whatever about the plot. It never goes enough into the past events for me, and the rest of it I found a bit slow, though I did enjoy the end. It doesn’t help that I read Final Girls recently that has a very similar storyline. I might have been more impressed with Black Eyed Susans if I’d read it first. But it’s a quick read, well written and it kept me interested.

Black-Eyed Susans
Julia Heaberlin
Thriller
August 11th 2015
Paperback
354

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All Blurb

A madcap new novel from the one-of-a-kind author of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

A GANGSTER, A VICAR AND A RECEPTIONIST WALK INTO A BAR . . .

Hitman Anders is fresh out of prison and trying to keep his head down when he meets a female Protestant vicar (who happens to be an atheist), and a receptionist at a 1-star hotel (who happens to be currently homeless). Together they cook up an idea for a very unusual business that’s going to make them all a fortune – but then all of a sudden, and to everyone’s surprise, Anders finds Jesus . . .

Anders’ sudden interest in religion might be good for his soul but it’s not good for business, and the vicar and the receptionist have to find a new plan, quick.

My Review of Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It AllHitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think people will either love or hate the farcical style of Jonas Jonasson’s stories. They are daft romps through life full of madcap characters who have crazy run-ins with police, politics and criminals.

The books are full of sharp and funny comments on life, and a lot of silliness, but for me, it’s the warm and likeable characters that make the stories stand out.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is nothing new from the previous books, but I didn’t find it as funny as the others. There were a lot of bits in it that had me smiling, but I didn’t have any laugh out loud moments.

I enjoyed it though, and I liked the characters. It’s still an entertaining and uplifting read, with some amusing bits!

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
Jonas Jonasson
Fiction
April 21st 2016
400

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Book Description

Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. But she’s never seen anything like this.

He is a broken man. The ambitions which once drove him are dead. Now he has new dreams – of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.

Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city.

And home to a killer opening doors into the dark heart of humanity.

A killer who wants to make you whole again…

My Review of Broken Monsters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a few days to decide what to write about this one. I was on the fence whether to give it 3 stars or 4.

I enjoyed the serial killer / paranormal thriller storyline. It draws you in straight away with this, and the ongoing investigation held my interest. I thought it ended well without going so far into the paranormal side that the resolution is nonsense.

There are a few different viewpoints that the story keeps switching between, but because the characters are all realistic, unique and well developed I found it easy to keep up and keep them separate.

My main problem with the story was the detective’s teenage daughter Layla. She was self-obsessed and veered between acting old for her age and being very childish. All very true and normal for a teenager, but for me she got in the way of the story and became very irritating very quickly.

But Lauren Beukes’ writing and her skill in creating imperfect but likeable characters are what lifts this book above the norm. I even felt sorry for the murderer at times!

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Broken Monsters
Lauren Beukes
Thriller
August 1st 2014
528

After Atlas (Planetfall #2) by Emma Newman

after atlas book review

After Atlas Description

Acclaimed author Emma Newman returns to the captivating universe she created in Planetfall with a stunning science fiction mystery where one man’s murder is much more than it seems…

Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

My Review of After Atlas

After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)After Atlas by Emma Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second in a series, but it tells a different part of a connected story so you can read this one first with no problems or learning curve. The first book Planetfall is about the spaceship that left Earth searching for a new home, After Atlas is about the people that were left behind.

After Atlas mixes two of my favourite things, a not too distant future world setting and a murder mystery. It has a Phillip K Dick vibe to it, but without the relentless depression. As my boyfriend says, it’s like Harrison Ford chasing humans instead of androids!

Anyway, the world Emma Newman has created is familiar yet futuristic and feels real. Food is now printed instead of cooked, cars are automated, your smartphone is now a chip in your head that leaves you always connected and able to access the web in seconds.

The murder mystery is the main focus of the book though. We follow Carlos Moreno as he investigates the murder of a cult leader, found dead in his hotel room. He uses virtual reality to recreate the crime scenes and he has a virtual personal assistant to help him. I loved the way he put it all together and viewed the files and crime scenes in his head!

It’s well written, and is an exciting and suspenseful book. Forget the remake of Blade Runner, they should do this instead!

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After Atlas
Planetfall
Emma Newman
Sci-Fi
November 8th 2016
377

Made For Sin by Stacia Kane

made for sin book review

Description

A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.

But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.

Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.

The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.

My Review of Made for Sin

Well I really enjoyed reading this one, it was one of those books where I could happily have turned the world off and stayed at home curled up on the sofa until I’d finished it.

I liked Speare and Ardeth, they were both interesting and the attraction between them sizzled nicely. I want more of them, it can’t end the way it did! And I want to see Ardeth again, using her thieving skills more, and generally being clever and winding Speare up.

The only thing that felt a bit off for me was that I couldn’t picture Speare very well. Near the end of the book it says that he’s tall but other than that I didn’t get a good mental picture of what he looked like.

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Made for Sin
Stacia Kane
Urban Fantasy
August 30th 2016
266

Final Girls by Riley Sager

final girls book review

Description

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.

Now, Quincy is doing well.  She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment. 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. 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, and remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My Review

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horror films come to life in The Final Girls. Three different women are left as the only survivors of random massacres in a sorority house, a cabin in the wood, and an isolated hotel.

Fast paced and gripping, and full of twists and turns that kept me guessing. Just as I thought I had it figured out Sager threw another twist in there! I thought I knew about three different times, but no, I was wrong.

The characters were well thought out and developed, although I didn’t like Quincy much. At first she’s bland and melodramatic, but she does improve as the book goes on. Samantha was a much better character.

There were a couple of points where I couldn’t understand why the characters acted the way they did, and it was surprisingly neatly wrapped up at the end. They’re minor issues with it though and they didn’t stop me enjoying it.

Nothing was obvious and I didn’t guess the final twists before the end. This is a great debut from Sage, and I really enjoyed reading it!

I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Final Girls
Riley Sager
Thriller
June 29th 2017
368

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg

miss smillas feeling for snow

I feel like the first day of winter is a good day to share my review of Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow!

Description

One winter evening the neighbour’s six-year-old boy falls to his death from the apartment roof in Copenhagen. Accidental death, say the police. But Smilla Jaspersen, a resourceful, tenacious and bloody-minded Greenlander, knows the boy well; moreover she has a feeling for snow – and those last footprints tell her a tale… Her investigation starts in Denmark and leads to the Arctic ice cap as Smilla doggedly homes in on her quarry.

My Review

Miss Smilla's Feeling for SnowMiss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I’m not sure how I want to rate this one. On one hand I enjoyed reading it, but on the other hand a lot of it left me scratching my head trying to work out what was going on and why people were doing things and reacting the way they were.

I found it kinda complicated and slow going – I had to scan back and forth a lot to pick up bits that I must have missed the first time. The characters did things and it didn’t really explain why they were doing them or what was going on. We spend a lot of time in Smilla’s head, but it still doesn’t explain her actions a lot of the time.

And the ending! I have no idea.

But, I enjoyed reading it. I found the story exciting and the characters interesting, and even though it was complicated I found I was willing to put in the effort to finish it.

Smilla is a great character, complex and unusual, I don’t think she understands herself why she does the things she does. For me she is on par with Lisbeth from the Dragon Tattoo books.

The supporting characters are all well developed and written. They all have very distinct unique personalities. But there are so many of them it’s hard to keep track of them all.

This is the sort of book that would benefit from a re-read, I feel like there’s a lot in it that I’ve missed or just skimmed over. I’m going back and forth between three or four stars, but for how much I enjoyed it and how great Smilla is I think I have to give it four.

Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow
Peter Høeg
Mystery
1992
410