Genre: Mystery

Rapid Reviews – Invitation to a Bonfire, The City Where We Once Lived, The Broken Girls, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories

July 13, 2018 Bonnie Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2018 4 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Invitation to a Bonfire, The City Where We Once Lived, The Broken Girls, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other StoriesInvitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
Published by Bloomsbury USA on June 5, 2018
Pages: 256
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Short Summary: The tepid tale of a love triangle gone wrong (although do any of them ever go right?) that was inspired by Vladimir and Vera Nabokov’s marriage.

Thoughts: The summary makes it easy to go into this novel with certain expectations (seductive story, spellbinding psychological thriller) but this story is, possibly because it was written as a series of letters, comes off as extremely apathetic and lethargic.

Verdict: Unfortunately, this tale failed to seduce or spellbind me and considering this was meant to be based off the notorious Nabokov’s, I expected that infamous passion to bleed through the page more.three-stars

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Invitation to a Bonfire, The City Where We Once Lived, The Broken Girls, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other StoriesThe City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes
Published by Arcade on March 6, 2018
Pages: 272
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Short Summary: After climate change has irrevocably changed the world we live in, a group of individuals continues to live their day to day lives in the ruins of a crumbling city while struggling under the weight of their memories.

Thoughts: A story that’s eerily reminiscent of the world we live in today, painting a terrifying scenario of not just how the world can easily transform into a nightmare but individuals as well.

Verdict: Many have said that the post-apocalyptic genre has been overdone, but The City Where We Once Lived felt refreshingly different with its in-depth focus on the decline of humanity which also mirrored the downfall of the surrounding world.

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Invitation to a Bonfire, The City Where We Once Lived, The Broken Girls, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other StoriesThe Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Published by Berkley Books on March 20, 2018
Pages: 336
Genres: MysteryHistorical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: An Inquiry Into Love and Death

Short Summary: Journalist Fiona Sheridan has been unable to shake the mystery surrounding her sisters’ death twenty years past but when new evidence arises, it uncovers the secrets of a much older mystery as well.

Thoughts: This gothic mystery (with a dual timeline to boot) is quite the engaging and well-written tale despite its more implausible bits.

Verdict: Simone St. James’ writing is most impressive considering the fact that I read this over the course of an entire month (not the book’s fault, I was on vacation for 2 weeks as well) and still managed to retain the details of the story and fall immediately back into it whenever I was able to open the pages once again.

three-half-stars

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Invitation to a Bonfire, The City Where We Once Lived, The Broken Girls, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other StoriesWe Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill
Published by Harper Voyager on June 12, 2018
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Dreams and ShadowsQueen of the Dark Things

Short Summary: A collection of ten short stories including “As They Continue to Fall”, a man who hunts angels, “Hell They Call Him, the Screamers”, a butcher that liberates souls, “Hell Creek”, dinosaurs that won’t stay dead long, and “We Are Where the Nightmares Go”, a little girl opens a door beneath her bed.

Thoughts: This was a most excellent collection of bizarre and horrific stories that included a short story he had written twenty years ago, effectively showing the evolution of Cargill’s writing from fantastic to superb.

Verdict: I’ve read a few of Cargill’s novels (Dreams and Shadows is absolutely fantastic and 100% worth checking out) but when an author excels at short fiction it always makes me sit upright. More, please!

four-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

July 11, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Cross Her Heart by Sarah PinboroughCross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
Published by William Morrow on September 4, 2018
Pages: 352
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Mayhem, Murder, The Language of Dying

Lisa lives a very quiet life. A single mother nearing forty, she devotes herself to raising her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ava. Wary of men, Lisa doesn’t speak of her past or Ava’s absent father. Her best friend Marilyn wishes she would open up more and maybe finally go on a date—with the sexy new client who’s obviously keen—but Marilyn has problems of her own.

Ava is getting tired of her overprotective mother. She wants to live like a normal teenager—chill with friends, go to swim practice, study for exams, have a boyfriend. Her mom would freak if she knew that Ava’s already got someone special, someone who makes her feel sophisticated—and wanted.

Lisa has spent a long time looking over her shoulder, but lately she’s been especially uneasy. Small things from the past have begun to appear in the present, feeding her anxiety. As her life begins to unravel, Lisa knows that the only way she can protect herself and her daughter is to face her fears. Yet courage won’t be enough. She’ll need help from the only person she can trust—Marilyn. Between them they have to save Ava, and to do that, they have to be honest with each other. Truly honest. Marilyn did promise she’d do anything to help.

But a long time ago, Lisa made a promise too. Then she broke her word. And that betrayal hasn’t been forgotten—or forgiven.

Now, someone is going to make her pay for her sin.

About Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin and Titan in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

I’ve consistently loved everything of Pinborough’s so I’m definitely looking forward to this one!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan

June 6, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernanThe Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Series: Cormac Reilly #1
Published by Penguin Books on July 3, 2018
Pages: 400
Genres: Mystery
Format: Paperback
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It's been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he's never forgotten the two children she left behind...

When Aisling Conroy's boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget - until Jack's sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an 'accidental' overdose twenty years ago - of Jack and Maude's drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything...

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can't - or won't. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

About Dervla McTiernan

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel The Rúin sold in a six-way auction in Australia, and has since sold to the United States, the UK and Ireland, and Germany.

Dervla was born in County Cork, Ireland to a family of seven.

She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Law Society of Ireland, and practised as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children.

In 2015 she submitted a story for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto competition and was shortlisted. This gave her the confidence to complete the novel that would become The Rúin, which will be published in 2018 in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

She is represented by Tara Wynne, Curtis Brown Australia.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short – City of Brass, The Salt Line, Baby Teeth

June 1, 2018 Bonnie Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, Read in 2018 6 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – City of Brass, The Salt Line, Baby TeethThe City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Published by Harper Voyager on November 14, 2017
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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dnf

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

DNF @ 15%

There was a lot of hype surrounding this one when it came out and despite the fact that epic fantasy has a tendency to fly over my head, I really wanted to give it a try. For me, epic fantasy has to hook me, immediately, whether it’s with an amazing main character or some pretty spectacular world-building. There was something off-putting to me about Nahri from the very beginning and the world-building was chock-full of a magical world where everything has to be explained and there are tribes and some of them are at war with each other but I honestly couldn’t ever keep any of it straight. It even has its own lexicon, which I really do appreciate the time involved to truly create a world from the ground up, it just didn’t draw me in enough to make the commitment to finish this 500+ novel plus the expected two additional novels in this magical trilogy.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – City of Brass, The Salt Line, Baby TeethThe Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on September 5, 2017
Pages: 400
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

In the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump -the Salt Line.-

How far will they go for their freedom--once they decide what freedom really means?

In an unspecified future, the United States' borders have receded behind a salt line--a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what's left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.

Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks--and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.

DNF @ 60%

It’s truly rare that I get so far in a book only to DNF but it took me almost 2 months to get to 60% and that was far too much time for a mere 400 pages. The beginning held immense appeal and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author unfolded the details of a world where citizens lived behind walls to protect them from disease-carrying ticks. A group of people ventures beyond the walls on some sort of thrill tour, testing the limits of their survival. As the story develops, we’re also given the backstory of each of the members of the group and as you start to realize the dangerous plot they’ve found themselves in the midst of, you also realize that these seemingly innocuous backstories hold more answers than was previously understood. The world building was fantastic and I even enjoyed the backstories even though I was still at a point in the story where I didn’t understand the ultimate purpose, but as soon as the conspiracies were unveiled it just felt way too far-fetched to be taken seriously and didn’t make a whole lot of sense as a whole. It, of course, can be argued that maybe I didn’t give it enough time to answer my lingering questions, but honestly, after reading this for almost two months, I just don’t care.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – City of Brass, The Salt Line, Baby TeethBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Published by Macmillan Audio on July 17, 2018
Pages: 320
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Genres: Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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dnf


Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

DNF @ 29%

Baby Teeth is the story of seven-year-old Hanna and her stay-at-home mom Suzette. The story alternates between their different points of view painting an extremely unsettling portrait into the domestic life of this family. Hanna doesn’t have anything physically wrong with her, yet she refuses to speak, and her inner dialogue chapters are full of a disturbing vindictiveness towards her mother and complete adoration of her father. Suzette’s chapters show a mother that has reached her limit with an impossible child and a husband that refuses to believe that their child is as bad as she says she is (except she doesn’t tell him half the things that she does, convinced that he simply won’t believe her).

I almost quit when Hanna appears to lust after her naked father’s body, thinking about how when mommy’s gone she’s going to marry him someday. I almost quit when Hanna concocts a plan after using Google that she’s going to pretend to be some woman from the 17th century that was burned at the stake for being a witch. I definitely quit after Hannah made her mother a photo collage of her sleeping body alongside various dead corpses, Suzette said she was going to show it to her father, so then Hanna decides to hurt herself to make it look like her mother did it.

I understand that the whole point of this was meant to be unsettling but it felt gratuitous and apparently even my concrete stomach has its limits.

“Hanna didn’t think it was fair that Sunshine had such perfect hair – the color of Daddy’s. Sometimes she gazed at it, longing to take a knife to Sunshine’s scalp and remove her fine locks. Hannah imagined herself proudly wearing the wig she’d make, unbothered by the stray trickle of blood that might dribble down her forehead.”

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Waiting on Wednesday – Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea

May 23, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Don’t Believe It by Charlie DonleaDon't Believe It by Charlie Donlea
Published by Kensington on May 29, 2018
Pages: 304
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a pawn in a sinister game.

The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.

As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.

Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.

About Charlie Donlea

Charlie Donlea is the International bestselling author of three acclaimed thrillers. He has been praised by Publishers Weekly as a “bold new writer…on his way to becoming a major figure in the world of suspense.” He lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children and spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for his debut novel, Summit Lake.

With so many choices of entertainment and countless other books to choose from, he thanks you for spending your time and treasure on his novels.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – In Her Bones: A Novel by Kate Moretti

May 16, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – In Her Bones: A Novel by Kate MorettiIn Her Bones by Kate Moretti
Published by Atria Books on September 4, 2018
Pages: 320
Genres: Mystery
Format: Paperback
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New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s next “exceptional…emotionally astute, [and] deliciously sinister” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) thriller follows the daughter of a convicted serial killer who finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.

Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…

Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, In Her Bones features Moretti’s “riveting and insightful” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) prose and “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists, and will leave you questioning the nature of guilt, obsession, and the toxicity of familial ties.

About Kate Moretti

Kate Moretti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Short & Sweet – Palace of Treason and The Kremlin’s Candidate

April 19, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2018, Short & Sweet Reviews 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – Palace of Treason and The Kremlin’s CandidatePalace of Treason by Jason Matthews
Narrator: Jeremy Bobb
Series: Red Sparrow Trilogy #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 2, 2015
Length: 20 hrs and 7 mins
Genres: Spy Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Red Sparrow

four-stars

Red Sparrow is now a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton!

The pulse-pounding sequel to the bestselling, Edgar Award-winning Red Sparrow that The New York Times Book Review called “terrifically good”: star-crossed spies Dominika Egorova and CIA agent Nate Nash return in a cat-and-mouse race to the finish.

Captain Dominika Egorova of the Russian Intelligence Service (SVR) has returned from the West to Moscow and the Center, the headquarters of her service. She finds things worse than when she left. She despises the men she must serve, the oligarchs, and crooks, and thugs of Putin’s Russia. What no one knows is that Dominika is working for the CIA as Washington’s most sensitive penetration of SVR and the Kremlin.

As she expertly dodges exposure, Dominika deals with a murderously psychotic boss; survives an Iranian assassination attempt; escapes a counterintelligence ambush; rescues an arrested agent and exfiltrates him out of Russia; and has a chilling midnight conversation in her nightgown with President Putin in one of the Tsar’s palaces. Complicating the risks is the fact that Dominika is in love with her CIA handler, Nate Nash, and their lust is as dangerous to both of them as committing espionage in Moscow. And when a mole in the SVR finds Dominika’s name on a restricted list of sources, it is a virtual death sentence. She must face off alone against her psycho boss, who’s got an eight-inch knife up his sleeve…

Just as fast-paced, heart-pounding, and action-packed as Red Sparrow, Jason Matthews’s second novel proves he is “an insider’s insider…and a masterful storyteller” (Vince Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

“Dvorets v Izmene,” said Dominika under her breath.
Benford looked over at Nate, one eyebrow raised.
“Palace of Treason,” Nate said.
“Works for me,” said Gable.”

Palace of Treason, the thrilling follow up to Red Sparrow, places Captain Dominika Egorova in a place both advantageous and dangerous. She’s in a position of great importance within Moscow and is able to provide vital intelligence to the CIA, however, she isn’t beloved by all and a few alarming individuals suspect her of wrongdoing. To make matters even more precarious, she’s caught the eye of the Russian president and one misstep will destroy everything she’s worked for.

Matthews continues to excel at the multitude of characters in these stories that all manage to be meticulously described without becoming excessive. The storyteller’s tendency to fall back on stereotypes, primarily when it comes to the Russians, is a bit of a low point. The lack of depth and distinction, fortunately, didn’t take away from the strength of the plot itself. Egorova fights throughout the story to keep her cover and to quietly take out anyone who could destroy it. She survives through so many assassination attempts that it was both incredible and unbelievable, but then again, she trained for years to survive this kind of life. She’s a woman on a mission, intent on getting payback for what she was forced to do for so many years in the name of Russia, but the one thing that she seems to be willing to risk it all for is love. A bit of a contradiction, but much like the seemingly odd inclusion of recipes at the end of each chapter, it still manages to work out nicely.

“You remember what I told you both in Vienna?” […] “That someday you’re gonna have to make a decision that’ll make you taste your stomach behind your teeth, but you got no choice, and maybe it even means hurting someone you respect and trust. Well, it happened today and it’ll happen again tomorrow, and the next day.”

 

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – Palace of Treason and The Kremlin’s CandidateThe Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews
Narrator: Jeremy Bobb
Series: Red Sparrow Trilogy #3
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on February 13, 2018
Length: 17 hrs and 48 mins
Genres: Spy Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Red Sparrow

three-half-stars

In the final, thrilling New York Times bestselling installment of the Red Sparrow Trilogy, Russian counterintelligence chief Dominika Egorova and her lover, CIA agent Nate Nash, must find a Russian agent about to be appointed to a very high office in the US government.

With a plot ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, Jason Matthews’s high-powered, seductive third novel not only continues the dangerous entanglements of Dominika and Nate but reveals with chilling authenticity how Russian espionage can place agents in the most sensitive positions of power. The novel opens with Russian president Vladimir Putin planning the covert assassination of a high-ranking US official with the intention of replacing him with a mole whom Russian intelligence has cultivated for more than fifteen years.

Catching wind of this plot, Dominika, Nate, and their CIA colleagues must unmask the traitor before he or she is able to reveal that Dominika has been spying for years on behalf of the CIA. Any leak, any misstep, will expose her as a CIA asset and result in a one-way trip to a Moscow execution cellar. Along the way, Matthews, a thirty-three-year veteran of the CIA and winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, sets vivid, unforgettable scenes in Moscow; Washington, DC; Hong Kong; New York; the Sudan; and Turkey, and introduces two cold-blooded killers: Iosip Blokhin, a brilliant Spetsnaz military officer, and Grace Gao, ravishing Chinese spy, master of Kundalini yoga, and Beijing-trained seductress.

Ultimately, the lines of danger converge on the spectacular billion-dollar presidential palace on the Black Sea during a power weekend with Putin’s inner circle. Does Nate sacrifice himself to save Dominika? Does she forfeit herself to protect Nate? Do they go down together?

This dazzling finale to Jason Matthews’s New York Times bestselling Red Sparrow Trilogy, called “a primer in twenty-first-century spying...terrifically good” (The New York Times Book Review), confirms the critical acclaim he received for the first two novels, praise that compared Matthews to John le Carré and Ian Fleming.

“The tenets of espionage were immutable—go forth and steal secrets—but technology was changing the Game.”

In The Kremlin’s Candidate, the race is on to identify the Russian spy who is one of three individuals currently in the running to become the next CIA director. This was hands down my favorite plot line of the trilogy and is by far the most thrilling in how Matthews brought everything full circle. Retelling Dominika’s time when she was still just a Sparrow, she was instructed to compromise U.S. Navy lieutenant Audrey Rowland and get her to agree to work with the Russians back in 2005. The mission was a success and Audrey’s been feeding information to them ever since. Flash forward back to the present, Audrey is in place to become the next CIA director and if she gains that position, she’ll be able to obtain the name of the Russian mole, Diva, who she knows intimately well as Dominika Egorova.

Matthews doesn’t settle for that one, immense plot, unfortunately, and it ends up far more convoluted than necessary. In addition to American and Russian spies, North Korean and Chinese spies are also thrown into the mix. There’s even mention of the Chinese version of the Russian “Sparrow” and while I understand we’ve been drilled on assassin and seductresses going hand in hand for three novels, this bit of added detail came off as cheesy more than anything. Sections certainly could have been omitted for a more streamlined story. The build-up to the grand finale does, in retrospect, feel like something I should have anticipated but it still managed to astonish. A lot of the details makes you question whether Matthews is including his actual knowledge from his own personal spying days, or if it’s simply randomly added detail. Either way, it was most convincing. This is the third and final story of the Red Sparrow trilogy and while it is obvious that Matthews has developed a formula by this point, it doesn’t matter, because it’s exciting and it works. In looking back on the near 60 hours I spent listening to the ordeals of Dominika Egorova and Nathaniel Nash, it was easy to lose yourself in the intricate web of the spy world. It was a most enjoyable thrill ride and I’ve never laughed harder at my new favorite insult: “I don’t know what’s wrong with you but I bet it’s hard to pronounce.”

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Waiting on Wednesday – Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder by Lincoln Michel

April 18, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Tiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder by Lincoln MichelTiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder by Lincoln Michel
Published by Black Balloon Publishing on June 5, 2018
Pages: 272
Genres: Mystery
Format: Paperback
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Tiny Crimes reimagines the genre of crime writing in 40 very short stories. This anthology gathers leading and emerging literary voices to tell tales of crime and intrigue in only a few hundred words. From the most hardboiled of noirs to the coziest of mysteries, with diminutive double crosses, miniature murders, and crimes both real and imagined, Tiny Crimes rounds up all the usual suspects, and some unusual suspects, too. Benjamin Percy, Amelia Gray, Adam Sternbergh, Yuri Herrera, Julia Elliott, Carmen Maria Machado, Elizabeth Hand, Brian Evenson, Charles Yu, Laura van den Berg, and more scour the underbelly of modern life to expose the criminal, the illegal, and the depraved.

About Lincoln Michel

Lincoln Michel is the editor-in-chief of electricliterature.com and a founding editor of Gigantic. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Oxford American, Tin House, NOON, Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. His essays and criticism have appeared in The New York TimesThe Believer, Bookforum, Buzzfeed, Vice, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of Gigantic Worlds, an anthology of science flash fiction, and the author of Upright Beasts, a collection of short stories (Coffee House Press, 2015). He was born in Virginia and lives in Brooklyn. He tweets at @thelincoln.

I just love the idea behind this one!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

April 4, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Social Creature by Tara Isabella BurtonSocial Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
Published by Doubleday on June 5th 2018
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
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For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste...

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

About Tara Isabella Burton

Tara Isabella Burton has followed a female hermit into the remote Caucasus, gotten love amulets from Turkish Islamic shamans, and held signs with the street preachers of Las Vegas.

Her work on religion, culture, and place can be found at National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, The Economist's 1843, Aeon, The BBC, The Atlantic, The American Interest, Salon, The New Statesman, The Telegraph, and more. Her fiction has appeared at The New Yorker's Daily Shouts, Great Jones Street, Tor.com, PANK, Shimmer, and other places. She has received The Spectator's 2012 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and a 2016 Lowell Thomas Award.

Her first novel, Social Creature, is forthcoming from Doubleday (US) and Bloomsbury/Raven (UK) in June 2018, and will be translated into nine more languages, including Italian, French, and Russian. She is also working on a non-fiction book about new religious and "replacement religion" movements, Strange Rites: Cults and Subcultures After the Death of God, to be published by Public Affairs in 2019.

Tara recently completed a doctorate in theology as a Clarendon Scholar at Trinity College, Oxford. She is currently a staff writer on the religion beat at Vox.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Audiobook Review – Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason Matthews

March 9, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2018 4 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Red Sparrow (Red Sparrow Trilogy #1) by Jason MatthewsRed Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Narrator: Jeremy Bobb
Series: Red Sparrow Trilogy #1
on June 4th 2013
Length: 17 hours and 55 minutes
Genres: Spy Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Palace of Treason, The Kremlin's Candidate

four-stars

An impossible to put down, highly commercial espionage thriller written by a CIA insider.

In today’s Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow. Seeking revenge against her soulless masters, Dominika begins a fatal double life, recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington; hunt down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Putin’s intelligence service. Dominika and Nathaniel’s impossible love affair and twisted spy game come to a deadly conclusion in the shocking climax of this electrifying, up-to-the minute spy thriller.

In a not so fictional world, moles have infiltrated both the U.S. and Russian governments and it’s often difficult to determine what side anyone is on. Nathaniel Nash is a CIA officer in charge of handling CIA assets, most important of those is MARBLE, a Russian mole that is a high-ranking foreign intelligence officer that has been selling secrets to the United States for years. Dominika Egorova is a Russian intelligence officer, recruited by her uncle the deputy director of the foreign intelligence service, but is forced into attending Sparrow school where she’s taught the art of seducing her enemies. She’s also gifted with synesthesia which allows her to see emotions as colors — quite helpful when it comes to detecting whether someone is lying or not. When Dominika is instructed by Russian officials to use her Sparrow skills on Nate Nash in order to uncover the mole he was hiding, it quickly becomes more than just an assignment.

“Trouble is the beginning of disaster.”

Red Sparrow is Jason Matthews’ first novel but it certainly reads like it was penned by someone with a skilled hand, likely due to his own 33-years of experience as a CIA operative. Red Sparrow reads like a far more sophisticated version of the majority of spy novels, undeniably missing the pulse-pounding action sequences but instead is a nuanced psychological game of chess. He details what would easily be considered the superfluous minutiae of what it means to be a spy but these details effectively build up rather than diminish the complexity of the story as a whole. His experience in the intelligence world certainly shows and this textbook guide on how to be a spy is cloaked with the cover of a fiction novel. Just in case you were worried this was going to be too serious, Matthews includes a recipe at the end of each chapter (the recipe for the Creamed Horseradish sauce had me drooling.)

Red Sparrow, as I stated, certainly lacks the standard pulse-pounding action sequences, but the espionage being conducted for almost 18 hours in this thrilling audiobook concludes with higher than before stakes in the most dangerous of games. I’m even more excited for the film now.

related-reads-grey

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
Casino Royale (James Bond (Original Series) #1) by Ian Fleming

 

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