Genre: Mystery-Contemporary

Early Review – Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori #1) by Heather W. Petty

June 4, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 2 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.

Early Review – Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori #1) by Heather W. PettyLock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
Series: Lock & Mori #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 15th 2015
Pages: 256
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-stars

In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students—one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty—meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more…

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

I love Sherlock. I love anything to do with Sherlock. But this? I wanted to rip my hair out. The frustration was insane between the characterization, the absurd plot, the even more ridiculous ‘mystery’, but the insta-love thing Lock & Mori had going on was beyond foolish. All lumped together, it was positively rage inducing for me. But I’ll try to break it down and explain myself instead of just summing up my review with this gif:

The Mystery: A recent string of mysterious murders catches the attention of ‘Lock’ and subsequently Mori when he enlists her help in investigating. All murders occurred in the same spot and the murder weapon appears to be, strangely enough, a sword.

The Characters: Mori is the oldest of four children who lives with her alcoholic father and her three younger brothers. Her mother recently passed leaving her father a changed man, taking out his grief on his children. Sherlock Holmes? We’re told next to nothing about. He has a brother, and a sick mother and… yep. Basically, this was all Mori’s story, told from her point of view and Sherlock, unfortunately, ended up being nothing more than a supporting character. It would have been completely fine if Mori was a character I wanted an entire story about, and I didn’t.

The Romance: The two inevitably fall into a hasty romance where they seemingly spend approximately half the story kissing and Sherlock is continuously making awkward declarations of love.

“I thought I was more evolved than that. But my obsession with revenge […] with wanting to keep you near me from now on, I fear I’m outing myself as the Neanderthal I never thought I’d be.”

In addition, Mori is a constant angst-ball complaining about having to suffer through life’s tribulations all by herself and telling herself that she can’t tell Sherlock about herself because *gasp* he can’t know about her so she’s trying to solve this mystery by herself. Of course, all along Sherlock is practically a leech in human form and he sleeps on her bedroom floor at night to make sure she’s safe. Yeah. So alone. Poor thing.

But the one thing that bothered me so completely that it dwarfed all previously mentioned issues: the logic of the decision making. Sure, it could be argued that “this is fiction! logic isn’t a requirement!” Well, this is what I have to say to that:

Most of what I’d like to say is just a giant spoiler so I’ll try to be as vague as possible. You know those types of mysteries that have the characters doing the most ridiculous things (like trying to solve murders on their own) instead of being smart and just going to the police? This is one of those stories. You know those stories where the character has friends there for them and instead of allowing them to be of some help they choose to go off on their own and handle it themselves (predictably getting themselves in a world of shit in the process)? This is one of those stories. All these silly, stupid decisions could have all been avoided with a little common sense. Common sense isn’t quite so common apparently, at least when it comes to Mori.

The ending sets up even more future angst and unnecessary drama to come. Considering we know how Sherlock and Moriarty’s relationship typically ends up transpiring, I guess the groundwork had to be laid somehow. However the series progresses though, I won’t be around to witness. Sherlock and Moriarty both are two of the smartest individuals in fiction and in my opinion that shouldn’t change if you switch up their gender and turn their relationship into a love affair. I guess I now need to change my “I love anything to do with Sherlock” to “I love practically anything to do with Sherlock” because I definitely did not love this one.

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Early Review – Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

February 21, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015 2 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.

Early Review – Dark Rooms by Lili AnolikDark Rooms by Lili Anolik
Published by William Morrow on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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three-half-stars

The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly—a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession—but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me

‘I hauled my body along, through the trees, over the fence, toward what I knew–knew because it was there, all of it, in that piercing mechanical wail, knew because it was prophesied in my dream, as elusive as a scent, a shadow, a ghost, knew because it was written in the very blood flowing through my veins—would be as bad as it gets.’

Grace and Nica both attend Chandler Academy, a private boarding school in Hartford, Connecticut where their parents are also teachers. Grace was always the quiet sister the resided within the shadow of her younger and wilder sister Nica until a bullet took her life and left Grace suddenly alone. She is troubled by not only her absence, the realization on how much she relied upon her sister but also a sense of bewilderment about who she is supposed to be without her. Grace develops a pill habit that quickly spirals out of control causing her to drop out of college and remain at home. After Nica’s death is pinned on a student who recently committed suicide, Grace doesn’t believe it to be true. After she finds evidence that he couldn’t possibly have killed her she determines it’s up to her to find out who really did.

Dark Rooms is a debut novel and while it had some pacing issues and the occasional hiccup, it was quite the engrossing tale. As far as the previously mentioned hiccups, the investigation itself which spans the majority of the novel felt generally ‘off’. When Grace would discover a clue she would either connect the dots in a way that left me completely confounded or would often jump to the strangest and most outlandish conclusions. View Spoiler » The one saving grace is that the main character recognized exactly what she was doing:

‘I’ve been pretending I know, careening from conviction to conviction like a human pinball, setting off every light and spark and bell, absolutely positive about one thing, then absolutely positive about another. But, the truth is, the only thing I’m absolutely positive about is that I don’t know anything at all.’

It put a new spin on her outlandish conclusions: she was desperate and grasping at straws to find the answers to her sister’s death that was plaguing her with uneasiness. There was also another (spoilery) reason for her desperation to complete the investigation and when you took a step back and really looked at what she was going through it ended up making at least a modicum of sense in the madness. The secrets and reasoning behind Nica’s death were dark enough to live up to the title but the additions regarding Nica being her mother’s muse in her photography and the lines that were constantly being crossed with her practically stalking her to take candid photos felt a bit gratuitous in the end. This story was a complete knockout as far as the writing is concerned and is definitely worth a read for that alone.

Dark Rooms is a mixture of somber tales in suburbia, a murder/mystery thriller and a coming of age novel. Comparisons to The Secret History, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, and even Megan Abbott are what initially intrigued me about this novel. The similarities to Sharp Objects is fairly accurate with the story of the seemingly normal teenage girls and the dark family secrets that inevitably change their very makeup but didn’t completely live up to that comparison. All in all, big name comparisons generally always do the book a disservice and while Dark Rooms isn’t a perfect clone, fans of those novels will definitely find some thrill within these pages as I certainly did.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

October 22, 2014 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Dark Rooms by Lili AnolikDark Rooms by Lili Anolik
Published by William Morrow on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dark Rooms

The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly—a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession—but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.

About Lili Anolik

Lili Anolik's work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Harper's, and The Believer, among other publications. Her first novel, Dark Rooms, will be published by William Morrow-HarperCollins in March 2015.

Anything with comparisons to Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott is an ‘abso-freaking-lutely’ in my book.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Early Review – Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

August 12, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 9 Comments

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

Early Review – Dangerous Boys by Abigail HaasDangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
Published by Abigail Haas on August 14th 2014
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dangerous Girls

four-stars

Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Caitlin Kasprov drags one Donnelly brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?

Caitlin is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

 

‘A heartbeat, a split-second’s whim, that’s all it takes to change your life forever.
But what happens when you get it wrong?’

Abigail Haas has done it again. Dangerous Boys is one seriously twisted and convoluted tale that will have you completely enthralled. Her stories will put you under a spell, desperate for answers to eagerly sought questions. In Dangerous Boys, there is Chloe, and the brothers Ethan and Oliver. The three become complexly intertwined, irrevocably changing the makeup of each other’s lives. A terrible accident occurs involving the brothers and only one brother makes it out alive. But who survived? And what was the sequence of events that led up to that moment? These questions will exasperate you, forcing you to willingly glue yourself to the pages. The one thing you should come to expect with an Abigail Haas book though is nothing is ever as it seems.

Dangerous Boys is a deceptively simple tale of a young girl fresh out of high school who has big dreams of leaving the small town behind and experiencing life. Her life is upended when her father divorces her mother and her mother is thrown into a deep depression, leaving Chloe to take care of her and thus forcing her to put her future on hold. The story alternates between the past before Chloe meets Ethan and Oliver, and the present, after the devastating fire. Piece by piece the story begins to form. Chloe and Ethan’s relationship, Oliver’s involvement, the jealousy and turmoil that takes place… all leading up to the accident that took the life of one of the boys.

What truly made this story shine for me was Chloe’s character. At first glance, she’s just a small town girl with big city dreams but her complexity was kept hidden and begins to blossom as the story progresses. Here’s a girl that has always done what’s right, has kept her grades up in hopes of achieving her dreams. As her life begins to crumble around her and her hopes become dashed, the regret and anger over her circumstances build. The introduction of the two boys into her life changes everything for her and breaks the mask she’s been hiding behind. We’ve all hidden behind a facade of sorts at one time or another and discovering that person that sees through all the bullshit to the very heart of you can be an enlightening and transforming experience.

Abigail Haas is a writer of mesmerizing mysteries that always keeps me second-guessing. A truly talented writer that I eagerly await more from.

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Book Review – Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

June 20, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 6 Comments

Book Review – Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat RosenfieldAmelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Published by Dutton Juvenile on July 5th 2012
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway
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four-half-stars

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life. Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

“That girl, dead and gone, her spirit trapped forever just inside town limits—she’d come from someplace, was going somewhere. Until destiny had stepped into the road in front of her, stopped her forward motion, drawn a killing claw against the white, fluttering swell of her future. Whispering, ‘Oh no, you don’t.’

When you made plans, the saboteurs came out to play.”

The night of Becca’s high school graduation brings her one step closer to leaving small-town life forever. The following day brings dreadful news of a young girl that was found beaten to death on the side of the road. The death of this unknown girl stirs Becca’s doubts and causes her to become fearful of this outside world that she’s received her first glimpse of. Was this girl killed by an outsider or is the one to be feared someone from her own town?

I was warned that Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone isn’t a book for everyone. I was warned about the prose. I was warned about the excessive descriptions. But those warnings were clearly not meant for me. The intro line managed to grab me instantly. Hook, line, and sinker.

‘The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.’

You couldn’t tear this book out of my hands after that. I worked reluctantly. I slept reluctantly. I couldn’t stop reading until I had completely devoured this book. The author is so adroit with the English language that I wish it wasn’t her debut so I had a full backlog of her work to go back and read. Rosenfield’s descriptions are excessive but felt completely necessary for this type of story. The additional wording added a heightened sense of what was truly happening, a heightened sense of dread. The continued investigation into this girls death never succeeded in actually getting any closer to solving but it did succeed in completely unraveling the town and each of its inhabitants.

Amelia Anne centers primarily around Becca who after having sex with her boyfriend James was unceremoniously dumped immediately after. The death of this anonymous girl and the effect that her death has on this small town is actually more of a side story. The story alternates between Amelia’s final days and Becca’s transformed days following the discovery of the mysterious body. As the story unfolds, the reader is shown the similarities between the girls despite their differences. The mystery in how the two came to be connected seemed to be an impossibility. Seeing the pieces of their stories slowly merge and form the bigger picture was a revelation as I managed to remain in the dark until the very end.

‘In a place so insulted, where lives are so small and gone about so quietly, violent death hangs in the air – tinting everything crimson, weaving itself into the shimmering heat that rises off the winding asphalt roads at noon.’

Certain details of this story really stood out for me. Firstly was Rosenfield’s portrayal of a mature teenage love in its genuine form with all its unnecessary complexity. Her descriptions of this small town and its inhabitants were completely on point. Not surprising, the author grew up in a small town in New York with a population of less than 3k people. And lastly, her ability to write such an intricate and alluring tale in less than 300 pages.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is an exquisitely written debut novel that’s flawlessly layered and incredibly captivating.

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn {Purchase}
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry {Purchase}
The Secret History by Donna Tartt {Purchase}

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Book Review – Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

May 31, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – Dangerous Girls by Abigail HaasDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 7th 2013
Pages: 400
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dangerous Boys

four-stars

Paradise in Aruba quickly gets gruesome in this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller (Kirkus Reviews) with a twist that defies the imagination.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone could ever imagine...

‘One moment. One picture. One glimpse – that’s all it takes to make someone think they know the truth.’

 When Anna’s father moves her to Hillcrest Prep to increase her chances of getting into an Ivy League school, she meets Elise and the two become quickly enmeshed in one another’s lives. When the two go with a group of friends on a Spring Break trip to Aruba, it ends the brutal stabbing of Elise and Anna is accused of her murder, thrown in prison, refused bail and months pass in her cell as she waits for her trial to begin. But did she really do it?

Dangerous Girls is everything I love about a good mystery; it completely captivated me. The mystery kept me completely in the dark leaving me feeling like the book was taking me on one wild carnival ride. It helped that DG reminded me a lot of some of my favorite novels: the rich group of young friends that have no concerns for their wild ways was reminiscent of The Secret History and the twisted mystery with unlikable characters that you still can’t help but be intrigued by was reminiscent of a Gillian Flynn novel. The legal aspects and court room scenes were especially interesting to me and were done quite well. They read realistically without treading into the corny type of court room scenes we’re always given in movies. It was an all-encompassing mystery that started with the initial 911 call, took us through investigation, the legal proceedings and eventually answers the most important question: Who killed Elise?

Dangerous Girls was fantastically written and completely entranced me. I couldn’t put it down until the pages shared all their secrets with me. The author has written several other books, mostly YA contemporary, and while I’m more inclined to check them out now I do hope that she continues writing mysteries because she wrote Dangerous Girls like a total pro.

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Early Review – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

March 27, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 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.

Early Review – We Were Liars by E. LockhartWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte Press on May 13th 2014
Pages: 240
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

‘We are Sinclairs.
No one is needy.
No one is wrong.
We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Perhaps that is all you need to know.’

There is much that one could say about We Were Liars, but would be better off experienced firsthand. But here are a few things you can know: There are some truths but mostly lies. There was an accident. There is love. There is loss. There are secrets. But everything may actually be nothing but one big lie. You won’t know until it’s all said and done.

We Were Liars reminded me much of The Secret History with its collection of privileged people. In We Were Liars, they all spent their summers on an island, owned by their family. They spent their days soaking in their pretension. The main difference is Tartt took a cast of incredibly unappealing characters and made them fascinating. Lockhart did not. None of Lockhart’s characters had me concerned for their fates and while the ending was a bit of a shock despite my suspicions it still failed to generate an emotional resonance with me.

I love unreliable narrators because it typically turns novels into one big guessing game that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The entirety of this book is written in such a vague and elusive style that I never would have guessed the ending would possess such a perfectly wrapped up conclusion. Much too picture perfect. I definitely would have appreciated a more mystifying ending to match the rest of this potentially enigmatic book.

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Audiobook Review – Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois

January 17, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 8 Comments

Audiobook Review – Cartwheel by Jennifer DuboisCartwheel by Jennifer Dubois
Published by Random House Audio on September 24, 2013
Length: 14 hours and 25 minutes
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Written with the riveting storytelling and moral seriousness of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

Jennifer duBois’s debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and was honored by the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 program. In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. Who is Lily Hayes? What happened to her roommate? No two readers will agree. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how much we really know about ourselves will linger well beyond.

‘Although the themes of this book were loosely inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, this is entirely a work of fiction. None of the characters are real. None of the events ever happened. Nothing in the book should be read as a factual statement about real-life events or people.’

‘Loosely inspired’ would imply that a subject was taken and adapted and molded to fit into a new version of the story. Cartwheel is an echo, a reflection and lacks in any true substantive differences from the headlines other than the location (Italy vs. Argentina). I know next to nothing about the Amanda Knox case as I never followed closely along with the court proceedings, however, even with the paltry details I have gathered I see no true differentiation that would warrant the term ‘loosely inspired’. Cartwheel is at heart a character study but ultimately lacks in creative elements.

The writing style was well-written yet extremely tedious and I found myself setting my print copy aside and opting for the audio version. The excessive use of prose was an obvious intent to place this novel solidly in the realm of ‘literary’ but it gave the story an overstated and exaggerated feel that did more harm than good. The story was told from the point of view of several individuals such as Lily’s dad, her sister Anna, the prosecutor and Lily’s boyfriend Sebastian. Each character is extensively detailed but I felt Lily herself was drawn vaguely in a possible attempt to retain the mystery behind her guilt/innocence. The details from the point of view of the prosecutor were informative but the details regarding his estranged wife felt ultimately unessential and detracted from the story.

The ending was the most underwhelming of all as questions remained unanswered and just like the actual Amanda Knox story, we’re left to decide whether or not to believe in her innocence. The examination of individuals involved was in depth and detailed yet there was an emotional disconnect. So many pages were spent delving into the intricate details of Lily’s actions and how even minor actions transformed others opinions and perceptions of her. It all felt very superfluous compared to the amount of time spent on the trial itself though and the ending was extremely rushed compared to the slower pace we became accustomed to. The fact that so much of Lily’s case was based on those perceptions vs. actual concrete evidence was interesting but made for a very ponderous read. The ultimate duplication of a big news story seems solely as a means for the author to showcase her obvious writing skills but only puts a spotlight on her complete lack of creativity.

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Early Review – Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

December 21, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 6 Comments

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.

Early Review – Before We Met by Lucie WhitehouseBefore We Met by Lucie Whitehouse
Published by Bloomsbury USA on January 21st 2014
Pages: 288
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean.

Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard.

But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S. and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah’s certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark’s colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks?

Hannah begins to dig into her husband’s life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her...

Hannah has always held herself back from love for fear of becoming like her acrimonious mother after suffering through the divorce from her father. Her uncertainties ceased to exist when she meets Mark; a fellow Brit and a friend of a friend. They fall in love instantaneously and they are married shortly after. A few months into their marriage, Mark is on a business trip to the U.S. and when Hannah was expected to pick him up from his return flight he’s not there. Fearing the worst, she’s finally able to get a hold of him but his excuses only cause her suspicions to grow. As her concerns continue to mount, the cracks in her life begin to appear and nothing is as it seems.

The story alternates between the present and the past, when she first met Mark, and rehashes she knows about him. Hannah’s uncertainties make her realize foolishly how little she truly knows about her husband which causes her to investigate and uncover unpleasant information. ‘Before We Met’ captured flawlessly how suspicion and doubt can morph into a crazed paranoia where you aren’t able to clearly discern what is right before your eyes. The building tension is well-done and turned this into quite a page-turner, however, it was quite clear what was going on before Hannah finally caught up with the rest of us. I kept hoping that an unexpected twist would happen at the end but it never did.

I have always been a fan of psychological thrillers and while I understand that comparisons to other novels of the same genre are bound to occur, I can only expect there to be some semblance of originality. Having read ‘Gone Girl’ last year, the comparisons to ‘Before We Met’ are great and while there are slight differences, it only managed to come off as a weaker interpretation. I did have the same issue with both books though, where so much crazy had happened throughout the novel that by the end it had all become so disheveled and unrecognizable from the beginning. It all ended up being a bit too contrived for my liking.

‘Before We Met’ works that little paranoid nerve in all of us by serving as a reminder that you’re never able to truly know a person completely, even the ones you love and have devoted your life to.

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Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith

October 26, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

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.

Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert GalbraithThe Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Published by Mulholland Books on April 30th 2013
Pages: 465
Genres: Detective, Mystery-Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

two-stars

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.


Detective Cormoran Strike life has seen better days. He recently broke up with his girlfriend and is sleeping on a camp bed in his office, he’s got a single client that isn’t paying their bill and a whole slew of creditors that are demanding money yesterday. He’s fortunately hired to investigate the much publicized death of Lula Landry, a supermodel who fell to her death from her penthouse balcony. Her brother, John Bristow, is convinced that someone is to blame.

Okay, so the whole world knows by now that this is the work of J.K. Rowling. She first delved into Contemporary Adult Fiction last year with ‘The Casual Vacancy’. I had several of the same issues with TCV (which I put on hold about halfway through and have yet to make it back to it.) Even setting aside your ‘Harry Potter’ sized expectations, there really isn’t anything spectacular about The Cuckoo’s Calling. I applaud J.K. Rowling for having the gumption to take a leap into adult fiction because it’s such a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from her. Unfortunately, her Contemporary novels are just not my cup of tea.

Cormoran Strike has been praised in publications for his intriguing personality but I found him to be no different than any other detective/cop/investigator and he clearly dreamed about being Sherlock when he was a kid. Yes, he was a war veteran and he lost his leg and there’s a whole backstory there that is delved into but still didn’t manage to add anything super intriguing to the mix. Publications have also commented on the ‘brilliant mystery’ but honestly? It’s been done before and I didn’t find myself gasping in shock when the big reveal happens. It felt very much like a Sherlock Holmes tale where he’s about to piece together evidence from seemingly nothing and it’s all eluded to until the very end when he reveals all to the bad guy. It was all very yawn-inducing and worthy of a few eye-rolls to be quite honest.

In addition to the mediocre storyline and characters, the writing style is what ultimately caused my massive disappointment over this novel (and this is another issue I had with The Casual Vacancy). There are some truly fabulous lines that showcase her brilliance, but more often than not she tries far too hard to make it even more evident that THIS IS AN ADULT NOVEL. As if we weren’t aware of that fact already. Towards the end of the novel there was a line which caused the cringe of a lifetime:

‘She looked away from him, drawing hard on her Rothman’s; when her mouth puckered into hard little lines around the cigarette, it looked like a cat’s anus.’

Disgusting and totally unnecessary. Bottom line, her writing is just too crude and unrefined for my liking. I doubt I’ll give up on future novels of Rowling, but I won’t likely be continuing this particular series. I would so love to see more fantasy from her though.

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