The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger: book review

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
Published July 3, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
341 Pages
Affiliate Link : Buy From Amazon

From PublisherOn an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind. Ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau is engaged to Grant Ellis whose father is set to run for President of the US. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home…

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I’ll admit, when I first came across this title I assumed it was another domestic psychological “wife” thriller (although one with a great cover). The Banker’s Wife , however, was not at all what I expected. I knew from the opening scene in the London airport that this financial thriller was not only going to keep me on my toes, but it had such an international flair and hint of conspiracy and secrets to come that I couldn’t wait to find out more. 

We first meet Marina, an investigative journalist for Press magazine, whose fiancé’s father is close to securing the bid for the next US Presidential election. Although she’s been contemplating quitting the further immersed she gets in the upper echelon of New York society, she’s enticed by her editor to help gather secret evidence from a source in Paris. What follows propels Marina into an investigation of a top Swiss Bank, Swiss United, which may or may not have close US ties. From there we get to be flies on the wall, immersed in the secrets and scandals that cross the globe.

The story alternates perspectives between Marina and Annabel, whose husband Matthew is missing after his plane goes down in the Swiss Alps. Matthew is a banking executive with Swiss United (can you start to see the threads?) and it’s not long before Annabel is questioning not only what happened to her husband’s plane but also if she really knew her husband. 

I was equally invested in both these smart, sophisticated, take control women and the way Alger structured the novel, with lightening paced chapters that combined phenomenal dialogue with increasing tension, was just brilliant. Seriously, I felt like I was watching a movie while reading this book, if that makes sense? It is one of the most cinematic, globe trotting novels I’ve ever read, taking us to Switzerland, Paris, London, and New York.  I could picture each place and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how all the little threads were connected…or not. Some advice though, this is a close reading type of story where details can be missed, especially in the second half where a few more characters were introduced. I had to really pay attention so as to not feel confused. I highly recommend this intelligent, tightly plotted thriller if you’re looking for something original and fast paced. 

Many thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

2 Page Turning Books to Read Before Summer Ends

Aren’t page turning books the best in the summer for an afternoon at the pool, beach or, if you’re like me, the patio?  I read both of these in about a day and they both led to late night reading & loss of sleep which for me is the hallmark of a page turner. That sounds like a new category list for the blog…books that cause a loss of sleep…hmmm

The Wife  By Alafair Burke
Published January 23, 2018 By Harper
340 Pages
Affiliate Link Buy From Amazon

Short Summary: A celebrity husband’s scandal, a wife’s secrets, a disappearance all intersect to test loyalty and make us wonder what EXACTLY is going on.

My Thoughts: I have no idea why I waited until now to read this book, big mistake on my part. I loved the intricate web Burke created with this plot so much, even more so because she fooled me in the end. I love that! This book starts with a bang and ends with a “gasp” and includes many subtle twists and turns in between.  How tempting is this first sentence?

In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I’d been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband. 

Of course I can’t even give you a smidge of a hint about the ending but know this…it’s perfection. What I love about Burke’s writing is her ability to weave an intricate plot that caused me to guess, question everything, guess again, and then realize I wasn’t going to figure this out any time soon, hence the late night of reading. The story is layered and very clever, yet also incorporates timely subject matter which made it feel “ripped from the headlines.” I don’t want to give a single plot detail away so I’ll just say pick this up if you’re looking for a QUALITY psychological thriller that lives up to the thriller title. And if you love this (I think you will), try Burke’s book All Day and a Night , a Throwback Thursdaypick from long ago.

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Jane Doe By Victoria Helen Stone
Published August 1, 2018 By Lake Union
258 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy From Amazon 

Short Summary: Plain Jane is blending in nicely at her new job at an insurance agency but there is much more to Jane than meets the eye. No one suspects she’s leading a double life with a single purpose of revenge

My Thoughts: Oh my you guys, Jane kind of left me speechless and I mean that in the BEST possible way! She’s a little cray-cray but I’d certainly love to be friends with her. She’s a very self aware sociopath, making no apologies for herself and in no way wishes to change. She’s returned to the US after living in Malaysia with a single focus and agenda – revenge. This page turner is told entirely from Jane’s perspective and believe me that’s the best way to tell it.

The dress is soft and flowery, like all of my recent purchases. It could be demure, but I’ve unbuttoned one too many buttons. He’s a breast man, our Steven. Mine aren’t large, but I’ve pushed them up to make them look more C than B. He likes the result. If he ever sees me naked, he’ll be disappointed, but it will only work in my favor.

Along with the fact that I just really loved Jane’s wit, her ingenuity, and her single minded determination to succeed with her plan, I also loved that there was no unreliable narrator and no flashbacks. This is a straightforward, no gimmicks story and that was so welcome! I literally couldn’t put this book down and stayed up super late to finish. My best advice would be to just pick this up -don’t read the synopsis- and prepare to be thoroughly entertained. If you’ve already read and enjoyed You (My Review) by Carolyn Kepnes, I think you’ll definitely love this….and wouldn’t Joe & Jane make the BEST literary couple??

Have you read either of these? What page turning books have YOU read lately?

 

REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK By Michelle McNamara

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Publication Feb 27, 2018 By Harper
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.”

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth.

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Riveting. Chilling. Fascinating. I could go on with the adjectives to describe this incredible work of nonfiction but you get the idea. It’s very rare that I come across a book, especially a nonfiction one, that literally made my heart race while reading certain scenes. Like others have mentioned, I couldn’t read this at night. To say it’s scary doesn’t seem to do Michelle’s writing justice, but it’s absolutely how I felt while reading about this elusive rapist/killer.  She has created a brilliant work of investigative journalism that was, at times, terrifying, yet utterly gripping to read. I couldn’t put it down. When I wasn’t reading I was busy looking over my shoulder, checking the doors and windows and thinking about all the unsuspecting victims and communities he terrorized . It’s unfathomable on many levels….not just the crimes he committed but how he’s managed to continuously elude authorities. At times, he had been right there in front of them and yet he managed to vanish.

Michelle’s passion for her work and yes her obsession with finding this killer came alive through her evocative prose. I often felt that I was there with her, looking over her shoulder, reading the case files and notes. When the narrative went back in time to the various crime scenes, I felt I was walking alongside the detectives as they hunted this killer. Her writing captured the essence of everyone involved in this story and that includes the killer and his victims. For this reason, there may be many people who may not be able to read the scenes she describes; there is an abundance of rape victims whose stories she delicately details along with the murders he escalated to. This is integral to the story but never gratuitous. She perfectly balanced these details, however, with glimpses of her own life which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. She became a friend who invited me into her world which makes the fact that she died before finishing this book all the more tragic.

Something to keep in mind, the narrative does jump around in time quite often and not always in a sequential order. I’m not sure if this is indicative of the way Michelle was researching the story or that pieces were put together by the editors after her death. However, the fact that I was a little confused at times didn’t take away from the impact of the narrative. I often think the sign of a great book is one that not only teaches me something but also elicits a wide range of feelings within myself; I’ll Be Gone In the Dark has done both. And the ending…perfection.

Many thanks to HarperCollins via Edelweiss for my copy

BLOG TOUR EXTRACT: BLUE NIGHT By Simone Buchholz, translated By Rachel Ward

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz , published by the wonderful Orenda books this month

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After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…

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I’m happy to bring you an extract from this exciting read…

 

 

Always follow your heart. Or bury it at Wounded Knee.

My dad liked to trot that one out whenever I asked him what I should do. An old Native American proverb, I guess those boys had a snappy one-liner for every situation.

My heart says: Sit down and hold his hand. He doesn’t look as though he’s got anyone else to do it. I can recognise a lonely face from ten miles off.

The hand is warm and dry, and surprisingly soft for its size – it’s a proper paw. I try to put both my hands round it. Ridiculous.

He was brought to the ward in the early morning, just after four. There are multiple fractures to his arms, legs and ribs; his right clavicle is smashed. There’s a thick bandage round his right hand. The nurse says he’s lost his index nger, but you can’t just lose an index finger. He has no head injuries and his lungs aren’t damaged. His kidneys are swollen but basically working. There’s a single main doorway in his neck. That’s where the drugs go in – the glittering disco stuff from the bags hanging on the drip stands. He’s getting something to make him sleep and presumably all kinds of stuff for all kinds of pain. It’s clearly working ’cos he looks strangely peaceful, and his face is unscathed, apart from a few scratches from the asphalt.

Forensics took his clothes; he had no papers on him.

He’s really tall: with all the splints on his arms and legs he hardly fits the hospital bed. His hair shines silver-grey and it’s close-cropped at the sides, a bit longer on top. His face is one of those angular models that men only grow into at a certain age. I’d put him at early- to-mid fties. A man in his prime, if he weren’t so broken.

Yeah, if he weren’t so broken, he’d look a bit like a tall George Clooney.

The machines on the wall behind his bed start beeping. A nurse comes in and presses a few buttons. She smiles sympathetically around the room, as if I were a relative, even though she knows I’m not.

That keeps happening to me.
I don’t always react to it very well.
‘What was he wearing?’ I ask her. ‘Before the gown, I mean?’ She switches to her smile, question marks blinking dully in her eyes.

OK. Sorry.

‘Where was he found?’
‘I don’t know exactly,’ she says. ‘Somewhere near here.’
Her stare is getting harder.
She seems to resent me: even if I’m not a relative, I could at least act like one.
She idly moves a few things from one side of the bed to the other, then hastily leaves the room before I can ask any more impudent questions.

I stay beside the tall, sleeping man and look at him.

I stay by him until the clouds finally seize power in the sky and it grows gradually dark; then I head home.

As I get out of the taxi in my road, cold rain falls on my head. Yellow light rolls from Klatsche’s window..

Simone Buchholz Picture

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Don’t forget to check out more reviews on the tour

BLUE NIGHT Blog Tour Poster

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: KILLED By Thomas Enger, Translated By Kari Dickson

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Killed by Thomas Enger, published by the wonderful Orenda books and available Feb 28, 2018. 

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Henning Juul sits in a boat on a dark lake. A man with a gun sits opposite him. At the man’s feet is a body that will be soon be dumped into the water. Henning knows that the same fate awaits him. And he knows that it’s his own fault. Who started the fire that killed Henning’s young son? How is his sister, Trine, involved? Most importantly, who can be trusted? Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-waited finale of the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned but always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and one of the most chilling, dark and moving crime thrillers you may ever read.

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Killed is the fifth and final installment in Thomas Enger’s Henning Juul series and one I’ve been highly anticipating since the jaw dropping conclusion to last year’s Cursed . This series is some of the best Nordic Noir I’ve read and Henning Juul is one of my favorite protagonists. I first met Henning in the second book , Pierced, when he was still recovering from the aftereffects of being burned in a fire at his apartment – one in which his young son Jonas tragically died.

Killed continues with Henning’s long search to uncover and make pay those responsible for setting the fire and he’s ever so close to getting those answers. After years of using and honing his investigative journalist skills, Henning has managed to piece together most of the puzzle but time is running out because those he seeks also want to get to Henning and silence him once and for all. As you can guess, Killed is a skillful game of cat and mouse which kept me in suspense while shocking me with twists, surprises, and yes deaths of people I didn’t see coming! Thomas Enger really held nothing back in this story and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Of course, I won’t give anything away in regards to plot and the ending but I will say that while the author does a wonderful job of bringing new readers up to speed with the finer details of the story, I still highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series with either Burned or Pierced and continue in order to fully immerse yourself in the backstory as well as getting to know Henning. I did miss reading book 3 (Scarred) and I have a feeling that’s why I was a little confused about a particular aspect in Killed. That being said, if you like Nordic Noir and you haven’t yet tried this series, by all means give it a try, I think you’ll be happy you did.

Granite Noir Fest 2017

 

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about

the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

For more information about KILLED or to book an interview with Thomas Enger, please contact Karen Sullivan: Karen@orendabooks.co.uk, 07702 628 230 or Sophie Goodfellow: SophieG@fmcm.co.uk, 07719 007146.

Don’t forget to stop by and check out other reviews on the tour!

Killed Blog Tour Poster

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published Feb 2015 By William Morrow 

My Rating: 5/5 stars

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

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The interesting thing that drew me to this novel was the lettering of the title. That may sound weird but I remember scrolling through Bookbub’s daily deals one day and the style of this title as well as the title itself just caught my eye. I find it so interesting to  think about what draws us in or repels us as far as titles and book covers go. I had never heard of this author but once I read the book’s description I was sold. I loved the idea of two mysteries being set in the summer of the late 1980’s. I have to tell you, not only is this an excellent crime story, it’s beautifully written.  The characters and setting felt real as his writing puts you there, in that movie theatre and at the county fair.  I really believe you’ll be hard pressed to put this one down once you start reading as Berney’s writing compels you to want to find out what happened that long ago summer. He expertly shifts perspectives between Wyatt and Julianna as well as between past and present. This book was one of my top 5 favorites of 2015 and I’d say if you love crime fiction with intriguing mysteries and you haven’t yet read this one, I think you’ll want to put this at the top of your TBR.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Laura at Snazzy Books

Holly at Dressed to Read

 

REVIEW: THE CHALK MAN By C.J. Tudor

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Publication date: Jan 9, 2018 By Crown Publishing

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

 

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This classic storyline concept of childhood friends, a murder, lies and then unearthed secrets many years later started off fairly strong for me. I love the setting of the small town English village and the time frame of the late 1980s. The tidbits of nostalgia from the 80s were actually one of my favorite parts of the whole book.

The story is told in alternating timeframes, shifting back and forth from the kids’ childhoods in 1986 to 2016 when they’re all living very different lives. I have to say I found the present storyline more engaging than the past but overall I didn’t enjoy the alternating timeframes structure. I felt like just when I was immersed in the present and trying to build connections with the characters, the chapters would end abruptly leaving me feeling disconnected.  I appreciate that the author was trying to build suspense with cliffhanger chapter endings and an abrupt time change but it left me feeling frustrated.

In terms of the characters, I found Eddie to be very odd and hard to connect with; in fact, I didn’t really connect with any characters which made it hard for me to care about what happened to them. I did find the pace to be steady and I didn’t have the mystery figured out but I also didn’t have a compelling urge to try all that hard to decipher the clues. When I reached the end my first thought was that the reveal was underwhelming and my next thought was that something that we find out about Eddie made no sense whatsoever. I absolutely know others are loving this mystery so take my review as just one opinion and try this for yourself, especially if you’re a fan of alternating timeframes and mysteries set in the 1980s.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing via Netgalley for my copy

REVIEW: AMERICAN RADICAL By Tamer Elnoury with Kevin Maurer

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Published Oct 23, 2017 by Dutton Books 

It’s no secret that federal agencies are waging a broad, global war against terror. But for the first time in this memoir, an active Muslim American federal agent reveals his experience infiltrating and bringing down a terror cell in North America.

Due to his ongoing work for the FBI, Elnoury writes under a pseudonym. An Arabic-speaking Muslim American, a patriot, a hero: To many Americans, it will be a revelation that he and his team even exist, let alone the vital and dangerous work they do keeping all Americans safe

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This is one of those books that happened to catch my eye when I was recently Christmas shopping for my dad who only reads nonfiction. It has two of my favorite buzzwords in it…Undercover and FBI….so I couldn’t resist reading it when it arrived. I’m so glad I did because I loved it! Not only is it the most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time, it’s also a very uniquely written memoir in that it reads like a page turning novel. In fact, as I mentioned in my Monday post, it very much reads like an episode of Homeland. There were times I had to remind myself the difference is that this story is actually true which in my opinion made it all the more terrifying.

As stated in the blurb, Tamer is a pseudonym for an undercover counterterrorism agent in the FBI. I thought he did a fantastic job sharing as many details as he could about the world of an undercover agent, how they train, how they live their “legends,” and the extreme emotional/psychological stress it takes on their psyches. Especially when dealing with the warped and twisted minds of the radical Islamic terrorists he worked to bring down in this story. I appreciated how well he explained who these terrorists were, where they came from and how they came to believe what they do. I hung on every word as he described conversations in which the terrorists laid out detailed plans to kill as many Americans as possible…it was scary to read and I don’t think most of us understand what is happening in our own country on a daily basis.

The first person narrative structure of the story worked brilliantly in that I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching each scene unfold. The pace was steady although I will say I thought it dragged a little in the middle but the last third made up for it and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how it was all going to unfold. I love the way the authors created such a suspenseful storyline while also providing behind the scenes details of the operations. I’ve been recommending this book all week to people, especially to my friends who love Homeland so if you enjoy page turners that are timely, current, and so relevant to our world right now I encourage you to give this a try!

 

 

 

IT’S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?

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The holiday season is in full swing and while I still can’t believe it’s not summer…it seemed like just yesterday it was August…I’ve decided to get a jump on my shopping and as of now I’m almost done:) I actually went to the mall on Black Friday which I NEVER do and now I realize why…I’ve never seen so many people and such long lines there before!! In the end, I really only got amazing deals at 2 stores (Macy’s & Joseph A Banks in case you’re wondering) so I’m not sure it was worth the crowds. However, I stayed up super late last night shopping for cyber Monday, that’s why this post is so late, and the deals were incredible! Now I know why so many sizes are already sold out on Monday…deals started last night and things were selling out while I still had them in my cart. It was crazy but I stayed up and got SO many deals! What has all this meant for my reading lately? Well, I haven’t done too much but I’m planning on getting back on track this week

 

RECENTLY READ….

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Although I hate this cover, I have a reading friend who’s been suggesting this book to me for SO long and I don’t know why I resisted reading it because it was great! It was an addicting read that I flew through in a couple days…look for a mini review soon.

TRIED BUT COULDN’T GET INTO….

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It pains me to say that one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, The Hush, was a DNF for me after 70 pages. I absolutely loved The Last Child but this wasn’t similar in tone or plot and I found myself bored.  I’ve loved several of John Hart’s books and always thought his writing was outstanding but in this one I felt the language was too flowery at times and for me it felt bogged down in descriptive setting details. Also, there’s a supernatural element to this story that I wasn’t expecting and it didn’t work for me at all. Well, I tried to jump onto the Louise Penny train and I gave it until 40% but ultimately I realized I didn’t care about the murder mystery and the pace was way too slow for me so…DNF. I know people love her books and I wanted to as well and I really really loved the setting of Three Pines but in the end that wasn’t enough to hold my attention

CURRENTLY READING…

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I had ordered this book for my dad for Christmas but what caught my eye initially when I saw it on Amazon’s new release list were 2 of my favorite buzzwords…undercover & FBI! When it came on Saturday I decided I had to read it first and I’m loving it so far. Tamer is a pseudonym and he’s currently still an agent which makes his story all the more timely. The writing is excellent and with every story he tells I feel like I’m watching an episode of Homeland, it’s very similar in tone and plot so if you like that show I think you’ll LOVE this book. You won’t believe what’s going on right under our noses in the world of undercover counterterrorism….it’s fascinating yet terrifying to say the least!

UP NEXT….

This is always a toss up for me so it could be

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Have a great reading week everyone! 

 

 

 

 

A 2018 REVIEW: FORCE OF NATURE By Jane Harper

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Publication Date: Feb 6th, 2018 by Flatiron Books

Short Summary: Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Did she purposely disappearance or was it murder? Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

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You may remember that this book was recently one I featured as one of my most anticipated sequels of 2018. I’m starting to dip into some of my 2018 reads and this was just calling to me. I loved The Dry and couldn’t wait to catch up with Aaron Falk. I did, however, read a couple reviews that weren’t all that favorable so I was anxious to see if I agreed with them or not…

The story basically centers around two groups (a men’s and a women’s) employed by the same company who’re sent on a professional team building retreat. The retreat consists of 3 days and nights of hiking and camping in a fairly remote wooded range in Australia. We find out right away that only 4 of the women return and when they do they are hours late and look much worse for the wear. So, the immediate question is…what’s happened to Alice?  Regarding the plot, the narrative structure, and the characters involved there honestly wasn’t that much that worked for me and it’s disappointing because I expected to love this.

What worked…

  • The descriptive details for the setting. Jane Harper can write wonderful setting details. While I didn’t find this to be as atmospheric as The Dry, I did feel like I was there in the woods with the cold and rain and darkness
  • The short chapters created a very fast reading pace and I was able to read this in one sitting
  • Aaron Falk. There’s something about this character that I really like. He’s somewhat of an enigma but just seems like a really good guy. I just wish the author would’ve done more with him in this story. To me, it seemed like he was an after thought and his character didn’t seem to evolve too much in this book.

What didn’t work….

  • The entire plot premise that a professional team building company would send inexperienced hikers out with no phones, no walkie talkies, no flares, no emergency provisions whatsoever and then never check to ensure they reached each campsite just made no sense to me and tarnished my ability to believe the story.
  • The characters. I felt the group of women were not only unlikeable but also thinly drawn. There were times I couldn’t remember who was who, they didn’t seem to be all that individualistic. And I found hard to care about any of them
  • The structure of the narrative. The story is told in present time from Aaron’s perspective as they are investigating and alternates with flashbacks of each day of the women’s journey. This seemed odd to me because we already know what happens so it often seemed unnecessary to retell some parts. For me, opening the book with the ending took away quite a bit of suspense.
  • The mystery. I found it to be pretty underwhelming and the red herrings were too obvious in my opinion.

Unfortunately, there was more that didn’t work for me than did in this story and I’m bummed about that because I think Jane Harper is a very talented writer. Maybe it was a case of rushing the second book as others have speculated, I’m not sure. I did enjoy seeing a little spark with Aaron at the end and I will definitely still give the next book in the series a try because I want to see what she does with Aaron’s character moving forward. If you haven’t read The Dry, I do highly recommend that one!

Many thanks to Flatiron Books for my copy