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review 2018-01-16 09:18
great book and great characters
Two Girls Down: A Novel - Louisa Luna

Jamie wondered how the girls could care so much about what other people think. Kylie is ten years old and Bailey is eight. Jamie wishes for a simpler time with her two girls. The girls now always seemed to need or want something. All Jamie wanted was a few seconds of peace. They are on their way to a birthday party and are detoured to a different way by a cop. They stop at a strip mall and Jamie goes in for a present leaving the car idling and the girls in it.Jamie comes out of the store about ten minutes later and the car is there but the girls are gone. Later after looking at a tape after Jamie had went into the store the girls were seen going into a ice cream shop and sampling all the samples.   The cops are stretched thin because of budget cuts and a drug epidemic and don’t really help Jamie to find her girls. Jamie’s aunt hires Linda Vega who is a bounty hunter with a good record of finding missing persons. Linda has the assistance of a of a computer hacker called “ The Bastard” who begins to dig up information. The cops won’t help Alice so she goes to Max “Cap” Calan - a former police detective who took the fall for a young cop with a wife and two kids. So Cap resigned and is now trying to move on with his life and is a P I. Cap’s sixteen year old daughter convinces him to work with Alice.  Alice and Cap are making some process finding the girls. They have to decide which leads are false and which leads have potential to gain information from. Max and Alice are very opposite.

This was a great book with some dark parts in it. I didn’t want to put this down and it kept my attention from beginning to end. I loved the plot and the fast pace. This was a well written book that was both suspenseful and had a lot of action in it. There was also a lot of tension. I would have liked more backstory for Alice and Cao . This book has a realistic feeling to it. I loved how Cap was a and listened to his sixteen year old daughter . Reading this book was like being on a roller coaster ride. I will say I did hope for more from the end but I still felt this deserved a five rating. I love the characters and the ins and outs of this book and I highly recommend.

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review 2018-01-13 15:02
Review: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Bad Girls with Perfect Faces - Lynn Weingarten

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A dark YA thriller about friendship, obsession and jealousy taken over the top and everything going horribly wrong. Sasha and Xavier have been best friends for years. Sasha is not the most likeable character in the world, she’s cold, blunt and frankly, kind of a bitch. The only person who gets her moods and can handle her is her BFF Xavier. Who this reader found kind of dull and rather bland. But he and Sasha connect pretty well, they hang out, have their own sense of humour and inner jokes. They get each other.

 

It’s worked for years, they live in a small town, are outcasts at school and pretty much just have each other. Until Xavier got a girlfriend, Ivy. Ivy was even more of a brat than Sasha. Ivy came from a very wealthy family, she has an outgoing personality, but she’s also the type of manipulative bitch who knows how to push people’s buttons and wrap them around her finger and make them think everything she does is okay, no matter how wrong it actually is. She plays with Xavier pretty much breaks his heart.

 

At the start of the novel what Sasha doesn’t know is that Xavier has started seeing Ivy again. What Xavier doesn’t know is Sasha has fallen for him and has no idea how to tell him. Naturally she’s worried that if he doesn’t feel the same way their friendship would be ruined. And it doesn’t help that Ivy is now back on the screen.

 

Sasha and Ivy can’t stand each other. Not surprising really, their personalities clash and they are both epically jealous of the other’s relationship with Xavier which in a way is kind of understandable as both girls get different sides of him. Only made worse by Sasha’s feelings now boarding on obsession as she worries over what Ivy’s going to do to him this time.

 

So Sasha comes up with a plan. She invents an online profile of a guy to trap Ivy and convince Xavier finally that she is a cheater and no good for him. Which is sort of cringe-worthy to read and with the feeling of malice and foreboding in the story, it’s clearly all going to go wrong at some point. The novel is told in three different viewpoints – Sasha’s, Xavier’s and Ivy’s. Then when a plot twist happens another mysterious view point appears with no name, someone else who knows something has gone wrong and is doing their own investigation.

 

The psychological mind sent of the three different characters was quite interesting over how Xavier, and Sasha both displayed obsessive behaviour, while Ivy was obsessing over the fake profile guy she was getting to know and revealing sides of herself she usually keeps hidden.

 

Of course everything goes hideously wrong and Sasha finds herself in a very bad situation she doesn’t know how to handle at first. It all gets a bit ridiculous here. Xavier ends up tagging along without realising what’s really going on, Sasha’s got another secret she knows she’s never going to be able to keep for long without giving some sort of explanation and that it could potentially ruin her friendship with Xavier. To make things worse someone else has figured out Sasha is up to something and is on their trail.

 

The drama is a bit over the top but there is a definite rise in tension in this bit. Nerves are stretched to breaking point and it comes through clear in the writing and makes things very uncomfortable. I was quite impressed with the ending. Didn’t see it coming, and the way it concluded was actually quite believable.

 

It’s definitely a page turner, and while a little silly in some of the plot twists, there’s a compelling element about it that makes you have to keep going to know what’s going to happen. It’s a great example of a good book about unlikeable characters. The characters are well fleshed out and well written even though they are mostly horrible people.

 

I wasn’t overly impressed with the first book I read by this author, but I really liked this one. I bought a finished copy from iBooks.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing for approving my request to view the title.

 

 

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review 2018-01-09 23:27
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
Two Girls Down: A Novel - Louisa Luna

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really good! I went into this book rather blindly having never read the author before and not seeing much about the book. I thought it looked like a rather good mystery so I jumped in and started reading. I didn't stop reading until I had reached the end of the book. It has been a long time since I wanted to read a whole book in a single sitting but that is exactly what I ended up doing with this story. I am so happy to have stumbled upon this wonderfully written mystery.

This book grabbed me right away. You know from the very start that something bad is going to happen to Jamie's kids. When they disappear in the parking of the local Kmart, there aren't a lot of clues as to where they might may be. Jamie's aunt hires a private investigator who has a reputation for finding lost people, Alice Vega.

Vega is determined to find the girls and will do what it takes to find them quickly. She enlists the help of a former cop turned private investigator, Cap. Vega and Cap have very different styles of investigating but they soon form a great team. Together they sort through clues and piece a trail back to the girls.

I liked the characters in this story. Vega and Cap were both really interesting characters that ended up in their jobs for very different reasons. Vega was more than willing to cross over the line if that is what is was going to take to bring the girls home. She was tough and worked tirelessly. Cap seemed more like your normal good guy. He is a really good guy who puts his teen daughter first in his life. They were both really smart and have a lot of great instincts.

There was a lot of excitement in this story. I was actually pretty nervous about what would happen a time or two in this story. I couldn't figure out how things would work out and just had to go along with Vega and Cap to find out. I didn't expect to have an emotional reaction to this story but as I read to the end of the story, I found myself with a broken heart.

I would recommend this book to others. This was a very fast paced novel that was almost impossible to put down. I will definitely be reading more for this talented author in the future. 

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from Doubleday Books via First to Read.

Initial Thoughts
This was really good. I wasn't able to guess how things would go because this is a really complex mystery. I thought that Cap and Vega made a wonderful team.

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review 2018-01-09 04:02
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was fantastic! I actually have looked at this book several times since its release and didn't pick it up sooner because I wasn't sure that I would like it. I had nothing to worry about. This story is disturbing and made me very uncomfortable but I loved it. Once I started reading this book, there was no stopping and I ended up reading it in a day.

As I said, this book tells a rather disturbing story. In some ways, it was like a train wreck that you know you shouldn't look at but you can't help yourself. This book deals with sexual abuse and could be difficult for some readers. I went through a wide range of emotions while reading this book. There were parts that made me mad, others that made me want to cry, some parts gave me hope, and some parts just made my skin crawl.

Lane goes to live with her grandparents after her mother's suicide. She has never met her Gran and Granddad, not to mention her cousin, Allegra. Allegra and Lane bond right away and become quite the pair. They spend almost all of their time together either in town with Tommy and Cooper or on the farm. Years later, Lane is called back to the farm because her cousin is missing. Lane works to figure out exactly what happened and where Allegra is.

This story is told through two timelines. One timeline follows Lane and Allegra as teenagers when Lane first comes to live at the farm. The other timeline is set in the present with Lane back at the farm to look for her lost cousin. These two timelines worked perfectly together. Information from the past that would be needed to fully explain the present seemed to be worked in at just the right moment. There were also a few passages from the other Roanoke girls which gave a lot of insight as to the history of the family.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This is the kind of story that will stay with me for a long time. I really appreciated that the book ended on a hopeful note with all questions being answered. This is the time that I have had the chance to read Amy Engel's work and I am looking forward to reading more of her novels in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Random House via Blogging for Books.

Initial Thoughts
Honestly, this was great! It was disturbing and uncomfortable but I never wanted to put it down. I wanted the Roanoke Girls to be okay and hated everyone who threatened that. There were a few surprises and a lot of heartbreaking moments. I love that the book ended on a hopeful note.

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review 2018-01-04 00:29
Two Girls Down - Mystery
Two Girls Down: A Novel - Louisa Luna
When I picked this one up, I expected a gritty, and possibly dark, mystery and the story does start out with that potential. The beginning drew me in with the interactions between Jamie Brandt and her girls on the day that they were taken. From that point on, the story quickly fizzled for me as it became more a procedural type story of Alice and Cap following clues. This in itself wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing, but the number of characters brought in and the heavy dialogue made this tale quite cumbersome and at times, convoluted. It may also have helped if the main characters had been more likable. Cap is a likable enough character, but Alice, who is supposed to be this tough, "enigmatic" bounty hunter, is just a hot mess. She's seems almost without emotion and then turns to violence in the blink of an eye. I was also left a bit confused by the dangling carrot of a possible romance between these two. That angle either needed to be better developed or left out entirely. As it stands, it just felt like filler which this one certainly did not need. The biggest drawback for this reader was that the story drags on for so long and the number of people questioned and re-questioned begins to run together.  There is a decent action sequence toward the end along with an interesting twist to the story, but by that time, it was just too little, too late. 
After seeing the number of four and five-star ratings for Two Girls Down, I realize that I'm in the minority, but it is what it is. The author clearly has talent and this book had great potential, but I prefer a much faster pace over getting bogged down in procedure.
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