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review 2017-10-16 02:14
Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan
Odd Child Out: A Novel - Gilly Macmillan

A special thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

MacMillan's second instalment in the Jim Clemo series is about inseparable best friends.  Despite their vastly different cultures—Noah Sandler is British and Abdi Mahad a Somali refugee—their loyalty sees no boundaries.  After what appears to be a prank gone wrong, Noah is found floating unconscious in a canal in Bristol, and Abdi has been shocked into silence.  

 

Detective Jim Clemo is just back from a mandatory leave as a result of his last case.  Because the investigation seems cut and dried, it is assigned to him.  After tragedy strikes, it is apparent that the case it is more than just an accident.  Social tensions begin to rise as the families fight for their sons and seek the truth.  

 

Told from alternating perspectives, MacMillan's story is a slow, tense burn with a deep plot.  She effectively and deftly captures how relentless the press are.  This is especially relevant and relatable in today's climate—whether they print facts, fiction, or a little of both, people will believe it is spun the right way.  However, there are times where the narrative was clunky which accounts for some of its unnecessary bulk.    

 

While the premise is interesting, the characters were at times a bit too stereotypical and because of this, there are times where the story becomes a bit contrived.  All-in-all, a good read and I will definitely be checking in with Detective Clemo again.     

 

 

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review 2017-10-15 03:04
Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart
Little Broken Things: A Novel - Nicole Baart

A special thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Past secrets and strained relationships are at the heart of Nicole Baart's newest novel, Little Broken Things.  Nora, estranged from her sister, Quinn, sends a cryptic text before showing up on her doorstep with a six-year-old girl.  Nora abruptly leaves the girl in Quinn's care with the instructions to keep her safe, and not to ask any questions.  Quinn and her mother, Liz, believe that the girl may be Nora's daughter.  

 

By telling the story through multiple viewpoints—Quinn, Nora, Liz, and Nora's friend, Tiffany—Baart slowly reveals the circumstances that led Nora to leaving the little girl in her sister's care.  Other past indiscretions are also brought to light to help explain why the relationships between the women are so strained.  Not everything is how it appears from the outside; Liz kept up appearances at all costs, no matter how exhausting and this was the trade off to preserve what she envisioned her image to be as a wife, mother, friend, and socialite.    

 

At times this novel is not an easy read; Baart tackles some pretty big issues.  Even though I wasn't blown away with the ending, I still enjoyed this exploration of familial relationships.  Sometimes the most fragile bonds are with those we love the most.  

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review 2017-10-11 01:24
The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
The Other Girl - Erica Spindler

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Officer Miranda Rader is known for her dedication, hard work, honesty, and integrity—she's the steadfast leader in a crisis. But Miranda wasn't always that way. She grew up as a wild small-town girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Working hard to earn the respect of her position as a police officer with the Hammond PD, Miranda has left 'Randi' in the past.

A respected and admired college professor, Richard Stark, has been brutally murdered. Stark's father happens to be the president of the college and he is putting tremendous pressure on the force to find out who killed his son. Miranda is called for duty to investigate the murder and what looks like to be a crime of passion however something isn't sitting right with Miranda. She is shocked not only at the horrific nature of the crime, but to find a newspaper clipping from her past also at the scene.

Then a retired police officer turns up dead—this officer is Clint Wheeler, the policeman that took her statement that terrible night from the newspaper article. On the surface, these murders appear unrelated, but they have one commonality, Miranda.

Miranda becomes further involved when her fingerprints are found at the scene from the first murder. Everything she has worked so hard for is in jeopardy as her character is questioned. Is she being set up? Is this related to what happened to her all those years ago? Relationships are tested, truths become lies, and evidence tainted. Will Miranda have to reinvent herself again, this time proving once and for all that she is innocent?

The story starts off strong, there is a nice hook, but it deflates quickly. There were too many conveniences in the plot and this could have been avoided if the back story or side plots were fleshed out. For a cop, Miranda is a little daft—she misses a lot of clues that are obvious to the reader. I didn't find it overly psychological in nature, and the story was lacking originally and a good twist. That being said, this was still an enjoyable read and I would definitely pick up this author again.

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review 2017-10-07 15:23
First Templar Nation
First Templar Nation: How the Knights Templar Created Europe's First Nation-state - Freddy Silva

by Freddy Silva

 

Non-Fiction

 

This is a historical record of the rise of the Knights Templar, but the author tells us in his opening notes that he writes it in the form of a novel to make it more engaging than many historical accounts tend to be, and in this he largely succeeds, though it sometimes slips into academic treatise. Even then it holds interest. It gives a detailed history of a time before we had the European countries as we know them today, when they were small duchies that would eventually form the nations of Europe.

 

It is well researched and provides maps of the European continent as it was in the year 1080 A.D., when the Holy Roman Empire covered much of the land. One of them is a close-up of the county of Portucale, which will become the country of Portugal as a result of the history about to be told. This history begins with a decree from Pope Urban II in late 11th century that gathers various factions of rabble together and calls them Holy Knights, then sends them off to do a land grab in the Arabic countries because Christians believe certain locations to be theirs by God's will.

 

There is more detail to the political situation with Turks killing pilgrims and access to sacred sites beset by Bedouin raiders as well as payments demanded since 1065. In just the first couple of chapters, the causes and reasoning behind the Crusades becomes clear and is told in a way that holds interest.

 

The book is professionally notated and would make a great reference source for anyone looking for information on the rise and background of the Templars or the history behind the Crusades. I personally found it fascinating and an enjoyable way to increase my knowledge of this area of history.

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review 2017-10-01 20:38
Look For Her by Emily Winslow
Look For Her - Emily Winslow

A special thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The fourth in a series, Winslow is getting better with each book.  Told from various points of view in first person narrative, this case is about a cold case of a beautiful missing girl from a small English village.

In 1976, Annalise Wood, a teenage girl disappears on her way home from school.  Her body was later discovered, the person responsible for the crime was never found.  Decades later, Annalise is a celebrity of sorts to the small town and for one woman especially.  Named after the dead girl, Annalise Williams believes that sharing the same name has bonded her to the dead girl.

DNA linked to the Annalise murder surfaces and investigator Morris Keene enlists the help of his former partner, Chloe Frohmann to finally solve the mystery and bring closure to the residents of Lilling.  As the investigation progresses, more questions arise rather than answers, the body that was perceived to be the missing girl may be someone else and that a recent drowning also has connections to the cold case.

The partnership between Keene and Frohmann is what great detective series are made of.  These characters are flawed, but endearing, and just so likeable.  The perspective of Dr. Laurie Ambrose added to the story giving it more of an edge and pushing it more into the psychological thriller genre.

My only criticism is how Winslow ties up some of the storyline.  Again, her downfall is linking too many of the supporting cast—it feels a little forced and sometimes convenient.

Finally, finally the marketing team at William Morrow has stopped using Donna Tartt to advertise these books.  

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