Latest Reviews

city of the lost
the nightingale kristin hannah
a murder in time
marriage material
dark dark wood

Pirate Vishnu + Quicksand – Gigi Pandian

pirate vishnuTitle: Pirate Vishnu (Jaya Jones Book #2) and Quicksand (Jaya Jones Book #3)
Author: Gigi Pandian
ISBN: 9781938383977
Pages: 306
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Henery Press
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publicist

Summary

In the second novel in the Jaya Jones treasure hunt series, Pirate Vishnu, Jaya must discover the truth about one of her ancestors—did he die in the United States, as her family has believed for so many years, or did he become a pirate, with the key to a treasure? In Quicksand, the third and most recent novel, Jaya receives a note from her old flame Lane asking her to meet him in Paris—but once she arrives, she realizes that more is going on than appears and Lane’s past has caught up with him.

Review

I love adventure and treasure-hunt type novels, so when I discovered that Gigi Pandian was writing this type of series with a half-Indian main character, I was incredibly excited. The Jaya Jones mysteries (which start with Artifact) are smart, fun, and engrossing—it’s difficult to not read these in one sitting.

Pandian did an excellent job setting up the characters and their dynamics in Artifact, but she’s not afraid to play around with relationships in her later novels. These characters are fluid, developing and growing as the series progresses—notice I said characters, plural. One of the great things about this series is how much time and effort Pandian spends on the secondary characters. The reader gets to know Jaya very well, but it’s the supporting cast that make these books colorful and fun.

Pirate Vishnu and Quicksand take the reader on an armchair journey, and Pandian excellently writes these different places. These novels aren’t lacking for atmosphere, and the author pays close attention to details, clearly intent on creating a rich reading experience. The plots move at a brisk pace, and there are enough twists and turns to satisfy discerning readers. These books are fun, adventurous, history-filled romps, and I hope there are many, many more of them to come.

Other books by Gigi Pandian:

Artifact

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Book Review: City of the Lost – Kelley Armstrong

city of the lostTitle: City of the Lost
Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 9781250092144
Pages: 416
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher

Summary

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret in her past that she’d like to make sure stays hidden. But when her past catches up with her, and that secret threatens to explode,  she knows that she has to run. The question is where? When Diana, Casey’s best friend who’s also escaping a dark past, hears about a small town in the middle of nowhere that people can go to disappear, she convinces a reluctant Casey that this is the place for them. But when they finally make contact, things aren’t as Casey predicted, and it turns out they have a need for someone experienced with solving murder cases.

Review

When I heard that Kelley Armstrong was penning a new series, I was immediately intrigued. I love the way she writes dark, moody atmospheres, and she is so great with mysteries. I eagerly sat down with City of the Lost and I didn’t come up for air until I’d read the entire thing. It was gripping, with incredibly written characters and central storyline that left me guessing until the very end.

Let me be clear: City of the Lost isn’t exactly a believable novel. If you need your books to mirror reality, if reading about a thing that is utterly implausible causes you to not enjoy that thing, then this is not the book for you. Armstrong is a master at creating atmosphere and really bringing you into her world. You’re not supposed to take the time to think about how believable it is; for the entire novel, I was hooked on the story she was presenting, and I loved every minute of it. Yes, it isn’t exactly realistic, but it’s incredibly fun to read and experience.

I absolutely loved the character of Casey in City of the Lost. She genuinely wants to do the right thing and take care of the people around her; she’s a good person, even if she’s as tough as nails. There’s no doubt that Casey can take care of herself, and she does so very well. But it’s also nice to watch her start depending on and leaning on other people, especially to get through the more difficult times. She can be alone. She can take care of herself. But there is value in being vulnerable to others, and it’s great to watch Casey open herself up to that.

City of the Lost was the exact book I needed to read when I was reading it. I’d just come off a bit of a reading slump and could not find a book that could keep my attention. I wanted so badly to just sit down and be fully absorbed by a book, but nothing was keeping my attention. But then I found City of the Lost and I just was so engrossed; it reminded me of the value of the fictional worlds we find ourselves in and how important that escape is for me. I cannot wait for the next book in this series and to see where Casey finds herself next.

Other books by Kelley Armstrong:

Omens
Visions

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Book Review: The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

the nightingale kristin hannahTitle: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
ISBN: 9780312577223
Pages: 448
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher

Summary

Two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, living in France in the 1930s; Vianne is responsible, caring for her husband, child, and younger sister, while Isabelle is flighty and selfish. But war is on their doorstep and when Vianne’s husband must leave for the front, life changes for the two sisters as they find their place in war-torn France.

Review

I’m not much of a fan of World War II-era novels. It takes a lot to convince me to pick one up; usually, it’s an author I trust not to lead me astray, which was the case with Kristin Hannah. The time period didn’t intrigue me, but I have enjoyed Hannah’s previous novels, and the fact that this was about sisters, a subject I do love? It was enough for me to give it a chance, and I’m so glad I did. The Nightingale drew me in from the very first pages, and I read it breathlessly and eagerly from cover to cover.

Vianne and Isabelle appear so different on the surface in The Nightingale, but they have so much in common that they don’t recognize. It’s the curse of sisters in many ways; you’re more alike than you are different, but often you can’t see those similarities that are right in front of you. Hannah writes them very well; they are each flawed, and they both think they’re weak. But wartime demands things we never would normally expect from ourselves, and it’s interesting to see how they each rise to the challenges before them, and how they succeed and fail in their own ways. The character development in this novel is really excellent.

If I had to pick one word to describe The Nightingale, it would be sweeping. It’s not that it covers a huge length of time (though the novel begins in the near-present and flashes back to reveal what happened and uncover the mystery of the past), but that these two women were heroes. That’s really what this novel is all about; the suffering people deal with in war is extraordinary, but ordinary in that everyone must undergo their own unique form of it. Everyone has an extraordinary story to tell; it’s ordinary people who were the heroes.

If you’re looking for a novel to really suck you in, especially if you’re coming off a reading slump or having difficulty finding something that captures your attention, give The Nightingale a try. Despite its 400+ page length, I read this cover to cover. I couldn’t put it down; I had to know what was going to happen to Vianne and Isabelle, to solve the mystery of the past and find out what was happening in the present. It’s very well done and is just another example of how great a storyteller Kristin Hannah is.

Other books by Kristin Hannah:

Firefly Lane
Home Front
Fly Away
Night Road
Winter Garden

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Book Review: A Murder in Time – Julie McElwain

a murder in timeTitle: A Murder in Time
Author: Julie McElwain
ISBN:9781605989747
Pages: 499
Release Date: April 11, 2016
Publisher: Pegasus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher

Summary

Kendra Donovan might be young, but she’s making a name for herself at the FBI. That is, until something goes horribly wrong on a raid, and Kendra wakes up in the hospital. Set on revenge, Kendra strikes out on her own, determined to bring her own brand of vigilante justice to the person responsible for killing her team members. But just as she’s catching up with her man, something unexplainable happens: Kendra is thrown back in time, to the year 1815. Trapped in a world she doesn’t know or understand, Kendra must figure out how to get home…if a murderer in the past doesn’t find her first.

Review

A Murder in Time is a hard book to summarize, as you might be able to tell from the plot synopsis above; there’s so much going on in this book that it’s hard to do it justice in a few sentences. The bottom line is that the second I heard about this book, I knew it was for me. Lady main character? FBI? Murder? Time travel? This was 100% up my alley, even if I never expected a book combining all these themes. I was a little worried at how McElwain would handle it—if it would be too silly to really be enjoyable—but I shouldn’t have worried. I was hooked on this novel from beginning to end.

The novel starts off a little slow, as the reader gets to know Kendra and her place within the FBI; this is necessary background, but it doesn’t feel as though the story really starts taking off until Kendra sets out on her own. At this point, things start moving at a breakneck pace, and it doesn’t let off much over the course of the book. Kendra’s grappling with being out of her own time, unsure of how or if she’ll get home, trying to fit in, railing against how women are treated in this world, grappling with the class divides…and oh yeah, solving a murder that happens while she’s in the past. There’s a lot going on, and the author juggles it all very well.

You don’t expect a fun murder mystery to be especially thought provoking, and yet A Murder in Time is. By setting the bulk of the novel in the past, McElwain is able to discuss issues of class and feminism, providing a social commentary through Kendra on how much has changed, but more importantly, what hasn’t. The social undertones never get in the way of plot, as the author makes sure they’re such an integral part of Kendra’s character. This novel really does have it all.

The second I finished A Murder in Time, I was immediately on social media asking if there would be a sequel because I fell in love with this world that McElwain created. Kendra is such a great character—capable, smart, funny—but she isn’t perfect. I loved getting to know her, and I hope that we do see that sequel (in development, but no guarantees) soon!

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Book Review: Marriage Material – Sathnam Sanghera

marriage material

Title: Marriage Material Author: Sathnam Sanghera ISBN: 9781609453077 Pages: 336 Release Date: February 16, 2016 Publisher: Europa Editions Genre: Literary Fiction Source: Publisher Summary Arjun has returned home to help his mother out with their family’s convenience store after his father’s unexpected death, but he finds himself in limbo. Arjun’s torn between his identities—British and […]

Continue reading →

Giveaway: INTO THE BLACK by Rowland White

into the black

I haven’t reviewed Into the Black: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Herby Rowland White on my blog because I talked about how much I loved the book (which is about the development of the space shuttle program) on Book Riot. Well, now […]

Continue reading →

In a Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware

dark dark wood

Title: In a Dark, Dark Wood Author: Ruth Ware ISBN: 9781501112331 Pages: 352 Release Date: April 19, 2016 Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press Genre: Psychological Thriller Source: Publisher Summary Leonora doesn’t understand why she’s been invited to her friend Clare’s bachelorette party. After all, they haven’t spoken in years and she certainly wasn’t invited to […]

Continue reading →

Book Review: Our Lady of the Ice – Cassandra Rose Clarke

our lady of ice

Title: Our Lady of the Ice Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke ISBN: 9781481444262 Pages: 432 Release Date: October 27, 2015 Publisher: Saga Press Genre: Science Fiction Source: Publisher Summary Private investigator Eliana Gomez wants nothing more than to escape from Hope City, Antarctica, but she has little hope of being able to afford a ticket out—that […]

Continue reading →
!-- Quantcast Tag -->