Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Snow Woman (Maria Kallio #4) by Leena Lehtolainen

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I 've never read anything of Finnish literature, and I decided to give it a try. Classical detective story is a perfect read for a mystery lover like me. I've found out that this is part four of the series, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. The main character, Maria Kallio, detective in Espoo Police, is trying to solve a murder of a woman who runs a shelter for abused women. There, Maria finds herself among women who ran from their abusive husbands and families. Many of the women come from a small Finnish population who consider everything as God's will and abortion as grief even if the life of the mother is in danger. There are couple of very emotional stories of the women who escaped the emotional and physical abuse of the ones who suppose to love them most. In the very same time, Maria finds out that she is pregnant, so there is also her doubt about having children or not. A criminal who was imprisoned by Maria, has escaped and plans his revenge. 

There is very little in the story about the actual murder. It is more about the women, about pregnancy and abortion, about emotional abuse. Not too many twists, just classic solving the crime via interviews and interrogations. I've found too much usage of names, maybe it is just my opinion because I'm not familiar with Finnish names, but too much information overloaded me and from time to time it was hard for me to follow the case. The ending didn't blow me away, just came naturally. 

Overall, Maria Kallio is an interesting main character, a woman detective, and I am looking for the other parts of the series to read. Pregnancy and abortion are not my type of read, but solving a crime definitely is.

My opinion: 3 / 5.

Book Review: The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2) by Graeme Simsion

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Don Tillman is back. The guy who finds it very difficult to make friends, who has schedule and plan for everything, now is married, moved across the globe and is going to be a father. Yes, you've heard me right. Don Tillman is going to be a dad. But he wouldn't be himself, if he hasn't start a plan. A project. A baby under development. 

The previous book is one of my favorite books and I recommend it to anyone who reads. When I saw the second book, I just couldn't wait to start reading. I absolutely adore the main character. Don Tillman is so unique, one of a kind, you just can not not to love him. Receiving the great news, he starts to prepare for the role "father of the year". He isn't the greatest role model for a father but he does his best. In the most unique way. His way. 

Rosie as a character this time is really annoying, according to me. I really liked her in the previous book, but this time she was getting on my nerves so many times. Her attitude was really annoying, you can't blame the hormones for everything. 

Gene, Don's best and only friend is here too. The man is getting old, the wife left him, the children don't speak to him, he is not the ladies'man anymore. But his friend Don is here to help him and offer a place for stay even if it means constant fights with Rosie. But friendship is friendship.

Overall, I enjoyed Don's new life, new country, new family life. There are few new characters who just add more fun to the whole story. But the main character, Don, is just one of a kind. I don't mind to read at least ten books with him as a main character. This sequel is fun and entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone. 

My opinion: 4 / 5.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review : Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Wow! This story left me totally speechless. Not the crime book as I am used to, but its pages pulled me into one of the most addictive stories I've ever read. You won't see the blood , but it is there all the time right in front of your nose.

The story centers around Maud, an old lady who suffers from dementia. She can't remember what day is it, how old she is, she often mistakes her granddaughter with her daughter. She is confused most of the time, but in those moments when her mind is clear, she knows one thing: her friend Elizabeth is missing! Elizabeth is not at home, she rarely leaves her house because of her poor sight, her son is not very kind and takes things out of the house. Unfortunately for Maud, no one believes her. Who would believe an old senile lady? What happened to Elizabeth?

In the very same time, the story goes back in time during the WWII when Maud was a young girl. She had a older sister, Sukey, who disappeared soon after she was married. In the time of smuggling and couponing, Sukey and her husband suddenly disappeared. Her husband Frank, showed up couple of weeks later, but not her. No phone call, no letter, no nothing. Maud's parents were devastated, they never stopped searching. Maud never stopped searching.

You might ask how these two stories are connected? Oh, trust me, they are. As the story goes, the ending left me literally with my mouth open. I would never ever think that this is a debut novel. The author has  a lot of courage to take a character like Maud and create a web of events that is so confusing but also, so in order in the same time.

Maud is so unique character. She is confused most of the time, but every little memory of hers, every little sparkle in her brain means something. She might look like she doesn't remember anything, but when she does, everything makes sense. She is good people's  reader, she can recognize the good and the bad behind the face. For ordinary people, she is just an old senile lady, but behind that old wrinkled skin there is a true warrior who never gives up and nothing can stop her from achieving her goals, because her friend Elizabeth is missing!

No wonder that this is one of top ten crime books of 2014. This brave author is an amazing storyteller that brings the image of the past and incorporates it in the presence. She shows the life of the people suffering from dementia, and shows everyday problems that these people and their families have to cope with. But most of it, she writes one of the best crime stories I've ever read without spilling one single drop of blood.

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: The City of Blood by Frédérique Molay

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Paris today. There is an excavation on the place formerly known as Parisian slaughterhouse, also called The City of Blood. Thirty years earlier, Samuel Cassian, a major performance artist, made an extraordinary piece of art. He held a banquet at the place and asked each guest to bring something that was later buried. Now, thirty years later, all those things have to be dug up. But what no one expected is the finding of a skeleton, buried thirty years earlier, possibly in the same time with all those pieces of forks and dishes. To make things worse, thirty years earlier, the son of Samuel Cassian, went missing. Is this his body? Is it possible that the artist himself buried his own son? What's more weird is that the body remains show marks connected with modern day murders done by "The Paris Butcher".

The detective Nico Sirsky works on the case. He and his crew are working on the case "The Paris Butcher". The murderer leaves his victims with a specific mark, a piece of flesh on the shoulder is cut off. But these are modern day murders. How come a thirty-years-old skeleton has the very same mark? Is this the first murder? Is this where it all started?

To solve a crime from the present, Nico has to go back in time thirty years ago. All the visitors at the banquet are now suspects. In the very same time, he worries to death about his mother who suffers a heart attack and needs a surgery that she might not survive.

Comparing with the previous book, "Crossing the Line", the investigation in this story is more intriguing. There is more tension, more turn-overs. I enjoyed every single page. Nico is a great character, very tough when it comes for solving crimes. The author also shows his soft side by including his mother as a character and presenting Nico as a good son. Even if it is part three of the series, this book can easily stand alone. Well written, set up in a unusual surrounding, The City of Blood is a real refreshment for all those crime-fiction lovers who want to try something different. Totally recommended. 

My opinion: 4.5 / 5.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Five years ago, a group of people hungry for adventure goes on a safari trip in Africa. But soon what seems to be an exotic trip becomes the worst nightmare. People die. People disappear, in the night, in the bushes. No one knows what is going on.

Five years later, in US, police finds a human body hanging from a tree. That person worked as a taxidermist and ended like the animals he was working with. When a second body appears, the dynamic duo Rizzoli and Isles figures out that this is more than just a homicide, it is a serial killer we're talking about. The taxidermist seems that has no family. His only son disappeared five years ago in Africa.

I've been Rizzoli & Isles fan since forever. They are my favorite couple for solving crimes. What I like here is not just the puzzle that has to be solved and the tension that goes with it, but also showing both Rizzoli and Isles as human beings with ups and downs in their personal lives. Rizzoli has a daughter and husband and starts to learn that family comes first. Isles learns how to bond by taking care for one of the cats of the deceased victim. She also questions her relationship with her mother who is in prison. Do your ancestors define who you are? Coping with personal issues in their private lives, both Rizzoli and Isles have a crime to solve. A crime that takes them to a journey in the past of the victims' lives, takes them to the deepest jungles of Africa and shows them the darkest corners of the human mind. The story goes back in time for five years showing an African adventure seen from someone else's point of view. Then goes back to present where the taxidermist has been killed. The connection, well, you're have to read the book. Totally gripping, fulfilled with nail-biting moments and so many turn-overs, this read makes you ask yourself who is the biggest predator in the world. Hint: it is not an animal!

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson

Cristine's life is everything but ordinary. Every single day is a blank page for her. She suffers from amnesia and every morning she wakes up not remembering the last twenty years of her life. There is a diary that she writes every day, and she re-reads it every other day. But the most confusing is the sentence in the diary: Don't trust Ben. Ben is her husband, her loving husband who does everything he can to help her coping with her condition. She sees a psychiatrist who helps her to remember, who calls her every single day to tell her to read her secret diary. With every other day, memories rise from the dark. Is Cristine the person she thinks she is? Is the life she lives real or everything in her life is a lie? Who can she trust?

 Before I Go To Sleep is a complex drama that includes three main characters, Cristine, her husband and her doctor. Every single one of them is full of secrets, everyone has something to hide. Cristine hides her newborn memories, Ben hides the past, and the doctor hides himself from Ben. The three characters are very complex and it was very hard for me to connect with any of them. There is no much action in the story, but every dialogue is fullfilled with tension and doubts. Every time when Christine remembers, there is a question mark about that memory, is it real or is it just a fantasy? Can memories be placed?

I must say that the end really surprised me. I was expecting some turn-over, but I wasn't expecting that end. After so slow-paced drama, it hit me like a rock. The gripping end saved the whole story and that's why I'm giving it higher grade.

 My opinion: 4 / 5.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway : The Gift: A Christmas Miracle by Joanne Clancy

 *Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

When I started reading this story I had some different expectations. I was expecting romance and festive mood but got so much more, a thriller. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The story centers around Julie who is going to be a mother just before Christmas. Is there more amazing gift for Christmas? Her baby boy joins this world so perfect. She even can't stop staring at him all the time. But in the very same time another woman has different plans. After having a miscarriage and suffering a nervous breakdown, all she wants is to be a mother. And she desperately needs a baby. A son. She makes her plans very carefully, gets a false birth certificate, dresses like a nurse and gets to the hospital. There is only one baby boy in the room, Julie's son. What happens next is the mother's worst nightmare. I can't even imagine what is like. A baby is being kidnapped and no one saw anything, no one knows anything. What is going to happen to Julie's son? Where is he? Is he safe? Will she ever see him again and hold him again?

I have only one complaint about this story, too short. It is very well written and has amazing subject for a plot and that's why it deserves many more pages. It is nail-biting story and I wanted to enjoy more. But it is Christmas and it's time for the family so short reads are perfect for avid readers. Everyone's happy. :) But after Christmas, I'll be in search of other books written by this author.

My opinion: 4 / 5.

Thanks to lovely Joanne I have one e-copy to giveaway and this giveaway is open internationally! All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below. Good luck!  xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

*Copy provided by NetGalley*

If you are a fan of short romantic getaways and if you love Christmas (who doesn't?) then you will easy fall in love in this short festive novella. I haven't read the first part, This Summer, but that didn't stop me from enjoying Will and Hadley's love story. The action starts in Will's apartment where Hadley finds another woman. It's not what anyone would think, but adds some spice to the classic romance. As the story goes, Hadley and Will are spending Christmas in a cottage. It is very easy to get into the festive mood with the two of them. Even the snow falls, and the snow fights are very contagious. The novella is well written, there is a different part of the story for every single day, which reminds me of a diary. What to say more and not spoil the whole thing? However, it is lovely short story for a perfect Christmassy getaway.

My opinion : 3.5 / 5

Book Review: The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster

*Copy provided by NetGalley*

Can small trip change the lives of two people? 

Holly and Jack never thought that two guests in their hotel would change their lives forever. Maggie and the coworker and friend Zoe are travelling to London for Christmas, just the two of them. But very soon they discover that the two employees in the hotel, Holly, the concierge, and Jack, the manager, are fancying each other. So, these two women decide to speed up the things and help Holly and Jack to show their true feelings. They organize a bunch of happenings, just to get them together. In the very same time, they both take care for each other, like the best friends do. It's Christmas and love is in the air. It's time for miracles.

The Perfect Christmas is lovely, short, festive read. It has lovely plot and adorable characters. Maggie and Zoe are amazing and I love their honest friendship. The romantic characters here are Jack Frost and Holly. Their names are wise chosen. And both of them are great as characters. But, somehow I felt that this story was unfinished. Not for Holly and Jack, but for Maggie and her husband. At the beginning he behaved really bad with her, and I was expecting a turn-over at the end. Maybe it was just me, but I was expecting another Christmas miracle. Maggie is a character that truly deserves that. Overall, this short story is adorable festive reading, perfect for curling by the fire. 

My opinion: 3,5 / 5.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book review: Whispers of the Dead (David Hunter #3) by Simon Beckett

As a huge fan of mystery and thrillers, I bought this book recently on a book fair . I've never heard of this author before, but after this one, I'm gonna get some more of his books. The story itself kept me awake almost entire night, it was gripping and creepy and unpredictable till the very last page. 

Have you seen the tv show "The Body Farm"? I did couple of years ago and previously had no idea that those places really exist. A body farm is a research facility where human decomposition is studied in a variety of settings in order to use the results for solving crimes, like timing and circumstances of death. I'm mentioning this because the story at the beginning reminded me of this tv show. But as the story continued, it was very different from it, it became a hell-of-a-thriller itself. 

D-r David Hunter is British anthropologist visiting his friend and mentor working on the famous Body Farm in US. But in the meantime, a murder happens under very unusual circumstances. Male body is found naked in a chalet, tortured. D-r Hunter's mentor works on the case and asks him to assist. Another body appears and it becomes obvious that it is serial killer we're talking about, and the chase of cat and mouse begins. But who's the cat, and who plays the role of the mouse?