The Hunger

The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
on March 6th 2018
Pages: 376
ISBN: 0735212511
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four-stars

“Maybe it takes one demon to keep the others away.” He paused. His eyes glistened with tears now. “Lucifer had been an angel first. I always remember that.”

Is it okay to say that I devoured this book?

Seriously, I picked this book up after I had read “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing saga of the Donner party” (It’s wonderful and I highly recommend it.) I was worried that I would not like this book as much. I had read some positive reviews of this book and even Stephen King endorsed it, so I was very excited to start it. But I was also apprehensive as I often find I am not on the bandwagon with hyped books. Plus, would I hold it up to the high standard of “The Indifferent Stars Above”?

The first chapter I was worried. It started a little slow for me. But I kept reading and let me tell you this book has some teeth. Okay bad pun. This book drew me in and showed it has legs and can stand on its own merit. This is a re-telling of the Donner party with a supernatural element involved. The Author mixed history with fiction effortlessly. She gave personalities and back stories to the characters and often I wondered about the survivor’s family members would approve. If this book starts slowly for you – keep with it. It sucks you in and there is not going back!

We all know about the wagon train knows as the Donner party and how they faced tragedy when faced with horrific snow, hunger/starvation, failing mental and physical health. The Author uses some supernatural elements to bring on the creep and bring a little horror to the story. Are they being followed? Is something sinister out there in the dark? Could animals be stalking them? What dangers lies in the dark? What danger lies in the heart of men.

Making the book even more suspenseful is the belief that one among them is a witch, there are secret relationships, deaths and of course, the hardships of the trail itself. There are a lot of characters in this book, but I had no issues keeping track of them. I also liked that the trail and the landscape itself became felt like a character. This book was atmospheric and creepy. There is a feeling of dread throughout this book. Life was hard back then. The trail was hard. Trying to survive on a day to day basis is hard and it makes people hard as well. As the group begins to dwindle in number they begin to wonder, what evil lies in wait for them – is it out there or has it been with them the entire time?

Hitch up your wagons and load your supplies because you are in for a journey along the eerie and riveting pages of this book!

four-stars

The Marsh King’s Daughter

The Marsh King’s DaughterThe Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on June 13th 2017
Pages: 320
ISBN: 0735213003
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four-stars

I love the feeling when I pick up a book that makes me want to sink down into a comfortable chair and read all day. The Marsh King’s Daughter was that book for me. I had heard a lot of hype surrounding this book. I always get frustrated when a book does not live up to it’s hype. Thankfully, I did not get frustrated with this book! I also really liked how the chapters began with Han Christen Anderson’s “The Marsh King’s Daughter” That was a really nice and unexpected touch!

Helena’s is the Marsh King’s daughter. She was born two years into her Mother’s captivity. It is a secret that she keeps in her life. Not even her husband knows about her past. All he knows is that she likes to go off to hunt, to spend time in nature and to be alone. Helena’s secret is that her father kidnapped her Mother and held her captive. That Helena was born in captivity and raised there until she was twelve years old. Her father raised her to be tough, to live off the land, to hunt, to kill, to track and to survive in the harshest of conditions.

When Helena hears that news that her infamous father has escaped from prison, she fears for her two young daughters. She also fears that with his expert survival skills, her father will be next to impossible for the authorities to capture. She believes that she will be the only one who will be able to track him.

What also is a nice and believable touch is the inner turmoil which Helena feels. He is her father and growing up she both idolized and feared him. She loved him. To her, he was her father; to her Mother he was her kidnapper, rapist, and jailer. Helena knows that her father abducted her Mother. She both loathes and loves him. She knows if he had not taken her Mother, that she, Helena would not be alive. But on the other hand, she knows the horrors that her Mother (and she) endured and she detests him for that. She teeters a fine line between love and hate.

Helena’s tail kept me turning the pages. The Marsh King’s Daughter is a thought provoking book. The story shows us Helena’s present day where she has had to learn to live in society, where she has had to learn to trust, to be affectionate with her children, and how to be a productive member of society. We are given glimpses into her past, how she was raised, how she was treated by her father and Mother. I found this book flowed easily between past and present. My only complaint with this book was at times I wanted it to flow a little faster. Hurry up and get to the point if you will. But overall this was a very thought provoking and suspenseful book.

four-stars

Setting Free the Kites

Setting Free the KitesSetting Free the Kites by Alex George
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on February 21st 2017
Pages: 326
ISBN: 0399162100
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four-half-stars

“People go their whole lives without knowing what real friendship looks like, how it feels. But you do.”

Robert Carter is not looking forward to another school year as he begins the 8th grade. He has been bullied by Hollis and knows that this year will not be any different. He has enjoyed his summer off and knows that Hollis will be waiting for him in order to bully him once again. Robert never discloses that he is being bullied to adults in his life. He suffers in silence until, one day, he is literally rescued by Nathan as Hollis has his head in a toilet. Nathan is the new kid at school who enters the bathroom stall to help Robert. Thus, begins their friendship.

The year is 1976 and Robert is the son of an amusement park owner in a coastal town in Maine. He has an older brother with a debilitating illness. His parents are naturally protective and Robert goes through life with caution. Nathan is the son of a fisherman and his wife who spends hours in her study typing on a typewriter. His father is a happy go lucky man who likes to fly kites. Where Robert is cautious, Nathan is carefree, reckless and breaks the rules.

Tragedy strikes for both families and the boys weather the storm together in their own way. This is a coming of age tale set in the 70’s about friendship, loss, tragedy, family, hope, and life. How friendship can change and grow just as a person can change and grow. Children face loss and come to the realization that their parents do not always have the answers and in fact have faults themselves. The parents are pretty much dealing with their own issues and grief to often pay closer attention to their children.

I really enjoyed the story of these two boys who met under not so pleasant circumstances. Nathan and Robert forged a close friendship that changes and grows as they go through adolescence. Years later the reader sees one of these young men, grown and looking back on his friendship with the other.

I thought this book was extremely well written. This is an emotional roller coaster coming of age tale that pulls at the heartstrings. The friendships we make when we are young can have lasting effects and influence on our lives. There is no sweeter friendship than the friendship of youth. Going through so many changes with another person forges a deep and lasting bond. Anyone who has ever had a best friend growing up with relate to these boy’s bond.

Nostalgic, poignant, sad, and hopeful. This book will make you chuckle, smile and cry.

four-half-stars

The Forgotten Girls

The Forgotten GirlsThe Forgotten Girls (Stevens & Windermere, #6) by Owen Laukkanen
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on March 14th 2017
Pages: 368
ISBN: 0399174559
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Received from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

He preys on women. Women who will not be missed. They are runaways, transients, prostitutes, etc. Women, who, once gone are forgotten. He hunts the forgotten girls.

This book opens with a teenager being found murdered. No one is quite sure of her name (her real name), where she comes from or why she was riding the rails. FBI agents Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere stumble upon the case after the murdered teen’s picture is found on a cell phone. How did it get there? Why is a picture of the murder scene showing up on a young man’s cell phone(A man who is not connected with the case.)? As the agents begin to investigate the case, they learn that there is someone else investigating the case as well. Another young teenage girl, Mila, who was a friend of the murdered teenager. Both (the agents and Mila) learn that there is a serial killer riding the High Line train killing women along the way. A killer who seems to blend in, and goes unseen. Riders of the rail have heard of his existence, but local police and the FBI do not know of his existence or his connection to over 25 murders, until the dead teens picture is seen.

We soon learn who the mysterious killing rider is. An ex-Ranger who knows how to survive over rough terrain. His hatred for women is palpable. Both Mila and the agents are tracking him down and both are getting closer and closer to his home base…..

I wont give away this rest. This book is number 6 in the Stevens and Windermere series but it read as a stand alone book for me. I liked the story. Through the telling of the story, the reader learns what is going on in the mind of the serial killer and sees not only the FBI’s investigation, but Mila’s attempts to hunt down her friend’s killer as well.

More than halfway through the book, I thought they had him and the book should be over. I would have been fine with it ending there. But it didn’t end, it kept going and isn’t that the way of police/FBI investigations? Just when you think you’ve got ’em, they slip through your fingers…

As I said, I enjoyed this book but not enough to want to read this book’s predecessors. I think this book is good for those who like serial killer, police/FBI procedural books but without a lot of lot of graphic violence. Yes, there is violence here but it is not told in a graphic manner that you will see in other books. An enjoyable read.

Bone by Bone

Bone by BoneBone By Bone by Carol O'Connell
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on November 3rd 2009
Pages: 463
ISBN: 0425231054
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three-half-stars

In Northern California, two teenage brothers go into the worlds – one returns alive. Twenty years later bones begin arriving on their father’s porch. The surviving brother comes home and tries to solve the case of what happened to his brother along with the local police. I really liked how the author presented several “suspects” and had reasonable back stories as to why that person may have been the murderer. The final reveal at the end was a little anti-climatic for me but I found this to be a very enjoyable read.

three-half-stars

The Ranger

The RangerThe Ranger by Ace Atkins
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on May 1st 2012
Pages: 368
ISBN: 042524749X
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four-stars

Received from Goodreads first reads giveaway.

This is the first book I have read written by Ace Atkins and it will not be my last. Army Ranger Quinn Colson comes home to attend his Uncle’s funeral. He quickly learns that not everything is at it seems. Greed, corruption, violence and drugs have taken over the town. Not believing that his Uncle’s death was a suicide, Quinn makes it his mission to get to the bottom of things.

I really enjoyed this book. The writing and characters were compelling. The book kept my interest until the very end. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

four-stars