The Retreat

The RetreatThe Retreat by Mark Edwards
Published by Thomas & Mercer on May 10th 2018
Pages: 335
ISBN: 1477805176
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three-half-stars
Two years ago, Julia’s life changed forever. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughters life (they believed their daughter fell in the river when they weren’t looking). Now Julia has converted their home into a writer’s retreat. She buried her husband two years ago, but her daughter’s body was never found. She clings to the belief that her daughter is still alive as her body was never found.

Lucas is one of her first guests at the retreat. He is a horror novelist who becomes intrigued with Julia and her missing daughter. He hires a private investigator to try and help him determine what happened to Julia’s daughter and are there any clues which the local police failed to notice.

Soon strange things start occurring at the writer’s retreat. Lucas hears rumors that the home is haunted and when he begins to hear singing at night, he wonders if the rumors are true. Other guests notice strange things as well and begin to wonder if they should be afraid of the things that go bump in the night.

This book started strong for me, then I lost a little interest and then things picked up again. So, if you feel a little lag after the first 20 percent of the book, hang in there, things do get interesting! One thing I enjoyed is the fact that I could not figure this book out. Is this a haunted house? Is this a ghost story? Was there a kidnapping? Is Julia crazy? Has the entire town lost their minds over the Urban legend they have been scaring each other and their children with over the years? This book has a creepy and eerie vibe and leaves the reader with a lot of questions until the end.

The highlight of this book for me was that I could not figure out what was going one and when I thought I had things figured out close to the ending, the Author threw in a little curve ball to keep things interesting.

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

three-half-stars

The Butterfly Garden

The Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Published by Thomas & Mercer on June 1st 2016
Pages: 288
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four-half-stars

Holy Hell! If the books “Kiss the girls” and “The Silence of the lambs” had a baby – it would be this book!!!

Dark, Disturbing, Demented,Damaged and Deranged. This book is not for everyone..but it was for me. I loved this creepy sick book. So good!!!

This book begins as FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are interviewing a survivor – a “butterfly” set free from captivity. The young woman they are interviewing is known as Maya. She is one of the survivors from a serial kidnapper/rapists/serial killer. As Maya begins to tell her story, the FBI agents learn more about the man known as “The Gardener” who kidnaps young women and tattoos butterfly wings on their backs before raping them and keeping them captive in his Garden. These women must follow the rules if they are to survive for a time in the Garden. They are kept until the age of 21 and then…..the reader must read the book to find out what happens to them.

The Gardener has been kidnapping teenagers for decades and keeping his precious “butterflies” in his garden. He strips them of their identity by renaming them. Talking about who they were before is frowned upon. The Gardener is obsessed with keeping them and preserving them to keep with him forever. The “butterflies are there to look pretty and fulfill his sexual needs. He also allows his sadistic son to “visit” the butterflies and terrorize them.

As Maya slowly tells her tale, the FBI (and the reader) learns about the horrific life of the women. Taken, marked and stripped of their identities, how will the surviving victims live a normal life after what they have survived. What dark secrets can they tell? This book goes back and forth from the present day investigation to the time when Maya was taken. These changes in time are flawless and flow so easily. There are no confusing time change/POV parts.

True, this book is not for everyone – but it is insanely captivating. I devoured this book. This book grabbed my attention instantly and never let go of it. Part of what was so good was Maya herself. She was an enigma. She is mysterious, sarcastic, wise, brave, strong, and smart. She is not their typical victim. She has a sad past which has made her cynical, strong and brave. She was the perfect narrator. As she begins to open up, the FBI agents wonder… “What isn’t she telling us?” and “is there more to this than meets the eye?”

If I haven’t said it..I thought this book was fantastic! Again, it is not a book for everyone. Horrible things happen to the women. I worked for years with serial killers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters as a forensic therapist and I thought the Gardener was perfectly painted. I loved the different personalities of the women and particularly liked how they formed friendships and supported each other. This is a tale of pure evil, but it is also a tale of resilience, strength, friendship and strength. I liked how even though he took them from their lives, robbed them of their names, marked their bodies and kept them against their will, and yet, they kept their personalities intact.

I feel like I could go on and on and on. This book was the perfect blend of beauty and ugliness. I highly recommend it. It was an engrossing page turner for me!

four-half-stars

Good Behavior

Good BehaviorGood Behavior by Blake Crouch
Published by Thomas & Mercer on November 15th 2016
Pages: 288
ISBN: 1503940497
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four-stars

Received from the Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blake Crouch does not disappoint. Good behavior is actually three Novellas: The Pain of Others, Sunset Key, and The Grab. But this book is not just a combination of these three Novellas. This book is about the writing process and the new show coming out called “Good Behavior” Blake Crouch writes about his character Letty, collaborating with Chad Hodge, co-writing the script for the television show and was their collaborative process.

The Pain of others begins with Letty starting anew after her incarceration. She no longer has custody of her young child and has a on again off again drug problem. She is also a thief. She is currently working a hotel, entering hotel rooms in order to steal from the occupants when an occupant comes back early and she hears about an upcoming crime. At what point does a criminal herself draw the line? Letty has found hers and decides to intervene. But she learns maybe sticking your nose in other people’s business may not be the best solution.

In Sunset Key, we see Letty has fallen apart, she is using and has not eaten in days. She is given an opportunity to make some money. In order to do so, she needs to get herself together and literally and figuratively clean up her act. She is hired to spend time with a wealthy man who is scheduled to report to jail the next day. She is supposed to rob him and meet her handler at a rendezvous point. But what happens when she is double crossed and the tables have turned on her. This, by the way, was my favorite of the Novellas. I also really liked how Crouch shared how he came up with the story.

In the Grab, Letty has decided to go visit her son on the west coast. While traveling across county, she is approached about joining a team that has plans to pull off a casino heist. She decides to join them and make some money before traveling on to see her son. While in Las Vegas, she sees her drug counselor who appears to have hit rock bottom himself. She finds herself trying to help him as he has helped her while participating in the heist. Once again this is a story where Letty learns that not everyone is as they seem, double crosses happen and allegiances are made.

This is a very fast based book to read as it contains novellas. All are full of action and dialogue which makes the stories fast paced. I enjoyed them. This is a perfect introduction to the character of Letty and a lead in to the television show. It is also nice to read Crouch’s thoughts on his character, how he writes, where he gets ideas and what goes into writing a script.

This book also serves as a nice introduction to Blake Crouch’s writing for those who have not read a Blake Crouch book (btw shame on your for not reading Crouch before!). This is not a typical Blake Crouch book but once again allows his storytelling to shine.

four-stars

Livia Lone

Livia LoneLivia Lone by Barry Eisler
Published by Thomas & Mercer on October 25th 2016
Pages: 358
ISBN: 1503939669
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four-stars

Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Barry Eisler is an Author who does not disappoint. I have been a fan since I read his first book about John Rain. When reading an Eisler book, one can always count on a few things: complex interesting characters, in depth fight scenes, some violence and my favorite: strong female characters.

Labee (Livia) and her younger sister, Nason, grew up in the hills of Thailand. They came from a poor family and Labee was always on the lookout for things to eat in order to help her and her younger sister survive. One day Labee and Nason were playing in front of the family hut when their lives changed forever. Soon a van pulled up and three men stepped out and took Livia and her sister while her parents watched from the doorway of their hut. Scared and frightened, they soon learned that other children had been taken as well. Why had their parents not stopped the men that grabbed them? Where were they being taken? Sadly, Labee and her sister had been sold to human traffickers by their own parents. Labee, who has always looked out for her younger sister, tries to keep her and her younger sister safe as they and other children are kept captive by the traffickers. Soon it becomes evident that no matter what she does to try and keep her sister safe, even at her own expense, she learns that a little girl is not match to the men who have taken them. Both girls suffer sexual abuse at the hands of the men before becoming separated. Soon Labee finds herself in American being “rescued”.

Labee is taken in by a prominent family who change her name to Livia. She is promised that her new “father” will try to find her sister if she obeys and does as he asks. One nightmare turns into another for her. The only real break for her is learning martial arts from her friend and her friend’s father. She excels at this and makes friends in the process.

Later in life she becomes a sex crimes police officer in Seattle. She works hard to bring rapists and sex offenders to justice. The entire time she is desperately trying to find information on her younger sister. She has so many questions and hunts down the men who took them so long ago. She soon discovers a conspiracy and as she puts the pieces together, she discovers family secrets and the truth of how and why she and her sister were taken so long ago.

Labee/Livia is a very strong female character. She is willing to do whatever it takes to find her sister and bring their abductors to justice. She is able to take what has happened to her and turn it into a strength. She is brave, mentally and physically strong and cunning.

Eisler writes characters who operate above/beyond/outside the law. He has the ability to write about an Assassin (John Rain) and have us cheer for that character. Who hasn’t read the John Rain books and enjoyed Dox? Characters who are so likable yet live by their own code. Labee/Livia is no different. Although a police officer it is not enough to arrest those who harmed her, she wants vengeance and we root for her. We, the reader, want her to have that vengeance. I think it is a rare gift for an Author to be able to write a character who can be likable yet do unlikable things.

This is a dark gritty tale. Eisler delivers another great book that will not disappoint his fans. Be warned this book is full of sexual depravity, abuse and violence. It deals with difficult subject matter which some may find to difficult to read. But this is a worthwhile and enjoyable read. Eisler always delivers and never disappoints.

four-stars

Wayward

WaywardWayward (Wayward Pines, #2) by Blake Crouch
Published by Thomas & Mercer on September 17th 2013
Pages: 298
ISBN: 1477808701
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four-stars

Another great one by Blake Crouch. WE are left with a cliff hanger. What will happen with the gate being open? What will Ethan do to save his family and the residents of Wayward Pines? I really liked the arc with Tobias/Adam and Teresa. The survival aspect of Tobias outside of the fence/wall. What were the kids being taught at school? Will Tobias make it back to Wayward Pines? What will his reception be? So many questions…. Looking forward to reading the next book!

four-stars

The God’s Eye View

The God’s Eye ViewThe God's Eye View by Barry Eisler
Published by Thomas & Mercer on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 374
ISBN: 1503949613
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four-stars

Received from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review.

Barry Eisler does not disappoint in his latest book, The God’s Eye View.

Evelyn “Evie” Gallagher is a computer analyst working for the NSA. While doing her job of monitoring cameras around the world and filtering images through a facial recognition system, she see something that she should not see. She begins to question deaths of journalists and her tie to them as well as the motives of the Director of the NSA. Once she questions the director, he then in turn, has her under surveillance.

Theodore Anders, Director of the NSA has a mission to monitor communications around the world in order to keep America safe. In order to keep American safe, he often relies on a sadist bomb maker named Delgado and a Deaf Assassin named Manus. Anders is an example of how Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.

All of these Characters and more collide in “The God’s Eye View” to weave a tale of intrigue, whistle blowing, suspense, romance, political scheming, danger, and excitement. While reading this book, I could not help but think of Eisler’s other books; specifically the John Rain series. Once again, Eisler has been able to create an Assassin who is likable, damaged, and intriguing. This is where Eisler shines. Creating a Character that normally we would not feel for, and yet we do. He does this is such a smooth and wonderful fashion. Giving us a glimpse into his abusive childhood. Showing that although a ruthless killer, he can also be conflicted and compassionate.

Another thing Eisler is good at…taking a subject such as the NSA, political bureaucracy and making it fun to read. He doesn’t dumb down anything. He is a very intelligent writer who is able to tell his political tale in a succinct manner.

I really enjoyed this book. I think it has something for everyone. It is wonderfully written with well thought out characters. The story was fantastic. Another fantastic book by Eisler.

four-stars