Book Review | Northwood by Maryse Meijer

northwood cover.jpgImagine an artist in the woods, someone who has gone to the woods for a kind of social isolation. She rents a cabin from a woodcutter and meets an older married man at a bar. He frequents her cabin and the relationship they develop is certainly not above board. More than sex, she craves the violence he delivers, aches with pleasure as she allows herself to be violated. This is Northwood, a flowing combination of poetry and prose, a story of disjointed nature where what is left unsaid may be scarier than the text itself.

While some have categorized this piece as horror, it is more so simply haunting. Meijer paints a very clear picture with her words. The novella is a fast read, but the story will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading. Sensitive readers may not enjoy the directness, but the adult topics are handled in a mature manner. There may be holds at your local library since this title was just released in November.

*Fans of Northwood, may enjoy Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent (2018).

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Book Review | Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

leave no trace cover.jpgA psychological thriller, Leave No Trace details the story of two traumatized young adults. Maya is in her early 20’s and works at a mental health facility. Upon emerging from the Boundary Waters after having been missing for ten years, 19 year old Lucas is committed to said facility. Maya and Lucas begin with rocky interactions, but forge a connection that allows them to help one another. As the book progresses, they deal with some dark secrets from their pasts.

This is a solidly average novel that begins with a bang and continues to simmer throughout. There was nothing spectacular in this book. Despite the characters dealing with difficult situations, the text did not evoke much emotion. The novel can be read quickly and may appeal to those who consider living off the grid or have a particular interest in the Boundary Waters. There may be holds at your local library since this title was just released in September.

*Fans of Leave No Trace, may enjoy Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent (2018).

Book Review | The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

the unforgotten book cover.jpgAt 15 years of age, Betty is old enough to take care of her manic mother when she drinks herself into a stupor, rendering her unable to run the bed and breakfast she manages. Betty is strong and takes on her mothers duties, cooking for and serving the boarders. When a string of gruesome murders begins in their small Cornish town, it brings a slew of reporters, one with whom Betty falls in love. Fifteen though, isn’t quite old enough for him not to be in danger of a prison sentence for being her lover, even if Betty is the sole witness to the Cornish Cleaver’s latest act.

The Unforgotten is a good read. The story alternates between Betty’s teen years in the 1950’s and the present, 50 years later. This choice works well and serves to involve the reader mentally. In addition to having plotted a mysterious psychological thriller, Powell has also penned a love story here. Despite thinking I knew what was coming, the final twists were certainly unexpected. This book would be great for fans of suspense who enjoy a bit of heartbreak. Check it out from a library near you!

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

*Fans of The Unforgotten, may enjoy Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent (2018).

Book Review | Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St.Vincent

ways to hide in winter cover book.jpgSet in the Appalachians of Pennsylvania, Ways to Hide in Winter is a slow burn, psychological thriller. Kathleen, a widow in her late 20’s works up a mountain at a state park’s general store. As sole shopkeep, she sees to the needs of hikers in summer and hunters in the off season, brewing coffee, flipping burgers and selling canned goods. When a stranger from afar appears at the hostel next door, her curiosity is piqued and the two develop a friendship of sorts. As the title suggests, they both have some dark secrets in their past that they’re choosing to confront at a later time.

Immediately, the writing style of this book grabbed me. St.Vincent’s style is clear without being simplistic and her sentences provide imagery giving life to a place very far from regular urbanity. This is a successful novel that draws the reader in and continues to simmer throughout. It may be especially appealing to those who have thought of abandoning their regular lives for a more stark and natural existence, further away from people. There may be holds at your local  library  since this title was just released in November, but it’s worth the wait.

*Fans of Ways to Hide in Winter, may enjoy I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (2016).

Book Review | Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

our kind of cruelty cover.jpgAfter dating for nearly a decade, Mike and Verity have broken up and Verity has moved on. Mike’s poor decisions while living abroad are no longer relevant as the date of her marriage to Angus approaches. Mike is still trying to win Verity back while working a high paying job to afford her the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Their communication, though, seems stilted and it’s not easy to decide the true meaning of things said and emotions felt.

Our Kind of Cruelty is a good read. Mike’s voice is inviting and catchy from the beginning. The story flows quite quickly and as small cracks appear in Mike’s character, the reader is invited to question his narrative. This choice works well and serves to involve the reader mentally. While the tension steadily builds in the first half of the novel, I found the second half to be less impressive. I felt as though I was waiting for a final twist that never came, which ultimately left me disappointed. Overall though, an entertaining piece. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

*Fans of Our Kind of Cruelty, may enjoy Watch Me by Jody Gehrman (2018).

Book Review | Watch Me by Jody Gehrman

watch me cover.jpgAt a small college in Ohio, Professor Kate Youngblood leads a writer’s workshop. Her student, Sam, creates a tension that makes her feel alive, but also sets off inner warning signals. As relations with a student are forbidden, Kate struggles to maintain ethical behavior. Sam quickly insinuates himself in Kate’s personal life and after a body turns up, she questions which warning sign will be enough to force her to extract Sam for good.

Watch Me is a good read. The book is inviting from the first chapter. Chapters alternate narrator between Kate and Sam, with Sam writing as if he is speaking to Kate using the second person. This stylistic choice works well. The writing itself was enjoyable, with certain sentences adroitly crafted. The story progresses quickly and tension builds. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of Watch Me, may be interested in The Book of You by Claire Kendal (2014).

Book Review | Shadow Man by Alan Drew

shadow man cover.jpgIt’s the mid 1980’s and there is a serial killer in the fancy planned communities just south of Los Angeles. The Night Prowler sneaks in through an unlocked door or cuts through the screen to find a victim he can overpower and then strangles her with his bare hands. Residents are instructed to keep their windows locked while the body count rises. Meanwhile, a high schooler is found dead in a field just outside town. The bullet hole means the MO is not a match for the serial, but is it a suicide? It seems darkness is hiding in more than one place in this community.

Shadow Man was definitely a good read. The story held my interest from beginning to end. The small cast of characters was easy to keep straight and I appreciated the way Drew alternated focus between the various plot lines and character perceptions. Though not as suspenseful as I had expected, there was appreciable tension. Highly recommended for fans of noir crime or literary crime fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.