Review Rendezvous: 12/1/18


The Color of Lies by C. J. Lyons
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, young adult, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 336
Publish date: November 6th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TCoLHigh school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

First thought: love the cover! Something about the simplicity of the vibrant text on the black speaks to me. Good thing though, the simplicity stops at the cover because this is one book that I definitely enjoyed reading. There are so many good twists and turns!

The story is set in first person, as most YA usually are, but I love the concept of synesthesia thrown in, because you can never really be certain if she is “seeing” the true emotions. Ella has come to depend on the colors a lot, so when a new person who doesn’t show color appears, things are a little different than her norm. Plus this new boy is bringing in ideas about how there might be murder involved, and who’s not up for a good mystery?

Most YA books include a romance, and this is no exception, however it didn’t end up taking over the whole storyline, which I liked. There was enough in the background to still draw me in and yet I liked the investigation being front and center. Overall, definitely recommend!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 11/17/18


Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker
Book stats:
Genre(s): Middle grade, mystery, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 155
Publish date: March 5th, 2019

MB“I only desire your talent…”

Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can’t believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right…
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

Raise your hand if you’re a non-dancer who’s ever thought of how cool, fun, and amazing being a ballerina/tap dancer/etc would be? That would definitely include me, many times over. Even though this book is a middle grade piece with less pages than I normally read, I still did enjoy the story as a whole.

I loved the intricacies of the sibling relationship that was included. It resonated be since I have a younger sister of my own. I do question the fact that Lindsey’s sister is able to attend college at eight years old, even if she is a musical prodigy. But, there will always need to be some suspension of disbelief in stories, so that kind of detail is not a deal breaker.

There also wasn’t much, if any, romance involved, which I thought was good since it is targeted at a younger age group. I’ve read so much YA drenched in cliched love triangles and lover’s spats that I liked following the story of just a main character without romantic interest for once.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 11/10/18


Nick Noelle, Thicker Than Blood by A. R. Baumann
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 268
Publish date: September 10th, 2018
Purchase: Barnes & Noble

NNTTB.jpgSet in the steamy, gritty city of New Orleans in 1971 where the mob ruled, Nick Noelle, a newly retired detective from Houston, returns home to settle his affairs with his dying mother. Already bored with retirement, he stumbles upon an unfolding serial killer case darker and more sinister than any he had known. While visiting his departing mother, he finds a disturbing set of diaries that recorded her tragic life. Horrified by what he reads, he is stricken with guilt, fear, regret and despair which lure him into a pit of self-destruction. As he struggles with addictions to alcohol and gambling in a city that thrives on vices, he is in danger of losing his wife, his mind and worse, his own life.

Since 90% of the TV shows I watch are some form of police/detective procedural, this book definitely looked interesting to me. I did enjoy the twists and turns, even if I did pick up on hints about the ending before I actually finished it.

The main reason I wasn’t super in love with this book, however, had to do with the protagonist. There was just something about Nick that I couldn’t get into his perspective with. Perhaps it was the inclusion of harsher language that put me off, but either way I’d rather have read a similar plot line with a different main character. Also, do take that as a warning about foul language in the book, if that’s the kind of thing you’re not a fan of. I can’t say it was out of place, but there was quite a bit included.

Overall, not a bad book. There was some good worldbuilding and the actual storyline was interesting, but the protagonist kept me from fully enjoying it and rating the book higher.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 7/7/18


An Eye for an Eye by Caroline Fardig
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, suspense
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 322
Publish date: January 23rd, 2018
Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble – Book Depository

EyeEllie Matthews is tired of her fifteen minutes of fame. After consulting on a high-profile murder case a few months ago, she wants nothing more than to fade back into obscurity and resume her life as a mild-mannered college professor. But when a family friend goes missing, Ellie finds herself thrust back into the grisly world of crime scene investigation.

It isn’t long before Ellie’s young friend is found murdered and her death is tied to a previously unsolved case. Based on the cryptic poems left on the victims, the department soon realizes that the killer’s vendetta is against them.

It takes all Ellie has to push her personal feelings aside and partner with Detective Nick Baxter one more time. The duo must stop at nothing to catch a vengeful serial killer before it’s too late.

Potential spoiler warning. This is the second book in the “Ellie Matthews” series. Things discussed in this review may spoil plot lines in the first novel.

I haven’t read a non-young adult book in quite a while it feels like, so it was interesting to take a crack at this one. Technically speaking I fall into the target audience for the semi-new genre “new adult”, which encompasses high school grads through their early adult life. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy an actual adult mystery every once in a while. I confess to being used to YA, but the break is quite nice.

Ellie clearly wants nothing but to get back to her regular life in this particular book. She was convinced to assist on a previous case, dragging her criminologist skills out of the attic, but has a strong desire to leave that in the past and just be the professor she has become. Unfortunately, her friend is taken and later murdered, which forces Ellie back into the case.

I sensed some very Sherlock-esque skills in the detective work, and I do quite like mysteries so I enjoyed this one. Having a strong female character in the lead of a crime novel was a nice twist, reminds me of books like Riley Sager’s Final Girls. Technically speaking you could read this book as some kind of stand alone, but reading the first book before this one helps flesh out the characters and their past interactions so much more.

This book can get fairly grisly, and there are religious symbolisms involved, so have that in mind before you proceed. There’s also a fair amount of criminology terms, but honestly I didn’t find them too distracting or difficult to process. It definitely help build the world and give it a good grounding in reality.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 4/21/18


The Rushing of the Brook by Kansas Bradbury
Book stats:
Genre(s): Thriller, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 276
Publish date: July 5th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TRotBIt’s 1987, and a dark shadow is about to fall upon the city of Sifton and its residents. Hayward Barry and his best friends—Joe, Davey, and Pete—are typical fifth- and sixth-grade boys, hanging out after school and getting into trouble. However, powerful urges and deep feelings have begun to grow in the boys as they approach young adulthood; for Hayward, this is his affection for Beth, a girl in his class who he fears will be swept away by another boy named Daniel. For Pete, it is a volatile temper and the desire to always get his way. When Davey is given something that Pete wants, it sets off a disastrous chain of events that strips them all of their childhood, drowning their innocence to the sound of a rushing brook—a sound none of them will forget.

As misery and happenstance would have it, the day tragedy strikes Hayward and his friends, a murderous monster awakes from hibernation in a town miles away. Getting into a stolen vehicle with bloody clothes and an unspeakable lust for violence, the nameless man drives towards Sifton, wreaking destruction and horror along the way. While his story won’t collide with the boys’ lives until seventeen years later—when they have all grown up—this man will reopen old wounds and awaken the trauma that has never healed. Hayward, now a failed artist and reluctant police officer, is left to pick up the pieces of a shattered community and solve the mystery of the event that has come to dominate his life.

One of the first things that interested me in this book was the split setting. One half is when the boys are young, and then we move into the future (17 years later, to be specific) to see how this has affected them later in life. I will admit, it is a bit of a shorter book, or maybe that’s just because of the different settings that it seems shorter.

If you’re a fan of suspense and murder and all that jazz, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. Bradbury does a good job of fleshing out the characters and showing real change from their kid lives to their adult personas. He also contrasts the horror and suspense with family and friends and other relationships, which give the tale a grounding that some other stories in the same genre miss. It’s because we have the ability to connect to the characters in those moments that we can then go on to let ourselves believe in the other, more extreme circumstances.

I will admit, this isn’t usually the type of book I go after, but I was pleasantly surprised. I have read a few good mystery/horror types, and this one deserves a place beside them. It was slightly hard for me to get into the heads of the characters as they are quite different from myself, but Bradbury writes them in a way to still be relatable. Also, there is a bit of language, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about letting younger readers take a crack at it.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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