Author: John L. DeBoer
Title: The Telltale Tattoo
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, and suspense; Crime
Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: Solstice Publishing (January 30, 2018)
Intelligent, fast-paced, complex
From the very moment I started reading The Telltale Tattoo, I knew that John's writing would captivate me until the very end. The opening scene depicts a tragic story of a young Vietnamese boy whose entire world is ripped apart in the matter of a few minutes. John provides readers with a brief image of what war is like and what it can do to the civilian victims. He also illustrates the evil nature that some humans posses when they are put in positions of power. Through his telling of the first scene, it became clear that John is obviously well informed about the military, given his own history. I really enjoy when authors are able to provide information from their experiences through their fictional writing. His knowledge added a lot of authenticity to The Telltale Tattoo, which made the descriptions and settings jump off the page even more.
As the story unfolds, we are met with a complex web of characters who are all connected and as a reader, we get the opportunity to see the journey from most of their points of view. Providing such a wide array of characters and giving the reader a clear sense of flow through different points of view is a very difficult task. Other books I have read have definitely not succeeded in doing this as much as The Telltale Tattoo. There was never a moment when I felt confused or lost and John did an excellent job at starting each chapter with a clear distinction of the setting and which character we were reading through. Each character was uniquely different and they all added a lot of depth and realism to the story. When I started this book, I could not put it down because I felt connected to the characters, especially Nguyen and his search for justice. There is an overall electric feel to this novel that gives it a fast paced read, but it remains intelligent and thought provoking.
I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a fast-paced read that is expertly written with dynamic characters. There were several moments that had me on the edge of my seat and turning the page as quickly as I could. This binge worthy book will provide you with deception, revenge, and engaging characters all the way to the thrilling end!
A young boy’s life is torn apart in 1973 Vietnam when U.S. soldiers assault his fishing village, mistakenly thinking it’s a Viet Cong base. The scary image of a tattoo on the arm of one of the soldiers haunts Nguyen Chinh over the years as he rises to a position of status and wealth. Now he has the means to finally put his nightmares to rest. Vincent Taggart, the soldier with that tattoo, has also become a successful businessman. But he has problems that could destroy everything he’s accumulated. His company has run afoul of the law, and he knows it will only be a matter of time before the feds come after him; his wife knows he’s been cheating on her; and an organized crime boss, with whom he’s had dealings over the years, will likely seek revenge when he discovers Taggart’s treachery. Unaware at first of Chinh’s search for him, Taggart knows one thing – he has to escape before it’s too late.
Author: Lisa Gardner
Title: Find Her
Genre(s): Thriller and suspense; Crime; Vigilante justice
Wicked, dark, crushing
From the opening scene to the very last page, I was entranced by this novel. We learn that Flora Dane is no longer the carefree college student who used to play with foxes. No. Due to her kidnapping she has become trapped (in more ways than one) in the shell of the person she used to be. Her mother still pushes her to accept she is loved and wanted, despite how different she has become. In an effort to sustain some form of humanity within herself, Flora seeks out to right the wrongs of others by saving other young women from being kidnapped or worse. As her vigilante persona unfolds, it becomes clear that Flora has experienced a multitude of traumatic situations that have changed her life. She is cold, sharp, cunning, and intelligent. Everything a vigilante needs to be to get the job done. But that does not mean her trauma has not taken its toll. How Lisa was able to get into the head of such a strong-willed, yet broken survivor I will never know. The way she writes from Flora's point of view absolutely shredded my heart. There were moments of flashbacks when Flora's time with Jacob was revealed and I found it incredibly difficult to read. Not because of anything other than the disturbing nature of the material. However, as someone who works with real-life trauma survivors, I think it is incredibly important to have the ability to acknowledge the stories of these victims...because it happens. I appreciate how candid Lisa was in her writing and the details were expertly provided at just the right moments. This is not a gruesome tale per say, but some of the elements are gruesome.
I also appreciated the variable point of views, as we also get to understand the working mind of D.D. Warren. Having not read the other novels in the D.D. Warren series, I was still able to fully understand her character and the history she came from and how it influenced her thoughts and behaviors associated with Flora. Although compassionate, I could tell she had been a detective for a long while because she has a no-nonsense attitude, which helps her to get things done. It is clear she is not a fan of Flora's vigilante acts, but she still works herself into the ground to uncover the details of the tragic case the permeates the novel's plot. Lisa gives readers an inside look into police work, as well as Victim Specialists. I found it really interesting to learn about the role of a Victim Specialist as this was my first time coming across the term in a novel.
Throughout the entire novel I found myself having "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" moments. That is exactly the kind of reaction I love to have when reading thriller suspense novels. There is a multitude of twists that I never saw coming, but still made perfect sense. There is an overall eerie feeling to this book, which for me, just added more to the plot and the characters. Although it is fast-paced, I took quite a while to finish this book because the material was gut-wrenching and took time to process. Find Her will keep you on the edge and make your mind's gears move. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, if you are a fan of thrillers with intertwined police work, I think you will thoroughly enjoy Find Her.
Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora Dane was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure. Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who's never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she's become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who've never made it home. When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime--a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him--she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who's determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.
Author: Laurie Forest
Title: The Black Witch
Genre(s): Fantasy; Dark fantasy; Science fiction
Series: The Black Witch Chronicles (Book 1)
Hardcover: 608 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (May 2, 2017)
I cannot even begin to express how much I enjoyed this novel. From the very beginning it was quite evident that Elloren is a very unique and strong-willed young woman. After the tragic death of her parents, she was raised by her loving uncle who, despite the archaic rules that govern their society, taught her how to made instruments from wood. Although she was raised to appreciate a very simple lifestyle, her entire world changes when she is taken away by her high ranking aunt. Laurie provides readers with a clear understanding that Elloren is an important character that will evoke change and growth within her world. As she feels extreme pressure from her aunt to engage in a wand-fasting ritual with a high society male mage, Elloren must stay true to herself and the wishes of her uncle, even if it means enduring the punishments her aunt has in store for disobeying her. As she makes her way to University, she is faced with social issues that parallel what our own world is enduring. She must make a decision to join the hateful vengeance of those who want their race to rule the land or to stand for what she comes to believe is right. I really appreciated how Laurie brought social issues into an epic fantasy novel, however, I think she could have created some unique scenarios that conveyed what she was wanting to get across. Nevertheless, Elloren and her friends are not only faced with social issues that have a big impact on who they are, but they are faced with a much graver danger as a new high mage is moving towards getting exactly what he wants...to rule the mage society. There is a reason why this fits into the epic fantasy genre because it is a grand adventure that will compel your imagination to place you in Elloren's world. The scene and character descriptions throughout The Black Witch are expertly detailed, as well as the plot development. The second installment, The Iron Flower comes out in September and I honestly cannot wait!
A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining. So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa's heir - but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else. When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother's legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people - including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians - is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
Author: Tara Isabella Burton
Title: Social Creatures
Genre(s): Women's fiction; Thriller and suspense; Contemporary women
Chilling, provocative, whimsical
If you choose to start this novel, be prepared to leave everything behind and become incredibly distracted from your daily activities. Social Creatures will become your addiction, with its sing-songy descriptions, fanciful characters, and gripping plot. Similar to Behind Her Eyes: A Novel and Behind Closed Doors, this novel is enticing and quite deceptive to the very end.
Louise is a very plain twenty-something who wishes very much for her life to be different. As the tale begins, we see exactly how mundane her daily existence is. She goes to work, wallows in her own misery, wishes her life were different, and goes to sleep. There is nothing exciting about Louise....until she meets Lavinia. Lavinia is a charismatic, passionate, wealthy, socialite who tends to adopt those who are less fortunate than herself. Tara clearly defines both young women through her writing, as Louise's point of view tends to be more dry, methodical, and obsessive. While Lavinia's point of view is poetic, enchanting, and romantic. There was never a moment, as a reader, when I could not tell whose journey I was on. The best way to describe the first 3/4 of this book is that it is a whirlwind friendship that will leave you wanting more of the chaos. Tara slowly unveils the unruly nature of the girls' relationship and once the threads were loosened, it was like witnessing a horrific train accident; I could not turn my eyes away and the pages just kept turning. Despite the second half of Social Creatures being fast-paced and mind-blowing, I found it somewhat difficult to maintain interest during the first half. I understand the buildup was necessary, but I think there were some scenes that I could have done without to speed up the pace. If you enjoy slow burners that take their time unfolding, but once they are open they become completely unhinged, then you will absolutely enjoy this novel. Tara's writing style is unlike any other and it captivated me from the moment I started reading. She definitely has a unique style that is sharp and witty. Overall, it was amazing to witness the deception of Louise's character and the dynamic of a twisted friendship between two disturbed women.
They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste...Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.
Author: Clare Littlemore
Genre(s): Young adult; Dystopian; Science fiction
Review: To start off, I'd like to mention that I am not one who typically enjoys a slow start. I much prefer for books to take off rather quickly because I tend to lose interest if I am not whisked away on the journey from the very beginning. Therefore, my rating of this novel very much reflects my distaste for slow burners, but that is not to say that Flow was not expertly written with a keen eye for intrigue with a world-shattering ending...because it was. For a good one-third of the novel, we follow Quin and her two friends through the rigor of living in The Beck society. Clare paints quite a detailed picture of the post-natural disaster world and the difficulties each character is faced with on a daily basis. I could picture exactly what each scene looked like in my mind as I was reading this novel, which speaks to the expertise Clare has of creating a world from words. The settings remind me of dreary days with little hope in sight of sunshine. The overall tone of the scenes kept me engaged because I just wanted Quin and her friends to find justice for the cruel and inhuman ways of their society. You will likely get a chill from reading this novel as it touches on what life would be like with limited physical or personal connections to others. Those who live in The Beck society are expected to follow the daily routine without questioning its purpose or the consequences it has on the human psyche. Quin's character is quite captivating as she is strong willed, compassionate, and curious. She puts in great effort to protect those she loves despite the harsh rulings of her superiors and the overarching and mysterious governing body. As she is faced with the upsetting reality that her close friend is being removed from society and forced to endure Clearance, Quin's motivation to learn more about the secretive aspects of The Beck lead her to discovering realities she was not quite prepared for. Although Flow begins with a slow start, the second half of the book is fast-paced and inspiring. Overall, if you enjoy or do not mind a slower introduction then Flow will serve you well as a dystopian adventure where friendships are strong and motivating forces that push the characters to challenge everything they know.
Book Description: "A world in tatters. A society where rebellion is not tolerated. A girl desperate to discover the truth. Sixteen year old Quin lives in The Beck, a saviour society. Her community has risen from the ruins of a land shattered by Mother Nature. But Beck law is tough. Quin knows that the rules must be followed in order to sustain life in a place where floodwaters constantly threaten existence. A single violation could land her in Clearance. But some laws are harder to follow than others. And as Quin discovers the horrifying truth, she knows she cannot stay silent forever. Flow is the first in a series of books about a group of people struggling to survive after their world has been annihilated by devastating floods."
Author: Barbara James
Title: Going Home: Roger
Genre(s): Multicultural; Military; Romance; Young adult and college
Review: Going Home: Roger is a deliciously sweet romance novel that follows a blossoming couple with each partner coming together despite their meeting at a vulnerable point in life. Roger is in the Coastguard while Denise is still in high school and they meet at the wedding of Denise's older sister and Roger's best friend. They maintain a solid connection as Denise finishes her high school years and they begin dating as she enters college. It was interesting to read the scenes while Denise was still in high school because the age gap was quite significant. However, it was clear that Denise's level of maturity matched that of an older person and therefore the discrepancy did not jump off the page quite as much as it could have. As their love story unfolds, it becomes clear that they each must face adversity on their own as well as a couple. Barbara highlights very important topics, such as how feminism plays out in relationships, religious affiliations, and the difficulties some interracial couples face. Having been well-versed with the military life, Barbara also portrays this population quite accurately. I find this novel to be quite relatable in witnessing how the couple grows together over the course of developmental periods that can evoke a lot of changes and existential crises. Also, while I enjoy some erotic romances as much as the next millennial woman, I find Barbara's take on romance to be quite refreshing and a good change of pace. Her description of this novel being "Sweet and Sensual" fits my overall thoughts of it very much. Barbara provides readers with well-managed scene descriptions that will leave you with a clear sense of the characters' environments. I think you will enjoy this novel if you are looking for a coming of age romance that discusses a variety of social issues and conveys a realistic image of two people in love who are able to grow together.
Book Description: "Roger M. Young turned his back on his conservative upbringing when he left home at eighteen and joined the Coast Guard. He was quite happy with his life. When he served as a groomsman at his best friend Rick Santelli's wedding, dating Denise Perigault, Rick's teenaged sister-in-law, was the last thing on his mind. And she felt the same way. Having recently finished her junior year in high school, she was just too young. But once she starts college in the same town where he is stationed, they might change their minds. If Roger wants to date a younger and more traditional woman, he must figure out whether he's up to the challenge. Can he recall the lessons he learned before he left home?"
I am a lover of the written word. This is my space to pursue my love of reading through book reviews and literary discussions with my fellow readers.