Review – The Forgotten Girls (Stevens & Windermere #6) by Owen Laukkanen

The Forgotten Girls (Stevens & Windermere, #6)The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen

Published March 14, 2017

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

 

 

3.5 Stars

The Forgotten Girls is book six in a series by Owen Laukkanen that features agents Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere.

A string of murders on the High Line. All young women. All of them constantly moving from place to place never setting down roots. Someone thought that no one would notice or even care that these women were dead.

But someone has noticed.

Ash knew she was taking a chance. Her friends told her not to do it. Especially not alone. Bad things could happen.

“You don’t ever surf trains on the High Line”

But for Ash, time was of the essence. It had to be a quick trip so that left her no choice but the hotshot, the High Line. Only now she realizes just how bad of an idea it was. She’s stuck in the frigid cold and the train has stopped. Dead tired and cold, Ash sees a light not far away, under a bridge. A fire. Fire means warmth, plus maybe food or something warm to drink. But it’s also dangerous. She is alone and the fire means there’s probably other riders around. But Ash is tough and in all the years she has been riding she’s never had a problem. She isn’t worried.

Maybe she should be…

Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force have been working together for four years. They met by chance and since teaming up have worked cases including bank robberies, human trafficking, online predators and more.

Now their new case, a rash of killings on the High Line. The killer is picking women who are considered easily “forgotten” due to their way of living. These women often use the railway to get around. Someone is using this as well as the climate to their advantage. The harsh winter and the cold means the women aren’t found right away. It also means evidence can be very hard to find. So someone definitely has a jump on Windermere and Stevens, but they won’t let this stop them.

The book started off really strong. A very interesting and original plot. The author did a great job of describing the harsh, unforgiving climate. Told from multiple points of view. I enjoyed most of the viewpoints (the killers was especially interesting). I do wish I would have heard more from Stevens and Windermere as I had a hard time connecting with their characters. The story was suspenseful and thrilling and I was gripped and really wanted to see how it all played out. But I felt some parts were dragged out a little longer than necessary.

When I first requested this book, I didn’t realize it was part of a series but the awesome cover really grabbed me. I was a bit worried that I hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series. Though it works fine as a stand-alone as the detectives are working a new case, maybe having read previous books would have helped me connect with the characters more. It’s hard to know for sure.

All that said, I did enjoy this book, just not as much as I had anticipated. But I have heard good things about other books in this series, and it sounds like Stevens and Windermere have some interesting cases. I can definitely see myself reading more from Owen Laukkanen.

Thank you to NetGalley, Owen Laukkanen, and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Review – Only Ever Yours

Only Ever YoursOnly Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Published May 12, 2015

Quercus

 

 
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow…where do I start?

With elements of The Stepford Wives, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale and Mean Girls’ this book is ABSOLUTELY one of the more unusual, disturbing, and intriguing books that I have read in quite some time.

Apparently it was first published as a young adult book but is now being republished as an adult book.

This takes place in a “future” world where women (called eves) are created purely for male pleasure. They are no longer bred naturally but manufactured to become one of three things when they hit the age of seventeen….companions, concubines, or chastities. A companion is a version of a physically perfect wife whose duty is to bear sons and look after their husbands. Concubines are for the man’s sexual gratification and the eve will likely live with many other women. Chastities seemed to be considered the leftovers (not good enough for companions or concubines) and they run the school and take care of the eves.

We see life through the eyes of an “eve” named frieda. She is in her final year at the school to learn to be perfect. She is hoping to be ranked highly so that she may become a companion to the boys that will arrive eager to choose one of them for a bride. For many years freida has been best friends with isabel and they are usually among the most highly rated girls in their year. They are sure they will be chosen as companions and remain best friends as they raise their sons together. But isabel has been behaving very strangely and when she starts to gain weight (the WORST offence at this school), frieda is torn between supporting her and maintaining her distance. She is terrified that she won’t be chosen and will end up as a concubine or chastity.

But all is not as it may seem…..

The “eves” are cut off from the outside world and live in a school environment where they are trained on how to remain beautiful and learn how to make men happy. But they are commonly told “there is always room for improvement”. They are ranked on their attractiveness and constantly forced to strive for perfection. Encouraged to compare themselves to their fellow eves to learn how they may improve.

The girls are discouraged from showing any emotions or anything that may make them less attractive. Crying is prohibited as is showing any type of intelligence. For example, when frieda was younger she was playing a game where the barbie doll mentioned “math”. When frieda asked one of the chastities what “math” was the game was quickly taken away.

This was a difficult read at times and I occasionally had to put the book down for a few minutes. Especially when they were set in competitions against each other in a “forced” bullying way. For example a girl would stand at the front and comments would be thrown at her. Almost tame ones like “your hair is looking dull perhaps you should try a stronger conditioner” to horrid ones such as “maybe you should ask the chasties for more Ipecac and visit the vomitorium after your meals as you are looking fatter”.

The author was incredibly thorough with details. For example all female names were in lowercase to show their “place” in the society. There were also subliminal messages like  “I am beautiful but I can be better” and “I will always be respectful” pumped through the speakers as the eves slept.

With similar issues to present times including eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, peer pressure, bullying and self-esteem issues. The school setting is very similar to the current high school environment, but creepier and with perverse learning plans.

An extremely dark but gripping book that will stay with me for a very long time.

Highly recommended!!!!

View all my reviews

Review – The Breakdown

The BreakdownThe Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Expected publication July 18th 2017 by St. Martin’s Press

Published January 23rd 2017 (UK)

 

5 Stars !!!!

To say I was excited for this novel is an understatement. I loved Behind Closed Doors so I couldn’t wait to see what B.A Paris had in store for me this time.

“If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?”

The beginning of The Breakdown is like a scene out of a horror movie. I could picture it. Cass Anderson is in a rush to get home….it’s raining and the weather is only getting worse. She speaks with her husband, Matthew and he cautions her to drive carefully and makes her promise not to take the shortcut through the woods. It’s not safe at night. However, at the last second Cass veers off the main road to the shortcut she just promised she wouldn’t take. She decides what Matthew doesn’t know won’t hurt him. She just wants to get home as fast as possible.

As she nears her house she swerves to avoid hitting a car parked at the side of the road. There’s a woman inside. Cass stops in front of the car to see if the woman indicates that she needs help. The woman doesn’t do anything. All the stories Cass has heard about people tricked into stopping to help someone go through her head. Someone stops thinking they are being a good Samaritan only to end up getting car-jacked……or worse. Eventually Cass decides the woman must have already called for help, so she continues on her way home.

The next day, Cass is horrified to learn that a woman, Jane Walters was killed in the woods. It was the woman whose car was stopped on the side of the road. What’s worse is Cass realizes she knows this woman. She actually had lunch with her the week before. Cass is overcome with guilt over Jane’s murder. If she had only got out of the car to check on Jane. Would she still be alive? or would Cass have been killed too?

Cass has been having trouble with her memory and it’s gotten worse since the murder. At first it was just little things. She would misplace something or forget she made plans with friends. But forgetting that she agreed to have an alarm installed? How could that be? But she sees the job order is written in her handwriting so she must have agreed to the installation.

Is she going to suffer the same fate as her mother?

Then come the phone calls. Someone is calling every day….over and over. But they NEVER say a word. Everyone tells her it’s just a call center making cold calls. But Cass worries that it’s something or someone much worse. When I read about the constant calls a part of me thought, oh come on! Unplug the phone, change your number, OR buy a whistle and blow that suckers ear off!!! But fear can leave you frozen, unable to think straight.

Cass starts to think someone is watching the house, that someone has been in the house. When she goes shopping and is leaving for home she can’t find her car. She KNOWS where she parked, so it must have been stolen. Cass and the parking attendant look everywhere, on all the different floors only to eventually find her car…..

Right where she left it.

Her mind feels like it’s going to break….everything is spiraling out of control. She’s in a constant state of anxiety. The phone calls are amplifying all of her fears. Plus all of the things she’s forgetting makes things worse. With everything going on Cass is desperate to know….

WHO KILLED JANE?

But then something happens. Cass gets advice and information from very surprising sources. Things start to click into place…..things that she NEVER would have expected. She tells herself she’s lost enough time and she’s determined that she’s going to figure it all out. She wants to know who is behind the constant phone calls and if it’s connected to what happened to Jane. Cass wants answers and now no one is going to stop her. As Cass gets stronger and searches for answers you can’t help but cheer for her. The web of lies that she starts to unravel.

Well Ms. Paris….you didn’t let me down. I loved this one too.

I know that everyone is different and not everyone will love the same books and that’s completely understandable. There were times that I started getting annoyed with Cass, but when I imagined something like this happening to me? I can’t imagine how alone and helpless I would feel.

Occasionally I find it really hard to get into a book that requires me to suspend disbelief, but I found with “Behind Closed Doors” and this book that I was able to do that easily. The authors writing style and the suspenseful plot allowed me to let go of reality and really enjoy what I was reading.

“The Breakdown” was intense and gripping, especially the second half. I was shocked. I may have been right about a thing or two but it didn’t matter as how everything played out was fantastic to read. This author knows how to pull her readers into her story, not letting go until the final word on the last page is read.

I can’t wait for more from this author!

Thank you to Jessica at St. Martin’s Press and B.A Paris for providing me with an advanced copy of this book to read in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Review – Beautiful Broken Girls

Beautiful Broken GirlsBeautiful Broken Girls

by Kim Savage

Published February 21, 2017

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 

3.5 stars

I was really intrigued after reading the description for Beautiful Broke Girls. This was my first book by Kim Savage, though I had been wanting to read “After the Woods” for quite some time.

The story beings in August 2016. One night Mira and Francesca Cillo rode their bikes, then walked for about 15 minutes in the darkness to the quarry.

Not long after that their bodies are pulled from the quarry.

The death of the sisters hit everyone hard. Especially since there was the senseless death of another teen not long before this tragedy. Mira and Francesca’s neighbor, Ben was taking it especially hard as he was in love with Mira.

Was it suicide? Did they fall? Or was it something else?

Then a few days after their bodies are found he receives a note. It is from Mira. This first note sends Ben on a hunt for seven more notes that will apparently explain what happened. Each note represented a part of Mira’s body that Ben had touched palm, hair, chest…The story is broken down into each of these seven parts.

“Everyone wanted to touch us. Including you. So remember the seven places you touched me. It’s where you’ll find the truth. Start at the beginning “

With each note Ben discovers more and more about the sisters and their strange lives. He finds himself with more questions than answers.

“Everything is in God’s plan”

I liked Ben’s character and the story-line was interesting, though I ached for him and what he’d been through. There were not many likeable characters in this novel. I was really into this book at first but then I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. Honestly, it was very different from what I was expecting after reading the description. There was a lot going on and it could be a bit hard to follow at times. Magic realism, religion, and saints. It’s kind hard to explain as I don’t want to give anything away.

The novel has some dark subject matter and I felt some things were romanticized, things that in my opinion shouldn’t be. But at no point did I want to stop reading, I was invested in the story. I did enjoy this novel, just not as much as I was expecting. Though some things may not have worked for me, they may not bother other readers.

I do look forward to reading more from Kim Savage, as she is definitely a talented writer.

Thank you to NetGalley, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Kim Savage for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews