The Linen God by Jim O’Shea

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from JustRead Tours and Wayside Press. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Mystery

Recommended Age: 15+ (mystery, intrigue, suspense… there’s nothing too adult in this book for younger readers but it is aimed at an older audience)

Pages: 282

Author Website

Amazon Link

Synopsis: The legendary Shroud of Turin is the most studied and controversial religious relic in human history. The ancient linen cloth bears the inexplicable image of a crucified man, alleged to be that of Jesus of Nazareth. What if it was real? What if the Shroud contained a secret powerful enough to alter the course of human history….and what if it fell into the wrong hands?

Manny Lusum is convinced the Shroud is the genuine article, and obsessed with proving it scientifically. Grace Barden is not only Manny’s best friend, but also secretly in love with the physics student and soon-to-be Catholic priest.

Across the globe, three grisly murders and the theft of a secret manuscript thrust Grace and Manny into a generations-old conspiracy of biblical proportions. From New York to Rome to the inner sanctum of the Vatican, they struggle to untangle a bizarre mystery surrounding the controversial artifact. In a dramatic confrontation between faith and the ultimate evil on the world stage, Grace and Manny are pushed to the edge of an abyss, balanced on the brink between heaven and hell.

I had never really read a Christian focused mystery book (not even the Da Vinci Code, don’t tell my momma), but I really enjoyed this one. I thought the plot was intriguing and the writing was superb. The book was mostly fast paced and heart pounding. There were a lot of twists and turns and in the end I was very surprised. I really liked this book and I really liked seeing the character development of the main characters.

However, I felt that the book could have focused a bit more on the side characters and some backstory. And I also felt that the plot slowed down a lot in some parts, so the pacing was a bit weird. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons for me in this one.

Verdict: A mystery you will love if you liked The Da Vinci Code.

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First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

Disclaimer: None, I bought this book on Audible.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (animal sacrifice, murder, romance ((somewhat explicit)), brutal and descriptive death, cult-like group, domestic terrorism, and confusion)

 

Pages: 448

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: It started for pranks, fun, and forever memories.

A secret society – for the four of us.

The rules: Never lie. Never tell. Love each other.

We made the pledge and danced under the blood moon on the meteorite in the orchard. In the spot we found the dead girl five years earlier. And discovered the ancient drawings way before that.

Nothing could break the four of us apart – I thought.

But then, others wanted in. Our seaside town had secrets. History.

We wanted revenge.

We broke the rules. We lied. We told. We loved each other too much, not enough, and in ways we weren’t supposed to.

Our invention ratcheted out of control.

What started as a secret society, ended as justice. Revenge. Death. Rebellion.

 

I have an overt fascination with the color purple to the point that anything purple draws me in. This book is one of those things. I loved the cover and I thought it sounded interesting so I dove right into it. The book was fascinating, creepy, yucky, and confusing all at the same time. It really took me awhile to sit and consider what I wanted to say about this book. So, let’s jump right in:

 

I listened to this book on Audible and while the narrator’s voice was robotic and creepy, it really worked well with this book. The narrator also was able to make the teenage characters sound like teenage characters. The story itself was very well written and it keeps you guessing until the last minute. We know from the beginning the fate of the group, but the story somehow makes us want more as we continue through it. The book also did well concerning the character development of the four main characters. With every character you go through a period of loving and hating them. The author also does well to make the villainous characters have a very decent backstory. I ended up feeling bad for all members involved and that’s how a book should write characters. People are complex and whether we do good or bad things depends on our own personal backstory. Sometimes the mean girl has mental health issues. Sometimes the pretty girl has a mean streak. Sometimes the bully is bullied at home. And sometimes the geeky smart kid is just as big of a bully as they are. The plot developed really well and the pacing was perfect. The mystery was the background of the story, but somehow the author maintained its importance throughout the book.

 

However, the confusing writing can make the reader distressed enough to DNF it. There is a lot to keep up with in this book and it requires complete devotion most times. This can make for a challenging read for those who aren’t used to having such an involved book.

 

Verdict: The perfect mystery/thriller for the would-be teen or adult anarchist.

 

No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from KidLitExchange in return for my opinion. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (murder, high school drama, and violence)

 

Pages: 320

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: A gripping reimagining of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and the brutal murders that inspired it

November is usually quiet in Holcomb, Kansas, but in 1959, the town is shattered by the quadruple murder of the Clutter family. Suspicion falls on Nancy Clutter’s boyfriend, Bobby Rupp, the last one to see them alive.

New Yorker Carly Fleming, new to the small Midwestern town, is an outsider. She tutored Nancy, and (in private, at least) they were close. Carly and Bobby were the only ones who saw that Nancy was always performing, and that she was cracking under the pressure of being Holcomb’s golden girl. The secret connected Carly and Bobby. Now that Bobby is an outsider, too, they’re bound closer than ever.

Determined to clear Bobby’s name, Carly dives into the murder investigation and ends up in trouble with the local authorities. But that’s nothing compared to the wrath she faces from Holcomb once the real perpetrators are caught. When her father is appointed to defend the killers of the Clutter family, the entire town labels the Flemings as traitors. Now Carly must fight for what she knows is right.

 

Okay so I’ve not read Capote’s In Cold Blood… but is it anything like this book? Let me explain: this book was okay but the synopsis of it had me wanting more than what I got. I liked that the book had really short chapters because it really made me read it faster. I like how we jumped into the action of the book and I felt that for the most part the writing was fantastic and it sucked you into the book.

 

However, I didn’t like that the characters had so little back story to them and that there were a lot of characters that easily were forgotten. The main character was wrote really bad. She kept making the same mistakes over and over again and it became really irritating after awhile and it made her very unlikable, but she was already unlikable with some of her other qualities. Lastly, the ending was way too quick and neat for this type of book.

 

Verdict: I feel like this book was okay, but it could have been better.

Bonfire of the Vanderbilts by Gerald Everett Jones

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: Mystery within a mystery within a mystery….

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (sexual references)

 

Pages: 446

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free for promotion from Black Chateau. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Synopsis: In 1892 Paris, Julius Stewart painted The Baptism, a Vanderbilt family scene that contains an embarrassing secret. In the present day, art historian Grace Atwood becomes obsessed with the painting and its hidden clues for reasons that have more to do with her personal ghosts. Either her doting husband is trying to make her think she’s crazy, or she really is in the early stages of dementia.

 

I’ve never been one for art. I’ve always been the person who walks past an art exhibit to the cookie counter (there needs to be more of those in art museums). But I like mysteries and I was intrigued by the sound of this book so I decided to read it. I liked the overall story and I felt the plot was intriguing. I felt that if I was an art lover this would be my dream book and it definitely made me appreciate the hidden meanings and messages in art more.

 

However, this book wasn’t for me. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters in this novel and I felt that the pacing was way too fast and the writing was a bit off for the type of book this should have been. I think this book has a lot of potential though and maybe with the right people it’s amazing, but for me it was just average.

 

Verdict: This book is for the art lovers in your life.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Genre: YA Mystery/Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (sexual references, violence, gore, suicide trigger warning)

 

Pages: 488

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: None, I got this on my own accord!

 

Synopsis: Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

 

Funny story about this book: I was on my book crawl for my husband and mine’s first wedding anniversary and I saw this book in a small book store. I saw the cover and grabbed it, not even reading what the book was about. What was I thinking when I grabbed it? “Hmmm…. graves is in the title… a hand reaching up from the ground… looks dark and eerie… MUST BE ABOUT ZOMBIES!” Imagine my disappointment when this book did not include zombies. BUT this book was absolutely wonderful in its own accord. The characters were developed and engaging, the plot was well developed and intriguing, and the pacing wasn’t slow like it usually is in mystery books. This swiftly became one of my favorite mysteries over 6 hours it took me to read it. This book was also a favorite historical fiction of mine. The book spends a lot of time narrating what life looks like from Jo’s perspective and while it can be trivial and a bit boring to some, I found it quite fascinating to learn about life from her point of view and then what life looked like for others in different social and class circles.

 

However, I did think that the book focused a lot on Jo’s personal struggles and not a lot on the mystery itself. When the conclusion came it was bittersweet in that we didn’t get the full trial. It’s like those law and order episodes that either all focus in the courtroom or all focus on the police work and crime. I like both aspects and to have one missing is a little bit of a bummer for me. The writing is also a little bit weird. The first paragraph or two of each chapter either focuses on a flashback or sets the stage for Jo retelling the audience what happened prior. There’s no page breaks or italics to offset this from the rest of the novel, so it’s a bit weird to recognize that as a reader.

 

Verdict: If you like your mysteries historical and your main characters Victorian, then you’ll love this book!

March 2018 – Paper Obscura

Sub Box Website

Theme: The Donner Party

Rating: 4/5

Price: 39.99. There are now different monthly options you can choose from 1 month to 3 month and to 6 month sub options!

Products: A mystery, thriller, or suspense book along with items from the area the book is set in!

Ships To: USA and I believe they now ship internationally!

Disclaimer: I bought my own box, but I received free shipping on it courtesy of the company. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

In the midst of all of these new sub boxes, this one caught my eye. Not many boxes focus outside of the YA genre so to find one that did so made me super excited for it. Here’s what was included in the box:

  • Burnt Sugar Lip Blam & Lip Scrub Bundle (created by Serious Lip Balm)
    • Estimated Price: $8.00 (estimate from their website)
  • “War is Hell” bandanna (created by Neuer Geist)
    • Estimated Price: $15.00 (estimate from their website)
  • “Choose Weird” Tote (created by Zen Threads)
    • Estimated Price: $7.99 (estimate from their website)
  • Author letter
  • Signed bookmark from the author
  • Book: The Hunger by Alma Katsu
    • Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.
      As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.

      Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hungeris an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

    • Estimated Price: $17.20 on Amazon in paperback, $13.99 on Kindle.

Estimated Price of the Box: $48.19

Verdict: I thought this box was really cool! I got items that I’ll definitely use in my everyday life and I love learning about history, especially anything cannibalistic, so I’ll definitely have fun with this book!

In The Belly of Jonah (A Liv Bergen Mystery #1) by Sandra Brannan

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Thriller

Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, gore, slight sexual content)

Pages: 252

Author Website

Amazon Link

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free courtesy of the author for my review. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

Another relief from the multitude of YA Fantasies and YA Sci-Fi and it was well received. I adored this thriller and it really made me rediscover the love I have for this genre. I thought the characters were well developed and the plot was intriguing. I also thought the pacing was really well done and I thought the evil villain was pretty unique. All in all this was an excellent thriller.

However, I did guess the villain within the first few pages of the book and I thought there was some cliché insta-love. Those were my only complaints with this book though!

Verdict: If you like mysteries and don’t mind knowing the villain, then this book is for you!

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Mystery/Romance

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (slight sexual content & mental illness)

 

Pages: 333

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free courtesy of KidLitExchange and the publishing company in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

 

Synopsis: Theo’s always been impulsive. But telling Paige how he feels? He’s obsessed over that decision. And it’s time. Tonight. At the party on the riverbank, under the old walking bridge, site of so many tales of love and death.

Paige has had a crush on Theo since they first met, but she knows her feelings are one-sided. She’s trying to move on, to flirt. A party at the river is just what she needs. Except a fight breaks out, and when Paige tries to intervene―Theo’s fist lands in her face.

All Theo and Paige want to do is forget that fateful night. But strange events keep drawing them back to the bridge. Someone, something is determined to make them remember…and pay for what they each did.

 

Mystery and romance and a story about struggling with ADHD? Sounds like a great book, and for the most part this was. I thought this book had awesome character development and the plot was intriguing. The book discussed a variety of mental health issues and I really liked how it was woven in the book. I also felt the world building was pretty well done, except that I didn’t feel like it really belonged.

 

This book had a lot of stuff going on in it. I felt that the mystery element of the book didn’t really belong and it just made the story really confusing with all the different elements going on. The pacing felt off to me and I felt that the characters were too reliant on each other. Overall, this book just wasn’t for me.

 

Verdict: A YA Mystery/Romance book with amazing mental illness representation.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Genre: Mystery

 

Recommended Age: 17+ (lies, deceit, language, and confusion)

 

Pages: 370

 

Author Website
Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

 

This is the month where I don’t like mysteries for some reason. This one is from what Amazon dubs the “Agatha Christie” of our time (which already isn’t good for Ruth Ware since I just DNF-ed Murder on the Orient Express this month). So as always I’ll start with the good, which will be short. I thought the plot was intriguing and the pacing, overall, was good.

 

However, I had a lot of negatives about this book. I thought the character development was poor and the whole story confusing and very boring. The story that was told felt very unrealistic and it was slightly contradicting. Finally, the ending was very unsatisfying for me.

 

Verdict: If you like slow burners, this might be the one for you.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Rating: 2/5 (will redo if re-read)

 

Genre: Mystery

 

Recommended Age: Can’t say, DNFed

 

Pages: 304

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link to Order the Book

 

Synopsis:

 

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

 

So unfortunately I had to DNF this book 10 pages into it. I felt that the language in this book was something I could not get into no matter what I tried, but I’m still intrigued by the story. Will definitely go see the movie!