Mystery Monday | Cold Girl by R.M. Greenaway

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? R.M. Greenaway has worked all over and at various jobs. She is the author of the B.C. BLUES crime series, featuring RCMP detectives Leith and Dion. Cold Girl, her debut won the 2014 Arthur Ellis Unhanged award.RM has three books set to come out through Dundurn Press (Cold Girl  being the first). She currently lives in Nelson B.C

What is it about? Popular rockabilly singer, (name) has disappeared in the snowbound Hazeltons of northern B.C. It’s suspected that she may be the latest victim of the “Pickup Killer”, and it’s up to the Lead RCMP investigator David Leith and his team to solve the mystery behind her disappearance. Complicating matters is the arrival of a constable by the name of Dion who is also assigned to the case. Much to Leith’s displeasure, Dion is unable to do even the simplest of tasks assigned to him.

coldgirl

Where does it take place? As stated in the name of the series, Cold Girl takes place in the cold, northern parts of British Columbia, Canada

Why did I like it? Cold Girl drew me in with its intriguing premise, however it was slow in getting the “meat” of the story and mystery. Nevertheless, I found it entertaining that Leith and Dion were trying to size each other up and consciously coming to the wrong conclusions about each other. Greenaway’s greatest strength in Cold Girl lies with her writing, in particular how she is able to describe the setting that her characters are in. Her writing was so descriptive, that at times I found myself transported to the cold ruggedness of Northern B.C. On the other hand, it felt like there were too many characters including all the suspects. With everybody telling so many different stories at various times it often became confusing to follow. Overall, Cold Girl was fine as a mystery and the good thing about the book’s conclusion is that it leaves room for more stories to be told.

When is it out? March 26, 2016

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson

afterwarAuthour:
Jennifer Robson
Format:
Trade Paperback, 353 pages
Publication date:
January 6th 2015
Publisher:
William Morrow
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“From now on, she resolved, she would try to remember that life could be more than work and study and serious-minded contemplation of society’s failings. She could know joy, and light, and relief from sadness.” (p. 141)

For some reason if truth be told I tend to enjoy historical fiction that has been marketed towards fans of Downton Abbey even though I have no intention of starting that show. Nevertheless, Jennifer Robson’s Great War series is no exception, and though I loved the first book, I was extra eager for her second book After the War since it features Charlotte’s story.

I adored the Lilly, who was the protagonist in Somewhere in France. However, I found Charlotte a much more relatable character for the reason that she an educated woman, and she does not wish to be married just for the reason that it is what women during her time were expected to do. And while I do love romance, I appreciated the fact that we become acquainted with Charlotte as a person outside of her relationships while witnessing her transform into an independent woman and an activist. This makes the romance in the book even more fulfilling since Charlotte and Edward’s relationship is based on their mutual respect of one another. From the start, they both push each other to be the best versions of themselves.

I also loved how this book seamlessly switches between the present i.e. events after the first book and the past to when Edward and Charlotte first met and when she was Lilly’s governess. It was quite sweet to observe the lengths Edward went to ensure his sister, Lilly received a superior education. And I also absolutely adored getting a glimpse at a different type of family dynamic, especially with Charlotte and her parents. It refreshing to observe warm and loving family relationships, especially after witnessing how mostly distant, cold and stern Lilly and Edward’s parents were towards their children (even though it’s probably what was commonplace at that time and for families of their social status). The best example that truly illustrates this point is an incredibly touching scene in the book between Charlotte and her father that definitely made me tear up a bit.

All in all, I loved this book since I got to revisit my favourite characters from the first book and observing how characters such as Robbie and Charlotte bond over their similar situations. And while I found a few things to be resolved rather quickly near the conclusion, and I kind of missed the letters that were commonplace in Somewhere in France I did however enjoy watching the characters interact with each other further in person in this book. Additionally, I enjoyed reading the various column pieces that Charlotte writes on social issues that she feels strongly about.

After the War is probably one of my favourite books that I have read thus far this year, and I would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and those of historical romance. What’s best concerning this book is that you do not need to read Somewhere on France first though I would recommend you read both for a greater reading experience.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Love, Lucy by April Lindner

lucyAuthour:
April Lindner
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 292 pages
Publication date:
January 27th 2015
Publisher:
Poppy
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
April Lindner is a YA authour well-known for writing YA novels that are modern retellings of classic novels. In her latest book, Love, Lucy she accomplishes this with E. M. Forster’s 1908 novel, A Room with a View. In this story, Lucy is a young woman who is on a backpacking trip through Europe with her friend, Charlene. It is the last and probably only time she is free to act as she wishes before she has to set off to a college that her father has chosen for her to study something that he expects her to. While in Italy Lucy meets Jesse who is a street musician and the rest that follows is just what you would expect to happen.

What I liked regarding Love, Lucy is that if you are familiar with the original inspiration for this book, you can definitely pick out the references and nods to A Room with a View. However the novel can be enjoyed just as much without prior knowledge of the book it was based on. Another thing I adored in this book was how I could relate to Lucy in one key aspect which was the feeling you get that anything is possible when you are allowed to travel on your own for the first time in your life without your parents. This was exactly how I felt during my first time, and I feel that Lindner captures this unbelievable feeling nicely. I also loved seeing Lucy gradually become her own person and doing what she loves in college. Her journey of self discovery in college was probably my favourite section of this book even though it wasn’t a major element of the story

That being assumed, I was not fond of Lucy as a character. I found her indecisiveness to be rather taxing and it broke my heart to watch her make decisions that ended up hurting others since she kept pushing herself to do things she didn’t feel like doing. I also found Jesse to be unappealing as a love interest for the reason that there were numerous times where he didn’t always have her best interest at heart and he also came off as have a few possessive tendencies towards her. In addition I felt that the entire “friendship” between Charlene and Lucy could have been developed a bit more since in the last portion it felt like things were wrapped up too neatly considering everything that transpired between the two of them.

Overall, this book was a light read that unquestionably warmed me up inside. Reading Love, Lucy has only enhanced my desire to visit Rome and Italy sometime during my lifetime. And while the premise of Love, Lucy was not an original one, it was nevertheless an enjoyable story.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Authour:
Kristi Charish
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 418 pages
Publication date:
January 13th 2015
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
As a former archeology student, and lover of mythology I love it when archeology is mixed with elements of the supernatural. And in Kristi Charish’s Owl and the Japanese Circus that’s exactly what you will find.

Owl is a former archeology who is now an international antiquities thief, and despite the fact that she dislikes dealing with the supernatural she somehow manages to get dragged into their affairs. This book had an extremely interesting concept, and I always love reading books where there’s a strong female protagonist. Unfortunately it seemed that for the majority of the book, Owl was rescued more than she did the rescuing. I kind of had high expectations of her since she’s supposed to be incredibly proficient in her line of work, which did not seem evident to me until later on in the novel. In addition I was hoping for her to take matters into her own hands more. I also I found the fact that when she needed to be rescued, the identity of the person who was rescuing her and the reveal that followed to be all too convenient for my liking.

Meanwhile I found romance in the book to have progressed fairly quickly although maybe it’s because they have known each other for a while. In the final pages I was left with extremely mixed feelings regarding the relationship though it was not something that overwhelmed the central storyline. So in spite of the few things I did not care for, there was one component of this book I did enjoy. And that was the friendship between Owl and her business partner, Nadya. I felt it was a refreshing and excellent portrayal of a female friendship.

In conclusion, Owl and the Japanese Circus was a slightly predicting however it was still a somewhat entertaining read. Though I am not the biggest fan of this book, the epilogue did hook me in and I would be curious as to where Owl’s adventures take her next.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

ettaAuthour:
Emma Hooper
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 305 pages
Publication date:
January 13th 2015
Publisher:
Penguin Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
At the beginning pages of Emma Hooper’s debut novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James we learned that Etta, an 82 year old woman and set off on a journey to the sea, leaving only a brief note and a bunch of recipe cards for her husband, Otto. What follows is not only a story of one woman’s pilgrimage across Canada from Saskatchewan to Halifax, but also a story of the past of Etta, Otto and their friend, Russell in addition to a story of the simple lives of people in rural Canada.

There were several things that I liked regarding this book, the first being the prose which was deceptively simple yet utterly beautiful. I love reading on the day to day lives of the people who were left behind during the war and those who assisted with the war on top of the indirect effects the war had on people and even schools back home. I also enjoyed the friendship between Otto and Russell especially when they were young and it was unfortunate that we do not witness greater amounts of interaction between the two in the present. Finally I also liked the employment of the “talking” coyote, James as it provides greater insight into Etta’s character and state of mind in addition to her well-being.

That being understood, there were numerous times throughout the book, particularly near the conclusion where I found it difficult to follow the story. To be more specific I found the timelines slightly confusing to the point that I needed to reread several sections just to figure out what had just happened. Afterwards, I was left wondering this writing style was intentionally done to illustrate the deteriorating mind. Still it you are willing to dig deep, you will find that Etta and Otto and Russell and James is a beautiful novel concerning love, loss and how the past has a way of never completely disappearing. Also for those who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I think you will definitely appreciate Etta and Otto and Russell and James especially the moment where Etta’s simple journey suddenly gains a following due to the media’s interest. Overall Etta and Otto and Russell and James is a book that is worth picking up if you do not mind a story that is slower in pacing and is driven more by the characters and their actions.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark

Authour:boynextdoor
Katie Van Ark
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 347 pages
Publication date:
January 6th 2015
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
When it comes to contemporary YA, I’m a bit of a sucker for the whole friends-to-more romances. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I watched all my friends fall in and out of love with each other throughout high school, who knows? Anyways The Boy Next Door is your typical story of a girl who has been in love with the same boy since she was a kid, and yes he does live in the house beside to hers. In addition to being friends from a young age in addition to neighbours, Maddy and Gabe are also figure skating partners. Things are suddenly set into motion when one day when their skating coach approaches them with the idea of performing Romeo and Juliet for their next skating program.

On top of the endearing way Gabe and Maddy’s relationship progressively changed into something more, there were numerous aspects of this book that made it such an enjoyable read. For instance I loved how Maddy’s parents were portrayed in this book; they were definitely not faultless however they were supportive and loving towards her. This was also in spite of Maddy’s dad being an extremely busy politician. Oh and it was pleasant to see a portrayal of a politician who was not a shady or sleazy person or neglectful of his family instead he was just a regular person whose job just happens to be that he’s a politician. This was a refreshing change from reading YA novels where parents were missing, dead, neglectful and/or abusive. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing how Maddy gradually learns to seize control and fight for what she wants, in addition to the character development that Gabe undergoes as he shifts from a being a bit of jerk to somebody who is a decent person and somebody who even Maddy’s father can approve of dating his daughter. Finally while I am not a major fan of skating (probably due to the fact that I was never able to learn how to skate), The Boy Next Door made the world of figure skating feel incredibly magical in that it was clearly evident that the authour has a passion for the sport too.

The Boy Next Door is an excellent choice for fans of addicting, sweet romance with a dash of drama. It definitely is one of the few, rare books that had me rooting for the couple to get together from the introduction of the book.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | The King of Shanghai by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly and sometimes monthly review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Authour: kingshang
Ian Hamilton
Series:
Ava Lee #7
Format:
Trade paperback, 384 pages
Publication date:
January 5th 2015
Publisher:
Spiderline
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“…it was nice, for a change, to feel like a part of something bigger than herself.” (p. 296-297)

I’m starting to see a pattern now; it appears that every time I end up in a reading rut the only thing that can get me out of it is an excellent mystery novel. To be honest before The King of Shanghai, I’ve read a few books in the Ava Lee series except I did not read the more recent ones. Fortunately this did not deter me from loving The King of Shanghai.

The King of Shanghai is seventh book in the Ava Lee series and marks a major turning point the protagonist’s journey as she has recently experienced a significant change that results in a somewhat different type of storytelling and slightly more serious tone especially at the start of The King of Shanghai. However I was relieved to find that overall it still was the same series that I am familiar with and that I love, as there are numerous references to past cases and the major supporting characters such as Sonny return in this book. I liked how loyal Sonny and several of the other men who worked with Ava in the past were to her, and it was kind of cool that she was viewed as their boss. The King of Shanghai also marks the beginning of a new story arc involving the Triads, and introduces us to Xu who is a compelling character in his own right. I love how he resembles Uncle although he is still his own, unique person. Lastly what I loved mainly regarding this book was how it showed just how capable and kick butt Ava is when it comes to her work and how resilient she can be. I also loved seeing Ava work with other strong, intelligent women in addition to the men she normally works with.

The King of Shanghai was an unputdownable book that I would highly recommend for all. And since it is a book that marks a fresh chapter in Ava Lee’s life, it makes it an excellent starting point for readers new to the Ava Lee series. I for one will be eagerly anticipating the next book in the series which is set to release in 2016.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.