Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

32796253Title: Final Girls

Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Thrillers

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Final Girls is an intriguing psychological thriller about survival, evil and the strength it takes to live with the guilt of surviving when others did not.

Quincy is doing well, nowadays. Years ago, she went through the worst nightmare imaginable. All her friends got slaughtered in a cabin in the woods one night, and Quincy was the only one who survived. She doesn’t remember anything from that night, just bits and pieces, but it has still redefined her life. Now she spends most her time working on her food blog.

She barely even thought about Lisa. Lisa was the first girl they called a Final Girl, a title stolen from TV series and movies, a name for the last girl alive after a massacre. The only survivor. The Final Girl. Lisa offered help to Quincy back when she needed it the most, and Quincy has never forgotten. So when she hears Lisa passed away – a suicide, or so police think – she’s upset. And when Samantha, the other Final Girl, shows up on her doorstep, claiming to be worried about her, Quincy lets her in and they start to connect.

But the past won’t let go, and when it appears Lisa’s death was no suicide but murder, someone seems out to finish the work those butchers started all those years ago, and finish Samantha and Quincy off. But who can Quincy trust? And if the secret to the murderer’s identity is buried along with her own traumatizing memories of the night that ripped her life apart, can she find the strength to finally face the past?

This is a very suspenseful read, and the writing is excellent. Quincy is a well-developed character. She has plenty of flaws, and she still struggles with the past, but it all sounds very realistic. It’s normal Quincy is still struggling, it’s normal she still has survivor’s guilt. But she’s very strong, easy to relate to, and actually quite admirable. Samantha and Quincy develop a bit of an odd relationship as two Final Girls, but even that (which I imagine must be quite difficult to write) is written well, and in a believable way.

Now, the major downside (and what brought this from a 5 to 4 star read) is that I figured out who was behind it almost from the moment this person appeared in the book, and how it was all connected. It’s not too obvious, but I simply had a gut feeling and it turned out correct. Bummer, though, because that made the book less suspenseful than it would’ve been otherwise.

If you’re a fan of thrillers or slasher movies, I recommend you check this out.

Book Review: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

Title: The Lucky Ones
Author: Mark Edwards
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.

The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 bestselling author of Follow You Home.

The Lucky Ones is the latest thriller by Mark Edwards, and this book pleasantly surprised me. It’s not my first review of a book by this particular author. In the past, I reviewed Follow You Home, the book that turned the author into a #1 bestselling author, and “only” rated it 3 stars. I remember enjoying the book but that it wasn’t suspenseful enough. Then I read The Devil’s Work and rated it 4 stars, because I really enjoyed it, although my number one complaint was the plot was slightly unrealistic and too much was happening.

I’m giving The Lucky Ones 4 stars. The mystery intrigued me, and the writing was excellent. The author has really mastered the art of writing compelling books. The descriptions of the scenes are very realistic and I loved that it’s set in a small town. I liked the characters, in particular Ben Hofland and Imogen Evans, our detective in charge of the case.

What I didn’t like was that for the reader, the major plot point (the killer murders victims on their happiest day) is giving away almost right from the beginning to the reader, while it takes the detectives ages to figure this out. I wish it wouldn’t be so easy to decipher for the reader so we could be kept guessing for a while too. I also thought the ending wrapped up things a little too fast, with the “sudden twist” that seemed to come out of nowhere. I suspected this character from the moment we met him, so that wasn’t a real surprise, but how it was all connected was slightly far-fetched. However, I still liked the book enough that I would recommend it to fans of thrillers and mystery novels, because everything else but the two things mentioned here, I liked.

The crime procedural element was excellent too, and Mark Edwards obviously understand how police officers work and how a case is investigated. The characters were realistic and flawed, and as I said, the writing was excellent. This is an intriguing murder mystery / thriller that fans of the genre (and in particular, fans of Mark Edwars) will love.

Book Review: Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

25517205Title: Beside Myself

Author: Ann Morgan

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: DNF

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Beside Myself is a literary thriller about identical twins, Ellie and Helen, who swap places aged six. At first it is just a game, but then Ellie refuses to swap back. Forced into her new identity, Helen develops a host of behavioural problems, delinquency and chronic instability. With their lives diverging sharply, one twin headed for stardom and the other locked in a spiral of addiction and mental illness, how will the deception ever be uncovered? Exploring questions of identity, selfhood, and how other people’s expectations affect human behaviour, this novel is as gripping as it is psychologically complex.

Beside Myself is my first DNF in… probably forever. Usually I struggle through a book, no matter what, and I keep on going. But here, I just couldn’t. Several things worked against this book, and I’ll list them all below. I did read the ending just to see where it would lead (I had half-expected that end) but I quit after fifty pages.

Let’s start with the good. The plot is unique, and original. Two twin sisters, one the leader, the other the follower, and they switch positions. Helen becomes Ellie and Ellie becomes Helen. Except when the joke is over, Ellie doesn’t want to switch back, and Helen is stuck taking on the role of Ellie, who everyone laughs at, who is slow, who Mom is always angry at. With Mom’s new boyfriend coming into play, things don’t get easier for Helen either, and no one seems to have a clue that they switched places. Even when she tells them, no one believes her.

The book alternates between present and past. In the past, we see Helen and Ellie as they grow up. In the present, Smudge, as Helen has started calling herself, lives the life of an addict. Everything she knows has fallen apart. Meanwhile, Ellie – posing as Helen – has become quite famous.

A lot of people loved this book, and I understand why. The plot is unique, and the author’s writing is descriptive and lyrical. It’s just not for me.

On to the bad. First of all, the writing style. I’ve seen descriptions that run several paragraphs long in this book and before I figured out what the author was trying to say, I was almost a page further. It’s page after page filled with these descriptions that are beautiful writing but significantly slow down the narrative. I had to skim pages just to find the plot, it was hidden under so many descriptions.

Next up, the story. It annoyed me to no end. I had to stop reading primarily because of this – my heart beat was going way too high, and I was ready to pull my hair out. I was so annoyed at EVERYONE in this book. At the mother figure in particular. How can you not tell your own children apart? And then, with that ending, I hated her even more. I was annoyed with the way everyone treated Ellie and later Helen. If a child, part of a twin set you can’t keep apart, keeps saying she’s not the twin you think they are, then someone, at least one adult, will grow concerned. It would be so easy to fix this! Blood testing. DNA. Handprints. Or if Ellie is really so slow as the book wants us to believe, have them both do a test and see how the scores work – in that scenario, Helen would’ve done a lot better than Ellie.

Poor Helen. I felt so sorry for her. She was so helpeless, and this annoyed me so much. I was going to freak out if I kept on reading, because the scenario made no sense. Not even Helen’s friends recognize her? Some friends they are. It’s very hard to believe no one will figure it out.

Also, a thriller? I don’t really see any thriller aspects in the book. It’s mostly about mental health, and Helen’s struggle.

Ultimately, a lot of people liked this book (just check the Goodreads reviews, lost of 4 and 5 stars) but I couldn’t finish it. It annoyed me too much, and I don’t want to waste my time reading a book that annoys me to no end.

Book Review: From The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards

22341256Title: From The Cradle

Author: Louise Voss and Mark Edwards

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The first child was taken from her house.
The second from his mother’s car.
The third from her own bedroom…
When Helen and Sean Philips go out for the evening, leaving their teenage daughter babysitting little Frankie, they have no idea that they are about to face every parent’s greatest fear.
Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon is hopeful that the three children who have been abducted in this patch of south-west London will be returned safe and well. But when a body is found in a local park, Lennon realizes that time is running out—and that nothing in this case is as it seems…
Blending police procedural with psychological thriller, From the Cradle will have every parent checking that their children are safe in their beds…then checking again.

I’ve never read anything by this author duo before, nor, do I believe, from any of the authors seperately. I went in with an open mind, not expecting much, which ended up being a good thing because the book really doesn’t offer that much either. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good mystery, but the writing is so-so and there are too many coincidences, I knew who was the culprit from close to the start, and I just couldn’t really connect with the characters.

First thing’s first, the plot. Three little kids get abducted within a week. Helen and Sean Philips, the parents of the latest abducted child, Frankie, had left their toddler in their teenage daughter’s care while they went out for dinner. When they came back, the toddler had vanished. Now it’s up to DI Patrick Lennon and his team to find out who kidnapped the children, if the kidnappings are connected, and to, hopefully, bring the kids back to their parents alive and well.

When you say psychological thriller, I hope a book will be scary. Or at least slightly unnerving. With kids going missing, you’d think it would be a no-brainer that it would be frightening, or at least a little chilling…It’s not. And I blame most of that on the story and the characters. The story is all right, but it relies too much on coincidences. The teenagers are cliché too, and in such a way that they don’t come across as realistic anymore, especially Alice’s friends and Jérome. The adults don’t fare much better. The book is told from the POV of a lot of different characters, which makes it almost impossible to connect to any of them. We switch from Helen’s POV (mother of the abducted kid) to DI Lennon’s POV, and if it would’ve stayed with that, maybe it would’ve worked. But then we also get the POV of DI Winkler (the worst cop in history), and some other POVs thrown in (Jeromes, Larry’s at some point) and it just doesn’t add up. All those characters, and not a single one I could connect with.

Then there’s the plot. It’s all kinds of unbelievable and over the top, and it’s way too coincidental. I’m willing to believe a few coincidences, but this? No thanks.

Also, the writing style annoyed me. It focused on trivial matters way too often when heart-breaking, emotional events were going on. Some of the descriptions are so irrelevant I think they should’ve been cut. They slow down the pacing immensly too.

I wouldn’t recommend this book. I read it to the end more to satisfy my curiosity than anything else, but it’s a dissapointing read. The only good thing about it was DI Lennon, who seems a deent enough cop.


Book Review: The Killling Lessons by Saul Black

21301871Title: The Killing Lessons
Author: Saul Black
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by hte publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper’s isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it’s the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it’s just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.

For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of corpses – women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them – has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she’s losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.

But the slaughter at the Cooper farmhouse didn’t quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena’s 10-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more terrifying than what she’s running from.

In The Killing Lessons, detective Valerie Hart is on the trail of a serial killer, who leaves a series of corpses behind with seemingly random objects inside them. There’s no apparent connection, but Valerie is certain the same perpetrator is at work. Even though her social life suffers a lot from her career, and she’s obsessed with solving cases, even on the brink of destroying herself in order to save potential victims, she’s determined to catch this killer and put an end to him.

At the same time, a second storyline is going on, focused on Nell, a child who manages to escape from the farmhouse where aforementioned serial killer just butchered her mom and brother. Nell manages to hide in the woods, where she gets help from a stranger who lets her into his cabin. But with a snow storm raging overhead, and having a disability, he can’t be of much help to Nell, who wants nothing more than to go back and save her mom. But when the killer hears she might be still alive, he goes on a quest to find her…

I find the synopsis of the book slightly misleading. Based from “and that place could be even more terrifying than what she’s running from”, I thought the cabin she’d end up in would be the place where the real horror would start. Add in the title, and I thought maybe she’d run into an even more depraved serial killer, who would then teach her how to inflict damage upon the person who killed her mother. But alas, the cabin is anything but terrifying, and the man living inside is kind and generous, and although suffering from illness, he does everything he can to help Nell.

The book is fast-paced, for the most part. Valerie Hart, our detective, makes for an interesting character. She’s on the brink of being destroyed by her career, almost completely swallowed up by the cases she works on. While the connection between the objects and the murderer was quite clever, it always was quite predictable.

The writing is excellent, and parts of the book are truly horrifying. I thought the first half had the most impact – for the last part, I already figured how it would play out, so it didn’t have quite the punch at the beginning had. However, it’s still highly enjoyable, and if you love thrillers, you’ll like this one too. I would’ve rated it higher if I hadn’t found it so predictable.

Book Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron

23214378Title: Normal
Author: Graeme Cameron
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is a love story. No, really.
He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you as you pass him and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving to let you into the lane ahead of him.
What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will–one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.
This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly.
Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room…the others. He doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. One small problem–he still has someone trapped in his garage.
Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time.

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what to think of Normal. Usually, when that happens, I browse through other reviews to find points I can relate to, and things I see differently. But with this book, the opinions are so divided I still don’t know whether I like it, or I hate it.

At its core, Normal is a book about a serial killer who blends in completely with his surroundings. However, he’s adept at kidnapping young girls, putting them in a cage and eventually killing him. So he’s a monster, in a way. But when this serial killer, who doesn’t get a name during the book – which works surprisingly well – meets a girl at the checkout from the 24-hour grocery and falls in love with her. He doesn’t want to kill anymore, he doesn’t want to hunt people anymore, all he wants to do is love this girl. But he has a few problems. Like the girl he has hidden in his basement. The girl he just killed. The police right on his heels.

So, I like the premise. A serial killer who suddenly doesn’t want to kill anymore. I like it, but I’m not buying it. Especially not the way it’s written here, with the whole falling in love thing (which happens way too fast, and is unrealistic). The book reminded me of the final seasons of Dexter, when he falls in love with this female murderer. Things went downhill fast after that storyline was introduced, and the same thing happens in this book. The plot sets out for an excellent psychological thriller on the first few pages, but then turns into a laughable chase between the killer and the police, and him suddenly befriending not one but two women, and then having a third seemingly attracted to him as well. I’m sorry, but finding so many people attracted to a serial killer is almost impossible. And then the way the police handles things? That was laugh out loud hilarious. I’m all for dark humor, but it needs to be realistic, and that’s what this book is lacking.

We also never get a back story into the killer’s mind. Why does he kill these women? Why hold them in a cage for so long? Nothing is ever explained, and since we spent the entire book firmly in the killer’s mind, we should get an explanation as to why he does the things he does.

The characters are dull. Their behavior is erratic. The women never reach beyond the personality of a cardboard figure, especially not the love interest. The behavior of the characters kept contradicting itself, which was just plain annoying.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the writing style, and I felt like, although we got no back story, I got a good impression of what went on in the killer’s mind. However, the story was just too unrealistic and the characters’ behavior too out of place for me to truly enjoy it.

Book Review: Damnatio Memoriae by Laura Giebfried

Damnatio Memoriae KDP coverTitle: Damnatio Memoriae

Author: Laura Giebfried

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Age Group: Young Adult and up

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing ever happened at Bickerby. Located on an island off the coast of Maine, its prestige, remoteness, and near-inaccessibility in the winter months were the reasons that Enim Lund’s father sent him there in the first place. With only a year left of school until graduation, Enim’s only focus is to keep his grades high enough to scrape by and keep his unforgiving involvement in his mother’s critical accident secreted away. But when a body washes up on the school’s shore and a teacher vanishes without explanation, the thought of a quiet, uneventful year becomes unlikely – especially given that his best friend has planted himself in the middle of the crime. Worse than the thought of a killer loose on the island with them, though, is that the unfolding events are dredging up horrors in Enim’s past that, if uncovered, will result in his own misdeeds being found out.

As Enim is pulled further and further into crimes that he both has and hasn’t committed, he finds that his mind is slowly unraveling and his grip on reality is faltering, and unwanted comparisons are being drawn between his mother’s withering health and his own. Soon, discovering who the killer is becomes his only concern. Yet before long, it becomes clear that there’s an even more difficult task at hand than who’s responsible for the horrid crimes: getting anyone to believe him.

Damnatio Memoriae is a thrilling read from start to end, and even though it’s over 500 pages, it doesn’t feel like it’s that long. The plot goes fast, the characters are well fleshed-out and feel like real people, and the setting is sufficiently depressing and chilling to make for a suspenseful read.

Enim is one year away from graduating from Bickerby, a boarding school his father forces him to attend. Enim barely talks to his dad, who seems more than happy to let his younger brother deal with his teenage son instead. Enim tries to make the best of it, but he always ends up in trouble somehow, mot of that courtesy of his best friend.

But now, things have gone above and beyond ‘trouble’. A body washed up on the school’s shore, a teacher vanished, and Enim’s best friend ends up in the middle of the crime. And on top of that, a secret from Enim’s past threatens to be revealed. The more Enim is being pulled into the crimes, the more his mind starts to unravel, and his grip on reality starts to fade. Who is committing these crimes? And when he finds out – how can Enim convince people to believe him?

Enim is an interesting character, an enigma of sorts, and I enjoyed finding out more about him and his past and the events that shaped him. The ending comes not totally unexpected, but still is surprising enough to leave me impressed. The characters carry this novel, as much of it is about Enim’s internal struggle.

A great read for fans of thrillers.

Book Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

16059938Title: Black Ice

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 2 stars


Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes danger is hard to see… until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there… and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…

Black Ice is one of the toughest books I’ve had to review. While I enjoyed the plot, and though parts of it were completely unpredictable and suspenseful, I absolutely loathed the characters, especially our MC, Britt. I kept on reading till the end because I just had to know how it finished, but still I couldn’t feel anything except disgust fo Britt. Although, I’m starting to wonder if maybe that’s how the author intended it. Let me explain.

Britt is everything you don’t expect a YA heroine to be. She’s highly dependent on the men in her life, previously her boyfriend (now ex) Calvin, who happened to be her best friend’s brother. We see flashbacks of their relationships every now and then, and while there’s no actual abuse, Calvin certainly doesn’t treat her very nicely. He cheats on her, he pretends she means nothing to him, and so on. Even though they broke up and it’s been months since she heard from him, all Britt can think about when she talks about her camping trip with her bet friend, is…you guessed it, Calvin. Even though he gives an entirely new meaning to the word ‘jackass’, she’s still infatuated with him and thinks of him as some freaking saint.

Then there’s her BFF, Korbie, who is even dumber than Britt, and even more dependent. Korbie flirts with every boy she sees – not even recognizing if one of them is potentially dangerous. She’s a whiny brat with zero survival skills or survival instinct. But heck, I would’ve been able to look past that if she was a supportive friend who had Britt’s back. Guess what? She’s not. She puts Britt down at every chance she gts, she didn’t even tell her that Calvin cheated on her, and so on. Friend? I think not.

Anyway, the two girls head up to a mountain for a camping trip, which they’re going to spend in a cabin belonging to Korbie’s parents. Calvin will be there too, to keep an eye out for them. But when the girls drive to the cabin, they get hit by an unexpected snow storm and their car breaks down. They stumble to the nearest cabin which is inhabited by two strange young men. They’re hot, so of course the girls immediately call dibs on each one, although by now the “these are bad people with bad intentions” vibe is so high any sane person would’ve run out of there screaming. But of course they have to wait until Shawn, one of these guys, decides to reveal his utter evilness by pointing a gun in their direction before they decide maybe trying to hook up with them wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Let’s jump forward in the story, to the moment where Britt and Mason (the buddy of gun man) are travelling down the mountain, and Britt…falls head over heels for him. Because one semi-abusive relationship wasn’t enough, now she’ll hang out with someone who threatened to kill her as well. Yeah….And then that entire romance/kidnapping/Stockholm Syndrome story is connected to a bunch of unexplained murders taking place on the mountain during the last few years, which was easily the most intriguing part of the book.

All in all…meh. I liked the plot, the whole kidnapping part, the murders, definitely had some suspense. But the characters were so awful I couldn’t enjoy reading about them. I want to smack some sense into Britt, and please for the love of all that is holy, I want her to stand up for herself for once. Make a decision on her own. Anything that shows she’s not entirely dependent on any man that crosses her way.

Book Review: The Stolen Ones by Richard Montenari

17899397Title: The Stolen Ones
Author: Richard Montenari
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers
Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

In Richard Montanari’s chilling new suspense novel, a sealed-off network of secret passages connects all of Philadelphia to the killer hidden within.

Luther Wade grew up in Cold River, a warehouse for the criminally insane. Two decades ago the hospital closed it doors forever, but Luther never left. He wanders the catacombs beneath the city, channeling the violent dreams of Eduard Kross, Europe’s most prolific serial killer of the 20th century.
A two-year-old girl is found wandering the streets of Philadelphia in the middle of the night by detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. She does not speak, but she may hold the key to solving a string of murders committed in and around Priory Park.
As the detectives investigate, more bodies are found at Priory Park, and they’re drawn closer and closer to the doors of Luther’s devious maze and the dark secrets of Cold River.

I started reading The Stolen Ones, hoping I’d enjoy the book. The plot sounded great. An asylum for the criminally insane, catacombs, a serial killer channeling violent dreams, a mix of supernatural and psychological thriller. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that great.

We get introduced to main characters Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, two detectives, rather shortly, which is all right, considering this book is number eight in a series. However, I didn’t mind, I got a well-enough grasp of the characters to figure out their personalities and quirks. Luther, the bad guy, was intriguing too. He was led by the dreams of serial killer Eduard Kross due to some psychiatric experiment gone wrong.

However, the writing was formulaic and too descriptive. The pacing was too slow, and for the most part, the book wasn’t suspenseful at all. I didn’t feel invested in any of the murdered characters. The main characters were likeable, but too standard. They don’t stand out from the dozens of other police officers and detectives playing roles in suspense novels. The conditions in the psychiatric hospital aren’t believable at all. I’m okay with embellishing things, or making things worse to fit the story, but it was way over the top here. That facility, Cold River, sounded like something from Shutter Island, or from American Horror Story.

The plot went in all kinds of directions, and it was disjointed as well. Not one of my favorite detective novels, I’m afraid.

Author Interview with Jess C. Scott

I’m interviewing Jess C. Scott on my blog today. Jess is the author of “Playmates”, a pscyhological thriller that sounds very intriguing. Thank you for answering my interview questions, Jess, and welcome to my blog!

1) How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember!

2) What is your favorite genre to write?

I enjoyed writing erotic stories for some time. I was not interested in explicitness for its own sake—what I liked was exploring the intensity and intimacy involved within complex sexual relationships.

As of late, I have taken up an interest in the psychological thriller genre, which can include elements of crime fiction, horror, and psychological suspense. I am most happy with genres that allow me to explore dark and complex themes.

3) Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

The genres would probably be espionage and mystery. Capturing the allure in such stories can be quite the challenge.

4) Please tell us about your book.

Follow THE WILDE TWINS in a twisted tale of love and loyalty. . .

As kids, Tania and Trevor’s unsupervised play time offers a lifeline to sanity amidst the chaos of family dysfunction. When danger threatens Tania, Trevor isn’t willing to stand by and watch his sister get hurt. The instinct for survival is only rivaled by the killer instincts the Wilde siblings encourage in each other. Instincts that turn into a deadly game igniting their first taste for blood.

Playmates is the first book in The Wilde Twins: a psychological thriller about an “evil twins” serial killing team—and their slow descent into amoral mayhem.

5) Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite (or least favorite), because most of the characters are there for some kind of function or purpose.

6) What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The hardest part was maintaining the intensity of the twins’ bond with each other, as the story progressed and more characters started coming into the picture. I wanted to keep the story going without getting too repetitive with scenes and dialogue.

7) What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I mostly require a quiet space with some privacy. That would be the most important thing so that I can focus.

8) How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

The actual writing did not take too long, but I had been thinking of the story for quite some time (cumulatively, over many years).

9) Can you tell us about your editing process?

I comb through the manuscript several times, chapter by chapter, sometimes line by line, before handing it over to a very small number of trusted sources for their feedback. Very often these kind souls point out some very important details I might have missed had I not sought their opinion.

10) Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

The book is part of a trilogy. I might write some additional stories if there are requests for certain as yet untold portions.

11) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Have clearly-defined goals and stay true to yourself.

12) Why should everyone read your book?

They would get the chance to go on an emotional roller-coaster within the safety of the boundaries of fiction.

13) If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

1. Edgar Allan Poe

2. Stephen King

3. Oscar Wilde

14) What inspired you to write your book?

I have always wondered what it might be like if I had a twin brother. If we both brought out the worst in each other, in an absolute worst case scenario, this story might have been the actual result.

15) Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I would like to be a contributor to The Mind’s Eye Series. It is a unique project based on a collaborative effort involving a diverse group of talented poets, writers and photographers.

I have a lot of other projects to get to, some of which have been on the back burner for a while. I will complete my “cyberpunk elven trilogy” once I develop a not-so-boring plot for the second and third books (so far I have only completed the first book).

Thanks for having me!

About Playmates


A psychological thriller about a brother sister serial killing team–and their slow descent into amoral mayhem.
Follow the Wilde twins in a twisted tale of love and loyalty…
GENRE: Psychological Thriller
* * *
As kids, Tania and Trevor’s unsupervised play time offers a lifeline to sanity amidst the chaos of family dysfunction. When danger threatens Tania, Trevor isn’t willing to stand by and watch his sister get hurt. The instinct for survival is only rivaled by the killer instincts the Wilde siblings encourage in each other. Instincts that turn into a deadly game igniting their first taste for blood.
Book #1 in The Wilde Twins trilogy.