Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore (audio)

Title: The Girl in the Castle
Author: Santa Montefiore
Series: The Deverill Chronicles, #1
Narrator: Genevieve Swallow
Published: September 2016, HarperAudio / William Morrow Paperbacks
Length: 17 hours 25 minutes / 576 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Publisher

International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the 20th century - perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor.

Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special, as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty's beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she's Anglo-Irish, Kitty's heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish-Catholic friends - Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle's cook; and Jack O'Leary, the vet's son - is unmatched, even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn't fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can't help falling in love, although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles, since they are from different worlds.

Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can't help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty's station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all.

When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But, as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested - and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she's ever known are threatened.

A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Santa Montefiore and I'm so glad to know that it's also the first in a trilogy. I found myself completely wrapped up in this family saga and look forward to continuing on with the next installment! 

One of the aspects I loved about this book is the setting - I haven't read too many historical fiction family sagas set in Ireland and I felt that Santa Montefiore really brought the Irish setting to life. The castles and Irish lore, ghosts and countryside all came together to almost act as characters themselves.   

Kitty Deverill is nine years old when we first meet her and she has a strong bond with her grandmother, Lady Deverill. And, like her grandmother, she has the gift of seeing ghosts. Just this slight aspect of paranormal was enough to intrigue me - yes, you had to suspend belief, but it never was too much. I liked it and I think it added just the right tone to the overall enjoyment of the story - that good old Irish lore. I also loved Kitty's character - she has just the right amount of spunk and mischievousness that you can't help but want to know what she is going to get herself caught up with next. She finds herself paired up with two unlikely friends - Bridie, the daughter of the castle's cook, and Jack, the local vet's son. These three develop a friendship that will be tested time and time again.

I look forward to seeing how this trilogy progresses in the next installment. I enjoyed following Kitty as she matured into a young woman - she certainly hasn't had an easy life so far, and doesn't live in easy times, but that doesn't seem to stop her from going after what she wants or what she believes in.   

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Genevieve Swallow narrate and I thought she did a good job. It's a long book, and sometimes with longer books, it's hard to stay engaged in the storyline, but I had no problem in this case. Genevieve managed to keep me engaged and gave all the characters unique voices so that I always knew who was speaking. Even if I had to put the book down for a prolonged period of time, I felt I could pick up right where I was without feeling lost - not bad! I will definitely be checking out what else she has narrated and I do hope she continues to narrate this trilogy - my everlasting hope when it comes to trilogies and series!!!

Books in this series:
  1. The Girl in the Castle
  2. Daughters of Castle Deverill  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Short & Sweet Review: The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg (audio)

Title: The Preacher
Author: Camilla Lackberg
Series: Patrik Hedstrom (Fjallbacka), #2
Narrator: David Thorn
Published: June 2011, HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Length: 15 hour 46 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

In the fishing community of Fjällbacka, life is remote, peaceful, and for some, tragically short. Foul play was always suspected in the disappearance twenty years ago of two young campers, but their bodies were never found. But now, a young boy out playing has confirmed the grim truth. Their remains are discovered alongside those of a fresh victim, sending the tiny town into shock.

Local detective Patrik Hedström, expecting a baby with his girlfriend Erica, can only imagine what it is like to lose a child. When a second young girl goes missing, Hedström's attention focuses on the Hults, a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. The suspect list is long but time is short—which of this family's dark secrets will provide the vital clue?
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: This is the second book in Camilla Lackberg's Fjallbacka/Patrik Hedstrom series and I am absolutely loving it - I just cannot get enough of this series!!! I think one of the good things about coming into a series late is that I don't have to wait a whole year for the next book - I can almost go book to book if I want.

One think I noticed about this installment is that Patrik takes more of a central role than he did in the previous book and Erica takes more of a backseat...I'm not sure if that is going to be the case completely moving forward with the series or if that was only because she was so late in her pregnancy this time around - I guess only time will tell! But, it was interesting to see so much of Patrik and how he works. I really do like both characters and how he, in particular goes about his job. 

The book continues with it's dark aspect to it, as well as the police procedural that I've come to enjoy. The case was interesting with it's religious fanaticism and all that that entailed. The details that Camilla Lackberg brings to her writing is just amazing! It's interesting, dark, twisted and creepy all at once.

I was happy - though maybe that isn't the best word, given the nature of the story line - to see that Anna, Erica's sister, was back in the picture. There is a lot going on there and to really understand Erica, we need to see that play out to the end, I think.

The end is quite a good one and makes me quite anxious to jump right into the next book...good thing I can do that quickly :) 

Audio thoughts:
I am really enjoying listening to this series on audio. While each book is quite long, you get wrapped up in the story and don't realize the time. I think David Thorn does a good job with the voices and the pacing.

Books in this series: 
  1. The Ice Princess
  2. The Preacher
  3. The Stonecutter
  4. The Stranger
  5. The Hidden Child
  6. The Drowning
  7. The Lost Boy

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Short & Sweet Review: Night & Day by Iris Johansen (audio)

Title: Night & Day
Author: Iris Johansen
Series: Eve Duncan, #21
Narrator: Elisabeth Rodgers
Published: July 2016, Recorded Books
Length: 12 hours 3 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes the explosive third book in the latest Eve Duncan trilogy.

Iris Johansen's third book in her latest explosive trilogy starring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan takes readers on a high-energy adventure with Eve fighting to overcome the odds. Protecting Cara Delaney from the enemies who want her dead leads Eve to be their target. It will take everything she has to rescue Cara, and doing so will put that which is dearest to her at risk. Night and Day is the pulse-pounding race to a conclusion that will have readers on the edge of their seats.
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: This is the third, and final, book in this year's Eve Duncan trilogy and what a story it was!!! First, you all know how much I love this series, and all of the Iris Johansen series, and this one was no exception.

I loved getting to know Cara - I think she was a shining star in this mini-trilogy and I really do hope this is not the last we have seen of her. She seemed to be able to adapt to whatever was thrown her way and really felt for and listened to those around her. 

The pace of this book was, as usual, fast and kept you on your toes. It was filled with emotional traps, too - there was a few times I found myself worrying about certain characters due to circumstances, be it due to the situation or danger or something else. 

I am looking forward to the next book...I just love these characters and cannot wait to see what awaits them next!

Audio thoughts: Once again, Elisabeth Rodgers knocks this audio out of the park!!! She does such a great job with the narration of this series and I am always so excited when I see her name on an Iris Johansen audio book...I sure do hope this continues for as long as this series does!

Books in this series:

     1.   The Face of Deception               12.   Eve
     2.   The Killing Game                       13.   Quinn
     3.   The Search                                   14.   Bonnie
     4.   Body of Lies                                 15.   Sleep No More                            
     4.5   Dead Aim                                   16.   Taking Eve
     5.   Blind Alley                                   17.   Hunting Eve
     6.   Countdown                                  18.   Silencing Eve
     7.   Stalemate                                     19.   Shadow Play
     8.   Quicksand                                    20.  Hide Away
     9.   Blood Game                                 21.   Night & Day
    10.  Eight Days to Live
    11.  Chasing the Night                            


Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

Title: Only Daughter
Author: Anna Snoekstra
Published: September 2016, MIRA 
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Publisher
In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She'd been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast-food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen—blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched—though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.

Soon the imposter is living Bec's life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends' names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec's welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter—and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

My thoughts: This is another crazy, twisted psychological thriller that had me glued to the pages, hooked from the beginning as I was desperate to find out what was going on. For a debut novel, this is a clever, intriguing read and I definitely think this author has staying power!

I loved how despite it's short length, this book gets under your skin...but, I have to say, it wasn't until the last third of the book that the suspense really picks up. Before that, the story sort of meanders along, keeping my interest, but not as suspenseful or tension-filled as I was expecting. I kept waiting for it - the suspense that I knew was coming, as it's alluded to, but it's put off, and them BAM, finally it comes and WOW, when we get to that out, because it comes full-on and non-stop!

I also liked how it flips back and forth between the two Bec's - this keeps you on your toes as you aren't sure what to expect and what clues, if any, you might miss.  Every time I thought I had things figured out, a twist was thrown in that had me scratching my head...and scrambling to reconfigure what I thought I knew.

Overall, this story starts off a little benign and then gets dark and creepy. It's twisted and definitely not least I didn't think it was! This author is definitely one to keep an eye on...another one that I am definitely adding to my ever-growing list!  


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