D. E. M. (Deus Ex Machina) by Lee Ness

D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina by Lee Ness

No good turn goes unpunished!

When Rachel is spurred to use her computing skills to find an abducted boy, she has no idea that it will bring her to the attention of an anonymous vigilante. Is the vigilante what he seems and what does he want with Rachel? As she gets drawn deeper into his world she tries to find out more about him only to put herself and her friends in grave danger. When she finally realises that he isn’t a vigilante at all, Rachel is in a race against time to save her friends and prevent him from escalating the war between Israel and Palestine.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pleasantly surprised is the way to describe my reaction to this book. Although I am not a huge fan of political thrillers and have limited knowledge when it comes to computer operations, this book offered a lot more than that to the general reader.

The author wastes no time creating an interesting situation for the main character and pulling the reader into the story. From the beginning I could identify with the main character, although we don’t learn much about her until later in the book.

I thought her background and the way the author connected it to the story was really well planned and I liked all of the unexpected twists in this story. Try as you might, you won’t be able to figure this one out until the very end.

The descriptions of the procedures the hackers used were interesting and kept me wanting to find out more, and the relationships between the characters grew more intense throughout the story. This is the kind of book where you are never sure who to trust and that makes in an exciting journey.

Overall, I thought this was a great book and would encourage other readers to give it a try.

About the author:

“I was originally a non-fiction author, having written two sports books (The Sports Motivation Master Plan and Growth: Using the Mindset Model for Sporting Success). But once I had the writing bug, I had to write a novel. The first one I created in my head while driving a very slow mini-bus full of athletes to and from a competition. After 5 hours driving, I had the basic plots for a series of novels about a future Olympian in ancient Greece. I wrote the first of these, Hoplite over the next year or so, but I wisely decided not to publish. I didn’t have the skill at that point and the book wouldn’t have been ready. I edited about 7 times and removed the first 8 chapters.
While I was deciding what to do, I wrote a short story. I enjoyed the story so much, and the two characters in it, I decided to turn that into a full novel and the short story became chapter 1. With what I’d learned from writing and editing the first book, I felt a lot better. It still needed some serious editing and I made a few mistakes originally, but I think the book is much more polished and has a great pace (in my opinion!)
So became D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina. It came from the short story, which in turn came from a piece of advice given to me long ago as a young manager “No good deed goes unpunished!” Additionally, I just loved the term Deus Ex Machina. So three separate things came together and the story is where they intersect.
Writing D.E.M. has helped me rewrite the original novel, which I’m releasing in 6 parts on e-book over the course of 2015 and on paperback in December. I’ve written the follow up to Hoplite, which I’m just finishing the final chapters on now, and then I have the full plot for D.E.M. – Quid Pro Quo. I’ve given myself the target of releasing that one on 01/01/16, which will be a challenge, but people who’ve read the first one keep asking me for the second, so I can’t let anyone down.”

Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Siren's Call (Dark Seas)Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Lily Borsage is the ultimate siren: gorgeous, aloof and irresistible to all the men in Bayou La Siryna. All of them, that is, until Nashoba Bowman comes back to town. The Native American kid whose innocent first kiss Lily remembers fondly is now all grown-up, hot as an Alabama summer and immune to Lily’s charms. What self-respecting mermaid could resist finding out more?

But Nash has a dark history that puts any woman he loves in grave danger, and a heritage of power he isn’t ready to accept. And Lily has a secret that no mortal man can ever know. When a mysterious enemy starts menacing Lily, they will both have to risk everything and embrace their deepest destinies if they want to survive.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Debbie Herbert has done it again, bringing her readers the magic of attraction and romance tinged with danger and the unknown.

Love this book. Just like the others in this series, this novel is filled with things that will make you swoon–most especially the male lead. Of the three books I have read in this series, this one is my favourite. It was nice to get updates on the lives of previously featured characters, and I really felt like the author tied everything together in this novel.

Debbie Herbert is really good at building unique situations for her characters and creating the kind of chemistry between them that you want to see in a romance. Her couples feel really genuine and the story line feels very natural and not contrived.

It is easy to become swiftly involved in these stories and find yourself lost in the lives of these women. The setting was as beautiful and mysterious as the rest of the series, and makes you wonder if there just might really be mermaids in the Bayou.

This was a great novel, and one that I happily recommend. If you are looking for a story that has more than just a simple romance, this is the way to go.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own.

Every Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Breath You TakeEvery Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Natalie Scott goes jogging along Chicago’s lakefront. She likes foreign films, cinnamon gum and strawberry yogurt. She smells like sunflowers in the summer and roses in the winter.

These are just a few of the things Natalie’s stalker knows about her.

In fact, he knows everything about her.

In one brutal act of violence, Natalie’s stalker will reveal himself to her, imprisoning her in the process, determined to own her body and soul. Now trapped in a madman’s web, Natalie finds herself in a terrifying battle of wills where the only way to survive is to beat the monster at his own game…

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I look forward to new Bianca Sloane novels for a lot of reasons, but mostly it is her incredible ability to create plot twists that the reader never expects.

“Every Breath You Take” is a perfect title for this book. The author has not only shown us what it is like to be stalked, tortured and desperate, but has given us a more in-depth look at the world of serious psychiatric disorders and the darker side of obsession.

The main character in this story has been through a lot, and yet remains strong and even likeable all the way through the book. I could easily identify with her desire to be free of burdens from the past and want to start anew, and I found my own emotions following that of the character through each event in the book.

I was particularly impressed with the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped. Watching the main character gain understanding of her captor and how to use his own desires against him was interesting and kept me on edge.

Once you start reading this book, you won’t want to stop. I found it hard to put this novel down and do much of anything else. This story is quickly paced, intelligent and has the kind of characters that it is easy to love (and hate.)

If you are looking for a good book to take you away from everything, this is one you can get lost in.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

The Faerie TreeThe Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books that can manage a bit of magic and still seem so real. This is definitely one of those stories that makes you believe in the power of love.

I think what made me like this novel more than anything else, was the way the characters mirrored real people. The conversations didn’t feel forced and I saw multiple sides of each character so by the end it was like I had known them forever. There were times during this story when I was surprised by the level of emotion the male lead character showed, and that was a nice change. Some authors seem to be afraid to show any weakness in their main character and that makes me feel like I can’t get close to them, but in this story, that was not the case.

When I began reading this I sort of expected it to be an overdose of magic realism as that seems to be a trend, but by the end of the first couple chapters I was pleasantly surprised that this is a very realistic story. The magic comes from people and their relationships with one another, rather than a wand or an incantation.

This author makes you believe what you are reading and wonder what happened to the characters after her stories are complete.

I really Enjoy Jane Cable’s writing. She takes the time to let her story develop, has memorable characters, and knows how to build suspense and curiosity in her readers.

Overall, this was a great book that I happily recommend to other readers.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

What doesn’t Kill her by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her (Reeve LeClaire, #2, US Edition)What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

Read

What Doesn’t Kill Her (Reeve LeClaire #2)

by Carla Norton (Goodreads Author)
From the acclaimed author of The Edge of Normal, a riveting new thriller in which the heroine must confront her former tormentor who has escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane

Reeve LeClaire is a college student, dammit, not Daryl Wayne Flint’s victim. Not anymore—not when Reeve is finally recovering a life of her own after four years of captivity.

Flint is safely locked up in Olshaker Psychiatric Hospital, where he belongs. He is walking the grounds of the forensic unit, performing his strange but apparently harmless rituals. It seems that he is still suffering the effects of the head injury he suffered in the car crash that freed Reeve seven years ago. Post-concussive syndrome, they call it.

For all that Flint seems like a model patient, he has long been planning his next move. When the moment arrives, he gets clean away from the hospital before the alarm even sounds. And Reeve is shocked out of her new life by her worst nightmare: Her kidnapper has escaped.

Less than 24 hours later, Flint kills someone from his past–and Reeve’s blocked memories jolt back into consciousness. As much as she would like to forget him, she knows this criminal better than anyone else. When Flint evades capture, baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail from the psychiatric lock-up to the forests of Washington state, Reeve suddenly realizes that she is the only one who can stop him.
Reeve is an irresistibly brave and believable heroine in Carla Norton’s heart-stopping new thriller about a young woman who learns to fight back.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really terrifying, edge of your seat kind of book. If you are bored with thrillers that claim they will keep you up at night and then disappoint, this is a book you should read. It has been a long time since I was excited and frightened at the same time to turn to the next page.

Carla Norton has brought us characters that seem as large as life and that are easy to care about (or hate with a passion, depending on which character it is.) Whilst reading this I felt my own pulse responding to the fear factors and yelling out loud at the characters to run! Hide! (Don’t read this book around others if you want people to think you are well adjusted.)

From the very first chapter this is a novel that will take you to unexpected places and thrill you. I never found myself obsessing over the percentage on my kindle…surely a sign of a great book.

The only gripe I had throughout the whole thing, is that the main character at times seemed to jump to conclusions about things a bit quicker than I would have expected.

My favourite character was bender. He is tough, intelligent and the kind of guy that you can’t help but love from the start.

I think this would be an awesome book for a book club or other group reading as there is so much in it that could be discussed later on. I’m hoping for a sequel.

Go. Read it. You won’t be sorry you did.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Connicle Curse by Gregory Harris

The Connicle Curse (Colin Pendragon Mysteries, #3)The Connicle Curse by Gregory Harris

Victorian London’s private detective Colin Pendragon learns that the cost of wealth can indeed be dear as he investigates the grisly fate of a well-heeled financier. . .

When wealthy Edmond Connicle suddenly disappears, his distraught wife enlists the services of master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his loyal partner, Ethan Pruitt. Already on the case, however, is Scotland Yard’s Inspector Varcoe. He suspects the Connicles’ West African scullery maid of doing in her employer, especially when a badly burned body is discovered on the estate grounds with a sack of Voodoo festishes buried beneath it.

But all is not as it seems, and as more bodies are found, the pressure mounts on Varcoe, forcing him to forge an uneasy alliance with his nemesis, Pendragon. At the same time, Mrs. Connicle’s fragile mental state appears increasingly more precarious. Could madness, not black magic, be at the root of these murders? To untangle the twisted truth, Pendragon and Pruitt must penetrate the hidden lives of the elite and expose the malevolent machinations of a ruthless killer. . .

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I say yay for character development. Whereas some series tend to fizzle out after a while because the characters become predictable and so do the events, Gregory Harris has ensured that this didn’t happen with these novels.

I’m always excited to see what Colin and Ethan are going to get themselves into with each new book, and what location they will find themselves in. This has become one of my very favourite series and this book reminded me once more, why I love these books so much.

The relationships in these stories are as complex as the plot and mysteries within. I like that the reader finds out more about the pasts of the two main characters with each new novel, and the emotional connection I have with these two unlikely heroes grows every time I read another one.

Of the three books thus far, this one has the most intricate mysteries, involving a larger group of suspects. I appreciate that try as I might, I can’t guess what is really going on until it is fully revealed in the end.

This book made me laugh as usual. The relationships between Colin and those he is forced to work with to solve these cases allows for many snarky remarks and uncomfortable situations, easing the tension of the grim subject matter. I was sad to see a favourite character go in this book, but liked the way it ended overall.

In the end, I find myself impatiently waiting for the next book and hoping it isn’t a long wait.

Always recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberol

Doctor DeathDoctor Death by Lene Kaaberbøl
From the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Boy in the Suitcase, a gripping historical thriller and poignant coming-of-age story set in nineteenth-century France.

Madeleine Karno is an ambitious young woman eager to shatter the confines of her provincial French town. Driven and strong headed, Madeleine is set apart by her unusual occupation: assisting her father, Dr. Albert Karno, in his job as a forensic doctor.

The year is 1894, and a young girl is found dead on the snowy streets of Varbourg. Dr. Karno is called in to determine the cause of her death, but before he can examine the body, the girl’s family forbids the autopsy from taking place. The only anomaly he manages to find is in the form of a mite in her nostril. Shortly after, several other dead bodies are discovered throughout the city, and Madeleine, her father, and the city commissioner must use the new science of forensic evidence to solve the mysterious cases before they all become the next victims of a deadly disease – or of a heinous murderer.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The author has given us once more a strong main character that is both intelligent and willing to get her hands dirty to get to the root of a mystery.

In the realm of early forensic science there have been quite a few recent novels, but most of them I felt were either using science too advanced for their time or not advanced enough. This book seemed to strike the right balance and also told an exciting story in the process.

The author did a good job of making her main character emotional enough that we feel her pain, and yet kept her sensible enough that she did not come off as silly and a damsel in distress.

Overall, I thought this was a great book with lots of mysteries to solve and characters that I could easily care for.

Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine AwayMy Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
It was the summer everything changed.…

My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a book to read on the way through Baton Rouge! Incidentally I was reading this book on the way to NOLA, so it was very appropriate.

I honestly can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this novel. It starts out raising the curiosity of the reader and keeps that pace and momentum going until the very end.

This book deals with a very serious issue, rape, but also with what it is like to come of age in a typical American neighbourhood. The trials and tribulations of an adolescent boy’s life are laid out plainly and truthfully on these pages, but in such a way that even a person never having been in the same situation can understand and appreciate.

The descriptions that M.O. Walsh uses in his writing are more than adequate, they transform a page full of words into a hot Louisiana night, where you can smell the air and see the happenings of the neighbours.

I was impressed with the way he chose to end this book as well. Since the story was built mostly around one important event, I half expected it to end the way most authors would have chosen to take it. This was different. Well thought out and unexpected, the climax of this story did the rest of the book justice.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Tasteful, exciting, fresh writing from an author I hope to see much more from.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely PostmanThe Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault
A beautifully tragic and thought-provoking tale that perfectly reflects the elegance and style of Murakami and the skill and plotting of Julian Barnes

Bilodo lives a solitary daily life, routinely completing his postal rounds every day and returning to his empty Montreal apartment. But he has found a way to break the cycle—Bilodo has taken to stealing people’s mail, steaming open the envelopes, and reading the letters inside. And so it is he comes across Ségolène’s letters. She is corresponding with Gaston, a master poet, and their letters are each composed of only three lines. They are writing each other haikus. The simplicity and elegance of their poems move Bilado and he begins to fall in love with her. But one day, out on his round, he witnesses a terrible and tragic accident. Just as Gaston is walking up to the post-box to mail his next haiku to Ségolène, he is hit by a car and dies on the side of the road. And so Bilodo makes an extraordinary decision—he will impersonate Gaston and continue to write to Ségolène under this guise. But how long can the deception continue for? Denis Thériault weaves a passionate and elegant tale, comic and tragic with a love story at its heart.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve got mixed emotions about this book. I would certainly call it more experimental than mainstream, and yet there is a certain brilliance in the way the author made this book less about character development and more about the art of Haiku. It is almost like the poetry replaces the main character in much of the book.

This is a strange book. The reader never really gets to know a lot about the main character, but you get the sense that loneliness controls his every thought and action. The author did a good job of portraying what it is like to be an extreme introvert and I liked the relationship the character built with someone he had never met–even if the way he did it was somewhat creepy.

This novella has a few different interesting themes and the author explores the human heart, mind and decision making abilities of his main character well.

Overall, I thought this was worth the time to read. If nothing else, it will make you think.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.


The Child’s Past Life by Cai Jun

Child's Past Life, TheChild’s Past Life, The by Cai Jun

On a rainy June night in 1995, an unknown assailant stabs to death Shen Ming, a self-made and much-envied high school teacher. This death in the school’s haunted Demon Girl Zone is the last in a chain of events that already claimed two other victims. But the police are unable to prove any connection between the murders, and the deeper they dig, the fewer answers they find. In order to avenge his own death, Shen Ming inhabits the body of the eerily precocious boy Si Wang, whose life’s quest is to solve the mystery of Shen Ming’s murder—even if it means that others will die.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without doubt, this book has one of the most complex plots I have ever seen in a fiction novel. In the beginning, I struggled a bit to figure out where the author was going with this story, but soon found myself enthralled and unable to put this book down. When I wasn’t actively reading it, I was thinking about it.

The concept of this story is simple, a child remembering a life that he never lived in his current form, but the plot takes multiple unexpected twists and leaves the reader hungering for answers by the time they reach the halfway mark.

This author has a way with character creation and made me feel as if these characters were people I knew and cared for. The outsider-like feel of the main character when he is reborn as a different child made me long to help him figure things out and kept me involved in the story.

I think this may be my favourite book of the year. For anyone who likes novels that keep you guessing, make you feel strongly about the ending and like solving mysteries, this is a book you should definitely read.

Excellent and worth all five stars.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.