Out Soon! One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

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Title: One of Us
Author: Tawni O’Dell
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardcover, 304 pages
Published: August 19th 2014 by Gallery Books
Genre(s): Mystery; Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

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Dr. Sheridan Doyle, a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist, is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners’ deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny, in pursuit of a killer, comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.

One of Us is set in a small mining town which has a troubled background and a troubled present when a body is found at the gallows. The Gallows already represented the fears, superstitions and paranoias of the inhabitants of the tight-knit community, so it’s fair to say that when the news gets out, things go from strange to stranger.

I loved everything about this in theory. The setting, the strange history of the town and the clear divide between the rich and poor all had potential to make this a great story but unfortunately, I wasn’t completely won over.

For the most part One of Us is written from the perspective of Danny, a semi-famous forensic psychologist who left Lost Creek behind him a long time ago, but is back to check up on his grandfather Tommy.

I found it hard to warm to Danny. Sure, he’d had it pretty bad growing up with a mentally ill mother who killed his baby sister and buried her in the backyard (although she vehemently denies this). And yeah he managed overcome all that and make a success out of himself, but he was also quite cold and distant.

His relationship with both Tommy (his granddad), and Rafe (the detective on the case), should have softened him but he still felt too pristine and unflappable to me, with his fine suits and arrogance.

Things start to get interesting when all of a sudden the narration switches to that of Scarlet, who is even more emotionless than Danny, and described as a stunning fembot. From here, the story unravels and with it the towns secrets and lies slowly come to light.

I couldn’t fault the writing in One of Us. It flowed beautifully and kept a good pace, but it just wasn’t very exciting. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few twists, but the main one I guessed before the big reveal which ruined it a bit for me, and I just needed more GRIT.

This was the first book I’ve read by O’Dell and it certainly hasn’t put me off. I really liked the style and ideas but it didn’t quite pull it off.

unicorn rating 3

One of Us is available to pre-order from Waterstones now.

Out Now: Binds That Tie by Kate Moretti

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Title: Binds That Tie
Author: Kate Moretti
Series: N/A
Genre(s): Crime; Thriller
Format(s): Paperback; Kindle
Pages: 340
Published: March 2014 by Red Adept Publishing

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Synopsis

Love ties. Murder binds.

Maggie never felt as though she belonged until Chris Stevens showed her what true happiness meant. Ten years into their marriage, miscarriages and infidelities have scarred them both. Despite their perfect-couple image, Maggie can’t look at Chris with anything but resentment. When a charismatic stranger offers the opportunity for a little harmless flirtation, she jumps into the game.

But charm soon turns to malice, and a deadly split-second decision forces Maggie and Chris onto a dangerous path fraught with secrets, lies, and guilt. With no one else to turn to—no one she dares trust—Maggie will ultimately learn just how binding marital ties can be.

Meet the Author

katieKate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of the women’s fiction novel, Thought I Knew You. Her second novel Binds That Tie was released in March 2014. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway. (ME TOO!)

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Say Whaaaaaat?

“It was almost impossible to put this book down. The suspense was intense. The storyline powerful.” – Meghan, Goodreads

Binds That Tie is a page-turning, plot-twisting, gripping crime novel that will suck you in from the very first word and make your jaw drop at the end.”

-Sarah DiCello, Amazon

“I was hooked from the beginning….. Binds That Tie is a real page turner, full of sympathetic and flawed characters struggling to make their relationships work, but who end up being their own worst enemies.” -W.S Haggard, Goodreads

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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Title: Burial Rites
Series: N/A
Author: Hannah Kent
Edition: Paperback, 355 pages
Published: February 27th 2014 by Picador
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, it bought it!

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Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her. But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story.

Burial Rites is one of those books in which not a lot happens, but you’re compelled to read regardless. Hannah Kent has written a beautiful novel, based on real events that took place in Iceland in the 1800s.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir is awaiting execution for playing a part in the murder of two men. We are not sure how or why she was involved, or if in fact she actually committed the crime, and the slow release of that information is where the tension, and intrigue comes from.

Agnes is sent to the isolated home of Jon Jonsson and family where she will await her execution date, much to the family’s dismay. But as they get to know Agnes, she begins to open up about the events leading up to her incarceration, and starts to become a part of all their lives. Everyone is affected by Agnes’ presence in different ways.

Burial Rites is a chilling read, and written a lot more simplistically than I was expecting, considering all of the literary awards it has been nominated for. In parts it reads like a Thriller or Family Saga rather than literary fiction, and that was a pleasant surprise for me.

I also thought that Kent captured the harsh environment of Iceland, and the hardiness of its inhabitants well. One of the main reasons I was so looking forward to this book was because I visited Iceland earlier in the year and totally fell in love with it. And while Burial Rites is set when Iceland was completely different to how it is today, I still saw a lot of similarities. What I loved about Iceland, I also loved in this book – the beauty in bleakness.

Agnes’ story reveals a whole other story of strength, faith, and survival. It is bleak, but not depressing, and definitely a story worth telling.

unicorn rating 4

Burial Rites is available now in hardback & paperback from Waterstones. See how you can get 10% off HERE.

Keep Your Enemies Close…

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

weight The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

Reading The Weight of Blood felt like sitting on a swing-chair on a porch in the sticky night-time heat with Dragonfiles bashing against your lantern; kind of peaceful and beautiful but there’s this uncomfortable feeling rising to the surface, and you know where it’s coming from but if you just ignore it, it might go away. Obviously, it never goes away…

The Weight of blood is set in a small town with big secrets and a growing number of disappearing teenage girls. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and from two different periods of time. In the present Lucy is hell-bent on finding out what happened to her friend Cheri, a girl with learning-difficulties who was found dismembered in a tree, and also trying to discover what happened to her mum, Lila who vanished a year after she was born.

We also follow Lila as she first arrives in Henbane with the promise of a job and board from local business man, Crete Dane. It’s not long before Lila realises that all is not quite as it seems in this town.

McHugh really did a great job here in intertwining these two stories to create a compelling read. I wasn’t ferociously trying to find out who was behind it all, or on the edge of my seat as I was fed more pieces of the puzzle like I sometimes am when reading thrillers, but that’s not to say it wasn’t compelling.

The story unfolds at a gentle pace (and the plot continues to thicken all the way to the end) but I was never bored. There is something enchanting about her writing that makes it a joy to just float along for the ride. The style really reminded me of Alice Hoffman in that way.

I was a little disappointed that there were no major unexpected turns or twists, but as it was the writing and the characters were enough to keep me happy. The characterisation was great, with more than enough seedy, sinister ones to keep you guessing, and Lila and Lucy were both so likeable that it was hard to not get invested in their well-being.

I look forward to reading more by Laura McHugh.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an HONEST review,
Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Details: Hardcover, ebook, 320 pages
Published: March 11th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
My Rating: 4/5
You’ll like it if you liked: Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

Orbital Kin by James E. Parsons

18206543After an unusual disease breaks out and begins to threaten the country, a group of postgraduate students at a British university focus their research upon it, aiming to find out the cause and the cure.
The experimentations move out to space stations soon enough, in hope of a cure being produced while more mysterious events take place. The two graduate students find success, breakthroughs and the sudden spreading illness takes them in directions they never expected.
Can university graduates Steven and Alan save the country from the spread of the disease? Only time will tell…

Orbital Kin was such a Rollercoaster of a read for me. One minute I loved it and the next I wanted it to end!

We start with Univeristy students Steven and Alan partying, finishing up their degrees and continuing their scientific research. When people suddenly begin falling ill with an unprecedented, deadly disease which results in violent attacks, Steven and Alan’s research is taken in a new direction.

There was good action from the start, but I found the first third of Orbital Kin a bit clunky and awkward, making it hard to get into. The dialogue started off pretty bad too (so many mate’s and man’s– whether it was supposed to be regional dialect I don’t know, but it didn’t work for me) but as I read on I realised that it was just a case of teething pains and after a couple of chapters it settled into a rhythm and really began to improve.

There were a lot of things in this story that intrigued and excited me, mainly centered around protagonist Steven. His strange visions of The Red Man, his father’s involvement in some pretty messed up scientific experiments who also uses his daughter Lucy as human guinea pig, and the secrets lurking between his whole family.

Lucy, Steven’s little sister, was really the only character I had any feelings about. The main disappointment for me was that I didn’t like any of the characters in this story so I found it hard to care about was happening until Lucy came along. She kind of reminded me of Abra in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, in that she has some strange abilities. The difference here though was that it’s clear these abilities have been the result of some kind of experiment by her father.

When things move on to the space station I got a bit lost again. I felt that there were too many unnecessary sequences and even whole chapters that didn’t need to be there. Too much walking between zones with not a lot happening.

But then, (I told you it was a rollercoaster!) people begin to get sick, they discover one of the team can breathe on Mars and paranoia grows, insanity and alien visions spread and it’s all pretty good again.

There is no doubt in my mind that Orbital Kin needs another thorough edit, but there are some great moments. It is Science Fiction in the true, original sense of the term and I’d recommend it to any fans of the genre.

Disclosure: I received a copy from the Publisher/ Author for an HONEST review. Many Thanks!
Details: Paperback, 387 pages. Published July 31st 2013 by Austin Macauley
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
If you liked this try: The Passage by Justin Cronin

Bloody Good Fun (pun intended): The Eye of the Moon (Bourbon Kid #2) by Anonymous – A Mini-Review.

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Following a massive rampage that left the streets of Santa Mondega soaked with blood, the elusive supernatural serial killer known only as the Bourbon Kid is now himself being haunted. Hot on his heels are several vampire gangs, the Secret Service, a couple of werewolves, corrupt cops, and the Dark Lord himself, and none will rest until he is dead. But the Kid has a vengeance of his own to wreak, and young lovers Dante and Kacy, hapless bartender Sanchez, Peto the Hubal monk, and the mysterious Jessica will each be drawn into the escalating vortex of violence.

Let me start by saying that this book is not for everyone.

  • If gory, mindless violence offends you, you shouldn’t read this book.
  • If colourful, constant swearing offends you, you shouldn’t read this book.
  • If laughing at religion and sexism offends you, you shouldn’t read this book.

And most importantly, if you only like your vampires to be the sparkly kind, you really shouldn’t read this book.

However….

If the idea of Elvis as a Hitman, a vampire clan of corrupt cops called the Filthy Pigs, a useless rap-star werewolf and a cowardly bartender who serves his own piss instead of whisky sounds like your idea of a party, then you are going to LOVE this series.

If you’ve seen any of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse films or trailers, imagine the most ridiculous and gory one, convert it to a novel and BAM – there it is. If you have no idea what I’m referring to then this quote from the back of the book also sums it up pretty well:

Possibly drug-induced lunacy of a book – 4 stars” [Zoo Magazine]

With all of these ridiculous, mainly evil characters trying to get their hands on the Eye of the Moon and avoid The Bourbon Kid at all costs, this sequel to The Book With No Name is a fast-paced blackest-of-black comedy that is a whole lot of fun. I felt that the plot wasn’t quite as strong as the first book but I enjoyed finding out more about The Bourbon Kid and where he came from and I hope I can get my hands on the next one in series soon.

Details: Paperback, 384 pages. Published April 1st 2009 by Michael O’Mara (first published 2008)
Unicorn Rating: 4/5
Is it a keeper? Yes!
Start With: The Book With No Name.