Publisher: NAL

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Mini-Views of the Detective Helen Grace Series

June 3, 2016 Book Review, reviews 6

m. j. arlidge series

 

Eeny Meeny begins with a most horrifying murder – a young couple is kidnapped, left in an abandoned empty diving pool with no way out and given a gun with a single bullet. The instructions left with the couple state that only one will make it out alive, the choice is theirs – to live, one of them must die.

It is quite possibly the creepiest, most terrifying concept for a thriller I’ve ever read.

Detective Helen Grace is on the case, along with her dedicated team. Helen has a tragic history that has left her with numerous scars, both on the inside and the outside. Her job is her life; no real friends and no family to speak of. Not only does Helen have to deal with a horrifying murder investigation, she’s got one reporter breathing down her neck and causing all kinds of trouble. {reminded me of a few news journalists I’ve seen on tv. . .}

The plot is fast paced, never a dull moment, even when there’s alleged down time. DI Helen Grace’s character is slowly revealed through her actions. The red herrings are spot on and reminiscent of Agatha Christie.

Towards the grand finale a couple of issues arose – all of a sudden Helen has a breakthrough but for the reader, it feels rushed, almost contrived. Don’t get me wrong, the denouement totally works, it just happened without warning. While the revelation of the killer is shocking, the confrontation is rushed. ugh! I want to talk to someone about this book!!! If you’ve read it and want to commiserate, please send me a tweet! Would love to discuss!

As a series beginning, Eeny Meeny introduces a writer of immense potential in the thriller genre.

side questions ~ for those familiar with the police in the UK – do the police typically only carry batons? then check out guns as necessary?

AND, if you’ve read this one – what happened to Louise?!?


[Tweet “Must-read new thriller series from U.K. author!”]

Pop Goes the Weasel is #2 in the DI Helen Grace series. {did I mention I read all 4 U.S. versions over Memorial Day weekend?!?} In this one, married men are turning up dead and with missing body parts. Said body part is then delivered to the home or office of the deceased {lovely, right!}.

Once again, Helen Grace and her team are on the case. It’s been a few months since the fall out from the serial killer in Eeny Meeny, and the team is slowly returning to normal. Helen has a new boss that butts heads with her every chance she gets. The dogged reporter from Eeny Meeny is back to once again wreak havoc on the investigation.

It’s fascinating to read a series back-to-back. The progression of writing skill is apparent. Arlidge continues to develop Helen’s character and that of her team through slow revelations and conflicts. While there has been a rash of books published in recent years that focus on psychological suspense, Arlidge’s Helen Grace series takes us back to the true thriller and police procedural. Pop Goes the Weasel is even better than Eeny Meeny and I wasn’t sure that was possible!

One caveat, it is important to read Eeny Meeny first as there are spoilers from the first book in Pop Goes the Weasel.  Reading this series is not for the faint of heart, but there are also no gratuitous gory violent scenes. The violence included is necessary for the development of the plot. If you enjoy a good who-done-it though, then definitely pick this series up!

Stay tuned for reviews of The Doll’s House and Liar Liar {to be released in the U.S. on June 7th}.

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three-stars

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Thoughts on Flight Patterns

May 24, 2016 Book Review, reviews 4

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Thoughts on Flight PatternsFlight Patterns by Karen White
Published by NAL on May 24th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Southern
Pages: 416
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads

 

I’ve been a fan of Karen White’s books since Falling Home and After the Rain. She’s one of those authors that it doesn’t matter what the book is about, I’m going to buy it. My absolute favorite book of Karen White’s is On Folly Beach ~ that one was like immersing myself in dream, buying a used bookstore & living at the beach…

So about Flight Patterns. I’m not sure what went wrong with this one, but for me, I simply could not buy into the premise, the characters or even the setting. And setting is typically this author’s strong point!

What I did not love

  • Maisy. She was angry at the world, spiteful and simply not a nice person. It seemed like the author was trying to make a point with Maisy’s character and how our parents can affect us even into adulthood. I did not see any real growth in her character throughout the book. Even in the end she felt flat and one-dimensional to me – an angry, bitter person.
  • The progression of the book seemed stilted. It’s like the author threw every contrived scenario at the characters in order to create emotional drama and impact but instead, it didn’t flow with White’s typical immersive storytelling skill.
  • The novel felt too long and drawn out. We were told many, many times how Birdie was mentally unstable and Maisie was ‘justifiably’ angry and Georgia was responsible for everything.

[Tweet “The good and the bad with #flightpatterns”]

What I did enjoy

  • Becky, Maisy’s daughter. Such a sweetly drawn character who stole the show for me.
  • Many of the bee facts – fascinating!

When a hive is invaded by a wasp, the bees cluster around the intruder and fan their wings to make it 117 degrees, knowing that wasps cannot survive temperatures above 116. This is the ultimate act of survival, as the bees will die if the temperature reaches 118 degrees.

  • Nuggets of life truths sprinkled throughout the book:

When you let your hurt from the past control you, you are tied to it forever. You will never change your life until you learn to let go the things that once hurt you.

Because no one can hurt us as much as those we love the most.

Sometimes all we need to do to forgive our parents is to understand their own childhoods.

I”d honestly recommend one of Karen White’s earlier books over this one, especially On Folly Beach…have I mentioned how much I love that book?!?

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Book Review: After the Rain

January 3, 2013 Book Review, reviews 15

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: After the RainAfter the Rain by Karen White
Published by NAL on December 31st 2012
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Southern
Pages: 384
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Whenever I pick up a Karen White novel, I know I am in for a great few hours of reading, living vicariously through vividly drawn characters and their crazy Southern-fried lives.  After the Rain takes us back to the small town from Falling Home, little Walton, Georgia.  Not only do we return to Walton, but we are smack dab in the middle of the lives we left in Falling Home.  I still remember the moment I finished Falling Home and how I was laughing and crying at the same time!  Such a fabulous book! Here’s a guest post from the author regarding the Southern Perspective and Falling Home.

After the Rain begins with Suzanne Paris stepping off the Atlanta Greyhound Bus in Walton, Georgia.  Almost immediately Suzanne offends the Mayor when confronted with his six children in various half-dressed states running around the small-town store, and she states “Don’t they have leash laws in this state?”

Upon discovering that Suzanne has no place to stay, is not visiting “her people” and as a matter of fact, doesn’t know any people in Walton, the widowed Mayor finds a place for Suzanne to stay, although there is not a motel anywhere near Walton.  Soon, Aunt Lucinda (sister and caretaker to the Mayor’s six children) has Suzanne working for her in her lingerie shop and the oldest of the Mayor’s six children has Suzanne teaching her the finer points to photography upon discovering Suzanne is a gifted freelance photographer.

What no one knows in this small town is that Suzanne is on the run from her abusive ex-fiance.  And she has never been in a small-town community where everyone knows everyone and people care about you.  Suzanne comes from a life of moving in and out of foster homes and from a mother who chose the bottle rather than her daughter.  To be welcomed in Walton, to make friends and discover a life she didn’t even know she craved, Suzanne lays down her armor and allows her heart to be melted.  But there’s still one person intent on destroying Suzanne’s life.

Karen White has a way of pulling the reader into the story and can have you laughing one sentence and in tears the next.  It was so nice to re-visit several of the characters from Falling Home (one of my all-time favorite Karen White novels!).  Although in After the Rain I was put off by both Suzanne and the Mayor’s characters; I came to love the growth and development each went through in the novel ~ Suzanne learns to trust and heal while the Mayor and his brood of children learn to love and heal.  Karen White is also quite adept at pulling a community into the novel to where it is almost a character of itself ~ Walton, Georgia becomes a prime example.  And although After the Rain is a follow-up novel to Falling Home, it is not necessary to first read Falling Home. (but I would recommend you read Falling Home simply because it’s one of White’s most entertaining!)

It is with many thanks to Penguin that I received a complementary copy for review.

four-half-stars

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On Folly Beach by Karen White

June 24, 2010 Book Review 9

On Folly Beach by Karen WhiteOn Folly Beach by Karen White
Published by NAL on May 4th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 416
Source: purchased
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
five-stars

 

Do you know how to shag? Have you ever been to Folly Beach, SC? Well, apparently that was THE place to be during WWII! Especially if you wanted to see all the great bands and learn how to do the latest dance ~ the shag!

I have read two other Karen White books, but I can honestly say that, by far, this is my absolute favorite. I will tell you up front I am giving this one 5 out of 5 stars because I am so excited to be sharing it with you! It’s just that good!  It’s one of those books that has a great story line, wonderful writing, characters I can relate to, and on top of that ~ I learned a little history!  Did you know how close the German U-boats got to the Eastern seaboard during WWII? Or about the German spies sent over here?

In this book Ms. White throws open the history books and through a story line that will leave you breathless and keep you up all night reading, you’ll take a journey down memory lane.  For us readers who also love bookstores…oh my, are you in for a treat, because the setting is IN a bookstore on Folly Beach (don’t you just love that name!).  How I want to be the characters who run the bookstore! A lovely book and highly recommended.

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five-stars

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