Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

4 four stars

Review

“We are all creatures of habit. Even you. You reach for the same coast each day; leave home at the same time every morning. You have a favorite seat on the bus or the train; you know precisely which escalator moves the fastest, which ticket barrier to use, which kiosk has the shortest queue.

You know these things; and I know them too…

I know all these things, because it’s never occurred to you that anyone is watching you. Routine is familiar, reassuring. Routing makes you feel safe.

Routine will kill you.”

Clare Mackintosh, author of one of my favorite thrillers from 2016 (I Let You Go), delivers a sinister story of a woman trapped in her own life, tethered by her own predictability. The story has a different feel than I Let You Go. You won’t see a huge twist that changes the direction of the story, but I See You isn’t without its own surprises, and certainly not without the kind of mounting suspense we love to feel.

The story centers on the discovery that women who’ve appeared in adverts for a site called FindTheOne.com, become victims of increasingly violent crimes. Zoe Walker is the first to make the connection, shortly after seeing her own photo in the paper. It all seems impossible, incredulous, and an intensifying paranoia takes hold as she fears for her own life.

Thankfully, she finds an ally in Detective Kelly Swift and together they uncover the secret behind these adverts—a horrifying truth that amplifies her paranoia and consumes her with a paralyzing fear.

The clock is ticking and they must find the person behind the site before more women become prey, before it’s too late for her.

Thriller readers will love that sinister, all-consuming paranoia the novel elicits. It’s unsettling—a feeling that grows as the novel’s tension escalates. The real chill is its relatability… it could happen to any one of us. And again, even though it has a different level of intensity as compared to I Let You Go, it’s a solid, engrossing psychological thriller from Clare Mackintosh, who has quickly become one of my must-read authors.

Synopsis

Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

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Review: Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Review

Once again, Lisa Gardner proves why she reigns as the queen of psychological suspense. With razor-sharp writing, impressive procedurals, clever twists and a story you can’t help but feel emotionally invested in, she delivers a gut-punching page turner with Right Behind You.

The novel features fan favorites Quincy and Rainie, retired FBI profiler couple, and a case that hits hard and close to home. Their lives begin to unravel after a double murder at a local gas station. Shortly after, further evidence suggests they’re dealing with a spree killer… one who is still on the loose.

The shooter appears to be Telly Ray Nash, older brother to Quincy and Rainie’s soon-to-be-adopted daughter, Sharlah. The same boy who eight years ago saved Sharlah when their drunken father came at them with a knife.

Now, thirteen-year-old Sharlah may be in danger, and they can’t seem to track Telly down—the kid is smart and elusive. Questions continue to plague the team, nothing seems to make sense. Soon it becomes clear that there may be more than meets the eye as more clues and truths surface.

Readers will be hooked until the very end. So well done. So satisfying. Lisa Gardner never disappoints.

About Right Behind You

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

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Review + Giveaway: Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Review

With Mists of the Serengeti, Leylah Attar delivers an extraordinarily evocative story about life, love and loss. Jack and Rodel’s story is a journey enlivened by Attar’s prose, every step felt deeply, acutely.

The story begins with a violent storm of fire, steel and concrete—an explosion in an East Africa mall. Two people suffer an unimaginable loss, a pain which hurls them on a collision course towards each other. Their lives tangle in ways unforeseen and soon enough, inextricably, as they each work through their own heartbreak.

Jack Warden lost his only daughter that day with memories of coffee, yellow balloons and blasts haunting him every moment.

Rodel lost her sister, the girl who was wildly alive and driven to make a difference. When she flies to Africa to pick up her sister’s belongings, she uncovers exactly what her sister had set out to do.

Determined to carry out those unfinished plans, Rodel treks to a coffee farm in Tanzania to look for a man named Jack.

Despite a not-so-great start, Jack and Rodel set off to save the lives of a few in memory of the ones they loved.

With sand and mist swirling around them, they find unexpected hope in each other, strength in the young faces of those who struggle against cultural atrocities.  What’s even more surprising is the kindling of feelings, the resurgence of life and love when they thought it long gone.

“He wore a crown of dried twigs and hay, but he was more royal, more magnificent than all the jeweled kings in all the fairy tales because he walked in real life—mortal, vulnerable, broken, jaded, but still a king—with the heart of a lion, and the soul of an angel.”

Their journey is temporary however. Jack can’t bear to love again, only to lose again. Rodel must return to England, to a life put on pause. But under the guise of starlight and inconsequence, they surrender to each other.

“I want reckless. I want mindless, ruthless, heedless. I want to be swept up in madness. I want your passion. I want your pain. I want you to tell me that you can’t bear the thought of me leaving, that it feels like you can’t breathe, that you want me, that you’ll miss me.”

Jack and Rodel’s story, along with the stories of the many others we encounter along the way, will move you deeply. Poetic, introspective, heartbreaking and hopeful, Mists of the Serengeti is sure to be one of those novels that will stay with you long after you’re done.

A beautiful, must-read book by a talented writer who continues to out-do herself.

“This is what it looks like when you wander somewhere between the sand and stardust, and meet a piece of yourself in someone else.”

About Mists of the Serengeti

Once in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newborn butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”

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Review: King’s Cage (#Red Queen) by Victoria Aveyard

Review

As first seen on USA Today

Here is the leader of the Scarlet Guard, Mare Barrow… A murderer, a terrorist, a great enemy to our kingdom. And now she kneels before us, bare to her blood.

Teeming with twisty political intrigue, Veronica Aveyard’s third installment in the Red Queen series takes us deep into Whitefire palace, where Mare Barrow’s days are spent caged under the weight of Silent Stone, at the mercy of the boy she once thought a friend.

Paraded like the King’s pet, the lightning girl loses her spark, dimming under Maven’s special brand of torment. Mare has never been so isolated, so forgotten, left alone to relive the things she’s done and the ones she’s lost. As days turn into weeks, months, Maven’s manipulation takes shape, making it clear he intends to defeat the Scarlet Guard and remain firmly seated on his throne.

Meanwhile, the Scarlet Guard prepares, plans, trains for war. Cal wants nothing more than to have Mare back — a bleak hope given the ever-mounting challenges.

King’s Cage centers largely on the political machinations of those in power, and those greedy for it. Dissent stirs among Silvers, as well as Reds, as more blood is spilled and surprising deals are struck.

The narrative unwinds through some new points-of-view — that of a powerful but reluctant New Blood as well as one whose motivations are finally revealed, sharpened to expose a side of which we never knew.

Character motivations and complexities shine front and center as Aveyard explores how some rise and rage when challenged, and who, amid ash and blood, will step forward as leader for the rebellion.

The political landscape of the kingdom of Norta will look nothing like we expected by the story’s end. King’s Cage is exciting, introspective in some ways, and full of page-turning scheming and scandal. Never a dull moment as we brace for more heartache, bloodshed and battles in the fourth and sure-to-be-clamored-for installment.

About King’s Cage

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

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