Blog Tour: Ivory Ghosts: A Catherine Sohon Elephant Mystery by Caitlin O’Connell

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In a blockbuster debut thriller brimming with majestic wildlife, village politics, and international intrigue, a chilling quadruple homicide raises the stakes in the battle to save Africa’s elephants.

Still grieving over the tragic death of her fiancé, American wildlife biologist Catherine Sohon leaves South Africa and drives to a remote outpost in northeast Namibia, where she plans to face off against the shadowy forces of corruption and relentless human greed in the fight against elephant poaching. Undercover as a census pilot tracking the local elephant population, she’ll really be collecting evidence on the ruthless ivory traffickers.

But before she even reaches her destination, Catherine stumbles onto a scene of horrifying carnage: three people shot dead in their car, and a fourth nearby—with his brain removed. The slaughter appears to be the handiwork of a Zambian smuggler known as “the witchdoctor,” a figure reviled by activists and poachers alike. Forced to play nice with local officials, Catherine finds herself drawn to the prickly but charismatic Jon Baggs, head of the Ministry of Conservation, whose blustery exterior belies his deep investment in the poaching wars.

Torn between her developing feelings and her unofficial investigation, she takes to the air, only to be grounded by a vicious turf war between competing factions of a black-market operation that reaches far beyond the borders of Africa. With the mortality rate—both human and animal—skyrocketing, Catherine races to intercept a valuable shipment. Now she’s flying blind, and a cunning killer is on the move. – Goodreads

You know, I never thought I’d want to take off to Africa and save the elephants.  I’m more of a save the people in my own city kind of gal. This book kind of made me want to do save elephants instead. And be a pilot.

I really enjoyed the story and plot. There was action, pain, suspense, and little bitty bit of love. Her fiance died the year prior, so there was lots of flashbacks to that—having your fiance speared by a tusked animal in front of you will leave you pretty traumatized.

One issue I had was predictability. I was pretty sure I knew who the head honcho bad dude was for a while, and  I was right. I don’t like to put a book down with that sense of smug “I knew it”.

Catherine is an interesting main character, which I appreciated. Not only is she a pilot, she’s kind of a general badass. That being said, taking a Beetle car into the desert? Even I know that’s a shit idea.

The main issue that the plot centers on is poaching for ivory, a very real and serious issue that is taking place right now. It’s a bloody war for both elephants and humans, one that is driving our elephant population to extinction. Though the novel was fictional, it was great that it shed light on this important topic.

Overall, I rated Ivory Ghosts a 3.5/5. I definitely recommend to those who are interested in animal conservation themed novels.

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Huge thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read Ivory Ghosts and participate in the blog tour! Check out the other tour spots here. You can buy Ivory Ghosts on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

22926600You’re alone. You’re vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost.

Claudia Morgan-Brown finally has it all. Pregnant with a much-wanted first baby of her own, she has a happily established family of two small step-sons and a loving husband with a great career. But she is also committed to her full-time job as a social worker, and her husband travels often. So when Claudia hires Zoe to help her around the house in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But despite Zoe’s glowing recommendations and instant rapport with the children, there’s something about her that Claudia cannot trust.

Moreover, there has been a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area, and Claudia becomes acutely aware of her vulnerability. With her husband out of town for work and her family far away, who will be there to protect her? And why does she feel unsettled about Zoe? Realizing appearances can be deceiving even in her seemingly perfect world, Claudia digs deeper into Zoe’s blurry past and begins to wonder – how far would someone go to have a child of her own? – Goodreads

So, here’s the deal. I’m not a huge fan of psychological thrillers (down, all of you Gone Girl fanatics!) Most of the time I end up guessing the end twist, and they give me tons of anxiety.

So what in the hell made me request this title from Blogging for Books? I was intrigued, of course. It sounded extremely creepy and psychopathic.

And it delivered.

Seriously, someone has to be extremely twisted to hurt a pregnant woman. Well, to hurt anyone, really. But especially someone carrying a child—because who would hurt a child?

I’m going to do my best to not give anything away here, because I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy thrillers. I think it would be a better read for a female, but I may be mistaken here.

The story is told from three points of view: Claudia (first person), Zoe (first person), and Detective Lorraine (third person). It’s set in the UK and centers around the mysterious attacks on several pregnant women, all of whom appear to have had their babies haphazardly cut from them.

Social worker Claudia is a pregnant stepmom of twin boys. Their mother died of cancer when they were babies, and their father, a Naval officer, remarried Claudia very soon after.

Zoe is the newly hired nanny—though she has fabulous references and history working as a nanny, Claudia doesn’t trust her. Her husband is out of town for top-secret Naval work, and she’s by herself—is she safe with Zoe?

The characters were constructed well, each in their own way. Mysterious Zoe, lovable Claudia, and stressed-out Lorraine, who is dealing with her own family BS while trying to solve this case.

Every chapter keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know more. The chapters cycle between the characters, so you have to figure out who is who. In the end, it’s almost impossible to tell, which really amps up the conclusion.

I was hooked from the beginning until the very end. The only reason this gets a 4/5 from me is because I guessed the ending about halfway through, so one point lost for predictability. Overall, fabulous read and I would highly recommend! I will definitely be reading more of Hayes’s work.

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I received a free copy of Until You’re Mine from Blogging for Books and Broadway Books in exchange for an honest review!

The Accident by Chris Pavone

accidentThe Accident by Chris Pavone is a book about a book. Publisher Isabel Reed receives an anonymous manuscript called The Accident that is full of secrets and sends everyone into a tizzy. There is a CIA agent that is determined to bury the story and the author himself is hiding in Zurich watching everything unfold. The entire plot occurs over ONE SINGLE DAY.

For me, this book was verrrrrrry slow (and you know when I use extra letters in something, I really mean it!). I didn’t get sucked in right away like I thought I would and that really disappointed me. The characters were very intriguing but I couldn’t connect with them, and with the CIA/spy/thriller plot I thought it’d be a 5 star review from me, but it just let me down. I didn’t realize how much killing there would be or how often it would happen, and even though it felt slow to read it was gogogogo the entire time. It felt very chaotic to me. I think that if I was older, around the same age as the characters (40s) then I would have liked it a lot more because this is the type of book I’m drawn to, but I just didn’t. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and I don’t really recommend it to anyone, except maybe my mother in law who is around the same age and might find it interesting.

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Full disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel by Jessica Knoll

22609317As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

I. Can’t. Even.

I just finished Luckiest Girl Alive, and my mind is spinning. Those 304 pages took me on an insanely confusing, jarring, and emotional roller coaster.

It’s going to be difficult to say much without ruining the plot twists, but I will do my best.

Ani (pronounced Ah-nee, not Annie) has constructed the image of a perfect life. Expensive wardrobe, rich fiance, glamorous magazine job, a one-bedroom apartment by the Brooklyn Bridge—she has it all.

Her perfectly crafted facade is her way to cope with the horrific events that occurred in her childhood. In a desperate attempt to join the popular crowd at her new school when she’s fourteen, she ends up at a party with a group of the popular guys. After too many drinks, Ani is raped by the group of them, which sends her life into a spiral. Another major incident occurs later in the school year, but I won’t reveal that plot twist—it’s what the first two-thirds of the book work up to.

Net Galley boasts that it’s Prep meets Gone Girl. I can kind of see that, though I would argue that it has more of a twisted Devil Meets Prada feel to it. It was a thrilling and dark read, to say the least. Rape, bullying, and murder are major components to the book.

As a main character, I actually kind of liked Ani. Though I don’t have a personal understanding of what she’s gone through, I could clinically look at her emotions and the way she handled things in the wake of her past. That being said, her raging bitchiness to everyone around her and her obsession with dieting was obnoxious.

Her fiance, Luke, was totally one-dimensional and boring. He was also kind of a jerk, though after putting up with Ani’s bitchiness for three years, maybe that’s why.

I loved Knoll’s writing style. It was snappy, descriptive, and unique. She’s very, very good at showing and not telling.

At the end of the book, Ani goes into detail about psychopathy and how one of the other characters was an off-the-charts psychopath. She went on to explain the characteristics of psychopaths. Ani is the definition of a psychopath, so I found this slightly humorous—perhaps it was intentional on the author’s part? I’m not sure.

This was a fantastic, dark read. Perfect for the end of winter. I gave it a 5/5 on Goodreads, and would definitely recommend it to those who aren’t squeamish 🙂

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I was given a free ARC of Luckiest Girl Alive by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Luckiest Girl Alive will be released on May 12, 2015 by Simon & Schuster.

 

The Girl With A Clock For A Heart by Peter Swanson

The Girl With A Clock For A HeartOn an ordinary Friday evening at his favorite Boston tavern, George Foss’s comfortable, predictable life is shattered when a beautiful woman sits down at the bar, a woman who vanished without a trace twenty years ago.

Liana Dector isn’t just an ex-girlfriend, the first love George couldn’t quite forget. She’s also a dangerous enigma and quite possibly a cold-blooded killer wanted by the police. Suddenly, she’s back—and she needs George’s help. Ruthless men believe she stole some money . . . and they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—so he makes a choice that will plunge him into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, secrets, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape. – Amazon

George and Liana meet during their freshman year at a small college. They fall in young love, which completely sweeps George (who is incredibly naive and blindly in love with this terrible girl, so we will call him Nice George) off of his feet.

After spending a week in bed together, they go their separate ways–and then George finds out that Liana is dead. He is devastated. He goes to her hometown, only to learn that someone died…but it wasn’t Liana. Their young love had painted a picture that was very different from Liana’s violent reality. Then comes the whole suspicion of murder and Liana skips town.

Fast-forward twenty years.

Nice George is living a normal life as a single business manager who is still in love with Liana. I guess a week in bed does that to a person? I have no idea. Out of nowhere, she appears, asking for George’s help. She’s stolen a chunk of money and has several people who are trying to kill her on her tail. She claims she wants to return the money, but she’s so scared. So Nice George does it, and then it all hits the fan.

I liked the characters, but didn’t love them. Liana was terrible, in the best way that Peter Swanson could have written her. Every nasty, cruel thing she did made me cringe—from framing Nice George for multiple crimes to lying to virgin George about it being her first time, too. She is a habitual liar and generally terrible woman. She was very good at manipulating Nice George and using his weaknesses to get what she wanted. Nice George’s naivety and lovestruck blindness grated on my nerves, but only because I don’t have the patience for that type of behavior.

I really enjoyed Swanson’s writing style; descriptive, insightful, beautiful. This occasionally slipped into some flowery writing, but that was far and few between, and not enough to be a turnoff.

Overall, it was a suspenseful, chilling read. There were some Gone Girl echoes, but really I think that was just the “chill” factor. If you’re into suspenseful books, this one is for you!

Learn more about Peter Swanson on his website or Twitter. You can buy The Girl With A Clock For A Heart on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  I received a free copy of this book through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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Uncle Janice by Matt Burgess

21965106I had a love-dislike relationship with this novel. I picked it up because I work in law enforcement and was excited to see a novel from a female detective’s point of view—and an NYPD uncle, nonetheless.

Many of the characters were richly painted, but many fell flat. Janice, for one, felt detached to me. I think a first person narrative would have helped bridge the gap, because I never knew what she was feeling or thinking. She felt very emotionless.

The writing was very funny in parts, which kept me reading. It was definitely a unique experience. The narrative moved slowly, and I never felt that Janice was in real fear of losing her job—in fact, she felt very passionless about her undercover position. Though she said she didn’t want to go back to patrol, I never felt it.

Uncle Janice will be released on January 1, 2015.

I rated this a 3/5 on Goodreads and NetGalley.

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I received a free copy of this novel through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

Gemini by Carol Cassella

17742914I’m going to get a little bit personal before I get into this review and just say this – working full time, going to school, blogging and trying to find time for everyone and everything? It’s HARD. A lot harder than I thought it would be. That being said, I want to give a huge shout out to Lauren for picking up my slack and making this blog what it is. She’s such a great friend, in real life and in blog life. Anyway, on to my review of Gemini by Carol Cassella…

First off, I had HIGH hopes for this book based on the tagline alone – “A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. What if you had the power to decide if she lives or dies?” I expected something a little different than what it actually is, but I was very pleased nonetheless. To me, it’s like two stories slowly becoming intertwined to show a much bigger picture.

When Jane Doe is involved in a hit and run, she is transferred to the hospital that Dr. Charlotte Reese works at, where she works harder than ever to keep Jane Doe alive and stable. When she remains unidentified, Charlotte brings up the subject with her science-journalist boyfriend, Eric. Together, they set out to unlock Jane’s secrets and find out exactly who she is.

Raney Remington lives in the poverty-stricken Olympic Peninsula town of Quentin with her grandfather. A boy named Bo comes to stay with his Aunt and Uncle there one summer, where he meets Raney and strikes up an unexpected friendship with her. The story continues to follow Raney through her life until present time, showing what she’s been through over the years leading up to Jane Doe’s accident.

Right off the bat, I got the feeling that somehow Raney and Bo were involved with either Charlotte or Jane Doe but it takes over half the book to find out exactly what that means. The writing is absolutely beautiful; Cassella does such an amazing job threading everything together. I kept trying to guess what each separate story had to do with the other, and I loved that. I do have to say that the ending held quite a few surprises! There’s an element of science that comes into play as well as the age old question of who gets to decide what happens to a patient in a coma and when. Definitely recommend reading this to anyone that likes a good drama with some mystery thrown in – I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.

Kiesha