Book Review: Confessions of a Murder Suspect (Confessions #1)

Summary:

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: She was the last person to see her parents alive. The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. She can’t trust anyone — maybe not even herself.

Having grown up under Malcolm and Maud’s intense perfectionist demands, no child comes away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to clear the family name, but digging deeper into her powerful parents’ affairs is a dangerous — and revealing — game. Who knows what the Angels are truly capable of?

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 5/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is the first book in the Confessions series by James Patterson. I picked up this book at the store a few years ago, having recognized Patterson’s name from the Maximum Ride series. As I was going through my bookshelves for something to read, I came across this novel again and remembered how much I had enjoyed it. So, of course, I had to read it again and write a review!

This novel is not just a murder mystery. It’s much more complicated than that. It is the story of a family full of secrets and a narrator who admits that she might not be reliable–even she doesn’t know whether she should trust herself. It adds a unique element to the novel and makes you tiptoe the line between reality and fiction throughout each chapter.

The book opens with our narrator introducing herself– sort of.

I have some really bad secrets to share with someone, and it might as well be you–a stranger, a reader of books, but most of all, a person who can’t hurt me. So here goes nothing, or maybe everything. I’m not sure if I can even tell the difference anymore.

The night my parents died–after they’d been carried out in slick body bags through the service elevator–my brother Matthew shouted at the top of his powerful lungs, “My parents were vile, but they didn’t deserve to be taken out with the trash!”

He was right about the last part–and, as things turned out, the first part as well.

This opening featured just the right amount of mystery and suspense. We learn from the very start that secrets will play a huge part in this story, along with the fact that our narrator has a few things hidden as well. This intro immediately invested me in the story, so much so that I finished the entire novel in under an hour. I was curious about the secrets that were obviously spread throughout the Angel family and I wanted to unravel them and figure out what had happened to Tandy’s parents.

Characters

The Angel family is an immensely interesting set of characters. To start with Tandy, our narrator, I have to say that I absolutely adored her. I’ve seen some reviews that argue her blandness is overwhelming, but I disagree completely. She’s not bland. She’s simply trained herself not to show emotion. It’s a very integral part of her personality. I felt for her and I found myself trusting her, even though she implicitly stated that she didn’t know if she was trustworthy. I also really enjoyed Tandy’s voice. She was honest and blunt and matter-of-fact and it definitely worked for the story.

So as I sat in the living room that night, I took on the full responsibility of finding my parents’ killer–even if it turned out that the killer shared my DNA.

Even if it turned out to be me.

You shouldn’t count that out, friend.

Hugo Angel is Tandy’s younger brother. He appears to have a much more black and white view of the world than his sister. He was more prone to anger and it is pointed out that he sees the cops as villains. I thought Hugo was pretty adorable, even though it was clear he could break anyone like a twig if he really wanted to. I enjoyed his minor part in the story.

I found ten-year-old Hugo in his room. He was still wearing his Giants sweatshirt, and he was using a baseball bat to break up his four-poster bed.

As I entered the room, he swung the bat for the last time, splintering the headboard, then began working on the bed frame with karate kicks.

“Hey. Hey, Hugo,” I said. “Enough. Stop. Please.”

I dropped my lacrosse stick and wrapped my arms around my little brother. I dragged him away from the bed and more or less hurled him toward the cushy, life-size toy pony that Uncle Peter had given Hugo when he was born.

Harry Angel was also an interesting character. Though he is Tandy’s twin, the two are worlds apart in terms of personality. He was the more sensitive of all the Angel siblings and his characterization made him the most sympathetic character as well. Though each Angel eventually showed their grief, Harry was distraught the moment he was told that his parents were dead. I loved that he seemed to be more fragile than the rest of his siblings. It made him seem more real and tangible than the other siblings. It was also interesting to see his backstory and how it connected to his attitude and persona.

Harry also has a great smile. I guess I do, too, but I almost never use it. Harry uses his a lot. Maybe he’s the only Angel who does, actually.

Finally, the last Angel sibling is Matthew. Though it was apparent that he was honest to the point of harsh bluntness, he also seemed to genuinely care about his family. As a famous player for the NFL, Matthew brings an incredibly new element to the story. He had possibly the most caustic relationship with his parents, but his reaction to their death was raw and impassioned. He was angry at their death and you could tell that he was struggling with how to handle it throughout the book. His relationship with his siblings showed his caring nature, however, and I loved the little moments between the Angels.

When Matthew entered a room, he seemed to draw all the light and air to him. He had light brown dreadlocks tied in a bunch with a hank of yarn, and intense blue eyes that shone like high beams.

I’ve never seen eyes like his. No one has.

Other characters included Detective Hayes and Sergeant Caputo, the two officers assigned to the case. I thought that the author did an incredible job with both of these characters. They were polar opposites, a fact that our narrator pointed out as soon as she met them. It was a very interesting dynamic and it kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered who would solve the murder first.

Plot

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is quite honestly one of favorite novels. The tension is palpable throughout the chapters and it is written in a way that makes you crave more. I loved the story and I was right there with Tandy the entire time, trying to figure out the truth behind the death of her parents. This book was really interesting because it puts you in the mind of a narrator that isn’t sure if even she can be trusted. I went back and forth between characters, trying to decide who the real killer was. I did eventually guess the ending, but it took me much longer than it usually would and I couldn’t figure out all the details.

The plot was filled with mystery and I was constantly  trying to find clues that I was missing. Another extremely interesting thing about this book is the intertwined Confession chapters. In between every few chapters, there are chapters entitled Confession where we get to see into the past from Tandy’s perspective. It’s really interesting and gives us a way to delve into the secrets and pasts of the entire Angel family, even Harry and Hugo.

Conclusion

I absolutely adore this book and I highly suggest you pick it up as soon as possible. It is filled with danger and disaster and dysfunction, not to mention the twists and turns of the investigation. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro truly created a masterpiece and I believe that if you enjoy suspense or crime, you should definitely give it a try.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: Fatal Frost (Defenders of Justice #1)

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Following in her absentee father’s footsteps in a law enforcement career, U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan has just recovered from being shot in the line of duty. And, unbeknownst to her, her father’s recent reappearance in her life has put her in the sights of St. Louis’s most powerful gang. Her boss assigns Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark St. Laurent-Mercy’s ex-boyfriend- to get her out of town until her safety can be guaranteed.

Unaware of the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark, it isn’t until a freak ice storm strands them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy to put them in great danger. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive-if help is even coming at all?

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl is a novel about cops and U.S. marshals, along with gangs, drugs, and criminals. It takes place in St. Louis where cartels and criminal activity are running wild. When I first read the premise of this book, I was interested, but not expecting much, to be honest.

The first chapter starts out by introducing us to the overall atmosphere of the city.

The seemingly deserted street was lined with empty houses, their windows as blank and vacant as the eyes of those who had become casualties in St. Louis’s war on heroin. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan gazed out the window of the black van as cold tendrils of rain slid down the darkened glass next to her, reminding her of tears. It was as if the tortured city of St. Louis wept because of the treacherous drug that had invaded her. The influx of cheap heroin had turned neighborhoods into war zones. The gangs that claimed ownership over their communities were killing men, women, and children for the right to rule. Crime was out of control, and many good people were trapped in their homes, praying they or their loved ones wouldn’t be the next victims of the violence that raged around them.

One particularly interesting thing about this novel was that it did not just follow Mercy’s point of view. We also saw snippets from the gang members, cartel leaders, and other detectives and marshals. It was a really intriguing way to let the reader see the thoughts of the lesser characters.

Characters

Our main character is a U.S. Marshal named Mercy Brennan. She is strong-willed and stubborn with a tendency to keep people at arm’s length, as we see in her relationship with Mark. Mercy is extremely prepared and organized, not to mention always armed with a back-up plan, which is just the thing that ends up saving her life, as well as the lives of every else involved. We get to see her transition from a young woman who is scared to let anyone get too close to an emotionally vulnerable person that isn’t afraid to cry or get a dog. Throughout the story, I was rooting for Mercy and I wanted her to find her own piece of happiness.

Another major character is Lieutenant Tally Williams. Tally and Mercy have been friends since they were kids and though Tally is married with his own children, the two are still as tight as ever. In fact, they’re neighbors. I really liked Tally. His character was warm and kind and just a great guy in general. I also adored his wife Annie. I wish we could have been introduced to his kids and seen his family more, but his part in the story worked very well. He was a very honest and sincere person and it was absolutely precious to see how much he cared for Mercy.

He was angry with himself for not seeing through his charade. Now Mark and Mercy were in terrible danger. He loved Mercy as if she were his own sister. Knowing she was in trouble and that he had no way to help her grieved him to the very center of his soul.

Now for the love interest. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark St. Laurent. Aka Mercy’s ex-boyfriend. Talk about awkward an awkward situation… Anyway, I absolutely loved the dynamic between Mark and Mercy. I thought it was a really great balance of tension and familiarity between the two and I enjoyed how we got to see the reasons behind their break-up. Though I did keep screaming, “Stop being idiots and just make out already!” And, lo and behold, they did…after a few chapters of confessions, gun fights, mortal danger, and terror. It may have taken awhile, but the point is, they did it. I loved the little moments of their relationship from the past that was interwoven in the current story.

Mark pulled Mercy’s cellphone from her purse. “What’s your code?”

Marcy rattled off the numbers before realizing what she’d done. She searched Mark’s face, but he didn’t seem to notice anything unusual. She breathed a sigh of relief. She was still using the date he’d first told her he loved her. She’d meant to change it many times but just hadn’t gotten around to it. A voice inside her whispered Liar! She ignored it and steeled herself to concentrate on the situation at hand. 

As for the minor characters, I thought we got to see some nice background for even the smaller characters, like some of the gang members and crooked agents. It was interesting to see that a lot of the minor characters were connected in ways you couldn’t even begin to expect. While I guessed who the mole was pretty early, it was still a great read and I was surprised a few times.

Plot

I truly did enjoy this novel. However, I would have enjoyed it a lot more without the religious aspect thrown in. Now, I have read my fair share of novels with a Christian component and it usually doesn’t bother me. In this particular book though, it felt out of place. I wasn’t expecting it and it threw me for a loop at first. It was hard to equate religion with the situation and the characters. My mind just sort of skimmed over everything that had to do with religion because it seemed to take away from the story. I felt like it was a distraction and I think the book would have moved along much more smoothly without it. While it was important to understand that Mercy went through an enormous transition, it wasn’t necessary to show this through religious faith and church. We could see it in the little things, like Mark and Pippin and her demeanor.

Conclusion

This book was wonderful. I am giving it four out of five stars because of a few small things. First, I wish that we had more characterization of the minor and some of the major characters. We got to delve into their psyches a little bit, but I wanted more. I wanted a more concrete definition of the things that made them tick. Second, the religion aspect seemed foreign with the plot line. If it had been introduced earlier in a more subtle way, I feel like it could have worked, but as it was written, it felt forced. Because of the relationships and plot, however, I would definitely recommend this book.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

 

 

Book Review: Heist Society (Heist Society #1)

Summary:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Alright, so I read this book right when it came out a few years ago. I remembered thoroughly enjoying it, so I decided to reread it this week. At just under 300 pages, it’s a nice length and manages to finish the story well.

The novel opens with an introduction to the Colgan School, our main character’s current residence.

No one knew for certain when the trouble started at the Colgan School. Some members of its alumni association blamed the decision to admit girls. Others cited newfangled liberal ideals and a general decline in the respect for elders worldwide. But no matter the theory, no one could deny that, recently, life at the Colgan School was different.

While this opening is not as fast-paced as some other spy/crime novels, it definitely intrigued me. I was immediately drawn to the prestigious atmosphere of the school and the way Ally Carter described it. She writes it in a way that makes you feel like you’re there watching everything unfold. With the first sentence, I wanted to know what the “trouble” was referring to. And it did not disappoint.

Characters

I absolutely adored our main character, Katarina Bishop. She’s spunky and feisty, but best of all…she’s real. You can feel her struggle throughout the book as she goes from trying to be a normal girl  who’s had anything but a normal life to trying to save her family and pull off her biggest job yet. It says in the first few pages, “Some called her a hero; others called her a freak.” I really enjoy her characterization because you can feel what she feels. You can feel the sheer desperation that Kat has throughout the book from attempting to keep her father alive. You can feel the hope slipping away as things get more complicated. You can feel the acceptance as Hale drags her back into the “family business.” Kat is a strong character, but I love that we get to see her inner thoughts and experience her small moments of weakness. We get to see her almost break down, but hold it together and move on. She was written extremely well and I loved delving into her mind.

Hale. Oh my word, I think I found another guy to add to my “Characters to Marry” list. He’s suave and sophisticated and handsome and definitely a bit sneaky. After all, he did manage to convince Kat to rejoin the gang for some criminal fun. He is full of confidence and charm, not to mention the weight of his family’s wealth hanging over his shoulder. He’s the perfect love interest/best friend towards Kat and I love what he adds to the story. Not to mention, the way Kat describes him and his attributes is absolutely beautiful.

Kat sometimes wondered if that kind of self-assurance was something only very old money could buy. Then she wondered if it was something you could steal.

Kat’s family, including her father Bobby, Uncle Eddie, cousin Gabrielle, the Bagshaw brothers, and many other colorful characters provide for a hilarious cast. From the dry wit of her father to the sultry sass of Gabrielle, these supporting characters add so much to the story. They all play an important role and it’s extremely interesting to see how people tie into a sort of ‘crime family.’

The main villain is named Arturo Taccone. When his prize pieces of art get stolen, his prime and only suspect is Bobby Bishop. However, he is more than willing to use Kat as a middle man when Bobby is in a bit of trouble of his own. I honestly enjoyed Taccone. I felt like I understood his motives, even if I was frustrated at him for not listening to Kat half the time. I felt like his actions were given reason and that he was a force to be reckoned with. However, we also saw his shortcomings, which was a gift in and of itself. I like the dimensions to him, as well as the other characters.

Plot

The story-line for this novel was very intriguing. It featured the right amount of suspense and thrills, as well as a little comic relief and romance. By using such lively characters, Ally Carter managed to create a world that was realistic and unbelievably interesting. The really cool part about this novel is that it is something that could be happening right now. Crime rings exist all over the world, along with notorious families. I really enjoyed following Kat as she tried to make it through the countless obstacles thrown in her path. The conclusion and resolution was believable and everything fit together in a way that made you smile and shake your head because it was so ridiculous that it just had to work.

Favorite Quotes

“You need me,” Gabrielle said. There was no doubt in her voice. No flirt. No ditz. She was in every way Uncle Eddie’s great-niece. A pro. A con. A thief. “Like it or not, Kitty Kat, the reunion starts now.”

It is an occupational hazard that anyone who has spent her life learning how to lie eventually becomes bad at telling the truth.

But Hale was still moving, shrinking the distance between them. He seemed impossibly close as he whispered, “And I didn’t choose it, Kat. I chose you.”

“Oh.” Hale smirked. “That’s simple.” Kat wasn’t moving— wasn’t dancing—and yet it felt like her heart might pound out of her chest as she watched Hale lean farther into the shadows and say, “I’m the guy who happened to be home the night Kat came to steal a Monet.”

Hale was Hale. And not knowing what the W’s stood for had become a constant reminder to Kat that, in life, there are some things that can be given but never stolen.

Of course, that didn’t stop her from trying.

“Some people understand the value of an education.” Hale stretched and crossed his legs, then settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.” “I’d settle for the ice cream.” “Deal.”

Conclusion

Ally Carter is a wonderful author. On her website, she says that she wrote the Heist Society books as a way to keep her older readers entertained once they became too old for Gallagher Girls. Personally, I love both series, but that’s not important. I think that Heist Society is full of suspense in all the right places. It’s a great read with wonderful language. I love that she tells you names of cons and you’re essentially rooting for the criminals. The way Carter crafts her characters is beautiful and I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out. And Kat and Hale? Three words. I ship it. This series is perfect for a long car ride and I highly encourage you to pick it up soon!

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: Trust Me, I’m Lying (Trust Me #1)

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(image from barnesandnoble.com)

What’s up, guys!? So as always, I spent my weekend reading my life away and forgetting what day it was. Yesterday, I read a lovely novel called Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer.

Now, I have read quite a lot of teen crime/spy/liar novels in my twenty years. However, I have to say… this was definitely one of the best.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

Characters: Right from the beginning of this novel, we see Julep’s personality. She is spunky and sassy, but has so many more layers. She is definitely a great main character and I found myself rooting for her from the very beginning. She literally starts the book off by saying “I can’t say I have much personal experience with conscience.” This is a great opening because it makes you want to figure out why.

I loved Julep’s determination, even in the face of great danger. I loved her resilience and the way she reacted to the things happening around her. She was realistic and believable and it was very refreshing. It wasn’t hard to imagine her as a teen grifter because the background was there.

I normally can’t stand love triangles. I absolutely abhor them. On that note, I think Mary Elizabeth Summer did an amazing job with Tyler and Sam both fighting for our hero’s affections. I did not feel that it was just a plot point or a dramatic scene. I really felt for all of the characters and I wanted all of them to be happy.

All of the supporting characters were fantastic as well. From Dani’s conflicting emotions and desire to do the right thing to Julep’s father and the mystery surrounding him, I wanted to know more about every single person that was introduced. I wanted to understand Ralph and the Senator and I wanted to delve into backstories and pasts and find out everyone’s secrets.

Overall, these characters flourished in the environment of Summer’s story and I think she did a great job.

Plot: Okay, like I previously said, I was hooked from the first line. I wanted everything to work out and everyone to get a happy ending. Clearly this was slightly unrealistic. Okay, extremely unrealistic.

This novel was packed with suspense and action and romance and it never felt out of place. Everything seemed to fit together perfectly and create something absolutely amazing. I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of this book and I could not bring myself to put it down. I mean, seriously. I read this thing in under two hours and just sat there for another fifteen minutes with my head spinning after.

This is the kind of book that leaves you breathless and wanting more. It makes your heart ache and break and it makes you feel things for people you feel like you know.

Conclusion: Get this book on Amazon or iBooks or from your local bookstore. Get it now and set aside the rest of the day to read it. You will not regret it. And the best news is, the sequel is already out! (Along with a lovely novella that fits chronologically in between the two books.)

This is a book worth reading. I cannot stress enough how much I fell in love with the story and the characters. Kudos to you, Mary Elizabeth Summer. Kudos to you.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm