First book I read by Ruth Ware

turn of the key

Turn of the Key is a mystery thriller written by Ruth Ware. The book is composed of several letters mostly written by the protagonist, Rowan Caine. When Rowan finds  an advertisement for a full time nanny position in the Highlands of Scotland with great pay, she cannot believe her luck. She gets hired and begins this new chapter in her life soon afterwards. She is to watch 4 girls, ages 1, 5, 8 and 14. The house where she will watch the girls is super high-tech, full of cameras and said to be haunted. Several other nannies have fled, none lasting more than several weeks. Little does Rowan know that the house has a lot more secrets than just the hauntings.

SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ ANYMORE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK!

 

 

 

 

I really enjoyed this book overall. What I didn’t enjoy was that this whole book is basically a letter from Rowan behind bars writing about her innocence to a lawyer. Yes, the whole book is a letter, and Rowan became quickly annoying because she wouldn’t get to the blooming point of the murder she was charged with. This just made me read even more, which I think was the intention of the author. The ending was great and the twist at the end was also perfect. I didn’t see it coming, but Mrs. Ware does leave some of the ending to our own imagination. What did happen to Rowan in the end? What happened to Ellie? Did she get the help she needed? Living with such a burden is bound to cause a lot of mental torment in such a young little girl. Mrs. Ware doesn’t answer those things in the epilogue. We are left to guess for ourselves, and that leaves for a great conversation with this book’s fans.

As a Christian, what I noticed was that the book had a lot of profanity in it and Rowan is a liar. The teenage daughter, Rhionnan is very wordly also. There is the pain and baggage that comes with adultery and that is where I want to focus on in this blog post. There are two men in this book that are developed into characters. Both of them are the opposite of what God expects them to be. They take advantage of the women they are meant to protect and are scoundrels. The mess they leave behind because of their need for immediate gratification are a bunch of hurt children and broken homes. That is what adultery does. It shatters those we love and exposes the soft core of their hearts. Rowan is broken. The Elincourt girls are broken. Sandra, the wife, becomes broken. The wife of Jack becomes broken. These men are worthless in this book.

Books allow us to see into how the world interacts and lives its lives. We get a clear picture of families and how they deal with the pressures of day to day life without God. Yes, some books we read may have a faith element sewn into them, but most secular fiction books do not. I see in books like these, I really am not missing out on much. Yes, believers and the lives we live can be dark and yield forth bitter fruit, but the world yields way more and frankly it should since they go against what God says is right. This reminds me of Psalm 37:1-2 – “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”

I recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and or thrillers. This book did have a Gothic feel also, so if you are into those, you will love this book. If it wasn’t for the frustrating narrative of Rowan, I would have given this book a 5 stars on Goodreads, but I gave it a 4.

The book is scary and frightening, I would only allow my older teens to read it. There are no explicit sex scenes. There is cussing throughout the book.

 

#readingchallenge #ruthware #turnofthekey #books #goodreads

Every Dead Thing – Book Review

Every Dead Thing is a book written by John Conolly. It is the first book in a series that introduces us to Detective Charlie Parker. The book tells us of the gruesome death of Mr. Parker’s wife and daughter and includes a parallel story about a child murderer and that investigation. There is a spooky undertone to the book also. It delves into dreams and spiritism and left me several times making sure I had a night light on. The ending of the book was written very well and was very intense. Like, Mr. Charlie Parker, the ending was somber and downcast.

I found the book to be a bit frustrating because Mr. Conolly introduces so many people very quickly and then brings them back again later. I had to go back several times to remember who was who and who did what. There was a lot going on throughout the whole book and several times I had to stop reading and re-read a paragraph or two. This was disheartening sometimes because the book is almost 500 pages long and going back to read every so often makes the book seem even longer.

There is a lot of violence and foul language in this book. There is also a lot of carnage and the body count is high. Parker’s assistants are a gay couple who aren’t  flamboyant at all and a psycho analyst who delves into the cesspool of human depravity. Thankfully,  there is only one – very short – love scene between Parker and the psycho analyst.

I did like the ending of the book and because of its palpable scene and demented twist in the end, I am considering continuing the series, but Mr. Conolly does tend to write tomes when it comes to the Charlie Parker books. I do not think I am ready to start another long book just yet. Maybe this summer, I will try out the second book.

I recommend this book to the adult who likes detective books and murder mysteries. I do not recommend this book to teens due to its violence and graphic murder scenes.

You can buy this book here.

 

The Rook – Book Review

The Rook is the 2nd book of the Patrick Bowers series by Stephen James. This book is about a murderer who video tapes the death of his victims. Simultaneously there seems to be an arsonist on the loose and a government secret weapon that has the potential of changing the way wars are fought forever. All this is going on and in the backdrop Patrick and his relationship with his step-daughter is stressed and strengthened. There also seems to be a growing romantic relationship with Patrick and Lien-Hua. We also learn a little more about Lien-Hua.

This book is intense. The author gloriously lead me astray several times and I was sad when the book ended. But I am grateful to know that this is a series, so I am not too sad knowing there are 5 more books available.

I recently learned that the author is a practicing Christian and you really can’t tell. Let me clarify. The book takes the reader to the dark cesspool of human nature. It is grim, and the murderers are vile. The book frightened me at times because of how dark it was, but the author never used cuss words, never depicted sex scenes or gave too much detail of the violence committed by the bad guys. This is what makes Mr. James a great author. He paints a picture just clear enough to allow our own depravity to assume what is going to happen next. He also sprinkles deep theology into his books without being preachy about it. This is so hard to do, but Mr. James does it effortlessly. The story line very well developed and I can’t wait to get my hands on the 3rd book!

I highly recommend this book to those who like mystery, thriller, detective, and suspense books. Also, I really think that any one with a military background will enjoy the Patrick Bowers series.

You can buy the book here

Longmire – Netflix Movie Revie

This blog contains some spoilers, but no spoilers on episodes 1-3.

I didn’t think I would like Longmire because frankly, I am not into Westerns. But I wanted to expand my usual comforts in movie choices and gave Longmire a shot. I loved the first season, the second season and the shocking third season. Loved them all! The 4th season I noticed things started to get a little less interesting and by the 5th and 6th season, it was lagging so much in material that I struggled finishing the last couple of episodes. Even the actors seemed like they wanted this series to end already. I really liked the evil Nighthorse better and I think Longmire’s integrity and being an old school gentleman was thrown out the window in the last season. I hate that Longmire decided to sleep with Vic, but respected Dr. Donna Monaghan. He tenderly told her that he was old-fashioned and had never slept with his wife until he married her. I loved that about him. I loved that he didn’t mind picking up litter from his county. I loved that he didn’t use a cell phone! He was original! And they ruined him towards the end.

Netflix did buy the series I believe after season 4 and I was excited because that meant longer episodes and Netflix has come out with great series, but they really destroyed the character I had grown to love. Even Vic lost her luster. Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) still did a great job in acting, but he became boring. And then they threw in the Irish mob into a Western detective thriller. Ugh! It was just everywhere and nowhere at the same time. They tried to build off a wonderful storyline and failed.

The last couple of episodes I just wanted it to end. I didn’t care and the love scene between Longmire and Vic was more than just awkward. There was no chemistry and I really thought that Dr. Monaghan and him were a better pair.

I will say that the landscapes of Wyoming are just breath-taking. It really made me want to live in a cabin just like Longmire’s. I have never been to Wyoming, but I might just make a trip over there to get some good eyefuls of their panorama.

I do recommend the first 3 seasons, I wont spoil those for you. They are awesome! But the last 3 really get worse by the season.

 

Alias Grace – Netflix Review

The movies produced by Netflix are getting better and better visually. I remember the days when a mini movie series would come out and it was nothing compared to what we would see on the big screen. Times are changing.

“Alias Grace” has beautiful cinematography. It is a story about a young woman and the hardships she faces as an Irish immigrant. She is charged with murder and the movie goes back and forth from the past to the present as she re-tells her story.

This series is rated mature for its adult themes and gore. Thankfully, there wasn’t any blatant nudity. There are several times Grace is molested and one sex scene involving fully clothes people.

Sarah Gadon did a great job in portraying the very complicated character of Grace Marks. I did find the acting of Dr. Simon Jordan a bit sub-par. I am not sure if they were trying to portray him as a bore, but he was rather dull and his voice was monotonous.

There have been many who say this movie shines a light at the horrible plight of women in a man’s world and how we still have to suffer these prejudices today. As a woman, I really don’t see it today. I am not naïve to the misogyny against women in the past, but today? I just haven’t experienced it. I can not think of one person or institution that has oppressed me solely based on my sex.

To me, this series wasn’t advocating for women’s rights today, it was speaking of the horrors done to a woman in a time when women had to endure so much because of the lack of resources given to them.

“Alias Grace” is a somber movie. The colors are dark and grey. It is not a thriller but a true mystery. The end is what I had guessed about half way through the series, but it was still a great story.

I recommend this movie to those who like gothic period movies or historical fiction.

Magpie Murders – Book Review

Summary: The last book Susan Reynold is set to publish changes her life forever in this classic British whodunnit mystery novel. Magpie Murders is a mystery book within another mystery. This book covers the mystery of what happened to the missing pages of a detective novel written by Alan Conway – Ms. Reynold’s most famous client.  And within this is the actual manuscript of Mr. Conway’s latest novel which is left incomplete. The endings of both the manuscript and the book are stupendous! I kept guessing until  the end!

I got this as an audio book and both readers did a magnificent job in portraying the characters, but when I saw this book available at my local library and we had an 11 hour road trip coming up, I decided to get the book and finish it by reading it myself. Anthony Horrowitz is a tremendous author. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that he also is a writer for ITV’s Midsommer Mysteries and Foyle’s War. I love both those series! And like these series, the manuscript part of the book doesn’t have any obscenities. The actual book part does though. The author of the manuscript – Alan Conway – is gay and there is a brief interview with his live in boyfriend that does get a little informative, but not much. Besides that brief interview, there is no other sexual content.

If you like classic mysteries, you will truly enjoy this book. The two stories are very well developed and they both left me guessing until the very end. For a moment I thought that I would never know what happened at the end of the manuscript because it leaves the reader hanging for about 200 pages, but thankfully the end was revealed. I read through that last part voraciously – my patience had waned!

The book is almost 500 pages because of the two stories in it. Because of its length and some adult themes I would only let my older teens read it.

You can buy the book here

 

 

Dark Places – Book Review

This book is about a little girl (Libby Day) who survives her family being slaughtered  by her brother. After 25 years she finds herself without money, without friends and still battling the demons of her past. In order to get some much needed money, she teams up with a group of lay true crime enthusiasts called the Kill Club. The people from this group are eerily obsessed with what happened to Libby, her family and specifically to her brother – Ben Day.  Ben was found guilty based on the testimony given by Libby and is now going to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Because Libby is the only other survivor, the Kill Club decides she can find out more about what happened 25 years ago and hopefully get Ben out of prison. Libby is sure that Ben is her family’s killer but soon vacillates back and forth as she investigates.

This book is dark. The author – Gillian Flynn – does a wonderful job developing some of the most worthless characters I have ever read about. I hated most of them, including Libby, but that’s not really a bad thing. The characters in this book were flawed and broken. The depravity of humanity and the emotional and financial struggles of life was very real in this book.

Saying this, the book does contain a lot of profanity. There are sex scenes and they are short, tenderless and thankfully not violent. This book delves into the cesspool of humanity. And the dignity given to them by God, is practically snuffed out by their degradation.

As a Christian, I forget that there are people like this. I try hard to get out into the world and be a light in dark places, but admittedly I am surrounded mostly be people like me. Although, I don’t grimace when people who aren’t saved cuss or act like unbelievers. It’s the “saved” Christians that make me cringe when they unrepentantly act like the world. – Don’t worry, I also cringe at myself. I don’t often read these kinds of books because my mind sometimes feels assaulted, but the whole time I was reading about Libby’s struggles I just wanted her to know the true freedom found in Christ. I wanted that for all of these unfortunate characters. They were very real and very hopeless.

This book is for adults only. All the cussing aside, the book is very well written and the unfolding of the mystery of who killed the Day family is thrilling. When I got to the end of the book and the true crime was revealed, it was perfect! Mrs. Flynn had given the reader a hint and I failed to see it and put it together. It was excellent! I recommend this book to the person who likes dark thrillers.

 

 

The Pawn – Book Review

On long trips I really enjoy listening to books. I prefer thrillers because they keep me awake, especially during night time driving.

The opening scene of this book gripped me and I found myself a little nauseated. I’m not sure if it was due to the lack of food in my stomach and some motion sickness or if it was the details of what was being read out loud. I think it was a little of both.

This book is dark. Thankfully it is not sexually dark though. The characters are also very well developed. Towards the middle of the book, I thought I had figured everything out, but found that I was way off. I love it when I am wrong in murder mystery thrillers! I really think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if I had read the book myself instead of listening to it on audio. I didn’t like the voice of the reader and Agent Bowers sounded a little whiny for my taste, but I really think it was the voice of the reader that didn’t help me like this character. The nasally voice given to the villain also didn’t help in making him sound particularly chilling. I think I would have used a better voice for both characters using my own imagination, and probably would have been more scared.

This being said, the twists at the end were great! I actually gasped when it was all figured out! I had no clue! The author, Mr. Steven James, did an excellent job in leading me exactly where he wanted. I usually try to avoid being led when I read a mystery, but rest assured I was led and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Recommendation: I recommend this book to the mystery and thriller readers. If you like series, this would be a good one to start. I read that that there are 7 books in all, and each book has a title of a chess piece. The series ends with the book titled “Checkmate”.

To the Christian: I was pleasantly surprised to hear that this book was written by a professed Christian. I believe that Christians should be good at whatever secular work they do. There is a quote that was attributed to Martin Luther, but may not have been him after all, but either way it is good nonetheless that says:  “The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” In other words, whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). The book does not contain any cuss words and neither is it overtly sexual. There is a lot left to the imagination, and that is what I think makes for a good book or even a good movie. The mind can conjure up so much if it is allowed to. It is an art to lead the reader/watcher through a scene and then turn off the “lights” leaving them to imagine the unimaginable all on their own. Mr. James does this superbly. There is a roughneck character that cusses every other word, but Mr. James does not write down a single word. There are sex scenes, but Mr. James describes not a single one. He writes very well and I believe does not violate his conscience even though he writes about some horrifying villains. Because of the violence, I would only allow my adult children to read this book.