Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: That Last Weekend (By Laura DiSilverio)

Source: Goodreads

Length: 312 pages

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Laurel Muir did not want to accept the unexpected but familiar invitation and return to Chateau du Cygne Noir – the castle turned BnB – for a weekend getaway with her friends. The tragedy that had struck ten years ago had sent those very friends on their own individual paths, the friendship strained, almost broken by what had happened. That event had ended a decade-long tradition of annual weekend getaways, and filled each of their hearts with doubt for each other. Driven by the need to rekindle that friendship and overcome the past, she finds herself accepting the invitation. But the past is not done with them yet. When a murderer strikes, the remaining friends are forced to face the truth – a killer lies in their midst. Thrown once again into a police investigation and with nowhere to go, they decide to uncover the truth this time. But Laurel does not know who to trust as she adamantly takes it upon herself to find answers. And as the skeletons in the closet are slowly exposed, Laurel finds that she may have been too ambitious and that her ambition could cost her her life.

My take:

First off, thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of The Last Weekend. Here is my honest review.

That Last Weekend is a ‘novel of suspense’. And it definitely keeps the suspense. The story is interesting and is filled with twists and turns, most of which you don’t see coming. Set in the present, the story touches upon events of the past through flashbacks. The transitions are smooth and comfortable to follow. They don’t break the flow and, in fact, add some interesting dimensions to the book.

The book gets right into it without much preamble. As a result, you take some time to get used to who’s who. That is still easier to do here than it is with a Mary Higgins Clark novel, though. Keeping with its ‘let’s get right to it’ beginning, the book moves along at a fast pace, without a single dull moment. It also has some good creepy elements which really set the scene perfectly. The writing style pulls you in and keeps you there, really allowing you to experience the entire eerie castle and small town setting, and adding to the suspense.

Yet, there are some aspects of the book that come across as a bit annoying. Some of the characters, for example. While Laurel seems level headed and easy to associate with, some of the other characters are just irritating. It wasn’t an in-your-face sort of irritation. It is just the way they are – not too pleasant would be the best way to describe it, I guess. You could chalk that up to the diversity that is existent in people. But their reactions to the events are just not sensible enough for someone who was in that situation. I have to admit that the diversity is what brings credibility and depth to such a story, but that didn’t exactly stop me from growling at the screen of my tablet at certain moments.

The last thing is that the story itself is actually incredibly interesting. It is twisted to a whole other level. But that itself is what made me wonder, “Can someone even be like that?” And that hint of incredibility brings down its appeal just a notch.

(Yes, I am aware that the last two paragraphs have me contradicting myself a lot. It was just that kind of a book.)

All in all, That Last Weekend was a more-than-just-good kind of read. It moved fast, kept me turning the pages, maintained its suspense well, and had a storyline that was convoluted to the right degree. It may not be the best suspense novel you read (given its few drawbacks), but is definitely worth reading especially if:

  • you like suspense novels
  • you like cozy mysteries
  • you enjoy murder mysteries and classic whodunits

That Last Weekend is scheduled for release on September 8, 2017 by Midnight Ink. I’d recommend grabbing a copy.

Liked or hated this review? Drop a comment below and tell us why. Also, let us know what you thought of the book or why you’d want to read it. And thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika


Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Murder on the Orient Express (By Agatha Christie)

Source: Goodreads

Length: 347 pages

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks in the middle of the night due to a snowstorm. No one can get on or off the exclusive train. The morning reveals a ghastly shock – American millionaire, Simon Ratchett, is dead in his compartment. Twelve stab wounds lie in his torso, depicting the hatred that the killer had for him. But the killer had not anticipated two things – being stuck on the train due to the storm, and being accompanied on the journey by the famous and highly skilled detective, Hercule Poirot.

Now, isolated by the storm, the people aboard the Orient Express become suspects in the grisly murder. Poirot needs to find the killer amongst a dozen people. But with no means to verify their evidence and with growing understanding of who Ratchett really was, Poirot finds the case to be one of the most complicated ones he has ever come across. Little misses the detective’s keen senses. But can his talents help him identify the killer before it’s too late this time? Or will the murderer, in an effort to protect his identity, strike again?

My take:

I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie when I was younger. She was one of my favorite authors. I’m probably reading Murder on the Orient Express for a second time. And I’m very glad that I didn’t remember any of it. It is a classic whodunit that definitely packs powerful surprises and a massively unexpected ending.

The main thing about Christie’s work is that it doesn’t beat around the bush. The aim of the book is to solve a murder, and that’s what it does. It was also written at a time when cultural generalizations were acceptable and understood. So it’s definitely not something you want to read if you feel that such generalizations are in poor taste – because the book is filled with assumptions of the way Italians, Englishmen, and Americans, amongst others, behave.

One thing that I’d forgotten about was the amount of French used in Christie’s work. You definitely need to have a basic understanding of the language, or at least Google translate open at your fingertips to be able to understand a good chunk of the dialog. It’s not that being unable to understand will take information away, but it will definitely take away from the camaraderie among characters and general feel of the setting.

Coming to the story itself – you will surely not see the end coming. It unfolds in an extremely unpredictable manner and, in Christie’s classic style, will have you guessing wrongly until the very end. Even when you’ve grasped a large part of the mystery, aspects will continue to evade you until Poirot himself explains them. That’s why, as a story, it is really good.

All in all, Murder on the Orient Express is definitely worth a read, regardless of your age. You can enjoy it for multiple reasons, and it is a fast-moving, page-turning, classic whodunit written in the very unique style of Agatha Christie. Highly recommended to:

  • fans of Agatha Christie
  • fans of classic mystery
  • those who’ve spent their childhood with Christie (this is an enjoyable blast from the past)

The film adaptation is going to be out soon – catch that if books aren’t your thing. But if you’re even remotely interested in reading, then get your hands on the book before (and keep your French to English translator handy). Do share your thoughts on the book, Agatha Christie’s other work, and any other random musings in the comments below!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Double Take (By J.P. David)

Double Take Source: Goodreads
      Double Take
Source: Goodreads

Length: 229 pages

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hank Hammond is the latest P.I. on the block. Not young by any stretch of imagination, Hank has had years of experience as Security Manager of W-L’s, a department store chain. Dedication to his job and vigilance on duty ended up with him cracking a high profile case that gave him the cash advantage he’d always wanted. And that’s how Hank Hammond, P.I., came into being. But what is a brand new P.I. supposed to do when he has all the gadgets, the Corvette, the beautiful assistant and the office (if that’s what you can call it), but no case?

The answer is simple – follow the detective instincts you’ve always had!

That’s how Hank Hammond got his first case with an eccentric millionaire who harbors a dislike for the cops. What follows is Hank’s attempt to solve a case that gives him more dead people than he’d like, more smirks from his assistant than he cares for and more chaos than he ever anticipated. And when the bad guys, the cops and the recently released convicts who Hank had helped get into prison are all after him, Hank is thrown into a game he really needs to win… if he wants to solve his case… and stay alive.

My take:

Double take was everything a good detective novel needs to be. It was full of who-dun-it thought inspiring scenarios, mysterious circumstances that throw your guesses into a tussle, a detective who is in way over his head and a beautiful assistant who tries to save him from drowning! Throw in a couple of dead bodies, multiple close calls and a relaxed attitude that belies circumstances, and you have the thoroughly enjoyable novel that is not all that easy to put away.

J.P. David chose the first person style of writing, a choice that few make and one that not too many readers like. But even if you are one of those who doesn’t like first person, this book may help change your mind. The story flows really smoothly, each seemingly random part making sense before you know it. The twists and turns, which make any good suspense novel better, are not shell shocking as such, but are definitely surprising and do leave you wondering. The number of characters that the author introduces can get a bit cumbersome to keep track of, especially if you are in the habit of leaving a book aside for days before you resume reading. However, J.P. David has written a story gripping enough that you wouldn’t want to leave it aside for too long; so catching up with the characters is not too difficult.

The best part about the book is, of course, Hank Hammond, detective (not-too) extraordinaire and all round gentleman who just wants to make his dream job come true when he finally gets a shot at it.

Hank Hammond is not your traditional hero-who-can-do-no-wrong kind of character. He is a realistic one who has his flaws, who knows his limitations and who has problems of his own. And that is the best part of him. He’s a character who makes the best of what he’s got, he’s someone who challenges his limitations and he’s someone who will go ahead and do what needs to be done, unaffected by doubt or a bad past experience. Then, you have Lori Reed, his know-it-all assistant who helps him when she can, but not without her patented, derisive smirk! Full of spunk, Lori’s a character that leaves you wishing that there was more of her to read about.

What I absolutely loved was the great chemistry between Hank and Lori. The two characters, so different from each other, learn to work with, and around, each other with every passing day and hour. Watching their tumultuous relationship evolve was one of the main reasons to keep the pages turning – it came with almost as many twists and turns as the case itself!

All in all, a great read! It moves fast and really smoothly, with its share of great humor that has you laughing out loud on many occasions! I would recommend Double Take to anyone who enjoys a good detective/suspense novel and anyone who’s looking for something light, yet engaging, to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Hank Hammond’s first adventure and am going to be looking out for the next one in this series. I just wish J.P. David would hurry it up!

– Rishika