Review: The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

Publisher: Touchstone

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 359 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Rape

Cover = Goodreads

What is the difference between justice and revenge? In this buzzworthy new standalone thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, two wronged women on very different paths find themselves in the same dark place…

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

The majority of this year has been dedicated to my YA titles but a change of pace was needed. Typically I turn to the thriller/Suspense genre whenever I’m in need of a good palette cleanser. Sometime last year I read Lisa Unger’s Ink and Bone & was hooked from page 1 to the very last. When I started seeing The Red Hunter’s beautiful splash of red all over my Bookstagram feed, I sent a little prayer to the Book Gods & went to see if Netgalley was offering it for review & the rest is history lol. I read the majority of this book in 1 day (60%), Lisa Unger once again delivered a immersive page turner. We get introduced to these two women who have been through traumatic experiences & somehow the reader knows their paths are fated to cross in some way.

Claudia is a rape survivor & we get to see her aftermath, she has a teenage daughter who may or may not be from her attacker. Her life has been turned upside down but she has chosen to re-build away from all of that by moving away from the city. I really enjoyed Claudia’s character, she has battle scars & yet she perseveres to find her peace. She has this love for places that have that lived in feel & so picking up and going to the country side to try & renovate her dads old house fit her personality so well. The parts where we see her blogging (some entries from her blog included) about her trauma & the home renovation were some of my fave parts. It did seem at times like she couldn’t catch a break with some of the decisions she made lol but that just added to her charm. We also get to follow her Daughter Raven’s POV. Raven knows all about her mom’s rape since they’ve chosen to be very honest, we get to see her search for more answers.

Zoey survived the murder of her parents when she was just a kid. Through a home invasion, both of her parents are tied up & asked to divulge the location of 1 million dollars (lots of backstory here but spoilers lol). Her parents are ultimately killed and Zoey herself is hurt & tortured. Fast Forward to the present & now we have someone who is searching for justice. She has taken up martial arts classes & excelled in training. You get the feeling that Zoey is traveling with a “dark passenger” (for fans of Dexter lol). Although she has re-built her life with the help of her uncle Paul (retired detective), she hasn’t been able to put her demons to rest. I LOVE morally ambiguous characters & I got that with Zoey who has taken so many hits that I found myself rooting for her to strike back!

The cast of characters in Red Hunter is bigger than these two leading ladies. We get to meet a lot of the people who have formed their support system as well. From Claudia, we have her daughter Raven & her ex husband. Zoey who comes from a cop family, has her uncle Paul, her martial arts teacher who is also a retired cop, and other cops as well who are still in her life. Unger manages to keep all players on the chess board while she weaves their story lines together. Once again she’s left me with fictional characters I love & will always remember.

The Red Hunter is up there for top faves of 2017 & cements my love for Lisa Unger. She is now an auto-buy author for me & I will be keeping an eye out for anything & everything she puts out. I don’t want to get into the plot too much because that would lead to spoilers & take away the fun. The Goodreads blurb does a good job of summing it up w/out ruining anything. There’s so much story in these 359 pages & seeing her skills with weaving the lives in this story together leaves you in awe…FLAWLESS! Perhaps what I love the most about her writing style is her ability to deliver characters I can’t help getting invested in. I genuinely end up caring about where their roads lead which leads to my want for a series from this author *silent prayer to the book Gods* Lastly, the mark of every Unger book would have to be her settings. This time the story took place mostly in the country in that house Claudia is renovating. Yet just like the Hollows in Ink and Bone, you can’t help but see the house as its own character. It has a soul & holds a dark & violent past making for a very atmospheric read. I hands down highly recommend The Red Hunter to all readers & please can we get more Lisa 😉

*Thank you Touchstone, Netgalley, and Lisa Unger for the opportunity to read a eGalley copy of The Red Hunter in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have any of you awesome bookworms read or plan to read The Red Hunter? if you have, which character was your favorite?

Review: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog (Spoiler Free)

unnatural-deeds-by-cyna-balogUnnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Date of Publication: November 1st 2016

Genres: YA Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 288

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.

And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.

I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Fire for approving me to receive an eGalley of Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unnatural Deeds is a YA Mystery Thriller and as expected was very plot driven with some occasional glimpses into the characters past lives. Since this book is a mystery, i’ll keep this review short for a change 😉 We meet Victoria at the beginning of the school year & she’s pretty much the new kid in the school until Z shows up. Z is a transfer student who just like this book, enjoys being one giant enigma, in fact he thrives on it. The polar opposite to Victoria who takes medication for her anxiety and doesn’t speak to any of the students in the school. The daughter of a religious family, Victoria’s only friend is her neighbor Andrew (same age as her) who suffers from Agoraphobia & has been homeschooled & sheltered. Andrew also happens to be Victoria’s boyfriend and they see each other mostly at each others homes or at their favorite spot by the fence that separates their homes. Up until the arrival of Z in Victoria’s school, Andrew was her life and she enjoyed coming home and re-counting her day at school to him & listening to him talk about his life at home. Andrew’s mother had re-married & his step-dad was physically abusive and not understanding at all of his anxiety disorder. This all changed the minute that Z noticed Victoria & chose to give her the attention that all of the popular girls in the school wanted from him. Z was charming & charismatic, the definition of a bad boy and the minute he set his sights on Victoria they both fell through the rabbit hole. Z brings out a side of Victoria she never knew she had & it was thrilling to her.

Writing/Thoughts:

This being a Thriller/Murder Mystery, I enjoyed the format Balog used where she started each chapter with the transcript of the police investigation…yes, someone is killed but I won’t say who HAHA! students and teachers are interviewed by the police & it is during these brief chapter openers that we are given a piece of the puzzle. What you think you know or have figured out is probably wrong…that’s all i’ll say about that for fear of you guessed it…spoilers! LOL. I’ve seen a ton of mixed reviews for this book because of the way Victoria worshipped Z but given her background & the fact that she suffers from anxiety, I was able to give her character some understanding. This wasn’t at all what I was expecting in reading my 1st YA thriller & that’s a very good thing, makes me want to check some more out. I don’t want to reveal more than this because this book is just one that you want to go into not knowing anything, I would definitely recommend Unnatural Deeds if you’re looking for your next YA Murder Mystery *wicked grin*

September Wrap-up & Book Haul

September…a month that I am usually looking forward to every year by the time the sweltering 90 degree weather in June make it’s presence felt. This year however, I was a bit apprehensive about all of the changes taking place with my little one starting in a “real” school lol. After completing pre-k in the same center as her daycare, this would be her 1st venture into an actual school building. Thankfully all went well & we just received news that she is actually at a 1st grade level. Could not be any more happier honestly. My reading month however, wasn’t the best but I managed to get 5 in & a very special book event (check out my About Last Night post here). October will be MUCH better 😉

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I’ve linked my reviews for each of my reads down below

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Empire of Storms by Sara J. Maas ★★★ (3.5 stars @ the time of review but…lol)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Wrecked by Maria Padian ★★★★ (4 stars)

After having a pretty slow book buying month in August (view August Book Haul here)…well slower than my usual LOL, I thought September would be mayhem but I think I kept it reasonable HAHA!…

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Follow me on Instagram @Lair_Of_Books for more photos 😉

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Kindle Deal $1.99 (no longer available however if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s currently free)

I’ve read 2 of the books I hauled in September & i’m seriously avoiding Crooked Kingdom smh, I’m just not ready Gals & Ghouls *hides face* to let go of my favorite fictional characters or this deliciously dark world *sigh* avoiding book spoilers on Twitter has become quite the challenge. I’m not sure what i’ll read after my current eGalley (When The Moon Was Ours), i’ve managed to get my Netgalley ratio at a respectable percentage that i’m content with. It may not be perfect but it’ll do 😉

As for my viewing, cuz ya girl really does love TV & movies! it was actually really meh LOL. I didn’t catch any movies in the theatre BUT I did binge watch season 2 of Gotham with the hubby. truthfully speaking, I wasn’t a big fan of the first season but it’s so atmospheric & they did an AMAZING job of giving it authentic classic Gotham feels that we stuck with it. I enjoyed season 2 WAY more because we get a different side of Gordon, he’s been through a lot that I won’t list because of spoilers but he’s pretty bad a** now. The performance I enjoyed the most however, goes to Cory Michael Smith who plays Edward Nygma aka future Riddler. Season 2 focused on Nygma’s development into who he will ultimately become. I can’t get enough of this guy’s shenaningans but in all seriousness he truly kills it on this show *tips hat off*

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Photo on IMDB

Fun fact: a lot of the outdoor filming in Gotham was done around my neighborhood. Some around the corner from my block & other shots were filmed by the train station near my place. We often joke our neighborhood might as well be Gotham since it’s so Gray smh. Whelp I guess word got out to FOX & Gotham has come to us. My husband took photos of the vehicles parked overnight for the shoot. There’s a pretty big old abandoned building that looks like an old bank but served as a Boys & Girls club many years ago, that was also used in one of their episodes where a banquet/party was filmed. I couldn’t get photos of that w/out trespassing though LOL.

 

Hope you all had an AMAZING September! We are now in October & i’m sure a lot of us are looking forward to all of the exciting book releases this month. What are some October books you all are looking forward to?

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (non-spoiler)

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Six of Crows #1

Published by: Henry Holt and Company

Publication Date: September 6th 2016

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 465 pages

Format: Hardcover (I own)

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

Plot

Six of Crows takes place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, 2 years after the Ravkan Civil War. The Six of Crows series however, was written so that readers who haven’t read The Grisha trilogy can still enjoy. There are references to characters from The Grisha trilogy purposely name dropped however, the characters in Six of Crows themselves do not have an accurate account of the events that followed the Ravkan Civil War. In other words, you won’t be missing out on any crucial bits of information. Leigh Bardugo has been interviewed & has answered questions on Goodreads where she tells readers that clarification will later be provided so there’s that. We get introduced to Kaz Brekker who is the leader of the Dreggs. The Dreggs are a rag tag team of criminals from all walks of life who Kaz has recruited to run heists on the wealthy. Just like in the movies (Oceans Eleven comes to mind lol) where THE BIG heist presents itself, Kaz is offered 30 million Krug to take back a scientist that is being held captive by the government. The scientist is their most prized asset because he has come up with a way to enhance a common drug. The drug, when ingested by Grisha can enhance their magical abilities to unimaginable heights making them unstoppable. Oh the damage one can do with just 1 Grisha on this drug *hides* There are many different types of Grisha & thanks to Google I will list them for you:

Corporalki

  • Healers
  • Heartrenders
  • Tailors

Etherealki

  • Inferni
  • Squallers
  • Tidemakers
  • Summoners

Materialki

  • Durasts
  • Alkemi

Characters

Photo Credit: Lauren’s Tumblr Page

This is by far my most FAVORITE Cast of characters in a Fictional Fantasy world PERIOD! Not only did Leigh Bardugo give us some of the most beloved characters, but she made a whole lot of people fall in love with their imperfections & complexities. None of her characters are perfect but it’s their flaws that make you fall in love with each & every one of them. We have Kaz Brekker aka Dirty Hands, leader & head schemer HAHA! Inej AKA The Wraith or The Spider, a female POC known for her stealthy abilities. Even with bells on you will NOT hear Inez creeping up on you & she holds many of Kaz’s secrets close to heart. Jesper sharpshooter extraordinaire & Kaz’s Second, walks around with 2 pearl handled guns that he is more than happy to pull out & show off lol. Nina the Heartrender, she’s a Grisha who has the ability to alter or stop your heart. She’s also a semi trained Tailor which means she can alter physical features on a person (she’s not very good at this lol). We also have Matthias & Wylan but i’ll leave these characters roles out of the description cuz spoilers 😉 I found myself rooting for these characters, getting mad at some of them, and other times very protective over them. Thanks again Gretchen @Chicnerdreads for pointing me in the right direction for the perfect Fan cast art 😉

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.” 
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

Writing

Leigh Bardugo aka My Queen Of Darkness has a way of infusing her sense of humor in her writing & since she is one funny lady, I often found myself chuckling at the dialogue between characters. The story is fast paced but it’s appropriate for a heist that typically you would see playing out on the big screen. The fact that she managed such a feat is impressive enough but that she did so by managing 6 different characters without skipping a beat is utterly INSANE & proof that she is QUEEN! The characters she created are so fleshed out that they practically leap off the pages which I LOVE! I can’t get enough of Six Of Crows & can’t wait to start Crooked Kingdom.

Thoughts

I have fallen in love with the world Leigh Bardugo has created & hope that she has more for us reader fans. She did say at the Strand NYC event this past Monday, that there are plenty more stories to tell in this world but that she couldn’t say anything was for certain (Leigh Bardugo event post here). It’s pretty clear to me that Leigh Bardugo really got to know her characters well & brought them to life on the page. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time. The story gave me Ocean’s Eleven & Boardwalk Empire feels but in the end nothing compares to Six of Crows 😉