Thursday, March 28, 2019

Review: Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning
Antonio Manzini

Spring Cleaning picks up where Manzini's previous book Out of Season ends. Rocco Schiavone, Deputy Chief of Police in Aosta, Italy is looking for the person who broke into his apartment and killed his friend Adele. Adele, the girlfriend of Rocco's best friend, had been visiting and was most likely not the target. That would have been Rocco, who is now intent on finding the killer.

Before he can devote himself to finding the hit man he is confronted with another murder. This time the male victim is a prisoner which means Rocco will have to spend some time behind bars trying to find out what happened. As he investigates, it slowly becomes clear that the prison death may lead back to a previous case Rocco worked on.

Manzini has created another mystery, where Schiavone is at once haunted by the ghost of his dead wife, struggling to come to grips with life in a city other than his beloved Rome and trying to find justice for his friend, Adele. Having read all four of Manzini's books so far, I'm hoping this will not be the last because I would love to read more.

Thanks to Library Thing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: The Old Drift

The Old Drift

The Old Drift
Namwali Serpell

The Old Drift starts along the Zambezi River during colonial times, tracing the story of early explorers as they set off to discover Victoria Falls and the descendants they left behind who will eventually carve out a nation of their own. Over time, these descendants will intersect forming a tangled web of love and loss coupled together with a sense of hope and dreams for the future. It's a sweeping tale that incorporates a little romance, fairy tale, and science fiction. Frankly, it was unlike anything else I've read lately.

On the positive side, I thought the author had an incredible gift for descriptive writing. I like the middle of this book which focused on the creation of the Zambian nation and the characters who were struggling to find their course in history. I didn't, however, care for the fairy tale aspect of some chapters or the veering off into science fiction. While both the story and writing style were unique, it wasn't somehow what I was expecting, and if I'm honest, I think it was a little on the long side. I would have preferred it if it had been a story of the struggle for Zambian independence told in a more traditional fashion following the diverse set of characters.

Thanks to Hogarth Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: Athenian Blues

Athenian Blues (Stratos Gazis #1)
Athenian Blues
Pol Koutsakis

Sometimes the stars align and you find a real gem of a book. That's how I felt about Athenian Blues. In this tale set in Greece, we meet Stratos Gazis, who likes to refer to himself as a caretaker. He can't stand to be called a hitman. In his mind, he is providing justice for both his victims and his clients. So, when a famous actress, Aliki Stylianou tries to hire him to kill her abusive husband, he wants to know more before taking the case. After all, her husband is one of Athens' most respected lawyers.

Things take an unexpected turn when an attempt is made on Aliki's life and she goes into hiding. Her husband wants to hire Gazis to find her. Gazis isn't sure which party to believe. Is the husband abusive and does he want to kill his wife, or is she making it all up? As the story develops and Gazis, with the help of his friends, tries to piece together the complex ties between husband and wife, he finds more questions than answers. As more secrets emerge, Gazis is more determined than ever to find Aliki. If only he'd known he would be putting himself and his closest friends in danger.

Pol Koutsakis is a fascinating storyteller able to transport readers right into Stratos Gazis' world.

This review was originally written for and published by City Book Review.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: Octavio's Journey

Octavio's Journey

Octavio's Journey
Miguel Bonnefoy

Octavio is an illiterate man who is ashamed of the fact that he cannot read. When he meets a wealthy woman named Venezuela at a pharmacy, she agrees to teach him how to read. Octavio is overjoyed with his new skill, but unbeknownst to Venezuela, Octavio has a secret life that will affect their friendship. Once he has to leave his village, he roams the forests and jungles transforming himself and his life before deciding it is safe to return home.

This book didn't grab me in the way I had expected that it would. While it isn't very long, it felt like it went on too long. I liked the beginning and the end, but the middle of the story seemed to ramble along without adding a lot of substance. The writing was, however, at times quite magical. It was descriptive in a way that felt tropical and emotional, yet I felt it lacked something to keep me connected and hooked to the middle of the tale. The transformation of the main character that took place at the end of the story made it worth reading, but it wasn't the unforgettable, bewitching tale I was hoping it would be.

This review was originally written for and published by City Book Review.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: An Anonymous Girl

An Anonymous Girl

An Anonymous Girl
Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Jessica Farris is trying to make ends meet in New York City as a freelance makeup artist when she stumbles on a research study that could provide a little extra income. The only thing is, she needs to reveal intimate details about herself and answer questions about her own moral code of behavior. When the professor undertaking the study wants more from Jessica, she finds there may be no easy way to pull away from a questionable and dangerous situation.

Just like their previous book, The Wife Between Us, An Anonymous Girl is full of all the tension and twists and turns the reader expects. These authors delve deep into their characters revealing that what makes them tick may not always be their best attributes. This is a definite read for fans of suspense and thrillers. Once I got started, I found this book so hard to put down. I suspect you'll feel the same as well.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.