TLC Book Tours: Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

208698684 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review!

Woman With a Gun starts with the story of Stacey Kim, a talented writer, who is having trouble with ideas for her first novel. She dropped everything to move to New York and become successful, only she hasn’t been able to do that yet. One day, on her lunch break she goes to the Museum of Modern Art and stumbles upon the photo, “Woman with a Gun” by famous photographer Kathy Moran. Stacey is immediately intrigued and inspired to write a novel loosely based on the story behind the photo – the only problem is that no one knows the story. Stacey eventually finds out that the photo is of Megan Cahill, the wife of Raymond Cahill who was brutally murdered in their home on the night of their wedding. So begins her journey to learn more – Stacey interviews the lead detective on the Cahill murder, Jack Booth, and the story quickly jumps back to the Kilbride case, which happened several years before the Cahill murder, and explains Kathy Moran’s background and Jack’s connection to her. As Stacey is uncovering the truth about these cases, she begins to put the puzzle together that no one has been able to before and ends up finding herself in danger also.

So we have three main plots: the present where Stacey is investigating the photo, the Cahill case, and the Kilbride case. However, unlike a lot of books with subplots in different timelines, Woman with a Gun does not jump back and forth incessantly. For this reason, I loved it. The fact that each story is told almost independently adds a lot of suspense and keeps you guessing who the Cahill killer is until the end.

I’ve seen other reviews that say this book was difficult to get into and that it didn’t keep the reviewers attention since it is difficult to see how the different crimes are connected until the very end. Yes, the connections are not there in the beginning, but the stories are written without fluff, almost like a detective is presenting you the facts. So, in my opinion, the writing style is perfect for this story.

Throughout the entire book, I was prepared to give a 5-star rating – The premise of the story being based on a photo is amazing; the story keeps your attention; the characters are developed just enough to make you interested in all of their outcomes but not too much to detract from the actual whodunit plot. I did slightly lower my rating at the end though because I’m a snob when it comes to mystery and I don’t like when I am able to guess who the killer is. Although, I only guessed in the last couple of chapters.

If you want a quick mystery (this book literally took me less than one day to read), then I highly recommend Woman with a Gun. This was my first time to read Phillip Margolin, and I was definitely not disappointed.

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Night Film: Creep on!


5 of 5 stars

SO MANY FEELS… It took me a few days to process this one.

You know those books where you figure out that the blurb on the back of the book is completely wrong/misleading after you finish? Yeah… that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. It IS possible to actually tell what the book is about on the cover without giving away anything. Case in point: NIGHT FILM – It’s vague. But it’s right. It tells you just enough to make you interested but doesn’t lie to you. Go editor!! Thank you!

You go into Night Film knowing that Ashley Cordova, daughter of a reclusive cult horror film director has died, and journalist Scott McGrath investigates her death based on a vendetta with Stanislas Cordova. And that’s really all you need… it sounds like it might get creepy and it does.

The first couple of nights after I started reading this I had the most deliciously creepy dreams. The plot builds somewhat ominously and slowly to create the perfect mood of curiosity with slight dread. The actual events… sorry I just can’t tell you because you will enjoy the book immensely if you only know what’s on the cover and go read it for yourself.

Don’t be scared of the length. I enjoyed the slow but not too slow building plot. It created a lot of time for character development all around and several climaxes that keep it moving. And a lot of foreboding.

The best thing about this book are all of the case files and reports included. You feel like you are actually watching an old cult horror film yourself – the ones where the newspaper clippings, pictures, etc. spin out and almost slap you in the face. It’s just delicious. (For this reason, I would recommend reading a real live in-person copy of this book.)

There are so many details in the story that I’m sure I could read it again and pick up on even more little nuances (which I will definitely be doing). And this book definitely does not settle for your cookie cutter ending. The whole thing is just perfect in my opinion.

I would recommend this for umm… EVERYONE.. especially if you love a suspenseful mystery that makes you think with a genius madman? thrown in.

Pre-release review: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh


1 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Weight of Blood is the story of Lucy, a girl from Henbane, Missouri (sounds like the most creepy town ever.. right?). Lucy is feels guilty for not trying harder to figure out what happened to her friend Cheri whose remains were found a year after she went missing. She starts working for her uncle and stumbles upon some evidence of Cheri’s disappearance. Thus, ensues a search for the truth that Lucy discovers is connected to her own mother’s disappearance and also very strongly incriminates her uncle.

I requested this book from NetGalley because the description sounded really thrilling and the setting of Henbane seemed like it would lead to a great edge-of-your-seat scare-the-crap-out-of-you read. Sadly, I was able to guess the ending in detail from the third chapter, and I only kept reading to see if I was right. And there was not really any suspense or thrill – this was not for lack of trying, but the author was just unable to create the mood she was going for.

There were a few things I didn’t like that I think really led to the lack of development:

  1. The chapters switched between two main characters, Lucy and her mother (Lila), and they were both in first person with the same voice. Therefore, difficult to distinguish and make into their own character. Also, because you are hearing the story from Lila’s point of view the entire time, there’s no suspense created besides the ultimate question of why she disappeared.
  2. The love interest between Lucy and the guy who is helping her investigate is extremely young-adultish and detracts from the rest of the story.
  3. The dialogue goes tries to sound hick… but it ends up being annoying. Mostly because of the phrase “fixing to”. No one says “cheer up darlin’ ” and “fixing to”. It’s “fixin’ to”. And it was all over the place.
  4. There was no resolution of what really happened to Lila’s mother. Just a vague answer to knowing whether she ran away or not. Extremely annoying!

Bottom line: This story looked intriguing and the idea behind it I still think could have been great. However, it just didn’t work. There isn’t much depth to the characters or plot. I honestly would not recommend this book.

The Weight of Blood will be released on March 11th, for anyone who dares to try it.

Thriller that’s actually THRILLING: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

In the Blood

4 of 5 stars

I received a pre-release copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley. This is the first I have read by Lisa Unger, but do not worry I will be reading more.

In the Blood is about Lana Granger, a deep deep character who reveals herself, the good and the bad, gradually throughout the book and keeps you wanting more. The book begins with her as a child hiding under her bed after coming home to find her mom dead and her dad making her help him bury her. From there, the story skips to the present. Lana is in college and very close to her mentor/adviser who encourages her to find a job, specifically one working with Luke Kahn, a very messed up somewhat psycopathic little boy. Then her roommate goes missing and Luke asks her to play a scavenger hunt with him… hmm. The roller coaster of who exactly is involved and who is playing who in the psychopathic cat and mouse game never slows down from there.

I really really liked this book. I knew there was a twist so I was making up all sorts of stories in my head the entire time and couldn’t put it down. I still ended up not guessing the actual twist. Lisa Unger so gradually unveils the whole truth in such a perfect way. There were moments where my heart was pounding… this was actually the feeling I was hoping to get when I reading Red Dragon that I knew existed somewhere out there.

I admit I don’t read many thrillers, but this was a very well written majorly suspenseful psychological thriller. I especially loved Lana’s character development and questioning of her own behavior and the weaving together of everyone else in her life in a very unique way.