Posted in ARC, Audio, Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Thrillers

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Liv Reese wakes up to discover that strangers live in her apartment and there’s a bloody knife in her pocket. Her hands and arms are covered with strange messages like “stay awake”, “don’t sleep”, “don’t trust anyone”.

Each time Liv wakes up she’s living in a nightmare. She can’t remember the last two years of her life and each day is like starting all over. She writes messages on herself to try to prompt memories. Over and over, she discovers a large scar on her torso. She can’t remember how she got it.

When a man is found murdered in his bed, the clues lead the police to consider Liv the prime suspect. But how do you get enough evidence to prosecute a woman who can’t remember what she did yesterday?

Stay Awake is an anxiety inducing mystery-thriller. If you’ve ever woken up and briefly panicked, not knowing where you are, you’ll get an inkling of what Liv feels each and every waking moment of her life. In the beginning of the book, I was working right along with Liv to try to work through the murky mess that is her life. Eventually, other voices gave me clues as to what is going on, which greatly helped my agitation.

I listened to the audio version and have to confess it kept ME awake! But there were two reasons for that and I am going to rate the book accordingly. The author, Megan Goldin, gets five stars for a first-rate thriller.

The narration was much more jarring. The narrator created a voice for Liv that was extremely distracting. It was halting, and alternated between peevish, puzzled and angry. Puzzled, I can understand, but there was no “normal” base voice, just this constant barrage of over-the-top moods. About halfway through the book, this leveled out quite a bit, and the listening experience was a lot more enjoyable. The narrator for Liv’s voice also mispronounced several words.

Stay Awake is recommended for readers of Psychological Suspense and Thrillers, but I suggest reading the text version.

book cover, Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

My Ratings: Book — 5 Stars, Grade A
Narration — 3 Stars, Grade C

Posted in ARC, Audio, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Japan, Mystery

The Kimono Tattoo by Rebecca Copeland

Ruth Bennett is a translator working in Kyoto, Japan. Tall, redheaded Ruth is immediately recognizable as a foreigner, but she speaks impeccable Japanese and thoroughly embraces Japanese culture. She was born and raised in Japan while her parents worked as missionaries, although not the stereotypical sort. Her father was an obstetrician in a Christian hospital. Tragedy struck the family when her father was embroiled in a baseless malpractice case and her younger brother mysteriously vanished. Ruth’s parents returned to America, but Japan was home for Ruth.

Ruth’s current translation job is rather boring. She has no relatives nearby, few friends, and she’s not currently in a relationship. When a stranger knocks on her door offering her a chance to translate a novel by an author everyone assumed was dead, she gladly accepts the challenge. But as she reads the manuscript, she finds inconsistencies in writing style and the subject matter is about a dead woman’s body found naked on a nearby path. The body is covered in stunningly artistic tattoos that strongly resemble kimono fabric. After a very similar story appears on the television news, she knows the woman has been murdered.

Ruth slowly discovers she is the target of a very dangerous and powerful person. As she works to solve the puzzle of the manuscript and the tattooed woman, she discovers that she also has allies, friends and support from unexpected places.

In The Kimono Tattoo, kimonos are mentioned and observed in great detail so frequently, the reader can’t miss them. But as someone who knows very little about kimonos, I found this fascinating. The author also described the setting near Ruth’s home so well that I could picture myself walking those paths.

The mystery is just as complex as the dead woman’s tattoos. I listened to the audio version of this book and I was so engrossed in the story that I had to keep reminding myself to turn it off and go to sleep!

I looked up the author’s webpage and biography. Rebecca Copeland draws her main character’s history from her own life experiences. She is also an illustrious Japanese translator and literary critic. This is her first work of fiction.

Thank you NetGalley and Brother Mockingbird publishers for the opportunity to listen to the audio version of this book. The Kimono Tattoo is now available at your favorite print or audio book retailers.

My Rating: 5 Stars, Grade A

Posted in ARC, Book Preview, suspense, Thrillers

The Lost Boy by Jane Renshaw

Rod Clark is an avid birdwatcher. Another bird enthusiast, Anna, from his online birding group, offers him a free one-week vacation on her island/nature preserve off the Scottish coast. Rod is over the moon with excitement. His wife, Penny, not so much. Her concern is saving their failing transportation business. A week away is the last thing she wants.

Penny reluctantly packs up their two boys and heads off with Rod. While he treks off into the woods and along the rocky shoreline, Penny struggles to keep their two hyperactive boys in line while working remotely. Anna appears to be a very understanding hostess. She puts up with the boys’ rather destructive antics while harboring unstable thoughts. But after the older boy goes missing, it becomes obvious that someone besides Anna is keeping dangerous secrets.

The Lost Boy is a captivating thriller of revenge and suspense. I pretty much figured out the twist about a third of the way through the book, but I didn’t lose interest. I love the remote island setting and the way the characters are portrayed. The narration is omniscient, so you get to hear the inner thoughts of several people. This makes the book quite effective despite a fairly transparent plot line.

If you like the suspense and thriller genres, you may enjoy The Lost Boy. But I’d recommend not reading it on vacation in a remote area!

The Lost Boy, Jane Renshaw, Book Cover

My Rating 4 stars, Grade B

Thank you, NetGalley and Inkubator Books, for my Advanced Reader Copy.