Tag Archives: suspense

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

tellthewindandfire-1Lucie Manette is the Golden Thread in the Dark.  The symbol of freedom to the Dark Magicians long oppressed by the Light.  The symbol of need for that oppression by the Light Magicians. A young woman who desires to be neither, and yet must be both.

Tell The Wind and Fire
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Clarion Books
April 2016

Having missed the last train to Light New York and forced to take a later one, Lucie and her boyfriend, Ethan Stryker, are stopped by Light Guards.  Ethan has been accused of treason, an offense punishable by instant death.  Saved only by her image, his name, and a stranger with a familiar countenance, Lucie is brought face-to-face with a secret that could destroy the foundation of the Light’s most powerful family.

Although she’s accustomed to keeping secrets, Lucie is still rattled by what she learns.  She makes decisions that will impact the course of the Light…and the Dark.  She becomes an unwitting pawn in a game in which there are no winners.  The heroine in a story for which there can be no happy ending.

Before I can speak to the story, I have to speak to Sarah Rees Brennan’s writing of it.  Story aside, the writing is brilliant.  Her prose is lyric and deep, bringing the scenes and feelings to life.  I could read books of hers over and over again, just for the writing itself.

As to the story, I wish it lived up to the talent of the writer putting pen to paper (or keystroke to keyboard, as it were).  About mid-book, I kept wondering where we were headed.  There are so many undercurrents that felt unresolved.  If this is the start of a series, then that makes sense.  If it is not, then  is hard to reconcile this into something I can say that I liked.  Appreciated, yes.  Liked?  Not so much.

It does, however, live up to the theme of similar novels by other authors.  Dystopian novels will not have happy endings, and that is something to which the reader must reconcile him/herself going in.   I wasn’t looking for happy inasmuch as I was looking for resolution.   I can deal with unhappy; I have issues with incomplete.

Overall, again, if this is the start of a series, then I could read others to see where Rees Brennan might take us.  Based on her writing, the journey would be incredible.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 3rd grade science nerd and toddler aged busy body. You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

blackeyedTessa is the lone survivor of a serial killer. The only Susan to survive several brutal murders. She helped put the killer behind bars. Years later, as his execution date approaches, Tessa finds messages left for her. Is the wrong man behind bars?

Black-Eyed Susans
by Julia Heaberlin
Ballentine Books
June 2015

 At seventeen years old, Tessa was subjected to pain and torture, left blinded by psychosis, and survived the rampage of a serial killer.  She fought to put the pieces of her life back together, slowly but surely.  She’s even been able to heal enough to have her own daughter.

Many times over the years, Tessa was approached by an inmate’s advocate who questioned the guilt of the man sentenced for the crimes.  It’s not until his exectution approaches that Tessa also begins to question.  And she only questions based on “gifts” that are being left for her.

I really wanted to like this.  The premise seemed solid, as did the characters.  The flaw in Julia Heaberlin’s novel is really in the formatting.  I don’t mind flashbacks as a general rule.  However, every other chapter in this novel flashes back to Tessa’s past, followed by a chapter in present day.  This continues through the entire book.

After a few chapters, it gets cumbersome to wade through.  I want to be able to enjoy fiction and focus on the building suspense in thrillers.  For me, this jumping back and forth only served as a disruption, never really allowing that suspense to build.

In the end, it became so disruptive to me that I couldn’t finish the novel.   I wasn’t left like I NEEDED to find out what happened.

So I didn’t.

Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 7 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Eeny Meeny by Arlidge


What would you do if you had to make a choice?  If you were imprisoned with no food, no water, someone you know, and a gun?  Two go in, but only one can come out.   How do you choose?

Eeny Meeny
by M. J. Alridge
Penguin Group
June 2015

Helen Grace is a respected, hard-working Detective Inspector.   She has been charged with leading the investigation into a heinous serial killer who forces victims to make a choice between his/her own life or the life of his/her fellow captive.  Initially, Grace doesn’t believe the stories the victims are telling, until the capture repeats itself several more times.

Grace must follow a sadistic mind, battling her own demons as she goes.  She is forced to confront the limitations of her present and the horrors of her past as she races to stop the orchestrator of these horrible crimes.

Based on the background, I was really hoping to like this novel.  I am a fan of a crime stories, so I was really excited to get into this one.  As the story started, it seemed pretty promising.  There’s the central crime, as well as some office intrigue that leaves many of the inspectors and officers distrustful.

Even with that, as the story progressed, it was less and less what I thought it would be.  Sometimes, this is a good thing.  In the case of Eeny Meeny, it wasn’t.   There were many moments where the change in point of view was jarring.   While I think the intention was to keep the character shrouded in mystery, the transitions weren’t smooth.

Also, I completely recognize this is the first in what will be a series of novels featuring Helen Grace.  That being said, as a reader I needed more of her background to be unfolded earlier in the story for the ending to not be so jarring.  It felt completely out of left field, again not in a good way.

So overall, I’m not sure I’d be interested enough in this series or Helen Grace as a character to read additional entries into this series.  She needed more to humanize her and make her likeable to the reader.  That didn’t really happen for me.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com.  She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 5 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.