books, reading, Uncategorized

BOOK REVIEW: THE CHAIN BY ADRIAN MCKINTY

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Title: THE CHAIN

Author: ADRIAN MCKINTY

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

Publication Date: July 9, 2019 by Mulholland Books

The Premise:

A young girl, Kylie, is kidnapped while waiting for her school bus. Her mother, Rachel, receives a phone call soon afterwards. The kidnappers are parents whose own child has been kidnapped and is currently being held for ransom. In order to get her child back, Rachel must pay a $25,000 ransom AND kidnap someone else’s child. If she does not complete these two tasks, her child will be killed and they will find another child. If she involves the police, her child will be killed and they will find another child. Kylie will only be released when the next set of parents (after Rachel) kidnap a child of their own and pay a ransom. And the chain continues . . .

Confused yet?

My Thoughts:

(A few light spoilers, nothing that will ruin the book or give much away)

The Concept: Okay, so The Chain is one of those books where you need to suspend reality for a few hours and just enjoy the story. The idea that a kidnapping for ransom scheme perpetrated by the parents themselves could go on for several years without the police or government becoming involved is pretty slim. At one point in the story, it is revealed that a parent tried to “break” the chain in the past, and the ramifications extended back seven children. It’s never quite revealed what that means, but it’s implied that the people behind The Chain will return and kill the children of anyone who defects. So we’re to believe that seven children were killed in the same geographic area in the past few years, and the police never became involved?

However, if you put that aside, it’s very easy to lose yourself in the story. What would you do if your child was kidnapped and the people holding your child were psycholgically unhinged by the kidnapping of their own child? What are they capable of? There is no greater love than a parent’s love for their child. Making the parents the kidnappers is a brilliant new twist on the old kidnapping-for-ransom theme and really raises the stakes for the reader.

The Characters: The main character, Rachel, is a relatable heroine, as is her daughter, Kylie. It says something about the author’s ability to write a complex female character when we find ourselves rooting for a kidnapper. Assisting her along the way is her ex-brother-in-law, Pete, a flawed veteran who struggles to contain his opiate addiction long enough to find his niece. Her ex-husband, Marty is quite possibly the nicest ex-husband on the planet. The story’s antagonists could’ve been fleshed out a little more. They weren’t frightening enough as villains, especially considering the kind of havoc they’ve been wreaking for several years via The Chain.

Morality: Light cursing. Light sexuality. Light violence. Nothing gory or over the top.

Complaints: There’s a lot of head-hopping, which threw me off. And the villains weren’t all that villain-y. There were a few unanswered questions (ex/ How much did the villain’s grandfather know about the scheme?) and some things that just don’t make sense, like how the entire scheme went undetected by law enforcement for so long.

Would I Recommend?: Absolutely. Suspend your disbelief and just have fun. The Chain puts a new spin on the old kidnapping-for-ransom theme by making the parents the perpetrators of the crime. Even the heroine of the book is forced to become a villain to get her own child back. Fans of suspense/thrillers will love this one!

4.0 / 5 Stars

**Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

books, reading

Book Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Something wonderful just happened in my life. I discovered that I could receive ARC’s (Advance Reading Copy) of books PRIOR to their publication. Sometimes months in advance! The best part . . . they’re completely FREE! If I’m interested in reading a particular book, I send a request to the publisher, and if I’m selected, they send me a digital copy of the book (again . . . for FREE) in exchange for posting reviews on my various social media platforms.

When an ARC arrives on my Kindle, it looks like this:

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Seriously! What’s better than reading a book before everyone else and not even having to pay for it? In my world, not much. Except maybe getting paid to do it. But I haven’t figured out that particular hustle yet! 🙂  Plus, for those of you following my writing journey,  this is just another way to get my name out there AND increase readership to my social media platforms. As we all know, when it comes to landing an agent and/or publisher, it’s all about PLATFORM, PLATFORM, PLATFORM.

Okay, without further ado, my first ARC review!

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Title: THE ESCAPE ROOM

Author: Megan Goldin

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

Publication Date: July 30, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

The Premise:

Four Wall Street investment bankers—Vincent, Jules, Sam, and Sylvie—arrive at a high-rise for what they think is a team-building escape room challenge. They soon find themselves trapped inside an elevator, trying to solve a series of clues to free themselves. But solving the clues gets them no closer to escape. As the minutes turn to hours, and the hours turn to days, the elevator grows hotter and more uncomfortable by the minute, and the true natures of the characters are revealed as they begin to turn on each other.

The story alternates between telling the story of the characters trapped in the elevator, and telling the story of a young banker named Sara Hall who used to work with them.

My Thoughts:

(A few light spoilers, nothing that will ruin the book or give much away)

Overall, I loved The Escape Room and couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened next. I thought about the book when I wasn’t reading it. That rarely happens to me, but when it does, it’s a magical thing.

The Concept: Although the escape room craze has been going on for a few years now,  I’ve yet to read a fiction book based on characters completing an escape room. To me, it was a new and interesting concept that I could easily see being suspenseful. After all, the whole idea behind an escape room is that you either solve the clues and get yourself out, or you don’t solve the clues and you get released after an hour. But what if the hour ends and the door doesn’t open? Now imagine throwing four ruthless Wall Street bankers into the mix and gradually turning up the head (both literally and figuratively).

The Characters: Typically, when I read a book, I want to fall in love with the characters. If I love them, I’ll be invested in their lives and care what happens to them. In this book, I didn’t fall in love with any of them, and I didn’t particularly care what happened to them. But was the author’s intent. I wasn’t supposed to like the characters. With the exception of our protagonist, Sara Hall, the characters are all battle-hardened investment bankers with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

Morality: Again, most of the characters are financially well-off but morally bankrupt. There is some cursing but not so much that it really jumped out at me (which it usually does when done excessively). Some light sexuality, a scene of implied molestation, and several instances of violence, but nothing gory or over-the-top.

Complaints: All of the head-hopping between characters in the elevator scenes really threw me off at first. As a writer, it’s beaten into our heads that you MUST choose a character and stay in their head during a given chapter or section. If you want to be inside the head of a different character, you have to start a new chapter or section. But, in the elevator scenes, we’re in Vincent’s head in one paragraph, and in Sylvie’s head in the very next paragraph. However, I soon realized why the author made this particular choice. Once I got used to it, I barely noticed it.

My only other complaint is that there were a few loose ends (one of them rather big) that I would’ve preferred to see tied up.

Would I Recommend?: A resounding YES! The Escape Room was a fast, suspenseful read, an interesting concept, and it held my attention. I highly recommend it to thriller/suspense fans and I would definitely read more books by this author!

4.5 / 5 Stars

**Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.