The Girl in the Ice

The Girl in the Ice

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza (Crime Thriller)

Grandma Says: The Girl in the Ice is a well-written, suspense-filled thriller set in South London in the UK. In addition to enjoying the setting, I was immediately drawn in by the pacing and characters. We briefly meet the socialite who will be murdered and found beneath the ice in a pond, then are introduced to Detective Erika Foster who has been chosen to lead the investigation into the girl’s death. Erika comes with plenty of her own baggage, a backstory that’s told with just enough detail to help explain her in-your-face attitude toward the girl’s high-society parents who do their best to control her investigation. Erika’s headstrong ways get her into plenty of trouble with her commanding officers and others, and her efforts are thwarted by male colleagues (who we know will get their comeuppance when she solves the case).

The story is told from multiple points of view, including that of the killer who is always kept gender-neutral, adding to the suspense right up to the end. While sometimes it was hard to believe that Erika’s commanding officer would be as understanding as he was in the face of outright mutiny, her relationships with her fellow investigators Moss and Peterson were credible and added to the story. As mentioned previously, the pacing was a major draw for me: things kept happening, and there was never a dull moment nor a sense of “why was that passage in there?” I did have to look up some British terms, such as “off-licence,” but that simply added to the sense of being in an interesting, unfamiliar setting.

I’m pleased to note that this is the first in a three-part crime thriller series. Erika Foster is a character I enjoy, and Bryndza’s writing is a treat.

Grandma gives The Girl in the Ice five stars.5 stars

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The Weight of Guilt

Weight of Guilt

The Weight of Guilt by Jon Ripslinger (Young Adult Mystery/Thriller)

This book intrigued me from the moment I saw the cover, and it didn’t disappoint. The story combines the mystery of a young girl’s murder with the thriller aspects of absolving a young man wrongly accused — and possibly framed — because of a past mistake. The author throws in a budding romance to boot which, for me, could have been left out but was not a game-changer. Overall, I was absorbed in the story and couldn’t put it down. The pace was quick, and I found the main characters appealing. There was plenty of action, and while the outcome was somewhat predictable, how the main characters got there was worth the read.

The story is alternately told from two points of view — that of the young man, John Hawk, who is the accused, and that of Charley (Charlotte) Cotton, the best friend of the murdered girl. In addition to being the outcast in a new high school, John is a tortured soul carrying the weight of guilt after a friend’s death in a car accident, even though the accident was not his fault. Charley is a quiet girl with a no-nonsense personality who doesn’t trust John any more than anyone else does, but also realizes there’s more going on overall than meets the eye. Seeing the same events through the perspectives of two different young people and being privy to their changing attitudes toward each other added extra interest for me.

Grandma gives The Weight of Guilt four and a half stars. 4.5 stars

Potty-mouth Index: MODERATE. Some use of the “f” word, but not excessive.

 

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Imaginary Things

Imaginary Things

Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen (Science Fiction/Fantasy)

Grandma Says:

In this book, described as “magical realism,” young mother, Anna, can see her four-year-old’s imaginary friends, a gift that is both enlightening and scary. His dinosaur friends appear to be protective, although she’s not sure what they are protecting him from, but when a dark smoke-like creature eventually solidifies into a terrifying panther living under the bed, she realizes that the boy is terribly afraid of something, and the vision terrifies her, as well. Woven into the story are her own personal demons — a dysfunctional childhood, bad marriage, frightening ex, and an on-again/off-again relationship with the childhood friend and neighbor who has loved her since they were kids.

I found this book a little slow to get going and didn’t really become interested in the story until about 2/3 of the way in. At that point, Anna learns something new about her own mother and their relationship, which included Anna’s own imaginary friend. The story begins to pick up, with the real crisis coming close to the end of the book, where it’s resolved fairly quickly. With a typical fairy-tale ending, all is well and the future looks bright.

All in all, the premise is interesting, the book is an easy read, and I think young moms will especially enjoy it. Anna’s son is sweet and endearing, and her childhood sweetheart is sexy and appealing and he has been waiting years for her to come back home. What’s not to like?

Grandma gives Imaginary Things four stars. 4 stars

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Eleanor & Park

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Young Adult)

Grandma Says:

This book captured my interest from page one and held it all the way through to the very satisfying end. Eleanor and Park tell the story of their relationship in alternating segments, and their voices are distinct and believable. They each feel like a misfit in their teen-aged world — Park because he’s slightly built and half-Korean in a school full of large white guys, and Eleanor because she’s a chubby, freckled redhead from a terrifyingly dysfunctional family who quickly becomes the target of bullies in her new school.

Eleanor hides shabby second-hand clothes — and what she feels is her embarrassingly full body — beneath loose men’s shirts. At the same time, she flies her freak flag in defiance of everybody around her, decorating her unruly hair with fishing lures and tying men’s neckties around her wrists as accessories. Her home life breaks your heart, but she’s a survivor. She takes on the world when she needs to, but is a realist who also knows when to walk away.

Park is a quiet young man who buries himself in action comics, popular music, and taekwondo. He’s acutely aware of his Asian background, which he believes negatively influences his stature and his facial features, and he does not realize how appealing he really is. His family is strong and his home life secure, and he and Eleanor could not be more different from each other.

The relationship between them develops slowly and carefully, fitting with their personal insecurities. And from the opening page, the reader knows that something is going to eventually keep them physically apart. The journey to find out how it all happens and how they will cope with it has its dark moments but ultimately left me with hope for their individual futures.

Grandma gives Eleanor & Park five stars. 5 stars

Potty-mouth Index: HIGH but appropriate to character development and storyline.

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