Book Reviews: The Edge of Fear @MauraBeth2014, Twelve Years Gone – K J Kalis, Survive The Night – Riley Sager

Hey, everyone. Time for another book review Tuesday. Today I’m sharing my reviews of three recent reads. The first by an author I’ve read before, the others by “new to me” authors, although one of them is quite popular.

Because of the length of this post, I’m skipping the blurbs. I guess you could call these “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” The last book isn’t really ugly but it just seemed weird to me. Nonetheless, let’s start with the good.

Earlier this year, I read Maura Beth Brennan’s The Edge of Memory. I enjoyed it and was eager to read the sequel.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Edge of Fear is Maura Beth Brennan’s second novel and a wonderful sequel to The Edge of Memory.

Hattie (Harriett) is now married to Eli, a local artisan. They have a three-year-old daughter, Lily. Her life is better than she ever imagined, but she begins having inklings that something is about to happen to destroy her happy family.

Then the unthinkable does. Hattie’s ex-husband, Frank, kidnaps Lily and holds her for ransom. After one attempt at giving him the money goes awry, weeks happen without any contact. That’s when Hattie decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s determined to find her daughter at all costs.

With the help of her best friend Celine, the two women set off on a journey to find the kidnapped child. What follows is a page-turning adventure as they trace Frank’s footsteps.

The character development was superb, the action well-paced, and the ending… Well, I won’t give it away.

If you haven’t read The Edge of Memory, this book could easily stand alone. For those who have read it, you’ll see familiar characters—beloved Agnes and of course, Celine. You’ll also meet new ones whom you’ll come to like, and I hope will appear in future books.

A resounding five stars for this one.

The next book I discovered through a BookBub promotion. Suffice to say, I’m glad it was free. This is probably the longest review I’ve written, so bear with me.

My Review

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. The premise sounded great. A teenage girl goes out for a hike and never returns. Twelve years later, her family wants answers. Enter Emily, a former Chicago Police detective turned private investigator. She’s contacted by the mother of the missing girl and decides to travel to the small town of Stockton to investigate.

First, I’ll comment on the writing. There are numerous word echoes throughout the book. A couple of examples – the word truck was used five times in one paragraph and a sixth time in the preceding one. The name Angelica was used sixteen times in three pages. Even in an eighty-three-word author’s note, Kalis used the book’s name twice. Was it not possible to say, “this novel” or “this book?”

The author also mixed up a character’s name. Benny became his father Bucky for a couple of pages. Totally confusing.

The book also has redundancies. How many times do we need to know Emily wasn’t sure if she was going to take the case? Was it not clear Cameron was upset over the death of some of his cattle? Or that Kathy wanted to get out of Stockton but was too scared to do anything about it? Despite all that, I kept reading.

The solution was fairly predictable, but the book had several loose ends. I thought there could have been a lot more tension toward the end. There wasn’t. After building up to the fact the sheriff wasn’t on the up and up and was wary of Emily’s presence, he more or less disappeared. The unusual behavior of a local veterinarian wasn’t explained. Why throw those things in if you aren’t going to do anything with them?

Then came the unbelievable ending. I won’t say more because I hate spoilers in reviews, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Guess I should have paid more attention to the word vigilante justice in the sub-title.

On the positive side – I liked Emily’s sidekick Mike, a computer nerd who helped her out of more than one tough situation. There was also her dog Miner, aptly named for the number of holes he digs in her back yard. One line I found amusing: “All the dog needed was a hardhat and a headlamp.”

Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good and I feel I’m generous in rating it three stars (actually 2.5 rounded up to three). The use of beta readers, critique partners, or an editor would have been helpful. I won’t bother with any more books in this series or by this author.

I received an ARC of Survive The Night through Net Galley.

My Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’m still trying to come to grips with the mixed feelings I have about this book. Hate it? No. Love it? Absolutely not. Somewhere in between, for sure. I will say this was my first time to read anything by Riley Sager, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Charlie Jordan is a theatrical student at a small New Jersey college. Her roommate and friend, Maddy, was murdered by the campus serial killer. Charlie feels responsible because she left Maddy to walk home alone from a bar. Maddy never made it.

Trying to fight the guilt, Charlie decides to go home to Ohio, leaving behind school and her boyfriend Robbie. Because both her parents died in an auto accident, Charlie doesn’t drive, so she posts a note on the campus’s drive board, hoping for a ride. Along comes Josh who offers to take her there on his way home.

They set out around nine at night. As they enter Pennsylvania, Charlie realizes something is amiss with Josh. Is he even who he says he is? Before long, she’s convinced he is the Campus Killer, and Charlie is in for a wild ride.

The book kept me turning the pages because I wanted to learn the outcome. However, Charlie lives her life in the fantasy world of movies, something like hallucinations, so it’s hard to determine what’s real and what isn’t. She makes several stupid mistakes, beginning with accepting a ride from a total stranger. Her poor decisions were based largely because of her guilt over Maddy’s death.

As I got further into the story, it wasn’t hard to figure out the killer’s identity, although the author did throw in several twists to keep readers guessing. A plus for that. But overall, I’m left with a somewhat dissatisfied feeling. Again, I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I might consider reading this author again, but judging from this one, the books don’t merit the big price tag. My consolation is the fact I did receive a free advanced reader copy from Net Galley.

31 thoughts on “Book Reviews: The Edge of Fear @MauraBeth2014, Twelve Years Gone – K J Kalis, Survive The Night – Riley Sager

  1. Good reviews. I haven’t read any of these books but empathize with what you found. I really hate when an author repeats information, as though I didn’t get it the first, second, tenth time. Then I start skipping parts and that’s a slippery slope to quitting the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been guilty of repeats, especially in the early days of writing, but hopefully nothing this bad. I was tempted to skip parts or not finish the book. After a while, curiosity drove me to see just what mistakes I could find. (Terrible of me, I know.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great reviews, Joan. I read and loved “Edge of Memory.” I look forward to reading “The Edge of Fear.” Thank you for these honest and fair reviews, Joan! I have seen several similar reviews on Riley’s Sager’s book. So, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. However, he is an author I intend to explore more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing these great reviews, Joan. I’m intrigued by Mary Beth’s book. I’ve yet to read anything of hers, but I certainly will now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t for me. On top of everything, he used chapter titles. I’m not a big fan of those but the way he did it was annoying. I think readers are smart enough to realize when the characters are inside a car, outside a diner, etc. He also abbreviated interior and exterior as int and ext. Give me a break. It was annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed Maura Beth’s wonderful story, too, Joan. It was my first time reading her, and she turned me into a fan. Sorry about Twelve Years Gone. That definitely sounds like a pass for me. Also, glad you didn’t have to pay for Survive the Night.

    You know how I feel about that one–among my top reads of the year–but I guess it shows that even the work of NYTBS authors won’t resonate with everyone. I hope you give Sager another try when there’s a sale. I think you’d like his “ghost” story, Home Before Dark.

    I’m such a fan of Sager, I bought a Kindle copy of Survive the Night even after reading the NetGalley ARC. I have a copy of everything he’s written to date.

    Three well written reviews today!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting review of Survive the Night. The last review I saw of it was positively gushing. I guess that goes to show everybody likes something different. Or to flip it, there’s an audience for all of us; we just need to find it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Priscilla. Not all readers like the same thing. Some loved Riley Sager’s book, others felt like me. I’m not sure how Twelve Years Gone got so many four and five-star reviews (some even said how grammatically correct the book was). It was riddled with errors.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Survive the Night is one I’m still waiting to get my hands on, at this point, curiosity is driving me. I did check out The Edge of Memory and had to add it, too!
    Fantastic reviews! Thank you for sharing!


    1. I enjoyed both of Maura Beth’s books, Sheri. Don’t let my review of Survive the Night deter you. Some love it, some hate it. As I said in my review, I’m in between. I wouldn’t pay the huge price it’s going for. Not worth it, in my opinion.


          1. With how much more convenient and cheaper it is to download books these days.. the prices of physical copies just keeps going up.
            And I’m still really curious about Survive the Night.. worst case is that I don’t like it! Thank you!

            Liked by 1 person

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