Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

brokenbranchesthe-book
Broken Branches
By M. Jonathan Lee
Available 7/27/17
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
ISBN13: 9780995492332
Pages: 294
Genre: Mystery

Synopsis:

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.


my-thought

I have stared at this screen off and on for nearly two days in vain, attempting to compose a review that would accurately describe my time with Broken Branches. I am not sure that the end result will be entirely successful, but I have reached that point where I simply have to proceed.

This is a story of grief and loss. This is the mystery of the Perkins’ family history and the curse they have carried told through a compelling narration of past and present. We are introduced to Ian Perkins as he finds himself returning to his family home with his wife and son after a suffering a loss. Unfortunately, the Perkins are not alone. A dark history and tragedy seem to have taken up permanent residence within this remote cottage, overshadowing the lives within like the ever-present and looming sycamore tree that has haunted Ian’s dreams and childhood.

This is a story centered around slow revelation. The sort of tale that buries itself deep into your mind and finds a lasting home. Immediately thrust into lives full of misfortune and great loss, we are driven to explore Ian and his past. His family is amid turmoil with a threatened marriage and his unhealthy obsession with the family curse that haunts him. Ian’s character is successful simply for how credible he is. Perfectly timed emotions and responses accompany his descent into fear, setting the stage for a fully immersive mystery.

The world building cleverly embodies the traditional elements one can normally find in ghost stories. Cobweb Cottage is filled with ghastly sightings, creaking floors and the unknown, easily invoking a sense of the forbidding and sinister that creates an atmospheric read. The end result is the sort of suspense that leaves you holding your breath and turning each page in eager anticipation. Think “peaking through your fingers while watching a horror film.” You absolutely have to know what happens, but are terrified of the possibilities.

Lee’s succinct and fluent writing style is a refreshing change of pace, that manages to carry the story effortlessly while creating an ominous tone and experience. Competent narration allows for a natural transition between events of past and present. The end result is a fulfilling mystery that promises to delight a wide array of fans.

*I would like to thank the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Visit Hideaway Fall and Pre-Order Here.

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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

sixstories

book
Six Stories
By Matt Wesolowski
Publisher: Orenda Books
Kindle ASIN: B01MXTCYE9
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery

Blurb:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending


thoughts

Making rounds among some of my favorite bloggers, Six Stories was quickly establishing a reputation and catching eyes. So it wasn’t long after I found myself desiring a good mystery that I decided to take the plunge and explore exactly what the commotion was about. I approached with two questions in mind:

  • Would Six Stories live up to its newfound status?
  • Could Matt Wesolowski actually pull off what promised to be a very distinct and original narration?

Short answer: Yes and Yes.

Longer answer:

Six Stories explores the mystery surrounding the death of a young man named Tom Jeffries whose body was discovered a year after he disappeared during a camping trip. With no answers or evidence, his demise it ultimately ruled an accident.  But somewhere hidden among all of the unanswered questions lies the truth.

“After initial examination of the surrounding woodlands, the perimeters if the search were extended…. After twelve hours, Tom Jeffries’ body had still not been found. After twenty-four hours, the search perimeters were widened further….. No arrests were made.”

It is the chosen path to revelation that makes Six Stories so exceptionally clever and claims its deserved time in the spotlight. Narrated through a series of six interviews provided over the course of six podcast sessions, we are presented with an entourage of somewhat relatable yet at times unreliable individuals. One of which holds the missing piece of the puzzle surrounding Tom’s death.

The author has successfully inserted a full podcast into a book, and it goes off without a hitch! What transpires next is a complex tale delivered through multiple point of views, as each interviewed individual is forced to remember and explore the events leading up to Tom’s disappearance.

Six Stories effectively builds the tension as each session takes the reader deeper into the lives of all who were affected. It brilliantly combines elements of friendship, innocence, rejection, and torment to present a story that explores humanity to a rather large extent. I want to also note here that I have a profound admiration for the author’s ability to address the relevant topic of bullying and the consequences throughout this book.

The writing is immersive and inviting. The world constructed is tangible and unnervingly familiar. The final unveiling is a startling reminder that evil does exist.  Wesolowski takes traditional murder mystery and turns it into the remarkable. Once you enter Scarclaw Fell you will never truly leave again.

“There’s magic here between the trees.”

Honestly recommend this one for all. Enjoy!

Purchase Links:

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Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

sisterthe-book
Sister Sister
By Sue Fortin
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Kindle ASIN: B01MXKLNQC
Pages: 384
Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Blurb:

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.


my-thought

This title was another Kindle discovery that immediately captured my attention with its ominous cover and intriguing blurb.  But what I received was even more than a pretty title full of promises.  I haven’t honestly read a good mystery in some time. Sue Fortin definitely catered to me with an exciting plot-line that delivered elements of suspense and psychological thrills.

Sister Sister follows the lives of Alice and Claire who have been reunited many years after their father took Alice and left for America, never to return. Two women, distanced by time and trying to recover what has been lost soon discover that something is amidst. Is this a case of jealousy or dangerous deceit?

“Sometimes the coldest places are in the warmth of your own home, surrounded by your family.”

I have to attribute the success of Sister Sister to the character building, depth and lack of. The entire story unfolds through the eyes of Claire, and it works so wonderfully because she is an incredibly powerful protagonist and a completely unreliable narrator. Claire is everything we could expect from a devoted mother and wife who works full-time and has just been reunited with a sibling she no longer knows. She is loving but she is guarded. She is learning to cope with a range of emotions and even accepting that some of these feeling (i.e. jealousy and mistrust) may be of her own fault and personal insecurities. I adore her because she questions everything. She wants what is ultimately best and what anyone would truly desire in this situation. But is she coming unhinged during the process?

Alice is an enigma. We know so little of her, yet desire to learn so much more. We want to understand her and accept her, but find it is hard to trust the unknown. Questioning her motives soon becomes something we easily do as we find there is such an air of uncertainty. But is that stance fair? Is Alice perhaps the victim here?

And that is where Sister Sister brilliantly shines. Is Claire falling apart? Is Alice really all that she claims to be? Is Claire blinded by her own jealousy to the extent that she has jeopardized all she holds dear? So many uncertainties.

We soon realize that Claire is losing her composure and that maybe Alice just really wants to be with the family she lost so long ago. Each page navigates the reader through a twisted labyrinth of apprehension and mystery creating a fast paced read that manages to successfully deliver turn after unexpected turn. The end result is a well written and executed, fast paced read that packs a nice punch with a shocking revelation. You may think you know, but you do not really know. 

“…the memories have always been there, I just stopped visiting them.”

My only complaint with this edition is that there were a few moments that read as a mistype and small issues with sentence structure that I noted during my read. However, I recommend this one to all fans of psychological thrillers, family centered dramas and high tension reads. I will certainly be revisiting Sue Fortin’s work in the future.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US Amazon UK  Book Depository

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