The Dragon Head of Hong Kong by Ian Hamilton

Ava Lee displays some remarkable skills and feats that don’t go unnoticed by the leader of the people she is working with but who is this Dragon-Head leader?

4/5 stars.
ebook,  166 pages.
Read from August 4 to August 9, 2020.

I stumbled across this read while browsing the Kobo store one day and was intrigued by the title and description. I’ve been in living in Hong Kong for nearly five years now and I love to read and watch films that are set here, finding thrill at recognizing the cities landmarks and skyline. While I don’t read a lot of mystery or action based books, I really enjoyed the prequel to this series and anticipate reading the next volume.

Ava Lee is an ambitious forensic accountant that recently opened her own firm after struggling to work for someone else. It’s boring work but the work and the firm is her own and she can do things as she sees fit. Ava Lee is a Hong Kong born Canadian, raised by her mother in Canada with her wealthy businessman father remaining in Hong Kong. Ava Lee gets a strange proposition from a very desperate friend if the family who has found himself swindled out of a $1 million CAD. Reluctant to take the seemingly impossible job, Ava Lee agrees to it on her mother’s insistence as well as her own intrigue for adventure. After arriving in Hong Kong, Ava Lee quickly finds herself tracking this scammer across the border in Shenzhen where she meets some scrupulous characters to help her catch the fraud. Ava Lee displays some remarkable skills and feats that don’t go unnoticed by the leader of the people she is working with but who is this Dragon-Head leader? Unsure of whether or not her immediate alliance is to be trusted, Ava Lee still must capture the scammer and return the money to its rightful owner.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was the descriptions of Hong Kong, as it’s clear this is a place the author knows well. I could see and recognize the streets, smells and sounds of the streets as Ava Lee walked through them.  I also found myself quite captivated by Ava Lee’s character and enjoyed the author’s easy and visual writing style. I also captivating by the story build up and I am very interested to see where the next part of Ava’s story goes.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery or action based novels or anyone familiar with or interested in the wonderful city of Hong Kong.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

This debut novel explores the story of the family leading up to the murders and the idea of whether or not Lizzie did indeed commit the murders.

Originally published on Apr 27, 2017.


He was still bleeding.” I yelled, “Someone’s killed Father.”

4/5 stars.
324 pages, ebook.
Read from April 7, 2017 to April 8, 2017.

Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC and for fueling my crime and murder intrigue!  I would like to point out that I technically finished this book in one sitting whilst on a 14-hour flight that crossed over between two different days. Yeah, high-fives for me!

Everyone knows the story, or at least the song: “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.” On August 4, 1892 in Fall River Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden was charged with murdering her father and step-mother with an axe. Lizzie was later acquitted of the murder, despite the majority of people believing she was guilty, because basically it was thought that women could not be capable of committing such a brutal act. Narrated from many perspectives, this debut novel explores the story of the family leading up to the murders and the idea of whether or not Lizzie did indeed commit the murders.

Toying with the idea that Lizzie was spoiled and functioning at a child-like capacity (it was easy to forget that she is actually a grown woman), the novel reflects on how her sister Emma has been trying to escape the family home and getaway from Lizzie since the passing of their mother. Their overbearing father, Andrew, always favoured Lizzie and did little to spare Emma any responsibilities after the passing of their mother, even though he has since married a plump woman named Abby.  The home was tense and unhappy. Even the maid, Bridget, is saving every spare coin she had to getaway from the argumentative and strange family.  However trouble is brewing on the horizon and someone has it in for Andrew Borden. With an intense climax and twisted ending, this book will not fail inquisitive minds.

Schmidt is the queen of acute and sensory descriptions. There are few books that can describe blood and vomit in such an uncanny way.  If you are at all squeamish, this book may be a bit unsettling for you but don’t let that stop you. I promise it is worth it. The book is intensely visual and the author has an immense talent in bringing her words alive.  The characters, especially Lizzie, are curious, disruptive, complicated and disturbing and the plot adds a new twist to an old story.

I expect to see a lot from this author in the future as this novel is a killer debut! Ha, see what I did there? Bad joke… yeah. Anyway! If you are at all interested in true-crime, historical-fiction, murder, or just curious characters with great visuals then add this book to your to-read list ASAP and pick up a copy this summer when it comes out in August.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Interviewing a convicted rapist and murderer? My school assignments were never this interesting…

“His dying declaration……that’s what he called it. It’s a statement that’s true because you don’t want to die with a lie on your lips.”

4/5 stars.
Read from September 9, 2017 to September 11, 2017.
ebook, 303 pages.

I don’t even remember how I came across this book, perhaps a Book Riot reading recommendation? I think that’s it. I just know that when I read the description that I just HAD to read it and eagerly put it on hold at the library. I waited and waited until my turn came round to borrow the book. I was not disappointed.

Joe grew up with a less than ideal childhood, with an absent father and an alcoholic mother, but Joe is determined to put himself through college and get away from it all as best as he can. However, his mother keeps dragging him back with her negligence to take care of his severely autistic brother. Joe has had to grow up too fast and is still playing the unwilling role of a parent in his family. He loves his brother and would do anything for him, even if it means sacrificing his own ambitions and dreams.  However, everything changes for Joe during one seemingly harmless school assignment.

Joe is going to interview and write about the life of Carl Iverson, a Vietnam war veteran and convicted rapist and murderer. Carl is living out the remaining days of his life outside of prison in a nursing home as he slowly dies of cancer. As Joe interviews Carl he starts to see that Carl is not what he seems and he begins to unravel a mystery that pushes him to uncover the truth.  Desperate to discover the truth before Carl dies, Joe realizes the risks of uncovering it and as the stakes get higher and higher, Joe comes to find that learning the truth always comes at a price.

“No matter how hard you try, there are some things you just can’t run away from.”

It is hard to know where to start with this book as it sinks its teeth into you from the first page. The plot starts with a solid piece of fiction and evolves into a full-fledged mystery-thriller with an action-packed ending I did not see coming.  There is even a touch of romance as Joe gets his roommate Lila involved in the case.  The main theme that plagues all the characters is guilt, each of them carrying their own silent burden until they come together and unearth each of their own truths.  The characters grab you and do not let go, even long after the book is finished. The authors writing style is concise and high readable, even if he did misspell Farrah Fawcett’s last name wrong that one time.  This typo did not bother me in the slightest which, for me, is a highly peculiar reaction to an editorial mistake. I was too involved in the story to give a damn.

This debut novel has won numerous awards and this book has been worthy of them all.  It also looks like there is a movie in development that has a potential release date set for some time in 2018 release. So get a copy of this book now before the movie poster editions of the novel are released!

Overall, I did not want to put this book down and it may well be a contender for one of the best books I have read in 2017. This book has a little something for everyone and I would recommend to just about any reader looking for a memorable story.