Friday, February 25, 2022

This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg (thoughts)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"The Winslow family lives by five principles:

1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

Poppy doesn’t know why her family has been running her whole life, but she does know that there are dire consequences if they’re ever caught. Still, her curiosity grows each year, as does her desire for real friends and the chance to build on something, instead of leaving behind school projects, teams, and crushes at a moment’s notice."

My Thoughts:

Aren't you just intrigued by that premise?  As soon as I read those five principles included in the summary, I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read.  And I jumped at the chance to read this one not even realizing that this book was young adult which I don't usually read.  Books like this could definitely change that though!  I started this one on a Friday night only expecting to read a chapter or two.  Before I knew it though, I was almost 35% in.  This book was such a page turner (well I was swiping pages since I was reading on my e-reader).  From the very beginning, I found myself completely intrigued by the premise.  I kept trying to guess what her parents were running from and why.  It just made for such a compelling read.  I'm going to be honest that the budding romance was an element of the book that I could take or leave.  I don't mean that in a bad way - it just wasn't what kept me reading and pulled me into the story.  I'm also not the intended audience for this book - and I can guarantee that my daughter would be completely behind the romance that was developing.  I'm actually planning on handing my copy of this book off to her because I'm absolutely sure that she would enjoy it.  The one that I loved most about this book was that even with all of the unknowns and questions - the love that Poppy's family had for one another was strong and present throughout the pages of this book.  It was so nice to see the love that they had for one another.  I just really enjoyed this book and definitely plan on reading more by this author in the future.  

Readers who enjoy young adult mysteries, suspenseful and page turning reads, or those who just want a plain good read should pick this book up!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

On a Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk (thoughts)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.

When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins.

Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…"

My Thoughts:

On a Night Like This was the perfect change of pace from the mysteries and thrillers that I've been reading lately.  It was absolutely delightful and the perfect reminder of why I enjoy books like this so much.  Fran is struggling to find a job and because of this is feeling a bit stalled with her life.  Her relationship with her fiancee isn't the best and she is just feeling a bit lost.  And then she jumps at this short term job opportunity and everything changes.  One of the things that I liked most about this book was that it was unexpectedly funny.  It was also a really charming read.  In fact, this book reminded me a bit of Confessions of a Shopaholic almost.  It was something about the humorous situations that Fran kept finding herself in that made me think of that book.  It just made this book feel like such a fun ride.  I found myself swept along within the pages watching Fran trying to navigate all of these new circumstances and experiences that kept happening to her.  And the entire experience was just plain fun.  My one word of caution is that the development of the relationship is really based off of just one night for the most part.  That's a bit fast or maybe not enough time for a lot of readers.  For me, I think that the author made it work because although the book focuses on that one night there is more to it.  I don't want to say more than that because it might be considered a spoiler.  Suffice it to say that I was completely behind the relationship developing between Evan and Fran.  I was especially behind Fran discovering what she really wanted in life and figuring out what was important to her.  I think that readers who enjoy romance, women's fiction, and just reads that make you smile will want to pick this book up.  It's one that I can easily recommend and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Bottom Line: A humorous and delightful romance!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka (thoughts)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.


Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake. 

Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men."

My Thoughts:

Wow, what an amazing book to start my reading year off with!  If there is one book that I convince you to pick up this year, I think that I want this one to be it.  I will say that I want readers to go into this one with the right expectations.  I wouldn't call it a thriller (although I have seen it on lists of upcoming mysteries and thrillers) or really even a mystery.  If I had to classify it, I think that I would go more with literary suspense.  I'm not even sure that fits this book perfectly but I do feel that is more accurate than trying to label it as a thriller or mystery.  This is one of those books that isn't meant to be rushed through.  Instead, this is one of those books where you just need to let go and enjoy the ride that the author is taking you on because it is perfection.  The thing that stood out for me with this book was the focus on the characters and especially on the victims.  This book is about Ansel Packer (who has killed multiple women and is now on death row) but it really isn't.  It's instead about his mother, the sister of his wife, and the female detective who arrested him.  And most importantly it is about his victims and the women they might have been.  I loved how the author took the time to consider those women throughout the story and the impact that they might have had.  It was a reminder of everything that was taken from them - the lives they could have led and the different things that they missed out on.  It was both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.  The writing itself was gorgeous at times and deserved to be savored.  There were just sentences that hit me hard and I had to sit with.  It wasn't always an easy read (especially at the end) but it was a really excellent read that will stick with for some time to come.  

Read this book if you enjoy character focused reads or are looking for a book that isn't your average serial killer story.  I really cannot say enough good things about this book - it is super early to say this but I would be really surprised if it didn't make my top reads list for the year.  Now I'm off to add this author's other book to my TBR because again - wow!

Bottom Line - An easy five stars!

Disclosure - I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Top Ten Reads of 2021

 It's bittersweet to read my top reads post of last year and then to see how little has changed since 2020.  We are still here - still dealing with the pandemic - but when I wrote that post I still had hope that the end was in sight and that things would be getting back to "normal" soon (not sure really what normal is anymore).  Alas, we are still dealing with the pandemic and numbers are skyrocketing again.  Boo!  Happily,  books were still there for me as they always are.  My number of books read has continued to drop - I finished 55 books in total in 2021.  This is the lowest number of books read since I started tracking so many years ago, but I continued to really enjoy the majority of what I read.  I'll take quality over quantity always.  My blogging continues to be sporadic at best.  I'm not sure that I'll ever post as consistently as I used to when book blogging was at the height of popularity.  And that's okay.  But I'm also not sure that I'll ever give it up either.  I just love sharing my thoughts on the books that I read in written form here.  If you don't already, I'm much more of a consistent poster on Instagram so would love if you followed me there too.  But for now let's move on to the top ten books that I read in 2021:


Shiver by Allie Reynolds - This book was exactly what I look for in a winter thriller!  I loved the isolated, suspenseful atmosphere that the author created.  I read this one with snow on the ground in the middle of winter and just lost myself within its' pages.  The author did an amazing job of creating a suspenseful read that kept me guessing until the very end.  I cannot wait to see what this author comes up with next!

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten - This was my first read of 2021 and I knew instantly after finishing that it would make my top reads list for the year.  It was just so good!  It was a slow burning, suspenseful read that I couldn't set down.  There was this constant feeling of dread that seeped through the pages that I just adored.  I have found that I need all of the creepy, atmospheric reads like this in my life so give me read-alike recommendations if you have them.  Another author that I am so excited to read more from in 2022 with her next release!


Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner - Mystery lovers, you are seriously missing out if you haven't tried out Gardner's books yet! This was originally supposed to be a standalone but is now being turned into a series - and for good reason!  This book was just SO good!  I loved Frankie's character - there is just something about flawed main characters in my mysteries that I can't seem to get enough of.  I'm so excited for the next book in this series and highly recommend this one if you haven't had the chance to check it out!

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson - Fans of The Chestnut Man and dark mysteries need to pick this book up!  I was absolutely blown away by this series debut.  There is nothing better in my opinion than finding a new standout police procedural and this is definitely one of them.  As I'm thinking back on the books I loved from last year - it is the characters, the atmosphere, and the storylines that stick out for me.  This book had it all and then some.  I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the second book in this series when it releases!


Gone For Good by Joanna Schaffhausen - Schaffhausen is another author that has become a favorite of mine over the past couple of years for good reason.  I'm sure you can imagine my delight when I absolutely LOVED this first book in her new series!  She just has a way with writing mysteries that I cannot set down and that keep me guessing the entire time.  The best part of this book though is the way that I thought I had this book figured out....when really I didn't at all.  Yet another series that I'm super hyped to continue on with in 2022!

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James - This is the 2nd year in a row that one of Simone St. James' books have landed on my top ten reads list.  Let me tell you that she is another author (really this statement is true for all of these authors) where you are missing out if you haven't tried her books yet.  I love that she really has something more to say when it comes to violence against women and that is present in her books.  The two timelines of this book were tied together perfectly and the hint of ghosts ensured that I absolutely loved this book.  SO good!


The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon - This book reminded me exactly why I consider McMahon to be one of my favorite authors.  It's actually been a few years since I read one of her books - and this book made me wonder why I haven't picked anything up by her recently because her books are just SO GOOD!  This book had this sense of dread and foreboding that just built up page by page.  And then that ending.  Ugh - this book was perfection and was the slap in the face I needed to want to pick up everything that McMahon has ever written.  I should have done this already but at least I have more to look forward to in 2022 by her!

One by One by Ruth Ware - This is my first book by Ware (despite the fact that I own like all of her books) but it certainly won't be my last!  I also want to take a minute to appreciate the fact that this was another winter thriller that made my top reads list - and it also was a variation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  I loved this one from the very first page until the last.  It left me absolutely kicking myself for never trying Ware's books until now.  Yet another author whose backlist I need to work on catching up on ASAP.


Broken Places by Tracy Clark - Out of all of the books on my top reads list, this book deserves WAY more hype than I've seen it getting.  It's SO good!  I am always here for a good mystery and this one was a standout beginning to this new to me mystery series.  The characters were perfection and I loved that this author also used this book to look at both unjustified police shootings and police corruption.  I am repeating myself throughout this post but this is yet another series that I plan on reading more from in 2022!

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor - If you love spooky, atmospheric reads then this is the book for you!  Actually, there are a few on this list like that (I have a type).  I LOVED this book for so many reasons but the main one was the spooky setting that the author created within these pages.  Hints of witchcraft, a small town filled with secrets, a small church that is possibly haunted....this book had it all.  And I ate it up with a spoon asking for more!  I've read two books now by Tudor and they both were standouts.  Yet another author whose backlist I need to read all of (story of my life at this point).

There you have it - my top 10 reads list for 2021.  There were SO many other books that I rated 4.5 stars and could have been included here so I'm not even bothering including honorable mentions because the list would be ridiculous.  What did I learn about myself as a reader from writing up this post?  That I love mysteries, creepy, atmospheric reads, and winter thrillers.  If you have any recommendations that relate to these three things - feel free to share them in the comments.  I have some goals for the new year so I plan on eventually sharing them all in their own post.  But mostly it comes down to reading the types of books that I love.  After two years living through a pandemic, it makes sense to read as much of the things that I love as possible rather than saving them for a rainy day.  

What book or books were your favorites of 2021?


Monday, November 29, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Freya Sampson, Simone St. James)

 

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

Summary from Goodreads:

"June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way."

My Thoughts:

I picked this book up because I needed a change of pace from my normal selection of mysteries and thrillers.  I was in the mood for a "lighter" sort of read and the idea of reading a book set in the library was just too much for me to resist.  I'm sure that long time readers of this blog are perfectly aware that the library is one of my very favorite places in the entire world.  If not, now you know.  I adore the library, was in the mood for a bit of a romance, and decided that this book was exactly what I was in the mood for.  Happily enough, this book fit the bill although I wouldn't say that it is a romance - just to be clear there.  Instead, this book focuses on June Jones who is a painfully shy librarian living her life in books.  As the reader we really get to know June throughout the pages of this book.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her first because she just didn't seem to have any spine at all.  I understand social anxiety, but I couldn't quite relate to her inability to stand up or have a voice for herself whatsoever no matter the situation.  But regardless, I came to understand her more and really appreciated how much she grew throughout the pages.  There is something to be said about a book where you just feel safe while reading it no matter what happens.  I grew to care about all of the characters and wasn't ready to say goodbye to them at the end.  And I was just so darn proud of June by the end of this book!

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and these characters.  I think it leans more towards women's fiction rather than romance if that matters to you as a reader.  This book is both a love letter to libraries and to books themselves.  Readers who enjoy quieter books, those who enjoy character focused reads, and those who enjoy just a good read should pick this book up.  It's one that has stayed with me and left me eager to read more by this author.  Recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that fit my reading mood perfectly and with characters whom I couldn't help but grow to care about.

Disclosure:  I won a copy of this book thanks to a Goodread's giveaway.  Honest thoughts are my own.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Summary from Goodreads:

"Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . . 

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case."

My Thoughts:

Simone St. James has shot to my favorite authors list after reading and loving two of her books.  I picked up The Broken Girls from my shelves because I felt sort of slumpy.  I was looking for a five star read - it felt like I had been enjoying the books that I had been reading but had been too long since the last time one truly wow-ed me.  Happily, this book was exactly what I was looking for.  I loved how this book was told in two different timelines similar to The Sun Down Motel.  In the past, we got to see the lives of four young girls who lived at the boarding school for unwanted girls.  In the present, we were brought into Fiona Sheridan's life and the struggles she was still facing to get over her sister's death.  Both storylines were compelling and completely sucked me in.  I was so intrigued and just had such a hard time setting this book down.  And I cannot help but appreciate the way that this author looks at violence against women in different ways.  In this book, she made a point of really looking at how little society cares about when certain types of women/girls go missing.  It's a refreshing change from just reading about the constant violence against women that you see in other mysteries and thrillers.  I also really enjoyed the ghostly aspects that were present in this story.  It's funny because they weren't the focus but they gave the book a spooky edge that I really enjoyed.  

Books like this are exactly why I read and love it so much!  At this point, I plan on reading everything/anything that this author writes.  The best part as that I have a decent amount of her backlist to look forward to plus she has a new book releasing in 2022 that I am highly anticipating!  Readers who enjoy suspenseful mysteries with just a slight edge of horror (she reminds me a bit of Jennifer McMahon who is another favorite author of mine), those who enjoy thrilling reads, and those readers who just want a page turning read that they cannot put down should pick this book up and give this author a try.  She really is one of my best finds from last year and I'm so glad that I didn't let this book continue to linger on my shelves.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  My second five star read by this author - that should tell you everything that you need to know.

Disclosure:  I purchased the copy of this book that I read but I did receive a copy of this book originally from NetGalley and the publisher that I never got to.  Honest thoughts are my own.


Monday, November 22, 2021

What I've been Reading (Ragnar Jónasson, Gytha Lodge)

 

The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jónasson

Summary from Goodreads:

"Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World"

My Thoughts:

One of the things that I've learned about myself as a reader this year is how much I enjoy a slow burning, suspenseful read like this one.  I mean I knew that mostly but books like this has really reinforced that fact for me.  I love to lose myself in atmospheric reads and enjoy the ride that the author is taking me on.  I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read as soon as I read that one line from the above synopsis.  What did the author mean by the edge of the world?  I was instantly intrigued and just needed to know more.  The idea of living in such an isolated town felt inherently creepy especially when there was the hint of ghostly presences.  I truly feel like this book was meant for me - it had everything that I enjoy most in books.  I love a good isolated setting, hints of creepiness and the supernatural, and the question of who the main character can actually trust....it all combined just so perfectly.  Even the fact that I wasn't sure exactly how I felt about the main character Una didn't matter because of everything else.  It wasn't that I didn't like her - it's just that I'm a bit over main characters that aren't considered reliable because they drink too much.  It didn't bother me too much as I was too curious on what was actually going on.  I just couldn't stop reading.  And then there is a turning point in the book that I totally didn't see coming.  At that point, I wasn't going to stop reading as I just had to see how this book would end.  

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book.  The ending left me a bit wanting but the isolated, creepy feeling of suspense present throughout the book more than made up for it.  Jónasson is a talented author and this book reminded me that I need to work on catching up with his backlist.  Readers who enjoy suspenseful reads, those who enjoy books with an edge of creepiness and the supernatural, and fans of Nordic noir should definitely pick this book up.  This is an easy book for me to recommend but more to those readers who enjoy slow burns that build up to the climax.  

Bottom Line: The hints of the supernatural and isolated setting combined together into one very strong read!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge

Summary from Goodreads:

"You wake up.
You can't remember what happened.
The man lying next to you is not your husband. 
And he's not breathing . . ."

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in what has become one of my very favorite mystery series.  One of the things that makes this series standout so much for me is that each book has been different from the others.  This book almost felt like a domestic suspense from the way that it was written.  In it, one of the main characters Louise is writing to her husband and explaining certain things as one storyline.  Sorry to be vague here but I don't want to spoil anything because the setup is pretty brilliant.  In the other storyline, we see the events of Louise waking up next to a stranger and the subsequent investigation by Jonah Sheen's team.  The second thing that really stands out to me and that is present throughout each book in this series is the care that is taken with the characters and especially the victims.  The author always takes the time to allow the reader to really feel like they are getting to know these characters in a way that isn't always present in other mysteries or thrillers.  I loved how the author kept me guessing throughout this book.  I wasn't sure who to trust and/or who was to blame.  The only thing that I really knew is that Jonah and his team would figure it out in the end.  

Overall, I found this book to be another strong addition to one of my favorite mystery series out there.  I NEED other readers to find and love this series as much as I do!  You don't necessarily have to read these books in order but I would recommend it if possible.  There are these small threads that play out from each book that you would miss out on otherwise.  I think that you should pick this book up if you enjoy domestic suspense but want something a bit different, if you enjoy police procedurals, or just want a truly page turning read.  I definitely couldn't turn the pages fast enough while reading this one!  Now begins the long wait for the next book in the series...I will be jumping on that one as soon as it gets released!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful addition to a standout series!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley. I ended up reading a copy thanks to my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #5)

 

Broken Places by Tracy Clark

Summary from Goodreads:

"Former cop Cass Raines has found the world of private investigation a less stressful way to eke out a living in the Windy City. But when she stumbles across the dead body of a respected member of the community, it’s up to her to prove a murderer is on the loose . . ."

My Thoughts:

Broken Places was one of the best starts to a new to me mystery series that I've read in a long time.  I say one because I've read a couple of firsts in series this year that were real winners as well.  This book though really stood out for me.  Cass is one of those main characters that you want to meet in real life.  She isn't perfect but she sticks to what she believes in, and you cannot help but respect her for it.  Or at least I couldn't, I should say.  I appreciated the way that this author used this book to also look at both police brutality and police shootings.  The commentary on our justice system in general was perfection.  This wasn't a book that I rushed through but instead took my time with.  That being said, I had a hard time setting it down.  The mystery was very compelling and kept me guessing the entire time.  I'm eager to get back to this series and these characters.  In fact, I already have the second book checked out from the library because this book was that good.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and these characters immensely.  Pick this book up if you enjoy police procedurals, mysteries that keep you guessing, and especially if you just want a really great read in general.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: A standout beginning to this new to me series.

Disclosure:  I read a copy of this book courtesy of my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder

Summary from Goodreads:

"In A Tale of Two Cookies, a cozy mystery from Eve Calder, it’s nothing but sugar and spice at The Cookie House, but elsewhere on Coral Cay everything isn’t so nice."

My Thoughts:

This cozy mystery series has fast become a favorite of mine and we are only three books in.  In fact, this book is actually my favorite of the series so far.  I really appreciated the fact that the set up in this book was a bit different with the fact that we weren't sure what had happened to the groom.  Was he missing of his own accord?  Was he dead?  Or had something else happened to him?  It added a level of suspense to this book that you don't always get with other cozy mysteries.  I found myself unable to put this book down because of it.  It's hard to talk about books in series without sharing spoilers so I don't want to say too much.  I will say that this series stands out for me because of the characters.  This series truly embodies all of the cozy vibes.  The delicious desserts, the wide cast of characters, and the cozy town of Coral Cay all combine to give me all of the cozy vibes in this series.  It's just perfection!  

Overall, the setup of this book really helped it to standout for me!  Give this series a try (I do think it would be helpful to read in order if possible) if you enjoy cozy mysteries, are looking for a cozier read with a mystery tied in, or just want slightly suspenseful reads without all of the darkness and violence.  This series is one of my favorites for a reason!

Bottom Line: My favorite book of the series so far!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #4)

Beneath Devil's Bridge by Loretta Anne White 

Summary from Goodreads:

"A true crime podcast yields new revelations about a shocking murder."

My Thoughts:

Loreth Anne White is fast becoming one of my favorite authors!  Last year I read and loved In the Dark by her (if you haven't picked this one up yet you simply must!). I jumped at the chance to read this book and wasn't disappointed in the slightest.  It just goes to show me how much I NEED to work on catching up on her backlist because wow!  She is an author that definitely deserves more hype than I see her getting.  This book had podcast elements to it which I really enjoyed.  I liked the fact that the book was focused on a crime that was supposedly solved from years ago.  I really enjoyed that the story was told from two different timelines - back when Detective Rachel Walczak was investigating the case and then in the present as podcaster Trinity Scott investigates what really happened all those years ago.  I found this book to be a really compelling read.  I wanted to know what really happened to Leena Rai and the why's behind it all.  I had my guesses on who might have been behind it, but even then I definitely didn't see that ending coming.  There's this one twist that just hits so perfectly.  I felt like I should have seen it coming but yet it smacked me straight in the gut in the best way.  Wow, she is such a talented author.  

Overall, this is a book that definitely deserves more hype in my opinion.  Readers who enjoy mysteries, true crime podcasts, and suspenseful reads need to pick this book up.  And then talk about it with others so more mystery readers can find this author because I need her to write ALL of the books!  Kidding....but kind of not because she's just so good!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A tense and suspenseful read that I just couldn't stop reading!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Summary from Goodreads:

"Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.

Something is out there . . . "

My Thoughts:

Bird Box was a really solid read but I think I slightly overhyped it in my head.  First, I did something I rarely do and watched the movie first.  I actually really enjoyed the movie and found it to be a fun reading experience comparing the differences between the two.  But I expected this one to terrify me just from hearing from so many other horror readers that it is one of their favorites.  Honestly, I did find the idea of not being able to see whatever was out there creepy but just not as terrifying as I hoped.  Maybe it is because I watch the movie first or maybe I just had it overhyped in my head.  That isn't to discount that I really enjoyed my reading experience.  I was just left wanting it to be a bit more.  More terrifying.  I wanted to be truly creeped out in the best of ways and wasn't.  I'm chalking it up to expectations.  I definitely plan on reading more by this author and the premise of this book is so unique.  I want to see what other twisted things he comes up with next.  And I think I will read the sequel to this book at some point as well.  But maybe I would just say to other readers to start here before you watch the movie.  That's all.

Overall, I enjoyed this book even if it didn't quite terrify me like I had hoped that it would.  Readers who want a horror based take on the end of the world should pick this book up for sure.  I also want to say that if you aren't sure on if horror reads are for you, that this book wasn't too scary and is one that I think many readers could handle.  Recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that I'm glad I finally pulled off of my own shelves after it sat on there for way too long!

Disclosure:  I purchased this book myself.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Monday, September 27, 2021

What I've Been Reading (Playing Catchup Edition #3)

 

A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd

Summary from Goodreads:

"In one of his most puzzling cases, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge must delve deep into a dead man’s life and his past to find a killer determined to keep dark secrets buried."

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I've read in this long running series but not my first book by this author.  I've read and enjoyed a couple books in the Bess Crawford series so I jumped at the chance to read this one even though it's book #23.  It honestly didn't affect my enjoyment in the slightest as I really enjoyed my time with this book.  This book was a slow burn in the best of ways.  I love a good historical mystery that just pulls me into both the story and the time period that it is set in.  I found myself following along with Inspector Ian Rutledge as he struggled to figure out the identity of the dead man and then to also find the killer.  I loved the quiet suspense that was present throughout this book.  This isn't a mystery or book that is meant to be rushed through.  Instead, it is one to immerse yourself in and get lost within the pages.  I found it interesting reading and learning about Ian Rutledge.  There are some obvious things in his past that I was missing out on that I'm guessing that we would have learned more about in previous books.  I definitely plan on going back to the beginning of this series at some point in the very near future.  

Overall, this is a book that I think that historical mystery fans and mystery readers in general will enjoy.  Just make sure that you go in with the correct expectations that this is a mystery and not a thriller that you will fly through.  Readers that enjoy slow burns and detective (inspector) focused stories should definitely give this book or series a try!  Recommended.

Bottom Line: A slow burning mystery that pulled me into its pages.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher. Honest thoughts are my own.

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson 

Summary from Goodreads:

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... 

When body parts are found on the banks of the River Thames in Deptford, DI Angelica Henley is tasked with finding the killer. Eerie echoes of previous crimes lead Henley to question Peter Olivier, aka The Jigsaw Killer, who is currently serving a life sentence for a series of horrific murders. 

When a severed head is delivered to Henley's home, she realises that the copycat is taking a personal interest in her and that the victims have not been chosen at random. 

To catch the killer, Henley must confront her own demons - - and when Olivier escapes from prison, she finds herself up against not one serial killer, but two."

My Thoughts:

The Jigsaw Man is one of the best beginnings to a new police procedural that I've read so far this year!  This book is dark and won't be for every reader - I think the above summary should give you an idea of how dark this book really is.  The mystery is compelling though and despite it being a chunkier book I flew through the pages.  I just didn't want to set it down.  I really enjoyed the fact that the author showed the struggles that Henley had with balancing motherhood and her job.  The guilt that she felt at times when her job took her away from her daughter more than she wanted it to.  It was something that I definitely could relate to as a mother myself.  I found myself racing through this book eager to see how it would all end.  And that ending....all I can say without giving anything away is that I NEED the next book in this series ASAP.  So good!  I cannot emphasize enough how strong I found this beginning to a new detective series to be - it's one that I have been recommending over and over!

Overall, this is an author to watch and a must read for mysteries and thriller lovers like myself.  I wouldn't recommend this one though if you cannot handle gore or don't care for darker reads.  If you read and enjoyed The Chestnut Man though (I feel like that's a pretty good comparison with how dark this book gets), then definitely get your hands on this one.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: This book is very likely going to be on my top reads for 2021 - it was that good!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.  I ended up reading a print copy from my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

CW: Attempted rape

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey (thoughts)

 

Summary from Goodreads:

"He tells you you’re special…

As a barrister, Ingrid Lewis is used to dealing with tricky clients, but no one has ever come close to John Webster. After Ingrid defended Webster against a stalking charge, he then turned on her – following her, ruining her relationship, even destroying her home.
 
He tells you he wants to protect you… 
Now, Ingrid believes she has finally escaped his clutches. But when one of her colleagues is run down on a busy London road, Ingrid is sure she was the intended victim. And then Webster shows up at her door…
 
But can you believe him?
Webster claims Ingrid is in danger – and that only he can protect her. Stalker or saviour? Murderer or protector? The clock is ticking for Ingrid to decide. Because the killer is ready to strike again."

My Thoughts:

The Killing Kind was a suspenseful read that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.  It's actually a pretty thick book - my copy was 470 pages but I flew through it.  It's one of those reads that you don't want to set down because you just want to see what is going to happen next.  One of the things that I enjoyed the most about this book was that you didn't know who to trust.  Ingrid previously had a stalker - John Webster - who it seems like may be coming back into her life.  And as the summary above states - he is stating that he can help her because it does look like someone is trying to hurt or kill her.  Could it be John that is trying to insert himself into her life again or who is trying to cause her harm?  Or could it be someone else trying to hurt her possibly related to her job as she works in criminal defense.  Who can she trust?  Is there anyone?  These questions swirled around constantly in my head while I was reading this book.  It really helped to up the level of tension and suspense that was present throughout this book.  I was so caught up in this book that I just didn't want to set this book down.  I especially was intrigued by John Webster's character and what his motivations were.  This book won't be for everyone though - it deals with some difficult subject matter that won't be for every reader.  I will include content warnings below for the major ones but if you have specific questions just let me know.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am eager to read more by this author!

Read this book if you enjoy suspenseful, page turning reads that you don't want to set down.  I've read one of this author's book so far (book one in a long running series of hers) and this was a great reminder that I need to get back to that series.  This book would be a great place to start if you don't want to begin a long running series and want to give her a try with a standalone instead.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line: A book that I just couldn't stop reading!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Content Warnings:  Rape (this is on page somewhat so be warned that this could be triggering for some readers), suicide, stalking