REVIEW: SHADOW MAN By Alan Drew

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Published May 23, 2017 by Random House

What Dennis Lehane does for Boston, Alan Drew does for Southern California in this gritty thriller about an idyllic community rocked by a serial killer—and a dark secret.

Detective Ben Wade has returned to his California hometown of Rancho Santa Elena for a quieter life. Suddenly the town, with its peaceful streets and excellent public schools, finds itself at the mercy of a serial killer who slips through windows and screen doors, shattering illusions of safety. As Ben and forensic specialist Natasha Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the killer, Ben’s own world is rocked again by a teen’s suicide. Ben must decide how far he is willing to go, and how much he will risk, to rescue the town from a long-buried secret, as well as from a psychotic murderer.
With eerie, chilling, fine prose, Alan Drew brings us into the treacherous underbelly of a suburban California town in this brilliant novel of suspense about a man, and a community, confronted with the heart of human darkness.

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So I literally didn’t make it past the first paragraph of the blurb before I was hitting the request button on netgalley….Dennis Lehane (love him), gritty thriller, serial killer and a dark secret…done, done, and done… I needed this book. Also, what the blurb doesn’t tell you is that it’s set in the 80’s which is another must read factor for me so I was all about this book needless to say. After the first forty pages or so I began to realize something, however…this really wasn’t a thriller in the sense that I expected it to be. After an interesting prologue which is wrote from the serial killer’s perspective the pace of the book slowed WAY down. We meet Ben, his daughter Emma, his ex-wife and Natasha and little by little, piece by piece, we get to know each of them as well as the small town of Santa Elena. The author did a wonderful job of fleshing out each of these characters along with creating a duel storyline with the serial killer. Along with realistic characters I also enjoyed the powerful sense of time and place Drew created with his use of strong, descriptive prose. I could easily visual this small Southern California town.

I have to say I really liked Alan Drew’s writing style although I would compare it more to John Hart than Dennis Lehane, in my opinion. Lehane creates a sense of tension or menace in his writing that I didn’t find here. What I did find was very likable characters in Ben and Natasha. I appreciated her confidence and intelligence and while I thought her use of technical medical terms for body parts was over the top, I did find her to be spunky and wondered if Ben would ever pick up on her attraction to him! Let’s talk about Ben because when I started this book I really thought it was going to be focused on the serial killer mystery but what it seemed to be focused on was Ben…his demons, secrets, and extreme desire to avoid something from his past. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Ben…alot…but I wanted and expected a faster paced thriller as well as the mystery to be a little more intricate. The narrative does include shifts to the serial killer’s perspective detailing his childhood which, while awful and heartbreaking, I found myself not really caring too much about that aspect of the story. It seemed to lack that edge of your seat something. I’m not sure if it was the slower pace, the focus on the killer’s past or something else but I wasn’t as invested in that part of the story and in the end it seemed pretty straightforward and underwhelming. What did work extremely well, however, was the “dark secrets” aspect which, although I did figure one out before the end, I found to be compelling and worked to keep the narrative flowing.

Overall, if you’re in the mood for an atmospheric, character driven mystery that slowly evolves I think you might really enjoy this one. Those looking for a fast paced thriller may be disappointed.

Many thanks to Random House via Netgalley for my copy. I’m happy to provide an honest review. 

 

MY MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF SUMMER 2017

Summer-Reading

Summer reading is officially in full swing on It’s Book Talk and I can’t wait to share with you some of the books that have come across my radar recently. I’ve been really looking forward to putting together this post because, in my opinion, this summer’s crop of books is the best I’ve seen in the last couple summers.  Now comes the hard part…choosing my MOST anticipated reads. After much back and forth with myself I’ve decided the following books are the ones I’m super excited about and maybe you will be to…as always I’d love to hear from you in the comments if any of these are also on your summer tbr as well as others you think I should add! I literally can’t wait to sit on my patio or at the pool with a chilled glass of wine and dive into each one of these books!  **this super cute summer reading photo is courtesy of Susie at Novel Visits**
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JUNE

The Salt House by Lisa Duffy (June 13, Touchstone Books)  In the tradition of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Genova, this gorgeously written, heartbreaking, yet hopeful debut set during a Maine summer traces the lives of a young family in the aftermath of tragedy. Told in alternating voices, The Salt House is a layered, emotional portrait of marriage, family, friendship, and the complex intersections of love, grief, and hope.

The Force  by Don Winslow (June 20, William Morrow)  All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop. He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. This is a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve

The Fourth Monkey  by J.D. Barker (June 27, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive. 

The Confusion of Languages  by Siobhan Fallon (June 27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons) Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan. When a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Written with emotional insight and stunning prose, The Confusion of Languages is a shattering portrait of a collision between two women and two worlds, as well as a poignant glimpse into the private lives of American military families living overseas.

JULY

The Final Girls by Riley Sager (July 11, Dutton) Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Stephen King calls The Final Girls the first great thriller of 2017!

The Almost Sisters  by Joshilyn Jackson (July 11, William Morrow) With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of Gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

 Fitness Junkie  by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (July 11, Doubleday) From the bestselling authors of The Knockoff, an outrageously funny novel about one woman’s attempt–through clay diets, naked yoga, green juice, and cultish workout classes–to win back her career, save her best friend, and lose thirty pounds. A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.

Let the Dead Speak  by Jane Casey (July 25, Minotaur Books) When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body. As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? With Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion.

Yesterday by Felicia Yap (August 1, Mulholland Books) How do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday? Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Told from four different perspectives, that of Mark, Claire, the detective on the case, and the victim—Felicia Yap’s staggeringly inventive debut leads us on a race against an ever-resetting clock to find the killer. With the science-fiction world-building of Philip K. Dick and the twisted ingenuity of Memento , Yesterday is a thriller you’ll never forget.

Young Jane Young  by Gabrielle Zevin (August 22, Algonquin Books) From the bestselling author of the beloved The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes another perfect fable for our times–a story about women, choices, and recovering from past mistakes.Young Jane Young’s heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it.

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker (August 24, Bonnier Zaffre) Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally. But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (August 29, Riverbed Books) A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl’s heart-stopping fight for her own soul. Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous. Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer. 

**All summaries are from Goodreads**

I’d love to hear your thoughts and other summer book recommendations! 

HAPPY SUMMER READING!

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published April 2016 by Random House

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible tackles gender, class, courtship, and family 

This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving. 

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As we’re all compiling our summer TBR’s and filling them to the brim (I know I am:) with all the amazing books releasing now through August, I’ve been so excited to dig into my favorite reads from LAST summer for this post…and possibly the next few TBT’s!  So, Eligible was one of those books I picked up last summer thinking…I don’t know about this, retelling of a classic that I’ve never even read (I know, how is that possible)… I basically doubted it before even starting it. BUT I read somewhere (Goodreads I think) that it was The Bachelor meets Pride and Prejudice and well…The Bachelor meets anything means I’m pretty much going to give that book a try seeing as though that’s a huge guilty pleasure tv show for me. What a total surprise for me to discover I really enjoyed this story!! Mr Bennett, the father, was classic with his witty one liners and zingers that had me laughing, the “girls,” Jane, Lizzie, Mary, Kitty and Lydia had their own issues and drama and the men of the story, Chip and Darcy were fun additions to the zany mix. I highly recommend this as a fun, entertaining, clever read that would be perfect for the pool, beach or wherever your favorite summer reading spot may be:)

HAPPY READING!

**For all you Throwback Thursday bloggers, if you don’t see your blog at the bottom of my post please leave me a comment because WordPress has been VERY bad about sending me links and I want to include everyone!!**

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Cathy at Between the Lines Book Blog

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Nicki at The Secret Library

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

REVIEW: HOLD BACK THE STARS By Katie Khan

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Published May 23, 2017 by Gallery Books

Trapped in the vast void of space, Carys and Max have only ninety minutes of oxygen left to live. None of this was supposed to happen. After a freak accident, Carys and Max are left adrift in space with nothing to hold onto but each other. As they fall, they can’t help but look back at the world they left behind. A world whose rules they couldn’t submit to, a place where they never really belonged; a home they’re determined to get back to because they’ve come too far to lose each other now. While their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it?

In this startling and evocative novel harkening to both One Day and Gravity, Hold Back the Stars shows how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us

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How about that cover? I was immediately drawn to it as well as the title and then when I read the blurb and saw it’s being compared to One Day, one of my very favorite reads, I knew I’d have to hit the request button on Netgalley.  As you know if you’ve read even a few of my posts, I read a lot of mysteries and crime fiction so I thought this would be a good “out of my comfort zone pick,” and in some ways it was.

The beginning of the story pulled me in right away when we are thrust into space with Carys and Max after they’ve gotten separated from their ship and soon discover they only have 90 min of oxygen left. What a perfect way to start this story because I was glued to the pages, fascinated by the details of space as well as their attempts to find a way back to the ship.

The novel is structured in such a way that we are then taken back in time, via Carys and Max’s flashbacks, to the beginning of their relationship in futuristic Europia which is a utopian society that exists after the destruction of the United States and the Middle East following a nuclear war. I was definitely intrigued by the world building in this society where couples had to follow the Couples Rule meaning they were forbidden to have long term relationships or marry until the age of 35. This was reinforced by people living on Rotation in which every 3 years everyone would move or rotate their locations to a brand new district. Of course, when Carys and Max meet and fall in love, the rules and Rotation prove to be a huge struggle for them, especially since Max has a completely different set of beliefs than Carys. Along with the utopian world building, I also really enjoyed the technology and setting details of this futuristic world.

With alternating timeframes , however, what inevitably seems to happen for me is I’m more invested in either the past or the present and that’s exactly what happened in this case. I was much more interested in the space chapters and the intensity that came as their oxygen levels were decreasing and they continued to try to make it back to the ship. Plus, we get to know and hear from each of them NOW and this just made for better reading for me, rather than breaking to go back into the past. In addition, the further I got in the book, the more I found myself skimming the past chapters in order to get back to the action in space. While this was my favorite part of the story, there were still questions that nagged me….why were they both on the mission together when only Carys was actually an astronaut? Why did they seem woefully underprepared for such a large venture into space? Even suspending disbelief, I scratched my head over these.

Of course, I’m not giving spoilers away regarding the ending but what I will say is… it was very surprising and not what I expected, yet getting there was somewhat confusing. Sorry to be vague but if you read this I’d really love to chat about your thoughts regarding the ending! I think if you’re looking for an entertaining, quick read to enjoy while at the pool or the beach you should definitely give this a try. If you’re looking for an epic love story like One Day you might be disappointed. I didn’t find this to be similar to that book at all, unfortunately.

Many thanks to Gallery Books via Netgalley for my copy.

MINI-REVIEWS: A JANE CASEY BINGE

I’m officially obsessed with the Maeve Kerrigan series! You may remember I decided to jump into this series back in March, starting with book 3, The Last Girl. You can find my review here if you missed it. I knew I wanted to continue on with book 4 but other books were calling so it wasn’t until last week that I decided to pick up The Stranger You Know….5 days later I had binged that, The Kill (book 5) and After the Fire (book 6) and boy was that fun! Can you say super late night reading and being a zombie the next day? Totally worth it though because I literally cannot get enough of these characters and I immediately headed to Book Depository (I can’t wait until July for US publication) to order Let the Dead Speak…I’m currently stalking my mailbox daily waiting for it to arrive.  Read on and see what you think of this binge-worthy series….

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Published May 2014 By Minotaur Books, book 4

He meets women. He gains their trust. He kills them. That’s all London police detective Maeve Kerrigan knows about the man she is hunting. Three women have been strangled in their homes, and it appears to be the work of the same sadistic killer. With no sign of break-ins, every indication shows that the women let their attacker in willingly. The victims’ neighbors and friends don’t seem to remember anything unusual or suspicious, and Maeve is almost at a loss about how to move forward with the investigation.

Then the evidence starts to point to a shocking suspect: DCI Josh Derwent, Maeve’s partner on the police force. Maeve refuses to believe he could be involved, but how well does she really know him?

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Maeve is back and this time the murder investigation into the deaths of three different women hits close to home…with her partner and supervisor DI Josh Derwent falling under suspicion. You see, there was a murder in Derwent’s past and along with learning the details of that long ago crime, we also get to know him so much better and I for one was thrilled by this plot development! I haven’t had a book boyfriend since Mark Joesbury from Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series and then along comes Derwent and I find myself really loving him despite his often sexist and vulgar comments…who knew?! He has made me laugh on more than one occasion so maybe that plays a part:) As Maeve and her colleagues dig deeper into Derwent’s past, they also have the present murders of the three women looming…could they all somehow be connected? You’ll have to read to find out! I had my suspicions about the who but I couldn’t figure out the why and I really shouldn’t have tried because Jane Casey managed to spin an extra twisty tale here that threw me for the best possible loop. So, along with a murder to solve, Maeve also has personal drama and behind the scenes office politics & secrets to deal with…this story has a little bit of everything and it comes together beautifully in the end. Oh and the Maeve and Derwent banter in this book…the best!

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Published June 2015 By Minotaur Books, book 5

Detective Maeve Kerrigan is away for a colleague’s wedding, and she’s enjoying an excuse to spend a beautiful fall weekend relaxing in the English countryside. It’s a much-needed break from the grit and grime of her daily life on the London police force. But even at a wedding, the job is never far away.

Midway through the reception, Maeve and her abrasive but loyal partner on the police force, DI Josh Derwent, are called back to London. A fellow policeman has been murdered, in a compromising position in a public park at night. And when Maeve and Derwent arrive to speak with the victim’s family, his wife and daughter are surprisingly cold and reticent, which adds further layers of complexity to an already delicate investigation. And Maeve knows the victim and his family aren’t the only ones with things to hide: the dark secret that her boss, Superintendent Godley, has been keeping for years is threatening to blow up in his face, and if that happens, they’ll all be caught in the aftermath.

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I really loved the idea of Maeve getting a much needed break at the start of this book when she’s at her colleague’s wedding. I know I completely gush about Derwent but I really like Maeve! She’s tough, super smart, and sarcastic, yet also feminine and I love getting to know her outside of her job. She has the best insight into herself as she often knows what she’s about to say or do isn’t going to go well for her but she’ll do it anyway. While enjoying time off the job at the wedding, there’s a very interesting scene between Derwent and Maeve (hint..it involves dancing) that literally left me breathless…I think Jane Casey wants my head to explode over these two characters!! Soon enough, however, the job intervenes and they return to London to investigate the murder of a policeman. This murder is not at all what it seems and worry starts to build that other police officers may be targeted as well. Then, we have Maeve’s on-going cat & mouse with her stalker from a previous book, her continued love/hate relationship with Derwent, her relationship crisis with Rob, as well as Superintendent Godley’s secrets coming back to haunt him…all in all there’s drama and suspense coming from every angle and I loved every second of it.

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Published May, 2016 By Minotaur Books, book 6

London police detective Maeve Kerrigan has spent plenty of time at Murchison House. One of the many cement high-rise towers comprising the Maudling Estate housing project, Murchison Tower is home to a motley mix of society. From domestic abuse victims and elderly widows with nowhere else to turn to its flourishing criminal elements, Maeve is familiar with many of its occupants by name or reputation. But when a fire breaks out at Murchison House that consumes the top floors and leaves three dead, Maeve and her colleagues are startled to learn the identity of one of the victims.  

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Jane Casey manages to out do herself with each book because the concept for the mystery in this one was brilliant! Picture a high rise, run down apartment complex filled with people harboring many secrets. When a fire breaks out and several of these people are killed or injured, the question soon becomes whether this was a case of arson?  Not only is the list of possible arson suspects long, but since there were several people killed and injured, questions also arise as to who was actually being targeted? Right from the start I was completely drawn into this mystery, especially since this is a place that holds bad memories for Maeve. She not only has her hands full with this investigation but her personal life with Rob is in shambles, her stalker has intensified, and her own mental health seems to be taking a nosedive. And you can feel ALL of this coming at you full speed through the pages as Casey’s writing creates such vividly drawn, authentic characters who just feel so completely REAL. The regular characters have a genuineness to them, as well as the characters we meet in this investigation. That’s the genius of Jane Casey at work here and by the end of this story she delivers a jab to my heart *sob* with a death I didn’t see coming. Not only that, but I managed to be wrong (yet again) about the mystery and I’m completely beside myself as to where she’s taking Maeve and Derwent personally! Have I mentioned I love Derwent? He continues to be the wittybad boy who can occasionally show a softer side and I’m convinced there’s more to his feelings for Maeve than meets the eye. And vice versa. Or is that my own wishful thinking?? I’m eagerly awaiting Let the Dead Speak so I can (hopefully) find out. In the meantime, Jane Casey please continue writing this amazingly addictive series with as much Derwent as you can possibly squeeze in:)

What do you think? Are you tempted to jump into this awesome series?  Who are your favorite book boyfriends, I’d love to know for when Book 7 causes the inevitable book hangover and I need someone to fill Derwent’s spot for the summer, so drop me a quick line in the comments:)   

HAPPY READING! 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published 2012 By Viking

My Rating: 5/5 StarsMick “Scorcher” Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.
On one of the half-built, half-abandoned “luxury” developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.
And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children.

 

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 If you haven’t read Tana French, Broken Harbor would be a perfect starting point!  You may remember that her most recent release The Trespasser was on my top reads of 2016 list. I’d say this is for sure my second favorite book of hers. I remember reading this and being completely confused (in the best possible way) about what could possibly have been going on in that house and within that family. I actually enjoy when an author can pull off that level of reader confusion because for me it’s so fun to try to figure out the puzzle and clues and really… I WANT to think I have it all figured out and then in the end find out I KNEW NOTHING. Good times! What puts Tana French at the top of my must read author list, other than her excellent writing skills, is that you can truly jump into her “series” at any point ( Janel I’m talking to you:) because every book focuses on a different detective from the Murder squad.  If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box, well-written mystery I think you’ll really enjoy Broken Harbor

HAPPY READING!

**For all you Throwback Thursday bloggers, if you don’t see your blog at the bottom of my post please leave me a comment because WordPress has been VERY bad about sending me links and I want to include everyone!!**

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Cathy at Between the Lines Book Blog

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Claire at I’m a Coffeeholic Bookworm

Nicki at The Secret Library

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Ashley at The Bookish Mommy

REVIEW: THE FACT OF A BODY By Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

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Published May 16, 2017 By Flatiron Books

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

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I’ve read several true crime books in the last couple years and they all seem to have one thing in common for me…they’ve brought me to tears and infiltrated my thoughts in such a way that I couldn’t stop thinking about the people in the stories. This true crime/memoir has been no different. I like to read while on the elliptical and there was a point in my reading where I just had to take a break from this story and switch to a different one. The author’s writing was beautiful and lyrical in a way that I was so fully engaged with the story that when the brutal details of little Jeremy’s murder and then the author’s own heartbreaking story came front and center, it really hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting…hence the needed break.

Once composed, I dived back in because while at times brutal to read, this story is also fascinating, haunting, and illuminating. The author doesn’t just haphazardly toss out details of Jeremy’s murder and Ricky Langley’s life and then switch to her own story. Rather, she weaves the narrative by alternating timelines involving Rickey’s past and her own. While at times the shift between the two was abrupt and sometimes felt that it occurred mid-thought, overall this narrative technique worked very well to tell two separate stories. Let me back up for a minute and tell you what I mean by illuminating and fascinating. I found the author’s discussion of the law in terms of the intricacies of what it means to seek truth and justice, the breakdown of the system (Ricky Langley had 3 trials!), and the inherent problems associated with having shades of gray in a legal system that’s set up to be black and white. In addition, the author examines the very real breakdown of the family and criminal justice system in such a brilliant, “what if” way that, days later, I’m still thinking about…what if Ricky had a different type of childhood...what if that person at the hospital would’ve believed Ricky when he walked in and said he needed help…what if we had harsher sentences for sex offenders like Ricky…what if the author’s own childhood was different…what if her childhood wasn’t shrouded in secrets…what if children’s voices were better heard in their own family as well as our justice system?? Of course, we’ll never know the answers to these “what ifs” and that’s what’s so haunting.

This isn’t an easy read by any means and I would guess some readers may not be able to read about the graphic details of murder and abuse. BUT, this is an important story and one that I’m sure many may see themselves in and will benefit from Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s honesty.

Many thanks to Flatiron Books for my copy. I’m happy to provide an honest review

REVIEW: SINCE WE FELL By Dennis Lehane

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Published May 16, 2017 By Ecco Books

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best. 

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I’ve been in a love/hate relationship with blurbs lately but I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with the one above, especially because in the grand scope of the whole book it’s actually very vague and a little misleading in the best possible way. Confused yet? Good, because part of the fun of reading this book is feeling slightly confused as to where Dennis Lehane is taking you. If you’ve read any of his books you’ll know, as I did…it’s going SOMEWHERE and it’s possibly going to come out of the blue and knock your socks off!

I went into this novel having no preconceived notions and really no idea what it was about; in fact, I sought out Sonya from Ecco Books and begged for a copy solely on the fact that it’s DENNIS LEHANE and I’ve loved every single book of his I’ve read as well as the movies that have been made based on them. I didn’t care what it was about I just wanted to read it! So here’s where it gets interesting…I’ve been on bad terms lately with psychological thrillers…we’re just not getting along for many reasons.  I just don’t enjoy unlikeable, unreliable narrators, gimmicky plot lines, twists that come out of nowhere just for the sake of being a big “twist,”etc and that’s what the genre has seemed to me to be a lot of lately.  So, I was a little worried going into THIS psychological thriller but let me tell you, all my worry vanished when I started reading!

I’ll start with the prologue…fantastic!! If you’ve read Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard, it reminded me a little of that which is to say, it starts off with things going very wrong for certain characters and as the reader I knew I needed to find out what led to that and why. Then we get to know Rachel Childs, a journalist who has not had the greatest relationship with her mother, ends up working her way up at the Boston Globe, falls in love (kind of), and goes in search of her long lost biological father. The entire first half of the book centers around Rachel as well as her immediate friends and family. I had no problem with this per se because Dennis Lehane’s writing is phenomenal…it’s astute, engaging, lyrical…and I was rapt to find out more about Rachel as I LIKED her and there was this faint voice in my head whispering the whole time…is she for real?…what are we not seeing/hearing accurately about her? But doubts started to creep in and at the 50% mark on my kindle, I said to myself…Oh no, this is going to end up being my first Lehane book that’s just going to be good but not great…he’s wrote a really good character driven study but that’s not what I expected from him….I mean is this story going anywhere? Then, literally, by 51%, the tide turned and boy did it ever! Lehane went from 0-90 and never looked back with the next half of the book and I couldn’t have been happier! I read the rest like a speed demon, having absolutely no idea where it was going but what a fun ride it was.

I won’t say anything more about the remainder of the plot but what I WILL say is thank you to Dennis Lehane for restoring my faith in psychological thrillers. I knew I could still love them. In my opinion, this is what a psych thriller is all about…and he did it without jumping back and forth between multiple narrators or timelines. Amazing!

Many thanks to Sonya Cheuse and James Faccinto at Ecco Books for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published May 1999 By Regan Books

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human.

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Remember Oprah’s Book Club? I have to say I didn’t like many of her choices but THIS one…So Good! I read this many, many years ago so my memory of specific plot points is foggy.  I actually think this should go on my re-read list because I don’t remember details about it, just that I loved it. Check out all the awesome Goodreads Ratings for yourself and give this a try if you’re in the mood for a character driven emotional read.

HAPPY READING!

**For all you Throwback Thursday bloggers, if you don’t see your blog at the bottom of my post please leave me a comment here or DM me on Twitter because WordPress has been VERY bad about sending me links and I want to include everyone!!**

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Cathy at Between the Lines Book Blog

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Nicki at The Secret Library

Caryl at Mrs Bloggs Books

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Claire at I’m a Coffeeholic Bookworm

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills Review

Dee at

TEASER TUESDAY: SINCE WE FELL By Dennis Lehane

 

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I don’t think I’ve participated in Teaser Tuesday since starting my blog so I thought it would be fun to feature a couple sentences of Dennis Lehane’s upcoming new release Since We Fell. This book releases today and you guys…it’s fantastic! Be sure to check back Saturday for my review but for now I’ll tease you with a couple sentences that I just loved that not only showcase the main character Rachel but also Lehane’s awesome writing….

 

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From Goodreads

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best

This scene occurs halfway into the book when agoraphobic Rachel has decided to get answers and follow a certain someone in her rented Zipcar…mind you she hasn’t drove in 2 years and she has to get on the highway to try to “tail” her mark…

      “She slowed as she neared the intersection, let (    ) get as far ahead as possible, but there wasn’t much stalling to be done. A Porsche swung wide on her left, engine revving, and shot out in front of her. She’d never been happier for a small penis driving a small penis car to act like a small penis because she again had cover between her and (   ).  It didn’t last, though. At the first light, the Porsche drifted into the left-turn-only lane, then floored it, zipping around (    ) as they crossed the intersection, and roaring up the road ahead….Little dicks, Rachel thought again, and their little dick cars.”

What do you think? Does that scene tempt you?