This is Home by Lisa Duffy: Book Review

This is Home by Lisa Duffy
Published: June 11, 2019 by Atria Books
304 Pages

BlurbWith gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong.

My Thoughts: Do you ever finish a book and feel like you’ve just said goodbye to friends you’re not ready to say goodbye to? That’s how I felt about This is Home.

When I started this story I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for a character driven story but within the first 15 pages I was hooked. The book begins with a sad, somewhat vague prologue and then alternates between Quinn and Libby’s perspectives. ⠀⠀
Quinn is in limbo after her husband John, who”s returned from the war and suffering from PTSD, vanishes. Libby is a 16 year old girl who lives with her dad Bent, her dog Rooster (loved him!) and has her two aunts Desiree and Lucy helping to raise her as well. I completely connected with both Quinn and Libby as Duffy created two flawed yet extremely likable characters. ⠀⠀

In my opinion, two perspectives is the perfect number to tell this story because while their stories are separate they do overlap, plus each perspective brings in various ensemble characters making this a brilliant way to create a story with a variety of people to know and love…or not love. ⠀⠀
Friends, I flew through this book, finishing it in a day! The pace flows so well, the writing is gorgeous without ever feeling flowery or stilted, and the dialogue is perfection. Seriously, I can only imagine how hard it must be to create dialogue that literally zings, that makes characters feel like real people but Lisa Duffy has done just that! I hope you can tell I loved this book & highly recommend you add this to your summer TBRs.

Thanks to Atria Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

 

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Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen: Audiobook Review

 Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
Release Date: April 11, 2019 by Audible Studios
8 Hours, 19 min & Narrated by Billy Jensen with foreword by Karen Kilgariff
Buy on Audible  

Short Blurb: Journalist Billy Jensen spent 15 years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common – it didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.
Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true crime narrative unlike any you’ve listened to before.

My Thoughts: If you like true crime, especially in the form of investigative journalism, this audiobook is for you! I was initially drawn to this story because of Billy’s association with Michelle McNamarra in the amazing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark book from 2018. Billy worked closely with Michelle on her Golden State Killer case and after her death he was instrumental in helping to finish and get her book published.

In his new audiobook, Billy tells of how he developed a love of true crime and justice from an early age. he describes some pretty crazy bedtime stories of crimes and criminals that his dad used to share with him. Rather than scaring him, Billy pinpoints those early stories as instilling a fascination and hunger within himself to explore crime and those who commit it

Believe me when I say this is one of the most engaging, insightful audiobooks I’ve ever listened to! Billy goes in depth in how he uses crowdsourcing…think Facebook and Twitter…to catch criminals and it’s absolutely fascinating. The murder of Marcus Gaines that Billy worked on was not only sad and frustrating to hear but incredible in terms of how it turned out. This crowdsourcing feels to me very timely and tremendously important in terms of the possibilites it offers for solving more murders and finding more missing people. In fact, Billy’s discussion of the“digital posse” seemed so accurate for the future of crime and criminal justice.

Told with empathy, compassion and energy, Billy’s dedication and passion for truth and justice came through loud and clear. I highly recommend this audiobook!

Thanks to Allison Weber and Audible for my copy

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson: Book Review

Before She Knew Him  by Peter Swanson
Published March 5, 2019 by William Morrow
320 Pages

From Publisher: an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

My Thoughts: I should probably apologize in advance for this extremely vague review BUT this is most definitely a book you don’t want to know much about going in. Trust me. Also, I loved/hated this book so rather than be super confusing with my details as to why I’ll just give you a quick overview.

As I said, I loved this book so much…up until I didn’t.  For much of the book,  I couldn’t wait to pick this back up when life intervened. But then a plot development happened and I’ll admit, I got pretty mad.

Hen and her husband Lloyd are new in the neighborhood and have been invited to their neighbor’s house for a party. When Hen notices a statue on the shelf in their den, she’s convinced it belonged to a boy who was murdered years ago. A case Hen had previously been completely obsessed with. You see, Hen has her own mental health issues but she’s determined to find out if her neighbor Matthew is a killer. 

I absolutely love how Swanson writes in your face psychopaths and mentally unstable people who may or may not be reliable. Truly, he’s brilliant at it. I found the fact that he shined a bright light on these characters and put the crazy front and center so  refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush about who’s not playing with a full deck. And I was totally happy about that.  In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see how it all played out. Until one major plot point left me feeling manipulated on such a level that rather than feeling like oh you totally got me I felt angry about what I believed to be pure gimmick. This had been such an intricate, interesting story up until that point. When I read thrillers I don’t mind being kept in the dark and being surprised by the resolution (in fact I prefer it) but I don’t want to feel tricked by the author’s use of a gimmick and that’s how this one left me feeling. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give a single detail away. Read this for yourself and see what you think, then message me to discuss. Overall,  this was an addictive, page turning read but I was disappointed in the end. 

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

The Last Act by Brad Parks: Book Review

The Last Act by Brad Parks
Published March 12, 2019 by Dutton Books
384 Pages

From Publisher: Struggling stage actor Tommy Jump is offered the role of a lifetime: $150,000 for a six-month acting gig. With a newly pregnant fiancee depending on him, it’s an opportunity he can’t refuse, even though the offer comes from the strangest employer imaginable: the FBI.

My Thoughts: When I saw the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it. I can’t seem to resist book descriptions with buzzwords like FBI, undercover, prison, the cartels, money laundering etc. Sign me up! The great news: Brad Parks delivered a cinematic, action filled story I couldn’t put down.

Tommy Jump is offered an acting deal he feels he can’t pass up. The FBI want him to go undercover in a low security prison to make contact with Mitchell Dupree, a banker who has been convicted of laundering millions for the New Colima cartel and who supposedly still has one ace in the hole that could take that cartel down. Problem is: he’s not about to give it to the FBI. I have to say, I really liked Tommy right from the start. He seemed feisty, level headed and intelligent but at the same time, he was letting the idea of all that money cloud his judgment because he forgot how these things usually go…if a deal like this one seems too good to be true…it probably is.

Parks sets up the opening scenes and Tommy’s arrival in prison brilliantly. I’m super picky when it comes to details in thrillers. I like things to be fast paced and tension filled but I also want it realistic with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed and this story was all that and more. With short chapters, a breakneck pace, and dialogue that was so spot on that I could picture this perfectly in my head as a movie, I finished this in a day. I really hope the film rights for this have been snatched up!

 

**More exciting News**  Brad Park’s novel Closer Than You Know (March 2018) is available today in Paperback!!

Thanks to Dutton Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

Monday Reading Update

 

Hi All! Hope you had a good weekend. We’re still waiting for warmer weather here in Ohio, so in the meantime I’ve been taking advantage of reading under my favorite cozy blanket. I had a SUPER productive reading week last week, finishing 3 books, 2 of which I really liked although none were 5 star reads…close but not quite.

RECENTLY READ…

The River   was way more literary than I expected. I don’t mean that in a bad way because the writing was excellent but I thought it would be more thriller like and it really wasn’t. I appreciated the author’s obvious knowledge of canoeing on a river and wilderness survival along with his ability to create extremely realistic scenes. I wanted to read this book because I love nature and stories about wilderness survival because I would never ever want to go camping or rafting on a river…ever. I felt like I was there while reading this story though. However, I thought there was something lacking. I’m not sure if it was the third person narration which made me feel less connected to either Wynn or Jack but I was left feeling underwhelmed when I should’ve felt several other emotions.

Before She Knew Him was one of my most anticipated winter reads and it definitely ended up being addictive reading. I love how Swanson writes characters who are wacky and completely in your face about it! BUT, I ended up having thoughts…many thoughts…I’ll have a review up soon.

The Last Act was a such a fast paced, action filled read. The blurb for this contained so many of my favorite buzz words (FBI, prison, undercover, ) I knew I would love it…and I did. Review up (hopefully) tomorrow for pub day

 

TRIED BUT WASN’T FEELING…

American Spy also had so many of my favorite buzz words in the publisher blurb…espionage, spy thriller, FBI, passionate romance and betrayal…yes please! After the opening scene, however, the plot quickly fizzled for me with WAY too much telling and a second person narrative structure I didn’t like.

 

CURRENTLY READING…

The Devil Aspect  came on my radar after I saw Katie’s review at Basicbsguide  on Instagram. This creepy story centering around the “criminally insane” sounds like something I’ll love. I’ve just started it but I can say it’s drawn me in from the first page. Let’s hope my luck with quality thriller reads continues!

POSSIBLE NEXT READS…

    OR  

I think I’m about ready for a thriller break before I start having nightmares about all the psychopaths I’ve been reading about! Both of these sound promising and would be much lighter reads.

Did you read anything great last week? Have anything that sounds amazing coming up? Let me know in the comments!

Have a Great Week!!

Mini Review Tuesday: Never Tell, Stalker & The Last Romantics

Hi Everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts these past couple weeks. I’ll be honest, I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with the blog as well as social media and reading on top of life! It’s a lot and I’m trying to figure out what the best platform is for me to share my reviews and still be able to connect and interact with other readers which has been my main purpose all along. Lately, I’m finding that it’s super fast for me to get a review posted quickly on my Instagram which you can find (here). and/or my Goodreads (here).  I’m regularly posting my current reads on both as well as quick thoughts and book recommendations in my Instagram stories. I tend to post all my audiobook recommendations there right as I’m listening to them. All this is to say, if you aren’t seeing posts from me here as regularly as before and you’re interested in what I’m reading and reviewing, try those platforms – I hope you’ll follow me at one or both! Now, on to some amazing reads…

 

Never Tell  by Lisa Gardner
Published: Feb 19 by Dutton
419 Pages

From Publisher: A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

My Thoughts: Friends, Lisa Gardner just keeps getting better and better. I’ve been a loyal reader of her DD Warren series for years but I’ve also read every standalone book she’s ever wrote and I have to say, there’s NO author out there writing at this high a level book after book. Never Tell has continuing characters DD Warren, her husband Alex, partners Phil and Neil and her new protege/confidential informant Flora Dane. Despite this being part of a series, I do think you could read this as a standalone and be perfectly happy. 

The story is told in alternating perspectives from Flora, DD, and Evie. Evie starts off the story when she enters her home and finds her husband shot to death and she proceeds to take the gun. Why? You’ll have to read because that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. DD is the investigating detective and she enlists Flora’s help. Flora’s perspective gives us a much more in depth look at her past time with her kidnapper Jacob Ness and we get to understand so much more about why she is the way she is. The pace is fast, the chapters short, and the plot intricate. There are webs upon webs upon webs to be untangled and deciphered and I loved every minute of trying…to no avail. This one’s so well plotted my advice is just sit back and enjoy the read. If you enjoy thrillers with intricately plotted mysteries this book’s for you! You really can’t go wrong with any of Lisa’s books but a few of my past favorites are Gone, Love You More, The Perfect Husband and Catch Me

Thanks to Dutton via Netgalley for my copy

******
Stalker  by Lars Kepler
Published Feb 5, 2019 by Knopf
560 Pages
From Publisher: Detective Joona Linna — recently returned from compassionate leave — reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable sadistic killer.
My Thoughts: This was such a fantastic thriller! The opening scenes are chilling to say the least. Someone is stalking women from afar, video taping them as they go about their lives in their homes and then sending the video to police minutes before the each woman is murdered. Needless to say, the police don’t have time to figure out who the women are before they’re killed. This storyline runs parallel to another involving Joona Linna, the main detective from the series. Joona is not at his best but he’s called in to assist the new detective in charge, Margot, who’s very pregnant and very dedicated to stopping this killer. Joona also reconnects with his friend, the hypnotist Erik, which makes for an interesting dynamic. Everything about this story worked for me, the pace was excellent, the characterization strong, and the mystery a top notch whodunit. I didn’t have it figured out that’s for sure. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!
Thanks to Knopf via Netgalley for my copy
******

The Last Romantics  by Tara Conklin
Published Feb 5, 2019 by William Morrow
368 Pages

From Publisher: When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

My Thoughts: I really loved this book! This family saga that centered on 4 siblings who were left to fend for themselves during what they called “the pause” after their father dies and their mother retreats to her bedroom for several years was so well written. We follow siblings Renee, Joe, Caroline and Fiona from childhood through old age which gave me the feeling that I truly knew these characters as real people. I love stories set over decades!

I flew through the first half, finding Fiona’s narration interesting yet with a melancholy flow. I did find that the middle dragged for me with a few too many shifts in time and perspectives that felt abrupt at times. The final third was fantastic and left me in tears. Ultimately, this story was, for me, a meditation on love, despair, resilience, family, and forgiveness.

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy 

Monday Reading Update

Hi Everyone! Sorry I was MIA last week but I was on vacation and had no time to get any posts ready before I left. We went to Cancun and it was so nice to feel warm again. I felt like I was in a little bit of a slump before I went but that officially ended with some solid plane reading followed by 2 more new release books during the week. That’s been my best reading week by far this year and I really think a lot of it was attributed to my staying off social media for the most part. The wifi was often spotty at the hotel so I didn’t spend the amount of time I usually do scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and guess what…I got a LOT more reading done. While I missed interacting with everyone, I really enjoyed my time of focusing on reading. I’m planning on taking those breaks more often. On to my latest reads….

RECENT READS…

Little Fires Everywhere  is one of my book club picks and also one I tried on audio when it came out but couldn’t get into. This time, I read the print version and after the initial (somewhat) slow set up of the first several chapters, I flew through this one. I thought the writing was excellent and the characters felt like real people who often fascinated yet irritated me at the same time. For me, that’s the mark of a great read when I feel like the characters are so realistic. I loved the suburban drama, the family dynamics, the issues of race and parenting…just SO much to dissect! I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads despite being really mad about certain parts of the ending. I wish I could say more but if you’ve read this and want to message me I’d love to hear if you felt the same way.

The Last Romantics  had me all over the place with my feelings! This family drama/saga centered on 4 siblings, 3 girls and their brother and it was narrated by only one of them which (surprisingly) completely worked for me. It starts off in my favorite time period, the 80s, and follows these siblings through so many years of ups and downs. The first half was page turning and I thought, yes, this is a 5 star read. Then came the middle and I felt like the pace slowed down and it became a little boring. I would’ve said around this time that it was almost a 4 star read but then came the last third which I completely loved. I didn’t expect to be left crying in my hotel room when I finished but I was. I’ll elaborate in a mini review this week!

Stalker  was like a breath of thriller fresh air! For me, this is the type of scandinavian thriller/mystery that blows the same old same old domestic suspense thrillers out of the water. This is the 5th book in the Joona Linna series and my second read. I started last month with book 4, The Sandman ,  (My Quick Thoughts) which I really enjoyed and I loved this one even more. This can be read as a standalone but I’m glad I had book 4 for reference because this one does continue on from where the Sandman left off. I knew I was in for a treat when the opening scene made me gasp out loud on the beach…it was scary! Set in Sweden, someone is stalking women by video taping them in their homes, sending the video to police at a later time but just moments before the woman is murdered and the police don’t have enough time to figure out who she is to stop it. I’m doing a mini review this week but seriously, if you like thrillers with an large mystery plot line this is for you.

TRIED BUT WASN’T FEELING…

I was really looking forward to Otherwise Engaged . I thought it would be a perfect light romance after Stalker but right away I wasn’t feeling the writing style. It seemed somewhat juvenile and sing songy if that makes sense and after about 20 pages I put it down. I doubt I’ll be inclined to pick it back up

CURRENTLY READING… 

I’ve seen many glowing reviews for this one. I’m a couple chapters in but so far I like it. The writing flows and there’s a strong sense of characterization already.

POSSIBLE UPCOMING READ…

   OR   

Both sound great so it’ll just depend on my mood!

Hope you have a great week and if you have time drop a line and share what reads you’ve been loving!  

5 on Friday: 5 Things I’m Loving Lately

Welcome to 5 on Friday, a little list of things I’m enjoying lately.  I got this idea from Tim Ferris who sends out his 5 Bullet Friday posts to all his email subscribers and Laura Tremaine’s Secret Posts. If you’re interested you can check out Tim’s website at Tim.blog and Laura’s at 10thingstotellyou.com . I thought it would be fun to do a short and simple posts of things I’m enjoying lately. Every week you’ll find different content…could be books I’m reading, movies, tv, recipes, quotes, skincare, articles, household items etc….anything I’m enjoying to pass along in the hope that you might also find something you’d like.

Podcast I’m Enjoying 
10 Things To Tell You  with Laura Tremaine. This is a new podcast and so far I’ve really liked the first 2 episodes, one about fitting in reading and the other about loneliness. I love the easy way Laura speaks about topics and how she comes across as a friend you can picture yourself having coffee and good conversation with

Article That Perfectly Describes My Reading Life 
What It’s Like to Be A Mood Reader  by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner. I love this article! I said yes to every item she discussed except number 9. Lately I’ve really been struggling with not being in the mood for anything I pick up and I don’t know if it’s because I have tried to read too many new releases that are leaving me disappointed or the fact that what I have managed to finish has been 3 stars or less. This tends to kill my reading mojo and steer me straight into a slump. Combine that with looming reviews for all the Feb new releases and I’ve been plain stuck! Anyone else a mood reader or struggling with reading this winter?

Bustle’s February Book List to Increase My TBR…Even More
24 Fiction Books Coming Out in Feb That You Definitely Need to Read  There are SO many books coming out if Feb! I’m really looking forward to The Last Romantics  and American Spy

Book I Had Avoided Reading but Am Really Enjoying 
Little Fires Everywhere  by Celeste Ng. I think this was a case of me avoiding this book because it was so hyped when it came out. I’m reading this for one of IRL book clubs and I’m really enjoying the suburban drama. The author has a way of writing characters and dialogue that feel real. 

My Current Favorite Clay Face Mask 
Alive Prebiotic Balancing Mask  from Algenist. I know I’ve mentioned the Algenist skin care line before, I love their eye balm as well. I’ve been trying different masks over the last couple months, including several different sheet masks plus a peel off but I’m decided I’m partial to clay masks. This one is gentle and leaves my face soft but not tight. I think it’s especially helpful in the cold winter months .  ( I’m not an affiliate just love this line of skincare)

Do you have thoughts on my favorites this week? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!!

 

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The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells: Book Review

The End of Loneliness  by Benedict Wells
Published: Jan 29 by Penguin Books
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

 

From Publisher: A kaleidoscopic family saga told through the fractured lives of the three Moreau siblings alongside a faltering, recovering love story, The End of Loneliness is a stunning meditation on the power of our memories, of what can be lost and what can never be let go.

My Thoughts: I love family sagas so I had high hopes for this character driven exploration of fate, life, and love but by the halfway point I fizzled out on the story. This is the story of Jules, Marty and Liz, 3 siblings who weather their first tragedy when their parents are killed when they’re all still under 16 (Not a spoiler, this is in book jacket description). They’re sent to a boarding school and I must say, the author did a fantastic job of portraying the depth of sadness that all 3 experienced because, as we learned from the beginning of the story, they were close with their parents and had a happy family life. Jules is the narrator and while I liked him, it did create a situation where I didn’t feel like I got to know or understand the story from Liz and Marty’s perspectives which I would’ve liked. Especially Liz as she really struggled after their parents were killed.

I appreciated the author’s ability to wax philosophical on fate, chance and how one’s life course can be completely altered by both. However, by the halfway mark I wanted more from the story. Not a whole lot was happening outside of us getting life updates on each as the years go by. We know Jules has been in a motorcycle accident and I did wonder what contributed to that situation but I found myself skimming for the second half of the book. I liked the ending but overall, I just wanted more…more drama, conflict, tension…something. But the writing is great and if you like slower, philosophical, character explorations this would be for you.

Thanks to Penguin Books for my copy via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review 

5 on Friday: 5 Things I’m Loving Lately

Welcome to 5 on Friday, a little list of things I’m enjoying lately.  I got this idea from Tim Ferris who sends out his 5 Bullet Friday posts to all his email subscribers and Laura Tremaine’s Secret Posts. If you’re interested you can check out Tim’s website at Tim.blog and Laura’s at 10thingstotellyou.com . I thought it would be fun to do a short and simple posts of things I’m enjoying lately. Every week you’ll find different content…could be books I’m reading, movies, tv, recipes, quotes, skincare, articles, household items etc….anything I’m enjoying to pass along in the hope that you might also find something you’d like.

Amazon Show I Recently Binged 
Red Oaks  If you love shows set in the late 1980s, this is for you. My husband and I binged all the seasons in 2 days and we were pretty disappointed to see it end. This is a comedy that brought back SO many memories. I was a teenager in **cough, cough** 1986 when this show is set and I loved everything about revisiting the hairstyles, leg warmers, music, corded phones, answering machines etc. So fun! The characters were great as well, I just highly recommend giving this show a try if you haven’t already.

Bachelor Recap I’m OBSESSED with Listening To This Week 
Friend of the Show  by The Popcast, available through their patreon page. You guys know, I love The Bachelor & Bachelorette shows, they are my ultimate guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I wasn’t listening to this Bachelor Recap podcast before because it’s hysterical. Knox McCoy and Jamie Golden provide the best sarcastic, witty dish on all aspects of the show. This is the best $3 a month I’ve ever spent!!

Book I’ve Added To My Summer TBR (Friends, It’s never too soon to think about our summer reading😉)
We Came Here to Forget  by Andrea Dunlop, publishing July 2 from Atria Books. I love the sound of this one…a young Olympic skier who loses everything and escapes to Buenos Aires, where she reinvents herself, meets a colorful group of ex-pats, and is swept off her feet by a mysterious young man with dark secrets of his own.

My New Favorite Organic Fair Trade Dark Roast Coffee For Brewing At Home
Sweetwater’s Midnight Blend  . This coffee is from a local coffeehouse but they do sell online if you’re interested. I love dark roasted coffee and have tried many varieties but lately this is my very favorite! (I’m not an affiliate, just sharing the info)

Article About Cat Ownership I Enjoyed 
10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Cat Owner  I thought this article was really cute, I’ve had cats for the past 27 years and I couldn’t imagine not having one (or more) in my life.

Do you have thoughts on my favorites this week? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!!

 

TWITTER/ INSTAGRAM/ GOODREADS/  BLOGLOVIN