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 

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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: Book Review

An Anonymous Girl  by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 8, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
384 Pages
Affiliate LinkBuy on Amazon 

From Publisher: When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.  Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

My Thoughts: I’ll admit, every now and then I really let myself get swayed by all the hype surrounding a book as was the case with this one. It’s everywhere.  Going against my instincts and the fact that I don’t really enjoy psychological thrillers, I decided to give this a try. The verdict: I’m glad I read it so I don’t have to wonder if I’m missing out BUT my instincts were correct – this wasn’t the book for me.

The blurb tells you all you need to know about how Jessica gets involved with Dr Lydia Shields. From the get go, I wasn’t really into the psychological study aspect. I found it strange and unbelievable. I have no problem suspending my disbelief, but for me, this entire plot was just TOO unbelievable. Maybe it’s because I have a background in psychology but the Dr’s in this book were so far out of the realm of realistic, I just couldn’t be on board with most of the plot.

As for Jessica, I would say she was the most developed character but I would’ve liked more character development with everyone overall. Around the 50% mark I started to enjoy the cat & mouse that developed when Jessica finally started to take matters into her own hands and stopped being so passive when it came to Dr Shields and another character. The story is told through alternating perspectives of Jessica and Dr Shields; however, Dr Shields speaks in the second person for her sections – as if she’s talking directly to Jessica – I wasn’t crazy about this technique.   This very much boiled down to a story of  manipulations, lies upon lies, and who’s really the dangerous one. For me, I found it to be too drawn out (I skimmed here and there) and ultimately predictable.  However, the very reasons this wasn’t for me are the reasons so many are loving this (especially if you love psychological thrillers), so I highly encourage you to head to Goodreads and check out some of the many 5 star reviews for an alternate opinion.

Thanks To St Martin’s Press via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review

 

Tear Me Apart By J. T. Ellison: Book Review

Tear Me Apart By J. T. Ellison
Published August 28, 2018 By MIRA
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy On Amazon

From Publisher Via Goodreads: Tear Me Apart is the powerful story of a mother willing to do anything to protect her daughter even as their carefully constructed world unravels around them.

My ThoughtsTear Me Apart has been high on my list of fall releases after reading and loving Lie to Me last year (My Review). I started this only knowing that it was about a competitive skier who crashes and finds out one shocking truth after another about her life. That’s really all you need to know and I’d avoid reading lengthy reviews and any more of the blurb before diving in.

The Suspense Builds
The skier is Mindy Wright whose very attentive parents have devoted their entire lives to making sure she has every advantage in the ski world. Mindy is set to qualify for the Olympic Team when she crashes on the slopes, followed shortly by everything else in her world crashing down around her. 

I was pulled into this story quickly as all of the above happens in the first few pages. J.T. Ellison knows how to draw readers in with a fast pace. She doles out just enough initial secrets to make you wonder what’s going on and what else is to come. The overriding questions are…who’s lying and why? Mindy’s mom Lauren is at the center of the family drama and what she’s been hiding, as well as why, kept me quickly turning the pages. There’s also quite a bit of tension between Lauren and her sister Juliet who’s a DNA expert for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (and my favorite character in the book) which also created more questions for me. 

The Structure
This psychological thriller is structured with alternating timelines and perspectives which I have to say did leave me feeling a little confused at times. It shifts between the family in present day Colorado and 2 teenage girls in the past at a psychiatric hospital in Nashville.  This is always a tricky structure for me and in this case I found the back and forth tedious at times. It felt like it dragged out in places and I found myself feeling impatient with the way the story was unfolding. Without giving anything away, I was also surprised that, for me, the story felt predictable in the end.

Perhaps my expectations were too high after Lie to Me . I would say, however, that if you like the idea of family secrets, many lies, and a couple surprising betrayals then I’d recommend giving this one a try. There is definitely much to like with J. T. Ellison’s writing and I look forward to reading her next book!

Thanks to MIRA via Netgalley for my copy 

 

 

 

2 Page Turning Books to Read Before Summer Ends

Aren’t page turning books the best in the summer for an afternoon at the pool, beach or, if you’re like me, the patio?  I read both of these in about a day and they both led to late night reading & loss of sleep which for me is the hallmark of a page turner. That sounds like a new category list for the blog…books that cause a loss of sleep…hmmm

The Wife  By Alafair Burke
Published January 23, 2018 By Harper
340 Pages
Affiliate Link Buy From Amazon

Short Summary: A celebrity husband’s scandal, a wife’s secrets, a disappearance all intersect to test loyalty and make us wonder what EXACTLY is going on.

My Thoughts: I have no idea why I waited until now to read this book, big mistake on my part. I loved the intricate web Burke created with this plot so much, even more so because she fooled me in the end. I love that! This book starts with a bang and ends with a “gasp” and includes many subtle twists and turns in between.  How tempting is this first sentence?

In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I’d been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband. 

Of course I can’t even give you a smidge of a hint about the ending but know this…it’s perfection. What I love about Burke’s writing is her ability to weave an intricate plot that caused me to guess, question everything, guess again, and then realize I wasn’t going to figure this out any time soon, hence the late night of reading. The story is layered and very clever, yet also incorporates timely subject matter which made it feel “ripped from the headlines.” I don’t want to give a single plot detail away so I’ll just say pick this up if you’re looking for a QUALITY psychological thriller that lives up to the thriller title. And if you love this (I think you will), try Burke’s book All Day and a Night , a Throwback Thursdaypick from long ago.

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Jane Doe By Victoria Helen Stone
Published August 1, 2018 By Lake Union
258 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy From Amazon 

Short Summary: Plain Jane is blending in nicely at her new job at an insurance agency but there is much more to Jane than meets the eye. No one suspects she’s leading a double life with a single purpose of revenge

My Thoughts: Oh my you guys, Jane kind of left me speechless and I mean that in the BEST possible way! She’s a little cray-cray but I’d certainly love to be friends with her. She’s a very self aware sociopath, making no apologies for herself and in no way wishes to change. She’s returned to the US after living in Malaysia with a single focus and agenda – revenge. This page turner is told entirely from Jane’s perspective and believe me that’s the best way to tell it.

The dress is soft and flowery, like all of my recent purchases. It could be demure, but I’ve unbuttoned one too many buttons. He’s a breast man, our Steven. Mine aren’t large, but I’ve pushed them up to make them look more C than B. He likes the result. If he ever sees me naked, he’ll be disappointed, but it will only work in my favor.

Along with the fact that I just really loved Jane’s wit, her ingenuity, and her single minded determination to succeed with her plan, I also loved that there was no unreliable narrator and no flashbacks. This is a straightforward, no gimmicks story and that was so welcome! I literally couldn’t put this book down and stayed up super late to finish. My best advice would be to just pick this up -don’t read the synopsis- and prepare to be thoroughly entertained. If you’ve already read and enjoyed You (My Review) by Carolyn Kepnes, I think you’ll definitely love this….and wouldn’t Joe & Jane make the BEST literary couple??

Have you read either of these? What page turning books have YOU read lately?

 

REVIEW: AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE By Tayari Jones

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Publication Date: Feb 6th, 2018 By Algonquin Books

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored and seeks comfort with someone else. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

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This was one of my most anticipated winter reads as I’m so drawn to stories about innocent people in prison. While I usually read non-fiction stories involving this topic I couldn’t wait to see how it was explored by Jones in this fictional story. I’ll admit I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the flow of the story in the beginning and I think that was due to the writing style and possibly the character’s voices. We are initially introduced to Roy and Celestial in the first year of their marriage with occasional backstory of how they met interspersed. The narrative switches perspectives between both Roy and Celestial so we get to “hear” from both of them. The glimpses we get of their  marriage were intriguing because I found myself wondering if perhaps Roy was more invested in the marriage than Celestial.

As the story progressed, I began to like it even more, especially when Roy was unjustly convicted…it was tragic and I can’t imagine how that would affect not just Roy and Celestial but their marriage and their extended families. Everyone was traumatized. I’m going to be honest, once Roy went to prison and the story shifted to quite a lot of letter writing between the two as well as quite a bit of what felt like emotional examinations of everyone’s feelings, the story took on a meandering pace for me. By the halfway point, I found my mind wandering and I started to skim many sections. For me, this can be my struggle with literary fiction…I love the story and really want to just get to it and find out what happens to Roy, who will Celestial ultimately choose, and what will become of their marriage…instead the narratives meander to the distant past and to details of their everyday living that I just struggled staying interested in.

As the story neared the end, I’m not sure I fully connected with the ending but I will say Roy’s character…his fate and his future…is what kept me reading and hoping things would turn around for him. This was a really well conceived storyline that shed light on how our justice system can and does ruin lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it like I expected to and finished feeling pretty middle of the road.

Many thanks to Algonquin Books via Netgalley for my copy

 

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’m FINALLY getting around to reading 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 like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

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Published March 4th, 2014

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

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After reading (and loving) The Child Finder a couple weeks ago, I hightailed it to my library and grabbed The Enchanted, that’s how much I enjoyed Rene Denfeld’s writing! All I knew before starting this was that it involved death row and prison…two buzzwords that will always grab my attention…so I dived right in immediately. If I could only use one word to describe this book it would be haunting.

The story is narrated in the third person omniscient by one of the inmates on death row and this was the PERFECT way to tell this story. We also do get to hear from the lady, the warden and the priest but it’s all from an outside looking in perspective. The lady is there to investigate the case of York, an inmate scheduled for execution, but who may get off The Row if she finds enough evidence to convert his sentence.

Throughout the story we get an up close and personal look at life inside a prison and it’s not pretty people. I have a background in criminology and psychology and this book put both those concepts to the test. The author took so many themes…death row, putting children in adult prisons, compassion, vengeance, retribution, imagination…mixed it up and weaved a story that had me thinking and challenging my own views. This is by no means an easy read, on the contrary, it’s quite dark and difficult and at times I wanted to jump ahead because the images were too painful to read about…the white haired boy will forever haunt me…but this is how our criminal justice system operates and I wanted to challenge myself to really think about parts of this book. I absolutely loved the author’s use of books and their ability to transport an inmate to magical places outside of his physical cell as well as the mental cell he lived in. Now, whether he deserved the escape and temporary peace that reading and books brought him…that’s one of the morally gray questions readers are presented with. That and the ending…I was very much left surprised and wondering…”what would I do?”

Rene Denfeld’s writing is so magical and lyrical that I will be first in line for whatever she writes next!

**Sensitivity warning…there are what I call periphery scenes of rape, violence, and execution…meaning the scenes aren’t in your face overly graphic but you know exactly what’s happening**

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Bill at Especially Books

Ann Marie at Lit Wit Wine Dine

Amy at NovelGossip

Annie at The Misstery

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

 

 

 

 

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’m FINALLY getting around to reading 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 like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

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Published Feb. 2014 By Doubleday

My Rating: 4/5 stars

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

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I’m so glad I haven’t featured this book on TBT yet because now, with Halloween approaching and everyone putting together their creepy Oct TBR’s, is the PERFECT time to add this atmospheric mystery to your upcoming reads list. My book club read this a couple years ago and it was the first book by Jennifer McMahon I had read and boy was I impressed. Her ability to take you back to 1908 to that spooky farmhouse where murder is in the air and old legends abound was just spot on. From the opening chapter I was hooked! McMahon’s storytelling has a gothic, ghost story like feel to it and the dual timelines were equally eerie in creating and maintaining the thrills and mystery. I’m not always a fan of past and present timelines but I thought in this book they were seamless. Although I read this one a couple years ago, I still remember the feeling I had while reading because I don’t read too many scary books but this one definitely gave me the creeps. I think it would make the perfect hide under your favorite cozy blanket by the fireplace read this Autumn season.

I’ve added Jennifer McMahon to my must read author list after enjoying this one and Burntown  which I read in the spring. If you’ve read and loved any of her other books please leave me a comment and let me know which ones!

I’d love to hear what’s on your Fall TBR’s…anything creepy for the month of Oct? 

HAPPY READING!

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading 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 like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

REVIEW: BLIND SIDE By Jennie Ensor

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Published July, 2016 

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, five months before 7/7. Georgie is living a good life when one night of drinking with her best friend Julian leads to actions she will regret. 

When Georgie meets Nikolai, a former Russian soldier, in a pub while out alone, sparks fly. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.

Then London is attacked…

Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.

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I mean this in the best possible way…this book wasn’t what I expected. I was even hesitant to read it initially because it’s touted as a psychological thriller and this past year psych thrillers haven’t been my favorite. I’ve actually been avoiding books that fall into that sub-genre but there was something about this one that intrigued me. I love that it’s set in London, one of my very favorite settings for crime fiction and I love that one of the main characters, Nikolai, was a Russian soldier who somehow ended up in London. With hints of love gone wrong and obsession, I felt I couldn’t pass this story up.

We initially meet Georgie and Julian, best friends for many years, who seem to live by the belief that men and women really CAN be just friends….or can they? When too much wine is mixed in with an underlying desire on one of their parts, one thing leads to another and when all is said and done Georgie is left, not only with a hangover, but massive regret. Initially, she believes they can still be friends despite knowing Julian’s true feelings but Julian has other plans in mind and little by little he becomes a man unhinged. What I really enjoyed was along with that storyline, Georgie continues to live her single and carefree life and she meets Nikolai at a pub one evening. He’s edgy, a musician, and very handsome…what more could she possibly ask for?  She is immediately drawn to this Russian, although he very much gives off a vibe of having secrets.

Who Nikolai really is and how he’s come to be in London makes for some very engaging storytelling as I was never really sure if he was on the up and up. He’s clearly hiding something and I couldn’t figure out if it involved his intentions toward Georgie or if he was personally dealing with too many inner demons as a result of fighting in the Russian army. Something was amiss and I was feeling tense about it! Couple this with the escalating troubling behavior by Julian and you’ve got an obsessive triangle that more than hints of drama, suspense, and danger.

Not only is there a compelling love/hate relationship going on but with the attacks on London as a backdrop, Ensor expertly explores terrorism and immigration, highlighting the inner workings of loyalty and betrayal. For these reasons, I would describe this book as part romantic suspense, part political thriller which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I loved the variety of angles and the way the author brought all these threads together in the end. One criticism I do have, however, is that I don’t feel like I really knew Georgie and what made her tick. Being the main character and narrating the story I really wanted to feel more of a connection with her and I felt like she remained below the surface. For me, Nikolai was more fleshed out than her and I would’ve preferred it to be the other way around. Minor issue. Overall, this was a strong debut and I think if you’d like to try something different that’s also very timely, this might be a great choice for you.

Many thanks to Jennie Ensor for my copy

 

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’m FINALLY getting around to reading 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 Feb 2003 by Warner Books
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

Advertising director Charles Schine is just another New York commuter, regularly catching the 8.43 to work. But the day he misses his train is the day that changes his life. Catching the 9.05 instead, he can’t help but be drawn by the sight of the person opposite. Charles has never cheated on his wife in eighteen years of marriage. But then Charles has never met anyone like Lucinda Harris before. Charming, beautiful and a seductively good listener, Charles finds himself instantly attracted. And though Lucinda is married too, it is immediately apparent that the feeling is mutual. Their journeys into work become lunch dates, which become cocktails and eventually lead to a rented room in a seedy hotel. They both know the risks they are taking, but not in their worst nightmares could they foresee what is to follow. Suddenly their temptation turns horrifically sour, and their illicit liaison becomes caught up in something bigger, more dangerous, more brutally violent. Unable to talk to his partner or the police, Charles finds himself trapped in a world of dark conspiracy and psychological games. Somehow he’s got to find a way to fight back, or his entire life will be spectacularly derailed for good.

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I read this one when it was published and I remember really loving it and thinking it seemed to fly under the reading radar of people.  Thinking about it now and re-reading the blurb, so many years later, I want to say it had a vibe similar to The Kind Worth Killing (Peter Swanson) if you’ve read that one. If you haven’t you’re in luck today and you get a two for one Throwback Recommendation because I highly recommend that as well:) When I’m going through my lists of old favorites, especially ones I read over 10 years ago, it’s very hard to remember plot details and I often just remember how I felt reading a certain book and what I remember about this is thinking that it was a fantastic THRILLER. Yes, there’s a psychological aspect to the story as far as games being played, manipulations, betrayals etc but it’s nicely wrapped up in a fast paced plot that keeps you on your toes. I’m SO glad I read this before the movie! In my opinion, the book is hands down WAY better than the movie, although I thought Clive Owen was great, Jennifer Aniston…not so much. If you’re looking for a good thriller that can easily be read in one sitting, give this a try.

**Stop back next week since I plan on having read (this weekend) a throwback from my current tbr so I can share up to date thoughts with you:)** 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

Cathy at Between the Lines

P Turners at The PTurnersbookblog

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Amy at NovelGossip

Lynne at Fictionophile

HAPPY READING! 

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