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

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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 

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 

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!!

 

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Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz: Book Review

 

Out of the Dark By Gregg Hurwitz
Published: Jan 29, 2019 by Minotaur Books
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

From Publisher: Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man, a man who helps the truly desperate when no one else can. But now, someone at the very highest level of government has been trying to eliminate every trace of the Orphan Program by killing all the remaining Orphans and their trainers

My Thoughts: If I’m ever in trouble, I hope someone calls Evan Smoak for me! Orphan X is back in the 4th installment of this fast paced, fun thriller series and he’s going after his most hated opponent yet, the President of the United States. The prologue shows us a very interesting scene in Russia in which Evan is out on his first solo mission as a trained assassin for a dark black ops program the US government formed.  I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of Evan as a young man because, cut to current day, he’s now in what I guess to be his late 30s and he’s no longer in the program. He now spends his days being The Nowhere Man, carrying out his own brand of vigilante justice for those who call his super secret line and are in dire need of help. The two storylines run parallel to each other and the author pulls them off brilliantly.

While Evan is doing some serious scouting of the President’s agendas, day to day security details, life in and outside The White House , etc we are privy to some fascinating details about the life of The President which I’m assuming are true (at least most) and which seem very thoroughly researched. This was one of my favorite parts of the book actually! While Evan is deciding on his best course of action to assassinate the President, the President has called in Evan’s arch rival, Orphan A, to kill Evan. It’s all very cut throat, fast paced, and tension filled.

Along with these 2 main storylines, we also have Evan’s ongoing romantic involvement with his neighbor, single mom and prosecutor Mia, who, accurately enough, suspects that Evan isn’t living the most law abiding lifestyle (she has no idea how right she is) so she won’t allow herself or her son to become too invested in him. I love how Hurwitz has weaved this thread of Mia and Evan throughout all 4 books.

If this sounds like a lot going on in one book, it is but it all works. I’ve said it before, the Orphan X novels remind me of the Jason Bourne movies so if you like that type of fast paced, action filled thriller with a very smart good guy to root for, who let’s face it, seemingly can’t be killed and almost never sleeps, this is for you. Do you have to suspend disbelief in parts? Of course, but who cares because this story and these characters are just so well done.

I will say, I highly recommend starting with book 1, Orphan X, in order to get the full backstory of these characters but if you choose to start here, Hurwitz does a great job of providing just enough info about important events from the previous books so you won’t feel completely lost. If you’re in the mood for an action packed thriller, you can’t go wrong with this series and good news…. I read that there will be 3 more Orphan X books in the future so you have plenty of time to catch up!

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

Podcast Fun: Talking Mystery/Thriller Book Recommendations with Sarah from Sarah’s Bookshelves LIve

Hi All! Did you know my friend Sarah from the blog Sarah’s Book Shelves has a new bookish podcast called Sarah’s Book Shelves Live?  Today I’m Sarah’s guest and I’m talking about some of my favorite mystery/thriller reads as well as one I wasn’t crazy about. I had the best time talking with Sarah and I hope you’ll enjoy our book chat!

 

 

Sarah’s Book Shelves Live is a weekly show featuring real talk about books and book recommendations from a featured guest. Each week, Sarah of the blog Sarah’s Book Shelves will talk with her guest about: 
 

– 2 OLD BOOKS THEY LOVE
– 2 NEW BOOKS THEY LOVE
– 1 BOOK THEY DON’T LOVE
– AND 1 NEW RELEASE THEY’RE EXCITED ABOUT

 

Sarah gets real about all things books and serves you up a bit of snark on the side.

 

You can subscribe to Sarah’s Book Shelves Live anywhere you normally subscribe to podcasts: iTunes, Casts, Stitcher, etc., or click on one of the links (in blue ) which will take you directly to Sarah’s Book Shelves , where Sarah has provided you with various ways to download the episode. She’s also provided the show notes for our episode so you don’t miss any of our fun conversation. I hope you enjoy listening and find some new mystery/thriller recommendations! Let me know what you think in the comments below

Happy Listening!

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.

 

Audiobook I’m Enjoying 
The Likeness  by Tana French; narrated by Heather O’Neill. I’ve actually tried this mystery at least twice in print in the past and couldn’t get into it but the audio is fantastic and has got me excited to do some extra house cleaning so I can listen. I think this narrator bringing the characters to life has made all the difference.

Super Easy Fish Recipe That Actually Turned Out Good
Simple Pan Seared Alaskan Halibut I’ve tried (and failed) to pan sear Halibut in the past but this recipe was super easy and it actually turned out really good. And the best part…I could marinate it in my favorite pinot grigio wine

Instagram Stories I Can’t Stop Watching 
Deb at Lonestarwords  If you’re a cat lover, you’ve got to check out Deb’s Instagram stories! She has 4 rescued kittens that are the cutest and wow, SO busy. I really enjoy watching them and also love her dogs and horse. If you love animals along with books, I think you’ll love Deb’s account

Book I’ve Added to My TBR…Will You or Won’t You be Adding It to YOURS?!
PopSugar Has the Scoop On new E.L. James book coming this April Called The Mister Yes Friends, I’m adding it to my TBR now. I’m the first to admit that the Fifty Shades Trilogy was by no means well written BUT I couldn’t put them down all the same. Oh yes, I’ll be reading The Mister .…will you??

Reality website I look forward to reading every week
RealitySteve.com You may or may not know that I love The Bachelor and every week Reality Steve recaps the show in his snarky way as well as puts out spoilers for every episode of the season. That includes the ending. He’s only been wrong a couple times over the years so how he does it…no one knows exactly but he gets the scoop. It doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the hot mess that is the show to read his site every week, in fact I think I enjoy it more with Steve’s commentary; he also live tweets during the show which is fun. He’s never at a loss for words that’s for sure.

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