REVIEW: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT By Kristan Higgins

32821860

Published Dec, 26, 2017 by Harlequin Books

Short Summary: One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her.

 

******

I have to say, Women’s Fiction/Romance is not my typical genre but I’d seen this book getting lots of love from other bloggers and on Goodreads so I decided to shake up my reading life a little and I’m SO glad I did because I really enjoyed this book. From the first few pages when I met Nora and got a feel for her life as a gastroenterologist (I love that this was her specialty!), I was hooked. There’s something about the way this author writes characters that enabled me to immediately connect with Nora and want to follow her and see what happened. When I connect with a character, I’m on board and can’t wait to see where the story leads and that’s exactly what happened within the first 20 pages of this one.

I really went into this story not knowing too much which I highly recommend doing and that’s why I just provided a very short part of the blurb. The story really takes off after Nora is hit by a car (no spoiler this is in blurb) and returns home to her small seaside community in Maine where her mother is as grouchy and standoffish as ever. Side note though…Nora’s mom really grew on me and I loved that she had a pet bird named Tweety who was the love of her life! Here’s where the story really shines and takes off because the setting is fantastic, I loved everything about this small Maine town. I could picture the shops, restaurants and water,  I do love a small town story that’s set on the water…any water.

For me, what made this such an excellent read (outside of Nora) were the secondary characters. There were so many characters that circled this story and all were clearly drawn and layered. That’s not to say all were likable because they weren’t and that’s what I loved. I’m not telling you too much about the plot but suffice it to say Nora’s return after 15 years stirs the pot in more ways than one. Not everyone is happy she’s back and that makes for good drama. It also made for well placed humor in many parts. That being said, this wasn’t a perfect book for me. I REALLY wanted to hear more from Nora’s sister!  Also, there were a few times in the middle I thought the story dragged and yes there might have been some predictability to some scenes but honestly, I didn’t care about any of this. I was enjoying the story and even stayed up super late to read which for me is always the sign of a must read book. In the end, I was sad to say goodbye to these characters so I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a lighter read with substance and excellent characterization.

Many thanks to Harlequin 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 months or years 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….

31450958

Published May 23, 2017 By Thomas Dunne Books

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

We live in a society obsessed with celebrity, but have you ever wondered who is on the inside gathering the best celebrity gossip and how do they get access? According to a Source: A Novel by Abby Stern dishes on this behind the scenes world in a way that only a Hollywood insider could.

Ella Warren works for celebrity news website, The Life, as a club reporter. She’s assigned to stake out Hollywood’s hottest clubs and spy on the celebrities inside. When Ella is pressured by her Devil Wears Prada-type boss to find an exclusive story to keep her job, she has to decide if being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle is worth jeopardizing her friendship with actress Holiday Hall, her budding romance with Holiday’s agent, and her family.

A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

******

I grant you, this is a stretch for TBT since it’s only about 5 months past pub date but I’ve been in quite the reading and blogging slump this week and I’ve had this review waiting patiently for just the right time and looks like now’s the time! I hope to get back in the swing of things soon, I just think a little break has been needed.

I found so much to like about this debut audiobook that my blogging friend Susie from Novel Visits so graciously sent me via Audible. This is the absolute perfect book to listen to because the narrator, Therese Plummer, is fantastic and the story is downright addictive and fun.  I’ll be the first to admit that I love my People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. They both pair very nicely with a cold glass of Pinot Grigio on a Friday evening. And I have ALWAYS wondered who those “sources” were whenever I’ve read something that says ” a source confirms or a source witnessed.” Until I read this, I kind of assumed they were made up. Well, now I know better thanks to Abby Stern.  There are , in fact, actual celebrity gossip “reporters” who’s jobs are to infiltrate the world of celebrities and report back to their bosses. They could give the FBI a run for their money! I know you’re probably thinking…but this is fiction…and yes, I listened to Abby’s interview at the end of the book and she was very clear that this is fiction but…this was her job and I for one wanted to believe while I was listening that she was inspired by true events.

What I really loved was trying to pair celebrities to their descriptions in the book. You see, no real names are used, rather, celebrities are referred to as “Former A list hot mess actress,” “Not so innocent over sexualized pop star,” “Sexy Indie Film actor, “Southern Girl Next Door movie star” and many more. This was just plain fun trying to figure out who they were. Add to that the behind the scenes juicy details of the inner workings of the Chateau Marmont and I couldn’t stop listening to this book. Alongside all this fun is the story of Ella Warren who is very good at getting the celebrity scoop. Her life is filled with parties, good friends, a great family and a yummy new love interest…what could possibly go wrong…right? Of course you know that SO MUCH can and does go wrong in Ella’s life, the question is…how will it all turn out for her and everyone her job has impacted? If you’re like me, you’ll love finding out. And if you can get ahold of the audio, Therese Plummer expertly brought all the characters to life…so much so that I was convinced there had to be more than 1 narrator…there’s not, she’s just that good! If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read look no further than this fantastic debut.

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

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Amy at NovelGossip

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: BEARTOWN By Fredrik Backman

33413128

Published April 25th By Simon & Schuster

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. It is a town that has lost everything except it’s love of hockey the junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals;  they actually have a chance to win.  All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young teenager traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. 

******

When several of my fellow bloggers and one very good non-blogging reading friend, all whose opinions I very much trust, have raved about this book then I just had no choice but to see what all the fuss was about! I say fuss because I have very much resisted reading this book. You see, I’ve tried two of Backman’s other books…A Man Called Ove went into my Did Not Finish pile and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, which was a book club read, didn’t work on any level for me. Beartown, however, was like reading a book by a completely different author and I mean that as the highest compliment…this book was unputdownable and completely addictive!

What starts out, on the surface, as a book about a small town obsessed with hockey will, I promise you, turn into so much more. I’m going to be honest, the first half of the book is what you might call a character/setting set up and what I mean by that is the author takes you to Beartown…you are there in the frigid outdoors of a small isolated town in the forest as kids exhaust themselves playing hockey in an effort to not only make something of themselves and their future but also to save the town. These kids are aware of what a victory in the semi-finals means for Beartown and they will literally use their blood, sweat and tears to try to make it happen. As a result, we get to know some remarkable characters and their parents…Amat, Benji, Bobo, Maya, Ramona (seriously the love I have for this lady!) and others who infiltrated my heart and mind, and that’s just what Backman wants to happen because by the time the second half of the book rolls around, I was so obsessed with these characters, this town, and this story that…you guessed it…I was up until at least 2:00am reading!

I won’t tell you anything else about the plot except to say that of course there’s a pivotal, life altering, tragic event that happens that not everyone you’ve grown to love will recover from and the way Backman has this play out in the second half of the book is brilliant. I was so captivated by the writing and the story I didn’t care that I lost significant amounts of sleep for 2 nights…it’s just that good! And if you’ve read other reviews and/or blurbs about this book you might know that it’s often compared to Friday Night Lights which, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest tv shows EVER, and it most definitely reminded me of that small Texas football obsessed town. Now, David (hockey coach) was no Coach Taylor but there were other characters who reminded me of Tim Riggins, Tami, Buddy and Landry no doubt about it and I loved it all the more for these similarities.  “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose…” Ah, miss you Coach Taylor:)

If you’re at all on the fence about this book I say give it a try, you might be like me and end up pulling a couple late nighters and making space for this one on your top reads of 2017 list!

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY…AND THE WINNER IS…

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!

THE WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S THROWBACK VOTE IS….

21718

 

Published Oct 1, 2002 by Harper

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars 

A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer’s twisted work becomes clear.

 

 

 

 

******

Well, it was a close race but Blindsighted beat My Sister’s Grave by 3 votes last week! Thanks so much to everyone who voted, that was fun. I was a little nervous starting this one only for the fact that I know with Karin Slaughter there’s going to be graphic scenes, the question is…how much and will I have to read with one eye open?

I was immediately taken with the setting of the small Georgia town on a lake as well as with the main characters, Sara and Jeffrey. Sara is the town’s pediatrician as well as the coroner and I was curious to see how she juggled those two very different jobs. Turns out, a lot of her time is spent as the coroner and she doesn’t seem to sleep EVER! Jeffrey is Sara’s ex-husband and let’s just say there’s quite a bit of unfinished business between these two and I had a feeling this would make for an intriguing part of the storyline. Another main player is detective Lena Adams who’s sister has just been murdered. Despite feeling bad for Lena, I have to say…I didn’t like her very much.

Little by little the threads of the murder investigation are weaved and when another girl goes missing, the suspense is ratcheted up immensely.  I should note, there are several scenes of fairly graphic violence as well as rape but they are never gratuitous and the author keeps them pertinent to the storyline. There was so much I Iiked about this book, but one of the main things was the fact that I felt like I knew these characters. I know I said it before in my review of The Good Daughter but Karin Slaughter is a master at bringing her characters to life. The icing on the cake for me is always a really good mystery that allows me to put on my detective hat and Slaughter provided one in this novel. I do have to say that, in the end, my theory turned out to be correct but I really wasn’t all that bothered by being right as I enjoyed the puzzle game of seeing if I put the clues together correctly. Well, the good news is… I really enjoyed this book….the bad news (for me) is now I have to figure out how I’m going to squeeze in the rest of this series amongst my exploding Fall tbr!

HAPPY READING!

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

Noriko at Book Fiend

Amy at NovelGossip

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Caryl at Mrs Bloggs Books

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Annie at The Misstery

Speedy Reader

REVIEW: GONE TO DUST By Matt Goldman

31702740

Published Aug 15, 2017 by Forge Books

Set in Minnesota, Gone to Dust is the debut private eye murder mystery from Emmy Award-winning Seinfeld writer Matt Goldman.

A brutal crime. The ultimate cover-up. How do you solve a murder with no useable evidence?

Suburban divorcee Maggie Somerville was found murdered in her bedroom, her body, bedroom and house covered in some sort of dirty dust leading to all potential DNA evidence being obscured by the calculating killer.

Nils Shapiro is called in by his friend Ellegaard to help investigate and soon his leads are making the higher ups very uncomfortable.

After the FBI demands that Nils drop the case, Nils and Ellegaard are forced to take their investigation underground. Is this a strange case of domestic violence or something with far reaching, sinister implications?

******

This murder mystery is narrated by Nils Shapiro, former police officer turned private detective who’s made a name for himself as a pretty successful PI in Minneapolis. I really enjoyed hearing from Nils right away in the first few chapters. I thought he seemed smart, yet sarcastic, with more of that dry sense of humor that I would imagine is very hard to pull off as a writer. I was immediately immersed in the frigid Minneapolis winter and thinking how hard it would be to live in a place that cold. Brrr! Of course, these dark, cold and dreary winter days made for the perfect backdrop for murder and it wasn’t long into the story until Nils arrives at Maggie Somerville’s home. Maggie was divorced and lived on her own and was found dead in her bed. What made this so interesting was the fact that she, as well as pretty much her whole house, was covered in thick layers of dust. What a brilliant way to cover your tracks if you’re a killer huh?

The story progresses at a fairly slow pace and as Nils puts pieces of the puzzle together and makes several key discoveries, he starts making others, namely the FBI, very nervous. Not one to back down, Nils is eventually forced off the case and he and his detective friend continue their investigation in secret.

Much of the puzzle solving as well as the writing style worked for me and I really did want to find out ‘whodunit’, however, for much of the book after the initial few chapters I found my mind wandering. There were several suspects and possibilities but I didn’t feel that tension and page turning quality that I look for in mysteries that really keep me on the edge of my seat. I’m not sure if it was the added extras of Nils personal drama with his ex-wife but something was keeping me from being excited and not wanting to put this down. I will say that I didn’t have the ‘whodunit’ or the why figured out but when I did reach the conclusion I felt like maybe if I’d have payed a little more attention I would’ve. I think die hard mystery lovers may really like this debut but may very well be able to figure it out. All in all, I think this was a solid debut and may appeal to those who like slower paced mysteries that can be read in an afternoon.

Many thanks to Forge Books for my copy 

 

 

REVIEW: THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES By John Boyne

33253215

Published Aug 22, 2017 by Hogarth Press

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from and over his many years will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

******

ALL. THE. LOVE. I finished this book almost a week ago and I’m still at a loss for words on how best to review it. The blurb is actually one of the best I’ve read because it captures the idea of the story without giving away any of the magic of what you’ll truly encounter when you open the pages and become an accomplice in the journey of Cyril Avery’s life. I say accomplice when what I really mean is friend. Every once in awhile a book comes along and allows me to connect with a character on such a deep level, being privy to their thoughts, heartbreak and happiness, that when I turn the last page it’s like saying goodbye to a dear friend. THIS is that kind of book and Cyril is that kind of character.

When I started reading this gem all I knew was that it was a heartfelt saga…that’s it…and I’m so glad I went in not knowing anything and having read no reviews because everything was a surprise and believe me, there are twists and surprises throughout the seven decades that this book takes place. What I will tell you is that we first get to meet Cyril when he’s about age 7 and he’s living with his adoptive parents Maude and Charles. Now, believe me when I say these are some of the most eccentric characters I’ve come across in quite a long time! As a parent myself, I was shocked at some of the things they said to little Cyril…how many times can a kid hear “you’re not a real Avery” before it seeps into their whole being? Cyril, however, took everything in stride and while he grew up wondering who he was if he wasn’t a real Avery, he also knew that he was luckier than some as he had a warm house, clothes and an education. Here’s the weird thing about the family dynamics of Maude, Charles, and Cyril…oftentimes it was quite funny and I laughed out loud on several occasions at the wittiness of Cyril and the cluelessness of Maude.

The story is narrated by Cyril throughout and it’s broken up into seven year intervals spanning 70 years so we have a long time to get to know Cyril as well as his friends, loves, coworkers and acquaintances, and what I especially loved about this was that people we may have known in passing, often return again to Cyril’s life, whether attributed to fate or coincidence…who knows. Cyril’s journey also takes us not only to Ireland, but also Amsterdam and New York City which I for one love when I get to travel to various locations in my stories!

I’m going to finish by saying, how John Boyne handled the ending was just brilliant. I  loved everything about it as I cried my eyes out. In fact, I loved every single thing about this story and I can’t remember the last time I finished a book and felt the need to start over again right away. This book has EVERYTHING…drama, happiness, sadness, hope, and humor. It is epic and unforgettable. I’ve already ordered a hardcover copy for my favorites bookshelf where it will sit (until its first re-read) so I can pass by it daily and smile. Oh and if you’re a regular reader of my blog you may remember me saying that I thought The Force would be my favorite read of 2017 unless something else came along to blow me away…well, The Heart’s Invisible Furies has come along…consider me blown away!

Many thanks to Hogarth Press for my copy

 

REVIEW: YOUNG JANE YOUNG By Gabrielle Zevin

33590214

Publish Date Aug 22, 2017 By Algonquin Books

Young Jane Young’s heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the Congressman doesn’t take the fall, but Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins. She becomes a late‑night talk show punchline; she is slut‑shamed, labeled as fat and ugly, and considered a blight on politics in general.
 
How does one go on after this?

******

I went into this book knowing very little about it, really only reading the above part of the blurb ( heavily edited from Goodreads which is full of spoilers ) and knowing I had to try this based on my love of her previous novel, The Storied Life of A.J Fikry. That book made my top 10 reads of 2016 so I was very excited to find out that Zevin had another book coming out this summer. I’ve decided to throw my overall thoughts at you early. Here goes…

Not at all meaning this to sound negative, but this was one of the strangest books I’ve read in a long time. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying I predict this book will have polarizing viewpoints…many will love it and many will hate it. In fact, I actually have conflicting opinions myself…I LOVED the first half of this book and the second half…well, let’s just say the second half seems like an experiment in gimmicks with the author trying to toss several in there to see what would stick. Really, it’s almost like 2 separate books!  What’s even stranger (for me), was reading the last couple sections and thinking…what in the world is going on here? I mean, I have 2 words for you…El Mete?…and for those who’ve read this you’ll know what I’m referring to… but what was THAT all about?! BUT, for all my squabbles you’ve just read as well as for the fact that I felt this book NEEDED at least 50 more pages….I still really really enjoyed it!! How’s that for weird?

I picked this up at the exact perfect time after several DNFs (Did Not Finish) and I was immediately taken with the voice of the first character, Rachel, who narrates a large section of the beginning of the book. She’s funny, witty and slightly snarky and if I’m honest, I would’ve loved for her to narrate the WHOLE book. We get to know her and her daughter Aviva, whose affair with her older, married boss has Rachel at her wits end.  Needless to say, there’s drama and things are said and done by all parties that can’t be undone.

The narration then shifts to Jane who has such a strong voice as well and I found her to be engaging and a character I could absolutely get behind and root for. In my opinion, characters, their dialogue, behaviors, and thoughts, are where Zevin shines in her writing ability. Following Jane’s perspective, we get Ruby, her teenage daughter who sometimes seemed to vacillate between acting like a small child and a young adult. Bottom line: She was ok.

The remainder of the book was told in separate sections by a young Aviva and Embeth, the wife of the older, married man who had the affair. In all honesty, for me, these sections were a bit of a mess and where the gimmicks really came alive. Aviva’s section didn’t at all work for me but I really did like Embeth; in fact, I really wanted to know more about her and what became of her. Overall, I really just needed/wanted more of this story all around but I will say that my very first thought when I realized I did, in fact, reach the end was…you know…I really liked this book. For me, this just proves that I can have issues with what happens (or doesn’t) in a book and the story can feel like it may have jumped on the crazy train for a brief ride, but in the hands of an outstanding author like Gabrielle Zevin I can and will still recommend that you give this one a try, especially if you’re in the mood for something a little different!

Many thanks to Algonquin Books via Netgalley for my copy. 

REVIEW: BLIND SIDE By Jennie Ensor

31200537

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.

******

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

 

REVIEW: THE GOOD DAUGHTER By Karin Slaughter

33230889

Published Aug.8th, 2017 by William Morrow

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home.  And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

******

This book should really come with a warning…BEWARE…once you start reading this small town secret filled thriller, you will likely avoid your friends, family, exercise and oh yeah, sleep! I should know because I pretty much ignored everyone and stayed up until after 1:00am because I couldn’t possibly sleep without knowing how this puzzle turned out. I do have to say I was a little hesitant to start this because my last Slaughter book was Pretty Girls which I found just too violently graphic and all who know Karin’s wonderful writing know that she writes so realistically that it’s often hard to get those images out of your head. That’s not to say there isn’t violence in this story, there is, and quite a lot, so if you’re a reader that struggles with that you should take note.

If you haven’t read Karin Slaughter before I think this would be the absolute perfect book to pick up to experience a level of writing that is really so far above so many others in terms of characterization and making readers FEEL that they know these characters. In the beginning of this story we meet Samantha, her sister Charlotte and their parents, Gamma and Rusty Quinn, and within the first few pages I felt like they were real people and I was witnessing their conversations and their heartache over having to move because their home had been firebombed due to Rusty’s job as a defense lawyer in town. I mean, this is where I think Karin Slaughter is light years above other writers…how did she manage to make me feel SO invested in these people so quickly?? Sorry, I digress from my actual review….

The story is structured in such a way that we get to know the characters starting in 1989 in their small Pikeville, Ga town. Before this section closes Slaughter will have managed to toss in a twist that caused me to virtual buckle up for what I predicted was going to be a wild ride. The narration then shifts as we fast forward 28 years and Charlotte is now a defense attorney in the same building as Rusty (who’s still practicing) and trying to navigate the rocky waters of her marriage. I found Rusty to be an absolutely fascinating character. On the one hand, I felt like shaking him for being abrupt and emotionally unavailable for his daughter and on the other, I found him funny and witty. That’s top notch writing for you…characters who are FLAWED are characters we can relate to, root for, and mourn when we close the book and realize their story is over.

I haven’t even touched on the the crimes in the past and present and that’s because the less you know starting out as far as the plot, the more surprises you’ll get to experience!  To put it simply, there’s a devastating crime (home invasion) committed in 1989 and there’s an equally devastating one (school shooting) committed 28 years later; both occurring in Pikeville and both involving the Quinns. BUT, here’s what you need to remember…no matter how things appear on the surface, nothing is as it seems dear reader.  I felt my anxiety rising in so many places trying to figure out what happened, who might be involved, how does it all fit together…that I finally took the advice of my  friend Annie (The Misstery) who said…”don’t even try to figure it out!” So I’ll pass this good advice on to you…just sit back and enjoy being enthralled by some of the most gripping writing you’re likely to read all year. If you’re in the mood for a character driven story that includes plenty of mystery and quite a few thrills, I think you’ve found your next read!

Many thanks to William Morrow via Edelweiss for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review  

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: SAFE By Ryan Gattis

31574741

Published Aug 1, 2017 by MCD

Ricky Mendoza Jr. (aka Ghost) is trying to make good. As a teenager, he was a ruthless gangbanger, addict, and killer until he got out and met Rose. As an adult, in recovery and working as a safecracker for the DEA, Ghost is determined to live “clean” to honor Rose’s memory—until he stumbles upon an opportunity to repay the debts of his past. All he has to do is crack a safe and steal drug money from under the noses of the gangs and the feds without getting caught. Or killed.

A propulsive, engaging thriller by a novelist whose writing David Mitchell called “audacious, unflinching and subversive,” Ryan Gattis’s Safe drives readers toward a shocking conclusion while exploring deeper questions about what it means to be “good.”

******

For some reason I’m finding this book hard to review. On the one hand, there is so much I liked about it and up until about 60%, I felt it was ticking along quite nicely. I loved that it started off with a safecracking scene and felt that until that point I was really invested in the story. After that, however,  it started to slip for me and by the end I feel like I had disconnected from the story just a little which is very strange considering how much I started off liking it.

The story starts off action packed as we are introduced to Ricky, aka Ghost, a safecracker who freelances for the DEA. He’s been called to a house of the DEA’s most recent drug bust and then left alone (yes alone!) to open the safe with instructions to call the DEA agent in charge after he gets it open. Here’s what’s so interesting about this scene….we learn from Ricky’s first person narration that in his past he was an addict and criminal who did some very bad things but for the past several years he’s tried to do right and now has a plan to really help some people who need it. His plan involves taking the cash in that safe and using it to help others in need.  And with this current safe, he hits the jackpot. Time is ticking though because the safe he has just cracked and the money he has stolen belongs to one of the biggest drug lords in LA and you just know things aren’t going to go well when he finds out his money is gone.

Here is where the story alternates narration and we then meet Rudy Reyes, aka Glasses, the top associate of the drug lord who’s safe Ricky just cracked. Glasses has his own story to tell and soon a very interesting tale is weaved that will connect him and Ricky in ways that ended up being very surprising and in several instances quite suspenseful. The author’s style certainly shines with his use of language and dialect for both of these characters.

On paper, this is the perfect story for me and I found the author’s writing to be so wonderfully authentic. The dialogue was perfect and I really felt the characters were unique and multi-dimensional. Where it started to go downhill for me is the repetitive number of times Ghost was driving in a car and playing various songs on the mix-tape that his past girlfriend, Rose (she had died), had made for him. As narrator, he would then reminesce about times together (in detail) and repeat over and over how much she meant to him. I got it, I really did but by about 65% I’d heard enough because what that effectively did was break up the pace of the story and cause me to become bored which isn’t at all how I felt starting out and during the safe cracking scenes. Couple this with an ending that I just don’t feel made sense for what we knew of the characters and I was left slightly disconnected.

Many thanks to MCD for my copy via Netgalley, I’m happy to provide an honest review