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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer @wmmorrowbooks @AshleyDyer2017 @jessmapreviews

The Cutting Room
by Ashley Dyer

Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: June 18, 2019
448 Pages
Series: Carver and Lake #2
Genres: Mystery, Fiction

Detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver, introduced in the electrifying Splinter in the Blood, must stop a serial killer whose victims are the centerpiece of his macabre works of art.

While Britain is obsessed with the newest hit true-crime television show, Fact, or Fable? detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver are tormented by a fiendish flesh-and-blood killer on the loose.

Lured to a “crime scene” by a mysterious digital invitation, Ruth Lake is horrified by what she finds: a bizarre and gruesome tableau surrounded by a crowd of gawkers. The deadly work is the latest “art installation” designed by a diabolical criminal dubbed the Ferryman. Not only is this criminal cold-blooded; he’s a narcissistic exhibitionist desperate for an audience. He’s also clever at promoting his deadly handiwork. Exploiting England’s current true-crime craze, he uses social media to titillate and terrorize the public.

Ruth is joined in the investigation by her partner Greg Carver, who is slowly regaining his strength after a run-in with another sadistic criminal. But Greg can’t seem to shake the bewildering effects of the head wound that nearly ended him. Are the strange auras blurring his vision an annoying side effect of his injury, or could they be something more . . . a tool to help him see a person’s true nature?

In this utterly engrossing and thrilling tale of suspense, a pair of seasoned detectives face off against a wickedly smart and inventive psychopath in a tense, bloody game that leads to a shocking end.

My Review:

When I read Splinter in the Blood last year (the first book in this series), I was floored with the debut of such a unique serial killer!  Where we had the Thorn Killer in the first book, Dyer brings us The Ferryman in book two, The Cutting Room.  He's a bit more maniacal, narcissistic and has a propensity for needing his social media numbers to GROW! Haven't we all been there? *wink*

The author brings us some exciting visuals with the Ferryman and his "art" - putting them into some grotesquely beautiful pieces.  He's very methodical and even uses his online fandom to help perpetuate his macabre plans.  But how long can he evade Carver and Lake? Or will his ego lead to his downfall? AND WILL HE EVER REACH HIS SOCIAL MEDIA NUMBERS?  Haha - I joke here but honestly, in this day and age people are so glued to their phones and some have a sense of importance that only is as equal to the number of followers they have on any given social media platform.  I'm not gonna try and pretend that it's not nice to see those numbers grow.. but I don't think I'd be as pressed as the Ferryman to go to these lengths to get them.  PHEW!  

I honestly love these characters.  As partners, Carver and Lake look out for each other.  While Carver is still recovering and dealing with the issues the Thorn Killer brought to him in book one, now we have Lake dealing with her own personal ties.  These two can't catch a break.  It's because of this, I'd recommend reading these in order as you may feel a little bit lot on some back stories if you do not.

I did find that this one seemed to read slower for me than the first book.  It took me a bit to get into the story line and I found myself willing for the pacing to quicken up a bit.  For me, however, it did not.  Thankfully the intrigue of this villain and my love for the main characters helped me through and I absolutely am looking forward to book three.


Jessica's Review:

Last year I couldn't stop recommending Dyer's debut SPLINTER IN THE BLOOD. Talk about a creepy, gruesome, and unique serial killer we found in the Thorn Killer. Now, Dyer has brought back Carver and Lake to face their newest case with The Ferryman.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love when authors tie social media into these crime fiction novels. The topic of social media and an online presence is so relevant and relatable in today's world. Who hasn't been obsessed with watching their follower numbers grow at one point or another? I'll admit, it's always fun to hit that next milestone number. Well, The Ferryman brings this obsession to a whole new level. I mean, who doesn't love a narcissistic killer?

Sharing his gruesome works of "art" online to his captivated followers draws in the attention of Carver and Lake. Both still dealing with issues that occurred with the Thorn Killer from book one (definitely recommend picking that one up before starting book two). While this one did move a little slower than SPLINTER IN THE BLOOD, I felt it was a solid follow up and a good continuation in the series. I know it's common in crime series to have books two or three feel like a filler or a set up for greater things in the following book, but this one did not disappoint.

What I've enjoyed in both books is how unique the killers are. The Thorn Killer in book one was unlike any I had really seen before and The Ferryman takes a completely different turn. If you're looking for a new serial killer crime fiction series, then I highly recommend getting to know Carver and Lake!

4 stars

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson @penguinusa @penguinbooks @jessmapreviews #craigdavidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club 
by Craig Davidson

Thank you Penguin Books for these copies!

Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: July 9, 2019
240 Pages
Genres: Horror, Coming of Age, Young Adult

A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of "Stranger Things" and "Stand by Me" about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls--a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place--Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the "Saturday Night Ghost Club." But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.

My Review:

"Reality never changes.  Only our recollections of it do."

I absolutely love Nick Cutter so when I found out ages ago that his other pen name is Craig Davidson, I wanted to dive in and read some of his work under that name.. and I finally did with this short book.  I love that the styles of writing are so different and really resonates in why he might have chosen to write under both names. Maybe? I dunno.  Either way, he's talented no matter what name he writes under. Period.  

Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into the meaty goodness of this story.  Once I was in though, I could feel the sting of a bb pellet, the crunch of a broken nose, the loyalty and love within a family and the support of those closest to you when maybe you're used to always being a bit of an outsider.

This is a coming of age story that just resonates with this feeling that I can't quite put into words.  I think if you consider as an adult how you look back at how you saw the world as a kid or how you see the world again through your own child's eyes... that's the best way I can put this.  One of the things that I really enjoyed as well was the back lay of how the brain works.  Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.  

For a book that's slightly longer than a novella, it really does pack a punch.


Jessica's Review:

I very recently learned that Craig Davidson and Nick Cutter are one in the same! So I was excited to pick up this shorter story by Craig Davidson. THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB is a coming of age story about the summer of Jake's twelfth year - the summer The Saturday Night Ghost Club began.

Jake, Billy, Uncle C, Lex, and Dove make up the Saturday Night Ghost Club. They go on missions throughout their town near Niagara Falls visiting different areas and hearing about local legends. What Davidson treats us to is a story of family love, loyalty, friendship, and trying to find your place in the world.

This book took me a lot longer to get into than I was hoping. Being barely over 200 pages, it took about until the halfway point for me to feel really invested in the story. The imagery was great and Davidson really connected you to the characters. I think the issue for me was in the pacing of the story. I did enjoy the parts from Jake as an adult and neurosurgeon. Hearing tidbits about the brain and how funny a thing like memories can be. If you're looking for a short story this summer, then I definitely recommend this one.

3.5 stars

Monday, July 8, 2019

Blog Tour Spotlight: Bad Axe County by John Galligan @atriabooks #johngalligan

Bad Axe County
by John Galligan

Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: July 9, 2019
Kindle Edition
336 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

Fifteen years ago, Heidi White’s parents were shot to death on their Bad Axe County farm. The police declared it a murder-suicide and closed the case. But that night, Heidi found the one clue she knew could lead to the truth—if only the investigators would listen.

Now Heidi White is Heidi Kick, wife of local baseball legend Harley Kick and mother of three small children. She’s also the interim sheriff in Bad Axe. Half the county wants Heidi elected but the other half will do anything to keep her out of law enforcement. And as a deadly ice storm makes it way to Bad Axe, tensions rise and long-buried secrets climb to the surface.

As freezing rain washes out roads and rivers flood their banks, Heidi finds herself on the trail of a missing teenaged girl. Clues lead her down twisted paths to backwoods stag parties, derelict dairy farms, and the local salvage yard—where the body of a different teenage girl has been carefully hidden for a decade.

As the storm rages on, Heidi realizes that someone is planting clues for her to find, leading her to some unpleasant truths that point to the local baseball team and a legendary game her husband pitched years ago. With a murder to solve, a missing girl to save, and a monster to bring to justice, Heidi is on the cusp of shaking her community to its core—and finding out what really happened the night her parents died.

JOHN GALLIGAN is the author of the novels Red Sky, Red DragonflyThe Nail KnotThe Clinch KnotThe Wind Knot, and Bad Axe County. He lives and teaches writing in Madison, Wisconsin

Sunday, July 7, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager @duttonbooks @jessmapreviews

Lock Every Door 
by Riley Sager

Thank you Dutton Books for these copies! Riley Sager is a favorite author of ours and boy oh boy did we get another wicked story.  Continue below for our thoughts.

Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
Kindle Edition
384 Pages
Genre: Thriller

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

My Review:

ARGH YOU GUYS.  I'm so torn in how I feel about this book.  Sager has a way of writing that keeps you absolutely addicted to each and every page and I was definitely intrigued with this book for the majority.  I can absolutely relate to Jules in the sense of being in NYC, needing money and being fascinated with the structure and back stories that come with the amazing buildings that make up this vast city.  SpOOoOooOooky, for real.  Imagine having the opportunity to "apartment sit" for $1000 a WEEK, under the table.  You just have to follow some specific rules but hey, after 3 months, just a summer really, you walk away with $12,000 clean and can finally start over.  I mean.... who wouldn't???... right?.....  Everything quickly goes haywire and the author takes us from the past 5 days... ONLY 5 DAYS... and to where Jules is now, trying to tell the authorities her crazy story.  

This has the same addictability as The Final Girls did but where The Final Girls delivered in the ending, I think the ending of this will be highly divisive amongst thriller readers.  What I love best about this story and that the author has you riding along happily in one direction just to give you whiplash and take a hard left turn into another one.  I'm absolutely NOT mad about it.  I'm just a little baffled as to whether I liked it or if it was just an ok ending for me.  I love being surprised but I was more in an ah... so that's the ticket... kind of feel for it more so than shocked.  Am I making any sense?  

"I'm the kind of girl you don't want to fuck with."  Ah, Jules.  I'm not entirely sure I believe that entirely.  But YOU GO GIRL.  I do think if the story went just a *teeny* bit further, I would've been a little bit happier in terms of it going completely crazy.  I will say there were a couple of parts where I was screaming, "I KNEW IT!!!"  Listen, I was highly entertained and absolutely FLEW through this novel.  I will continually pick up Sager over and over and OVER again.  There's no getting past the talent that this author has in keeping me highly entertained from first page to last. 

Prepare yourself for some surprises with this one and lets dish about it when you go to this read.


Jessica's Review:

Holy crap, guys. Riley Sager quickly became an auto-buy author for me after FINAL GIRLS and I was reminded why after I picked up LOCK EVERY DOOR. I sat down with this on Sunday night, couldn’t get very far because sleep was needed, but I flew through pages 80 until the end in about 2 hours on Monday. I just couldn’t stop!
Jules is having a rough time. She was just let go from her job and then she comes home to find her long-term boyfriend with another woman. She moves out and looks for a new job. She finds an ad for an apartment sitter at one of the most secretive and high-profile buildings in Manhattan – The Bartholomew. She gets to live in one of their luxury apartments, rent free, AND she’ll be paid $1,000 a week for her 3 month stay. The job comes with specific rules: no visitors, no nights away from the apartment, and do not disturb the other residents. Seems like an easy way to make a good amount of money, right?
The Bartholomew, of course, has a mysterious and creepy past. Is the building haunted? Why are other apartment sitters disappearing without a trace? Jules is determined to get to the bottom of things even if it puts her residency and her life at risk.
Let me tell you, I was not expecting that ending. The big reveal was not what I was anticipating because Sager did a phenomenal job pulling us in a different direction. The suspense stayed consistent throughout the book, a sense of foreboding loomed overhead, and you couldn’t deny all the weird things happening. If you’re a fan of Sager then this is an obvious addition to your TBR. If you’re wanting a binge-worthy thriller with a Gothic backdrop, then you’ll definitely love this one.
5 stars

Friday, July 5, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Gone Too Long by Lori Roy @jessmapreviews @duttonbooks

Gone Too Long 
by Lori Roy

Thank you Dutton Books for these copies.  

Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: June 25, 2019
Kindle Edition
320 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Fiction

Two-time Edgar Award–winning author Lori Roy entangles readers in a heart-pounding tale of two women battling for survival against a century’s worth of hate.  
On the day a black truck rattles past her house and a Klan flyer lands in her front yard, ten-year-old Beth disappears from her Simmonsville, Georgia, home. Armed with skills honed while caring for an alcoholic mother, she must battle to survive the days and months ahead.

Seven years later, Imogene Coulter is burying her father—a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from—and trying to escape the memories his funeral evokes. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father's apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.
As Imogene begins to uncover the truth of what happened to young Beth all those years ago, her father’s heir apparent to the Klan’s leadership threatens her and her family. Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love.

My Review:

Here's the thing with this read.  It is interspersed with real history of the KKK, which I always find fascinating and really did add to this story.  The story goes from Imogene in the present to Beth in the past and then how they collide later. The writing is fantastic - this is my first by this author and I can understand the accolades given to her for her talent.  However, for me personally, this story did drag on a bit.  I was more fascinated and invested in Beth's side of the story.  Being inside Imogene's head was painful at times.

This story is a bit haunting and certainly isn't an easy one to read.  The KKK has held a prominent place in our history.  Growing up in the south (and by south, I mean deep real south of Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, etc...), I've certainly been privy to their stupid and scary klan.  Unfortunately in today's climate, they're popping back up more in the public eye and it's terrifying... absolutely terrifying.  But this story is more than just about the KKK.  It's about being a part of a family, being scared, dealing with loyalty and WANTING to be "good", but knowing you really can't.  

It's harrowing and timely and not an easy one to get through.  I struggled at times with the pacing and it didn't QUITE hit the mark for me.  


Jessica's Review:

This was my second outing with Lori Roy and once again, I loved her writing! I need to pick up more from Roy the next time I’m browsing through the bookstore. This wasn’t what I was expecting it to be – I was expecting more of a thriller but I got so much more! A woman that spent her life desperately trying to distance herself as much as possible from her father and his strong connections to the Klan must now face his past.
Imogene has to come home to bury her father. A man that she spent her life distancing from because of his involvement with the Klan. After the funeral, Imogene needs to clear out his possessions from his hideout – what she found changes things forever. Behind a locked door in the basement was a young girl, Beth, and she was alive and well. How did she get there? How long as she been there? What was her father doing? So many questions.
We get to see through Beth’s perspective and Imogene’s as the story progresses. While there is a mystery element to it and some suspense, there is also the historical aspect to this book. The author does include real events, and unfortunately there are still events as recent as 2017 with the Klan. I think the only thing that dropped my rating down a little bit was that there were some parts that really slowed down for me, otherwise I would highly recommend it!
4 stars

#ATBR2019 Review: The Dead Girl in 2A by Carter Wilson @jessmapreviews @sourcebooks @iamcarterwilson

The Dead Girl in 2A 
by Carter Wilson

Thanks to Sourcebooks for these copies.  Jessica and I are both big Carter Wilson fans!

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
416 Pages
Genres: Mystery, Sci-Fi

Jake Buchannan knows the woman sitting next to him on his business flight to Denver—he just can’t figure out how he knows her. Clara Stowe isn’t in Jake’s line of work and didn’t go to college with him. They have nearly nothing in common apart from a deep and shared certainty that they’ve met before. Despite their best efforts over a probing conversation, both struggle to figure out what circumstances could possibly have brought them together. Then, in a revelation that sends Jake reeling, Clara admits she’s traveling to the Colorado mountains to kill herself, and disappears into the crowded airport immediately after landing.

The Dead Girl in 2A is the story of what happens to Jake and Clara after they get off that plane, and the manipulative figure who has brought them together decades after they first met.

My Review:

Long story short - boy meets girl on plane. Boy and girl have a weird but strong connection.  Girl tells boy she's going to kill herself once she reaches her destination and disappears once they land.  Now what? Haha.  That's the basics but the rest of the book is so much more intricate and for the every day thriller lover, take a slight warning that there's some sci-fi thrown in that might surprise you as I wasn't expecting it to go in this direction based on the synopsis alone.  HOWEVER, I love these types of genre bending (if you can even call it that completely).  GIVE ME ALL THE CRAZY.  
Certain things about this book went a bit off plausibility towards the end but hell, you guys... this is fiction. And as something as crazy as where this book took me in terms of unexpectedness, screw whatever might not quite make sense because over all, this story got to me.  I didn't even realize how invested I was in Clara and Jake until that last chapter and the ending did completely satisfy me.  

What I love about Wilson and his writing is that each book that I've read has been completely different than the other one.  Easy, short chapters that keep you intrigued and each one has been a binge read. EACH ONE.  The direction he went in with this one is pretty wicked in terms of what people can get away with and how manipulated the world can get... even if it's just for a small group of people.  Plus, the Author's Note has me googling things I probably shouldn't be! I'd recommend anything by this author.


Jessica's Review:

So last year I couldn’t stop raving about Carter Wilson’s book, MISTER TENDER’S GIRL, so when I saw he had another one releasing I was anxiously awaiting it. THE DEAD GIRL IN 2A was definitely different but with the same fast-paced and addictive writing style. Much like his other book, I read this one in two sittings. The short chapters coupled with the suspense and mystery of the story kept me hooked.
Have you ever had those moments where you see someone and you SWEAR you’ve met them or seen them before? There’s something familiar about them but you can’t quite place it? Jake and Clara experience this on their flight to Denver. Jake is on his way to ghostwrite for someone that is wanting their memoir published, and Clara has her own reasons for going to Denver. They experience this moment and play a version of 20 questions with each other to try and get to the bottom of it.
This encounter means more than they realize. Their paths cross again when they learn that they share a history that neither of them remembers. Sounds crazy, right? Well, let me tell you, it only gets crazier from here! I can’t really go into much more detail for fear of spoiling some twists.
Another book I’ve read, in a row, that has to do with memory. Man, these authors just want to mess with us! I love it, though. The Author’s Note in the back is definitely important to read – so don’t miss that. Memory is a fascinating thing. The small triggers we have for things we’ve long forgotten, feelings of deja vu, and so much more. The confusion these characters experience, the curiosity, the danger, it all felt so real. Wilson will remain an auto-buy author for me, and I highly recommend picking this one up if you’re wanting a binge read this summer.
5 stars

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland @jessmapreviews

Bone Deep 
by Sandra Ireland

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: June 11, 2019
252 Pages
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Suspense

Is a story ever just a story?

Mac, a retired academic and writer, is working on a new collection of folktales, inspired by local legends, and at the insistence of her only child, Arthur, she hires a young assistant, Lucie, to live in a cottage on her property and help her transcribe them. What Arthur doesn’t know is that his mother is determined to keep the secrets of her past from ever being discovered. And what Mac doesn’t know is that Lucie has a few complicated secrets of her own.

The creaking presence of an ancient water mill next to Mac’s property that used to grind wheat into flour serves as an eerie counterpoint for these two women as they circle warily around each other, haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, ready to point accusing fingers from the pages of history.

This atmospheric page turner evocatively gives voice to the question: What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?

My Review:

"What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?"

Lucie and Mac are brought together so Lucie can assist Mac as Mac writes her new collection of folktales.  But don't most authors put part of their own life into their stories? And just how telling are the stories they're writing?  Even local folklore has the tint of the past that still haunts the present.  When will that cause a fissure in the people surround this?

This certainly wasn't the story that I expected when I read the synopsis..  I mean, it IS, but it isn't.  A slow burn of psychological suspense, the crazy amps up with each turn of the page... once you get about halfway through.  This might have been just a TAD bit too slow for my liking.  However, I did appreciate the build up and continual atmospheric presence that the author built. 

There's always a little bit of an issue I have with a book within a book and while this was a bit minimal in this novel, I was still getting slightly confused between the characters from the book she was writing, to the person in her life to the present person speaking.  Confused yet? Yeah, me too.  I had small issues with a couple of other things that I won't spoil you on but it didn't impact the story TOO much to not still enjoy the story line for what it was. 

The author gives us insight into the person who is the mistress to the wife being betrayed and this resonates and certainly adds to the crazy factor, which I'm always all about.  Two opposites still feeling strongly and these feelings ramp into a very interesting scenario.  Take a gander if psychological suspense is your jam.


Jessica's Review:

Going into this I think was expecting more of a thriller as opposed to the slower building psychological suspense it ended up being. BONE DEEP is an enthralling read and Ireland pulls you in as the story progresses. You find yourself becoming more and more invested in Mac and Lucie which helped pick up the pacing for me.
Who doesn’t love a book about an author writing a book? Mac is working on a new book of a collection of folklore – ones that are inspired by local legends. I’m already excited, because folklore and urban legends are my thing. Mac hires Lucie as her assistant to stay with her and help with the writing. Little do these women know, they are both desperately trying to keep secrets hidden from each other. Things get increasingly complicated when a local legend of two dead sisters begins to mimic things around them.
I loved the writing and the way Ireland had the story unfold for the readers. It was atmospheric, captivating, and had a sense of growing dread. The only real drawback for me was the length of the chapters. Some got really long and as a chapter-to-chapter reader that made it drag a couple of times. But that is 100% a me thing, not the book itself. I just found myself looking ahead and counting the pages in the chapter before beginning a new one (only if I had other responsibilities going on – because life gets in the way of reading). Overall though, I would highly recommend this book! I really enjoyed it and will need to be picking up more from Sandra Ireland next time I’m at the bookstore.
3.5 stars

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell @spookypurcell @penguinbooks @jessmapreviews

The Poison Thread 
by Laura Purcell

Thank you to Penguin Books for these copies.

Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: June 18, 2019
351 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Gothic

A thrilling Victorian gothic horror tale about a young seamstress who claims her needle and thread have the power to kill

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy, and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor, and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea's charitable work brings her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted by the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person's skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets one of the prisoners, the teenaged seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another strange idea: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread--because Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations--of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses--will shake Dorothea's belief in rationality, and the power of redemption. Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer? The Poison Thread is a spine-tingling, sinister read about the evil that lurks behind the facade of innocence.

My Review:

One of the things that have always fascinated me is how science, psychology, ALL the things were done back in the day. This story centers around Dorothea and her love for phrenology (the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities) and Ruth, in prison as a murderess... and at such a young age.  She believes her needles and sewing have the ability to harm and Dorothea needs to measure her cranium while listening to her story.  A story she only trusts Dorothea with for some reason.

It took me into the 100+ pages for this book to really capture me.  I always know that going into this type of Victorian gothic historical fiction read that it will usually run slower for me than other reads and I'm glad that I stuck through this one.  One scene in particular really set my mouth in an "O" and then I was like ok ok ok... here we go now.  This book certainly keeps at a steady slow pace, if that makes any sense.  It kept my interest just enough to need to know where the heck it was going to go.  To be honest, I'm still a little baffled by the ending. SOMEBODY WHO HAS READ THIS PLEASE TALK TO ME ABOUT IT.

The Poison Thread starts very somberly and never lets up in this atmosphere.  Don't come into this read looking for a feel good type.  It's a definite look into the Victorian era and how certain classes of people treated others.  What people needed to do to survive.  The craziness of everything and everyone involved.  I'm not sure so many characters needed to be in this story.  However, I can also see why they were needed to add this and that to the story.  I'm a bit flummoxed as to exactly how I feel after turning the last page.  The story certainly didn't go in the direction that I thought it would.  I actually adored the historical part in Dorothea's work and Ruth's plight.  And yes, I'm feeling my skull as I type this (multi-tasking at its best) to see if I'm partial to a murdering way... but I'll never tell.  *wink*


Jessica's Review:

I picked up Laura Purcell for the first time last year with her book, THE SILENT COMPANIONS. I loved the Gothic feel and how the eeriness slowly consumed you as you read. THE POISON THREAD has that familiar Gothic atmosphere to it and a sinister and foreboding undertone.

Dorothea is a young woman with a hobby and fascination with phrenology (the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities - from She is thrilled when she is given the opportunity to study Ruth Butterham who is a young woman awaiting a murder trial in prison.

As Dorothea studies Ruth she is confided in with her story. Ruth believes that she has supernatural abilities from her needle and thread. As a seamstress, Ruth has many stories to tell about her creations and her belief in how they are linked to her crimes. Can a needle and thread really kill? We alternate between Dorothea and Ruth and we get a glimpse into how different their lives truly are - Dorothea growing up in a life of privilege and Ruth's hard life and abuse at the hands of her mistress.

I did enjoy the more unique premise to this Gothic mystery. The only real struggle I had was that it did start off so slow. I've come to expect a slower build to these more Victorian novels, but this was a little too slow for my liking. There were a lot of characters and it got a little muddled and confusing at some times. Despite being slower, once you got to the halfway point it did begin to pick up! I'll continue to pick up books from Purcell in the future because I do really enjoy her writing and how atmospheric her books have been!

3.5 stars

#ATBR2019 Recursion by Blake Crouch @crownpublishing @blakecrouch1 @jessmapreviews

by Blake Crouch

Thank you to Crown Publishing for these copies. Absolutely LOVE this author!

Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publish Date: June 11, 2019
336 Pages
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them? 

My Review:

I have been a fan of Blake Crouch since I stumbled upon his Serial Killers Uncut series ages ago.  Then stumbled upon the Wayward Pines trilogy well before the show came out and then my favorite trilogy - the Luther Kite trilogy (HIGHLY recommend for thriller fans, fyi).  Then he goes into a sci-fi direction with Dark Matter and again, his brilliance is showcased.  Now, his latest, Recursion, is also a complete mind boggler and in the best way possible.  I can't even tell you the times my mind blew while reading this.

When he starts off with the characters discussing the Mandela Effect and referencing the Berenstein/Berenstain phenomena, I had to put the book down and google the ever living crap out of this because I only remember it as BERENSTEIN.  Um, who the hell sat in the chair and which time line am I living in already?! BOOM. SHAKA. HOLY CRAP.

I've said it before and I'll say it again here - the human mind FASCINATES me.  And this book just floors me on multiple levels.  But it also touches on that time old classic of DO NOT F*** WITH THE PAST.  But what if your past could be completely changed? And you'll never run into the former you like Back to the Future makes us believe. Ha! When technology advances, it's seemingly always used for the intention of good but man oh man... those in supreme power typically have sociopathic tendencies and thus we almost always end up majorly screwed.

Should I talk about the characters? I love them. End of story.  I can't even begin to imagine what they had to go through.  The sci-fi mixed in with pure human emotion dealing with loss, love, family, high tech, and weirdly (for me) had a very slight Total Recall feel, but better. MUCH BETTER.

Listen, even those of you that may not be the biggest sci-fi fans, I still highly suggest that you read this and Dark Matter.  Now, of course it won't work for all of you, but if you're even contemplating coming into this genre, then Crouch is the way to go.  I don't know what kind of research he did, or where his brilliant mind goes to come up and create these highly multi-layered stories, but I am loving it... even if it does make me crap my pants just a tiny bit.


Jessica's Review:

I'm ashamed to say that this is my first time picking up a book by Blake Crouch. I know, I know! I've had DARK MATTER and a couple of his other books on my shelves for years now and I'm just kicking myself for not having listened to everyone sooner. RECURSION can only be described as mind-blowing. Holy shit, guys, I completely understand the hype around this book. It took me a while to try and put together my thoughts on this one so it made sense (and without spoiling anything).

What would you do if you woke up one morning and your entire life as you knew it was all a lie? The memories of loved ones, experiences, life events, and everything else that shapes you as a person were all false. Your entire perception on reality is warped and not knowing what you can trust if your memories are false? How could this be possible? This is the reality for those suffering from False Memory Syndrome. People living with dual memories of different lives. This concept is terrifying to me. Imagine not being able to trust everything you thought was true. The human mind is endlessly fascinating to me and there are so many things we still don't know and understand about memory. It's so vital to who we are as individuals - our experiences and upbringings shape us into who we are today and I couldn't imagine not being able to trust all of those memories.

Words can't describe how incredibly unique and well-crafted this story is from Crouch. I don't know how he came up with this idea but the execution of it was incredible. I know it sounds confusing and complicated, but he wove this story so effortlessly that it was surprisingly easy to follow. The things these characters go through and experience, you feel for them all. I don't know how I would be able to cope in some of these situations.

Bottom line, even if you're not the biggest fan of science fiction this is still worth picking up. You know it's a good book when you sit there and reflect on it after you've turned the last page. Now I need to finally take DARK MATTER off the shelves and start that one up!

5 stars