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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen @berkleypub @MaryTorjussen @jessmapreviews

The Closer You Get 
by Mary Torjussen


Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: April 21, 2020
Paperback
368 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

They promised to tell their spouses they were leaving and then meet to begin their new life together. But he never shows up.

A new twisting novel of psychological suspense from the acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace.

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love--but they're married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start their new lives together. Ruby, who has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, tells him she's leaving him and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby's life has fallen apart, and she's lost everything. Harry won't answer her calls, and she's fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she's hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen--someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night--and she is going to have to fight for her survival.

My Review:


What a fun read - precisely what my mind needed to be occupied with today.  Btw, someone had to tell me that today was Friday because I was convinced it was Saturday.... When I first started this read, I instantly thought this to be a slow burn suspense.  Sometimes you just know right away, right? But the thing is, it is and it isn't.

This is a domestic drama, starts off at a prance and then trots to the finish.  While this isn't really something new in terms of plot, the pacing had me engaged for the entirety and the red herrings are plentiful! I enjoyed every single little piece as it was put together with the rest of the pieces that led us to a few reveals.  While these aren't 'slap you in the face' reveals, they do raise your eyebrow.  Welcome to the minds of Ruby and Emma, the wives involved and both of them surprised me, but definitely more one than the other.  Have no idea what I'm talking about? READ THIS BOOK. 😉

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


With all the chaos currently going on in the world, sometimes you just need a solid book to get pulled into. Well, THE CLOSER YOU GET by Mary Torjussen did exactly that for me. A solid domestic drama/suspense read with a pacing that moves along just enough to keep your curiosity piqued. I've read a couple other books by Torjussen and I still love her writing style and the way she pieces everything together for us as the story progresses.

While this might feel similar to other domestic dramas/suspense reads there is still plenty to keep you guessing. Plenty of red herrings to keep you on your toes and while the reveal wasn't anything earth-shattering for me, I did enjoy it. I would highly recommend this one to those that are needing a little escape and book to binge read, because Torjussen will string you along from start to finish and you won't want to put it down.

4 stars

Review: Bone White by Ronald Malfi @kensingtonbooks @RonaldMalfi

Bone White 
by Ronald Malfi 


Publisher: Kensington
Publish Date: July 25, 2017
Kindle Edition
384 Pages
Standalone
Genres: horror, thriller

A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.
The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.
The scrape of bone on bone. . .
 
Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to the graves of his victims in remote Dread's Hand, Alaska. 

It's not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest. 

But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what's in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny. 

And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .

My Review:


You ever have that book that you've been sitting on for a while but for some reason you just never seem to get around to it? Well, this is what buddy reads are for!  I'm SO glad that I FINALLY got to this read.  Malfi has been a horror writer I have been meaning to read FOREVER.  There's no good reason why I haven't yet, so don't ask.  😉

This particular read starts off strong.... whew.  A basically desolate small town in the middle of an icy, nasty winter, trees everywhere - I mean, we just know instantly that something is awry.  Serial killing, lore, superstitions and the devil.  It's like the perfect mix of everything I love!  A stew of suspense.  A thrill of the chill.  This read is so atmospheric and moody.  Just when I thought it was going in one direction, it took me in another.  

This book really immerses you into the town and the characters involved.  We get history, horror and intrigue - but in a subtle, spine tingling manner.  Malfi gives us just enough to let our imaginations run wild.  I think my only source of contention with this read is that I expected something more from the ending.  But that's just a personal want from this somewhat build up of a read.  However, it does maintain in the consistency of subtle enough horror that truly gets your thoughts turning as you read.

Undoubtedly I'll be reading more of Malfi and kick myself for waiting so long.

★★★★


Review: She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker @jdbarker #HamptonCreekPress

She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be 
by J.D. Barker

Thank you Hanpton Creek Press for this copy.


Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Publish Date: March 31, 2020
Hardcover
774 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Horror, Suspense

A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster.

After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child--this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after.

The body of a man found in an alley, every inch of his flesh horribly burned, yet his clothing completely untouched. For Detective Faustino Brier, this wasn't the first, and he knew it wouldn't be the last. It was no different from the others. He'd find another just like it one year from today. August 9, to be exact.

Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject "D" waits, grows, learns. He's permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls.

My Review:


After reading the 4MK trilogy by Barker, when given the opportunity for an early copy of this book, I immediately said yes, never read the synopsis and went in completely blind.  700+ pages had me putting it off just for a bit - not because big books intimidate me, they don't, but because I wanted to get through a few others before my concentration could be put into such a large story.  I am SO glad that I did.  

I absolutely loved this entire book.  With being such a large novel, it read extremely fast and my attention never waned.  I was extremely intrigued with the storyline and I HAD to know what was going to happen with Jack and Stella.  While this book does span decades, every single page has its purpose and reading the "from the author" part afterwards, I agree with Barker - the book itself is big but so is the scope of the story. Such wonderful character growth.  I found myself needing answers and was willing to take them as they can and even as a fast reader, didn't rush myself throughout. 

There are definite X-Men, Stranger Things vibes going on here but I didn't really think on that until after I was done reading.  I truly just got lost in the pages and I suggest you let yourself do the same.  Beautifully written, it's nice to see the not so darker side of this author.  Jack and Stella's story will captivate you and while certain things might be clear as you read, there are plenty of unknowns to keep you guessing.  Highly recommend.

★★★★★


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

BLOG TOUR & Review: Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer @harlequinbooks #GraydonHouse


Truths I Never Told You 
by Kelly Rimmer

Thank you Graydon House for this stop on the blog tour and gifted copy for review.


Publisher: Graydon House
Publish Date: April 14, 2020
Paperback
352 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction


After finding disturbing journal pages that suggest her late mother didn't die in a car accident as her father had always maintained, Beth Walsh begins a search for answers to the question -- what really happened to their mother? With the power and relevance of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Jewell, Rimmer pens a provocative novel told by two women a generation apart, the struggles they unwittingly shared, and a family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true.

With her father recently moved to a care facility because of worsening signs of dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home to prepare it for sale. Why shouldn’t she be the one, after all? Her three siblings are all busy with their families and successful careers, and Beth is on maternity leave after giving birth to Noah, their miracle baby. It took her and her husband Hunter years to get pregnant, but now that they have Noah, Beth can only feel panic. And leaving Noah with her in-laws while she pokes about in their father’s house gives her a perfect excuse not to have to deal with motherhood.

Beth is surprised to discover the door to their old attic playroom padlocked, and even more shocked to see what’s behind it – a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers, and miscellaneous junk. Her father was the most fastidious, everything-in-its-place man, and this chaos makes no sense. As she picks through the clutter, she finds a handwritten note attached to one of the paintings, in what appears to be in her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing Grace Walsh died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker may be true. A frantic search uncovers more notes, seemingly a series of loose journal entries that paint a very disturbing portrait of a woman in profound distress, and of a husband that bears very little resemblance to the father Beth and her siblings know.

A fast-paced, harrowing look at the fault in memories and the lies that can bond families together - or tear them apart.

Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide and USA TODAY bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, Me Without You, and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at www.Kelly.Rimmer.com 

SOCIAL LINKS:
Facebook: @Kellymrimmer
Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites
Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites My Review:
Rimmer is by far one of my favorite historical fiction authors. In this particular story, she distinctly tells the story of two different generations, the societal pressures put on them in their own times and the very real feelings and actions that come with post partum depression. I find Rimmer's writing style riveting. She keeps the pace moving and really pulls you into the story. I wasn't as connected with this story as I have been with others she has written. Could be the subject matter. I don't know. I do feel like since each generation was dealing with the same issues, the story tended to feel a bit repetitive and to be quite honest, it was hard to remain in the heads of these women with their thoughts. I realize that maybe the uncomfortableness is the point and I'm ok with being uncomfortable, I just couldn't feel myself caring as much as I wanted to.

Rimmer does touch on some very big subjects within this read.  I think, for me, it just didn't quite come together as seamlessly as it could have.. it was utter convenience or utter difficulties.  I needed something to fit more in the middle. We all know that not all books are for everyone.  I look forward to the next read from this author.  I did find myself flying through this book, I just wish I had felt more connected.

★★★☆


Friday, April 3, 2020

BLOG TOUR & Review: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen @berkleypub @MaryTorjussen

The Closer You Get 
by Mary Torjussen

Thank you Berkley for this free copy and stop on the blog tour.


Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: April 21, 2020
Paperback
368 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

They promised to tell their spouses they were leaving and then meet to begin their new life together. But he never shows up.

A new twisting novel of psychological suspense from the acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace.

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love--but they're married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start their new lives together. Ruby, who has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, tells him she's leaving him and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby's life has fallen apart, and she's lost everything. Harry won't answer her calls, and she's fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she's hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen--someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night--and she is going to have to fight for her survival.

My Review:


What a fun read - precisely what my mind needed to be occupied with today.  Btw, someone had to tell me that today was Friday because I was convinced it was Saturday.... When I first started this read, I instantly thought this to be a slow burn suspense.  Sometimes you just know right away, right? But the thing is, it is and it isn't.

This is a domestic drama, starts off at a prance and then trots to the finish.  While this isn't really something new in terms of plot, the pacing had me engaged for the entirety and the red herrings are plentiful! I enjoyed every single little piece as it was put together with the rest of the pieces that led us to a few reveals.  While these aren't 'slap you in the face' reveals, they do raise your eyebrow.  Welcome to the minds of Ruby and Emma, the wives involved and both of them surprised me, but definitely more one than the other.  Have no idea what I'm talking about? READ THIS BOOK. 😉

★★★★

#ATBR2020 Review: Firestarter by Stephen King @jessmapreviews #BraveTheBacklist #ChronologicallyKing

Firestarter
by Stephen King


Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson were once college students looking to make some extra cash, volunteering as test subjects for an experiment orchestrated by the clandestine government organization known as The Shop. But the outcome unlocked exceptional latent psychic talents for the two of them—manifesting in even more terrifying ways when they fell in love and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has been gifted with the most extraordinary and uncontrollable power ever seen—pyrokinesis, the ability to create fire with her mind. Now the merciless agents of The Shop are in hot pursuit to apprehend this unexpected genetic anomaly for their own diabolical ends by any means necessary...including violent actions that may well ignite the entire world around them as Charlie retaliates with a fury of her own.....

My Review:


My first read of Firestarter and to be honest, I expected this one to be a slower read for some reason and I have NO idea why.  I do think King has a tendency to be over descriptive and wordy but in this read, things move at a pretty fiery pace (see what I did there? *groan*).  I remember watching the move EONS ago but don't remember much of it outside of a few key scenes so was happy to go into this relatively blind.


I wasn't expecting so much with Andy's power but really enjoyed learning his background and how detrimental this could be to him.  But, as a father, he will do anything to protect his daughter.  It was enraging and heart breaking to see how the government, as usual, are trying to cover their tracks and omg, these people were definitely NOT paid enough for this trial - I don't care what decade this book was written in! 


As we know, King writes in a variety of genres and this one is more into the thriller/science fiction category rather than horror fiction.  I feel these types of reads run that fine line into horror, which is just win win in my book so yay for readers like me! I'm actually surprised this book isn't more well known amongst readers - I even rarely see King fans discussing this one.  We all should be though. And for those new to King, I think this is could be a great one to begin with.


★★★★

Jessica's Review:


This was one of the first few King books that I ever read, and this was definitely due for a reread. FIRESTARTER is one of those King books that doesn’t fall solely in the horror genre, but instead it has some great science fiction elements, with a thriller kind of pacing. I forgot what great characters there were in this book and how quickly this books moves.

Andy and his daughter Charlie are on the run from The Shop – a secret government agency. Why are they on the run? Well, they both have powers that The Shop agents are wanting to control. Andy has what he calls “the Push”, which is a mind domination ability, while his daughter is a powerful pyrokinetic. The big difference between the two is that Andy has limitations with his powers before he begins to feel dangerous side effects, but nothing seems to hinder Charlie’s abilities.

I loved getting to know Andy and Charlie again as I revisited this story. I forgot how persistent The Shop is, but when a secret government agency wants someone or something to stay hidden, they will do everything they can to keep it that way. I think this one is perfect for those new to Stephen King. It has a solid pacing, great characters, plenty of suspense, and those glimpses of horror in a few parts.

4 stars

Thursday, April 2, 2020

#ATBR2020 The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian @jessmapreviews

The Red Lotus 
by Chris Bohjalian

Thank you Doubleday Books for this copy!


Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: March 17, 2020
Hardcover
400 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road.

As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin's prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?

My Review:


A highly anticipated read that didn't *quite* reach the mark for me.  However, I think in the face of the current pandemic in the world that has increased at incredible speed (since the public has known about it), this unfortunately impacted my feelings on this read.  Fair or not, it just is.  


What I appreciate about this read is the fact that it doesn't surround itself completely in just the potential pandemic, but in the story of how this comes to be.  We get another story on top of that as it comes from one point of view of Alexis, who is innocent in all this but unfortunately associated because of her relationship with someone who isn't so innocent.  However, this does make the story a bit slow paced for my particular taste, as I needed this to move along just a little bit faster.  I fear the pacing made it actually less suspenseful … then again, maybe compared to what's happening now, it doesn't seem so OMG and more of a YEP, here it is …. again.  WOW with NYC and all the ways there are germs manifesting and ingrained into every part of this mad city - this makes me further look at just HOW busy this city is, the rats, the many things millions of people touch.  Eesh, Bohjalian, you even made me more paranoid and I wasn't sure that was possible! Haha.... but I realize the comparison of real life to this book isn't the fault of the author as clearly this was written before real world events and in that aspect - HOLY SHNIKEYS.


We can all agree this author is extremely talented and I always look forward to his releases.  It was more than likely just bad timing and poor mind set for this book to have the impact it may have otherwise for me.  


★★★

Jessica's Review:


Man, let's talk about timing here with this book. THE RED LOTUS is my second book by Bohjalian and I was reminded why I so enjoyed THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT as I read through this one. If you're a fan of his writing, then I think you'll really enjoy this one, however, do keep in mind that this isn't a thriller and has a slower pacing to it. I think that will help with the overall reading experience!

Alexis and Austin meet in the ER one night when she removes a bullet from him. A romance soon develops and they travel to Vietnam together to pay respects to where Austin's father and uncle fought in the war. After Austin disappears, Alexis wants to find him and along the way she discovers more than she ever imagined.
I will warn that there is a lot of information about rats and the transmission of a virus like this, so if that's not something you're wanting to dive into, then this might not be the best read for you. A pandemic spread by rodents is definitely not what we want to be thinking about right now with all that's going on in the world. I did like the overall writing and the way the author set up the story, however, it did take a long time for me to finally feel invested in the characters and for the book to really catch my attention.

If you're looking for a slower-burn type read, then I think this will be the one for you. If you're wanting all of the pandemic and outbreak books, then I would also recommend having this on your TBR. I will continue to pick up more from this author and see what he has to offer in the future!

3 stars

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Review: Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais #BuddyReadToDieFor @BiancaM_author @putnambooks

Hum If You Don't Know The Words 
by Bianca Marais

March's #BuddyReadToDieFor choice.


Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: July 11, 2017
Kindle Edition
432 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection. 

My Review:


What I love about Janelle and I partnering to do #BuddyReadToDieFor is the diversity in our reads for each month.  This book is probably not the type of book I would normally pick up... or at least not read any time soon as it's not particularly within my reading wheelhouse.  However, this was our March choice and I am SO glad that it was.  I am equally excited to discuss this book with the author herself in our group chat tomorrow evening. 

I'm going to try and keep this review short and sweet.  We get the POVs of Robin and Beauty, who inexplicably find themselves in each other's lives after both going through terrible losses and have harrowing pasts - Robin as a young girl and Beauty as an adult.  What stems from this relationship are many lessons learned, a look into racism, loss, suffering, unexpected friendships/families and a love that neither of them knew they could have.

This book did start a little slow for me and I was afraid that maybe I was right in thinking this might not be quite the read for me.  Then slowly, with each chapter, I began to really find myself involved in their stories and had gone through a gauntlet of emotions.  Rage against all the racism and homophobia, love and sympathy for what they were going through and then Chapter 51 came and knocked me sideways and put me in tears.  Geeeeeeez Bianca, why don't you just make a girl feel will ya?

Basically, you've seen the hype and the hype is real.  Marais has a gift with words and this story will absolutely pierce your heart.  Prepare yourself, it's worth the ride.

★★★★