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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Review: Angel & Hannah by Ishle Yi Park

Angel & Hannah
by Ishle Yi Park

Thanks so much to One World for this beautiful copy.

Publisher: One World
Publish Date: May 11, 2021
192 Pages
Genres: Asian Literature, Poetry

This sweeping, unforgettable reimagining of Romeo and Juliet tells the story of an interracial couple in 1990s New York City who are determined to protect their love against all odds

Hannah, a Korean American girl from Queens, New York, and Angel, a Puerto Rican boy from Brooklyn, fall in love in the spring of 1993. Hannah, who comes from a strict Korean home, meets Angel, a free and beautiful boy, at a quinceaera:

Beyond flushed, sweating bodies pushed,
pushing like cattle below black & buzzing speakers, under a torn pink streamer
loose as a tendril of hair--lush--
his eyes. Darkluminous. Warm. A blush floods her.
Hannah sucks in her breath, but can't pull back.
Music fades. A hush
he's a young buck in the underbrush,
still in a disco ball dance of shadow & light
Their forbidden love instantly and wildly blooms along the Jackie Robinson Expressway.

Told in seasons Angel & Hannah holds all of the tension and cadence of blank verse while adding dynamic and expressive language, creating new kinds of engrossing and magnetic forms. The hip-hop sonnets and poems are dynamic, arresting, observant, and magical, conveying the intimacies and sacrifices of love and addiction and the devastating realities of struggle and loss.

Committed to cultural details and the vernacular of Queens and Brooklyn, this is a hip-hop love story, not of the Capulets and the Montagues, but two New York City kids trying to survive and grow within their families and communities, driven by an all-consuming love. 

My Review:

Poetry has never really been my thing.  I have read some poetry that I have enjoyed but never felt I could review or read poetry collections.  However, this past year, I've been introduced to some stories in verse and I think this is my best way to go with poetry and I'm loving it.

Angel & Hannah is equally hopeful and joyous as it is sad, hard and challenging.  Hannah, a Korean American girl from Queens (oh, that's me too, YAY) and Angel is a Puerto Rican boy from Brooklyn.  This is their version of Romeo & Juliet as this interracial couple grows together while facing hardships.  Park certainly doesn't deviate from subjects such as racism, poverty, culture and classism.  She also doesn't deviate from showing the absolute beauty of both of these cultures.  I don't think I can even come up with the right words for how gorgeous this story is.  

Some parts were heartbreaking.  And this story is told in a very raw voice.  I think the intensity is met with lyrically gorgeous storytelling that gives us a balance of gritty beauty.  Certainly a thinking piece and one that would do well for a book club discussion.  I can't recommend this enough.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Review: The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

The Perfect Daughter
by D.J. Palmer

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for this gifted copy.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: April 20, 2021
384 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny's actions grew more disturbing, and different "personalities" emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger. 

My Review:

I can't remember what it was when I was a kid that got me fascinated with DID/MPD (Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder).  I deep dived into this (as much as I could because the internet wasn't what it is now back then - yes I'm aging myself....) and there was so much controversy on this subject - still is I *think*.  So when I started reading this and saw the main topic was about a girl with possible DID... I was instantly hooked.  

This starts off very strong - we meet Penny, who may or may not have killed someone.. and if she actually did, was it really her... or one of her alters (Chloe, Ruby, Eve)?  I think the author did an amazing job with the back and forth in characters/personalities.  My heart went out to her... and to her family who had adopted her years ago.  As the chapters went on, I did unfortunately feel my attention start to wane a bit.  While I did feel it was a bit repetitive at times, it kind of needed to be considering the personalities within Penny and how they reacted individually to certain moments... but it did also stretch the story at times.  I certainly didn't see the ending coming so the reveal was definitely a surprise.  And to be honest, I'm not really sure how I feel about it.  I like that it kinda came out of left field.. but I also groaned a little bit because whyyyyyyyy.  I also felt the epilogue was unnecessary - I mean, I'm glad we got to see that part tied up a little bit but it felt off from the rest of it since it relates more to a side story.  Just my preference.

Personally, I did have a lot of fun with this read.  It's a subject matter that I'm interested in and a mix of psychological/domestic thrillery goodness that I enjoy.  My second book by this author and I have a third on my shelf that I'm looking forward to.  Definitely an author I will continue to read.  While the first two books have been middle of the road for me, there's just something compelling about this author that I can't stay away from.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

#ATBR2021 Review: First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

First Comes Like
by Alisha Rai

Publisher: HarperAudio 
Publish Date: February 15, 2021
11 hrs 10 min
Series: Modern Love #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

My Review:

What an absolutely adorable story!! This time of social media, catfishing and sliding into people's DMs calls for a story like this and I'm always SUPER happy to see ethnic representation within reads.  Not only because it's nice to see different faces on covers but also learning about these cultures through these joyous stories.  I am forever grateful for authors like Rai who fight for diversity within the genres that they write.

Let's talk about our protagonist, Jia.  A makeup influencer who, while internet famous, isn't as well known as the Bollywood star, Dev, who she's been communicating with via social media for a while now.  Imagine the surprise when she runs into him face to face just to realize he has no idea who she is... what.. is.. happening?  This is a fun, FUN, fake relationship trope that I always have enjoyed.  I mean, we all know how this will probably play out but I didn't foresee that big of a jump from the get go to the end.  WHAT! 😮  But it works here.  It absolutely works. 

I especially love that Jia uses ice cream for comfort when she's depressed (oh hi, me too).  I understand that feeling Jia has when it feels like you're not going to make your parents proud until you meet that certain mold they expect from you (hi fam!).  I especially understand when she over analyzes what's happening and her mind jumps to worst case scenarios because HELLO, I date so I get it. 🤣  But what's great is how much the families are incorporated within this story - from the parents to the aunts, grandparents, nieces, cousins, etc. YES YES YES.  Family loves you in spite of and BECAUSE of all sides of your personality.

My only tiny issue may be that I wish people would stop calling women spider monkeys when they jump on their men - this reminds me always of that scene in Twilight.. gah.  And I truly wish that all women could have their first time be as good as Jia's.. (Ahem).  But these are stupid little nits when the main focus of this was not so much the physical relationship, but the true respect and time they took to get to know each other (though still an incredibly fast timeline from beginning to end).  

I don't know about y'all but I think we need more stories like this one.  My first Rai but definitely not my last.


Jessica's Review:

I’m not normally the biggest fan of romance novels but I decided to give FIRST COMES LIKE a shot – never hurts to branch out on occasion, right? This is the third installment in the Modern Love series by Alisha Rai and I really enjoyed it! I liked that this wasn’t heavy on the steam as it instead dealt with the topics of virginity and marriage as opposed to the physical aspects of a relationship. I loved seeing our heroine, Jia, sticking to her religious beliefs and staying true to herself. It seems like there are so many romance novels out there where caution is thrown to the wind and characters will just abandon their beliefs for a new relationship. I would love to see what Own Voice reviewers think of this novel and the depiction of Muslim culture, as I feel like I got a good glimpse into it. If you’re wanting a sweet romance novel that’s light on the steam, then I highly recommend this one!

4 stars

Friday, May 7, 2021

#ATBR2021 Review: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

The Drowning Kind
by Jennifer McMahon

Thank you Scout Press for these advanced gifted books.

Publisher: Scout Press/Gallery
Publish Date: April 6, 2021
336 Pages
Genre: Horror

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives. 

My Review:

One thing I can always count on with McMahon is a very atmospheric, creepy vibe.  The Drowning Kind certainly delivers with dual timelines, a healing pool, familial relationships and the price you have to pay to get the one thing you think you want.

I was pulled in immediately learning about Lexie, Jax and Ethel.  However, towards the last third of the book, I got a little bored.  The story is interesting in itself, but I didn't feel I was getting the full oomph of what I wanted and a couple threads were left hanging.  This is definitely a slow burn of a paranormal story that will raise the hair on your body and have you side eyeing any body of water where you cannot see the bottom.  

I very much enjoyed the "be careful what you wish for" theme that includes the "healing" properties of this spring water that is simultaneously giving us feelings of hope and fear.  Just how far would you go to get something you truly desired?  And can you live with the ripple effect it will have not just on yourself but on everyone around you as well?

If you enjoy a creepy gothic atmosphere, dual timelines and secrets that may die with their owners but still come back to haunt you... well this is definitely the read for you.  It probably was a bit too slow for my taste but doesn't take away from the tense feel I had throughout and the brilliance that is McMahon. 


Jessica's Review:

Another creepy and atmospheric read from McMahon is here and it did not disappoint. What I’ve come to expect from this author is something dark, well developed characters, an intricate plot, and an overall sense of foreboding and tension that keeps you glued. THE DROWNING KIND is my fourth novel by McMahon and one of my favorites so far.

We have two timelines: present day with Jax and her sister, Lexie, and in 1929 following Ethel Monroe. Jax is a social worker that has had a shaky relationship with her sister Lexie for years. After receiving numerous calls from her, Jax finds out the next day that Lexie is dead. When going through her things she discovers that Lexie was heavily researching their family history and the land their estate was built on. Enter our 1929 storyline, Ethel Monroe is a newlywed and desperate to get her family started. In an attempt to get their minds off the stress, her husband brings her to a beautiful new hotel with a spring fed pool. The rumors about this spring is that it can grant your deepest desires – but at what cost?

Would you make a wish without knowing the potential consequences? I think this book truly makes you reflect on “Be careful what you wish for” because you never know what could happen as a result. I loved how McMahon wove together these stories and seeing them both completely unfold. So many questions and things were so dark and almost haunting as it continued. If you want something creepy but not scary, then this will be perfect. All I know, after reading this, I won’t be swimming alone anytime soon!

4 stars

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

The Anatomy of Desire
by L.R. Dorn

Narrators: Santino Fontana, Shelby Young, Marin Ireland, JD Jackson, Dan Bittner, Vikas Adam, Gabra Zackman, Fred Berman, Darrell Dennis, Oliver Wyman, Jonathan Davis, Hillary Huber, Lisa Flanagan, Sharahn LaRue

Thanks so much to HarperAudio, for the gifted audiobook and William Morrow for the advanced readers copy.

Publisher: HarperAudio
Publish Date: May 11, 2021
8 hrs 14 min
Genres: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction

For fans of riveting true crime docuseries a la Serial and Making a Murderer, The Anatomy of Desire is a modern tale of crime and punishment exploring unbridled ambition, blinding passion, and the dark side of desire

Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident . . . or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner.

My Review:

It wasn't until this year that I could do audiobooks and this is my first full cast audio, which I loved listening to!  I still haven't made my way into podcasts but after listening to this book, maybe I'll give them a go.  Written in a docu-series form, I enjoyed this take away from original crime format.

I had absolutely no idea that his was a retelling of An American Tragedy, a book I had never heard of - though if you have, you'll probably already know how The Anatomy of Desire will go.  We see more and more how books are incorporating social media and influencer life into their stories.  As we know, social media has made a HUGE impact, both good and bad, in this world and this story definitely touches on the darker side of influencer success.  

I really enjoyed listening to this docu-series type format and I do love the legal side of thrillers - though they're sometimes not quite realistic and I felt this one was definitely off a bit buttttttt it's fiction and it made these scenes very entertaining to listen to. I did flip through the ARC I received and the whole book appears to be in a transcript type format so I'm not sure how it would have resonated for me had I read this with my eyes and not my ears. Even so, while there were no big twists or reveals and we got to learn more about Cleo, Beck and their relationship, I felt this story flowed well.  I do think this a testament to the narrators.  Big applause to them!  However, over all it was a middle of the road kind of read for me.  A lot that I liked but nothing that really wowed me overall within the story itself.


#ATBR2021 Review: The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda

The Next Wife
by Kaira Rouda

Thanks to MB Communications for this review copy!

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: May 1, 2021
312 Pages
Genres: Domestic Suspense, Psychological Thriller

There is no limit to the lies, suspicion, and secrets that can poison the perfect marriage in this twisting novel of suspense by USA Today bestselling author Kaira Rouda.

Kate Nelson had it all. A flourishing company founded with her husband, John; a happy marriage; and a daughter, Ashlyn. The picture-perfect family. Until John left for another woman. Tish is half his age. Ambitious. She’s cultivated a friendship with Ashlyn. Tish believes she’s won.

She’s wrong.

Tish Nelson has it all. Youth, influence, a life of luxury, and a new husband. But the truth is, there’s a lot of baggage. Namely, his first wife—and suspicions of his infidelity. After all, that’s how she got John. Maybe it’s time for a romantic getaway, far from his vindictive ex. If Kate plans on getting John back, Tish is one step ahead of her.

She thinks.

But what happens next is something neither Kate nor Tish saw coming. As best-laid plans come undone, there’s no telling what a woman will do in the name of love—and revenge.

My Review:

"Sad, isn't it?  How love can so quickly turn to something so painful."

OMG these women..... both women are rightfully Mrs. Nelson, but who will win in the end? The first and original, Kate? Or the much younger and tenacious current, Tish? Let the good times roll...

This book grabbed me right from the beginning.  One thing I love about Rouda's writing style are the short chapters that make her reads SO EASY to binge - and we all know how much I love a one-sit read.  Neither of the women are ones you want to cross so it was a delight to watch the back and forth.  Yep, I made myself a big old bowl of popcorn and pop pop pop ---- was delivered with a very entertaining story that makes me never want to get married, first OR next!

If you're an avid thriller reader then you'll likely find this a bit predictable.  I was right in my assumption so wasn't surprised with any reveal.  At times, the dialogue felt off and it felt a tad bit repetitive in certain places.  However, the entertainment is absolutely there.  Think of it as that dark Lifetime movie that we all love to enjoy.  Do prepare yourself to suspend just a little bit of reality as some things just got washed over, but stay for the battle.  There really is "no telling what a woman will do in the name of love - and revenge."


Jessica's Review:

Another Kaira Rouda book and another incredible binge read! THE NEXT WIFE is the newest twisty and compulsive book you need in your life if you're looking for something fun to get lost in. She always brings us some intriguing characters and we're never short on drama. If I wouldn't have had family activities going on, I think this would have been one of those books I could have read in one sitting.

We have three POVs here - that of Tish, Kate, and Ashlyn. Kate is the former Mrs. Nelson, the first wife and a woman scorned after her husband left her for a younger woman, even after all she's done for him and the business they created together. Tish, the new wife, is determined to keep her new husband and nothing will stand in her way or get between them. We also get parts from Ashlyn, the teenage daughter stuck in the middle of all this chaos and drama. Now, I didn't like either of these women - Tish and Kate. Both are just horrible, conniving, and you just can't root for either of them. Don't get me wrong, I love a character I can hate, but there wasn't a single redeeming quality here which made for fun interactions.

While I loved the pacing and the entertainment, it was very predictable. If you're an avid thriller reader then you'll probably feel the same way. Parts felt a little repetitive and I was hoping some big twist I wasn't going to see coming, but that wasn't the case. It's over the top, full of drama, and you'll definitely have to suspend some reality here, but it was still a fun read. I'll continue to pick up what Rouda releases and I would highly recommend her other books as well.

3 stars

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Review: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

The Quiet People
by Paul Cleave

Huge thanks to the author for this amazing copy.

Publisher: Upstart Press
Publish Date: April 8, 2021
Kindle Edition
344 Pages
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Thriller

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time - are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? 

My Review:

"Can crime writers get away with murder?" Well my exes think that I probably could since I read so many dark thrillers. 😏 But I definitely have wondered with all the research that's done if it's possible that a crime writer COULD get away with it... or maybe the research keeps them from actually committing a crime? Who knows!  But I LOVE that this book touches on this. 

Cameron and Lisa are a married writing duo whose child, Zach, goes missing.  As usual, the parents are suspects and as the investigation moves forward, all eyes still seem to point to the parents.  Uff.  Y'all.  The depiction of the mob mentality, how social media/news makes such an impact on innocence or guilt, high tension and tempers, NOT innocent until proven guilty - all of it.  It is portrayed so realistically that it made my stomach turn.  Though, putting in a pyramid of nuns and priests certainly will stick in my head for a while! 🤣

Just when I think I know what's going on, WHAM BAM, you are WRONG MA'AM! Well shit. But also YAY because I do love getting surprised and Cleave gives us so many red herrings I'm going to be eating fish for weeks. Even when I had some suspicions, I was wrong - I'd be a terrible cop/investigator it seems.  We see this story through the father, Cameron, and let me tell you .... sometimes it was hard rooting for him but as the week started to pass, I truly felt for him.  I even cheered for him at certain points and messaged Paul immediately because my heart was breaking with Cameron's.  

This is my third Cleave book and they have all been 5 star reads for me.  I have a fourth waiting for me on my shelf which I will definitely have to move up my TBR.  All I can tell you, thriller lovers, is that if you haven't read a book by this author, you really need to.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Review: Fright Filter by C.S. James

Fright Filter
by C.S. James

Huge thanks to Twisted Books to Leave You SHOOK for this amazing review copy.

Publish Date: June 13, 2020
145 Pages
Series: Twisted Books to Leave You Shook #1
Genre: Middle Grade Horror

In the tradition of Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark comes Twisted Books to Leave You Shook, the chilling new middle-grade chapter book series from C.S. James!

The scares begin with Fright Filter. Twelve-year-old Nicole loves playing with the face filters on her phone. When she discovers an app update with a new selection of monster filters, she can’t wait to try it out. But the monster filters prove to be a little too real, and now Nicole may have changed her face in real life…forever.

Then stay shook with another tale of body horror, It Started with an Itch, a terrifying bonus story by Sean Elwood!

Are you ready to be shook?

My Review:

Remember when your mom told you that if you kept making that face that it would stay that way?  Well that was just the 80s and 90s version of what the 2020s brings the kids now - now there are FRIGHT FILTERS!  Cool, right? I mean... kinda! 

Delightfully reminiscent of the Goosebumps I adored as a kid, it's delightful to see a new series coming.  And I do love when a middle grade book still speaks to me as an adult.  Taking this fun little horror story while also instilling a lesson within just warms my black heart.  I was just having so much fun that when the light bulb went off in the characters head, it also did in mine and I was like "_______ WHAT?" Hahaha.  Maybe that's a little exaggerated but it doesn't take away with just how much damn fun I had with this.  

AND a bonus body horror short story at the end? Um, don't you threaten me with a good time!  Absolutely delighted to have ended my day with these fun horror stories. 


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Review: It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark

It Had To Be You
by Georgia Clark

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publish Date: May 4, 2021
Kindle Edition
381 Pages
Genres: Romance, Contemporary

For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.

It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.

My Review:

Even if you and your husband didn't have the perfect marriage, I think you'd still be furious to know he left half of your business to his much younger mistress.  Doesn't matter that she thought he was separated, right?  But yes, Liv.... Savannah certainly does seem to be more shiny red car and less manipulative mistress for sure.

I definitely had some laughing moments in this read.  I got exactly what I wanted from this.  Laughter, love, forgiveness, moving on, family, etc.  I do wish there had been less characters and movement in story lines because while I did manage to follow along, I felt our protagonist getting lost somewhere along the way.  However, gimme all these lovely different couples... YES and THANK YOU.  We should all know that it's never too late to start again, in life or in love.

Simply, this is a heart warming story with levity, hope and a bit of snarky goodness.  


Thursday, April 29, 2021

#ATBR2021 Review: Later by Stephen King

by Stephen King

Thanks to Thriller Book Lover for this gifted book. Squeeeeee!

Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Publish Date: March 2, 2021
248 Pages
Genre: Horror

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine - as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

Later is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King's classic novel ITLater is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

My Review:

At 248 glorious pages, this is basically a short story from the horror King. 😏 I'll be the first to tell you how much King has shaped my reading from a very young age but how OMG could he BE any more overly detailed? 🤣 And then here's Later... a wonderfully told tale of Jamie that is NOT overly detailed but exactly what I didn't know I needed. 

I do believe that Jamie Conklin has over taken the role of my favorite kid to see dead people.  That's right.  Move over Danny Torrance and Cole Sear... there's a new kid in town.  I loved this journey from his childhood to when he became a bit older.. more aware... and less innocent.  For a moment, I thought this was going to be extremely light horror... and to an extent it is.  But after the first half, there are some "eep" moments.  Are they scary? Not in the skin crawling way but I weirdly imagined one of the characters as the Jackal from Thirteen Ghosts.  I shouldn't have.. but I did. 🤷 And definitely found myself making a few faces towards the end with a couple reveals.  

I became very endeared with Jamie and his relationship with his Mom.  I found myself getting really angry with one particular character but I'll stop here as I certainly don't want to spoil anything.  I just thoroughly loved this story through and through.  For anyone who didn't want to try a chonker of a story from King or one that I would say is an easier read than some of his past work, this is a good way to go.  Happy reading!

Later. 😉


Jessica's Review:

It’s no secret that I love the Hard Case Crime series, and as a big King fan, it was really exciting to see a new one releasing with HCC. LATER is a quick little crime fiction read with a hint of supernatural elements to it that only King can bring us. Part coming of age, part mystery, and a dash of horror come together seamlessly for a memorable story.

I don’t want to give away anything, especially with it being around only 250 pages. Our narrator and main character, Jamie, is a young boy that can see the dead. This is a gift his mother has told him to keep to himself, the less people that know the better, right? When his mom’s ex-friend, a not-so-clean cop, picks him up to use his power to help her benefit, his life changes forever.

I think that this would be perfect for those that want to start reading Stephen King but don’t want anything too scary. This is more crime fiction than horror, but of course there are some moments when it comes to Jamie’s abilities. For such a short book, King was able to give us such fully formed characters that you could connect with almost instantly. Definitely a fun little read from King that I highly recommend!

4 stars