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Monday, June 17, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Perfect Plan by Bryan Reardon @duttonbooks @reardon_author @jessmapreviews

 The Perfect Plan 
by Bryan Reardon 

Thanks to NetGalley and Dutton for these copies.


Publisher: Dutton 
Publish Date: June 18, 2019
Kindle Edition
Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller

Liam Brennan teeters on the edge. Early one morning, he snaps, kidnapping a young woman who works for Drew Brennan, Liam’s older brother and the upstart candidate in a heated election. This sudden, vicious attack appears to be the beginning of an unthinkable spiral. But when it comes to the Brennan brothers, nothing is what it seems.

To the rest of the world, Liam is the troubled problem child who grew up to be his brother’s enforcer, while Drew has always been the perfect son and a charismatic leader who has his sights set on the governor’s mansion with his charming and beautiful wife, Patsy, by his side.
Now, as Liam tries to stay one step ahead of the authorities and his brother, every passing minute provides a deeper glimpse into the brothers’ past, long hidden behind a picture-perfect suburban veneer. With the threat of the truth surfacing, Liam and Drew are driven toward one final, desperate act.

My Review:


A somber read that is less thriller and more character studies of Drew and Liam. Their sibling relationship and how they grew up affecting their present day decisions. 

Their past created two different types of people. Sociopathy runs rampant with no one to help either of them. While the characters are hard to like, I did feel for Liam. His desperate acts to reach a turning point. What happens when there's no where to turn except for within yourself?

This won't be a read for everyone. However, the writing is distinctive and extremely well done in showcasing the characters within. I'm having a hard time really putting how i feel about this into words. I do think this is a story worth reading. However, it won't be the story most thriller readers are expecting to read.


★★★

Jessica's Review:


Last year I picked up Reardon's THE REAL MICHAEL SWANN and it was a gripping psychological thriller that incorporated social media and had a very real feel to it. Going into THE PERFECT PLAN I was anticipating another fast-paced thriller, but what I got was a slower burn that was more of a character study. While there's nothing wrong with that combination, it just wasn't what I was expecting.

The author dives into the relationship between Drew and Liam - two brothers - and how their choices in life have brought them to where they are now. Liam is troubled, to say the least, and has convinced himself that he needs to kidnap this woman. Well, this woman works for his brother, Drew, who happens to be running for office. Will he be able to stay one step ahead of not only the authorities closing in on him, but also ahead of his older brother?

This is one of those books where it's hard to like or relate to the characters, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think this one is definitely worth the read, but go into it knowing it isn't the thriller that it's being marketed as. Gotta hate when the marketing does that to a book! Overall, I'll definitely still pick up more from Reardon in the future, I do really enjoy his writing and how he brings us into the minds of his characters.

3 stars

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

REVIEW: This is Home by Lisa Duffy @atriabooks @lisaduffywriter

This is Home 
by Lisa Duffy

Thanks so much to Atria Books and Lisa Duffy for this endearing read.


Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: June 11, 2019
Paperback
304 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Contemporary

Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.

Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.

For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.

My Review:


Listen up people!! If you have't read Duffy's The Salt House, I suggest you run out and buy that immediately and while you're there, might as well pick this one up too.  Both are solid 5 star reads for me and this one truly touched my heart because of the very real and important subject matter of PTSD that this story surrounds.  As a military brat and as someone who did a year internship at the Domiciliary Care Unit at the VA hospital in Dayton helping those with PTSD, this one just shot straight to my heart.  Especially in looking at the side of those who love those that suffer from this terrible affliction.  This is an extremely important subject that should absolutely be discussed and honestly, I'm horrified at our government and the limited access and help that the VA gets to help the military personnel that need it from defending our country and people.  Uff - /rant or this will turn into a soapbox and not a review.

So, back to the story at hand.  Duffy does an extremely good job in touching on PTSD - and really looking at the different sides.  She also dips her toe in addiction and domestic abuse in this story but it translates so smoothly across the pages that you don't even realize you're eyes are about to leak until your vision goes hazy and you think you're going blind.  The last few chapters really just squeezed my heart.  I was IN IT.  Now, before you think this is such a bleak and highly emotional read (which it IS very emotional), the author also manages to sprinkle in humor that helps balance this out.  All the characters... ALL of them, are al so very real and human that you can't help but get involved with each and every one of them.  EACH AND EVERY ONE. 

Libby is someone I would love to sit down on a porch and talk with - where I'm sure she would teach me some very important lessons.  Desiree and Lucy are two I would grab a beer or two with (or attend a work out class with).  I'd rub Rooster's tummy and I would go out of my way to help Quinn.  Let's not forget about Jimmy and Flynn - these two ... oh these two.  Listen, I could go on and on about these characters.  And can I please have Bent as a second father?  While the storyline and plot itself is an amazing read, it is the characters that absolutely make it.  Duffy created a family that I am very pleasantly and delightfully happy to have been a witness of. 

Lisa, I need more stories from you.  I have created a little home inside your brain because that's where I want to live right now!  Also, everyone, I am honored to be in her acknowledgments.  Never for a second question whether or not your support and reviews make a difference to every author out there. 

★★★★★

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

REVIEW: Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea @kensingtonbooks @CharlieDonlea

Some Choose Darkness 
by Charlie Donlea 

Big thanks to Kensington and NetGalley for this read.


Publisher: Kensington Books
Publish Date: May 28, 2019
Kindle Edition
304 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense, Crime

A modern master of suspense, critically acclaimed author Charlie Donlea returns with a taut, gripping novel about the deadly secrets hiding in plain sight . . . 

The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more. 

In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind—until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. As a former client of her father’s, Rory becomes reluctantly involved with the killer—though he continues to insist he didn’t murder Angela. Now he wants Rory to do what her father once promised: prove that Angela is, in fact, still alive.

As Rory begins reconstructing Angela’s last days, another killer emerges from the shadows, replicating those long-ago murders. With every startling discovery she makes, Rory becomes more deeply entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell—and in The Thief’s tormented mind. Drawing connections between past and present is the only way to stop the nightmare, but even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . . 

My Review:



"The trust is easy to miss, even when it's right in front of us." 

As a person who has always been fascinated with serial killers and their own certain *rituals* or *marks*, this book really fit into my wheelhouse of thrillers to read. What's especially special about this book is Donlea's two main female characters being on the Autism Spectrum. While I don't have a ton of knowledge about this, I do know that in the past autism would be diagnosed as something else and would be a detriment to the person afflicted. Donlea definitely manages to showcase this in a very respectful but harrowing way.

Both Rory and Angela are extremely fascinating characters. I love that both are strong women that deal with their own secrets and share the commonality of extraordinary minds that give them that something special in seeing things others may not. This works well especially for Rory in her line of work in solving old cases. 

This book is a bit darker than the only other book I've read by Donlea, but not so much as to deter any reader. The opening and ending are sandwiching the amazing filling that never wastes words in the telling of the story. What I love about Donlea is his way of smoothly revealing any of the little twists we find throughout. There's no big slap in the face but rather a "gooooootcha, there it is... wow" type of feel. Some things I think were fairly obvious but others I wasn't expecting.

This was a little bit of a slower pace than I typically like. However, I was help captivated about what where the story was going. I did feel like the ending did leave room for a potential sequel but to be honest, I hope not as I think this book stands alone strongly and to be honest, there are enough sequels in my life that I'd be remiss to have to promise myself to another (though if this did move on into a series read, then it wouldn't be hateful and OF COURSE I'd read it!).

"Some choose darkness, others are chosen by it." 

★★★★



#ATBR2019 Review: False Step by Victoria Helen Stone @luauthors @VictoriaDahl @jessmapreviews

 False Step
by Victoria Helen Stone

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing for these copies!


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: July 1, 2019
Hardcover
280 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Domestic Drama, Psychological Thriller, Suspense


Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.



For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.

In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.

But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared.

My Review:



If you haven't read Victoria Helen Stone's Jane Doe yet, stop everything and pick that book up immediately.  I did last year and it was one of my favorites for 2018.  I've been anxiously awaiting the next Jane Doe book but in the mean time, Stone has given us False Step.  Keep in mind, Jane Doe lovers, that this book is different than Jane Doe so walk in with an open mind.

Stone proves again that her writing style is easy to read and keeps you turning the pages.  This one is a domestic suspense/thriller and while it's predictable, it was a lot of fun to read.  (I've also spent a week of reading legal documents for work so this was the perfect lighter read that I needed to relax and be entertained).  The relationship between Veronica and Johnny felt very real - the issues they have.. the reasons they stay together anyways.  The things they do to make it ok to continue to DO THE THINGS THEY DO.  And then there's the twisty plot that was thrown in.  I could've just read about their relationship, their dog (Old Man) and their daughter without the other story and have been just fine.  I've also learned never to trust any men with biblical names (ha - just kidding).

Combine and unhappy marriage with a kidnapping that brings out secrets best left in the dark meshed with a twisty ending then you get an entertaining read.  At under 300 pages, this is an easy one sit read.  I can tell this will be a little divisive - especially for those who have read Jane Doe and expected something similar.

At the end of the day, if Victoria Helen Stone writes it, I'm gonna read it.

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


So last year I picked up Stone's JANE DOE and loved it. Like many other reviewers have said about FALSE STEP, this is very different than JANE DOE, so please keep this in mind before picking it up! Don't let that deter you though, because this is just as quick a read and one that will keep you sucked in until the end.

Denver, Colorado is reeling from the disappearance of Tanner Holcomb. One day, Johnny Bradley happens across the young boy out on a hiking trail far from his home in the mountains. Tanner is unharmed and shaken up, and just like that, Johnny becomes a household name. His family is feeling that pressures of the sudden spotlight and his wife, Veronica, is beginning to fear that some deep buried secrets might find their way to the surface. Naturally, she's willing to do anything to keep that from happening.

Once again we are treated to Stone's fluid storytelling and are introduced to some very life like characters. You feel their struggles in coping with their newly found fame and having their lives dissected. The relationship between Johnny and Veronica felt authentic and I love when the characters mimic people you could know. Overall, Stone has become a new autobuy author for me and at just about 300 pages, you'll find yourself flying through this one.

4 stars

Sunday, June 9, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Just One Bite by Jack Heath @JackHeathWriter @Hanover_Square @jessmapreviews

Just One Bite 
by Jack Heath

Thanks so much to Hanover Square Press for these advanced copies!
Jessica and I loved the first in the series and loved this one equally, if not more.
Check out our reviews below.


Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publish Date: June 4, 2019
Hardcover
352 Pages
Genre: Thriller
Series: Timothy Blake #2

Timothy Blake, ex-consultant for the FBI, now works in body disposal for a local crime lord. One night he stumbles across a body he wasn’t supposed to find and is forced to hide it. When the FBI calls Blake in to investigate a missing university professor, Blake recognizes him as the dead man in his freezer.

Then another man goes missing. And another.

There’s a serial killer in Houston, Texas, and Blake is running out of time to solve the case. His investigation takes him to a sex doll factory, a sprawling landfill in Louisiana and a secret cabin in the woods.

As they hunt the killer together, FBI agent Reese Thistle starts to warm to Blake—but she also gets closer and closer to discovering his terrible secret.

Can Blake uncover the killer without being exposed himself?.


My Review:


Typically after a stellar first book in a series, the second book tends to lag or become a filler book.  That is not the case with the Timothy Blake series.  Now that the base has been set with Hangman (book one) - that I actually typed Handman instead initially, which ironically seems appropriate for this book - we get deeper into Timothy's mind set and his hungry ways.

If there is such a thing as a cannibal procedural genre, then this would be it. We welcome back Reese Thisler, his handler (*snicker* - sorry, anything 'hand' related is just going to make me giggle at this point), and dig further into their weird relationship that stems from their familiar past.  Every thing about them individually and together, along with this case, is a bit morbid but strangely delicious.

How is it that you can fall in love with a cannibal who just wants to do good? Who doesn't really have anyone and anyone he does care about he needs to keep at arms length - not only for their safety, but really for his as well.  This book is darker, more gruesome and let me just tell you, Mr. Heath, I do love your gigantic, crazy ass mind.

Maybe some will think this isn't quite the impact of the first book where we get to know about Timothy's secret, but in my opinion, this one was a crazier and more fulfilling ride.  Tsk, tsk on that ending though because I just KNOW it's going to be way too long for my taste until book three comes out and I REALLY need to know what's going to happen. NOW.  Way to keep me hungry.. hmph.

In a gist, this book is more filling AND tastes great.  I'd like a third helping now please.

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:


Last year I picked up Jack Heath's HANGMAN - book one in the Timothy Blake series. A consultant for the FBI with a penchant for riddles and puzzles. He is asked to come in on the more complicated cases and assist and in return he would get a very unorthodox payment. Timothy's dark secret? Well, he's a cannibal. I HIGHLY recommend picking up HANGMAN first because you will be missing out on a ton of information if you try to jump into the series with book two.

We're back with Blake and he is now working on the other side of the law. Once a consultant for the FBI he is now working for local crime lord in body disposal - a win/win situation for both parties. One night, Blake comes across a body he wasn't supposed to find and keeps it for himself. Things get complicated when Agent Thistle from the FBI contacts him to help on a new cases that they're hoping is just a couple missing person's cases and not the beginnings of a serial killer.

What I loved about book one was the dark humor and thoughts while living in Blake's mind. His internal dialogue is great and I loved getting to know him again and see him grow. The relationship between Blake and Thistle has a new dynamic after book one and continues to develop. We get some twists and turns I wasn't anticipating and I really enjoyed the crazy ride. That ending! I'm not looking forward to the long wait for the third book in the series - I need to know what's going to happen next!

If you like dark humor and want something that's a cross between Dexter and Sherlock Holmes, then look no further! Oh, and you'll get to enjoy a riddle before each chapter (this was something I loved because, like Blake, I love a good puzzle!)

5 stars

Saturday, June 8, 2019

REVIEW: False Step by Victoria Helen Stone @tlcbooktours @luauthors @VictoriaDahl

 False Step
by Victoria Helen Stone

Thanks so much to both TLC Book Tours and Little Bird Publicity for providing me copies of this book. I am excited to see what else this author has for me as I LOVED Jane Doe and am looking forward to the sequel for that.  Until then, I'm SO HAPPY she has one for the in between.


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: July 1, 2019
Hardcover
280 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Domestic Drama, Psychological Thriller, Suspense


Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.


For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.

In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.

But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared.

My Review:


If you haven't read Victoria Helen Stone's Jane Doe yet, stop everything and pick that book up immediately.  I did last year and it was one of my favorites for 2018.  I've been anxiously awaiting the next Jane Doe book but in the mean time, Stone has given us False Step.  Keep in mind, Jane Doe lovers, that this book is different than Jane Doe so walk in with an open mind.

Stone proves again that her writing style is easy to read and keeps you turning the pages.  This one is a domestic suspense/thriller and while it's predictable, it was a lot of fun to read.  (I've also spent a week of reading legal documents for work so this was the perfect lighter read that I needed to relax and be entertained).  The relationship between Veronica and Johnny felt very real - the issues they have.. the reasons they stay together anyways.  The things they do to make it ok to continue to DO THE THINGS THEY DO.  And then there's the twisty plot that was thrown in.  I could've just read about their relationship, their dog (Old Man) and their daughter without the other story and have been just fine.  I've also learned never to trust any men with biblical names (ha - just kidding).

Combine and unhappy marriage with a kidnapping that brings out secrets best left in the dark meshed with a twisty ending then you get an entertaining read.  At under 300 pages, this is an easy one sit read.  I can tell this will be a little divisive - especially for those who have read Jane Doe and expected something similar.

At the end of the day, if Victoria Helen Stone writes it, I'm gonna read it.

★★★★

Monday, June 3, 2019

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: Just One Bite by Jack Heath @JackHeathWriter @Hanover_Square


Just One Bite 
by Jack Heath

Thanks so much to Hanover Square Press for this advanced copy!
The follow up to Hangman (see my review HERE), this one is more filling AND tastes great.


Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publish Date: June 4, 2019
Hardcover
352 Pages
Genre: Thriller
Series: Timothy Blake #2

Timothy Blake, ex-consultant for the FBI, now works in body disposal for a local crime lord. One night he stumbles across a body he wasn’t supposed to find and is forced to hide it. When the FBI calls Blake in to investigate a missing university professor, Blake recognizes him as the dead man in his freezer.

Then another man goes missing. And another.

There’s a serial killer in Houston, Texas, and Blake is running out of time to solve the case. His investigation takes him to a sex doll factory, a sprawling landfill in Louisiana and a secret cabin in the woods.

As they hunt the killer together, FBI agent Reese Thistle starts to warm to Blake—but she also gets closer and closer to discovering his terrible secret.

Can Blake uncover the killer without being exposed himself?.



First published as a teenager, Jack Heath is the award-winning author of more than twenty fiction titles for young adult and middle-grade readers.In the course of his research, Jack has toured morgues and prisons, performed as a street magician and travelled through eleven countries, including Russia. His previous day jobs—in which he met many interesting characters—include fry cook, music teacher, TV salesman, call centre worker and bookseller. He plays several musical instruments, and lives on the land of the Ngunnawal people in Gunghalin, Australia.

Instagram: @JackHeathWriter.
Facebook: @JackHeathWriter

My Review:


Typically after a stellar first book in a series, the second book tends to lag or become a filler book.  That is not the case with the Timothy Blake series.  Now that the base has been set with Hangman (book one) - that I actually typed Handman instead initially, which ironically seems appropriate for this book - we get deeper into Timothy's mind set and his hungry ways. 

If there is such a thing as a cannibal procedural genre, then this would be it. We welcome back Reese Thisler, his handler (*snicker* - sorry, anything 'hand' related is just going to make me giggle at this point), and dig further into their weird relationship that stems from their familiar past.  Every thing about them individually and together, along with this case, is a bit morbid but strangely delicious. 

How is it that you can fall in love with a cannibal who just wants to do good? Who doesn't really have anyone and anyone he does care about he needs to keep at arms length - not only for their safety, but really for his as well.  This book is darker, more gruesome and let me just tell you, Mr. Heath, I do love your gigantic, crazy ass mind.

Maybe some will think this isn't quite the impact of the first book where we get to know about Timothy's secret, but in my opinion, this one was a crazier and more fulfilling ride.  Tsk, tsk on that ending though because I just KNOW it's going to be way too long for my taste until book three comes out and I REALLY need to know what's going to happen. NOW.  Way to keep me hungry.. hmph.

In a gist, this book is more filling AND tastes great.  I'd like a third helping now please.

★★★★★

#ATBR2019 Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty @mulhollandbooks @adrianmckinty @jessmapreviews

The Chain 
by Adrian McKinty

Thank you Mulholland Books for these advanced copies.


Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publish Date: July 9, 2019
Hardcover
512 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

You just dropped off your child at the bus stop.

A panicked stranger calls your phone.

Your child has been kidnapped.
The stranger then explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger.
The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child - within 24 hours.
Your child will be released only when the next victim's parents kidnap yet another child.
And most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don't kidnap a child, or if the next parents don't kidnap a child, your child will be murdered.

You are now part of The Chain.

My Review:



Remember those chain letters you used to get as a kid? If you broke them then oh the CONSEQUENCES!  I always hated them and if the consequences were to actually come to fruition, then lord help my soul... but then my dark mind thinks hey, I'm not dead yet (right?) so maybe they'll come later on... after all, there's no time limit... isn't there?

Now take those a step further -- your child has been kidnapped and in order for you to get her back, you have to now kidnap another child and then put that kid's parents through the same thing you're going through.  Could you stomach it? Would there be any other choice?!

This book takes off right at the start and you're in for a high anxiety roller coaster.  While I thoroughly enjoyed this read and got through it quickly, it did lack a little substance in character building.  I never connected with any of them and needed a little bit more.  I also wonder about the realistic portion of Pete's addiction and the epi pen parts of the story line, but hey, this is FICTION, so many things get a pass for me - especially in thrillers.  However, on the side of high entertainment and a page turner, well this one is most definitely that through and through.

The thing about The Chain is that once you've completed your mission, you're still a part of it.... and always will be until the day you die.  Depending on how you act afterwards will directly determine how long until that day comes.  Remember, it's never about the money.. it's about THE CHAIN.

★★★★

Jessica's Review:



Anyone else remember those awful chain emails and messages you would get in comments on MySpace and AIM? The ones with 10 different fonts and each line in a different color. All had some weird story and then it demanded you forward it on to however many people in X amount of time or something would happen (I specifically remember a clown being one of the threats). Well, THE CHAIN by Adrian McKinty takes this idea and adds a dark twist.

Imagine getting a frantic phone call telling you that someone has just kidnapped your child. As if that isn't enough to process, imagine them then telling you that their son or daughter has been kidnapped by someone else. The only way to get your child back? You must kidnap another stranger's child. If you want your child safely released, then you must ensure that the next person does their part. There are simple rules to follow: no cops, you must pay the ransom, and you must kidnap another child. The consequences if you deviate? Your child dies and so do you. Now it's a race against the clock to fulfill your part and continue the chain.

If you're looking for a thriller you want to fly through, then this is the one to add to your summer TBR. While you might not get the in-depth character building, you get plenty of suspense and action to keep you occupied and entertained. I really like this concept and thought it was fairly original for the thriller genre. Yes, we get the kidnap thrillers frequently, but not one that's quite like this. With this being my introduction to McKinty, I'll have to go and pick up more from this author!

4 stars


REVIEW: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky @grandcentrapub @StephenChbosky

Imaginary Friend 
by Stephen Chbosky

Thanks so much to Grand Central Publishing for this advanced copy.


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: October 1, 2019
Hardcover
720 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Young Adult, Horror

My Review:


"A nightmare is nothing more than a dream gone sick."

This book.... THIS BOOK. I never read Perks of Being a Wallflower but what I do know is that this author went to a completely different genre with this young adult horror fiction read. Is it worth every 700+ page? You bet your ass it is.

To begin with, the main character's name is Christopher Reese - this made it somewhat sentimental to me because my family became very close with the Reese family when we lived in Italy. Their youngest was their son, Christopher who became a brother to me over the years and somehow that made this is a bit sentimental to me. Both have a strong relationship with their mothers and both are the best and sweetest boys. Listen, if you can find something in your real life that anchors you to the fictional life in the book you're reading, it absolutely makes a difference.

There were also a couple of incidents that truly reminded me of my childhood. Being pulled under a bed (or that feeling that something or someone was under there) was always a nightmare for me as a child (and once I woke up halfway under the bed, so yeah...) and that creepy ice cream truck jingle... UFF. Both are mentioned and just grabbed that inner child within me all the more. Even to this day, when the many ice cream trucks roam my neighbor at the weirdest night time hours, it still makes my blood turn cold.

Now, this book is just extremely engaging. Even with all 700+ pages, the chapters are short and I love the various tiny changes to format riddled within. You'll know what I mean when you pick up your copy, and I encourage you to make sure to put this on your TBR. This book is chock full of lessons. A relationship between a mother and son - Christopher and how he takes care of his mother while she feels guilty for not being the mother she thinks she needs to be. Faith, shown especially within Mary Katherine and where we get our first hints of the religious undertones of this novel. The good versus evil and how nothing is especially what it seems - especially in the Imaginary World - STAY ON THE STREETS! The loyalty of your childhood group of friends. The past coming to haunt you and how you move forward in any type of life. I could go on and on and on.

While I absolutely consider this my favorite of the year so far, there are a couple of things that didn't quite work for me. The children being 7, made it a little bit implausible - if they were just a few years older, it would've made that slight difference. Some things may feel a bit repetitive but personally I didn't mind this at all and I think that honed in on certain pieces of the story. However, the baby teeth as a description definitely stuck in my head - I wish that could've been identified with something different or not described repetitively throughout the read. But these are just nit picks that I can overlook because of the impact this story had on me. Some people may think this could've been shortened but I think every single page worked to tell this multifaceted story.

For me, this has that NOS4A2 creepy vibe, "kids group fighting evil" King vibe with that Burton-esque feel. I would absolutely LOVE to see this adapted. The hissing woman, the mailbox people and the nice man - each told and described in a tone that set you on your journey with Christopher in the Imaginary World and boy oh boy, these will be anchored in my mind for quite some time. And let me tell you what, I hope I don't run into deer anytime soon (or ever).

Basically, put this on your TBR, keep an open mind and set aside a few hours to really let this story seep into your blood stream. I'll see you on the other side. 


★★★★★



Saturday, May 25, 2019

#ATBR2019 Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon @mirabooksuk @HannahMMcKinnon @jessmapreviews

Her Secret Son 
by Hannah Mary McKinnon


Publisher: Mira Books
Publish Date: May 28, 2019
Paperback
384 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller


How far would you go to protect the ones you love…when they may not be yours to protect?



When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

My Review:


I feel like I've read so many books lately through the eyes of a female protagonist that I forgot what it was like to be inside a man's head so it took me a moment to realize that's what this book was doing. Ha!

A fantastic domestic suspense novel about a man dealing with the aftermath of his partner's death and the responsibility of taking care of her (their) son.  Some serious revelations come about regarding his son that have him scurrying around trying to figure out the truth.

A fascinating story that had me intrigued and involved from the get go.  I absolutely felt for Josh and not only fell in love with Logan, but with Josh's sister as well.  Moderately paced, the author keeps you involved chapter after chapter.  I felt that 95% of the book kept you in one spot and then the last 5% just got a teeny bit wonky for me.  I don't think a twist on top of a twist-ish was necessary and didn't flow with the rest of the book and the tiny sex scene was unnecessary (but I didn't mind it either).

McKinnon build the suspense of Josh's journey in a way that truly put you inside his mind.  His grief, anger, surprise and temptation really shined and I look forward to reading more of her work.

★★★★

Jessica's Review:



Josh had a simple life with a good job, a loving partner, and a well-behaved son. Until one day that all came crashing down around him. One phone call changed everything. Mrs. Banks, the neighbor, called to inform him that Grace had taken a nasty fall down the outside steps and the head trauma was so severe that she passed away. Now it's just Josh and Logan on their own trying to deal with the grief of losing Grace.


With them not being married, and Logan not being Josh's biological son, he begins the process of trying to become his legal guardian. Everything seems to be going smoothly until he cannot locate Logan's birth certificate and the state can't find it either. From here Josh experiences a downward spiral as he digs into his partner's past and her secrets. How far would you go to protect someone that isn't yours?

The short chapters and small reveals kept the pacing up with this one. Poor Josh had so many curve balls thrown at him and you could feel how he was beginning to deteriorate while trying to cope with the loss of Grace. How could the woman he loved keep so many secrets from him? While trying to stay strong for Logan he goes to great lengths to protect him and find answers. That ending? Did not see that coming - I guessed who but not everything that went with it!

I would probably classify this as more of a domestic drama than a thriller, but I didn't feel like there were any lulls like I've been experiencing in some books lately. I enjoyed this and I will definitely be picking up more from McKinnon in the future.

4 stars