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Monday, September 24, 2018

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: After He Died by Michael J. Malone @orendabooks @michaelJmalone1 @annecater

After He Died
by Michael J. Malone

Thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for this stop on the blog tour!


Publisher:  Orenda Books
Publish Date: September, 2018
Kindle Edition
276 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Domestic Noir

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…


Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns' country.  He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings.  Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers.  Other published work includes:  Carnegie's Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight.  His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon followed suit.  A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

My Review:


Imagine your son dies and you have to deal with the aftermath with your husband.  This obviously strains a relationship but also can bring a couple closer together.  Then imagine your husband dies and now you're left all alone.  

This book opens at the funeral of Paula's husband.  At the funeral, she's given a note that her husband is not who he seems.  First of all, that's not a great place for someone to do this - isn't she going through enough already?!  Then people start showing up and you're hearing from a strange woman about a somewhat conspiracy theory on something that happened that connects them.  SAY WHAT?!

Yeah, if that didn't confuse you… then you need to read this book and figure it all out!  A solid look into domestic noir/suspense and how you never, EVER, fully know someone completely.  I did think some of the writing got a little choppy - but I think that's because everything happened so fast at the beginning... funeral, note, Cara, crazy eyed drunk guy rummaging through drawers when she comes home.  WHAT IS HAPPENING?!  But as you read further, you start to get fully invested in what is going on and the MANY surprises that comes about.

My favorite character is Joe.  While he might not a front runner character compared to others, I just love him.. and how he has his moments of "taking a break" from being a priest and being what Paula needed at times.

Overall a compulsive read with short chapters that keep you turning the pages.  While I felt the beginning was a bit blunted, the rest of the read really pulls everything together and delivers that one, two punch.

★★★☆




Sunday, September 23, 2018

REVIEW: Words We Don't Say by K.J. Reilly

Words We Don't Say
by K.J. Relly

Thanks so much to Disney - Hyperion for this copy!  A unique look into a teenager's head who writes text messages to talk to people he can't in person, but never sends them.


Publisher:  Disney - Hyperion
Publish Date:  October 2, 2018
Hardcover
288 pages
Standalone
Genres: YA, Contemporary

Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn't been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn't mean he's keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.

So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send.

As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn't see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn't know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy's gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain.

My Review:


This book begins in the middle of a shift at a soup kitchen.  We are introduced to Joel and his many, MANY rambling thoughts and we are never taken out of his head space.  Ever since "the thing that happened", he's been unable to talk to certain people.  Instead, he drafts text messages to them and never sends them. (I actually tried and can't do this on my phone!)

I'll be honest, I am not the reader for this book. I like the unique premise and the unique writing style but at the end of the day, it inhibited me from fully appreciating what this book was trying to do.  The author hits on a variety of deep topics - veterans, PTSD, religion, discrimination, etc.  However, it all became too much throughout the read.  I understand that the writing is coming from Joel's head and with that, how the inner workings of a teenage boy trying to deal with tough subject would react.  I just didn't care for it.  Even in the "funnier" scenes where there's supposed to be some levity, it just didn't work.  

I did like the friendships between the characters.  Benji, Eli, Joel - Joel's relationship with his parents and younger brother.  All of these were fantastic.  We've all written a text and never sent it.  We all have things we want to say to certain people but never say them.  We all have had that friend we didn't particularly care for at the beginning but somehow became a close or best friend.  And we have all not agreed with a friend's belief but there's still that bond and love between us regardless of our opposing views.

The first 45 pages seemed to go nowhere and then we finally get introduced to something that makes it more interesting.  However, it did drag throughout to get the point at the end and the thing that happened and what is actually going on... kind of.  Weirdly I found myself the most irritated with the talking of Burning Man between Benji and Joel - it's not the way people mostly depict it... HOWEVER, I love the mention of the temple - which is a true thing and a place people go to find closure and serenity and for that, I love the author.

When it comes down to it, this is just a reader/book mismatch.  I appreciate the theme and uniqueness of the book itself but the execution wasn't for my taste.  I never connected with the characters or the storyline.   A good read for teenagers/YA lovers who love the deeper inner monologues dealing with heavy, socially relevant issues.

★★

Saturday, September 22, 2018

REVIEW: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan @kevinkwanbooks @vintageanchor

Crazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan

ddd



Publisher: Anchor
Publish Date;  May 20, 2014
Paperback
527 Pages
Series: Crazy Rich Asians #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Womens Fiction


When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

My Review:


I have this rule where if I see the movie or show, I won't read the book.  But I will watch after I've read.  This is the first time where I've started the book, got half way, watched the movie and THEN finished the book.  This was my book club's choice for this month.  We made it a theme and met for dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then went to watch the movie.  I had SO much fun with my girls!

Here's the thing.  I thoroughly enjoyed the read and was about 200 pages or so in before going to watch the movie.  Some things seemed overly done - is it supposed to be? Is this how things really are?  There are certain themes that resonated with me from an Asian family point of view.  There were some highly hilarious moments.  I am still astounded that he would never have brought his family's fortune up to his girlfriend .. I mean, sure at first but TWO YEARS in and no warning before taking her to meet them? Yeah... no dude - you messed up!

Now we get into the movie - VERY entertaining - fast paced... parts of it very emotional (I'll blame my almost tears on my lack of sleep for two days).  Some parts super hilarious - BOK BOK!  And then I finished the book... and well.... I kept thinking to myself no.. no.. that's not what happened! I found myself liking the movie version better and this is a rare to NEVER thing that happens!

Would I continue the series?  I don't think I will... in book form anyways.  Would I watch sequels? Yes, yes I would.  I think I would give the movie 5 stars and the book 3 so I'm splitting the difference and rating this 4 stars as I'm not sure I'm doing a service to the book in the way I read it.  Ironically bookending it with the movie as the juicy center piece.

★★★★

Thursday, September 20, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: Amnesia Nights by Quinton Skinner @mzpr @fentumpress @qskinner

A psychological suspense story of obsession, identity, and the unreliability of memory

AMNESIA NIGHTS By Quinton Skinner

Check out this psychological suspense novel below and continue for a Q&A with the author!


John Wright’s mind is playing tricks on him. He sees people he thinks he knows, but they are only strangers. His memory flickers in and out of focus. What he does know is this: he has not seen his fiancĂ©e, Iris, in over three years. He fled their Los Angeles apartment one night after a fit of rage that may or may not have left her dead. He has been living off a small fortune he stole from Iris’s rich, manipulative businessman father. He bides his time and waits for the police to find him and charge him with his lover’s murder. Has he killed her? Is she really dead?

Talented, clever, sophisticated Iris was John’s anchor, the one joy in his troubled, lonely life. At Harvard, she transformed John from a shy and awkward undergraduate into an elegant, self-assured man. But now she’s gone, and his memories of her are obscured by a miasma of guilt and uncertainty.

One bright day, Iris returns. But is she real, or just a cruel figment of his addled brain? Only a journey into the deepest corners of his past will reveal the truth about John and Iris–about life and death and love, and secrets too dark to reveal.


Quinton Skinneris the critically-acclaimed author of three novels and non-fiction books on fatherhood and rock ‘n’ roll. A former critic and magazine editor, he has written for publications including Minneapolis Star TribuneHuffington Post, Variety, Glamour and Literary Hub. He lives in Minneapolis, USA.

Questions & Answers with Quinton Skinner about Amnesia Nights

Did you write any books before Amnesia Nights?
Yes, a somewhat odd aspect of my life is that I have almost continuously been writing books (with some dormant periods), beginning with bound tales of my international adventures and explorations of Clark Kent’s secret life when I was 5.

So why have you published only (more or less) three works of fiction?
An astute question. Well, I was fortunate enough to have had an apprenticeship as a ghostwriter and book doctor in my twenties that served the twofold purpose of paying my bills and allowing me to write without my ego on the line.

That sounds unscrupulous. 
To each their own. There were great adventures to be had there that I wouldn’t replace.

Amnesia Nights has a supernatural undertow. Is that something you draw upon from real life?
Absolutely. I have had a number of undeniably paranormal experiences in my life, some of which occurred while I was writing the book, some of which have happened since. This isn’t a point of pride or a way of telling stories over a beer, it’s just true. Things have happened around me that make no sense in the conventional consensus view of reality. And I do have a sense when something is peering in from a strange angle.

The book also has a very pointed emphasis on memory. Beginning with the title.
For reasons that have only become apparent after a great deal of self-examination, memory is the underlying theme of my work. Even when I don’t intend it, as with my latest project, it becomes central. It’s crucial to who I seem to be. 

Why do you think that is?
I know why that is. But it’s terribly personal and has to do with my early childhood.

Can you talk about it?
A few years ago I wouldn’t have, or I wouldn’t have been able to. The bottom line is that I was raised primarily by a single mother who loved me very much, and who was also quite profoundly mentally ill. This resulted in what is technically called an “attachment injury” in psychoanalysis. It’s been both the weighty stone that I’ve carried my entire life and, paradoxically, probably led to my deep and abiding gift for devising and telling stories.

So the good and the bad go hand in hand?
Indeed. 

So, ultimately, how much of John Wright is Quinton Skinner?
The parts you wouldn’t think. Some of the best parts, I hope. He isn’t remotely an autobiographical character. But he remains very real and alive to me. I conjured him, but he is also real on his own terms. There is a psychological theory of “parts” that has nothing to do with “split personalities” but rather self-protective dynamics springing from childhood, and I think it’s a relevant issue when I consider the relationship between John and myself. That being said, my mother was still alive to read an early version of the book, and she said it was beautiful and didn’t seem to notice any of these parallels. Which is for the best, I suppose, since I’ve been reconciling myself with her memory throughout my literary career—only really leaving the nest, as it were, with my latest, which is a sci-fi dystopian love story that touches on the nature of reality and identity and . . . memory.

SPOTLIGHT: Evo by Diane May

EVO
by Diane May

Check out this explosive debut thriller from Diane May - available now in digital format with the paperback release coming November of this year - take a look below and put this on your TBR.


EVO

If you run, it catches you.
If you hide, it finds you.
If you breathe, it may kill you.
NO ONE can escape it.

An explosive crime thriller that will keep you enthralled until the very last page.


Livio Marchiori, a legendary homicide detective with the highest rate of solved cases in Verona, Italy, is faced with The Hypnotist, a serial killer whose modus operandi borders the supernatural and who is as elusive as a ghost.

The dead bodies start piling up, the media are putting a lot of pressure on the police, and the mayor himself makes it clear he wants The Hypnotist off the streets and he wants it done yesterday. But all of the clues Marchiori finds seem to take him nowhere and the few leads he manages to unearth prove nothing but dead-ends.

Then The Hypnotist gets personal. He threatens to kill the chief medical examiner, the woman Marchiori is in love with, next.

So when Captain Victor Miller from Interpol walks into town, Marchiori is more than happy to partner again with the man who two years ago helped him put an entire mafia clan behind bars. But Miller has his own agenda and an even more dangerous fish to fry. He has proof that a secret medical research lab in Verona is about to launch a biological terrorist attack.

And just when Marchiori thinks the situation can’t get any worse than this, he finds out that Miller isn’t who he claims to be.

Feeling at the end of his tether and not knowing who to trust anymore, Marchiori begins a race against time to save both the woman he loves and millions of people from dying.



Diane May is a crime thriller writer and the author of EVO, as well as an English teacher and Cambridge Examiner. She lives in Verona, Italy, with her husband.
The only daughter of an army colonel, she grew up on military bases where she learnt about weapons, discipline and the sacrifices of military life. She also worked for many years as a translator and interpreter for the Court of Law on mostly criminal cases.
EVO is her debut novel and she is currently working on her second crime thriller, Till Death Do Us Part, scheduled to be released in the summer of 2019.

REVIEW: The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles @Hanover_Square @harlequinbooks @tlcbooktours #stephengiles #allthebookreviews

The Boy At The Keyhole
by Stephen Giles

Thank you to Hanover Square Press and TLC Book Tours for this gothic mystery novel.
See what Jessica and I had to say about this book below.


Publisher:  Hanover Square Press
Publish Date:  September 4, 2018
Paperback
304 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  Mystery, Gothic, Suspense

My Review:


This slow burn of a psychological mystery will leave you guessing what is true and what is not.  

What else is a nine-year-old boy supposed to do when his mother leaves to go to another country in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye?  Of course he's going to try and figure out why she would do such a thing.  Enter his friend who starts putting ideas of murder in his head and watch the wheels start to turn!

Ruth, the housekeeper and now his guardian is not the nicest.  She's strict, almost abusive, and definitely has secrets of her own.  Suspect number one and the easiest to question. But how does he prove that she killed his mother... if she even did?

We get the full on gothic feel with the house that probably carries ghosts, having a scary attic and basement, and the slow build as we watch Samuel's mind work overtime.  However, is he imaging these clues or is it all so real? We all know how imaginative children's minds can be.  What Giles does wonderfully is to put us in the mind of Samuel.  

Do not go into this expecting a fast paced thriller that's nicely tied up.  Walk into this with trepidation and get into Samuel's head.  This slow burn will really bring you straight in.  I will say that it did drag in certain parts and I think may have worked better as a novella.  However, I was intrigued to see what was going to happen and where the author would take me.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


THE BOY AT THE KEYHOLE has a Gothic vibe and a growing sense of dread as the story progresses. It was a little slow in the beginning for me, so it's good to know right away that this isn't a twisty thriller. This is a slower burn suspense novel, but once that suspense amps up you won't be able to stop flipping the pages. 

Samuel Clay is a nine year old boy living with his full time housekeeper turned nanny. His mother is away in America to try and settle with bankers and get more money for the family after Samuel's father passed away. Ruth, the housekeeper, runs a strict household and keeps Samuel in line. With his mother being gone for over 100 days he begins to suspect that something isn't right. 

His friend Joseph tells him a story of a nanny in Germany that had killed the family she worked for and continued to live in their home for months after. She claimed that the family had to suddenly leave to America and left in the middle of the night - just like Samuel's mother did. Samuel begins to let his mind run wild and is convinced that Ruth killed his mother and hid her in the cellar. 

As the story picks up in the second half, we can't be sure who to trust. Is Samuel right? Is his mind playing tricks on him? It was very different having the potentially unreliable narrator be that of a child - this is told entirely from Samuel's perspective. There will be chapters where you're convinced it's Ruth, and then others where you doubt Samuel's sanity and judgement. 

The ending surprised me and left me wanting more answers! What happened? What's going to happen? I know not many people like these types of endings - where they aren't tied together perfectly - but I love them. This was a solid suspense novel and I can't wait to see what Giles comes out with next! 

4 stars!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

REVIEW: Guess Who by Chris McGeorge @Hanover_Square #ChrisMcGeorge

Guess Who
by Chris McGeorge

Thanks to Hanover Square Press for this review copy.
A locked room mystery and keeps you guessing!

HAPPY PUBLISHING DAY!


Publisher:  Hanover Square Press
Publish Date:  September 18, 2018
Paperback
368 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Locked Room Mystery, Thriller

The rules are simple.

But the game is not.
At eleven years old, Morgan Sheppard solved the murder of a teacher when everyone else believed it to be a suicide. The publicity surrounding the case laid the foundation for his reputation as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. He parlayed that fame into a gig as TV’s “resident detective,” solving the more typical tawdry daytime talk show mysteries like “Who is the father?” and “Is he cheating?”

Until, that is, Sheppard wakes up handcuffed to a bed in an unfamiliar hotel room. Around him, five strangers are slowly waking up, as well. Soon they discover a corpse in the bathtub and Sheppard is challenged to put his deductive skills to the test. One of the people in the room is the killer. He has three hours to solve the murder. If he doesn’t find the killer, they all will die.

My Review:


So here's the thing.  I was in it to win it with this book.  Had me captured from the first page.. and then about 3/4 of the way in… I was like waiiiit a minuuuteee… is this like SAW but NOT?  And luckily it didn't go quite in the direction that I thought it would but it did veer in a completely different direction that I didn't expect (serious kudos for that) but also like WHAT?!  

The short chapters keep you moving quickly through the book.  I LOVE hating on characters and I absolutely hated on Sheppard but I think I could've hated him MORE.  Ya hear me??  I'm supremely torn in how to write this review. The idea behind it is amazing.  I totally can suspend some reality. I can think "OH SHIT, who did I piss off and what's going to happen to me??"  I can also realize that if I was ever in a locked room situation where I had to solve a murder or the strangers (and I) died within a three hour period - well quite frankly, sorry people - we're ALL dying.

Ultimately, I thoroughly did enjoy this book.  I really, truly did.  However, the ending was a little bit off-putting to me.  I would've preferred it had it gone <this way> <---- no spoilers here, folks but maybe that's just a me thing...  regardless, this is a fast paced and entertaining read.  I just wanted... a little... bit... more.  

★★★

SPOTLIGHT: Because of Jenny by Brad Neaton

Because of Jenny
by Brad Neaton

At less than 300 pages, this novel based on a true story is something to put on your radar!



What if the person you need most is someone you don't even know exists? 

Eric is a 22-year-old struggling with depression and teetering on the brink of suicide when he meets a gorgeous, utterly fascinating plot twist named Jenny. The two meet in an unlikely way, but soon discover they're kindred souls. A heroin addict, Jenny is also caught between wanting to escape life and wanting to live. Despite circumstances conspiring against them, Eric takes a leap of faith and commits himself to helping Jenny, and the two become an endearing pair, helping and accepting one another as they embark upon a mutual adventure that seems destined to fail. 

Funny, irreverent, insightful, tragic, and raw, the story explores many of life's deepest questions while shedding light on what remains a little known epidemic. An unflinching portrayal of addiction, love, and resilience, Because of Jenny is a book you will never forget. 



Brad Neaton is originally from New Baltimore, Michigan. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2014 and served in the Army. Brad is currently a graduate student at the University of Southern California, where he hopes to pursue a PhD in Creative Writing. Because of Jenny is his first book. An avid reader, he has a personal library in excess of 500 books and is a veritable, modern day nerd. Brad resides in Los Angeles, where he enjoys people watching and being critter-friendly.


Monday, September 17, 2018

REVIEW: Josh & Hazel's Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren @gallerybooks @christinalauren

Josh & Hazel's Guide To Not Dating
by Christina Lauren

Thanks to Gallery Books for this free copy.
The perfect in between book between my thrillers - this delightful story is sure to bring you laughs with a lot of heart.


Publisher:  Gallery Books
Publish Date:  September 4, 2018
Paperback
309 Pages
Genres:  Contemporary, Romance

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

My Review:



This is one of those delightful stories that while you know exactly how it will end, the fun is in the journey to get there.  Hazel is absolutely adorable, quirky and the perfect example of being comfortable in your own skin.  I know I've had my moments where I've heard from guys that I need someone who will fit me better because I can be a bit off putting at times (in their minds)... and I've tried being that "standard" girl you want to marry, but that didn't work because then I wasn't being true to ME.  So to read this, was just so refreshing and lovely. Then there's Josh -Then there's Josh - and his whole story - he gives me hope for the men in the world (ha- joke)!  Here's a great example of opposites attracting and how you really can't help who you fall for, nor should you try to stop that ball from rolling.

There are definitely some laugh out loud moments and a lot of bad dates happening - and I loved every single moment.  I also applaud the authors with their depiction of the Korean family.  The neatness, traditions, ALL THE FOODS and honestly this had me missing my Korean family a lot by the turn of the last page.  Very well done!

If you want a highly entertaining, funny and heartfelt book that just may actually believing in OTP, well I think you've found it with this read.  

★★★★★

REVIEW: The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang @LUAuthors @amazonpub @LydiaYKang #allthebookreviews

The Impossible Girl
by Lydia Kang




Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date:  September 18, 2018
Paperback
364 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Two hearts. Twice as vulnerable.



Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich just as easily as she can slip unnoticed into the slums and graveyards of the city. As the only female resurrectionist in New York, she’s carved out a niche procuring bodies afflicted with the strangest of anomalies. Anatomists will pay exorbitant sums for such specimens—dissecting and displaying them for the eager public.


Cora’s specialty is not only profitable, it’s a means to keep a finger on the pulse of those searching for her. She’s the girl born with two hearts—a legend among grave robbers and anatomists—sought after as an endangered prize.

Now, as a series of murders unfolds closer and closer to Cora, she can no longer trust those she holds dear, including the young medical student she’s fallen for. Because someone has no intention of waiting for Cora to die a natural death.

My Review:


I have always had a fascination with the macabre, the "freaks", the strange and different.  Probably why Freak Show is still my favorite season of American Horror Story, partly why I loved The Greatest Showman and why I absolutely adore this book.

Cora is the girl with two hearts - having to grow up as a boy and then take on dual roles as herself and her twin brother, taking on a job as a resurrectionist so she could always be privy to any talk of anyone coming after her, to show her, or rather her two hearts, off to the world.  In the time of Barnum and Bailey and the freak shows of the world, grave robbing as a norm and where the thought of a woman doctor was still astonishing and unheard of - Kang takes us into this world with flourish and entertainment.

While I did enjoy the story thoroughly, I especially loved reading the Author's Note at the end where it's explained what was taken from actual truth from those days, including the amazing language that the resurrectionists used - how fun is that?!  And the explanations of the various things that happened throughout the book made it even more interesting for me.

This is the perfect kind of historical fiction that I enjoy.  Cora is a character I thoroughly enjoyed.  I also loved the uniqueness in the interspersed chapters of the last minutes of the characters who died from their point of view.

If you like the world of grave robbing with a strong female protagonist who fights for her life on the daily, this is a great read for you.  While historical fiction isn't typically my cup of tea, this one became my shot of whiskey.

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


I know historical fiction isn't for everyone, but I'm a huge fan of the genre. THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL brings readers into the time of Barnum's and the side shows. I have always been fascinated with the concept of freak shows and learning about them, so this synopsis grabbed me immediately. I would also like to say, you definitely need to read the Author's Note at the end!

Cora is a woman with two hearts, but must be on constant alert to protect herself. She is the only female resurrectionist in a male exclusive profession. Despite needing to remain in disguise, her position as a resurrectionist comes with a perk - she is able to get information about if anyone is looking for her to showcase her medical peculiarity before it can happen. Kang transports us into the Victorian era and directly to the center of the macabre world that is the freak shows and museums of curiosities.

This is a period in history that fascinates me. We often forget the darker side of the freak shows and curiosities - this book portrays the medical side of these attractions. People are sought after for anatomical abnormalities, which is why Cora knows she is a target. As far as historical fiction goes, this one is definitely out of the norm. I know there are people that aren't fans of the genre because they can be too dense and focused more on the historical side of things. Well, Kang has woven such a unique read with a memorable female protagonist.

I would highly recommend this to anyone that finds the synopsis intriguing. Don't let the fact that it's historical fiction deter you - I feel that this book has more to offer than just being a historical fiction novel. You have the Victorian era grave robbing, exhuming bodies for medical purposes, oddities and curiosities, murder, mystery, and a woman caught in the center of it all.

I give this 4/5 stars


Sunday, September 16, 2018

REVIEW: A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne @john_boyne @hogarthbooks

A Ladder To The Sky
by John Boyne

Thanks so much to Hogarth Press for this amazing copy!
A book that will definitely stick with you long after you finish it - see my full thoughts below.


Publisher:  Hogarth Press
Publish Date: November 13, 2018 (First published August 9, 2018)
Hardcover
Standalone
Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn't have is talent - but he's not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don't need to be his own. 

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful - but desperately lonely - older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice's first novel. 

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall...

My Review:


"This is a tale of ambition."  Oh what a tale it is!  Meet Maurice Swift.  A young, ambitious man whose hunger to be a successful writer chews up and spits out everyone with whom he comes into contact.

This story is told in several parts, and through the eyes of Maurice's victims, and then ultimately himself.  At points you almost feel like you're getting more than one book, but then it all comes together and you're left wowed.  The way Boyne builds Maurice's character - I haven't hated on a character like this in a very long time.  There are no redeeming qualities and I will remember him for a long time coming; this I know.

Have you ever met that ever charismatic person who instantly takes over a room, who is ridiculously good looking and who commands attention?  Yet, at the same time, their only talent lies in manipulation and selfishness?  Well if you haven't, then Boyne presents you this person on a silver platter.  Completely narcissistic and sociopathic, you can't even feel for him.  I feel almost dirty just knowing his life story - fiction or not.  And often, it doesn't feel very fictionalized. (I mean, did Boyne even really write this book?! ha!)

A story that will stick to your bones long after you turn that last page.  This psychodrama is a beautifully written book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves an intricate story and character study of a person you just can't like but yet you just can't look away from either.

★★★★★


Thursday, September 13, 2018

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: In Her Bones by Kate Moretti @atriabooks @atriamysterybus @katemoretti1

In Her Bones
by Kate Moretti

So excited to be today's stop on the Blog Tour for Kate Moretti's In Her Bones.  
I'm a fan of Moretti's for sure - see my review for The Blackbird Season HERE.
Thanks so much to Atria Books for this review copy.


Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: September 4, 2018
Kindle Edition
320 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother. Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered. Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her. Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…



Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of The Blackbird SeasonThe Vanishing YearThought I Knew You, and Binds That Tie. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and kids.


My Review:



"There's a ripple effect to violence, you know."

I've always wondered what it was like for the family and friends of killers in the aftermath.  They are constantly associated with an act they didn't even commit and sometimes even ostracized for it.  How do you move on from this association?  Especially if you're the daughter of a most notable female serial killer?  Does the apple fall far from the tree?  

I was pulled in straight from the prologue and was committed to the story.  I will say that it did run a bit slower as the book chugged along.  However, I've come to think of Moretti's writing style as suspenseful thriller rather than edge-of-your-seat and in that vein, she is absolutely fantastic.  Also, with this subject matter (which I find thoroughly fascinating), I couldn't help but enjoy this story from beginning to end.  Some things were predictable, while others were not.  As proven in The Blackbird Season, we get another suspensefully nuanced psychological thriller.  I did enjoy that this story was told mostly through Edie's eyes.  Her obsession, her protectiveness of herself, her family, her strife... and the one person who has been consistent in her life, Gil, the detective who arrested her mother and helped find Edie a place to thrive in life.  

I did enjoy the excerpts from the tell-all book about Lilith (Edie's mother) - I wish I could have the entire story to read.  The humanness Moretti brings to the other side of the serial killer - they're not always so bad - sometimes they're just normal people, trying to be normal but something in their chemistry just doesn't allow them to be.  Give them children and while the horrors may take front court in memories, those of her just being a mother are also in there.  How do you reconcile the two?

Perfect for those who like that slower suspense with a dash of mystery.

★★★☆


Advance Praise for IN HER BONES:

“Kate Moretti is incredibly talented! IN HER BONES is at once chilling and compelling, frightening and insightful—and truly madly deeply satisfying. You'll gasp at every twist, and turn these hauntingly sinister pages as fast as you can.”
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of Trust Me

“Sensational; a stunning psychological thriller that kept me riveted from the first page to the last. A dark and compelling exploration of what it's like to grow up with someone who just may be the worst mother in the world, Moretti's chilling and insightful novel answers the question: If your mother is a serial killer and you're obsessed with her victims, what does that make you?”
—Karen Dionne, internationally bestselling author of The Marsh King's Daughter

“Suspense at its best: A chilling voice, an unlikely heroine, a haunting story. IN HER BONES is Kate Moretti at the top of her game.”
—Jessica Strawser, author of Not That I Could Tell

“Kate Moretti’s IN HER BONES is a suspenseful, whirling spiral of mysteries within mysteries, plot twists you won’t see coming, and characters linked by deadly fates that stretch across the years. Moretti’s prose is crisp and masterful, her people rich and real. Don’t miss this haunting, wild thrill ride.”
—David Bell, author of Somebody’s Daughter


“We dove head-first into In Her Bones, its riveting twists and turns keeping us up well past our bedtime. Moretti has meticulously crafted this gripping mystery, which begs the question: Is it possible to escape our own fate? Another stellar contribution to the suspense genre.”

—Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, authors of The Good Widow