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Thursday, March 29, 2018

REVIEW: Digging In by Loretta Nyhan @luauthors @amazonpub @lorettanyhan

Digging In
by Loretta Nyhan

Thank you so much to Amazon Publishing / Lake Union Publishing for this absolute delight!

Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
Publishing:  April 1, 2018
252 Pages
Stand alone
Genre:  Chic Lit, Contemporary, Women's Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

In author Loretta Nyhan’s warm, witty, and wonderful novel, a widow discovers an unexpected chance to start over—right in her own backyard.

Paige Moresco found her true love in eighth grade—and lost him two years ago. Since his death, she’s been sleepwalking through life, barely holding on for the sake of her teenage son. Her house is a wreck, the grass is overrun with weeds, and she’s at risk of losing her job. As Paige stares at her neglected lawn, she knows she’s hit rock bottom. So she does something entirely unexpected: she begins to dig.

As the hole gets bigger, Paige decides to turn her entire yard into a vegetable garden. The neighbors in her tidy gated community are more than a little alarmed. Paige knows nothing about gardening, and she’s boldly flouting neighborhood-association bylaws. But with the help of new friends, a charming local cop, and the transformative power of the soil, Paige starts to see potential in the chaos of her life. Something big is beginning to take root—both in her garden and in herself. 

My Review:

What a delightful, sparkling and hopeful story.  I had no idea what I was walking into.  When Ashley at Amazon Publishing brought me this copy, I think she knew this wasn't my usual type of read... and then told me it was worth it and it absolutely IS! 

The only thing I could even nitpick at is that I felt Paige was portrayed older than her forty-three years of age.  Maybe it's because that is exactly how old I am and she felt older to me.  We're also completely opposite people.  I know I look young for my age, I definitely act younger, never been married and no kids so......... basically I couldn't really relate to her.  HOWEVER, I absolutely fell in love with her.  Her snarkiness, her wit, her will to thrive in a company she's been at for years now over powered by young thoughts and new action plans.  YOU GO GIRL!  In this power hungry world of ours, people do tend to feel outdated and struggle with having to start over once you hit your 40s.  I've already done it a couple of times and thankfully things have worked in the positive but I GET IT - it's hard out there!

I think this book will resonate with anyone who has dealt with any kind of loss, looking to find a way to work through the grief and dealing with all types of personalities.  Maybe this will resonate more for women in their 40s, or mothers and widows who have been THROUGH IT.  Either way, you get an incredible story.  

You know what REALLY did it for me?  The acknowledgments from the author.  I'm telling you, readers, if you don't read these in the books that you do pick up, you're doing yourself a huge disservice.  The author talks about how she had to deal with her own husband's unexpected death and how it stopped her from continuing to write this book for quite some time.  So a lot of her own experiences leap off of these pages - even if her and Paige's occurrences were completely different. Reading about this just launched this book up to one of my favorite reads so far this year.  It was exactly what I needed right now.

Love is unexpected.  Love is powerful and all consuming.  Love HURTS.  Grief is horrible, whether dealing with the end of a relationship or the actual loss of a living human being.  Learn to grow. Learn to forgive.  Learn to hold on while letting go. Learn to LIVE.

All the tomatoes and stars for this emotional, yet funny, read. DIG IN.


BLOG TOUR: We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard @orendabooks @rbouchard72 @givemeawave #saltofthesea @quebecreads

We Were the Salt of the Sea
by Roxanne Bouchard

It's my pleasure to be today's BLOG TOUR stop for We Were the Salt of the Sea!
Thank you so much to Orenda Books for this copy.

Publisher:  Orenda Books
Publishing:  March 1, 2018
Kindle Edition
300 Pages
Genre:  Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman's nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man's heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he's thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec's outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen's wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It's enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky.

My Review:

Secrets, lies, death, small town and the sea - what more could you ask for?!
Lyrical, beautifully descriptive and enthralling characters set in a beautiful background.  Add a dash of murder mystery and this is a recipe for success!

Let's face it, readers.  Orenda Books knows how to choose them.  I'm always a 50/50 when it comes to translated works but lately they have just been hitting their mark.  As someone who has family in a small town but rarely gets back to it, I understand what it feels like to be a bit of a stranger in a town where everyone already knows each other and are their own family in their own right.  Catherine is a fantastic character and I found it quite amusing how everyone wants to set her up immediately upon her arrival. 😅  Enter a body being found in a fishing net.  This almost seems to be the norm among the locals but here comes Detective Morales.... another stranger and the locals are not easily persuaded to help. 

I will say that the only thing that threw me off from enjoying this story in its fullest was the consistent use of "Let me tell you...", "Christ on a Chalice", and "Heeeeeeeee" dispersed through the dialogue.  It was a bit over-saturated and took a small bite out of my overall enjoyment of the novel. 

This is better than a police procedural with the unique way in which this mystery gets resolved.  I think the characters and the background overshadowed the mystery as a whole and I am not sorry about that in the slightest.  

Get yourself out to the sea... and contrary to the locals, please learn how to swim 😉

Follow these other wonderful bloggers on this tour!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

REVIEW: School for Psychics by K.C. Archer @simonbooks #partner

School for Psychics
by K.C. Archer

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster for this advanced copy in return for my honest review.
As a lover of YA, fantasy and a want for a psychic power, this one really hit the spot for me!

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publishing:  April 3, 2018
Kindle Edition
368 Pages
Series:  School for Psychics, #1
Genres:  YA, Fantasy, Fiction, Supernatural Thriller

Goodreads Synopsis:

An entrancing new series starring a funny, impulsive, and sometimes self-congratulatory young woman who discovers she has psychic abilities—and then must decide whether she will use her skills for good or…not.

Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.

When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.

In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.

Set in a world very much like our own, School for Psychics is the first book in a stay-up-all night series.

My Review:

Teddy is in a downward spiral.  Making bad decisions that are quickly catching up to her, putting herself and her adoptive parents in some real trouble.  Her only choice? To go to the School for Psychics - where her debt will be wiped clean - she'll just need to serve four years of her life... and that's providing she even passes the entrance exams.  (Which we know she does, because hello... this is just BOOK ONE!)

This eclectic cast of characters are in their 20's... not teenagers anymore, but not quite full adults yet either.  Oh, don't get me wrong, when I was in my 20's, I certainly thought I was an adult.. but nope... hell, I'm in my 40's now and still don't feel like an adult so.... 😉  They're sent to this school for various reasons and all have their own skills to bring to the table... and their own secrets to keep.

As with any type of school, we have the split in cliques - for the School of Psychics we have the Misfits and the Alphas.  Who doesn't love rooting for the underdog?!  This book is full of YA cliches, with the smoldering bad boy, rebellious leading girl who finds her way, a puzzle to be solved, etc. - all interspersed with romance.  I am NOT complaining.  Personally, I found this book HIGHLY entertaining.  I flew through this read and am SO glad that it's the first in a series!  The ending left something to look forward to without it being abrupt and still finding a little closure.  

I really enjoyed the sarcastic humor throughout this story and found this easy to read and action packed.  It really wants me to try and move things with my mind again (never worked as a child, but hey.. maybe now 🤷).  I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for book two!

Couple of tid bits for you all - seems K.C. Archer is a pseudonym and I can't seem to find for which author and I'm DYING of curiosity! If you know, please do tell!  Also, I hear a rumor this has been optioned by the CW for a series... I think I may have to give this a look!

Happy reading all - seriously, give this a shot if you're into psychic abilities and YA fodder... and ENJOY!


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

GIVEAWAY: The Night The Lights Went Out by Karen White @berkleypub #prhpartner @karenwhitewrite

The Night The Lights Went Out
by Karen White


It's my pleasure to partner with Berkley Pub to bring you this GIVEAWAY on the publication release of Karen White's The Night The Lights Went Out.

Continue reading for a Synopsis, About the Author and then ENTER the giveaway for 
via my Bookstagram Page @wherethereadergrows !

Publisher:  Berkley Pub
Paperback Publishing:  March 27, 2018
432 Pages
Genres:  Fiction, Chick Lit, Mystery

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems....

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. When an anonymous local blog starts dishing about her failed marriage, Merilee finds some measure of peace in town matriarch Sugar Prescott.

Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with glamourous young mother Heather Blackford.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two children near Atlanta, Georgia.

Monday, March 26, 2018

REVIEW: The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet @pameladormanbooks @rebeccalfleet #partner

The House Swap
by Rebecca Fleet

Thanks so much to Pamela Dorman Books and Astoria Bookshop for this fantastic domestic noir thriller.  If you're looking for a slow burn of domestic suspense with a touch of character study, then this is one you need to add to your TBR.

Publisher:  Pamela Dorman Books
Publishing:  May 22, 2018
320 Pages
Genres:  Domestic Suspense/Noir/Thriller

Goodreads Synopsis:

Be careful who you let in . . .

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap--from their city flat to a townhouse in a leafy, upscale London suburb--they jump at the chance for a week away from home, their son, and the tensions that have pushed their marriage to the brink.

As the couple settles in, the old problems that permeate their marriage--his unhealthy behaviors, her indiscretions--start bubbling to the surface. But while they attempt to mend their relationship, their neighbor, an intense young woman, is showing a little too much interest in their activities.

Meanwhile, Caroline slowly begins to uncover some signs of life in the stark house--signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music might seem innocent to anyone else--but to her they are clues. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone who knows her, someone who knows the secrets she's desperate to forget... 

My Review:

"A house swap becomes the eerie backdrop to a crumbling marriage, a torrid affair, and the fatal consequences that unfold."

As a person who reads a lot of thrillers, it's few and far between that I find one that truly stands out or gets to me much these days.  This one did but in a subtle way where I could weirdly relate to certain tangents portrayed in the book.   I think anyone who has been in a long term relationship or marriage understands how hard it is to maintain a good one and how easy it is for people to take their partners for granted... and how any relating actions impact not just their own lives, but the lives of others.

We mainly see through Caroline's POV - in the past during her marriage crumbling, the affair that ensued and then in the present, on holiday with her husband, Francis, trying to repair and piece together the shards of the marriage they once had.  Occasionally we get to see through Francis's eyes and then through a narrator, the person she house swapped with, that is unknown for most of the story.  Fleet does a great job in showing how it takes two people to rock the boat, two people to destroy a marriage and two people to repair it, if repair is even possible.  

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Well thriller lovers, I can tell there's going to be some split on this book.  It doesn't give you that big twisty feel or that AHA moment that most people tend to love from these types of books.  What it does is give you a look inside a broken marriage and the reasons why.   A look at how the actions of both Caroline and Francis impact the people around them.  

I don't know you guys, there's just something I really liked about this book.  While it may not have had me eagerly turning each page with the urgency of needing to know what happened, I did become engrossed in what was going to happen.  There's no real sense of thrill or suspense until further into the book as a lot of build up is given.  I do wish there was more into the background or character build of both Francis and Carl.  I need more answers about these men.

I would put this more into a domestic drama/suspense read rather than a dead on thriller.  This suits well for a quick, easy read if you're looking for something to read pool side or as a lighter "thriller" than what you might expect.  

A very solid and compelling read for a US debut! 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

#allthebookreviews: The Girlfriend by Sarah J. Naughton @sbkslandmark @sarahjnaughton @jessmapreviews

The Girlfriend
by Sarah J. Naughton

Thanks so much to Sourcebooks Landmark for these copies in return for our honest reviews.
Jessica and I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller!  See what we had to say below!

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark
Published:  March 6, 2018
368 Pages
Genres:  Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her rebellious brother, Abe, is in a coma, and the police suspect he tried to take his own life. But Mags isn't so sure, and she begins to crack away at the life of the brother she once knew: the dark apartment building, the whispering tenants, and her brother's mysterious girlfriend, the only witness to the incident, who raises more questions than answers. As Mags picks up where the police left off, she begins to unearth the secrets her brother left behind—and awakens her own talent for revenge.

My Review:

An absolute solid psychological thriller/crime fiction read that will satiate your need for a quick, twisty read!  Sarah pulled me in right from the prologue.  Then, I actually forgot ALL about the prologue until we get towards the end of the book and get into full circle status.  AHA! 

I definitely had to suspend some belief in certain parts, but I've said this before, and I'll say it again, it's FICTION.  I absolutely was engaged to where Sarah took me with the dilapidated building Mag moved into (her brother's apartment), the cast of characters within,  Jody's background, etc. etc.  While she put a lot of different things into this story line, it never felt muddled or distracting.  She definitely took them to some dark places and in my thrillers, the darker the better!

The last chapter had me confused for a little bit, but after speaking to another reader about it, he quickly pointed me in the right direction and then it all made sense!  However, I do think that this one little part could've been left out and I would've been A-OK with that.  

Every character in this book is flawed and screwed up in their own right.   Sometimes you only see what you want to see.  Sometimes you see what others present to you and look no further.  Take a look at this book and see if you see what I did 😉.


Jessica's Review:

Are you ever hesitant when you hear books compared to the big psychological thriller hits? I always approach books with an open mind and try not to have any preconceived notions (those build ups usually end in disappointment). THE GIRLFRIEND by Sarah J. Naughton was just as twisty and thrilling as people were saying! It did not disappoint!

Mags has a troubled relationship with her family, to say the least, but when she gets a phone call that her brother, Abe, is in a coma she comes to his side. The police are saying that it was a result of a suicide attempt, but Mags knows her brother better than that. As she tries to figure out the truth about what happened to him, Mags meets Jody. Jody is Abe's fiance and she was the only witness to the events that led him to the coma. With more questions than answers, Mags decides to pick up the investigation and as she continues, she begins to find secrets that her brother left behind.

I don't want to say too much more because the twists in this book are fantastic. It's one of those where you think you have it figured out, then Naughton throws you for a loop. It's an emotional read along with a psychological thriller. If you're looking for a suspense read that has a little more unique approach to the typical tropes then I would highly recommend this one!

I'll be looking for more from Naughton in the future!

I give this 5/5 stars!

Friday, March 23, 2018

#CJSReads REVIEW: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James @berkleypub @simone_stjames

The Broken Girls
by Simone St. James

Thanks so much to Berkley Pub for these copies.
A historical fiction mystery with a touch of supernatural.  

Publisher:  Berkley Pub
Publishing:  March 20, 2018
336 pages
Genres:  Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

Goodreads Synopsis:

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

My Review:

This story spans two different timelines:  1950 and 2014.  Fiona, in 2014, is a journalist and wondering why Idlewild Hall is being restored and wants to write a story.  Little does she know the information that will be unburied.  These not only shed light on what happened back in 1950, but also what happened to her sister, who died years ago.  In 1950, we get the story of roommates Katie, Roberta, CeCe and Sonia.  At Idlewild, a school for wayward girls, seemingly haunted by Mary Hand.

I was not expecting the supernatural part of this story. (Probably a reason for me to reread synopses before I start a book!)  It brought a hauntingly chilling vibe that I really enjoyed.  It is not overdone and blends in perfectly that while I did get the chills in certain parts, it did not overwhelm the mystery part of the book.  Outstandingly done by the author. 

I was engaged from the very start of the book and found Fiona's tenacity  compelling.  I love a woman that doesn't back down and she certainly does NOT.  Following both timelines wasn't confusing... and I always find it interesting to see how different worlds are from one decade to another.  It's not that it's surprising, as we all have read these types of things, but adding in Mary Hand and Sonia's further background added a special touch to the storyline. 

Keep an eye out for more from Simone St. James.  I had already heard great things about this author and am happy to have entered into her world with this one first.  Looks like I'll be adding even more to my overflowing TBR pile.... never a bad thing.. right? 😉


Jess's Review:

Before starting this, I had seen some positive reviews, so I was excited to start! THE BROKEN GIRLS was my introduction to Simone St. James, and it won't be my last. In this thriller meets supernatural fiction we focus on Idlewild Hall and the secrets its been keeping for decades.

St. James brings us back and forth between 1950 and 2014, what do they have in common? Idlewild Hall. This was originally a home that troubled girls were sent when no one wanted them any longer. In the small Vermont town, there had always been rumors that the building was haunted. One day one of the girls disappears, never to be heard from again.

Fast forward to Vermont in 2014 - Fiona is a journalist and she is still haunted by the death of her sister. Twenty years ago, her body was found near the abandoned Idlewild Hall, and her boyfriend was convicted. When news of the restoration of the building reaches Fiona, she decides to do an investigative story on the history, and the secrets she finds are ones that were meant to stay buried.

The story had an overall eerie and dark tone to it, the supernatural element gave this mystery thriller an edge that others don't typically have. I think that St. James did a fantastic job blending these genres together and I really enjoyed it! You'd think that the two timelines and different stories would get confusing and muddled together, but the author does a great job keeping the timelines separate.

Overall, I'll definitely be picking up more from St. James. If you want a great female lead, like the alternate timelines with a similar focal point (Idlewild Hall), and a touch of supernatural to your mystery, then this is the book for you!

I give this one 4/5 stars!

Sam's Review:

I know what you are thinking.  “Seriously…Another book with “girl” in the title?!” But fear not!  The Broken Girls, the recently released novel by Simone St. James, stood out for me!   From the beautifully blended narratives to the small details, St. James creates a novel that is hard to put down.  In fact, I found myself reading this one late into the night.

The novel opens with the introduction of Fiona, a reporter with a haunted past.  After the death of her sister, things have never been the same and even though the man responsible has been put in prison, Fiona (and her family) have never really been able to move past it.  So, when she finds out there are plans to restore the building (an old school for girls) where her sister’s body was found, Fiona cannot help but dig around.  And, in doing so, she quickly finds out that the past never really stays buried. 

Told in alternating time periods and alternating perspectives, I loved the way St. James choose to tell this story.   I loved the moments that flashed back to the girl’s school in the 40s and how each member of their group of friends had an individual chapter to voice.   I found each character likeable and I was interested in each of their stories and was truly concerned about their plights.  I also found that Fiona, in the present story line, was a well-developed character. 

I think that St. James did a brilliant job incorporating a bit of historical fiction; it didn’t feel distracting.  I felt like it really added another layer to the story.

One thing I didn’t care for with The Broken Girls was the paranormal storyline.  The ghost at the school felt like it really didn’t belong and was sort of a side-plot.  I felt like it wasn’t needed. 

Overall, I was a huge fan of  The Broken Girls and I think that fans of Fiona Barton or Fiona Davis will enjoy this one.   4/5 stars!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

REVIEW: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell @atriabooks @lisajewelluk #CJSReads

Then She Was Gone
by Lisa Jewell

🎕 AVAILABLE 4/24/18 🎕

Thank you SO much to Atria Books for these copies in return for our honest opinions.  The #CJSReads trio is extremely excited to tell you our thoughts on this AMAZING psychological thriller - you are in for a TREAT!

Publisher:  Atria Books
Publishing: April 24, 2018
Pages: 368
Genres:  Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

My Review:

Emotional, dark, moderately paced, mysterious and slightly predictable. 

As a huge fan of Lisa Jewell, I was delighted to get a copy of this book in advance. Like cartwheels and Snoopy dance delighted! I certainly wasn't disappointed and she is a go-to auto-buy author for me!

All the way through the first half of the book it was pretty glaringly obvious what was going to come. I did think there were some plausibility issues scientifically speaking that may have been a little out there but really, in psychological thrillers, you kinda have to take those with a grain of salt. As things began to be revealed, although not quite as shocking as I prefer, I was so fully invested that I just felt along with Laurel and Poppy. FEELINGS, y'all! The ending is beautifully emotional and really tugged at my heart strings (yes, you guys, I do have a heart - weird, I know!). 

Now, because of the above and the comparisons to Lisa's extremely popular book, I Found You, I'm going to expect to see lower ratings for this book from some reviewers. But NOT FROM ME! I actually think I'm in the minority in putting this book above I Found You. 

The story is told mainly through Laurel's POV as we see the past and present over the loss of Ellie and how it not only created ripples in her marriage and her relationships with her other children, but within herself and the ability to feel at all anymore. We do get a smattering of other POVs here and there but this didn't not distract or become confusing in any way. To be honest, my favorite prospective to read was Noelle's - I just love disturbing minds.. I CAN'T HELP IT! And I'm absolutely in love with Poppy and her precociousness. The last half of the book is what completely sucked me in. I was on the fence until I reached this last half and then I couldn't put it down. COULD NOT!

If you're looking for a punch you in the throat kind of thriller with surprising twists everywhere, this isn't the read for you. However, if you enjoy psychological thrillers with an emotional feel and a touch of domestic darkness, you'll be happy with this read. While predictable, the way it all came together did surprise me in its own beautiful way.


Jessica's Review:

Last year I was introduced to the writing and great storytelling of Lisa Jewell with I FOUND YOU. I absolutely loved that one, so when I saw she had another release coming I knew I had to snag a copy! Considering the almost 400 page length, this one read very fast and the second half completely sucks you in. 

I would classify this as more women's fiction or contemporary fiction and a little less on the thriller side, but that doesn't take away from the novel. So that would be worth knowing before starting - if you're looking for a crazy thriller like I FOUND YOU, then you may end up disappointed in the end. The characters were so real, the emotions were raw, and the story came together so well at the end. 

Laurel Mack has the perfect teenage daughter. A smart girl, had a loving boyfriend, and close with her other siblings. At only 15 years old, Ellie disappears. Ten years later, Laurel is still trying to move on and piece her life back together. With a missing daughter, a divorce, and no new clues, she feels that it will be impossible to lead a normal life. Then one day, she meets a charming and handsome man, Floyd. When she meets his daughters, the youngest one, Poppy, stops her in her tracks. She has a striking resemblance to Ellie. 

More questions pop up and Laurel is brought the emotional ringer trying to find out more about Floyd and why Poppy reminds her so much of her missing daughter. This one definitely had a more predictable ending, but that didn't take away from the reading experience. I can see Lisa Jewell fans being split on this one, especially if they are wanting something more along the lines of I FOUND YOU. 
I give this one 4/5 stars!

Sam's Review:

I really love a novel that is a nice blend of suspense and women’s fiction.  I find them to be such a nice breath of fresh in air in a genre saturated with serial killer and psychological thrillers (mind you, I enjoy those as well!). 

After reading the synopsis of Then She Was Gone, the newest publication by Lisa Jewell, I knew this would fit that bill for me.  Having read several of Jewell's other novels, I was excited to dive into this one.  Just as entertaining as her others, I flew through my reading but, truthfully, I didn't find it to be as suspenseful as some of the other novels I have read by Jewell.  I actually found it to be quite predictable but still incredibly entertaining.

Let me break it down a bit further.

So, the novel follows Laurel Mack, who is still reeling after the disappearance of her daughter, Ellie, 10 years prior.  She has never been able to fully move on and this has ultimately affected most of her relationships.   This begins to change when she meets Floyd and she finally starts to feel like herself again.  However, Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter unsettles Laurel when she realizes she shows a startling resemblance to Ellie.   All those memories of Ellie comes flooding back pushing Laurel to find out once and for all what happened to her daughter. 

I loved the writing style of Jewell, as I always do! Something about her writing is so easy to digest.  It is sort of like chatting to a good friend.  I really like that I can start one of her novels and them just sort of settle in and enjoy the ride.

However, like I said above, I found this novel lacking suspense.  To me, it read more like women’s fiction or contemporary family drama.  I enjoyed it.  I wanted to know what happened.  I just feel like it was a bit misleading in this genre.   Also, I felt like it was very predictable.  I was able to guess what have happened very early on in the novel but was still interested to see whether or not I was correct.

Overall, I really like this novel as an easy read and will continue to read more Lisa Jewell.  If you are looking for an on the edge of your seat style suspense, this will be lacking but I would highly recommend if you are looking for a well-rounded and developed story.

3.5/5 stars.

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith @annecater @michael_f_smith @noexitpress

The Fighter
by Michael Farris Smith

Publisher:  No Exit Press
Publishing:  March 29, 2018
Kindle Edition
224 pages
Stand alone
Genres:  Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction

Jack Boucher, a former bare-knuckle fighter, has nothing more to give.  In a single twisted night, he is derailed.  Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with the queen of Delta vice, Big Momma Sweet.  

As Jack's foster mother slowly dies, her mind eroded by dementia, so Jack finds his mind is failing too.  Years of bare-knuckle fighting have taken their toll and recurrent concussion leaves him relying on painkillers and a notebook of names, separating friend from foe, to keep himself alive.  Yet a savior comes in the form of Annette, a tattooed carnival worker and free spirit, who guides him towards some sort of salvation.  But the road to redemption is filled with danger and Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, with the stakes no less than life or death.

About Michael Farris Smith:

Michael Farris Smith is a native Mississippian who has spent time living abroad in France and Switzerland.  He is the recipient of the 2014 Mississippi Author Award and has been awarded the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, the Transatlantic Review Award for Fiction, and the Alabama Arts Council Fellowship Award for Literature.  His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Catfish Alley, Deep South Magazine, and more.  He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.

My Review:

My goodness guys and gals!  This book is GOLD!  Drawing me in right from the beginning.  You feel, FEEL for Jack.  This is a fantastic character driven story that will make you want to reach out and hug all the characters:  Jack, who uses his fists to make an impact on the world.  Annette, the tattooed gorgeousness of Annette from the carnival.  Maryann, the only person who Jack thinks loves him and who he may be letting down... who he HAS let down.

This is really not what I expected.  A way more emotional read that tells the story of a fighter out of his prime, in trouble and using the only thing he knows to try and get out.... his fists.  I definitely felt that with just over 200 pages, Smith really packs a punch with his words (no pun intended 😉).  It's a bit heavy so some readers may be thrown off by the seriousness and gray type of read.  But for me, this gray was peppered with sparkles of light. 

We all need a Maryann.  We all need to treat the children better.  And we all need to read this book.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

REVIEW: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian @doubledaybooks @chrisbohjalian #allthebookreviews

The Flight Attendant
by Chris Bohjalian

Thanks so much to Doubleday Books for these copies.  
Jessica and I thoroughly enjoyed this read! Continue below to see our full thoughts.
Put this on your TBR - available NOW!

Publisher:  Doubleday Books
Published:  March 13, 2018
368 Pages
Genres:  Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

My Review:

Who has ever gotten stupid drunk, made some bad decisions and occasionally needed to be reminded of exactly what you did the night before.  **raises hand**  Now, who has gotten blind drunk and then woken up next to the person they slept with the night before and said person has their throat cut open and you question whether you actually could have done this?  **puts hand down**  What decision do you make at this time?  Well, Cassie decides to leave him there, wipe off all the glasses, put the do not disturb sign on the door and proceeds back to her hotel where she has to catch the next leg of her flight on her way home.  And that's just the beginning!!

I absolutely loved this read.  It read fast for me and I was completely involved in what exactly happened in that hotel room.  I can see people not liking Cassie and wanting to throttle her.  I absolutely felt that way at times, but that just shows how much of an alcoholic she is and addictions make you do some crazy ass things... even if you're under suspicion for murder.  I certainly understand the compulsion to do something that you know you shouldn't be doing... feeding into that desire.  Mine's mostly with books and food but you know... **wink**

I've always thought it would be cool to be a flight attendant.  The stories of what they endure were hilarious and whether these are actual things that have happened on flights or not, WOW - I can only imagine what they have to go through at times.  All of this was highly entertaining.

Now, in a work of fiction, I'm always willing to suspend belief as long as it adheres to the plot line. While I loved this SO MUCH for 90%, the ending just had me scratching my head a bit.  The whole situation with Enrico was so unbelievable BUT exciting (and quite frankly, I have a soft spot for Italians so......).  I winced a bit at this final scene as it felt a bit rushed and just not quite a fit for where I was thinking the story would go.  Then the epilogue... damn, a LOT happened in a year!  

Look, this was such a great piece of work.  Absolutely well written and I was GLUED to the pages.  GLUED.  Just that last 10% got a little bit shark jumpy and didn't quite fit in with Cassie's character. I do still highly recommend this read and look forward to what Bohjalian brings next!


Jessica's Review:

So I've heard nothing but amazing things about Chris Bohjalian's books, so I was very excited to start this one. THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT was an incredibly fast and addictive read. I couldn't put it down and this is a profession that isn't featured in a lot of thrillers or crime fiction novels. 

Cassandra Bowden, known as Cassie, is a flight attendant and a binge drinker. Thankfully with her job she is able to travel and find adventure wherever she is taken. After a night of drinking, Cassie wakes up in Dubai. She's in a hotel room and begins to get up for the day - she notices the man in bed next to her is still sleeping. Then she looks closer and she notices blood, and lots of it. Not wanting to get the police involved in a foreign country, Cassie continues about her day and decides to lie. She goes through her day lying. When she is met at the gate in New York by FBI Agents, she continues to lie. Could she have killed him? What really happened back in Dubai?

So with that, I'll stop giving anything away in regards to plot (this doesn't elaborate anymore than the synopsis does). It blows my mind how much detail went into this story. Chris Bohjalian knows how to weave a complex story without losing the reader. He pulls us along with Cassie as she goes from Dubai, to Paris, and back home to New York. She feels so real - like someone you may know. Cassie is very flawed, loyal to her friends, and frustrating at times. 

Overall, if you want an addictive thriller with a complex and weaving story, then you NEED to get THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT. I did not see that ending coming and I thought it was fantastic. Getting a glimpse into this profession was refreshing and almost claustrophobic. The perfect element to a thriller. Time to go get all his other books. 

I give this one 5/5 stars!