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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

REVIEW: The Au Pair by Emma Rous @berkleypub @ejrous

The Au Pair
by Emma Rous

Thanks so much to Berkley Books for this gorgeous copy!
Goodreads synopsis has it right when they say this is the literary love child of V.C. Andrews and Kate Morton! Continue below to see what I thought of this fantastic and crazy story!


Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Paperback
368 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Fiction, "Gothic Thriller"


Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

My Review:


What would you do if you found a photo that left you questioning who you really were?  Do you chase after answers or leave things as they are?  Seraphine needs answers.  Her mother threw herself off a cliff shortly after the birth of her and her twin brother, Danny.  Her father recently died from a tragic accident and there's rumors about their estate and how twins typically do not survive.  If only Seraphine can find Laura, the au pair, then maybe she can find the answers she now desperately seeks.  We transverse between the past through the year Laura spent at the Mayes estate to the present with Seraphine's determination to figure out the mystery behind the photo she found. 

Just by reading the synopsis where it states that this is a literary love child of V.C. Andrews and Kate Morton, you knew you were going to get crazy.  We get a little gothic historical feel ala Kate Morton with the crazy intertwining family strife we have seen a lot from Andrews.  Now, no one is going to top the weaving of family webs like Andrews does so don't go into this read expecting that full on crazy.  However, do prepare to suspend a little bit of reality while we get pummeled with red herrings, twists (albeit slightly predictable) and a story about family secrets - by now, readers, we know these can never lead to good things!

This did run a little slow for me at first and there were definitely some parts towards the end where I kind of rolled my eyes like REALLY?!  But yet, I couldn't put this book down.  There's one part of the book that I just can't... and I can't say why or I give a big part away so if you've read this COME TALK TO ME!!  

Honestly, you need to just wrap your arms around the crazy wtf-ness of this novel and take it for what it is.  A debut novel no less!! I'll be looking out for more from Rous as she is currently working on her second novel.

If you love insane family drama with an air of gothic thriller surrounding a beautiful estate atop cliffs, well then this is the perfect story for you!  A touch of crazy with a slight family curse.  I can't help myself, I liked it!

★★★★



Monday, July 30, 2018

REVIEW: Night Film by Marisha Pessl @randomhouse @marishapessl

Night Film
by Marisha Pessl

Thanks so much to those who took part in the Bookstagram Readalong for this book this month!


Publisher:  Random House
Publish Date:  July 1, 2014
Trade Paperback
640 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Thriller


On a damp October night, 24-year-old Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley's life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror film director Stanislaus Cordova--a man who hasn't been seen in public for more than thirty years. 

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova's dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. 

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova's eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more. 

My Review:


I have seen this book around for quite some time but kept putting off reading it - for what reason? I don't really know.  But when a few Bookstagrammers were interested in a read along, I thought this was the PERFECT opportunity.  As a fairly large tome, I sectioned this book out over the four weeks of July.  I think this MAY have inhibited me from enjoying this book as fully as I could have if I had just binge read it like I do most books.

Here's my take - the format of this book is SO UNIQUE it makes you feel like you're reading about a true story.  I got completely pulled into McGrath's world and HAD TO KNOW what happened to Ashley!  I also REALLY want to watch one of Cordova's movies - so, damn you Pessl for making this so realistic! *shakes fist*  I scoured all the letters, news clips, etc throughout this book and kept looking for clues thinking maybe, JUST MAYBE, I could make this somewhat interactive and force myself to figure it out before the book told me.  Anyone who has read this book will know that this is NOT how this book works. 🀣

Honestly, I think for me, I appreciated and loved the format over the story line itself.  There's been a love it or hate it feel for the ending of this book and now I know why.  I was left wanting but after some time of letting it all soak in, I realize how could it have ended any other way? Especially considering Cordova's films and how ambiguous those are as well. I did enjoy Ashley's somewhat "Ring" vibe throughout.

For entertainment, unique formatting and the ability to pull you in, I'd give this 5 stars.  However, since I'm still unsure how I FULLY feel about the ending and felt it was anticlimatic and left me slightly wanting... I deduct one star.  I reserve the right to come back and change this view..  haha. Solidly, this is a book that will keep people talking for quite some time.  

★★★★

Saturday, July 28, 2018

#allthebookreviews: Mad by Chloe Esposito @duttonbooks @ChloeJEsposito

Mad
by Chloe Esposito

The first in a trilogy - this is quite the ride! Come get absolutely MAD with Alvie.
So intrigued to see where book two, BAD goes - stay tuned for our thoughts on that one later on.


Publisher:  Dutton Books
Publish Date: June 13, 2017
Hardcover
336 Pages
Trilogy: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know Trilogy #1) 

In this compulsively readable debut, set between London and Sicily over one blood-drenched week in the dead of summer, an identical twin reveals the crazy lies and twists she'll go through to not only steal her sister's perfect life, but to keep on living it.
Alvie Knightly is a trainwreck: aimless, haphazard, and pretty much constantly drunk. Alvie's existence is made even more futile in contrast to that of her identical and perfect twin sister, Beth. Alvie lives on social media, eats kebabs for breakfast, and gets stopped at security when the sex toy in her carry-on starts buzzing. Beth is married to a hot, rich Italian, dotes on her beautiful baby boy, and has always been their mother's favorite. The twins' days of having anything in common besides their looks are long gone. 

When Beth sends Alvie a first-class plane ticket to visit her in Italy, Alvie is reluctant to go. But when she gets fired from the job she hates and her flatmates kick her out on the streets, a luxury villa in glitzy Taormina suddenly sounds more appealing. Beth asks Alvie to swap places with her for just a few hours so she can go out unnoticed by her husband. Alvie jumps at the chance to take over her sister's life--if only temporarily. But when the night ends with Beth dead at the bottom of the pool, Alvie realizes that this is her chance to change her life. 

Alvie quickly discovers that living Beth's life is harder than she thought. What was her sister hiding from her husband? And why did Beth invite her to Italy at all? As Alvie digs deeper, she uncovers Mafia connections, secret lovers, attractive hitmen, and one extremely corrupt priest, all of whom are starting to catch on to her charade. Now Alvie has to rely on all the skills that made her unemployable--a turned-to-11 sex drive, a love of guns, lying to her mother--if she wants to keep her million-dollar prize. She is uncensored, unhinged, and unforgettable."

My Review:



This book is QUITE the ride! Let me start by saying that Alvie, the main character, has an obsession with Channing Tatum.  I DON'T GET IT.  I love his personality but he's so not my type otherwise and I don't understand anyone's obsession with it so I did a bit of eye rolling throughout this read due to this one fact.  Ridiculous, I know, but it's true! 

Anyways.... this book is entertaining from beginning to end!  At first, I was wondering what the hell was going on with Alvie and where could we POSSIBLY go - I was getting a little ho-hum about her internal rantings.  She's crass, doesn't give a shit and completely neurotic.  I don't mind any of these things but after a while I wondered how she was even barely surviving!  Then she goes to Sicily to visit her twin sister and THAT'S when I really started to like this book. 

Suspend reality, welcome a crass and wholly unlovable character who is 100% batshit and watch her go roll with punches while delivering some of her own.  Plot holes be damned, if you want entertainment this is the way to go.  I'm really torn on how to rate this so I'm just going to rate it based on entertainment value, the fact that it's a debut and how there's no way that I'm not going to continue to book two.  

I would describe this is a mafia soap opera on cocaine that goes way off the rails... and yet, I'm a bit mad for it.  (See what I did there.) Also, I'm REALLY happy I don't have any siblings after reading this. 🀣  Definitely a love it or hate it type of read.  Get in and see how you feel!

★★★★

Jessica's Review:



Talk about a great debut from Chloe Esposito! MAD is book one of the MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW trilogy. I loved everything about this. Alvina has also lived in the shadow of her identical twin sister, Beth. Years of Beth bugging her to come visit, Alvie has been able to successfully avoid her, but after losing her job and being kicked out her apartment, she decides to go to Italy to see her sister and her perfect family.

She arrives to Italy to find out that Beth has ulterior motives to her sister's visit. She begs Alvie to switch places with her just for a day. Reluctantly, Alvie agrees. They switch places, down to the nail polish and lipstick color that Alvie was wearing. Beth leaves for the day with her baby while her husband, Ambrogio, has no idea Alvie is at home in her place. All hell breaks loose and the night ends with Beth dead and Alvie still in her sister's clothes. Everyone thinks Alvie is dead.

Wanting to get to the bottom of things, Alvie digs deeper to find out what her sister's intentions were in having them switch places. Secrets, mafia connections, secret lovers, hit men, and a corrupt priest are all thrown into the mix! Will Alvie be able to live her sister's life? Or will they find out she's not who she says she is?

I loved Alvie. She's uncensored, unhinged, and she has a deep rooted hatred for her sister. She's the perfect anti-heroine, and I know most people don't really like that in a main character. Esposito did a great job building her as a character. We have flashbacks to their childhood and seeing how Beth and Alvie grew up - Beth being the golden twin and Alvie as the bad twin. This book takes place over the span of one week, and I really liked how the seven deadly sins were incorporated into the sections! Each day is a different deadly sin, which worked perfectly to show the progression of the events.

I will definitely be grabbing the next two books when they come out! If you want a book you're not going to be able to put down then I'd highly recommend this one! It's a quick read with a touch of murder, mafia, obsession, and mystery.

I give this 5/5 stars!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

BLOG TOUR and REVIEW: Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre @torteen @msannaguirre

Like Never and Always
by Ann Aguirre

Excited to be today's stop on the Blog Tour for Like Never and Always
YA thrillers are becoming a go-to genre for me.
Aguirre is one to watch out for - this one delivers!


Publisher:  Tor Teen
Publish Date:  July 17, 2018
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genre: YA, suspense, touch of paranormal


Liv Burnham thinks nobody knows Morgan Frost like she does, but a terrible accident pushes her down a rabbit hold where Morgan's secrets hide and she'll be lucky to make it out alive....

On a hot summer night, Liv, Morgan, Clay and Nathan are on the way home from a party in Clay's convertible.  Best friends dating brothers?  It doesn't get better than that.  But the joyride ends in sudden impact, a screech of brakes, and shattering glass.  On that lonely country road, four lives change forever.

Live wake in the hospital.  At first she's confused when they call her Morgan, but she assumes it's a case of mistaken identity.  Yet when the bandages come off, it's not her face in the mirror anymore.  It's Morgan's. 

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life.  But as Liv tries to fit herself into Morgan's world, she discovers endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety and a dark task to finish... if she doesn't lose her mind first.

Forced to confront the disturbing truths that Morgan kept hidden in life, Live must navigate a world of long-buried murder, a dangerous love affair - and a romance that feels like a betrayal.


About the Author:


Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

My Review:


If you woke up in side your best friend's body, would you be able to live her life the way she did?  Do you really want to know THAT much about her and how do you cope with your new situation???

What an interesting concept.  With elements of paranormal, this somewhat suspenseful story is less thriller and more contemporary mystery in my opinion.  Through Liv, we get to learn more about Morgan and what's really going on in her life.  How being a "rich little girl" may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Like most YA novels, we do have a bit of a love triangle going on but luckily that's not the front runner of the story.  Instead, we get a story about grief, forgiveness and never judging a book by its cover.  Everyone deals with grief in their own way but having to mourn the loss of your body and the loss of the best friend whose body you now reside in takes this to a whole new level!

"Funny how the human body can heal trauma in a matter of weeks whereas scars on the heart and mind can last for years."

I did wonder how Liv felt the first time she had to really deal with being in her best friend's body.  That first shower must've been AWKWARD! haha - but all jokes aside... this was a very compelling read.  Easily a one sit binge.

If you're looking for a quick read that has a touch of thriller, paranormal, romance and YA, then this is PERFECT for you.

★★★★

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#allthebookreviews Believe Me by J.P. Delaney @randomhouse #JPDelaney

Believe Me
by J.P. Delaney

Thanks so much to Ballantine books for these gorgeous COPIES!

After reading The Girl Before last year, Jessica and I may have squealed a little bit when we received copies of Delaney's latest, Believe Me

See our full thoughts on this twisty psychological thriller below!


Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Publish Date:  July 24, 1028
Hardcover
352 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Psychological Thriller

In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.


One out-of-work British actress pays the rent on her New York City apartment the only way she can: as a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers, hired to entrap straying husbands. When the cops begin investigating one of her targets for murdering his wife--and potentially others--they ask her to lure the suspect into a confession. 

But with the actress pretending to be someone she isn't, differentiating the decoy from the prey becomes impossible--and deadly.

My Review:


I read The Girl Before last year and loved it right up until the ending and then did a little head scratch and wasn't sure how I felt.  I did know that I liked Delaney's writing style so was excited to get a chance to read Believe Me and I love it when I read another book by a same author and LOVE LOVE IT.  This is why you should never judge any author by just one book.

Have you ever just wanted to pretend to be someone else - even if just for a night? A few minutes? Forever?  YOU GUYS, THIS BOOK!!! I absolutely loved it.  It seems to take left turns with each part and I almost feel like I read three different books that circled right back to the start to make it complete.  Sometimes I had no idea what was going on and felt about as nutty as Claire came across.

How do you know what's real when you can fully immerse yourself into the role that you're playing?  Method acting at it's finest.  This one is definitely full of twisty little turns and I was pleasantly shocked each time.  Some might say it went a little bit overboard but man, I gotta say, I did love that ending.  A part of me felt like maybe it got a little Hollywood, but in terms of what this book was about and Claire needing her audience... well, it just seemed fitting in more than one way.  Just yes yes yes for me!

A fast, taut ride that will continually keep you guessing. I highly recommend. 

★★★★★


Jessica's Review:



Last year I read Delaney's debut novel, THE GIRL BEFORE, and I loved it. It definitely helped rekindle my love for psychological thrillers, so when I saw there was a follow up novel coming, I couldn't wait. BELIEVE ME is another twisty psychological thriller that will keep you guessing and turning the pages. 

This one is incredibly hard to talk about without giving anything away. I think that the synopsis is the most information I can give away about the plot:

"One out-of-work British actress pays the rent on her New York City apartment the only way she can: as a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers, hired to entrap straying husbands. When the cops begin investigating one of her targets for murdering his wife--and potentially others--they ask her to lure the suspect into a confession. 


But with the actress pretending to be someone she isn't, differentiating the decoy from the prey becomes impossible--and deadly."


Needless to say, we had one hell of a ride with this one. An unreliable narrator, plenty of twists, short chapters, and so many questions will keep you flipping the pages. I definitely had a couple moments where I had to stop and reread the last sentences of a chapter because I couldn't believe it. Delaney does a great job weaving the story and intertwining the characters. Claire is so fascinating and you never really know what to believe as the story continues. If you're looking for a great thriller this summer, then this needs to be on your list. Now to anxiously wait for Delaney's next release!


I give this 5/5 stars

SPOTLIGHT & COVER REVEAL: It Goes Without Saying by Taylor Danae Colbert @taydanaewrites

It Goes Without Saying
by Taylor Danae Colbert

COVER REVEAL!!

Remember the one that got away? Or the one you never really thought of until later in life? 
Romance lovers, come and take a look at this sweet story!


Publish Date:  August 23, 2018
Paperback
297 Pages
Standalone
Genre:  Romance



Throughout Bria’s teen years, Knox was her rock, her person, her constant—but never her boyfriend. And for all those years, she told herself that was exactly how she wanted it to be.

Yeah, right.

Knox wasn’t the one that got away—he was the one that never was.

Now, Bria’s full-on adulting, and she's crushing it. She’s got a grown-up job, a lush D.C. apartment, a dreamy med-student fiancΓ©. What more could a girl want?

But when a family crisis lands her back in her hometown of Dalesville, she finds herself face-to-face with the one thing she always wanted and never had: Knox.

But she's determined to keep her feelings for Knox in the past. It doesn’t matter that he’s as charming as ever, and looks even better with age. It doesn’t matter that she discovers huge sacrifices he made for her, way back when. 

Nope, it doesn’t matter.

. . . Right?


Taylor Danae Colbert is a romance and women’s fiction author. When she's not chasing her toddler or hanging with her husband, she's probably under her favorite blanket, either writing a book, or reading one. ​Taylor lives in Maryland, where she was born and raised. For more information, visit taylordanaecolbert.com.


#allthebookreviews with Q&A: Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke @luauthors @amazonpub @lizandlisa

Girls' Night Out
by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

πŸ”₯ HAPPY PUBLISHING DAY! πŸ”₯

I love these authors!!  They're hilarious women who interact with their fans on social media.  They write great books and I get to meet them at their event in NYC tomorrow.  Life is good y'all!

Jessica and I loved The Good Widow last year and are excited to bring you our thoughts on Girls' Night Out - AND provide you a Q&A with the authors. 


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date:  July 24, 2018
Paperback
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Psychological Suspense, Mystery

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

My Review:


Ashley, Natalie and Lauren.  Is three a crowd?  Can three women be best friends and there NOT be any drama?  Sometimes a good travel for some quality face time can help these tenuous relationships - sometimes.  Look, I'm not going to go deep into the plot - I'm going to explain why this book resonated with me.

Best friendships are like marriages and family - there are ups and downs.  It's easy to take your irritations and frustrations out on the people you know best.  There WILL be some drama and especially in a core group of 3, sometimes you feel closer to one than the other and then switch off and typically two will always be a bit more bonded - for whatever reason or circumstance.  It's purely mathematics, people πŸ˜‰.  Jokes aside, this resonated with me because I happen to have two best girl friends - we do a girls trip every year and there have definitely been ups and downs and drama and yada yada throughout our 20 plus years of friendship.  The fact that the trio in the book are basically our ages made it all the more real.  (Noting, do NOT go to Tulum - I kid! I kid!)

What I got from this book is that it is a book about friendship, forgiveness, the need for freakin' communication and how no matter how bad it gets, these women are your ride and dies and quite frankly, not easy to shake! I did want to know what happened to Ashley - this ending.  Who has read this? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS ALREADY?  It triggered a tingling that was fairly reminiscent to something else I read not too long ago... I just wish my brain would work for me so I knew exactly what that was.  Is there such thing as book deja vu?

If you've read books from this fabulous duo already then you'll be apt to like this one as well.  They're proving to write compelling thrillers.  I think those who can understand this friendship dynamic will really find this book to touch them in a different way than others might.  I can't wait to tell my besties about this while we're on our girls' trip next month... and I hope WE have a different ending. 😜 

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


Last year I read THE WIDOW by this fantastic writing duo, and I loved it. So I couldn't wait to see what they had in store for us this time with GIRLS' NIGHT OUT. I was not disappointed! It always amazes me that two people can write a book together and have it flow seamlessly.
This one is all about the power of friendships. Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren are trying to mend their deteriorating friendship, and of course a girls' trip is just what they need, right? Three women with already strained relationships with each other, of course there's going to be some drama! Well, things really ramp up when one of them goes missing - what truly happened that night and what secrets are they hiding?
We all have those friendships where you can be hot and cold as time goes on. Communication is key to any kind of relationship and keeping so many secrets from each other can really put a strain on things. The dynamic between these women feels so authentic and real - Liz and Lisa know who to write great female characters and capture their interactions and friendships.
This book will suck you in right away and have you flying through the pages to see what happened to Ashley! Oh man, that ending! This is a great thriller and once again, I play the waiting the game for more from this dynamic writing duo.
I give this 4/5 stars!

Q&A with Liz and Lisa!



What does your writing process look like? 
We currently live in separate states so we pass the chapters back and forth. Liz will write one and send to Lisa to edit. She works her magic and then shoots it back. We continue this until we are both satisfied, and then move on to the next one!

What is something most people wouldn't know about co-authoring a book? 
It’s much easier than writing alone! You have someone to constantly encourage and support you, and to commiserate with!

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Liz has to have music! Lisa must be caffeinated!

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? 
It’s doubtful we’d ever write about child abduction. Just hits too close to home for us.

Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?
Sex scenes! Awkward!

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? 
Hurt, for sure. Incorporating feedback is the most important thing a writer must do, and it would be difficult if an ego has become overinflated. 

How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?
Several!

How long does it usually take you to write a book?
4-6 months for the first draft. 

What are you working on now? What is your next project? 
We just finished a new novel that will come out next summer. We can’t too much yet, but we’re very excited about it! 

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad? 
We do read them pre-publication, just to get a feel for how early readers are responding. After that, we don’t pay too much attention, and we don’t respond, especially to bad ones. It’s important that people can voice their opinion without authors getting involved. As for advice, don’t obsess over the bad ones! Just keep moving. No matter how amazing a novel is, you will never please everyone.

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it?
Omg, yes, all the time! And we usually will switch genres and that does the trick!

Do you google yourself?
Not really. Should we?

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you recently? 
Crazy things happen to us all the time! But recently, we went to get a massage and they accidentally had us down for a couples’ massage and we had to be in the same room! We laughed so hard we cried.


Monday, July 23, 2018

#allthebookreviews: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole @eccobooks

Ragdoll
by Daniel Cole

Couldn't read Cole's newest, Hangman, without reading book one first!
See what Jessica and I thought below.


Publisher:  Ecco
Publish Date:  December 5, 2017
Paperback
384 Pages
Series:  Fawkes and Baxter #1
Genres:  Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction


William Fawkes, a controversial detective known as The Wolf, has just been reinstated to his post after he was suspended for assaulting a vindicated suspect. Still under psychological evaluation, Fawkes returns to the force eager for a big case. When his former partner and friend, Detective Emily Baxter, calls him to a crime scene, he’s sure this is it: the body is made of the dismembered parts of six victims, sewn together like a puppet—a corpse that becomes known as “The Ragdoll.”


Fawkes is tasked with identifying the six victims, but that gets dicey when his reporter ex-wife anonymously receives photographs from the crime scene, along with a list of six names, and the dates on which the Ragdoll Killer plans to murder them.

The final name on the list is Fawkes.

Baxter and her trainee partner, Alex Edmunds, hone in on figuring out what links the victims together before the killer strikes again. But for Fawkes, seeing his name on the list sparks a dark memory, and he fears that the catalyst for these killings has more to do with him—and his past—than anyone realizes.

My Review:


One body.  Six victims. And... just like that, I'm hooked!

Poor Fawkes - not only is he just being reinstated to his position but it seems this case is somewhat tied to the one he was suspended for a while back.  On top of that, his ex-wife, who is a reporter, receives photographs of the grisly crime scene and a list of people who are on the killer's to-do list - and Fawkes is on it.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  However, I think with guests in town over the weekend and me reading this in spurts, rather in a one-sit binge (which is my favorite way to read books, as you know) - it didn't afford me the opportunity to really enjoy this like I would have liked.  

The pacing is fast but there are a lot of characters.... sometimes I got a little muddled on who was who and what was happening.  Again, I think this is more due to my sporadic reading but who knows?  I do know one thing - I'm loving on Fawkes.  I keep imagining him as this older silver foxy type lad, but he's not! He definitely is complex and I'm not quite sure what I think of his mental state.  But I'll leave it at that.

I'm excited to continue on with book two, Hangman, that releases tomorrow.  Let's see if Wolf can hold it together!

★★★★

Jessica's Review:


I'm so happy this one lived up to the hype! A body is discovered and this one unlike any other. This one body is actually six different victims - pieces of them have been stitched together. Well, consider me invested in this story now! RAGDOLL by Daniel Cole is a fantastic debut and had all the twisted and cringy things you want in a serial killer thriller.
William Fawkes, also known as The Wolf, has finally been reinstated after extensive psychological assessments. His first case back is a horrible scene involving a body comprised of six dismembered parts that had been sewn together - which later becomes known as the Ragdoll by the press.
As Fawkes is trying to identify the six victims, his ex-wife receives some troubling mail. She is sent photographs from the crime scene that included a list of six different names, and Fawkes is on that list. Fawkes is worried that his past has more to do with this investigation than his colleagues know.
I'll always love these serial killer thrillers, especially with how unique this started out. A body stitched together out of multiple victims - that's one gruesome killer. There were a lot of characters introduced throughout the story but they weren't too difficult to differentiate between. This is one that will definitely keep you sucked in and will be a binge read for a lot of people! I can't wait to see where book two will take us (which is out tomorrow!)

I give this 5/5 stars!


Saturday, July 21, 2018

BLOG TOUR and REVIEW: Do No Harm by L V Hay @orendabooks @lucyvhayauthor



Do No Harm
by L V Hay

Thanks so much to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for this stop on the Blog Tour!


Publisher:  Orenda Books
Publish Date:  June 30, 2018 (ebook) July 20, 2018 (UK Paperback)
Kindle Edition
300 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  Domestic Thriller, Psychological Suspense

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with teacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that's when things start to go wrong. Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives.


Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters' Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

My Review:


Ex-husbands, new husbands, mother-in-laws, sons and possessiveness.  Lily is happy to be marrying Sebastian - the complete opposite of her controlling and possessive ex-husband, Maxwell.  But once a control freak, always a control freak and Maxwell will do whatever it takes to get Lily back.  Sebastian doesn't like confrontation but how much will it take to get him to fight back for his new family?

No one ever wants to think the worst of their ex.  After all, there was love there once, something there that drew you to them.  You had a child with him and at the VERY least, you know he wouldn't want to him his only child... right?  


Alternating back and forth between Sebastian and Lily, and peppered with an unreliable narrator's thoughts, Hay has us questioning just how bad it's going to get. Now I'll admit I did get frustrated during this read.  WHY CAN'T THEY JUST SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING!  And my oh my how quickly trust is broken when the tiniest seed of doubt gets planted.  I felt the most for Denny, the poor kid stuck in the middle - a pawn in a deadly game between the two most important people in his world. 

I did figure things out fairly quickly - well I had my suspicions and proved myself right.  Honestly, I find this fun to do in certain stories.  What is captivating about this story is that while a little off the rails (because hello, drama! looooove it), it is also really realistic.  I've certainly had my fair share of run ins with men who are irrationally possessive and jealous.  Praise be to Lily for getting out of that - at least once. πŸ˜‰

A proper read for domestic thriller lovers.

★★★☆






Friday, July 20, 2018

#allthebookreviews: What Happened That Night by Sandra Block @sbkslandmark @block_sandra

What Happened That Night
by Sandra Block

Thanks so much to Sourcebooks Landmark for these copies!
A full five stars from both Jess and I - continue below to see why....


Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date:  June 5, 2018
Paperback
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

One moment Dahlia is a successful Harvard student. The next, she wakes up from a party, the victim of a brutal assault. Her life veers into a tailspin, and what’s worse, her memory of the attack has been ripped away, leaving a cold rage in its wake.

Now, years later, Dahlia is a tattooed paralegal suffering from PTSD, still haunted by that night. Until one day, a video surfaces online, and Dahlia sees her attack for the first time. Now she knows what happened to her. And she knows who to blame. Her rage is no longer cold, but burning, red hot.

And she is about to make everyone pay.

My Review:


I could not, in a million years, imagine what it's like to go through the trauma that Dahlia did, have PTSD of the event (that she cannot remember) and then see the attack come online years later.  UFF.  What I LOVE about this book is that the revenge factor is clear - but it's executed with the code of not killing anyone.  

The characters - how do you NOT fall in love with James?!  Absolutely LOVE his character.  The build up of friendship with Dahlia to something more was so much better than any instalove I've had to endure through.  This felt so real and sincere between two people who have dealt with tragedy and can understand and accept the other's quirks.  What's not to love?!  Dahlia is also such a strong character.  The ups and downs she goes through, the backlash after the attack of blaming the victim (her) from even her own family and how she deals with the consequences of her emotional roller coaster - really heart wrenching and I felt so MUCH for her throughout this read.  My favorite secondary character? Has to be Natasha - I think if you read this book you'll totally understand why. 

Told from the point of view of Dahlia and James with a few chat room chats between the demons of the story, the short chapters keep your attention from page one to the very end.  I felt my eyes drooping at one point but could NOT stop so fought my way through, stayed awake and finished the book.  The author does a great job in putting you right inside the mind of and portraying Dahlia's heartache, James's Asberger Syndrome and even the pathetic and entitled minds of the Hawk Club.  
There are some graphic parts regarding the attack that may be hard for some readers.  I think the author did it tastefully though and it was necessary to really get you inside Dahlia's head.

If I had to be picky in any way about this, the ending did feel a teeny bit rushed after all the detail given throughout the rest of the book.  I was so engaged in the characters that I didn't quite see the little twist!  I knew there was one heading in that direction but my mind, weirdly, wasn't trying to figure it out and was enjoying the read outside of the twisty part.  I am completely satisfied and could NOT put this book down.  It gave me a little bit of "The Accused" movie with Jody Foster throughout.  

Oh sweet, sweet revenge - sometimes it is just SO satisfying.

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:


This was my introduction to Sandra Block, and I can't believe I haven't picked up more from her in the past! WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT is, at it's core, a great thriller about revenge. As a warning, it does deal with an assault that the main character endures at the beginning of the book.

Dahlia is attending Harvard and excelling in her classes, but one day she wakes up after a party and discovers that she is a victim of a horrific assault. The part that haunts her the most is that she has absolutely no memory of the event, which leaves her in a deep-seeded rage. Years later, Dahlia suffers from PTSD but is making it day by day as a paralegal. A video surfaces online and for the first time, Dahlia gets to witness her own attack as well as who is to blame.

While Dahlia is an incredible character, the real standout is James. Her best friend James is such a lovable character and Block captures him perfectly. I loved hearing her talk about him at the book tour and how he even became a favorite of hers. The readers are sucked into the minds of Dahlia and James and their emotions and struggles are so real. It's so easy to connect with them. 

Who doesn't love a great revenge story? I thought it was cleaver having the strict guidelines set that there would be no killing. This had me wondering how she would exact her revenge for the brutal attack she endured. Well, you'll just have to read to find out. Careful, once you start, you won't want to stop!

i give this 5/5 stars!