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Sunday, July 21, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Temper by Layne Fargo @gallerybooks @ScoutPressBooks @LayneFargo @jessmapreviews

by Layne Fargo 

What a wicked, wicked ride.  Thank you Scout Press / Gallery for these free books.

Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
352 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? Starring in Temper means working with Malcolm Mercer, a mercurial director who’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—onstage and off.

Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s cofounder Joanna Cuyler is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic aspirations, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both start to realize that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they're capable of themselves.

My Review:

OH sometimes I feel I have no rhyme or reason for how I rate books.  Mostly it's whatever I felt right after I turned that last page and I absolutely LOVED this one.  I'm not a very artistic-y or creative person myself but I'm sure if I was, I'd probably jump off the cliff of crazy myself.

You always hear about that brilliant director/actor/writer/artist that is hard to work with, is temperamental, a genius, a bit frightening perhaps, but still someone that is typically revered and you're *blessed* to have a chance to work with him or her.  Let me introduce you to Malcolm.  His reputation precedes him but isn't that was also draws you inexplicably to him?  Kira has dealt with her fair share of *interesting* men and has put up with enough, she's sure she can handle him.  But who is to be feared the most?  What he's capable of? Or what she's capable of?

This definitely gives off a bit of Black Swan vibes.  How deeply into a role does an actor go? Is method acting going too far?  Do you really lose yourself in the character you're portraying or are you just THAT good at switching on and off? 

This one ramps up chapter by chapter.  Is Malcolm a genius or a sociopath? I neither loved nor hated the characters.  I was fascinated by them.  I wanted to slap the women, throttle the men, drink the whiskey, let myself go and scream! The build up crescendos into an ending that while expected, still left me gasping.  Fargo delivers and hit the nail that I needed right now right on the head.


Jessica's Review:

There have been a lot of great thriller debuts this year and TEMPER is one of them! If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller, then I would definitely recommend Layne Fargo’s TEMPER. We get a glimpse into the world of theater and the mind games that ensue between actress Kira and her director and co-star Malcolm.

Kira is an actress living in Chicago, she’s awaiting her next audition for the newest play being put on by Malcolm Mercer and his partner Joanna. Malcolm has made a reputation for himself in the industry as difficult to work with and has been known to play mind games with his stars. That being said, he also considered to be brilliant. We alternate between Kira’s perspective and Joanna’s perspective throughout the book. After Kira gets the part we are brought on a roller coaster of mind games between Kira and Malcolm, all while Joanna tries to keep the production together.

The dynamics between the characters is really complicated and twisted. Joanna and Malcolm co-own their theater company and have worked together for decades. Joanna has seen Mal with countless actresses but he has never looked at her as more than just a business partner. She becomes paranoid that there is something more going on between Mal and Kira – is she imagining things or is her jealousy getting the best of her? Is Malcolm pushing Kira too far or is she the one that can’t control herself?

So many questions and it almost felt like we had two unreliable narrators at different parts in this book. This one took me a little bit to get into, but once I did then I couldn’t put the book down. I think there were parts that did feel a little confusing but I feel like that was intentional with how the characters are intertwined. Overall, I would highly recommend putting this one on that summer TBR and I know I’ll be looking for more from Layne Fargo in the future!

4 stars

Saturday, July 20, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert @gallerybooks @jessmapreviews

Pretty Revenge 
by Emily Liebert

Thank you Gallery Books for these free copies.

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
320 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Contemporary

Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the singular moment in her life when things veered off course—the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on television, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.

Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.

No one, that is, except Kerrie.

My Review:

"The words listen and silent share all the same letters."

This sentence stood on during my reading of Pretty Revenge.  If we took the time to just stop for a moment and pay attention to what's around us and really listen to things going around us, we might not be so surprised at what is coming our way.

Kerrie/Olivia and Jordan/Jordana come from the same home time but one night causes them to go in separate directions.  While Jordana leads a successful and prominent life in NYC, she still has her own set of problems... but none compared to what Olivia has planned for her.  Revenge is best served cold and Olivia is pure ice.

This is a fun and entertaining ride.  There are several mentions throughout the read where Olivia states how Jordana took everything from her so you're on the edge of your seat for the reveal of what exactly happened to cause this thirst for revenge.  I did find the reveal and the ending to be a bit underwhelming and flat compared to the build up around it.  However, this did not take away from the entertainment value throughout.  Regardless of their very interesting and different characters, you did manage to feel for both of them.  The little bow tie at the end, though I knew was coming, was still a little bit of a *sigh*.... but you can't help but love this book the way you would love that Lifetime movie goodness. 

Take this book with a grain of salt.. on the lip of your margarita glass.. and enjoy the ride.


Jessica's Review:

Ahh yes, back to the thrillers that we all know and love. PRETTY REVENGE by Emily Liebert was a quick moving thriller with just one focus – revenge. Jordana Pierson is a successful wedding planner and is about to take on the Wedding of the Century in Manhattan. Olivia Lewis has just moved to New York and was hired to be Jordana’s assistant. What do these women have in common? Neither of them is who they say they are.

Jordana Pierson, formerly Jordan Butler, came to New York to run from her past and make a better life for herself. No one, not even her husband, knows who is really is. Olivia Lewis, really Kerrie O’Malley, sees Jordana on the news one day talking about her business as a wedding planner for the rich and famous of Manhattan. Only, she knows her as Jordan. Almost two decades ago, she ruined her life and Kerrie wants one thing, to ruin her life like she ruined hers all those years ago. Both women looking dramatically different (Kerrie having received braces and then a nose job after breaking her nose), Kerrie was able to go info her interview without being recognized. So her mission begins.

I loved how simple and straightforward this thriller was. There was one objective and that was good, old-fashioned revenge. We didn’t have crazy weaving stories or multiple twists, it was Olivia and Jordana working together and we got snippets of flashbacks as the story unfolded. The pacing was great and the chapters were short. We alternate between Kerrie (Olivia) and Jordana’s perspectives throughout the book.

If you’re looking for a quick thriller for the summer TBR, then this is the perfect one! You got a really good feel for the characters and were able to relate to them. There is always more than meets the eye, and I think the author did a great job unfolding the story for us. I’ll definitely pick up more from Liebert!

4 stars

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead @doubledaybooks @colsonwhitehead

The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead

Thank you Doubleday Books and Astoria Bookshop for this advanced copy.
Out now, this is a book everyone should read.

Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: July 16, 2019
214 pages
Genres: Cultural, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men."

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. 

The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers. 

My Review:

Based on real events but fictionalized for the 1960s Martin Luther King/Jim Crow of the South era, this is a book that is five stars because it's a must read for everyone.  This is my first by Whitehead and it most certainly will not be my last.  This one really hits you hard for just being over 200 pages.  

It's harrowing to read about what Elwood, and the people around him, went through simply because of the color of their skin.  While this was written for that time period, it's emotional and provocative and SAD because I envisioned this as a current read as well.  This is the state of our country right now and it breaks my heart.  

Let's talk about Elwood - an innocent kid who worked hard to go against the grain that was given to him and proving himself resilient, determined and resourceful.  Unfortunately, circumstances and his environment worked against him at times and he fell into the wrong place. How do you live in a world where you're expected to keep your head down but need to rise above to make the statement the world needs?

This book will make you furious at times.  It will make your heart break as well.  However, it's the message of hope strewn within that is the star and is something we should all hold on to.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: American Predator by Maureen Callahan @vikingbooks @jessmapreviews #maureencallahan #americanpredator #truecrime

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century
by Maureen Callahan

Thanks so much to Viking for these copies.  Jessica and I LOVE true crime and in my case, I can't believe I hadn't heard of this guy!

Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
304 Pages
Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Alaska PD

Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil," he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried "kill kits"--cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools--in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years--uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake--many of which remain unsolved to this day.

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes's life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America's most isolated environments--Alaska--when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

My Review:

I used to scour the internet to read about all the killers out there.  Kids, women, partners, serial... it didn't matter - if it was true crime, I was reading about it.  I can't imagine the hours I put into all of this.  FASCINATING.  There's no looking past the fact that these people are diabolical and mostly geniuses.  Put into this, the wrong law enforcement person put in charge of interviewing them and all kinds of things can go haywire.  As manipulative as these killers are, they surely know their way around their words and feeding off the body language and words of the people surrounding them.

How did I never hear of Israel Keyes?!  I'm baffled that I hadn't heard of him until now.  Reading about what he did to his victims was crazy.  Pure, absolute bat shit.  This book definitely doesn't read as "dry" as some true crime books can.  Although it did lull in some areas for me, the story behind Keyes and his random victims was still as utterly fascinating as others I have read... if not more.  I even looked up pictures on the internet and WOAH.  You guys - if you get the chance, and true crime speaks to you, then definitely make sure to do this before, during or after this read. Or all three!

A definite must read for true crime lovers.


Jessica's Review:

So I want to keep this short and sweet. With true crime it can always be hit or miss for some readers. There are some that read like fiction in their flow and others that feel like more of a history textbook in that its nothing but dry facts. AMERICAN PREDATOR by Maureen Callahan was a surprisingly fast read!

I’ll admit, I didn’t know too much about Israel Keyes before picking this up. So I was anxious to start it and learn more about his crimes and how they eventually caught him. I liked the way that Callahan approached this one. She told the story backwards – we start with Keyes’ final victim and we work our way back through his reign of terror. This as pieced together from hours of FBI interrogations and facts from throughout the case as it was built. I would highly recommend this one to any true crime fans out there and to those that haven’t heard of Israel Keyes. You’ll definitely learn a lot!

5 stars

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Cutting Room by Ashley Dyer @wmmorrowbooks @AshleyDyer2017 @jessmapreviews

The Cutting Room
by Ashley Dyer

Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: June 18, 2019
448 Pages
Series: Carver and Lake #2
Genres: Mystery, Fiction

Detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver, introduced in the electrifying Splinter in the Blood, must stop a serial killer whose victims are the centerpiece of his macabre works of art.

While Britain is obsessed with the newest hit true-crime television show, Fact, or Fable? detectives Ruth Lake and Greg Carver are tormented by a fiendish flesh-and-blood killer on the loose.

Lured to a “crime scene” by a mysterious digital invitation, Ruth Lake is horrified by what she finds: a bizarre and gruesome tableau surrounded by a crowd of gawkers. The deadly work is the latest “art installation” designed by a diabolical criminal dubbed the Ferryman. Not only is this criminal cold-blooded; he’s a narcissistic exhibitionist desperate for an audience. He’s also clever at promoting his deadly handiwork. Exploiting England’s current true-crime craze, he uses social media to titillate and terrorize the public.

Ruth is joined in the investigation by her partner Greg Carver, who is slowly regaining his strength after a run-in with another sadistic criminal. But Greg can’t seem to shake the bewildering effects of the head wound that nearly ended him. Are the strange auras blurring his vision an annoying side effect of his injury, or could they be something more . . . a tool to help him see a person’s true nature?

In this utterly engrossing and thrilling tale of suspense, a pair of seasoned detectives face off against a wickedly smart and inventive psychopath in a tense, bloody game that leads to a shocking end.

My Review:

When I read Splinter in the Blood last year (the first book in this series), I was floored with the debut of such a unique serial killer!  Where we had the Thorn Killer in the first book, Dyer brings us The Ferryman in book two, The Cutting Room.  He's a bit more maniacal, narcissistic and has a propensity for needing his social media numbers to GROW! Haven't we all been there? *wink*

The author brings us some exciting visuals with the Ferryman and his "art" - putting them into some grotesquely beautiful pieces.  He's very methodical and even uses his online fandom to help perpetuate his macabre plans.  But how long can he evade Carver and Lake? Or will his ego lead to his downfall? AND WILL HE EVER REACH HIS SOCIAL MEDIA NUMBERS?  Haha - I joke here but honestly, in this day and age people are so glued to their phones and some have a sense of importance that only is as equal to the number of followers they have on any given social media platform.  I'm not gonna try and pretend that it's not nice to see those numbers grow.. but I don't think I'd be as pressed as the Ferryman to go to these lengths to get them.  PHEW!  

I honestly love these characters.  As partners, Carver and Lake look out for each other.  While Carver is still recovering and dealing with the issues the Thorn Killer brought to him in book one, now we have Lake dealing with her own personal ties.  These two can't catch a break.  It's because of this, I'd recommend reading these in order as you may feel a little bit lot on some back stories if you do not.

I did find that this one seemed to read slower for me than the first book.  It took me a bit to get into the story line and I found myself willing for the pacing to quicken up a bit.  For me, however, it did not.  Thankfully the intrigue of this villain and my love for the main characters helped me through and I absolutely am looking forward to book three.


Jessica's Review:

Last year I couldn't stop recommending Dyer's debut SPLINTER IN THE BLOOD. Talk about a creepy, gruesome, and unique serial killer we found in the Thorn Killer. Now, Dyer has brought back Carver and Lake to face their newest case with The Ferryman.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love when authors tie social media into these crime fiction novels. The topic of social media and an online presence is so relevant and relatable in today's world. Who hasn't been obsessed with watching their follower numbers grow at one point or another? I'll admit, it's always fun to hit that next milestone number. Well, The Ferryman brings this obsession to a whole new level. I mean, who doesn't love a narcissistic killer?

Sharing his gruesome works of "art" online to his captivated followers draws in the attention of Carver and Lake. Both still dealing with issues that occurred with the Thorn Killer from book one (definitely recommend picking that one up before starting book two). While this one did move a little slower than SPLINTER IN THE BLOOD, I felt it was a solid follow up and a good continuation in the series. I know it's common in crime series to have books two or three feel like a filler or a set up for greater things in the following book, but this one did not disappoint.

What I've enjoyed in both books is how unique the killers are. The Thorn Killer in book one was unlike any I had really seen before and The Ferryman takes a completely different turn. If you're looking for a new serial killer crime fiction series, then I highly recommend getting to know Carver and Lake!

4 stars

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson @penguinusa @penguinbooks @jessmapreviews #craigdavidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club 
by Craig Davidson

Thank you Penguin Books for these copies!

Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: July 9, 2019
240 Pages
Genres: Horror, Coming of Age, Young Adult

A short, irresistible, and bittersweet coming-of-age story in the vein of "Stranger Things" and "Stand by Me" about a group of misfit kids who spend an unforgettable summer investigating local ghost stories and urban legends.

Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls--a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place--Jake Baker spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Calvin decides to initiate them all into the "Saturday Night Ghost Club." But as the summer goes on, what begins as a seemingly lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory and storytelling, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.

My Review:

"Reality never changes.  Only our recollections of it do."

I absolutely love Nick Cutter so when I found out ages ago that his other pen name is Craig Davidson, I wanted to dive in and read some of his work under that name.. and I finally did with this short book.  I love that the styles of writing are so different and really resonates in why he might have chosen to write under both names. Maybe? I dunno.  Either way, he's talented no matter what name he writes under. Period.  

Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into the meaty goodness of this story.  Once I was in though, I could feel the sting of a bb pellet, the crunch of a broken nose, the loyalty and love within a family and the support of those closest to you when maybe you're used to always being a bit of an outsider.

This is a coming of age story that just resonates with this feeling that I can't quite put into words.  I think if you consider as an adult how you look back at how you saw the world as a kid or how you see the world again through your own child's eyes... that's the best way I can put this.  One of the things that I really enjoyed as well was the back lay of how the brain works.  Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.  

For a book that's slightly longer than a novella, it really does pack a punch.


Jessica's Review:

I very recently learned that Craig Davidson and Nick Cutter are one in the same! So I was excited to pick up this shorter story by Craig Davidson. THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB is a coming of age story about the summer of Jake's twelfth year - the summer The Saturday Night Ghost Club began.

Jake, Billy, Uncle C, Lex, and Dove make up the Saturday Night Ghost Club. They go on missions throughout their town near Niagara Falls visiting different areas and hearing about local legends. What Davidson treats us to is a story of family love, loyalty, friendship, and trying to find your place in the world.

This book took me a lot longer to get into than I was hoping. Being barely over 200 pages, it took about until the halfway point for me to feel really invested in the story. The imagery was great and Davidson really connected you to the characters. I think the issue for me was in the pacing of the story. I did enjoy the parts from Jake as an adult and neurosurgeon. Hearing tidbits about the brain and how funny a thing like memories can be. If you're looking for a short story this summer, then I definitely recommend this one.

3.5 stars

Monday, July 8, 2019

Blog Tour Spotlight: Bad Axe County by John Galligan @atriabooks #johngalligan

Bad Axe County
by John Galligan

Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: July 9, 2019
Kindle Edition
336 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

Fifteen years ago, Heidi White’s parents were shot to death on their Bad Axe County farm. The police declared it a murder-suicide and closed the case. But that night, Heidi found the one clue she knew could lead to the truth—if only the investigators would listen.

Now Heidi White is Heidi Kick, wife of local baseball legend Harley Kick and mother of three small children. She’s also the interim sheriff in Bad Axe. Half the county wants Heidi elected but the other half will do anything to keep her out of law enforcement. And as a deadly ice storm makes it way to Bad Axe, tensions rise and long-buried secrets climb to the surface.

As freezing rain washes out roads and rivers flood their banks, Heidi finds herself on the trail of a missing teenaged girl. Clues lead her down twisted paths to backwoods stag parties, derelict dairy farms, and the local salvage yard—where the body of a different teenage girl has been carefully hidden for a decade.

As the storm rages on, Heidi realizes that someone is planting clues for her to find, leading her to some unpleasant truths that point to the local baseball team and a legendary game her husband pitched years ago. With a murder to solve, a missing girl to save, and a monster to bring to justice, Heidi is on the cusp of shaking her community to its core—and finding out what really happened the night her parents died.

JOHN GALLIGAN is the author of the novels Red Sky, Red DragonflyThe Nail KnotThe Clinch KnotThe Wind Knot, and Bad Axe County. He lives and teaches writing in Madison, Wisconsin

Sunday, July 7, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager @duttonbooks @jessmapreviews

Lock Every Door 
by Riley Sager

Thank you Dutton Books for these copies! Riley Sager is a favorite author of ours and boy oh boy did we get another wicked story.  Continue below for our thoughts.

Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: July 2, 2019
Kindle Edition
384 Pages
Genre: Thriller

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

My Review:

ARGH YOU GUYS.  I'm so torn in how I feel about this book.  Sager has a way of writing that keeps you absolutely addicted to each and every page and I was definitely intrigued with this book for the majority.  I can absolutely relate to Jules in the sense of being in NYC, needing money and being fascinated with the structure and back stories that come with the amazing buildings that make up this vast city.  SpOOoOooOooky, for real.  Imagine having the opportunity to "apartment sit" for $1000 a WEEK, under the table.  You just have to follow some specific rules but hey, after 3 months, just a summer really, you walk away with $12,000 clean and can finally start over.  I mean.... who wouldn't???... right?.....  Everything quickly goes haywire and the author takes us from the past 5 days... ONLY 5 DAYS... and to where Jules is now, trying to tell the authorities her crazy story.  

This has the same addictability as The Final Girls did but where The Final Girls delivered in the ending, I think the ending of this will be highly divisive amongst thriller readers.  What I love best about this story and that the author has you riding along happily in one direction just to give you whiplash and take a hard left turn into another one.  I'm absolutely NOT mad about it.  I'm just a little baffled as to whether I liked it or if it was just an ok ending for me.  I love being surprised but I was more in an ah... so that's the ticket... kind of feel for it more so than shocked.  Am I making any sense?  

"I'm the kind of girl you don't want to fuck with."  Ah, Jules.  I'm not entirely sure I believe that entirely.  But YOU GO GIRL.  I do think if the story went just a *teeny* bit further, I would've been a little bit happier in terms of it going completely crazy.  I will say there were a couple of parts where I was screaming, "I KNEW IT!!!"  Listen, I was highly entertained and absolutely FLEW through this novel.  I will continually pick up Sager over and over and OVER again.  There's no getting past the talent that this author has in keeping me highly entertained from first page to last. 

Prepare yourself for some surprises with this one and lets dish about it when you go to this read.


Jessica's Review:

Holy crap, guys. Riley Sager quickly became an auto-buy author for me after FINAL GIRLS and I was reminded why after I picked up LOCK EVERY DOOR. I sat down with this on Sunday night, couldn’t get very far because sleep was needed, but I flew through pages 80 until the end in about 2 hours on Monday. I just couldn’t stop!
Jules is having a rough time. She was just let go from her job and then she comes home to find her long-term boyfriend with another woman. She moves out and looks for a new job. She finds an ad for an apartment sitter at one of the most secretive and high-profile buildings in Manhattan – The Bartholomew. She gets to live in one of their luxury apartments, rent free, AND she’ll be paid $1,000 a week for her 3 month stay. The job comes with specific rules: no visitors, no nights away from the apartment, and do not disturb the other residents. Seems like an easy way to make a good amount of money, right?
The Bartholomew, of course, has a mysterious and creepy past. Is the building haunted? Why are other apartment sitters disappearing without a trace? Jules is determined to get to the bottom of things even if it puts her residency and her life at risk.
Let me tell you, I was not expecting that ending. The big reveal was not what I was anticipating because Sager did a phenomenal job pulling us in a different direction. The suspense stayed consistent throughout the book, a sense of foreboding loomed overhead, and you couldn’t deny all the weird things happening. If you’re a fan of Sager then this is an obvious addition to your TBR. If you’re wanting a binge-worthy thriller with a Gothic backdrop, then you’ll definitely love this one.
5 stars

Friday, July 5, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Gone Too Long by Lori Roy @jessmapreviews @duttonbooks

Gone Too Long 
by Lori Roy

Thank you Dutton Books for these copies.  

Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: June 25, 2019
Kindle Edition
320 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Fiction

Two-time Edgar Award–winning author Lori Roy entangles readers in a heart-pounding tale of two women battling for survival against a century’s worth of hate.  
On the day a black truck rattles past her house and a Klan flyer lands in her front yard, ten-year-old Beth disappears from her Simmonsville, Georgia, home. Armed with skills honed while caring for an alcoholic mother, she must battle to survive the days and months ahead.

Seven years later, Imogene Coulter is burying her father—a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from—and trying to escape the memories his funeral evokes. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father's apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.
As Imogene begins to uncover the truth of what happened to young Beth all those years ago, her father’s heir apparent to the Klan’s leadership threatens her and her family. Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love.

My Review:

Here's the thing with this read.  It is interspersed with real history of the KKK, which I always find fascinating and really did add to this story.  The story goes from Imogene in the present to Beth in the past and then how they collide later. The writing is fantastic - this is my first by this author and I can understand the accolades given to her for her talent.  However, for me personally, this story did drag on a bit.  I was more fascinated and invested in Beth's side of the story.  Being inside Imogene's head was painful at times.

This story is a bit haunting and certainly isn't an easy one to read.  The KKK has held a prominent place in our history.  Growing up in the south (and by south, I mean deep real south of Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, etc...), I've certainly been privy to their stupid and scary klan.  Unfortunately in today's climate, they're popping back up more in the public eye and it's terrifying... absolutely terrifying.  But this story is more than just about the KKK.  It's about being a part of a family, being scared, dealing with loyalty and WANTING to be "good", but knowing you really can't.  

It's harrowing and timely and not an easy one to get through.  I struggled at times with the pacing and it didn't QUITE hit the mark for me.  


Jessica's Review:

This was my second outing with Lori Roy and once again, I loved her writing! I need to pick up more from Roy the next time I’m browsing through the bookstore. This wasn’t what I was expecting it to be – I was expecting more of a thriller but I got so much more! A woman that spent her life desperately trying to distance herself as much as possible from her father and his strong connections to the Klan must now face his past.
Imogene has to come home to bury her father. A man that she spent her life distancing from because of his involvement with the Klan. After the funeral, Imogene needs to clear out his possessions from his hideout – what she found changes things forever. Behind a locked door in the basement was a young girl, Beth, and she was alive and well. How did she get there? How long as she been there? What was her father doing? So many questions.
We get to see through Beth’s perspective and Imogene’s as the story progresses. While there is a mystery element to it and some suspense, there is also the historical aspect to this book. The author does include real events, and unfortunately there are still events as recent as 2017 with the Klan. I think the only thing that dropped my rating down a little bit was that there were some parts that really slowed down for me, otherwise I would highly recommend it!
4 stars