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Thursday, February 28, 2019

REVIEW: Dark Chains by LaTasha B. Braxton @Itsmzchampagne

Dark Chains 
by LaTasha B. Braxton

Thank you so much to the author for this copy.

Self Published
Publish Date: April 7, 2018
Kindle Edition
Genre: Memoir

Dark Chains is an inspirational and spiritual book about a misguided young girl who struggles to survive mental, emotional, and physical abuse. Plagued by decades of pain, mental illness and generational curses. She enters a life without God at a young age, and finds herself infatuated with the idea of escaping and never returning to the abusive life she once was subjected, manipulated and conditioned to living in.

My Review:

How does one properly review a memoir that is this poignant about the abuse and mistreatment of youth and the author's own experiences? I'm grateful to the author for putting her words out there and honoring me with a copy.  As painful as it was for her to write, I am certain this will help those that are going through the same things and to know that hope is out there and that you can overcome your past.

The things she went through as a child - the horrors that seemed to culminate chapter by chapter were sometimes hard to read.  Her honesty in how she dealt with these, the people that helped to ease some of the painful moments, the actions she took to herself as a way of dealing and escaping and how she found a way to become better despite this being an undercurrent for the rest of her life.  

I'm not a religious person but I commend that she found God and that has made all the difference in her life. While I think SHE made all the difference in her life, having that faith is admirable.  This will surely help those that are going through the same type of experiences.  Unfortunately, this is all too real in the world that we live in.

Thank you for sharing your story.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

REVIEW: Rabid Heart by Jeremy Wagner @JeremyXWagner

Rabid Heart 
by Jeremy Wagner

Thank you to the author for this copy and for Night Worms to include a copy as well in their February Package - Feral Love.

Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Publish Date: August 10, 2018
258 Pages
Genres: Horror, Apocalyptic

How far would you go for love when all you love is DEAD?

Six months after the Necro Rabies pandemic has turned the world into hordes of rabid undead known as "Cujos," 21 year-old Rhonda Driscoll discovers her zombified fiancé, Brad, in her old hometown.

Fearing that her Marine Colonel father will kill undead Brad, Rhonda flees, taking a road-trip with Brad in tow in hopes of starting a new life in a frightening and uncertain world complicated by numerous perils, pure horror, joy, heartbreak, and unconditional love.

My Review:

I love a good zombie book as much as the next person.  I do think Zombies have been a bit over-saturated and this was reminiscent of Warm Bodies and Shaun of the Dead so it's not a new story line.  However, in my research, I think I remember seeing this was originally written in 2012 where I think it would've been received slightly better before the full on Zombies started taking over the more modern mainstream.

That being said, I really enjoyed this!  In the beginning, I was like WHAT... Rhnnnnddd…. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Maybe I don't love enough, but I'm pretty sure if my fiancé turned into a zombie, I'd pop a cap in his head socket and be done with it... and I'd hope he'd do the same for me! But as all tragic love stories go, we love who we love and we want what we want. Just how far would you go to try and save your love?  I giggled at the Cujos name along with Deadnut.  I'm a child, what can I say.  It did make the book seem a bit farcical but I wasn't minding.  

What drew me into the story line most was the kids.  Oh these precocious kids having to grow up FAST in a zombie filled world.  Someone get Ellen all the emblems for her sash! When they entered the story, this is where it shined.  I was more worried about them than anyone else.

As the story progressed, I became more involved.  I wasn't fully invested but some of these characters... oh boy.. never help a man whose children locked themselves in the trunk.  Just saying.  Overall, I did enjoy this short ride and adventure with Rhonda. Zombie love stories do hold a place in my heart and I'm glad Wagner brought us his.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald @gallerybooks @Christinamac79

The Night Olivia Fell 
by Christina McDonald

Thank you to Gallery Books for these free copies.

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
369 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

My Review:

I'm not a mother so I can only imagine what it would feel like to find out that your only child fell of a bridge, is pregnant (surprise!) and the police aren't doing a very good job at trying to find out if this was an accident or not.

Teeter tottering between Abi's (the mom) perspective and Olivia's (the daughter), we see the struggles Abi goes through as she realizes everything she did to try and protect Olivia couldn't protect her from this.  We also see how Olivia deals with the normal teen angst of peer pressure, mean girls, first loves.. the whole gamut.  Because half of the book was devoted to her perspective, at times this definitely felt like a YA read, which was absolutely ok for me! Mostly predictable, I didn't realize how invested I was until that ending came.  Anyone reading knows where this road eventually leaves, I was just surprised how much it actually impacted me and this is where the book really shines.  Kudos to McDonald for bringing that much emotion to that scene.

Secrets never stay secrets... that's just the way life goes.  Sometimes those secrets can be deadly -  never underestimate the anger of a teenager, the depth of a mother's love or a person's ability to do whatever they have to in order to protect whatever part of their life they feel is most important.


Jessica's Review:

Another thriller/suspense novel that has my attention immediately from the prologue! THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL by Christina McDonald is about a mother and daughter, Abigail (Abi) and Olivia. Abi receives a phone call that every parent never wants to get – the hospital informing her that her daughter had had an accident. She fell off the ZigZag Bridge in town and sustained extensive and irreversible brain damage.
We go back and forth between Abi’s perspective (present) and Olivia’s perspective (the months leading up to the night she fell). This was more of a suspense novel than a thriller and it definitely kept me guessing throughout! Who can Abi trust? What really happened to Olivia? Who was responsible for Olivia’s fall? I went back and forth a couple of times but when the reveal came I was happy with that outcome.
This is more than just a whodunit type suspense. This dives into the complicated relationship that exists between a single mother and her daughter. Olivia begins asking questions that Abi is not prepared to face head-on just yet and so begins the unraveling of their dynamic. I think McDonald did a great job fleshing out the characters for us to where they felt authentic. I also think that she wove the timelines together effortlessly to where you didn’t feel lost or like you were missing any kind of information as the story began to build.
I really enjoyed the epilogue at the end because it answered a couple of questions I would have had if the story just ended. If you’re looking for a solid suspense building story and digging up long buried secrets, then this is the one for you! Just be warned, it’s an emotional one! I’ll definitely be picking up more from McDonald after this one.
5 stars 

Monday, February 25, 2019

REVIEW: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing @berkleypub @smariedowning

My Lovely Wife
by Samantha Downing

Thanks to Berkley for this copy - a fun romp of a domestic, psychological thriller..

Publisher: Berkley 
Publish Date: March 26, 2019
359 Pages
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Domestic Thriller

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder. 

My Review:

I absolutely love power couple serial killers.  There's something about seeing the whole story through the eyes of the killers rather than a detective or victim that just tingles me in a different way. My Lovely Wife was an absolute fun ride.  

One of the things I loved was that this was through the husband's eyes the entire time.  It's fun to get inside a man's head.  Imagine finding your soul mate, finding out that you both have a dark side and then exploring that side with him or her.  Execution, checkmate and then... wait, what?! Hello surprises, what do you have for me today.... *eyebrow wiggle*.  Honestly, I guessed the two major twists from the onset but dang if I didn't have fun watching it all play out.

I loved the family dynamics and how the actions that happened in the secretive lives bled into their personal ones.  Actions upon actions upon actions!  There was one tiny twist that I actually didn't see coming.  Wasn't entirely surprised but was like all right, all right... got me! Absolutely agree with the Mr. and Mrs. Smith vibe in this dark story peppered with levity.  

Lovers of the fast paced writing style of B.A. Paris and Claire Macintosh will enjoy this author as well.  Fast paced, engaging and deviously delightful, I definitely highly recommend this book and look forward to a lot more from this author.


REVIEW: Golden Child by Claire Adam @hogarthbooks @tlcbooktours @Claire_Trini

Golden Child
by Claire Adam

Thank you to Hogarth and TLC Book Tours for this free copy!

Publisher: SJP for Hogarth
Publish Date: January 29, 2019
288 Pages
Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary

A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices about scarcity, loyalty, and love

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn't come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul's fate, his world shatters--leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, Golden Child is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.


Uff. The choices parents have to make. This is an interesting book.  I love these types of books that get you thinking.  We're looking at a book that will definitely make you feel... but for me, I didn't quite get that impact until the end.  Then my emotions kind of spiked and fell with different thoughts and boy do I love it when a book does that.

We get different POVs but the majority of it is through Clyde's eyes. There's back and forth in timeline and while the writing is beautiful, it did fall a little stale for me in keeping me absolutely locked in the pages. What's great about this book is that it will give you a perspective that maybe you won't agree with, but it will also make you think that different people are under different circumstances and pressures and their choices are molded by these.  While this can be hard to take for some readers, I found this absolutely fascinating.  Yes, I was like WHAT?! OMG. HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?!  But who is to say what is right or wrong when it comes to someone else's family and culture? 

As a debut novel, I am floored.  I'm unsure about how I felt about the ending, even though that is what makes the book so powerful.  I wasn't as invested in the characters as much as I had hoped to be, however, seeing this unfold in my mind's eye was kind of like being a foreigner in Trinidad watching a live movie.  Get me?

This will definitely be an interesting one for some readers. 


Friday, February 22, 2019

REVIEW: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella @penguinrandom @KinsellaSophie

I Owe You One 
by Sophie Kinsella 

Thank you The Dial Press / Random House for this copy.

Publisher: The Dial Press
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
448 Pages
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

My Review:

I always love picking up a Kinsella book as my palate cleanser in between my more thrillery reads.  Her books are always light and fluffy and the perfect in betweeners.  I didn't quite like this one as much as her others, but I did find it adorable.

Fixie is one of those girls who always wants to fix things - can never say no and rarely, if ever, stands up for herself.  At first this was SO ANNOYING.  Like, c'mon girl - take that inner monologue and LET IT OUT.  But I will say that a certain orchid incident did make me laugh out loud.  As an awkward and clumsy girl who also has a hard time saying no sometimes,  this is where I started to feel for her, became less annoyed and more entertained.

In speaking with a friend about this book, at 70 pages in, I knew exactly what was coming. Called it from the get go.  Now it was just a matter in how it was going to play out.  This may have been a bit too cushy for me over all and lacked that certain spark I felt with Kinsella's previous writings.  However, still adorable with family dynamics, first loves, new experiences and finding a backbone.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

REVIEW: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows 
by Wilson Rawls

💖GAH! This book.  EVERY. SINGLE.TIME.💖  

Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: September 1, 1986, first published 1961
212 Pages
Genres: Classics, YA

Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann -- a Boy and His Two Dogs...
A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains -- and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. And close by was the strange and wonderful power that's only found...
An exciting tale of love and adventure you'll never forget.

My Review:

I had read this book for the first time as a child and have been mesmerized with it ever since. My Dad gave me the 25th anniversary edition on Christmas of 1986 and I have tried to read it every year since.  It had been a couple of years since I had reread so I was over due.  When I found out a friend was reading it for the VERY FIRST TIME, I had to buddy read it with her.  Opening up that first page was like greeting an old friend again.  And that was it - I was back in the mountains with my favorite doggies and Billy.

I thought after SO many reads that eventually it wouldn't get to me as much as it used to but no... even though I know every scene, I found myself laughing at certain parts, getting angry in others and then flat out ugly crying at the very end. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

Billy is probably my favorite character of all time.  This kid has got gumption! His bond with these dogs, all the hard work, the sweat and blood he gave - I wish I had half the focus that he did.  When there's a will, there's a way! The family dynamics, struggle and a boy's view of the world are astounding.  Rawls has me feeling like I'm barefoot, running through the Ozarks, whooping at my dogs on the hunt.  

Y'all, this isn't even in my normal wheelhouse of books I read and yet I remember distinctly the very first time I picked this book up.  It has been my absolutely favorite book of all time and no other book has changed my mind since.

I could go on and on and on about this book, my love for it, the deep connection I have with this story on a level that can't even be explained.  If you haven't read this book yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up RIGHT NOW.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks @adeleparks @harlequinbooks

I Invited Her In 
by Adele Parks

Thank you to MIRA for these advanced copies.

Publisher: MIRA
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
432 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Imagine the worst thing a friend could ever do.

This is worse. 

When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.

But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.

After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?

I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy, and revenge from Sunday Times best-seller Adele Parks. 

My Review:

With friends like these, who needs enemies!! I think we've all had that person at some point in our lives that we looked up to or who awed us and wish we could be like.  Whether younger, older, a peer... that person just has this extra special shine.  As you get older, you realize that what seems to perfect rarely is.

Mel and Abi have such a relationship and it's funny how the tables can turn, what manipulations will manifest and how twisted the mind can be to make you only see what you want and to justify the actions that are taken.

I honestly found this book to be highly predictable - absolutely nothing shocked me and yet I could NOT put this down either.  The writing is easy, it flows and even when I knew what was coming, I was still anticipating HOW it would all play out.  Mothers are FIERCE!  Friendships are glass that can easily crack. Bitches be CRAZY.

Honestly, this domestic drama - I didn't find this to be quite "thrillery" enough for the genre - is a bit insane and I absolutely adored all of it.  Need a quick page turner on how opposites attract in a friendship where obsession is not always one sided? Then absolutely pick this one up and get involved.


Jessica's Review:

More domestic thrillers for 2019! I'm a big fan of the domestic thriller genre because there are many directions the authors can go with them. I INVITED HER IN by Adele Parks examines the complicated past of the friendship between Abi and Mel. A college friendship that needed to stay buried along with the memories between them.

One day Mel receives an email from a college friend, Abi. Someone she hasn't heard from in years, and would have liked to have kept it that way. Abi is desperate for a place to stay as she gets some personal things figured out. Wouldn't you let an old friend stay for a couple of days? Mel quickly comes to regret this decision.

I think this is a great thriller for those that are new to the thriller genre. While I did figure this one out about midway through the book, that didn't take away from the book for me. I know that this is one that has a lot of readers divided (which always makes for great discussions), and I can understand why. This was a relatively quick read and I enjoyed it! I loved the writing and how Parks illustrated their complicated friendship for us - nothing felt too fake or over the top. I will definitely be going back to find more from Parks!

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Disconjugate Gaze by Daniel Rufer @disconjugate

Disconjugate Gaze 
by Daniel Rufer

A special thank you to the author, and my friend, Dan for this copy. ❤

Publish Date: January 13, 2019
Kindle Edition
203 Pages
Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction

About four years ago, I woke up with numbness in my left foot which, over a period of just six weeks, spread to the entire left side of my body. The numbness was caused by a vascular anomaly called a cavernous malformation. Long-story short, the “cav mal” required a ten-hour brain surgery to halt its expansion into my brainstem. While the surgery most certainly saved my life, it further debilitated the left side of my body, paralyzed the right side of my face, caused permanent double-vision, and required a three-week stay in the hospital. After all that and countless hours of physical and occupational therapy, I’ve been able to resume a full life, though my motor-skill deficiencies, numbness, and double-vision persist. 

Disconjugate Gaze is the story of my health struggle from the date of diagnosis through one year of recovery.


My friend, Dan, wrote this memoir about his experience with cavernous malformation.  Imagine having your world blown up by one phone call from a doctor, thinking there was something wrong with your back and it turns out, it's inside your own head - literally!  Bags packed, phone calls made, newlywed plans broken and days that turn into weeks that turn into months with what feels like almost NO progress.  Just how strong do you have to be to go through something like this? Or do you find the strength in getting through it?

I'm not too big of a memoir fan and while I may be a bit biased since I have sat down and spoke with the author about this journey a couple of times, I am never dishonest in my reviews.  I am thoroughly impressed with Dan's writing.  There is a lot of humor that I know now is just his personality, that shines through and adds some levity to what is a very serious situation.  Each chapter headlines another occurrence - checking in, dealing with dickhead doctors, nurses, aides, dealing with amazing doctors who kept some of the anxiousness at bay.  Going through the surgery and then the recovery - this is where Mr. Rufer really pulls you in as we travel through his journey with each new and frustrating experience.  The eventual low point that these situations somehow always puts humans in and then the uplift, acknowledgment and eventual acceptance.  

I cannot, for a minute, imagine what he went through but this book certainly gives me a better understanding.  The medical explanations weren't overly done so you don't get bogged down by a bunch of medical speak.  Instead, you learn with him.  I appreciate the journey he took me on.  I applaud Rufer's courage, adaptability, humor and overall HUMANITY with the initial shock of all of this - to the continued improvement of living his best life. 

Thank you for your story and for the acknowledgment and seeing a therapist with my name was an added surprise!


Monday, February 18, 2019

#ATBR2018 Review: The Break Line by James Brabazon @berkleypub @james_brabazon

The Break Line
by James Brabazon

Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: January 29, 2019
368 Pages
Series: Max McLean #1
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent. 

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he's never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It's his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.

My Review:

The first in a series, Brabazon brings a LOT to the table.  Action packed from beginning to end, each new decisions McLean makes throws him into a different trajectory.  The first decision he made, when he went against orders, was not like him but even as a hardened assassin, he finds it difficult to kill those that are innocent. This may not end well for him. 😉

A lot of characters are introduced and he finds betrayals amongst them and within himself.  We also get a tangle of a medical thriller with speak of cholera, etc.  What else can Brabazon include?!  It's not overly done, which is nice.  He does a fine job in building McLean's character and as with all first in a series, lays the groundwork for the next.  McLean is reminiscent of other characters like him - highly intelligent, master of his trade, and whether you like his actions or not, you get a soft spot for him.

While this type of thriller is not my favorite kind in the subgenres of thrillers, I did find the story interesting while with so much going on, there were some lulls within the pages... but very little - small set ups for the next bullet to dodge. (see what I did there?)

A great start to the beginning of a series I can only see getting crazier. 


Jessica's Review:

If you've followed my blog or reviews at all you'll know that I'm a fan of the espionage thrillers. Throw in the assassins, secret government agencies, or international intrigue any day! THE BREAK LINE by James Brabazon is the first in a new and exciting series. We're introduced to Max McLean - the kind of assassin that has some morals. Of course, these morals get him into some hot water. 

I think that Brabazon packed a ton into this first book for us. Not necessarily a bad thing though. I think a lot is being set up now for future installments and I'll be curious to see where those lead. McLean is a character I really enjoyed getting to know and can't wait to see how his story progresses and grows. 

If you're also a fan of the assassin thrillers and the cat-and-mouse games against the government or other entities, then this is perfect for you! Like I mentioned, this is the beginning of a new series and I'll definitely be picking up book two to see where Brabazon is going to take things. 

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor @tlcbooktours @cjtudor @crownpublishing #ATBR2019 #allthebookreviews

The Hiding Place
by C.J. Tudor

Thank you to Crown Publishing and TLC Book Tours for this copy and stop on the tour.
As a fan of The Chalk Man, Tudor's debut, I was very much looking forward to this one.
Jessica and I had similar thoughts but different feels and I love it when we don't always quite match - see our full thoughts below and decide if this one may or may not be for you.

Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
288 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Horror

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang--the betrayal, the suicide, the murder--and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn't have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe's sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town--while avoiding the enemies he's made in the years since--is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn't the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

My Review:

OK. So this one is going to garner some VERY interesting reviews.  Here's the thing - while I was very meh about The Chalk Man up until the final scene - which changed the whole thing for me, I felt The Hiding Place read smoother and kept my interest from the first page.

Tudor, based on these two books, seems to like the bully/loner kid theme.  This main character was a little of both and struggling with not only his own very deep issues of addiction and long term grief but with returning to his home town where he is very clearly not wanted. (Yet another book that gives me great happiness to not have grown up in a small town.)

When things become all too similar to what happened to his sister to yet another family, he needs some answers and quite frankly, so did I.  The opening scene really snagged me, not gonna lie.  Based on that alone, I started to get maybe some changeling vibes and I don't know why but that continued to stick in my head even though it wasn't quite what it was.  Am I making sense?  Do you ever get an idea in your head about a read and then can't quite get yourself stuck off that idea even though it absolutely is not going in that direction? I almost thought it was until it went in a different direction and yet I couldn't stop holding on to this idea!

The thing with this book is that I had already heard a lot of King similarities and grumbles about The Chalk Man from some reviewers and this one is going to do the same.  Avid King readers are not going to be happy about the similarities that are all too familiar in this book to a certain very well loved book.  Those who aren't familiar with King will absolutely adore and love this book and like the thriller/horror mix.  Me?  Well I'm both an avid King reader and lover and while for some reason the light bulb didn't go off until a friend pointed it out, it was definitely an Ohhhhhhhhh moment and yet I STILL LOVE THIS BOOK.  Does this make me a horrible King fan? NOPE.  Sometimes you just get enraptured in a book and get blinders to what else is happening. Quite frankly, I absolutely see it now but I'm going off the exact feeling when I turned that last page and well I really was highly entertained and that last chapter made my little black heart go ok... ok now... ❤

To each their own my friends and this is one of the best things I love about reading and how subjective everything is. I felt Tudor gave a great story with some very flawed characters and creepy scenes.  You pick up this book and decide on your own which way you'll sway.  


Jessica's Review:

So like a lot of other thriller fans THE CHALK MAN was an extremely popular and well-liked debut last year. I was anxiously awaiting the release of CJ Tudor’s newest release because I loved the blend of thriller and some added horror to the mix. THE HIDING PLACE was a little harder to place for me – I love her writing and the way she weaves a thrilling story, but something just didn’t work for me.

Joe Thorne is doing something he never thought he would do – returning to his hometown. With a dark past he tried to escape, he must now face his old friends that have since turned against him, as well as his enemies in town. What happened all those years ago? Who was at fault? What really happened with his sister? All questions that Tudor has you wondering as she pulls you through the story with a good pace and enough building suspense.

This one was hard for me – this was very different from THE CHALK MAN for me. I think I’m more middle ground on this but I can see why this worked incredibly for other readers. I got major Stephen King vibes in this one, but things felt a little too similar to PET SEMATARY (a book that I love). I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’m all for paying homage to an author you admire and love, but there were too many similarities to the story for me.

If you’re a fan of some supernatural elements thrown in with your thrillers, then this will be perfect for you! If you enjoyed Tudor’s previous book, then I highly recommend picking this up. There is no denying that she can weave a suspenseful and intricate story and I will continue to look for her future books.

3/5 stars

Sunday, February 17, 2019

REVIEW: In the River by Jeremy Robert Johnson @JRJ_Is_Probable @night_worms @

In the River 
by Jeremy Robert Johnson 

One of the novellas in Night Worms February package - absolutely recommend.

Publisher: Lazy Fascist Press
Publish Date: August 2, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Horror

An intensely moving tale of survival and madness along the river's edge. A father and son fishing lesson become a nightmarish voyage to the sea in this visionary testament to the lengths we will go for those we love. 

My Review:

WARNING: Horror with FEELINGS.  HORROR with feelings.

What a powerful novella about loss.... done in such a unique way that for me borderlined on mythology.  I weirdly got a very tiny ping of Pinocchio mixed in for some reason … don't even know why I'm admitting that - haha but it's funny where your mind goes sometimes when you're reading.
Honestly, I've been eyeing Mr. Johnson's Entropy in Bloom for a while now so when In the River showed up in Night Worm's February package I was so excited.  

This book.  You guys.  It drives you down DEEP into grief, madness, what's real or not real but who cares because you're on this roller coaster of feelings right along with the father.  And when a book can keep you so enraptured from the get go, well, there's something special about a novella that does that.


#ATBR2019: Never Tell by Lisa Gardner @duttonbooks @lisagardnerbks #allthebookreviews

Never Tell
by Lisa Gardner

Thank you Dutton Books and NetGalley for these early copies.
Jessica and I are big fans of Gardner's work and this one is no exception.

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: February 29, 2019
Kindle Edition
416 Pages
Series: Detective D.D. Warren #10
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman--Evie Carter--from a case many years back. Evie's father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim--a hostage--and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad's murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

My Review:

As a person who typically likes to read series books in order, I somehow ended up starting this series in book 8.  I have loved each book since and this is no exception.  While I think these books could potentially be read as standalones, I think the way Gardner builds each character book by book is in indicator that starting at the beginning to get the full feel of them may be the way to go.  However, I find myself FULLY invested in D.D. and now Flora just after three books.  

I am guessing from beginning to end.  And while I may not have been in jaw dropping shock when all was revealed, I was like I KNEW IT... but I actually didn't... but I did kinda shake my head like maybe I should've known?! Ha! I don't know what it is about Gardner, but her writing is so easy to read.  I love the banter and push back between the characters, the fleshing out of their characters some more and the revisit to a person from an old case for D.D. 

A series I highly recommend and will definitely be continuing to read.  I don't know what else Gardner has in store for Flora and D.D. (and Phil) but I am here for all of it.


Jessica's Review:

Every time I pick up a Lisa Gardner book I know I'm in for one hell of a thriller, and her newest release was no different! NEVER TELL is the next installment in the D.D. Warren series and the next book as she teams up with Flora. If you want strong female leads, then look no further. This could be read as a standalone but FIND HER and LOOK FOR ME I would highly recommend because you can get to know Flora better and their dynamic.

Not wanting to spoil anything about this book, I'll keep this short and sweet. When you start this one you'll want to make sure you have some time open because Gardner keeps you glued to the pages. She keeps you on your toes throughout and I'm always doubting myself as I try to figure it out. I enjoyed the ending and the build up and there's something she is fantastic at: building the characters. 

I highly recommend picking up any of Gardner's books. You'll get some kick ass female leads, suspense packed plot, and plenty of twists to keep you guessing. 

5/5 stars