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Sunday, March 31, 2019

REVIEW: Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins @amazonpub @MaxAllanCollins

Girl Most Likely 
by Max Allan Collins

Thank you to Little BIrd Publicity and Thomas & Mercer for this copy.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: April 1, 2019
272 Pages
Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Thriller

In a small Midwest town, twenty-eight-year-old Krista Larson has made her mark as the youngest female police chief in the country. She’s learned from the best: her father, Keith, a decorated former detective. But as accustomed as they are to the relative quiet of their idyllic tourist town, things quickly turn with Krista’s ten-year high school reunion.

With the out-of-towners holed up in a lakefront lodge, it doesn’t take long to stir up old grudges and resentments. Now a successful TV host, Astrid Lund, voted the “Girl Most Likely to Succeed”—and then some—is back in town. Her reputation as a dogged reporter has made the stunning blonde famous. Her reputation among her former classmates and rivals has made her infamous. Astrid’s list of enemies is a long one. And as the reunion begins, so does a triple murder investigation.

Krista and her father are following leads and opening long-locked doors from their hometown to the Florida suburbs to Chicago’s underworld. They just never imagined what would be revealed: the secrets and scandals of Krista’s own past.

My Review:

Remember that girl in high school you loved to hate.  The one who stole all the boyfriends, who dressed impeccably, who made you feel tiny and was voted the Most Likely to Succeed?  Well in this book, that girl is Astrid.  She shows up to the reunion dressed to the nines and people are already fawning all over her.. again!  Krista just kind of observes and is surprised when Astrid approaches her to apologize and ask for her help.  When Krista shows up to her house the next day... well, this is where the story starts to take off. 

I absolutely love the relationship between Krista and her father, Keith.  "Was it the kale?" 🤣 She brings him in on the murder investigation as a consultant and he notices a connection to another case and they're off and running to try and figure out who the killer is.  What I did love was the different point of views - especially of the killer as this was in a gender neutral voice and had me looking in one direction that didn't pan out.  (A detective, I most certainly am not!)

For me, this was a fun light thriller that reads like part police procedural and part high school turned adult drama.  The writing is fast paced and fun and you can see the personalities shine for each character.  Although I never figured out who the killer was, when the reveal came I just kinda went, "Oh ok."  Not surprised but it didn't hold much of an impact either.  

If you don't like to veer out of the thriller genre, this is a perfect palate cleanser in between the darker reads.  This is also perfect for a beach read or quick travel read as at under 300 pages, this one flies! I also found it highly entertaining. I would definitely read this author again.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Review: #toots by Linh Le James @LinhLeJames

by Linh Le James 

Thank you to the author for this hilarious read.

Kindle Edition
379 Pages
Genres: Humor, Womens' Fiction

A British non-romantic comedy built on white lies, pink elephants and grey areas.

LONDON: Four sisters swipe left on everything they hate in their life, one cocktail at a time. 

Louise dreams of an exotic lifestyle, miles away from Hackney. 
Nick comes along. Famous, fit, funny and filthy rich.
Louise will stop at nothing to seduce him. 

Louise will fake it till she makes it. All the way to the ka-ching bling ring. 
But the little white lies soon snowball into a mountain Louise’s Louboutins can’t climb. 

Jess juggles work, two babies, a cheating husband and nannies from hell. 
Carla goes on a bender, and wakes up next to her young assistant. Freddie.
Emily is getting over her cheating ex by throwing herself into the dating scene. 

When work, dating and proposals…all go wrong, the four sisters’ friendship is their only lifeline.

My Review:

OH this book! I think I'm still laughing about some of these scenes! And a book that gives you cocktail recipes for each chapter - um, yes please and thank you.

I may not have blood sisters but my best friends and I pretty much fit the bill with these crazy ladies. It's all a part of life right? Bad dates, bad decisions, hanging on to something that should've been let go ages ago, going after the wrong guy, passing up the right one... etc.

Listen, there were definite moments where I wanted to throttle these women and the writing took a little bit of getting used to as it seems everyone likes to talk and talk ALOT and the while never giving the other person room to breathe or answer. However, these women felt absolutely REAL to me! But I'm left with so many questions!! That ending - what the hell James!! Hahaha

You guys, there are some definite laugh out loud moments that made me snort laugh and get strange looks from the people around me and I do not care! For these moments along you should definitely pick this up.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing @berkleypub @smariedowning @jessmapreviews

My Lovely Wife
by Samantha Downing

Thanks to Berkley for these copies - we loved this one!


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.


Jessica's Review:

Prior to picking this one up, I had heard a lot of amazing things and had seen some glowing reviews. Well, I always try to go into those books with an open mind and not set expectations too high. I completely understand the hype. I can't believe that this is a debut novel. MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing was a 100% binge read for me and I read it in an evening.

We meet a happily married couple that have been married for 15 years and have two kids. They have steady jobs and live in a nice area - sounds like the picture perfect family. But, come on, we all know things aren't always as they seem. We see solely through the eyes of the husband and the author slowly feeds us little bits of information and background as the story progresses. When comparing this to Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith, they were spot on! I don't want to give away much more because it's best to go into this one knowing nothing more than the synopsis.

I loved the progression and the little reveals throughout, and make sure you read that epilogue! It was refreshing reading something from the perspective of the killers rather than the investigating detectives or police officers. I will always love getting into the minds of the killers and seeing what makes them tick. If you're looking for a fast-paced thriller, then I highly recommend picking this one up! Make sure you clear your schedule though because you won't want to stop. I can't wait to see what Downing comes out with next.

5 stars

Monday, March 25, 2019

REVIEW: The Haunted by Danielle Vega @razorbillbooks @vegarollins

The Haunted
by Danielle Vega

Thanks so much to Razorbill Books and Astoria Bookshop for this advanced copy.

Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: June 4, 2019
304 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror

Hendricks Becker-O’Malley is new in town, and she’s bringing baggage with her. With a dark and wild past, Hendricks doesn’t think the small town her parents moved her to has much to offer her in terms of excitement. She plans on laying low, but when she’s suddenly welcomed into the popular crowd at school, things don’t go as expected. 

Hendricks learns from her new friends that the fixer-upper her parents are so excited about is notorious in town. Local legend says it’s haunted. Hendricks doesn’t believe it. Until she’s forced to. Blood-curdling screams erupt from the basement, her little brother wakes up covered in scratches, and something, or someone pushes her dad down the stairs. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don’t take her first.

My Review:

I have seen Vega's Merciless series in the book stores so often that I've almost... ALMOST... bought one.  I'm not sure why I was hesitant.. maybe it's because I figured YA horror couldn't possibly be frightening... but these days I'm finding that I'm quite enjoying this mixed genre and Vega is making that belief a hardened one.

Haunted house and ghost/paranormal stories are a bit hit or miss for me.  Sometimes they downright freak me the f*** out and other times I'm rolling my eyes about the typical chains rattling, boo crap we see around a lot.  The Haunted, while maybe not SUPER scary, was definitely on the line of pure sinister and it wasn't until the very end that I did get that crawling sensation throughout my human sack.

Hendricks has moved into the Steele House and she has no idea that this one is well known throughout this small town she's just moved to.  Apparently a little girl died in the cellar and strange things keep happening.  She blows it off as pure rumor... until she starts being the recipient of said strange things.  But with her past, her parents blow it off as her PTSD and don't take her seriously.  

Interestingly enough, the parents are barely around so Hendricks is in charge of herself and her little brother quite often. This gives ample opportunity for this house to play with her mental state.  Slowly the story ramps up as we learn about Hendricks's past and the history of the house. Now, considering this is YA, I did have to take certain things with a grain of salt.  There is a little bit of insta-love that made me eye roll for a bit and when we got to a certain part I was like oh c'mon.... that's IT?  But no, no it wasn't and thank goodness! 

The story definitely took a little turn I wasn't expecting and with this I began to truly appreciate the story.  I'll tell you one thing though - I never liked old houses and certainly ones that are already rumored to be haunted... no thank you.  

This definitely is moderate on the creep factor, but the story is fast moving and as said before, has solidified my love for YA horror.  If you're a fan of Amy Lukavics, you will like Vega.  I'm certainly going to pick up the Merciless series the next time I run across them.


Friday, March 22, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Inspection by Josh Malerman @jessmapreviews

by Josh Malerman

Publisher: Del Rey
Publish Date: March 19, 2019
Kindle Edition
400 Pages
Genre: Horror

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.

But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.

My Review:

Phew. How do I begin.... this is my third Malerman.  I started with Bird Box which I loved... until the ending where I had some issues but a solid read and was then enthralled with his writing.  Black Mad Wheel was my next and woah, this was quite the read but I again had issues with the ending.  Then here comes Inspection and I could NOT help but request this because I'm utterly fascinated by Malerman's mind.  Like dumbfounded and I can't quite get enough. This one had a bit of the opposite effect for me - I quite liked the ending but it was the rest of it that didn't quite hit the mark for me.

It took me 8 days to read this and if you know me, that is a long time to read a book for me.  I kept putting it down but something kept making me pick it back up.  Each Part got more and more interesting and like with all of his work, I just needed to know where the hell he was taking me.  You definitely cannot expect to figure his books out and quite frankly that is what I adore about him as a writer.  I just wish I could get fully satisfied with any of the reads.  Now, maybe it's a good thing that I'm always a bit baffled and left confused and scratching my head like a monkey.  

The concept of this is extremely cool.  Two towers, two sets of children, named by the letters of the alphabet and set in quite the interesting world where there's a bit of a regiment.  But like with any experiment, something is bound to go wrong.. I mean, this is where we learn from our mistakes right? 

I don't know you guys.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  I don't quite put this in the horror category but there is that underlying sinister tone I felt throughout the read - it just never flourished into a big ... anything... for me to really feel its bite.

Regardless, I'll still pick up anything by Malerman.  Why? Because as aforementioned, his mind INTRIGUES ME GREATLY.  I give all the props to him for his uniqueness as all of his books are distinctively different from each other... so I have high hopes the next one will take a chunk out of my horror heart.


Jessica's Review:

I'll start by saying that there is no doubt Malerman knows how to weave an incredibly unique story with plenty of creepy elements in it. Something that is always refreshing for avid readers of the horror and thriller genres. INSPECTION is definitely a slower burn read, so that is something I think is good to know when you pick this up.
J is a student at an isolated and prestigious school for boys. He's only ever known men and their headmaster they see as their father (appropriately known as D.A.D). On the other end of this forest is a similar school for girls. K is a student that is been having the same questions as J - is there more outside this school? Why aren't they allowed to leave?

After seeing some reviews and talking to other readers about this one there is more and more that I'm noticing that may not have felt so prominent when I was reading. The concept of the book, as I stated, is very unique and you have give credit to Malerman for always coming up with something new and inventive. I think this was more so the execution that didn't quite work for me. I think the pacing kind of threw off the sinister vibe I was hoping for, I mean, schools stranded in the middle of the woods? Sounds like it could be incredibly scary and isolated. I will say, that I loved the ending. I wasn't expecting it and I think he did a great job tying everything together (without it being too perfect).

If you're a fan of suspense novels and a little apprehensive about diving into horror, then this is a good one to start with. I will continue to pick up Malerman's other books and I look forward to seeing what others thought!

3 stars

Thursday, March 21, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton @kjhauthor @harlequinbooks

The Perfect Girlfriend 
by Karen Hamilton

Thank you to Graydon House for these free advanced copies!

Publisher: Graydon House
Publish Date: March 26, 2019
352 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Juliette loves Nate.

She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain...

My Review:

Well, WOW. My crazy has NOTHING on this woman. She's about as bat shit as they come and quite frankly, that makes for quite a ride in this quasi-domestic, very much psychological, thriller.

As we only get one perspective, through Juliette/Lily's eyes, we get snippets of her past while her present is focused solely on getting her ex, Nate, back because THEY BELONG TOGETHER.  It's FATE. "If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back, they're yours. If they don't, make them." I'll give her one thing, she's consistent and once she's focused, there is NOTHING that will stop her.

I actually love books like these.  The obsession, the thought process they go through that justifies their crazy.  There's no one more determined than a woman (or man) who has their eyes set on someone.. at least not in this book.  Here's the thing though, I love to hate on characters and I love to LOVE the crazies.... but I couldn't find one redeeming quality in Lily/Juliette.  Nothing.  Even with the past, I didn't feel for her.  Maybe this makes me a hardened and jaded person but it is what it is.  The "reveals" that came really didn't come as a shock and while you reap what you sow, no one deserves the love of this woman. (*wink*)

There's a little bit of disjointedness and repetition in the book that made it seem to drag in certain places and I found my attention wavering.  However, I do thoroughly enjoy books like these.  Always have and always will.  I just wish I had a little bit of connect.  Either way, 10/10 I will read this author again.


Jessica's Review:

I'm a huge fan of the stalker sub-genre when it comes to thrillers. This is such a real topic and so many people, unfortunately, experience this on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes they're people you know and other times they are complete strangers. THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND by Karen Hamilton gives us a story of Juliette's obsession with Nate.

Juliette is a flight attendant and the best part about it? She can be close to Nate and follow him wherever he goes. She knows that they are meant to be together and she will stop at nothing to rekindle their relationship. After all, they are MEANT to be together! Nate just doesn't realize it. 

The level of obsession that Juliette possesses is impressive and once this woman has her mind made up, there is no stopping her. Who doesn't love a character with this next level crazy? We're mainly set in the present day, with her pursuit of Nate, but we do get some flashbacks here and there. Hamilton does a great job sprinkling in some reveals as the novel progresses, so I did enjoy that!

The only real drawback, for me, was that there were some parts that dragged on. A couple disconnects, but otherwise I loved the book. If you're looking for a solid stalker thriller meets psychological suspense, then I would highly recommend it! 

3.5 stars

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Last Act by Brad Parks @Brad_Parks @duttonbooks @jessmapreviews

The Last Act
by Brad Parks

Jessica and I are both huge fans of Brad Parks and this book is just another reason why.  See our 5 star reviews below.

Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: March 12, 2019
384 Pages
Series - Last Act #1
Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Struggling stage actor Tommy Jump knows he has to stop chasing applause and start chasing greenbacks. But then he's offered the role of a lifetime: $150,000 for a six-month acting gig. With a newly pregnant fiancee depending on him, it's an opportunity he can't refuse, even though the offer comes from the strangest employer imaginable: the FBI.

The feds won a small victory when they arrested Mitchell Dupree, a banker who has spent the past four years laundering money for New Colima, one of the deadliest cartels in Mexico and a major supplier of crystal meth in the US. But Dupree has documents that could lead to arrests of high-ranking members of New Colima, including their fearsome leader, El Vio . . . if only he'd tell the FBI where they are.

Using a false name and backstory, Tommy will enter Dupree's low-security prison as a felon and get close to the banker in the hopes that he'll reveal the documents' whereabouts. But when Tommy arrives, he quickly realizes that he's underestimated the enormity of his task and the terrifying reach of the cartel. Because the FBI isn't the only one looking for the documents, and if Tommy doesn't play his role to perfection, it just may be his last act.

My Review:

OH Brad Parks, how you slay me.  GUYS and GALS - if you haven't read anything by Brad Parks yet I implore you to remedy that situation IMMEDIATELY!  This is my third book by Parks and I am having a hard time deciding if this one or Say Nothing is my favorite.  (Also, nice cheeky nod to Say Nothing, haha - I seeee youuuuu). 

Do you read author notes? Because if you don't you really should.  His note comes at the beginning and states how although this is a work of fiction, it's based on real events and I LOVE books like these!  Every one of his books has been absolutely binge worthy and has captured my attention from the very first chapter and this one is no different. 

I feel like I should've seen these little nuances and twists coming but I didn't.  I was actually so enraptured in the story line that I didn't even try to figure anything out - I just let it all play out and that's a rarity for me so YAS! 

I really loved these characters - Tommy is highly entertaining, superbly smart and watching him go through each moment while being in his head was an absolute delight.  But you know which character really touched me for some reason?  His cell mate, Frank.  I wish I had all the Slim Jims to give to him. The fact that Park can create this tertiary character and make him stand out so much is a testament to his writing.

Seriously, if you like thrillers, please do yourself a favor and pick up a Parks books.  And it looks like this may be a series?? If so, HELL TO THE YES!


Jessica's Review:

Over the last couple years I’ve been getting acquainted with Brad Parks and his writing, and I have to say, I haven’t been disappointed yet! CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW and SAY NOTHING were binge-worthy thrillers that kept me on the edge of my seat. I tried not to have too high of expectations going into THE LAST ACT, but man, I should have known this would be just as incredible and action packed.
What would you do if you were offered $150,000 for six months of acting work? Well, what if that was for the FBI and you had to infiltrate a dangerous Mexican drug cartel? The money is enticing enough for Tommy, a struggling actor who is in desperate need of a payday, but he quickly discovers he’s in over his head.
One thing that I loved about Parks’ books is that the characters come to life. You feel the struggles that Tommy is experiencing and his desperation to provide for his pregnant fiancee – as well as his drive to make a successful career in acting. I also love how real this situation feels. As someone that is fascinated with documentary shows on drug lords and how the cartels work, this had me captivated. The level of power and their reach is incredible and terrifying at the same time. The cartel has control over more than Tommy realizes and must play his part to perfection if he wants to stay alive.
I would highly recommend this to those that want a realistic and action-packed thriller. If you’re already a fan of Parks, then this is a no-brainer!
5 stars!

Monday, March 18, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson @wmmorrowbooks @peterswanson3 @jessmapreviews

Before She Knew Him
by Peter Swanson

Thanks to William Morrow for these free books.  Swanson is one of Jessica and I's favorite authors so when we received these we were beyond thrilled! And of course, we LOVED it - see our 5 star reviews below.

Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
320 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door 

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

My Review:

Ahhhhhhhhh Peter Swanson - this is my fourth book by him.  I was middle of the road with The Kind Worth Killing and All the Beautiful Lies, but rated Her Every Fear also five stars.  No matter what though, I find his books absolutely binge worthy and look forward to each and every one.

I absolutely love an unreliable narrator and Hen is quite up there as one.  With her own bipolar disorder, even her own husband has a hard time believing her theory that her neighbor is a killer.  Coming face to face with him during one particular night confirms her every fear (see what I did there *wink*) and now how does she convince anyone that she's right? Interestingly enough, pretty much every single character in this book is unreliable. Each has their own sordid secret and they come out one by one. 

Swanson always keeps you on your toes.  What I love about books like these is that once the big reveal shows itself, my mind automatically reverts to the many hidden clues and goes A-HA - how did I miss THIS?! One of the best feelings when reading a proper thriller in my opinion.  I highly recommend all of his books.  


Jessica's Review:

So a couple years ago I read HER EVERY FEAR at the recommendation of Chandra (my soon-to-be partner reader in crime) and Swanson became an auto-buy author for me. ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES didn’t disappoint, but I think BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM is right up there with HER EVERY FEAR for me.

Once again, we are given a thrilling ride from start to finish with a great twist at the end! What’s even better about it? I definitely did not see if going in that direction – I feel like this is something Swanson excels at. He hid subtle clues throughout the book but I feel like with the pacing and suspense keeping me sucked in, I may have overlooked some. I love when an author can capture your attention in such a way and when the hints are so expertly woven in that they don’t hit you right away.
Suspicious new neighbors, a true crime obsession, our narrator’s sanity coming into question. Talk about the perfect combination. Hen (short for Henrietta) is our narrator and has come to suspect her new neighbor, Matthew, of being a potential murderer. Some major Rear Window vibes with how she keeps tabs on him but with her mental illness (which is controlled by her new medication) comes into question as she becomes more obsessed. Is she losing her mind? Give me anything with an unreliable narrator and I’ll be hooked.
If you love psychological thrillers, then Peter Swanson should already be on your radar or TBR. If he isn’t, then you need to remedy that immediately! I will continue to pick up whatever he releases and I highly recommend you do the same (any of his will be just what you’re looking for if you’re in need of a thriller).
5 stars

Friday, March 15, 2019

#ATBR2019 REVIEW: Save Me From Dangerous Men by S.A. Lelchuk @flatironbooks #SALelchuk

Save Me From Dangerous Men 
by S.A. Lelchuk

Thank you to Flatiron Books for this fantastic debut AND first in a series book!

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: March 19, 2019
336 Pages
Series: Nikki Griffin #1
Genre: Thriller

Nikki Griffin isn't your typical private investigator. In her office above her bookstore's shelves and stacks, where she luxuriates in books and the comfort they provide, she also tracks certain men. Dangerous men. Men who have hurt the women they claim to love. And Nikki likes to teach those men a lesson, to teach them what it feels like to be hurt and helpless, so she can be sure that their victims are safe from them forever.

When a regular PI job tailing Karen, a tech company's disgruntled employee who might be selling secrets, turns ugly and Karen's life is threatened, Nikki has to break cover and intervene. Karen tells Nikki that there are people after her. Dangerous men. She says she'll tell Nikki what's really going on. But then something goes wrong, and suddenly Nikki is no longer just solving a case--she's trying hard to stay alive.

My Review:

Opening chapter has Nikki being a pool shark and I was loving EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT. As a woman who has competed in pool and has gone through that gambit of men being dicks until they realize you can play... well, let's just say that this scene was very realistic and I loved seeing it come to life on these pages.

I was captured from the very beginning and this was quite the ride.  Nikki is damaged and has a pretty terrible past that led her to help women who are being abused and to be a somewhat amateur detective.  Her skill set is outstanding and this woman can FIGHT.  I actually was grinning at some of the things that she did to those who deserved it.  Then she gets pulled into a case that basically explodes and she has to try and find a way out, but on her own terms. It's action upon action and the short chapters keep this book moving at a fairly fast pace.

The author does a good job of not only keeping us in the present but then giving us Nikki's past so we get an understanding of why she is the person that she is.  Her relationship with her brother is a bit torrid but underneath her steely exterior is a soft heart and anyone who crosses those she cares about - well, you don't want to be on the bad side of this woman. She deals with her demons but she wants to be loved just like everyone else in the world. Ethan is more understanding than any man I've ever met and I really liked him for Nikki.

Look, I love books with strong female leads.  I'm that girl who will order the lumberjack breakfast so it's nice to see that side in a read.  While some things were a bit too good to be true and questionable, I did not care.  The ending was a bit too tied in a pretty bow for my taste but that did not take away at all from my enjoyment of this book.  I will absolutely be continuing the series as I think that this debut novel is just a hint as to what Lelchuk will be giving us and I can only see it getting better moving forward.


Jessica's Review:

The beginnings of a new crime fiction series! I'm always excited to dive into these, especially when it's a new author (either to me or as a debut). SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN introduces us to Nikki Griffin, a part time Private Investigator and part time bookseller.

Nikki isn't the kind of PI you're used to - she operates her bookstore during the day and by night she enjoys teaching dangerous men lessons. The kind of cases she typically gets are tailing certain types of men, those who cheat, those who hurt women, and she relishes in the moments when she can show them what it's like to be hurt like their victims were. Nikki is approached by Gregg Gun, he is a CEO of a company that is about to make it big and he is concerned one of his employees may be selling company secrets. Karen is Nikki's new target to follow, but this case takes a crazy turn when she needs to intervene. She is quickly sucked into a dangerous mystery and needs to find a way to make it out alive.

I think that Lelchuk does a fantastic job creating a strong female lead for us. I really like how unconventional she is when it comes to her capacity of being a Private Investigator. She has a style all her own and makes sure her clients will never be abused again. I liked how the author wove in her backstory as the events progressed, so we got a glimpse into what made her who she is today without too much back and forth in a time jump. The short chapters kept the pacing quick and there was plenty of suspense and action to keep you pulled in. The ending was pulled together a little too perfectly, but that's most likely just me! I'm looking forward to the next installment in the Nikki Griffin series.

4/5 stars

SPOTLIGHT: Christopher Joseph, Author @Cjxzoic1970

Hey everyone! I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Chris, who just happens to be an author and has two books out now! Take a look below to learn more about him and his two book babies.

Christopher has many talents but his passion lies in writing. Ironically, CJX embodied on a writing quest once a mysterious typewriter appeared on his hometown’s porch in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Continuously engulfed in art, drawing, and music, it was a natural progression. Years spent being a disc jockey, broadcaster, promoter/marketer, filmmaker and many, many, odd jobs provides plenty of fodder for many diverse stories to come.
The action/drama series Road Kill: Pathfinder is the first of a four part published novel. Road Kill: Crossroads debuts early 2019. 2nd novel, the family drama Eat@Zeke's is now available. Several screenplays are also available.
Read an interview with Chris HERE.
ROAD KILL and EAT@ZEKE'S are available NOW on AMAZON KINDLE for $3.99 and FREE on KINDLE UNLIMITED!!!

Two adolescent brothers' lives are forever shattered by the untimely murder of their beloved mother at the hands of their disgruntled father who has accused her of a affair.
Fate takes the brothers on two separate, distinctive paths. Forever shaping them to who they are as young men. When their paths rejoin 13 years later, Rashon Turner is now a city dweller while Jaymon Turner lives a small town life.

Time; for better or worse, ultimately always begets change.

Zeke’s Kitchen, a well known Detroit, Michigan east side Soul Food restaurant has been devastated by the closing of nearby automobile plants that have fueled it’s eatery for decades.

The Woods family have owned and operated Zeke’s since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Since the passing of Ezekiel S. Woods Sr. his beloved and devoted wife Mrs. Tyla Woods, known simply as ‘Mama’ has run the historic business.

Collapsing in front of her youngest daughter Silvia forces the estranged adult Woods children to unite for their mother and the fate of the struggling famed restaurant. 

Pompous and arrogant lawyer oldest son Ezekiel Woods Jr., successful advertising exec and flamboyant oldest daughter Maureen Woods, missing in action and troubled youngest son Kevin Woods aka Kwame and mousy, withdrawn, college student Silvia along with their extended family and friends are reunited to face their demons and face the challenges that change begets their family. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

REVIEW: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma Key
by Stephen King

Publisher: Scribner
Publish Date: January 22, 2008
Kindle Edition
801 Pages
Genre: Horror

No more than a dark pencil line on a blank page. A horizon line, maybe. But also a slot for blackness to pour through...

A terrible construction site accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. A marriage that produced two lovely daughters suddenly ends, and Edgar begins to wish he hadn't survived the injuries that could have killed him. He wants out. His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests a "geographic cure," a new life distant from the Twin Cities and the building business Edgar grew from scratch. And Kamen suggests something else.

"Edgar, does anything make you happy?"

"I used to sketch."

"Take it up again. You need hedges... hedges against the night."

Edgar leaves Minnesota for a rented house on Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily undeveloped splinter of the Florida coast. The sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico and the tidal rattling of shells on the beach call out to him, and Edgar draws. A visit from Ilse, the daughter he dotes on, starts his movement out of solitude. He meets a kindred spirit in Wireman, a man reluctant to reveal his own wounds, and then Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman whose roots are tangled deep in Duma Key. Now Edgar paints, sometimes feverishly, his exploding talent both a wonder and a weapon. Many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth's past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating.

My Review:

I did it! I finally made it through this monster of a book.  I actually started this last month for a group read but fell behind so almost a month later - TA DA!

King has been with me through my childhood straight through to my adult years and his books always hold a special place in my heart.  This one reminded me a lot of Bag of Bones, which is in my top 5 of all King books I've read.  I didn't find this one particularly scary or horrifying.  Instead, I found it to be more of character pieces while we learned about Edgar, Wireman, Elizabeth, Ilse.. etc.  I especially loved Edgar's relationship with his daughter, Ilse.  It reminded me a lot of the relationship I have with my Dad.  But nothing can compare to the friendship between Edgar and Wireman - I actually think Wireman is my favorite character! Their banter was SO much fun to read.  Muchacho.

I've heard this has a thousand tie ins to the Dark Tower series but I haven't finished my journey yet so didn't pick up on ANY of them.  ONE DAY!! And this is one of the things I love about King - is the interweaving of all his books in some way or another. 

Duma Key is subtle horror with a touch of supernatural.  A door stopper of a book, King takes his sweet time letting us readers get to know his characters.  When I was younger, I felt these long winded tellings were TOO much and overly descriptive (and to be honest, sometimes now I do feel the same way).  I think this book sets everything up perfectly - we need all those pages to really get a grasp on the subtlety in which things start happening. I'll tell you one thing, this book has not made my hatred for dolls subside in any way, shape or form.

Ultimately, I am once again astounded by King and his ability to keep me interested for 800+ pages.