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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.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

REVIEW: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward @tlcbooktours @harlequinbooks @_Annie_Ward

Beautiful Bad 
by Annie Ward

Big thank you to TLC Book Tours and Park Row for this thrillers.
Knowing it started as a memoir made it all that more intriguing.

Publisher: Park Row
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
368 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry... That something is really, really wrong with me.

Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

My Review:

What blows my mind about this book is that it actually started out as a memoir so the majority of the happenings actually did take place.  If more memoirs were written in a novel type/somewhat fictionalized way then I'd probably read more... then again, they wouldn't quite be memoirs anymore now would they?

Maddie and Ian have had a hard time getting their relationship started.  Considering the handful of times they met, the long distance and non-communication for several years, they somehow managed to find each other again.  I didn't quite understand the attraction here or how they could pine over each other considering their limited interactions... HOWEVER, I do understand that sometimes people just get under your skin and you can't wash that away as easily as some people might expect.

There were a couple of things that I wish had a more polished finish - things with Fiona is one of them.  And boy, what a character she is! Another is the camping accident... I need to know more! I felt wanting.  Speaking of finishing, I definitely enjoyed the ending.  While somewhat predictable, there was that extra twist that I didn't see coming.

I actually really do enjoy domestic thrillers.  Though a lot have the same format and typical bad relationship turn deadly plot lines, when you include your actual life into one, it tends to read better for a reader like me.  I'm always fascinated with the truth over fiction... meld them together and well, color me intrigued.  Definitely a must read for domestic thriller lovers.


Monday, March 11, 2019

REVIEW: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer @tlcbooktours @graydonhouse @harlequinbooks

The Things We Cannot Say
by Kelly Rimmer

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Graydon House for this gorgeous copy and amazing read.

Publisher: Graydon House
Publish Date: March 19, 2019
432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief. 

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.

My Review:

"Breathe in. Oh! I found some air! 
Breathe out. That will be the last of me. Now I will suffocate. 
Breathe in. Oh! There is a little more air after all."

Oh this book.  This one pulls at your tear ducts and heart strings HARD. 

Present day, we see Alice dealing with her autistic child, her genius child and her extremely busy husband.  Caught in a web of her own making but refusing to get help, she is now at the death bed of her Babscia and must do what her grandmother needs as her final wish... but it's going to be SO hard to leave her family.

Past, we see Alina, living in Poland as it's being occupied by the Nazis and we get an emotional and terrifying view of the world she lived in and how she had to deal with this horrifying new world when all she wants to do is marry Tomasz and live her life.

I love that with each part, the writing style changed so you felt like this was the past, and this was the present - sometimes this doesn't translate well but Rimmer does this fluidly.  I was IN IT.  Not only for the main story line of the war and the harrowing world we get to see through Alina's eyes... but for the every day particulars of Alice.  Watching each of them grow so strongly throughout the book - phew.  I'm spent.  All my feelings are just laid out and still soaked in these pages.

If you like historical fiction, or even if you don't, I highly recommend picking this book up.  HIGHLY.


#ATBR2019 REVIEW: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid @tjenkinsreid @randomhouse @jessmapreviews

Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Huge thank you to Ballantine Books for these copies.
Jessica and I both give this one 5 Stars - continue below to see why.

Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Publish Date:  March 5, 2019
368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

My Review:


I'll admit that when I read the "author's note" at the very beginning, I thought I was reading a legit non-fiction documentary type novel about a band that really existed.  Did I pay attention to the genre this is placed in, historical FICTION?  Nope.  You know why? Because it's written so brilliantly that you don't even notice.  You are pulled into this world where we learn of the ups and downs and while Billy Dunne and Daisy are the leaders, you are rooting and feeling for EVERY.SINGLE.CHARACTER.

While this is only my second Reid book, I'm flabbergasted and completely impressed with her ability to write such different types of stories - even creating the song lyrics AND it's being optioned for the screen.  WHO IS TAYLOR JENKINS REID?! 

I actually did wonder just how much I would like this as I'm not big on "documentaries" in general.  Written like an interview of sorts with each character giving their perspectives, it never once got confusing and the voices of each character was very clear.  I love how each was flawed and yet so strong in the person that they were - even as they struggled.  I really did not come across a single character I didn't like.

Reid also has this genius ability to give you a reveal towards the end of the book that is as impactful as it is subtle. I have a feeling that many people will say if you loved Almost Famous that you'll love this book and while that is true, this book holds it's own without any comparison or if you like this you'll love that kind of thought.

Just read this book. Please.

(also, how cool is it that Reese Witherspoon will be producing the adaptation?!)


Jessica's Review:

I know I'm not the only one that gets nervous starting a book that has had nothing but stellar reviews. This one was making the rounds on book blogs and Bookstagram and I had only seen a handful of middle-ground reviews. DAISY JONES AND THE SIX was my second book by Taylor Jenkins Reid and she did not disappoint!

This book is done in an interview/documentary style narrative and I loved it. This gave the story an authenticity to it, and I know I'm not the only one that had the thought go through their mind wondering if this band was actually real. That's a skilled writer to make us believe that a work of fiction might actually be nonfiction.

Every character was given their own unique voice and I was shocked that I connected with every single one of them. Typically when there's a larger cast of characters there are a couple that fall to the wayside, but not here! I thought the reveal at the end was done so well and subtly without losing it's impact.

Overall, if you're a fan of this kind of narrative then you will love this book. If the era of rock n' roll interests you, then you'll want to pick this one up! If you're a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, then this is a no-brainer. Basically, you need to read this one.

5/5 stars

Sunday, March 10, 2019

REVIEW: Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter @emilydcarpenter @LUAuthors

Until the Day I Die
by Emily Carpenter


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: March 12, 2019
348 Pages
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girlscomes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

My Review:

Emily Carpenter is an autobuy author for me.  I absolutely loved The Weight of Lies and Every Single Secret so when this one was available and I was lucky to snag a copy, I burst out into song, danced a jig and hugged the nearest person to me.  That might be sliiiiightly exaggerated but I am positive I did squeal for a bit. 

Carpenter has a way of making her characters heard.  This story deals with the loss of a husband and father and unfolds in the eyes of his wife and daughter.  The tech company that encompassed their lives now may be the thing that tears them apart.  Erin doesn't know how to deal with the death of her husband and is running herself too thin.  Shorie wanted to start working immediately for Jax (their tech company) and forego college.  She's been under her father's wing for some time now and  is a natural with a computer.

This story really takes off after Erin arrives at this resort in the Caribbean where the closest people to her thinks she's needs to go and hit the reset button.  Shorie gets to college and realizes she has a way to go to classes and STILL look into some strange data she's found with Jax.  There are strange things afoot at the spa resort and as things become clear to Erin, she's on a race for her life.  Shorie is also making progress on her end and neither of them are liking what they find.

Such a great story - I really enjoyed how everything got a bit nuts and let me tell you, these getaway resorts to refresh your mind... the universe isn't doing shit... DON'T GO. šŸ¤£  Grief can bring out the worst in people and their hardship in the aftermath can become all too much.  What I really appreciated about this story was the bond between Shorie and her father as it reminded me a lot of the one I have with mine.  

Basically, read this book.  It's moderate suspense with some lovable characters and a couple of surprises.


Friday, March 8, 2019

REVIEW: The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm 
by Joanne Ramos

Thank you to Random House for this advanced copy.

Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: May 7, 2019
336 Pages
Genre: Fiction

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages--and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money--more than you've ever dreamed of--to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your Ć¼berwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery--or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

My Review:

Unlike books such as The Handmaid's Tale where "surrogates" are used to help continue the human population at a horrid price to the Handmaid's, The Farm gives immigrants and those who need money a chance to be a surrogate for those who have the finances to have a baby through them - either because they cannot have one of their own, don't want to "wreck" their own bodies or are paying top dollar for those surrogates who are educated, test well, have high percentage of carrying to term and have passed the vigorous application process.  As if the Host's own genes will play some part in the implantation and vibrant being of this new baby.  The catch, and there always is one, is that they are sequestered off to Golden Oaks for the duration of their pregnancy and have to abide by certain rules.

This story revolves mostly around Jane, who leaves her own young daughter behind with the thought that in the long run, they will both be better off with the money that she makes to set up a better future.  We also get introduced to Reagan and Lisa, two other Hosts at the Farm that make an impact on Jane.  Rounding out this cast is Mae - who works for the company and as such can be manipulative to make sure things run as smoothly as possible, and Ate, Jane's aunt who suggested this process and is taking care of Jane's daughter in the interim.  

Ok, guys, I love this idea and I really wanted to love this book but it didn't quite work for me.  I think I expected more manipulation and horror than I got - and I know, I know, it's already a horror show when it comes to women's bodies.  I guess I was just expecting something.... more... from the story.  There is a bit of an undertone through the book that suggests worse things are coming but yet we never get there.  The classism and manipulation of the wealthy to the poor is fairly well sorted out and we do get the sense of doing what women need to do and the hard choices that are made as mothers, immigrants, poor women... but it doesn't quite hit the mark fully.  The potential is there but the execution, for me, was a bit lacking.

I also was a bit confused how we get to a certain point at the end of the book and then boom, we're now three years in the future and um... what? Not as seamless as it could've been.  The subject matter is definitely a timely one.  However, I felt I was going into this read on a more dangerous baby making farm type of read and instead I received something wholly different.


SPOTLIGHT: Trafficked! by Thomas A Burns, Jr. @3Mdetective

by Tom Burns

My favorite Tom is back with another addition to his Natalie McMasters Mystery! 
See my spotlights for STRIPPER and REVENGE by clicking on the title names.

Bullet wounds heal, but a broken heart is something else entirely. Natalie McMasters is twenty-one, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached), a way cute former stripper and a pre-law student at State. Nattie also works as a private detective at her uncle’s 3M detective agency. After her last case, in which she was nearly killed, she’s faced with a new, daunting challenge. She must trace the most important person in her life – who doesn’t want to be found – through the squalid sexworld of New York City. Even with help from old and new friends, Natalie will need more persistence and courage than she’s ever shown before if she is to prevail in her most difficult and personal challenge. Trafficked! - A Natalie McMasters Mystery is full of the action, suspense, and unexpected plot twists that Nattie’s many fans thrive on. You totally won’t be disappointed!  

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries.  He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S. degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University.  He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina.  As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few.  Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school.  He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government.  Now that he's truly on his own as a novelist, he's excited to publish is own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, to the MX anthology of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

SPOTLIGHT: The Fractured Mind by Ottavio Lepore @Lep_oreo

The Fractured Mind
by Ottavio Lepore

Publish Date: January 18, 2019
282 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery

Ryan Stark's life is about to change. As he hoped to get away from everyday life with a short vacation, things take a turn for the worse, he never expected to wake up in the hospital. Unfortunately the financial burden of it is too much to bear alone.In a turn of events, the generosity of a stranger arrives quite literally at his feet, but as Ryan soon learns, not everything is as it seems and all kindness comes with a price.

Born in Mola di Bari, Italy on September 8, Ottavio moved to America with his family in 1996 and now resides in New York. Ottavio is the author of "The Fractured Mind" released on January 18, 2019. Ottavio attended Pace University but left to pursue his career as an author.

SPOTLIGHT: The Daughter's Tale by Armando Lucas Correa @atriabooks @ArmandoCorrea

The Daughter's Tale 
by Armando Lucas Correa

A historical fiction novel coming May 7, 2019 that you do not want to miss!

"When Armando published his internationally bestselling novel THE GERMAN GIRL in 2016, based on the true story of the S.S. St. Louis, a transatlantic liner offering Jews safe passage out of Germany,  he never imagined he would meet some of its survivors. Not only did several come forward, but he forged beautiful friendships with them. One in particular, 80-year old Judith, captivated him with her soft voice, and fascinating and heartfelt story:

“I’ll never forget my visit with Judith in her small, dark apartment in Kew Gardens, Queens. She whispered her to story to me, struggling against her failing health. She said she had been relatively happy in the camp with her parents and the other children, until one afternoon, just before everyone was thrown into battered wagon bound for Poland, she found herself in the middle of a forest, holding her father’s hand. Her father came closer and whispered in her ear: “Look up at the treetops.” For an instant, she felt alone. Suddenly another firm hand, one she didn’t know, took hers. When she turned, her father was gone. She never saw him again. As I sat there with Judith, transfixed by her words, I felt something blooming inside of me. That afternoon, The Daughter’s Tale was born.”"

Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: May 7, 2019
320 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The Daughter’s Tale is immersive, both heartbreaking and redemptive, steeped in harrowing historical events and heroic acts of compassion that will have you reflecting on the best and worst the human heart has to offer. Fans of WWII history and book clubs will find depth and skillful storytelling here, but on a deeper level, searing questions about life, love, and the choices we make in the most impossible of circumstances.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable family saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac GirlsWe Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.

Berlin, 1939. Bookseller Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, dreamed of blissful summers spent by the lake at Wannsee and unlimited opportunities for their children. But that all falls apart when the family bookshop is destroyed and Julius is sent to a concentration camp. Now, desperate to flee Nazi Germany and preserve what’s left of her family, Amanda heads toward the south of France with her two young daughters—only to arrive with one. In Haute-Vienne, their freedom is short-lived, and soon she and her eldest daughter are forced into a labor camp, where Amanda must once again make an impossible sacrifice.

New York City, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.

Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II. Heartbreaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.