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Thursday, September 19, 2019

REVIEW: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens #deliaowens @putnambooks #bookclub

Where the Crawdads Sing 
by Delia Owens


Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: August 14, 2018
Hardcover
370 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction


A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

My Review:



OH my poor heart.  I knew within the first 50 pages that I was going to absolutely love this story.  While it's not my usual type of read, this one vastly reminded me of Where the Red Fern Grows (my favorite book ever) in the vein of country, history, the hard work of a child and seeing them through their toughest times.  But unlike WTRFG, this one spans Kya's entire life time and just WOW.  When a member of my bookclub suggested this for our read this month I was DELIGHTED.

In discussions with people who had already read this book, I found that some readers didn't like the cadence/speech and found it jarring.  I personally enjoyed it and didn't think it was too much - it lent a feeling of more authenticity to my experience.  The base of the novel, in the prejudicing, not only with race during this time period, but with just someone different, is something that unfortunately will resonate with any era.  Why is it that we are so afraid of what we don't know?

I found the pacing of this read to be beautiful and well done.  Not a word wasted and while I could've done without the poems - at the end, I found that they were necessary as well.  The last couple of chapters I read with a chill through my skin and my hand placed over my heart.  It has probably been since I was a child with my favorite book that I felt so connected - or so emotional. 

What else can I say really? If you haven't read this book, I implore you to do so. And please, marry the Tates of this world and forget the Chase. *wink*


★★★★★

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Frightfully Ever After by Nick DeWolf @Nick_DeWolf @jessmapreviews

Frightfully Ever After
by Nick DeWolf

Thanks so much to the author for these copies!


Publisher: Vintage City Publishing
Publish Date: December 26, 2017
Kindle Edition
251 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Fantasy

"Do you know what the difference is between a fairy godmother and a witch?"

"What?"

"Not a goddamn thing."

Fairies and dragons are real, and live alongside giants, goblins and trolls. Fairy godmothers exist. The woodsman, that one from the story books? Yeah, he’s real too. They’re all out there, living in the world, right under your nose.

But they’re not alone. There’s another side to the coin. Witches are real. Monsters are real. Things that slither through shadows and bite at your skin are real.

The big bad wolf is very real.

And poor Anastasia – she was born with magical royal blood. She should have been a princess, but grew up under the thumb of a vicious crime boss. She’s lived a life of pain, fear, and violence. In a desperate attempt to get away, she will find herself surrounded by all those things she thought never existed.

Good, bad, and evil.

FRIGHTFULLY EVER AFTER is a slow burn urban fantasy with guns, horror, sex, and monsters. People get hurt. People get killed. People get eaten. And only the toughest get to live Happily Ever After.


My Review:




I have always loved fairy tales.  Usually these are the first stories we learn as children.  As I've grown older, the darker they are, the more I like them.  After all, the real Grimm stories are pretty dang dark! Enter Anastasis and her fairy godmothers, Mary and Gayl.  

This is a bit of a modern day, gang related, fairy tale that gets darker as you read it.  However, there is a ton of humor thrown in for levity and you can tell the author has to be fun to be around.  The banter back and forth between Mary and Gayl are probably my favorite parts.  At certain times, they actually remind me of the Grey Sister (but they don't need to share an eye).

I enjoyed the background brought to us with how Mary and Gayl got to where they are and love that not all intentions are pure.  While I used to want a fairy godmother as a little girl, I think this book has persuaded me that maybe it isn't such a great idea. Haha. 

Honestly, I could've done without the sex scenes though relating orgasms to bringing someone to their zenith is certainly a new catch phrase for me and one I won't forget, that's for sure!  Descriptions were overdone and unnecessary here and there - something about bangs hanging like an antique picture frame?  I did, however, giggle at some of these kinds of descriptives because they were something I'd never read before... but I also liked some at the same time. 


As a whole, this book was highly entertaining and I found myself having a good time following Anastasia on her crazy adventures.  I didn't like her as a character because wow, she didn't seem to appreciate a damn thing!  Luckily, I like to hate on characters. ;)  Language, Dearie. ;)

★★★☆

Jessica's Review:



I've said it many times before, and I'll continue to say it, I love the fairy tale stories with a twist. I mean, when you get older that's when you realized the Grimm Fairy Tales were exactly that, grim and dark and nothing like the ones we grew up hearing (happily ever after isn't always a thing). FRIGHTFULLY EVER AFTER by Nick DeWolf definitely adds in the blood, horror, sex, and plenty of darkness to this fantasy world.

Anastasia and her fairy godmothers, Mary and Gayl are the center of our story. The banter and dynamic between the fairy godmothers reminded me a little bit of the three from Sleeping Beauty. Obviously in this tale things were much darker and their intentions aren't always the purest (I mean, that would ruin the fun, right?). Anastasia is trying to escape her life under a crime boss and once she gets away, she begins to realize all the evil things you thought were only in stories, are actually very real and very dangerous.

Despite the horror feel, the author does include some good dark humor throughout the book. Bring in some funny moments to break up the dark. I will tell you now, there are some very detailed and descriptive sex scenes in the book. I could have done with less of these, but that's just me. Overall, this was a fun adventure read with some memorable characters. If you like the more evil fairy tales then this will definitely be one you want to pick up.

3.5 stars 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blog Tour & Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger @jessmapreviews #ATBR2019

The Stranger Inside 
by Lisa Unger

Happy Publishing Day!


Publisher: Park Row Books
Publish Date: September 17, 2019
Hardcover
384 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense


Even good people are drawn to do evil things…


Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend’s house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice—and killed him in cold blood.

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends’ abductor force Rain to revisit memories she’s worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can’t Rain just let it go?

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them. 

My Review:


I am definitely a big fan of Unger and have found that her books have always ranged from 3-5 stars for me. My favorite being The Red Hunter so far. Unfortunately The Stranger Inside didn't quite work for me as her other books have.


I loved the opening and was really intrigued for the first 70 pages or so and then I felt my interest start to wane as I continued on. I felt some things got a bit repetitive and the voice within the voice was a bit jarring at times as for some reason I just couldn't wrap my head around the inconsistent consistency of it - if that makes ANY sense.


I appreciate what the author was trying to do and I love the feel of how certain things really affected these characters as children and how they've reacted separately as they've gotten older. The relationship between the main character and her husband (husband of the year y'all), the psychology of everything. All of these things I love. Somehow though, it just didn't keep me engaged. Maybe it was my mood. Maybe it was the book? I dunno.


What I do know is that I do love her writing style. I appreciate where her stories take us as readers and I adore these crazy stories she comes up with. I absolutely look forward to her next work and would definitely recommend her to thriller lovers. 

★★★

Jessica's Review:


This is my third book by Lisa Unger, the others having been THE RED HUNTER and UNDER MY SKIN. I love the consistency Unger has when it comes to pulling you in from the beginning. THE STRANGER INSIDE had my attention immediately! The author really knows how to set up a story and give the readers one hell of a ride. I enjoy her writing style and how she creates the characters and weaves everything together for us. 

This is one that's difficult to talk about without spoiling things. I think the synopsis gives the right amount of information you need before starting. I completely agree with other reviewers comparing some parts to Dexter - I mean, horrible killers are released from prison and they're getting murdered? Definite Dexter vibes. There were some good twists throughout, I know some avid thriller fans will probably see some coming, but it won't take away from the reading experience!

My main drawback with this one was that there was a lull for me. It felt like the book had some repetition that could have been eliminated to tighten things up in the story. That could definitely be a me thing, because I know there are tons of other reviewers out there that disagree. Don't get me wrong, I was captivated from start to finish, but it didn't have that binge read feeling for me. No matter what, I still enjoyed the book and will continue to pick up more from Unger in the future!


3 stars

Friday, September 13, 2019

BLOG TOUR & Review: A Girl Named Anna by Lizzy Barber @harlequinbooks @jessmapreviews #atbr2019

A Girl Named Anna 
by Lizzy Barber


Publisher: MIRA
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Paperback
336 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Psychological Suspense


If your whole life is a lie, who can you trust?


Raised in a quiet rural community, Anna has always been taught that her Mamma's rules are the only path to follow. But, on her eighteenth birthday, she defies her Mamma for the first time in her life, and goes to Astroland. She’s never been allowed to visit Florida’s biggest theme park, so why, when she arrives, does everything about it seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives that same day—a letter addressing her by a different name?

Rosie has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes as the funds dedicated to the search dry up, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth herself. But can she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

My Review:


If you like psychological suspense, then this debut novel by Lizzy Barber is the book for you.  I rarely reread the synopsis before I got into a new read - I figure if I have it, there was some reason I wanted it so I just go in blind.  For some reason, I decided to reread the synopsis on this one (I think because I have about 3 different books on my TBR with the name Anna in the title) and I'm glad that I did because knowing this is suspense fiction definitely made a difference rather than expecting the typical faster paced thriller.

From the synopsis we pretty much see we are going to be getting Rosie and Anna's stories and the chapters vary back and forth between their POVs.  You already know where the book is going, it's the journey to why these things have happened that will keep you riveted.  

Admittedly, this book burns slooooowly. It wasn't until around the halfway point that I was feeling slightly hooked.  It's pretty obvious where this book is going but I have to say - Barber does a fantastic job in really making you feel for these girls.  Rosie, who is always in the shadow of her sister Emily, who has been missing for 15 years.  Anna, whose mother is overly protective, is extremely sheltered and has a weird feeling about her past, something her mother hates to talk about. A plot line gets in, which is similar to ones we've seen before (you'll have to read this to know what I'm talking about), but it is always one that fascinates me.

Ultimately, as an avid suspense/thriller reader, there's nothing really new here.  HOWEVER, Barber writes exceptionally well and I applaud how well she pulled these all together and I did feel my heart strings pulled a few times at that ending.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


I really enjoyed this story and the premise, I just think this book fell victim to being mismarketed. When you go into a book expecting a thriller and it turns out to be a slower burn suspense, then that kind of takes away from the reading experience. That doesn’t mean that the writing wasn’t great and that the story wasn’t intriguing! I was expecting more of the sinister cult elements, but we don’t get into that until closer to the end. As a warning, there is some content that involves abuse.

Make sure to go into this book knowing its more of a mystery at its core than it is a thriller. If I had anticipated a slower burn then I feel like I would have enjoyed it more, but in this case it felt like it was dragging in some places. We alternate between the perspectives of Rosie and Anna – two girls that are somehow connected despite being thousands of miles apart. How will their stories converge?

I thought the characters were well-developed and you really got a feel for the girls and the lives that they lead. One living in the shadow of her long-missing sister and the other sheltered by her religiously fanatic mother. I always love the alternating perspectives in mystery novels, but I think this kind of gave away some of the suspense and the reveal.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to those looking for a slower burn mystery. It was a binge-worthy read and while you’ll probably see the twist coming, it was still very enjoyable! I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more from Baker in the future.


3 stars

Thursday, September 12, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay @wmmorrowbooks @linwood_barclay @jessmapreviews

Elevator Pitch 
by Linwood Barclay 

Thank you to William Morrow books for these copies.


Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: September 17, 2019
Hardcover
464 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Psychological Suspense, Thriller


The New York Times bestselling author of A Noise Downstairs and No Time for Goodbye returns with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that does for elevators what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the beach—a heart-pounding tale in which a series of disasters paralyzes New York City with fear.


It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? Why are they doing it? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers before the city’s newest, and tallest, residential tower has its ribbon-cutting on Thursday.

With each diabolical twist, Linwood Barclay ratchets up the suspense, building to a shattering finale. Pulsating with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible . . . and will chill readers to the bone.

My Review:


As someone who has been stuck in an elevator twice in NYC, this book really has me side eyeing all the elevators I may be going on (you canNOT avoid them in this city)... and let's be real - I'm too lazy for stairs so I guess I'll just be taking my chances! ;)

I loved Barclay's A Noise Downstairs and was so excited for this copy of Elevator Pitch and once again, the author gives us a binge worthy dive into a thrilling world where one of the characters has my exact birthday AND he references places in MY NEIGHBORHOOD - there's something so giddy about that.  There are TONS of thrillers set in NYC as we know, but when they come to Astoria for even a blip and mention places I've been - well, YES!

Now, I'll let you in on a little secret - this DOES get a little convoluted - there's a background to relationships that I think didn't *need* to be added - it, at the end of the day, didn't really lend itself to the story.  And the reasoning behind these attacks seemed a bit lackluster after the buildup over these few days as things, ahem, escalated.   BUT, take away from some of this, and once again it's a binge worthy read where you have to suspend reality and just enjoy the crazy that happens.

I think some long time thriller readers will have issues with this book and I think had I been a different mood, I might've felt the same because I SEE IT, but at the end of the day.... I was entertained, loved the characters honestly and applaud the effort.


★★★★

Jessica's Review:


I read and loved A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS by Linwood Barclay when I picked it up last year, so I was anxious to see what thrill ride we had in store this time. ELEVATOR PITCH is more of a police procedural, so it moves a little slower than you would be anticipating coming off of some of his other books. I think this will really help knowing before starting! That doesn't mean it wasn't another binge read, though.

Imagine getting in the elevator, like any other work day, and then the elevator shoots up to the top floor. As if that wouldn't be terrifying enough, the elevator comes crashing down to the bottom of the shaft. Was this just a freak accident? When each day brings a new elevator crash, this is beginning to look less and less accidental. Two detectives must race against the clock before Friday's opening of tallest residential tower in the city. Will they be able to catch this killer before it's too late?

You'll definitely have to suspend some belief for this one, but I still really enjoyed it. The only real reason I dropped it below 4 stars was because there was a lull or two for me. I loved the characters and how crazy everything got - this is still a complete binge read! If you're a fan of Linwood Barclay, then you need to pick this one up.

3.5 stars

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

SPOTLIGHT: A Perfect Eye by Stephanie Kane #aperfecteye #stephaniekane #coldhardpress

A Perfect Eye
by Stephanie Kane

Crime Fiction lovers - take note! Check out A Perfect Eye - synopsis, about the author below.  Don't forget to continue to read the Author's Q&A - her funny story is quite a whopper!


Publisher: Cold Hard Press
Publish Date: September 1, 2019
Paperback
Crime Fiction

Some are born with a perfect palate, others with perfect pitch.

Denver Art Museum's Conservator of Paintings Lily Sparks was born with a perfect eye.  When the museum's billionaire benefactor is brutally murdered, the grisly tableau stuns her: it's the human embodiment of the museum's prized landscape by famed Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte.

Lily comes to believe the Caillebotte was forged and the killer is a painter the art world spurned.  But as she confronts where art ends and fraud begins, she must face the deceptions in her own past.


Stephanie Kane is a lawyer and award-winning author of four crime novels.  Born in Brooklyn, she came to Colorado as a freshman at CU.  She owned and ran a karate studio in Boulder and is a second-degree black belt.  After graduating from law school, she was a corporate partner at a top Denver law firm before becoming a criminal defense attorney.  She has lectured on money laundering and white collar crime in Eastern Europe, and given workshops throughout the country on writing technique.  She lives in Denver with her husband and two black cats.

Extreme Indifference and Seeds of Doubt won a Colorado Book Award for Mystery and two Colorado Authors League Awards for Genre Fiction.  She belongs to Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Colorado Authors League.


What does your writing process look like?

A herky-jerky scattershot mess. Seriously, it depends on what stage I’m in. If I’m researching or outlining, I get totally immersed and can go for days without being aware of time. Drafts are harder; I’m continually confronted with the gap between what’s in my head and what I can capture on the page, and if I get knocked off stride it’s tough to regain momentum. Once a first draft is completed, I step back and take a breath. Revising is the most pleasurable part of the process because it’s easier to fix what’s already there and I know I’m making it better.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?

Friends. Books I want to read. The news.

How many hours a day do you write?

Five or six hours nonstop when I’m on a roll. I try to end on a high note to give myself something to look forward to.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

My rocket fuel is caffeine and physical exercise. On days when I’m trying to get out a scene or a chapter, I rev up with a swim and coffee. If I meet my goal, I reward myself by gardening, doing a crossword puzzle or reading the newspaper.

What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?

My favorite part is the writing—if it’s going well. My least favorite is just about anything to do with the publishing process.

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

            Rape.

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

            Action scenes.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

You need both. It takes a big ego to write but staying in the game requires gobs of humility.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

My first grade teacher wrote two words on the blackboard: “some” and “thing.” Then she combined them into one word: “something”. The ceiling cracked open.

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

Three or four to which I’ll never return, one I may go back to but in a very different form, and one I’m working on now.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

I used to be able to do one a year, but I’ve gotten slower. Life offers too many distractions.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I’m working on a mystery/thriller sequel to A PERFECT EYE. Same heroine (paintings conservator Lily Sparks), different artist (Edward Hopper), and a very different bad guy.

If you could cast the characters of any of your books for a movie, who would play your characters?

            Lily would be played by Audrey Hepburn or Claire Danes of TV’s Homeland.

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read my reviews—compulsively. I try to learn from them. Good or bad, I write to serious reviewers thanking them for taking the time to read my books. If you respond to drive-by shooters on Amazon, you never win.

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

            I used to be a lawyer, so writing books is pretty good!

What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?

On a good freelance developmental editor. He helped me merge overlapping timelines and whip a messy plotline into shape. That book didn’t sell, but I learned more from writing it than all the others put together.

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it? (and yes, I meant reader's)

Life is too short to endlessly soldier on. I used to finish every book I started, but now if I get reader’s block on a novel, I rarely feel guilty about abandoning it. I read nonfiction because I’m interested in the subject, so unless the writing is atrocious I usually finish it.

Do you google yourself?

            Seldom. Therein lie heartache and madness!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I grew up with cats and am currently owned by two black ones. The ancient Egyptians worshipped them for good reason.
               
What literary character is most like you?

            Gregor Samsa, who woke up one day as a cockroach in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

What authors have inspired you?

Dead and alive, fiction and nonfiction writers all over the map. For crime writers I like Jim Thompson, Paul French, Denise Mina, Harry Maclean and Mark Stevens. I also enjoy Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood.

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

            Treat writing as a job, and everyone you meet professionally. The people you meet on your way up are the same ones you’ll meet on your way down.

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

This isn’t the funniest, or the most recent. But it’s an ongoing source of amusement.

Last year I fell down a flight of stairs carrying laundry and ruptured a disc in my back. Instead of surgery, I chose physical therapy. Fresh from an early morning swim, I arrived at my first appointment and learned there was a copay. Rushing to my car for my wallet, I ran full tilt into a glass wall in the lobby which I thought was a door. I broke my nose and thought that was the end of it.

A week later I was flossing and a corner of one of my molars broke off. In addition to my nose, I’d broken two teeth. One got infected and required a root canal. On my first visit to the endodontist, he broke his drill in my tooth and it took three trips to get it out.  

A few weeks ago, after months of pain on one side of my head while I slept, I went to an ENT and learned my jaw had also been dislocated. At that point I had to laugh.

The funny thing is how my ordeal mirrors my writing process: the wonderful early industriousness that leads to pratfalls and calamity, the denial over just how badly things are going, the renewed energy—that heady surge—when you convince yourself things are finally back on track, only to run into a physical or metaphorical wall that reminds you the gods aren’t done screwing with you and your manuscript yet. How many times can you drill into the same tooth? At least three, apparently.

So I turned it into a workshop I’m delivering at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold Conference in September. I call it Revision: How I Learned To Love A Root Canal.

REVIEW: Tinfoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve Moulton @mcdbooks @fsgoriginals #tinfoilbutterfly #rachelevemoulton

Tinfoil Butterfly 
by Rachel Eve Moulton

Thanks so much to MCD x FSG Originals for this gorgeous copy.


Publisher: MCD x FSG Originals
Publish Date: September 10, 2019
Paperback
272 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror


Emma is hitchhiking across the United States, trying to outrun a violent, tragic past, when she meets Lowell, the hot-but-dumb driver she hopes will take her as far as the Badlands. But Lowell is not as harmless as he seems, and a vicious scuffle leaves Emma bloody and stranded in an abandoned town in the Black Hills with an out-of-gas van, a loaded gun, and a snowstorm on the way.

The town is eerily quiet and Emma takes shelter in a diner, where she stumbles across Earl, a strange little boy in a tinfoil mask who steals her gun before begging her to help him get rid of “George.” As she is pulled deeper into Earl’s bizarre, menacing world, the horrors of Emma’s past creep closer, and she realizes she can’t run forever.


My Review:


A haunting, beautifully written novel about a girl with a torrid past who goes on one journey just to be taken down a different and unexpected path.  How she transverses this path is greatly influenced by Earl, an unusual kid with a tinfoil butterfly mask.

When a book is touted as "The Shining meets About a Boy", you tend to have certain expectations walking into the book.  I haven't read About a Boy but I can tell you that this is absolutely nothing like the Shining.  This debut holds its own and doesn't need this to give readers the wrong impression.  That being said, this novel covers a myriad of topics - some may be triggering, some may be distasteful and given with an eerie presence that will crawl under your skin, but there are also underlying topics that I felt were dealt with beautifully and for that I applaud the author.

Tinfoil Butterfly starts off strong.  Emma sure likes to put herself in quite the predicaments.  What is she running from? We find that the stitching on her abdomen is the least of her concerns and doesn't even touch the stitches that are crumbling apart inside her.  The dialogue between Emma and Earl are a pleasure to read and at times the things Earl says really make your hair stand on edge.  You forget they are in a real place and not some dystopian land.

The real love for this novel comes with the lessons that are learned along the way.  Emma and Earl.  Earl and Emma.  Can they save each other or will they let evil in? Earl's world is full of strife and George is someone to be reckoned with, but at what cost?  I found myself yelling at some of the decisions that were made. The demons they all have to face, both physically and mentally, are harrowing and disturbing.  

This is not a fun, sunshine and rainbows read but most horror novels aren't.  We get a sprinkling of paranormal and a dusting of darkness.  However, in all of the despair and violence, there is always that little light of hope.  Did I find myself rooting for the characters? This isn't a book where I feel you're allotted that.  Instead, you're on this journey where you can't peel your eyes away as you need to know how it ends... but the reality is, it never does.... because that is life... and that is death.

"You begin, you begin, you begin. Or you end, you end, you end.  Either way there is no stop. No go." 

I'm not quite sure what's holding me back from a full 5 star read, but it is a solid 4 star read, a spectacular debut and the right audience will truly adore this story, but it is definitely not for everyone.  


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard @jessmapreviews

Rewind 
by Catherine Ryan Howard

Thank you to Blackstone Publishing for these copies.


Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Hardcover
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Mystery


PLAY


Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE

Natalie wishes she'd stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There's something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can't-not until she's found what she's looking for ...

REWIND

Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You've already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking ...

My Review:


After reading The Liar's Girl and Distress Signals (both 5 stars for me), I was SO excited to get Rewind! What a unique format that I absolutely enjoyed. The rewind, fast forward, pause - it actually did help me in keeping up with the varying timelines. However, I can see this becoming confusing for some characters - especially with quite a few characters to follow. I didn't have an issue with either personally.


I love this author's writing style. I think for me, the miss on this one was not having a more underlying understanding of the murderer. I get the motive, I can forgive the somewhat underwhelming reveal... I just wanted a better understanding. There was not much background and I feel hey, if that person is just cray and that's what prompted this then OK - but I think there was more and with the diving into the past for some characters, I needed it for this one... which I did not get.

Outside of that, I did think it ran a little slower than the other two novels that I've read. I was still extremely intrigued as I was SO curious as to the why for sure. Top notch for unique format and I look forward to whatever else this author brings our way.

★★★

Jessica's Review:


I loved both of Howard's other releases, DISTRESS SIGNALS and THE LIAR'S GIRL, so when I received a copy of her newest release, REWIND, I was so ready for another great thriller! This one did have a little bit of a slower pace than the other two, but that didn't take away from the reading experience for me. Most seasoned readers in the thriller genre might have the twists figured out, but the unique format will definitely keep your attention.

Natalie is an Instagram celebrity and is staying at the Shanamore Holiday Cottages in search of something. She can't help but feel creeped out by the manager, Andrew. She has every reason to be, considering he has a hidden camera in her room. As he is watching the camera, Andrew sees a dark figure come into Natalie's room and kill her. Does he bring the evidence to the police and risk revealing his hidden cameras? Or does he simply destroy the video?

The was the story is told is really unique and intriguing. We get Rewind, Pause, and Fast Forward - so past, present, and future. I thought that was a fun and new way to set up those different timelines within the murder mystery. There were a lot of characters and some things got a little muddled for me in the changing timelines, but nothing I couldn't quickly correct. Like I said, it will probably be easy for some readers to figure out the twists before they happen, but I wish we had just a little more on the motives. Overall, I would still highly recommend this murder mystery thriller. I know a lot of other readers have been raving about it! I will continue to pick up whatever Howard releases.

3.5 stars

Saturday, September 7, 2019

BLOG TOUR & Review: The Passengers by John Marrs @berkleypub @johnmarrs1 @jessmapreviews

The Passengers 
by John Marrs

Thanks so much to Berkley Books for this advanced copy and stop on the blog tour.


Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: August 27, 2019
Hardcover
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction


You're riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, "You are going to die."


Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"


My Review:



This.Book.  THIS.BOOK. My FOURTH book by Marrs and ALL have been 5-star reads. WHAT.THE.HELL.  A favorite author in one of my favorite genres - he just keeps on bringing the goods and I am here for EVERY SINGLE PAGE.

I am a lover and fearer of technology.  I love everything it brings us but automatic cars and robots scare the ever living begeezuz out of me.  I've watched WAY too many movies and read WAY too many books not to have this remain an underlying fear for my (our) future.  

Marrs manages to bring the automatic car industry together with social media, mob mentality, a cast of characters to where you actually almost DO feel like you're reading/watching a reality show AND does all of it in less than 400 pages.  He gives each character their own VOICE.  It was so interesting to get into the nitty gritty of each of these peoples' lives, the secrets they hid and how social media and the press can be so easily swayed and how that sways how the general population reacts.

THIS SHIT IS SCARY.  And all too plausible. Call me gullible, call me realistic - just call me a fan because not gonna lie, this book really did WOW me.  

I love love LOVE the tie in with his other book, The One - another book I absolutely adored.  What's fascinating about his writing his how different his books are.  While The Passengers and The One deal in science fiction, the page turning chapters really lend a voice to the main thriller concept that I absolutely love.  I did have one itsy bitsy inkling of the story right and I absolutely loved how it ended.  Also, I enjoyed the chapters beginning with a clip of a newpaper article or a twitter post or commentary on the evens that were unfolding.  It really gave that extra oomph.

What can I say? He's an author you absolutely should put on your TBR. Thank me later. 

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:



I’ve been a big fan of John Marrs since I picked up THE GOOD SAMARITAN a couple years ago and I was so excited to receive a copy of his newest release, THE PASSENGERS. What gave this one an edge was how real this felt. In the not-so-distant future the UK is beginning to implement autonomous vehicles to eliminate human error on the roads. Sounds really convenient and like a huge advancement, right? Well, when eight different self-driving vehicles are hijacked, the night is about to get really intense for all of their passengers.
We have an array of very different characters in this terrifying predicament. When the live streams from inside the cars go live, they immediately become a trending topic and they public must decide who gets to survive their journey. I’m definitely in the camp of being leery of self-driving vehicles, and I would be scared out of my mind if the car I was in started rerouting on its own and then told me I was going to die when I reached the destination. Nope. No thank you. Something out of a Black Mirror episode, this thriller keeps you sucked in from start to finish. I think the synopsis gives the perfect amount of information you need going into the book, and I don’t want to give away much more.
If you’re a fan of John Marrs, then you already know that you need this one on the TBR. If you frequent the thriller genre and like the stories with some situations that feel entirely plausible, then you need to grab a copy of this! I will continue to pick up whatever Marrs releases in the future.
5 stars