December 4, 2020

Liar Liar (Detective Harriet Blue #3) by James Patterson & Candice Fox

Synopsis

Detective Harriet Blue is clear about two things. Regan Banks deserves to die. And she’ll be the one to pull the trigger.

But Regan – the vicious serial killer responsible for destroying her brother’s life – has gone to ground.

Suddenly, her phone rings. It’s him. Regan.

‘Catch me if you can,’ he tells her.

Harriet needs to find this killing machine fast, even if the cost is her own life. So she follows him down the Australian south coast with only one thing on her mind.

Revenge is coming – and its name is Harriet Blue


When we tear everything down, what are we left with? Who are we as people? Are we good? Are we bad?

Those are the thoughts that the viciously evil Regan Banks puts in Harriet Blue’s mind. No matter how strong willed you are, when your heart and soul are put into question, it’s only a matter of time before you spin out of control. 

Is Harriet doing the right thing being on the run from her friends and comrades in law enforcement? Maybe we still don’t know, but it sure was an interesting journey to tag along on. 

I love this series. We’re used to these types of storylines and characters from Patterson’s other law enforcement series – The Women’s Murder Club, Alex Cross, etc. What differentiates them are the main protagonist, their supporting characters, and location. Well, and Patterson’s co-authors!

There’s something about them that make for cozy books to get sucked in to at any time. It must be a formula that just works well. They may not be the deepest books or the best written books, but they’re fun and they give you characters to connect with and get to know. 

I always love jumping back into one of these series, so I was very happy that this book gripped me from the very beginning. It was a great edition to the series especially after the heartbreaking loss of Harry’s brother. 

If you haven’t read any of the Harriet Blue series, start from the beginning. Rest assured that all of the books have been fun reads thus far!

5/5 Stars



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December 2, 2020

In the Heart of the Fire (Nameless #1) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

A bloodthirsty sheriff is terrorizing a small Texas town where justice has been buried with his victims. Until Nameless arrives—a vigilante whose past is a mystery and whose future is written in blood.

Anyone who crosses Sheriff Russell Soakes is dead, missing, or warned. One of them is a single mother trying to protect her children but bracing herself for the worst. Nameless fears the outcome. He’s seen it in his visions. Now it’s time to teach the depraved Soakes a lesson in fear. But in turning predators into prey, will Nameless unearth a few secrets of his own?


This read sure was . . . something. 

‘In the Heart of Fire’ is the first in a series of short stories about a character who is nameless and is sent on jobs to act as a vigilante of sorts. I am all about this. 

But . . .

The plot in this first story just made me feel ill. It’s about pedophilia, and some of the things the horrible people say made me want to throw up. 

Nameless is an intriguing character, and it was easy to read. I was certainly happy when I was done with this one though. I look forward to reading the rest of them and hope they are less vomit-inducing. 

4/5 Stars




My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Synopsis

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.


Are you ready to get lost in your feelings? You better be if you’re picking up this book. I cried within the first 30 pages. 

This is the second Fredrik Backman book that I’ve read. My first one was “A Man Called Ove” which made me cry at the end. I’m starting to think I should just be ready to cry whenever I crack open one of his novels. 

I’m cool with that. His writing is beautiful and his characters are quirky. 

That’s basically what this whole novel is about. It’s about being different, embracing those differences, and accepting the differences in others. 

Being different is great. What even is “normal” anyway?

On the surface, ‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry’ is a fun and cute novel about a smartass almost-eight-year-old girl whose best, and only, friend is her granny. She loves books and fairy tales and going on journeys with her granny to the Land of Almost-Awake. 

What she doesn’t realize is that The Land of Almost-Awake is a lot closer to home than it may seem. 

When her granny dies, Elsa is thrust into an adventure of delivering letters to all of the people her grandmother wants to apologize to. She learns a lot of life, love, loss, and grief along the way. 

This novel cuts deep. The characters are complex. It will make you feel every emotion while acting as an escape to a far away land. 

‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry’ is an absolutely incredible read. 


5/5 Stars


Memorable Quotes: “Not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.” 

“Not all monsters look like monsters. There are some that carry their monstrosity inside.” 

“It’s strange how quickly the significance of a certain smell can change, depending on what path it decides to take through the brain. It’s strange how close love and fear live to each other.”

“Death’s greatest power is not that it can make people die, but that it can make people want to stop living.”



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Revenge by James Patterson and Andrew Holmes

Synopsis

From the World's #1 Bestselling Author, comes a story of revenge as a former SAS soldier is ready to settle into civilian life when he's hired to solve the mysterious death of a daughter, diving into a seedy world that a parent never expects to see their child in.

Former SAS soldier David Shelley was part of the most covert operations team in the special forces. Now settling down to civilian life in London, he has plans for a safer and more stable existence. But the shocking death of a young woman Shelley once helped protect puts those plans on hold.

The police rule the death a suicide but the grieving parents can't accept their beloved Emma would take her own life. They need to find out what really happened, and they turn to their former bodyguard, Shelley, for help.

When they discover that Emma had fallen into a dark and seedy world of drugs and online pornography, the father demands retribution. But his desire for revenge will make enemies of people that even Shelley may not be able to protect them from, and take them into a war from which there may be no escape.


This is one of the best Patterson books I’ve read in awhile. If you’ve been reading my reviews for a good amount of time, you’ll know that I read a lot of them. 

Revenge grabs you from the very first page and it doesn’t let go until you close the book for the last time. 

From a tragic death to mafia activity to a race against time, you don’t have a whole lot of time to breathe. It kept me on the edge of my seat. I also loved these new characters that we met in David and Lucy Shelley. David was great, and Lucy is a total badass. I love a good, badass female protagonist. 

The book takes a few twists and turns. It’s mostly straight forward and you know who you like and who you don’t. 

Revenge is intense. There are some great characters. It’s a fun read. 

I recommend it. 


5/5 Stars




The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

 Synopsis:

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors--a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all--a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family--a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.


I started this book and ended this book not really knowing if I enjoyed it or not. I don’t quite know how that could be, but let’s take a look and try to sort this out. 


Characters

I think this is where the book lost me from the beginning. Nothing made me care about the characters. Everyone seemed overly suspicious just for the sake of being suspicious. The detective assigned to the case seemed unnecessarily cocky and all-knowing. I hated his character. The rest of them, I just felt no connection to. 

They all ended up with pretty solid character arcs and a surprising amount of depth. But there wasn’t enough to make me feel connected to them or find myself rooting for them. I wanted the baby to be alive and found well, but that’s about it. I think I had to keep reading just to see how that would end. 


Plot Line

The plot was fine. There was nothing really wrong with it. The book was pretty short and it packed a punch. It was GO GO GO right from the beginning. 

I did find myself interested in the story and wanting to find out what actually happened. 


Twists

It felt like every chapter added a new twist to the story. Financial troubles, mental illness, infidelity . . . you name it. There was a lot to unpack here. But, I cannot do much unpacking without spoilers. Just know that if you read this book, it’s a rollercoaster. 


Writing

There was something about this book being completely written in third person that didn’t sit well with me. If I had to choose, I’d say that the chapters centering Anne or the detective should have been written in first person. Other than that, I felt that the writing style was easy to read and flowed nicely. 



After breaking that down, it seems that I just didn’t connect with this book and the characters didn’t matter to me. I could see it getting great reviews from some and terrible reviews from others. That said, it’s pretty short so it makes for a quick read. You can decide for yourself without wasting too much time. It’ll definitely take you for a ride. 


2/5 Stars



The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

 Synopsis:

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.


I picked up this book after reading a comment in a Facebook reading group about it being an actually scary horror/thriller. It takes a lot for books to freak me out or scare me, but I decided to give it a go. 

My first impression was that the protagonist is very likable and adds some comedy to the density of the book with her personality. 

There is also a dog as one of the main characters. So, A+. 

Then, once I got to the first mention of the twisted ones saying, I had to close the book for the night. I’m not even sure why, but it creeped me out so much. 

I was creeped out, but I was super intrigued. So, I picked it back up in the daylight and, after reading more, I didn’t have to put it back down in order to sleep. It definitely had a huge creep factor to it. But, I’d say it was more mysterious. I don’t know if I psyched myself out when I first started it or what, but the rest of the book didn’t scare me. 

That said, I loved the journey that The Twisted Ones took me on. It was a fun read filled with mysterious and eccentric characters. It’ll make you laugh while simultaneously keeping you on the edge of your seat. 

For that, I definitely have it on my recommended list. 

I don’t know that we got a full explanation of what the large stones were all about, but it was enough of an explanation to not have me feeling like I needed more. I think it’s meant to be mysterious and weird, and it shall remain that way. 

5/5 Stars. This is a fun one. 



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October 20, 2020

It Was You by Jade Lee Wright

 Synopsis:

"I don't understand. Everything I did, I did for her..."When Regan Pen discovers that her long-term boyfriend has been cheating on her with over eight women, she packs her bags and leaves the sunny island in Spain that she had called home for a year. She returns to South Africa where she is given the chance to start over in life. Reassemble herself. Now is her time to be selfish. Find a new career, get a home of her own. Become whoever she wants to be... but when her best friend, Peyton, is brutally murdered, Regan is forced to put her life on hold to take responsibility for her friends thirteen year old daughter, Harley. As the police battle to solve the murder of Peyton and her unborn child, Regan becomes convinced that her Godchild is not the sweet, innocent little girl everyone seems to think she is. Could Harley have been so consumed by her jealousy and fear of not being the epicenter of her mother's universe that it lead to murder? If so, is Regan safe in her own home?


This book was interesting as it felt like you, as the reader, were spiraling into insanity. I could never quite put my finger on what was happening. You think you figure it out, then something changes. Then changes again. Then changes again. 

Then you think the story is wrapped up. 

Then it changes again. And a huge bomb is thrown at the reader in the final page to try to make it all make sense.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters. They all kinda sucked in their own ways, but they were supposed to. 

It was a book that I just didn’t really connect with. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t connect with it. 

2/5 Stars



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October 18, 2020

The Face of Deception (Eve Duncan #1) by Iris Johansen

 Synopsis:

An unidentified skull, a trail of shocking secrets, and a woman whose talented hands could reveal the terrifying truth--#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen blends these elements into a compelling novel of suspense, and introduces her most popular character ever: forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

After her beloved daughter vanishes, Eve Duncan survives by immersing herself in her work. The best in her elite field at rebuilding faces from fragments of skull bones, she helps to put a name to a face, to identify missing children. It is Eve's way of coming to terms with her personal nightmare. But more terror lies ahead when she accepts a job from billionaire John Logan. Beneath Eve's gifted hands, a face begins to emerge from the skull he has given her to reconstruct--a face that no one was ever meant to see. Now Eve is trapped in a web of murder and deceit as powerful enemies rush to cover up the truth, determined that their secrets go to the grave--even if Eve gets buried with them.


I love jumping into a brand new series. You get to meet new characters and, if you like the first book, you can settle in for a fun ride. 

This book took most of the things I enjoy in a good crime novel and made it fun. I don’t know if the whole series will just be a fun read, but the first book was. I feel like it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so readers shouldn’t either. 

There’s a strong female protagonist, a crime suspense element, and the story wraps up at the end of the novel. 

I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers in books, unless it’s done very well. If there’s going to be one, there has to be some resolution to the story with a hint that there will be a storyline that flows into the next book as well. I prefer when books in a series could survive as a standalone book if you wanted to read them that way. The first book in the Eve Duncan series provided that. 

I’ve read many books about detectives and private investigators. None of the book I’ve read have had a Forensic Sculptor as a protagonist. I didn’t even know that was a career. So, that was very interesting. I can only hope that Iris Johansen has done research on the career so we get more insight into the process and what goes into it. That’s still left to be seen. 

The Face of Deception was a fun and quick read. Eve seems like she could be an interesting protagonist to follow. I’ll definitely be picking up book #2!

4/5 Stars


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Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

 Synopsis:

Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood—and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.


This is an incredible read. Plain and simple. It caught my eye as I was walking through a bookstore. I was intrigued by the synopsis but iffy on whether I wanted to buy it or not. So, I gave it the One-Page Test. I opened it up and read the first page to see if it gripped me. 

If I hadn't stopped myself, I probably would have sat in the bookstore and just read the whole book right there. I didn't want to put it down, so it came home with me and I totally devoured it. 

It written in a unique way as it's basically an open letter to Kiese's mother. That part alone made me want to keep reading. 

With no pun intended, the content in this book is HEAVY. There are a lot of tough things that Kiese writes out, but it keeps you turning the page. He's crafted it in a way that makes it easy to read and not lose the reader. 

He writes about the struggle growing up in the south as a black, overweight boy with a tumultuous home life. 

I can't recommend this book enough. 


5/5 Stars




R is for Ricochet (Kinsey Millhone #18) by Sure Grafton

 Synopsis:

Reba Lafferty was a daughter of privilege, the only child of an adoring father. Nord Lafferty was already in his fifties when Reba was born, and he could deny her nothing. Over the years, he quietly settled her many scrapes with the law, but he wasn't there for her when she was convicted of embezzlement and sent to the California Institution for Women. Now, at thirty-two, she is about to be paroled, having served twenty-two months of a four-year sentence. Nord Lafferty wants to be sure she stays straight, stays at home and away from the drugs, the booze, the gamblers." "It seems a straightforward assignment for Kinsey: babysit Reba until she settles in, make sure she follows all the rules of her parole. Maybe all of a week's work. Nothing untoward - the woman seems remorseful and friendly. And the money is good." But life is never that simple, and Reba is out of prison less than twenty-four hours when one of her old crowd comes circling round.


Jumping back into the Kinsey Millhone world is always great. In this one, she had to deal more with someone else’s trouble rather than getting into trouble of her own!

That was something new to get used to. 

It was a fun ride, though. I don’t think this book was a stand out in the series, but it was a fun ride either way. I look forward to seeing how Kinsey’s new budding relationship grows. 

4.5 Stars



Memorable Quotes: “The basic question is this: given human nature, are any of us really capable of change? The mistakes other people make are usually patently obvious. Our own are tougher to recognize. In most cases, our path through life reflects a fundamental truth about who we are now and who we’ve been since birth. We’re optimists or pessimists, joyful or depressed, gullible or cynical, inclined to seek adventure or to avoid all risks.”

“I listened to the dial tone in a state of despair. I could see now I was being penalized for shirking my job. I should have gone in to work. The Universe keeps track of our sins and exacts devious and repugnant punishments, like dates with unknown men.”