Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts

October 1, 2022

Compulsion (Max Revere #2) by Allison Brennan

Synopsis

Investigative reporter Maxine Revere has a theory: that the five New York City murders for which Adam Bachman is being tried are just part of his killing spree. In probing the disappearance of a retired couple who vanished the prior summer, Max uncovers striking similarities to Bachman's MO and develops a theory that Bachman wasn't working alone.

Max wins a coveted pre-trial interview with the killer, whose disarming composure in the face of her questions is combined with uncomfortable knowledge of Max's own past. She leaves the room convinced, but unable to prove, that Bachman knows exactly what happened to the missing couple. The D.A. wants nothing to jeopardize his case against Bachman and refuses to consider Max's theory. With no physical evidence, Max has to rely on her own wits and investigative prowess to dig deep into Bachman's past. The picture that Max puts together is far darker and more deadly than she ever imagined.

As Max gets closer to the truth, she doesn't realize that she's walking down a road that has been paved just for her. That every step she takes brings her one step closer to a brilliant, methodical sociopath who has been waiting for her to make just one small mistake.

And when she does, he'll be there waiting.


When I started this book, I had no idea it was the second book in a series. That was unfortunate to me, because I hadn't read the first one. I don't like jumping into a series without reading the first book or reading them out of order in general. 

But, since I did it without knowing, I had to get over it and just pretend it was a standalone book. 

I will say, not having read the first book, I didn't feel like I had missed anything or that I was severely out of the know. So, Allison Brennan did a great job of welcoming new readers into the series if they were knew to her work like I was. 

I also found it interesting to read a crime novel from the POV of an investigative reporter. Usually they come from the POV of the detectives investigating the case. So this was a fresh change of pace to me. It was an interesting story, and it kept me hanging on until I finished it. 

I think I'll definitely be on the lookout for the other books in the series. I should probably read the first one so I can be all caught up. 

4/5 Stars


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When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware #1) by Jonathan Kellerman

Synopsis

In the first Alex Delaware novel, Dr. Morton Handler practiced a strange brand of psychiatry. Among his specialties were fraud, extortion, and sexual manipulation. Handler paid for his sins when he was brutally murdered in his luxurious Pacific Palisades apartment. The police have no leads, but they do have one possible witness: seven-year-old Melody Quinn.

It's psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware's job to try to unlock the terrible secret buried in Melody's memory. But as the sinister shadows in the girl's mind begin to take shape, Alex discovers that the mystery touches a shocking incident in his own past.

This connection is only the beginning, a single link in a forty-year-old conspiracy. And behind it lies an unspeakable evil that Alex Delaware must expose before it claims another innocent victim: Melody Quinn.


I read my first Jonathan Kellerman book awhile ago now, and I've had When the Bough Breaks sitting in my TBR pile for nearly as long. After finding a good chunk of the series at various book sales, it was finally time for me to dig in and read my way through it!

The good news is that I enjoyed the book. It'd be rather unfortunate if I had quite a few books In the series and ended up hating the first one. As someone who, obviously, enjoys mysteries and thrillers but is also a psychology nerd, this series appears to be a wonderful blend of those two interests. For those unfamiliar with the Alex Delaware series - Alex was a child psychologist. After being retired for a few, he becomes a consultant to the police. 

All of this was great and intriguing. What I wasn't expecting was just how graphic and vulgar some of the language was - especially since this novel deals with sexual abuse of children - another thing I was not prepared for. I usually keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible. But, I feel like that needed to be mentioned. Because it was rough. 

There are also some things about the writing that make it obvious this series was started in the 80's. It's not specific to the 80's, per se, but some of the racial words and phrases used to describe people are now very out of date. I had to keep reminding myself that this was written decades  ago as I was reading it. I can only hope that as the series goes along, the vocabulary becomes more modern. 

Sidenote - as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I absolutely love that Milos is gay. That warmed my little heart. 

4/5 Stars. I've already started the 2nd book, and I look forward to seeing how the series progresses. 


Memorable Quote: “It was shaping up as a beautiful morning. The last thing I wanted to hear about was murder.”



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September 24, 2022

Heather, The Totality by Matthew Weiner

Synopsis

Mark and Karen Breakstone have constructed the idyllic life of wealth and status they always wanted, made complete by their beautiful and extraordinary daughter Heather. But they are still not quite at the top. When the new owners of the penthouse above them begin construction, an unstable stranger penetrates the security of their comfortable lives and threatens to destroy everything they've created.


The cover of this book says it's a novel. But I must have a different definition of a "novel" because this felt more like reading a storyboard. Like the author was putting together a timeline of how the book was going to be laid out and thoughts for where the plot would go . . . but then he would go back and fill it in with more details, dialogue, etc. 

It jumps from one thing to the next so quickly that I was never sure what I was supposed to pay attention to or what little details would be important. You'd think with such a short "novel" that every piece of it would be an important ingredient in telling the full story . . . instead, I was reading the elevator pitch for a full novel. 

It's rather unfortunate, too, because there is something here with this plot and the characters. It could have been something and perhaps become a really good actual novel if it had any life to it. I didn't feel any passion in the author's writing. It felt like he sat down at a computer and banged out this so-called novel in one afternoon and then called it a day. 

He also should have fired his editor. The amount of run-on sentences and the sheer word count of the word "and" were mind-numbing. 

1/5 stars. 1 star because it's a good base. But the writing is lazy and I refuse to believe this is a finished product. 



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September 20, 2022

U is For Undertow (Kinsey Millhone #21) by Sue Grafton

Synopsis

It's April 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone's thirty-eighth birthday, and she's alone in her office catching up on paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he'd be carded if he tried to buy a beer, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout.

He tells her a story. More than two decades ago, a four-year-old girl disappeared, and a recent newspaper story about her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her secret burial and could identify the killers if he saw them again. He wants Kinsey's help in locating the grave and finding the men. It's way more than a long shot, but he's persistent and willing to pay cash up front. Reluctantly, Kinsey agrees to give him one day of her time.

It isn't long before she discovers Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he's the boy who cried wolf. Is his story true, or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?

Moving between the 1980s and the 1960s, and changing points of view as Kinsey pursues witnesses whose accounts often clash, Sue Grafton builds multiple subplots and memorable characters. Gradually we see how everything connects. And as always, at the heart of her fiction is Kinsey Millhone, a sharp-tongued, observant loner who never forgets that under the thin veneer of civility is often the roiling dark side of the soul.


U is For Undertow is another installment in the Kinsey Millhone series. But, if you weren't aware of that going in, I could see how it may fool you. Because it's a Kinsey Millhone novel . . . with a severe lack of Kinsey. 

This is due to the novel traveling back and forth in time between the 60's and the 80's and between points of view. You get the perspective of 4 different characters, including Kinsey. I had no idea how it was all going to come together in the end, because they all seemed like completely different stories. 

It was a strange book where a lot happened, and it was fairly long, but it didn't really go anywhere until the very end. I understand having to lay down the full background and what led up to Kinsey investigating the case of a missing child from about 20 years prior, but I just didn't care about most of it. 

I could have lived without McNally's perspective. Corso was interesting. Deboroah Unruh's was necessary to paint the story with how it played out. Had the novel just flipped back and forth between Kinsey and Jon Corso, I feel like it may have had some more life and would have been more interesting - much like for T is for Trespassing flipped between Kinsey and "Solana Rojas". And that book kept me on the edge of my seat, especially at the end. 

There were just too many peripheral characters in 'U' that I didn't care about. Some of the chapters became a chore. 

And again - there was a severe lack of Kinsey. 

3/5 stars



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September 19, 2022

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Synopsis

"Simon Glass was easy to hate....I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."

Fat, clumsy Simon Glass is a nerd, a loser who occupies the lowest rung on the high school social ladder. Everyone picks on him -- until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob, a transfer student with charisma to spare, immediately becomes the undisputed leader of the senior class. And he has plans for Simon.

Rob enlists the help of his crew -- wealthy, intellectual Young, ladies' man Bob, and sweet, athletic Coop -- in a mission: Turn sniveling Simon from total freak to would-be prom king.

But as Simon rises to the top of the social ranks, he shows a new confidence and a devious side that power-hungry Rob did not anticipate. And when Simon uncovers a dangerous secret, events darken. The result is disquieting, bone-chilling...and brutal.

Shattering Glass was an interesting reading experience. Nearly all of the characters were hard to like for one reason or another - including the horrendous "Bro"-type speak - but the story was compelling enough to push me through. 

I think a lot of that also had to do with the unique way the book was written. Each chapter started out with a testimonial from a character in the book from a time years ahead from when the main story takes place. Each statement alludes to something horrible happening with the POV main character, Young, in the center of it. The thing is, it paints him as the bad guy. Meanwhile, in the book's "present time", Young is regarded as a nice, smart kid. I probably made that sound more complicated than it was. But I have to credit that storytelling style for keeping me into the book, because I needed to see what happened and what went wrong. 

I'm just thankful it was all wrapped up at the end and didn't leave me guessing. That would have been an infuriating end to the book. 

Other than that, the plot just seemed so cruel and really played into teen stereotypes - which it what it was trying to do. I don't think anyone came out a winner at the end of the book. I suppose it offers a look into what happens when average teen shenanigans go too far to the extreme. 

2/5 stars



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September 13, 2022

The Wife by Alafair Burke

Synopsis

From New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke, a stunning domestic thriller in the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Woman in Cabin 10—in which a woman must make the impossible choice between defending her husband and saving herself.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

 

The Wife is a fun, quick thriller. It's a great afternoon read or a book to work your way through over a weekend. It's not super long and it's not super dense. 

It's a classic story of murder being committed and the questions surrounding who is responsible. Is it the man whose life is spiraling out of control? The wife who wants to believe him? Is something more sinister going on?

It didn't take very long for this book to grip me and suck me into the journey. I became invested in the characters and in the storyline. I had to see how it all ended. 

If you want a mystery that's easy and quick to read, give this one a shot. 

4/5 stars


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The Coast-to-Coast Murders by James Patterson

Synopsis

A detective and an FBI agent join forces on what seems like an open-and-shut case—but a new rash of killings sends them on a pulse-pounding race against time in this intense thriller.

Michael and Megan Fitzgerald are siblings who share a terrifying past. Both adopted, and now grown—Michael is a long-haul truck driver, Megan a college student majoring in psychology—they trust each other before anyone else. They've had to. Their parents are public intellectuals, an Ivy League clinical psychologist and a renowned psychiatrist, and they brought up their adopted children in a rarefied, experimental environment. It sheltered them from the world's harsh realities, but it also forced secrets upon them, secrets they keep at all costs.

In Los Angeles, Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble have joined forces to work a murder that seems like a dead cinch. Their chief suspect is quickly identified and apprehended—but then there's another killing just like the one they've been investigating. And another. And not just in Los Angeles—the spree spreads across the country. The Fitzgerald family comes to the investigators' attention, but Dobbs and Gimble are at a loss—if one of the four is involved, which Fitzgerald might it be?

From coastal California to upstate New York, Dobbs and Gimble race against time and across state lines to stop an ingenious and deeply deranged killer—one whose dark and twisted appetites put them outside the range of logic or experience.


This book is largely responsible for breaking me out of my reading slump early in the year. (Note: yes, I read this early in the year. I'm getting caught up on writing reviews. It's been a crazy year!) 

After I absolutely devoured this book, I NEEDED to jump into another novel immediately because I had such a great time on this journey. Luckily for me, the next book I read was The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope and that was also an incredible read. So, suddenly I was out of my slump and enjoying reading again instead of not being able to focus. 

But it all started here. 

The Coast-to-Coast Murders is one of the best Patterson books I've read in a long time. It's a crazy journey that tells a story of how powerful the mind is and how insidious mental illness can be. Or how the mind can be warped into working against you. 

This book is full of action. It's full of mystery. It's full of suspense. And it had one of the most gruesome death scenes I've ever read. 

Plus, it truly had me shocked at the end when everything was wrapped up. I never saw the twist coming which was exhilarating to me. 

5/5 stars


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The Stories You Tell (Roxanne Weary #3) by Kristen Lepionka

Synopsis

A late-night phone call is never good news, especially when you’re Roxane Weary. This one is from her brother Andrew whose evening was interrupted by a visit from Addison, a hip young DJ he knows from the hotel bar where he works. She was drunk, bloody, and hysterical, but she wouldn’t say what was wrong. After using his phone, she left as quickly as she appeared, and Andrew is worried. That’s when he calls Roxane.

But another late-night call occurs as well: Addison’s father calls the police after getting a panicked voicemail from his daughter. The only thing he could understand is the address she gave in the message—Andrew’s. Before long, the police are asking Andrew all about why there’s blood in his apartment and what he did to Addison. Meanwhile, another cop is found dead on the opposite side of town, leading to a swirl of questions surrounding a dance club whose staff—which includes Addison—has suddenly gone AWOL.


When I started this book, I didn't realize it was part of a series. Not to mention - the third book in a series. Unfortunately, I haven't read the first two. So this was my first introduction to Roxanne as a protagonist. 

It was quite the interesting story to follow and there were twists and turns all over the place. I was never really sure where it was going to go. But I was invested, so I kept following it. 

Every attempt to get answers unlocked even more questions. And it ended up being more twisted than I imagined when I started it. But the end was sort of frustrating.

I'd be interested to read the first two books in the series one of these days. 

3/5 stars


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Fear No Evil (Alex Cross #29) by James Patterson

Synopsis

Alex Cross enters the final showdown with the relentless killer who has stalked him and his family for years.​

Dr. Alex Cross and Detective John Sampson venture into the rugged Montana wilderness—where they will be the prey. They’re not on the job, but on a personal mission. 

Until they’re attacked by two rival teams of assassins, controlled by the same mastermind who has stalked Alex and his family for years. 

Darkness falls. The river churns into rapids. Shots ring out through the forest. 

No backup. No way out. Fear no evil. 


Another installment in the Alex Cross series! Unfortunately, this one didn't really do it for me like most of the others have. 

The parts that were most interesting to me were when it flashed to Bree on her new job assignment in Paris. I love to see her character going down a different path from where she had been with DC Metro. 

Other than that, Alex and John were being hunted down by rival groups. But it didn't make much sense to me that they would be coming after them as hard as they were. And a lot of that storyline seemed to . . . out there and unrealistic to me. Even for a fiction novel. 

I was also angry that John's dream vacation got ruined. 

This was a book I just powered through because I care about the characters. It definitely wasn't a gem in the Alex Cross series. 

3/5 stars


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Deadly Cross (Alex Cross #28) by James Patterson

Synopsis

A scandalous double homicide in the nation's capital opens the psychological case files on . . . Detective Alex Cross.

Until Kay Willingham's shocking murder inside a luxury limousine, the Georgetown socialite, philanthropist, and ex-wife of the sitting vice-president led a public life. Yet few -- including her onetime psychologist -- had any inkling of Kay's troubled past in the Deep South.

Murdered alongside her is Randall Christopher, a respected educator whose political ambitions may have endangered both their lives. While John Sampson of DC Metro Police tracks Randall's final movements, Alex Cross and FBI Special Agent Ned Mahoney travel to Alabama to investigate Kay's early years.

They discover that although Kay had many enemies, all of them needed her alive. Alex is left without a viable suspect, and facing a desperate choice between breaking a trust and losing his way -- as a detective, and as the protector of his family.


A crime that reaches across so many different states with connections to many high-profile characters - including Alex Cross himself. 

Deadly Cross was one of those series installments that pulls you in right from the beginning and doesn't let go until you race through the pages. It featured a truly baffling crime that had so many potential suspects. And it kept me guessing until the very end. What a ride!

And we get a new level of character development for Bree Cross, which is always fun. If you enjoy the Alex Cross series, I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy this book. 

5/5 Stars



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Shine by Lauren Myracle

Synopsis

When her best guy friend falls victim to what seems like a vicious hate crime, 16-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.


Even after reading the synopsis for this book, I wasn't quite prepared for how dark and sad it got at times. It deals with some really harsh topics such as racism, addiction, sexual assault, LGBTQ hate crimes, and questions about sexuality, and more. All of that was packed into a relatively short novel. The fact that it didn't feel disjointed and forced speaks a lot to how well the book is written. 

There were times it made me feel uncomfortable. There were times it made me sad. There were times it got me to smile. Its definitely a story of the power of love and a coming-of-age story about the importance of family. It's a real look into how trauma can touch so many lives in so many different ways.

At first it kinda seemed like it was trying to be one of those young adult books where some kid or young teenager solves all the problems of a small town. But it ended up being so much deeper than that, and I really appreciated it in the end. 

It's not an easy read due to the topics, but it is written well and goes pretty fast. 

4/5 stars


Memorable Quote: "That was the problem with lying to yourself. Sometimes you got too good at it."



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T is For Trespass (Kinsey Millhone #20) by Sue Grafton

Synopsis

In what may be her most unsettling novel to date, Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass is also her most direct confrontation with the forces of evil. Beginning slowly with the day-to-day life of a private eye, Grafton suddenly shifts from the voice of Kinsey Millhone to that of Solana Rojas, introducing readers to a chilling sociopath. Rojas is not her birth name. It is an identity she cunningly stole, an identity that gives her access to private caregiving jobs. The true horror of the novel builds with excruciating tension as the reader foresees the awfulness that lies ahead. The suspense lies in whether Millhone will realize what is happening in time to intervene. Though set in the late eighties, T is for Trespass could not be more topical: identity theft; elder abuse; betrayal of trust; the breakdown in the institutions charged with caring for the weak and the dependent. It reveals a terrifying but all-too-real rip in the social fabric. Once again, Grafton opens up new territory with startling results.


Kinsey Millhone is back again! I wasn't the biggest fan of the installment prior to this one. But, T is For Trespass was definitely a wild journey that kept me turning the page! It was great to be pulled into this one after it was so hard for me to get through S. 

T is for Trespass alternated voices between Kinsey and a newcomer to the neighborhood, Solana Rojas. The book being written this way gave us, as the reader, a different insight into knowing what was happening before and while Kinsey was figuring it all out. It was an interesting way to get into the story, but it also made the whole book SO frustrating. 

I was rooting for Kinsey to figure everything out sooner rather than later. But once the ball finally got rolling, it was an intense ride. The ending of the book had me on the edge of my seat and I was actually sweating as my heart was pounding as I raced to the end. 

I don't know about you, but I always love when a book can pull me in so much that it can get me worked up like that while reading. 'T' was definitely a great rebound  from 'S', in my opinion. I had to jump right in to reading 'U' when I finished it!

5/5 Stars


Memorable Quotes: 

"In reality, the place had stimulated my hopes for an early and sudden death."

"At the end of every day, I was exhausted from having to maintain such a tight grip on myself. Fear, like any other strong emotion, is difficult to hide. Much of my energy was devoted to denying it was there." 

"I don't want to think about predators. I know they exist, but I prefer to focus on the best in human nature: compassion, generosity, a willingness to come to the aid of those in need. The sentiment may seem absurd, given our daily ration of news stories detailing thievery, assault, rape, murder, and other treacheries. To the cynics among us, I must sound like an idiot, but I do hold to the good, working wherever possible to separate the wicked from that which profits them. There will always be someone poised to take advantage of the vulnerable: the very young, the very old, and the innocent of any age. Though I know this from long experience, I refuse to feel discouraged. In my own unassuming way, I know I can make a difference. You can as well."



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September 10, 2022

S is For Silence (Kinsey Millhone #19) by Sue Grafton

Synopsis

Just after Independence Day in July 1953 Violet Sullivan, a local good time girl living in Serena Station Southern California, drives off in her brand new Chevy and is never seen again. Left behind is her young daughter, Daisy, and Violet's impetuous husband, Foley, who had been persuaded to buy his errant wife the car only days before . . .

Now, thirty-five years later, Daisy wants closure.

Reluctant to open such an old cold case Kinsey Millhone agrees to spend five days investigating, believing at first that Violet simply moved on to pastures new. But very soon it becomes clear that a lot of people shared a past with Violet, a past that some are still desperate to keep hidden. And in a town as close-knit as Serena there aren't many places to hide when things turn vicious . . .


A small tight-knit town. A woman the whole town lusted over. A mysterious disappearance. 

S is For Silence was another installment in the Kinsey Millhone series. It time hops between 1953 and "current time" (the 80's in Kinsey's world) to tell the story of Violet and Kinsey's search for her. 

This was one of those books where, despite the intriguing story, it took me forever to get through it. I don't really know why. Perhaps I didn't feel connected to the characters when the book flashed back in time. So trying to get through those chapters was a lot more tough. 

But, I did need to know what happened to Violet. And Kinsey is always interesting. So I kept pushing through. I'm glad that it wrapped up and didn't leave any questions hanging. 

Maybe not the BEST book in the whole series, but it's worth the read. 

3/5 Stars



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I Don't Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

Synopsis

An accomplished photographer and the devoted mom of an adorable little boy, Allie Ross has just moved to an upscale DC suburb, the kind of place where parenting feels like a competitive sport. Allie’s desperate to make a good first impression. Then she’s framed for murder.

It all starts at a neighborhood party when a local dad corners Allie and calls her by an old, forgotten nickname from her dark past. The next day, he is found dead.

Soon, the police are knocking at her door, grilling her about a supposed Tinder relationship with the man, and pulling up texts between them. She learns quickly that she's been hacked and someone is impersonating her online. Her reputation—socially and professionally—is at stake; even her husband starts to doubt her. As the killer closes in, Allie must reach back into a past she vowed to forget in order to learn the shocking truth of who is destroying her life.


I Don't Forgive You follows the very popular trend of having a female protagonist trying to solve a mystery in a quiet neighborhood while everyone around her thinks she's crazy and has a drinking problem. So much so that once I finished it, it inspired to finally watch the satire show The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window on Netflix. Great show, by the way. Especially if you've read a few of these books that follow that trope. It made me chuckle quite a few times!

But, back to the book! 

Once I got over the fact that I was reading yet another novel following this recipe, the plot line was decent enough to keep me reading and keep me invested in finding out what really happened. Plus, I didn't guess the twist - so that's a plus in it's favor!

I Don't Forgive You also uses more digital media and social media as a plot device than some of the other related novels. That added an interesting wrinkle. It also made every single character in the book suspicious. That's probably why I didn't guess the big reveal before it happened. Plus Aggie Blum Thompson definitely tries to direct your suspicions from character to character and none of them become innocent or guilty until she's ready for them to. 

Would I have preferred the book to take on a different angle than a woman who drinks a lot with a husband that doesn't believe her? Yeah, probably. 

Would it have made for the same sort of intriguing plot line? Well, probably not. 

So - if you go into the book knowing what to expect about the plot devices, you'll likely enjoy the ride. OR, if you really enjoy this type of novel, you'll probably eat this one up!

It was interesting. It was an easy read. The "alcoholic" woman with rocky relationships is becoming tiresome though. 


3/5 Stars



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We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman

Synopsis

'I got this whole-body feeling... it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt... inevitable.'

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.

While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?


When I ordered this book, I was really excited to read it. Then, as many books do, it got lost in my TBR pile and sat around for a little over a year before I finally picked it up to dive in. It was one of those situations where I felt silly for putting it off so long once I finally started because it was a quick read and it gripped me from the beginning. But, maybe right now was just the time that I was meant to read it. 

The book follows the main character, Aaron, through many mental and emotional turmoils. It deals with topics of loss, love, addiction, disability, and even more. But, it tackles them gracefully and really comes off as being a light read despite the important and heavy topics. 

The thing I had to keep reminding myself is that Aaron is only 18 years old, and he's already been through a lot in his life. And I had to keep reminding myself of this because basically in every chapter, I wanted to dive through the pages into this fictional world and smack him on the head with a book. He was beyond frustrating. And then it sort of breaks the fourth wall when Hannah calls him an unreliable narrator - spot on. 

But even with the frustrations, We Are Inevitable is really a love note about books. Maybe not even just books - but about words. How words can reach deep inside of you and touch you in prolific ways. They may be written down in a novel or they may be playing through a speaker as a vinyl record spins. Words are important. Words can change your life. Words will always be with you when you feel the most alone. 

Book lovers could definitely find bits of themselves in these pages. Be warned - you'll also want to smack Aaron from time to time. 

I was really hoping there would be a more profound character arc for him, but I think everyone around Aaron grew more than he did. That left me a bit bummed out when I turned the final page. I was happy for the rest of them though. Ira, Chad, Hannah, the Lumberjacks . . . they all had their quirks. But they were all really likable. 

Whereas Aaron just . . . wasn't. But I'm not sure he was supposed to be. 

3/5 Stars. The book really was a nice journey, but the endless frustration knocked my rating down 2 stars. 

Memorable Quote: "Twenty-six letters and some punctuation marks and you have infinite words in infinite worlds.”



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The Death Artist (Kate McKinnon #1) by Jonathan Santlofer

Synopsis

Former New York cop Kate McKinnon lives a life of wealth and luxury she never would have dreamed possible. Following her marriage to an elite businessman, her post-police career as an art historian has skyrocketed her to fame and fortune. Her life is perfect, until a young woman is murdered and a close friend of Kate's becomes the prime suspect. Kate's old police instincts naturally reemerge as she delves into the case. Soon, two other murders related to the New York art world occur, and Kate finds that the killer -- now known as "the Death Artist" -- is communicating with her, leaving clues such as Polaroids and jumbled pieces of artwork. Somehow, Jacques-Louis David's famous painting The Death of Marat is at the heart of the murder spree, but how so?


The Death Artist combined three things that I love - Thrillers, art, and a badass female protagonist. And it's all set to the backdrop of the New York City luxury art lifestyle. 

But it isn't all glitz and glam. This book takes you from big penthouse suites that overlook Manhattan to the darkest hidden corners. 

I guess The Death Artist actually combined four things I love. The fourth, and final, being a mystery that kept me guessing until the reveal. I can't help but try to guess the twist the entire time I'm reading a book. It's unfortunate since I enjoy being surprised. I wish I could just enjoy the ride and see how it plays out. I feel like most readers who devour mysteries are the same as me, though. So it's always a delight to read a book that I can't guess. This was one of them. 

I was also delighted to discover The Death Artist is the first book in a trilogy involving protagonist Kate McKinnon. I'm not sure how I came to be interested in her character, but I was bummed out when the book was over - until I learned there were two more. Now, I can't wait to jump into those!

If you're into mysteries and have even the smallest interest in art, give this book a try. 

4/5 stars because it took me a few chapters to really want to dig into it. It didn't hook me right from the jump. 

Memorable Quote: “Artists, they’re vain but insecure. They want attention, like you said, but hide behind their work. They like to be alone, but want their work in the public eye. Artists are all about the work.”




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July 22, 2022

The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope

Synopsis

Sometimes, the most perfect families are hiding the most terrible secrets. How well do you know the people next door…?

Everybody wants to live on Hogarth Street, the pretty, tree-lined avenue with its white houses. The new family, The Wests, are a perfect fit. Katherine and John seem so in love and their gorgeous five-year-old twins race screeching around their beautiful emerald-green lawn.

But soon people start to notice: why don’t they join backyard barbecues? Why do they brush away offers to babysit? Why, when you knock at the door, do they shut you out, rather than inviting you in?

Every family has secrets, and on the hottest day of the year, the truth is about to come out. As a tragedy unfolds behind closed doors, the dawn chorus is split by the wail of sirens. And one by one the families who tried so hard to welcome the Wests begin to realise: Hogarth Street will never be the same again.

I got this book as a birthday gift from my sister, so it jumped to the top of my TBR pile immediately. And, oh, I am so glad that it did and I didn't sleep on it. 

As usual, I'm not including any spoilers in this review. 

I will say that this is one of the MOST suspenseful books I have read in a very long time - maybe ever. From the time I started it, I was on the edge of my seat and my heart was thumping out of my chest. 

The story-telling jumping between two households really built up the suspense and added an extra element to it. Then you have the delivery driver. Then it all comes crashing together in an unexpected ending. 

The rollercoaster experience of this read definitely makes me want to read whatever Nicole Trope publishes. 

I was absolutely HOOKED!

5/5 stars



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May 15, 2021

Post-Mortem (Kay Scarpetta #1) by Patricia Cornwell

 Synopsis

Four women with nothing in common, united only in death. Four brutalized victims of a brilliant monster - a "Mr. Nobody", moving undetected through a paralyzed city, leaving behind a gruesome trail of carnage . . . but few clues. With skilled hands, an unerring eye, and the latest advances in forensic research, an unrelenting female medical examiner - Kay Scarpetta - is determined to unmask a maniac. But someone is trying to sabotage Kay's investigation from the inside. And worse yet, someone wants her dead . . .


Post-Mortem is the first book I've read by Patricia Cornwell. I'm glad it's part of a series, because I already want to read book #2. 

I love a series that has a strong female lead, and this is another to add to my growing list of series that I enjoy. What a surprise that it's another Crime/Thriller series! I really enjoyed the different angle this one took because Kay Scarpetta is the Medical Examiner. It gives you a whole different point-of-view to read about in the Crime genre. Most of them are about the detectives. 

Post-Mortem also kept me guessing. I couldn't figure out who was guilty, and there's a reason for that. No big spoilers here, though! I enjoy not being able to figure out the whole storyline before getting to the reveal. It keeps the book interesting. 

The crime(s) in this one are particularly gruesome. They involve women being tied up, sexually assaulted, and stabbed. It definitely wasn't easy to read about and can leave you feeling uneasy. 

Overall, the characters were strong and the story moved along at a good pace. 

I look forward to reading about more of Kay's cases and learning more about her family. 

5/5 stars


Memorable Quotes: “He had become the self-appointed dark ruler of the city, an obsession for thousands of people he had never seen, and an obsession of mine. Mr. Nobody. “

“My turf was his to invade. He monitored what I did. Not a week went by that I didn’t get an arrogant electronic memo from him requesting statistical information or demanding an answer as to why the homicide rate continued to rise while other crimes were slightly on the decline — as if somehow it was my fault people killed each other in Virginia.”



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March 21, 2021

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

 Synopsis:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.


The Vanishing Half might end up being my favorite book of 2021, and it was the first book I finished. It's going to give every other book a run for its money. 

There are so many different storylines, and there is so much depth to each character. It was amazing to me how flawlessly they were all weaved together. Each chapter was another thread in the beautiful quilt that the end product turned out to be. 

The sisters were interesting, themselves. But the story got even better once their daughters grew up. 

You spend most of the book kind of wanting to slap Stella, but her difficult character really explains the trauma she went through as a child and the trauma that Black Americans have when they cannot pass for white as she was able to. It's very complicated and hit many different emotional spots. 

This is a fantastic book that lays out growing up Black in the American South. It also touches on the LGBTQIA+ community which I wasn't expecting. 

The Vanishing Half is a book that tackles trauma and pain in an extraordinarily gracious way. 

5/5 Stars. I absolutely recommend this one. 


Memorable Quotes: "She told her the truth, of course — that an assassination is when someone kills you to make a point.
Which was correct enough, Stella supposed, but only is you were an important man. Important men became martyrs, unimportant ones victims. The important men were given televised funerals, public days of mourning. Their deaths inspired the creation of art and the destruction of cities. But unimportant men were killed to make the point that they were unimportant —that they were not even men—and the world continued on." 

"Like leaving, the hardest part of returning was deciding to." 

"That was the thing about death. Only the specifics hurt. Death, in a general sense, was background noise." 

"You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same." 



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January 21, 2021

Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack

Synopsis

In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.


To be honest, I started this book a couple years ago but only got one chapter in. This time, I restarted it and I was hooked from the beginning. Sometimes you just need to read a book at the right time for it to grab you. It’s funny how that works. 

This book was unique in the fact that I liked all of the major characters in their own ways. They were all, simultaneously, good and bad. It certainly made for an interesting reading experience. The end of the book was even better when their stories all intertwined and everything was concluded. 

The majority of this book takes place in the mountains, and it really made me want to go hiking. But, it’s winter here in the Midwest, so I enjoyed living through them. 

There isn’t much else to say other than if you like an interesting book about spies, government, and stretching the boundaries of reality – you’ll enjoy reading this one. 


4/5 Stars



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