Called One of the Best Crime Novels of the Year by New York Times * NPR * New York Post * Washington Post * Buzzfeed * South Florida Sun-Sentinel * Library Journal * CrimeReads
From the award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets comes yet another gripping, suspenseful novel where, after the murder of a white man in Jim Crow Mississippi, two Black sisters run away to different parts of the country . . . but can they escape the secrets they left behind?
It’s the summer of 1964 and three innocent men are brutally murdered for trying to help Black Mississippians secure the right to vote. Against this backdrop, twenty-one year old Violet Richards finds herself in more trouble than she’s ever been in her life. Suffering a brutal attack of her own, she kills the man responsible. But with the color of Violet’s skin, there is no way she can escape Jim Crow justice in Jackson, Mississippi. Before anyone can find the body or finger her as the killer, she decides to run. With the help of her white beau, Violet escapes. But desperation and fear leads her to hide out in the small rural town of Chillicothe, Georgia, unaware that danger may be closer than she thinks.
Back in Jackson, Marigold, Violet’s older sister, has dreams of attending law school. Working for the Mississippi Summer Project, she has been trying to use her smarts to further the cause of the Black vote. But Marigold is in a different kind of trouble: she’s pregnant and unmarried. After news of the murder brings the police to her door, Marigold sees no choice but to flee Jackson too. She heads North seeking the promise of a better life and no more segregation. But has she made a terrible choice that threatens her life and that of her unborn child?
Two sisters on the run—one from the law, the other from social shame. What they don’t realize is that there’s a man hot on their trail. This man has his own brand of dark secrets and a disturbing motive for finding the sisters that is unknown to everyone but him . . .
“Anywhere You Run had me hooked from the first page… It’s a novel both tender and ferocious—an absolute stunner.” —Lou Berney, Edgar Award–winning author of November Road
My Review This is one of those books that will stick with me years, maybe even decades, after I’ve finished it. The story is powerful, the characters breathtaking, the world maddening. As a cis het white woman, the most discrimination I’ve ever experienced is workplace misogyny, which is nothing compared to what Violet and Marigold go through in the deep south of 1964 America. I wanted to scream so many times. The way Violet and Marigold had to demur and act as if they were inferior to their white neighbors was only the tip of the iceberg. Being blamed for crimes against white people for simply being Black in the south was just one of the many injustices they faced. So when Violet takes the law into her own hands, getting the only justice she has available to her to not only protect herself, but her sister, I found myself not hating her for it. In fact, just the opposite. But instead of her being an anti-hero, she was actually a hero. To herself, her sister, and her family’s memories.
The story gripped me from the first paragraph and never let up. I was so invested in these characters and what would happen to them that I didn’t want it to end. I took my time and savored it, even though it’s a page turner. Because I knew when it was over, I’d have the book hangover to beat all book hangovers. And now that I’m finally here, I was right. I’m lost over what to read next, though I have already purchased Morris’s first novel.
Plot The main plot is the fate of the two sisters, but it seems like two separate plots at first. Violet is dealing with the consequences of her actions which are the direct result of the inaction of local law enforcement, while Marigold is dealing with the consequences of her actions — namely getting pregnant by a coworker she’s not sure she loves, but is now permanently tied to. As these consequences take on lives of their own and neither sister is able to control any aspect of their respective situations, they both seek to regain control of their own lives in very different ways. But the diverging plots are really two sides of the same coin as their fates collide when a man pursuing Violet uses Marigold to track her down. Told in multiple points of view, this is part mystery, part thriller, and part women’s fiction, but so expertly woven, I I still struggle to classify it.
Characters The characters are brilliantly crafted. Even the antagonist has a rich backstory and compelling reasons for doing what he feels he has no choice but to do. While I didn’t root for him to succeed, I understood why he was doing what he was doing and hoped for a happy ending for his family. I also was really pulling for him to find a way out of the mess he’d gotten himself into so that there would be a HEA for all involved. But this isn’t one of those kinds of stories. Violet, Marigold, Hank, and even the tertiary characters all came across as living, breathing human beings with reasons for doing everything they did. No one seemed to just be there to serve the story, but rather will like integral pieces of it, even the walk-on characters. The last book I read with this level of rich character development was GONE GIRL.
What I Loved About ANYWHERE YOU RUN 1. Pacing. The story moves at just the right pace from start to finish.
2. Violet. She doesn’t think she has anything to offer other than her looks, but she’s smarter than anyone gives her credit for.
3. Marigold. The typically grounded older sister finds herself in a place she’s not experienced with and without the tools to cope, but she’s as resourceful as Violet.
4. Twists. So many unexpected twists kept me guessing, kept me invested, and made me not to want the story to end.
5. Unexpected Endings. The author let us know early on that anything could happen and that no one was safe. I had no idea where the story would end up, but the ending was unexpected and satisfying.
Bottom Line One of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. This one will end up on my list of all-time favorites and I will read anything this author writes.
About the Author Wanda M. Morris is a corporate attorney, having worked in the legal departments of some of America’s top Fortune 100 companies. As an accomplished presenter and leader, she previously served as President of the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, in which she established a signature female empowerment program known as the Women’s Initiative.
Wanda M. Morris is an alumni of the Yale Writers Workshop and a Claymore Award finalist for mystery writing. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She is married, the mother of three, and she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Welcome to the blog tour for YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING, a standalone young adult paranormal thriller, by Shani Michelle. See below for information on the book, buy links, my five-star review, and details on her giveaway.
YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING by Shani Michelle
A teen girl who sees visions of the past must use her gift to save a kidnapped classmate in Shani Michelle’s high-stakes YA thriller You Should Have Seen This Coming!
Hayden sees the past. Just touching an object will occasionally give her flashes of the previous owner’s memories. And if that memory happens to be a deeply hidden secret, then she has no problem making you pay for your crime, in cash.
Cassie sees the future, and it sucks. She will randomly wake up from dreams filled with disasters that she feels compelled to stop, and she would really like to stop watching her boyfriend fall in love with someone else!
But when Cassie tries to warn Hayden that her latest blackmailing scheme is a trap, she knows she’s really in trouble. All her visions warn her of the upcoming kidnapping, nothing she does stops it. And it’s all Hayden’s fault!
Can Hayden’s gift help her find Cassie before it’s too late?
My Review This is the book I’ve been waiting for! Shani Michelle’s young adult thriller grabbed me from the opening pages and never let go. Cassie sees the future. She sees her now ex-boyfriend falling for the new girl, Hayden. Hayden sees the past, but as the new kid in town she doesn’t share that information with anyone. When Cassie sees her own kidnapping, she does everything she can to prevent it, but sometimes destiny has other ideas. With a troubled past, the town isn’t convinced foul play was involved in Cassie’s disappearance. But her best friend, Audra, and ex, Brody, are positive Cassie wouldn’t just run off. Though they have no idea what Hayden is capable of, they know there’s some sort of connection between Cassie and Hayden and solicit Hayden’s help in finding Cassie before it’s too late. The dynamic that results from this unlikely trio makes for some of the best conflict in the book.
Plot The story centers around finding Cassie once she goes missing, but the various subplots, involving the mystery around Hayden’s mom and the sheriff and Cassie’s relationship with Brody, help support the main plot. With so many twists and turns, I devoured the story to find out what happened next.
The Characters The author does an amazing job of creating uniquely differentiated characters with alternating first person point of view. Not something easily done. From Hayden’s tortured past, to the mysterious disappearance of Cassie’s mother, the author crafted layered characters with believable flaws combined with just the right amount of positive traits to make the cast come to life.
Top Five Things I Loved About YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING 1. Visions. This is one of my favorite supernatural abilities. And having one character who can see the future and one who can see the past was twice the fun.
2. Twists. Some things were predictable but many others were beautifully crafted twists I never saw coming.
3. Hayden. She’s snarky, irreverent, and complex — the best combination.
4. Pacing. The story unwinds at the perfect pace, with short chapters that kept me reading far too late.
5. Cassie. She may not always make the best choices based on what she sees in her visions, but her heart’s in the right place, making her someone you can’t help rooting for.
Bottom Line Intense thriller with a fast pace and wonderful characters made this a fast, exciting read.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Shani Michelle is the author of YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. She also works in TV news. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her husband, family, friends, reading, watching way too much TV, and coming up with new story ideas. (She’s also written several rom-com and middle grade novels as Shani Petroff).
Synopsis A young witch tries to unravel the mystery of who is framing her for dark magic in Georgia Bowers’ creepy YA debut fantasy, Mark of the Wicked.
Magic always leaves its mark.
All her life, Matilda has been told one thing about her magic: You use only when necessary. But Matilda isn’t interested in being a good witch. She wants revenge and popularity, and to live her life free of consequences, free of the scars that dark magic leaves on her face as a reminder of her misdeeds.
When a spell goes awry and the new boy at school catches her in the act, Matilda thinks her secret might be out. But far from being afraid, Oliver already knows about her magic – and he wants to learn more. As Oliver and Matilda grow closer, bizarre things begin to happen: Animals show up with their throats slashed and odd markings carved into their bodies, a young girl dies mysteriously, and everyone blames Matilda. But she isn’t responsible — at least, not that she can remember. As her magic begins to spin out of control, Matilda must decide for herself what makes a good witch, and discover the truth…before anyone else turns up dead.
My Review I was in the mood for something different, and DAGGER HILL delivered! Set in 1989, before everyone had a smartphone, four friends hang out during their summer before senior year, each dealing with different issues associated with coming of age, when the world as they know it comes crashing down around them in the form of a military plane. Before the plane crashes into Dagger Hill, the kids see someone parachuting out of it. And Gabe sees someone in a gas mask pick up and carry their injured friend, Kimberly, to safety. At least that’s what he thinks. Until the army begins to interview them and they realize something more is going on, and no one knows where Kimberly is. Or the man in the “bug” mask.
Plot The story is gripping from early on and never lets go. The author uses a fun method for his storytelling — a combination of first person, newspaper articles, third-person, and interviews to bring his tale to life. It makes each chapter different from the last and helps reveal the information to the reader in a unique way. The plot unfolds at a steady pace with lots of twists and turns.
The Characters The characters are awesome. Each of the main characters, Gabe, Sonya, Charlie, and Kimberly, are complex, with secrets, worries, and problems of their own as they try to hold onto childhood for one more summer. The adults, from Gabe’s police chief dad to Sonya’s scientist dad, to the army officials and doctors, are just as varied and complex as the main characters, making this more than just a plot driven tale.
Top Five Things I Loved About DAGGER HILL 1. Pacing. The story MOVES. But at the right pace. I stayed up late devouring the story but without becoming overwhelmed. It was perfect.
2. Setting. I love both the small town and the era it was set in. It feels modern, but without all the high-tech stuff that can interfere with a good thriller. Plus the music and movie references were a fun blast from the past.
3. Characters. While this is primarily a plot-driven tale, the character development is off-the-charts good and will stay with me for a long time.
4. Twists. So many good twists that left my jaw hanging open.
5. Storytelling. I love the way the author unfolds his tale using different techniques for a unique approach to a really unique story.
Bottom Line Fabulous, fun, un-put-downable read!
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Devon Taylor was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two daughters. His day job consists of sneaking around the house with ninja-like stealth to avoid waking up his kids. When not writing, reading, or tediously typing out text messages with all the correct spelling and punctuation, he spends his time with his family. THE SOUL KEEPERS is his debut novel.
A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war–with deadly consequences.
What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?
It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy’s new creative writing teacher. When the students’ answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there’s more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten–the students at the top of the school’s social hierarchy–as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.
Ms. Witt can’t remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who’ve started to question the school’s “boys will be boys” attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her–including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.
Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can’t find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there’s Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.
As the school’s secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal–and potentially fatal–consequences for everyone involved.
My Review Told from various third-person points of view, THE SWALLOWS is a deep-dive into the world of privileged boys meets aggrieved girls hellbent on revenge. When new teacher, Alex Witt, assigns a routine paper for students to anonymously tell her something about themselves, she discovers an ugly secret society of misogynistic boys who rate girls on their unique abilities. What she discovers will ignite a fire under the girls to fight back and get even, with tragic consequences. The mystery of what the Darkroom is and means to students at Stonebridge Academy unfolds slowly, leaving the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. It all builds to an ugly climax that leaves everyone forever changed.
Plot This is my first novel by Lutz and I’m hooked. She weaves a captivating tale, building suspense, gluing me to the pages, or in the case, my Kindle screen. More than a few hours of sacrificed sleep were involved. Her characters are so complex, damaged, real, and very well distinguished from one another, that I always knew whose point of view I was reading. Though she sets up the tragedy throughout the story, it doesn’t ruin the ending. All we know is something bad is going to happen, but so much builds throughout the preceding chapters, there’s no way to know exactly what it’ll be.
Characters The cast is full of diverse, well-developed, well-differentiated characters. Because it’s told in so many first-person points of view, this was key, and the author knocked it out of the park. Lutz does an amazing job of crafting compelling characters to tell her story. Even the ones I didn’t like, I still felt like i really understood.
What I Loved About THE SWALLOWS 1. Pacing. The story is expertly paced to keep me turning the virtual pages.
2. Alex Witt. The primary protagonist and the most damaged of the bunch. She was the perfect blend of jaded teacher and inspirational mentor.
3. Getting Even. The girls fighting back with what they had available was one of my favorite parts of the story.
4. Characters. A thrilling cast brought this story to life in a way that other characters wouldn’t have been able to carry.
5. Ending. Without giving anything away, I love the way the author concludes her tale and the ramifications it has on her characters’ lives.
Bottom Line A thrilling tale of lust, power trips, and revenge.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, How to Start a Fire, Heads you Lose (with David Hayward), and the children’s book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, The Passenger, a psychological thriller, will be published March 2016 by Simon and Schuster. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.
Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor’s degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in the Hudson Valley, NY..
When a fire cuts off a popular trail in the Oregon forest, a small group trapped by the flames must find another way out―or die―in Playing with Fire, an unrelenting teen-vs-nature YA thriller by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.
Natalia is not the kind of girl who takes risks. Six years ago, she barely survived the house fire that killed her baby brother. Now she is cautious and always plays it safe. For months, her co-worker Wyatt has begged her to come hiking with him, and Natalia finally agrees.
But when a wildfire breaks out, blocking the trail back, a perfect sunny day quickly morphs into a nightmare. With no cell service, few supplies, and no clear way out of the burning forest, a group of strangers will have to become allies if they’re going to survive. Hiking in the dark, they must reach the only way out―a foot bridge over a deep canyon―before the fire catches them.
My Review PLAYING WITH FIRE is a page-turning thriller set against the majestic falls, deep canyons, and lush landscape of the Pacific Northwest. During fire seasons, Natalia and her friends-to-more co-worker, Wyatt, are out for a hike when a new fire breaks out, trapping them and independent groups of strangers as night approaches. Without a phone signal and no way to call for help, they retreat from the punishing flames, hoping to outrun the fire in time to be rescued. At nearly every turn, something impedes their odds of success, from someone missing from their ranks, a blocked bridge, a precarious ledge to cross, and someone within their group working against them.
Plot This is primarily a survival story, and the action moves at a steady pace. There is a romantic subplot between Wyatt and Natalia, and a very small change arc on Natalia’s part. The story is well plotted and crafted to keep me turning the virtual pages on my Kindle. Even though we know from the opening pages how the fire started, that is the only thing we are sure of. Because this is a standalone and a thriller, there is no way to know if our favorite characters will all make it out alive, which is the hallmark of excellent storytelling.
The Characters The characters were where I felt the story lacked. Natalia and Wyatt never felt like authentic teens to me. They were far too level-headed, prepared, and unemotional to be like any teens I live with, or happen to have met. But they were likable, and the supporting characters were fascinating, like the cast from an early season of Survivor, making me want to pull for all of them. Natalia is the victim of a home fire when she was younger, and is understandably terrified of the wildfire. The flashbacks to that event are hard to read, but really well done.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About PLAYING WITH FIRE 1. Setting. The wilderness provides so much opportunity to throw curveballs at the characters, and left the reader on edge, never knowing what was coming next.
2. Survival. I love a good survival story and this one really shines.
3. Surprises. Nearly ever chapter ends with a cliffhanger which kept me reading late into the night.
4. Fire. Okay, I don’t love wildfires, having had to evacuate more than once in recent years, but I love the unpredictability of fire as an antagonist.
5. Thriller. Taking this beyond just a story of man vs. nature and adding the bad seed among them was a delicious twist.
Bottom Line A gripping survival tale of man vs. nature and man vs. man.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels The Girl in the White Van; Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Award for Best YA Mystery; Count All Her Bones; The Lonely Dead; Run, Hide, Fight Back; and The Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, the first two books in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.
Synopsis A teen forger and thief forms a criminal crew from her high school friends (and crush) to perform a series of heists leading to the location of her missing mother in this action-packed contemporary YA novel.
By day, seventeen-year-old Fiona Spangler runs small cons for her ritzy prep-school classmates: getting them out of tests and forging fake hall passes. But by night, Fiona joins her dad on riskier heists: stealing back the clue-filled forgeries her mom scattered across the country before she disappeared. Fiona desperately hopes that her mother will be waiting at the end of the scavenger hunt she left behind.
And they are SO close. Just three more heists remain, but then disaster strikes when Fiona’s dad is captured by the FBI. Desperate to finish the job and save what’s left of her family, Fiona assembles of crew of teen criminals: a master of disguise who can transform into anyone, a talented hacker who only communicates in glares, and a rival con artist with a vendetta against—and possible crush on—Fiona.
All they have to do is perform three nearly impossible heists, solve her mother’s incredibly complex clues, and evade the FBI. Easy, right?
My Review This was a nice diversion from real life, and just what I needed. Seventeen-year-old Fiona is the daughter of con artists. Her entire life has been devoted to learning the craft of the con. A talented artist and impeccable forger, she and her family have been pulling cons as long as she can remember. But when she was ten, her mother disappeared and left clues on how to find her in her forgeries. Fiona and her dad have been working to retrieve the forgeries and the clues so the family can be together again. At least until her father is caught pulling a job. Now Fiona must complete the mission herself. She pulls together a ragtag crew of high school friends, including a tech genius, a former cosplayer turned master of disguise, and her arch nemesis, but charming classmate she may or may not have a thing for,
Plot The story centers around Fiona finding her mother and the heists she needs to complete to gather all the clues to find her mother. The heists were well-planned and executed, and added such an entertaining thread through the book. There is a subtle romantic element with Colin, the son of the FBI agent who arrested her father and a number of twists; some I saw coming, others I didn’t, making this a well-plotted fun read.
The Characters The characters are what really makes this story. Fiona is a fully-engaging anti-hero as a con artist. At no point did I not pull for her. She’s a criminal, but she was so lovable and relatable, I wanted her to succeed at every turn. Her dad, while singularly driven, still clearly loves his daughter and puts her needs above his own. Her best friend Natalie and her tech guru, Tig, are both interesting in their own ways. And Colin, as the potential love interest, is just as complex as Fiona.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About THE CON CODE 1. Heists. We’ve been rewatching the Ocean’s Eleven movie franchise and I forgot how fun a well-developed con can be.
2. Fiona. She is so dedicated to finding her mom, but her loyalty to her crew at all costs makes her a hero to root for to the very end.
3. Action. The story moves with a lot of action and edge-of-your-seat suspense.
4. Loyalty. Fiona is loyal to her family and her friends and those loyalties are tested, making her even more relatable.
5. The Ending. I wasn’t sure how things were going to end up, but the author did a great job of wrapping everything up in a satisfying ending that wasn’t predictable.
Bottom Line A thrilling escapist read with fantastic characters and lots of action.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Shana Silver studied creative writing at Syracuse University. She’s been a computer animator, an e-book creator for a major publisher, and now works as a Project Manager in digital and TV advertising where she enjoys telling people what to do. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, and the characters she dreams up. MIND GAMES is her debut novel. THE CON CODE comes out in Summer 2020.
Synopsis I am the daughter of the first female POTUS, and today is about to become the longest day of my life…
24 hours—that’s how much time I have to save my mother before terrorists assassinate her. But now my father and brother are missing, too. This goes deeper than anyone thinks. Only someone on the inside would know how to pull this off—how to make the entire First Family disappear.
I can’t trust anyone, so it’s up to me to uncover the conspiracy and stop these madmen. Because little do they know, they picked the wrong person to terrorize.
My name is Sophie Washington, and I will not be a victim. No one, I repeat no one, is taking me or my family down. But the clock is ticking…
My Review Chasing Liberty meets 24, as the daughter of the country’s first female president finds herself embroiled in a terrorist plot to take down the administration. On her seventeenth birthday, Sophie Washington is doing anything but having the time of her life. Her brother is missing, her family is separated, and she has been told she cannot trust anyone, not even Frank, her secret service detail who has been with her much of her life. With minimal training in a teen CIA program for the offspring of operatives, she stumbles her way through an ever-changing game. Recruiting her best friends from the program, Jackson, Zeke, and Callie, she attempts to do what she believes no one else will, only to become a pawn in the biggest conspiracy to ever target the United States. Without knowing who is working against her mother, Sophie is isolated and terrified, but finds something within herself to rise to the challenge in this pulse-pounding young adult thriller.
Plot T-MINUS is a plot-driven tale, and the plotting is near perfect. The pacing provides plenty of page-turning action and just enough breaks to allow us to catch our breath before careening into the next big moment. The author keeps us guessing the entire time, allowing us to feel like Sophie, unable to trust anyone. One twist follows another, and layer upon layer of intrigue is expertly woven to create a story worthy of the big screen. In fact, I’ll be shocked if this isn’t turned into a blockbuster movie at some point.
Characters The characters are great, but pretty much in line with the story. There is no new ground broken here, but I love Sophie as the somewhat risk-averse teen who is forced to step so far outside her comfort zone, she hardly recognizes herself. The cast surrounding her provide just the right balance, and because I don’t want to give anything away, i won’t say anything more about them.
What I Loved About T-MINUS 1. The Pacing. The story unfolds at the perfect pace and I devoured it.
2. Twists. So many twists and turns, I never knew what was going to happen next, but all of it was perfectly foreshadowed.
3. Sophie. The reader gets to see her in a way she never envisions herself, making her both sympathetic and someone to root for and a kick-ass heroine.
4. Intrigue. I’m a political-thriller junkie, and this book has all the same elements that made No Way Out one of my favorite movies of all time.
5. Zeke. Her fellow TIA member and secret crush, he’s completely swoon-worthy.
Bottom Line A page-turning thriller with a strong female lead who also happens to be utterly relatable.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Shannon Greenland, or S. E. Green, is the award winning author of the teen thriller, Killer Instinct, a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers; the teen spy series, The Specialists, an ALA Popular Paperback and a National Reader’s Choice recipient; and the YA romance, The Summer My Life Began, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award. Her books have been translated into several languages and are currently on numerous state reading lists. Shadow of a Girl is her latest novel and due out 9.19.16. Shannon has participated in and served as a guest speaker at festivals and conferences around the country to include but not limited to the LA Times Book Festival, American Library Association, Book Expo of America, Bouchercon, Romance Writers of America, RT Book Convention, Young Adult Keller Book Festival, Southern Festival of Books, and many more. Shannon grew up in Tennessee where she dreaded all things reading and writing. She didn’t even read her first book for enjoyment until she was twenty-five. After that she was hooked! When she’s not writing, she works as an adjunct math professor and lives on the coast in Florida with her very grouchy dog. Find her online everywhere @segreenauthor...
RUSTY NAIL (Jack Daniels Mysteries #3 ) by J.A. Konrath
Synopsis Lee Child, David Morrell, and M.J. Rose all agree: Jack Daniels is the one to watch! Anthony Award finalist J.A. Konrath’s latest novel featuring the feisty female police detective serves up another thriller
Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels of the Chicago Police Department is back, and once again she’s up to her Armani in murder. Someone is sending Jack snuff videos. The victims are people she knows, and they share a common trait — all were involved in one of Jack’s previous cases. With her stalwart partner hospitalized and unable to help, Jack follows a trail of death throughout the Midwest, on a collision course with the smartest and deadliest adversary she’s ever known.
During the chase, Jack jeopardizes her career, her love life, and her closest friends. She also comes to a startling realization — serial killers have families, and blood runs thick.
Rusty Nail features more of the laugh-out-loud humor and crazy characters that saturated Whiskey Sour and Bloody Mary, without sacrificing the nail-biting thrills.
This is Jack Daniels third, and most exciting, adventure yet!
My Review RUSTY NAIL is my first book by J.A. Konrath, and I now consider myself a fan. This is the third book in a series, and it builds upon characters and events in the first two books, but the author weaves in just enough information that I wasn’t lost without recapping everything. Part thriller, part mystery, Detective Jacqueline (Jack) Daniels is faced with a cruel serial killer who has ties to previous cases of hers. As she attempts to track down this new killer, she must determine if it was an accomplice or a copycat of the original. She works with her partner, Herb, a handful of FBI agents, and a collection of officers in various jurisdictions. Interspersed with this is the marriage of her former partner, Harry, a romance with an ex, and coping with her feelings surrounding her mother who is in a coma in a skilled nursing facility.
The main plot is the mystery, told in first-person POV from Jack’s perspective, as well as various third-person POVs, including the killer. The story moves at a steady pace, building to a pulse-pounding climax. Humor is woven throughout to keep it from getting too dark, and this really helps an otherwise gruesome story from getting too morbid. I prided myself on figuring out who the killer was only to be floored when I was wrong. But in retrospect, everything I needed to know was skillfully placed throughout the story.
I had some difficulty connecting with Jack at first. She’s rough, tough, and really hard around the edges, but as the story unfolded, I saw softer sides of her, including her visits with her unconscious mother, the way she cares for her mother’s cat, who clearly can’t stand Jack, and even her broken heart. Herb, Harry, and even Harry’s fiancee, Holly, were all fascinating characters that helped make Jack that much more human when she tried her best to be inhuman.
What I Enjoyed About RUSTY NAIL 1. Plotting. Great plot with lots of twists and unexpected surprises.
2. The Ending. I love the way the author wound up the story in a way I didn’t expect.
3. Jack. It took me a bit to warm up to her, but once I did, I loved her more than just about any detective I’ve read in a long time.
4. Harry. Jack’s former partner, Harry McGlade, is a soft, pasty, gross mess of a man, but he has some of the best lines in the book.
5. Evil. The villains on Criminal Minds ain’t got nothin on Konrath’s bad guys.
Bottom Line Gripping thriller/mystery with great characters and a plot that never lets up.
About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited Title: RUSTY NAIL Series: Jack Daniels Mysteries #3 Author: J.A. Konrath Publisher: Hyperion Books Release Date: July 1, 2006 Pages: 288 Genre: Adult Thriller/Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon| Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Author J.A. Konrath
About the Author J.A. Konrath is the author of eleven novels in the Jack Daniels thriller series. They do not have to be read in chronologically to be enjoyed, but the order is: Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb, Shaken, Stirred, Rum Runner, Last Call, and White Russian. More coming soon.
Jack Daniels also appears in the novels Dead On My Feet, Dying Breath, Everybody Dies, Shot of Tequila, Flee, Spree, Three, Timecaster Supersymmetry, Banana Hammock, Lady 52, and Serial Killers Uncut. She’s also in the novellas Floaters, Burners, Planter’s Punch, Babe On Board, Racked, Straight Up, October Dark, Jacked Up!, Beat Down, Cheese Wrestling, Abductions, Watched Too Long, and Babysitting Money, and the collection Jack Daniels Stories.
Wow, that’s a lot of Jack.
Other novels include the thrillers Origin, The List, Disturb, Timecaster, Afraid, Trapped, Endurance, Haunted House, Webcam, Grandma?, Holes In The Ground, and Draculas. Other novellas include Fix, Hit, Naughty, Exposed, Rescue, and Wild Night is Calling.
He also writes the Stop A Murder mystery puzzle series, where you become the sleuth and solve brain teasers to try and catch a killer.
And, finally, he writes erotica under the pen name Melinda DuChamp.
Joe writes a lot. You should probably read everything.
Synopsis “Fast-paced and thrilling. ECHOES is a heart-pounding and addictive love story.” —Mia Siegert, author of Jerkbait
They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.
Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.
Something that won’t let them leave alive.
Echoes is a thrilling adventure about confronting the impossible, discovering love in the most unexpected places, and, above all, finding hope in the face of the unknown.
My Review Two parts LOST, one part THE HUNGER GAMES, ECHOES is intriguing, complex, at times confusing, but a fast, fun, satisfying read. The story opens with a plane crash on a deserted island before flashing back to a trip to Germany seventeen hours earlier. At first, it seems like two separate storylines, and I wasn’t sure which one was real, but it ultimately resolves clearly, so stick with it. High school students Fiona and Miles are recipients of a swanky internship for tech-giant, Briola, in Germany. They’re flown on a private jet and set up in an expensive hotel, but it all falls apart when they take a cab to Briola only to find an empty warehouse with every physical and online trace of Briola wiped from existence.
On the island, Fiona and Miles struggle to survive. Their own relationship is fraught with distrust and animosity. Miles is a trust-fund kid and Fiona is a scholarship recipient at his private academy. They have nothing in common except this internship, which doesn’t make sense to Fiona since she doesn’t see herself as being nearly as qualified as Miles. While the two of them work to remain alive, they have to first learn to trust each other. Surprises and mysteries lurk around every corner, and the more they learn, the more dire their situation becomes.
Plot The plotting is flawless, with heart-pounding tension, plenty of twists and turns, and unexpected surprises. The relationship development between the two characters is woven through the story so that it’s an extension of the plot rather than the main focus. The author kept me guessing until just the right moment.
The Characters Both Fiona and Miles are complex characters. Told only from Fiona’s point of view, we see Miles evolve through her eyes. Their assumptions about each other fall away as they’re forced to work together to live another day and get off the island. Fiona is a tough-as-nails kickboxer with a string of trophies to show for it. Miles is a spoiled rich boy with far more to him than just that. Both will learn there is more to themselves and each other than what’s on the surface.
Top Five Things I Loved About ECHOES 1. Twists and turns. I love when I reach the end of a chapter and NEED to turn the page to find out what happens next. Alice Reeds ended nearly every chapter with something that made me not only want, but need, to read on.
2. LOST-ness. The similarities to LOST were an homage to the groundbreaking television show. It both grounded me in the story as well as intrigued me. The parallels begin and end at the setting, though. ECHOES is very much its own story.
3. Fiona. She’s determined and brave, but with a believable vulnerability that suits her character.
4. Miles. He defies stereotype and is a swoonworthy romantic lead.
5. The writing. Author Alice Reeds does phenomenal job of pulling the reader into the world she’s created so you can breathe in the humid ar, taste the salty air, feel the grit of sand on your skin.
Bottom Line A perfect blend of terrifyingly thriller elements mixed with a swoony teen romance.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Alice Reeds was born in a small town in Germany but spent her first eight years in Florida, USA. Later on, she moved back to Europe, where her family moved around a lot. She was raised trilingual and has a basic understanding of Russian, read and spoken. After getting her International Baccalaureate Diploma, Alice is studying English Language and Literature at University. In her free time Alice mostly writes, reads, figure and/or roller skates, or watches countless let’s plays and figure skating videos.
Synopsis From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes a novel about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France as he finds love and discovers the long-hidden secrets about his heritage.
In 1950s New Jersey, Michael Daniels launches a radio show in the storage room of his Russian-Jewish grandmother’s candy store. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.
There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.
But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered in the candy store. Why anyone would commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman is anyone’s guess. But she had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out to Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.
Featuring Peter Golden’s signature “vivid characters and strong storytelling” (The Washington Post), Nothing Is Forgotten changes our understanding of the impact of World War II on its survivors and their descendants, and will appeal to fans of novels by Anita Diamant and Kristin Hannah..
My Review NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN is currently in my top five favorite books of all time, joining A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, SHE’S COME UNDONE, GONE WITH THE WIND, and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. At times, the book is a thriller, others a mystery, and still others, a romance, but at all times, it’s captivating, emotional, and incredibly well told. The story opens in Michael’s childhood and reads like a memoir until his grandmother is killed, and then it takes off like a thriller wrapped in a mystery as Michael tries to figure out who killed his grandmother and why. His search for the truth takes him to Europe and Russia where he meets and falls for Yuli, a smuggler and defacto spy. Together they seek clues about the death of Emma, which only raises more questions and puts them both in danger.
Plot Impeccably researched, there is as much history as there is storytelling going on between the pages. The story is expertly plotted and moves along at a steady rate. The pace picks up speed at the climax and keeps it up until the very end. And that ending…wow. For me, it’s perfect. Yes, I want to know what happens next, but I don’t need to know. It’s such a satisfying conclusion with just the right amount of uncertainty to allow me to imagine what comes after without feeling frustrated.
The Characters The characters are a masterpiece. Michael, Yuli, Der Schmuggler…they’re deep, nuanced, and intriguing. Throughout the story, Emma goes from being an enigma to someone fully fleshed out as the reader learns through Micheal’s research who Emma really was. The characters seem so much a part of the era (late 1950s to 1960s), that I never once questioned the setting.
Top Five Things I Loved About NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN 1. Yuli. She was by far my favorite character. She’s so complex, strong and vulnerable, proud with fits of guilt, having lived through the horrors of the second World War, she’s hard to identify with, but so easy to root for.
2. Michael. His optimistic Americanism is the polar opposite of Yuli’s Eastern European post-war hopelessness. His quest to uncover the truth is both reckless and admirable, making him an absolutely fascinating protagonist.
3. History. I love history, but even more when it serves as a backdrop to a compelling story. The author’s meticulous attention to detail made history come alive, leaving me wanting to learn more about the events of that time.
4. The ending. One of the best endings ever.
5. Storytelling. The way the story unfolds kept me glued to the pages, but the characters made me care about what happened.
Bottom Line One of my all-time favorite novels. I will be reading more by Peter Golden.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, historian, and novelist who has written nine books and interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush (41); Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, Shultz, and Eagleburger; Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, and Shamir; and Soviet President Gorbachev. His first novel, Comeback Love, was praised by the novelist and reviewer Caroline Leavitt as an “extraordinary debut.” Wherever There Is Light, his second novel, was featured in New York Magazine’s Fall Preview issue, widely reviewed, and selected by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as one of the best books of 2016. His third novel, Nothing Is Forgotten, which explores the connection between the Holocaust and the Cold War, will be published on April 10, 2018.
Synopsis At Holden Prep, dirty little secrets always have a way of coming to the surface.
Eleanor Ames has never been what she seems. Average high school student on the outside, but reformed con artist trying to break free of her past on the inside. When Eleanor receives startling news about someone from her previous criminal life, plans for a new operation coinciding with her school’s upcoming field trip quickly consume her.
But operations rarely go according to plan. And this is one her irresistible teen FBI agent boyfriend, Miles, would never approve of.
Now, more than just Ellie’s reputation is at stake. If she fails, it could be her life.
WARNING – Spoilers Ahead for Book 1 It’s been over 18 months since I read CHASING TRUTH by Julie Cross, yet the characters and story were still so vivid in my memory, I didn’t need any refreshers. HIDING LIES picks up where CHASING TRUTH left off, with life returning to relative normal, considering Ellie’s past and Mile’s future. With Miles returning to his military academy after spending the holidays with his family abroad, Ellie fills her time with her sister, Harper, Harper’s former Secret Service boyfriend, Aidan, and her classmates from Holden Academy.
When Miles fails to meet her as planned after returning from overseas, and Miles’s CIA Agent father makes an unusual request of Ellie, she can’t help but worry about Miles. Things get more interesting when Ellie’s past confronts her in her present, setting up an opportunity to undo the damage from one of the biggest regrets in her short life. With one twist after another, this was the first page-turner I’ve read in a while. I’m a huge fan of Julie Cross, and HIDING LIES reminds me why.
Plot The plot is flawless. Everything flows with important information is sprinkled throughout so when something unexpected happens, you realize the hints were there all along. This is a “stay up late and read until your eyes blur” kind of story. While some of it on the surface seems implausible for teens, the author always explains it in a believable fashion. And if if she didn’t, I wouldn’t care, because it’s just that good.
The Characters I have so much love already for former con-girl, Ellie, straight-laced Miles, flakey Harper, and G-man Aidan, but in HIDING LIES, Ellie spends more time with Dominic, the moody secret love interest of Ellie’s tragic friend, Simon. Dominic and Ellie forge an almost friendship and I grew to love him in this book. A number of new characters are also introduced who add a lot to the story, and I also got to know and respect Justice just a little bit more. All the characters are deeply drawn and realistic.
Top Five Things I Loved About HIDING LIES 1. Miles. He drove me nuts with his conflicted feelings, but he totally redeems himself in the best possible way.
2. Ellie. She’s changed by the events in the first book and is less confident, leading her to make choices I might not have expected before, but given everything she’s been through, they are completely within character. I loved seeing a more vulnerable side of her.
3. Surprises. There were so many unexpected twists, I couldn’t put this book down.
4. The ending. Well done and even more exciting and satisfying than the first book.
5. Teen angst. While different this time around, there is no less drama surrounding Ellie and Miles’ romance.
Bottom Line Julie Cross upped her game and wrote one of my favorite young adult novels ever!
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!
Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.
Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.
Welcome to the blog tour for DATING IN THE DARK, the first book in the adult romantic suspense/crime thriller series, Claire Goodnight, by Jennifer Rebecca. See below for information on the book, buy links, and my review. Be sure to scroll all the way down for details on her giveaway.
TELL ME A STORY (Claire Goodnight #1) by Jennifer Rebecca
Synopsis George Washington Township, New Jersey has seen its fair share of crime and tragedy. Most recently, a young boy is missing from his home and the tenacious Detective Claire Goodnite is eager to find him.
But the case is stirring up old memories best left forgotten. When a blast from her own past, FBI Special Agent Wesley O’Connell, turns up, Claire finds it hard to keep old ghosts at rest. And even harder to keep the sexy SAIC out of her case and her bed.
Claire Goodnite is the best damn detective in the state of New Jersey and you better believe she’s coming for you.
My Review Equal parts romance and crime thriller, TELL ME A STORY is a fast-paced, steamy read with deep characters. Twenty-nine-year-old Claire Goodnight is a police detective, whose captain just happens to be her big brother. When she catches a case of a missing six-year-old-boy, we discover Claire has a haunting past that has her brother, and FBI agent, Wes O’Connell, questioning her ability to handle it. In addition to a horrific event in her young life, she also has a long history with Wes, which threatens to derail their investigation and her heart. Nothing about the case feels right to Claire, but the deeper in she gets, the more her own nightmares return.
Plot The plotting is well done. I had my suspicions about the guilty party, of an on, but never completely figured it out. The author does a great job of shaking things up by throwing in twists and turns. There were a couple of things that seemed off to me in a crime thriller, but they may not bother readers who don’t work with the law enforcement community. The pacing was spot on, moving from one event to the next at just the right speed.
The Characters Claire’s backstory was unique and set up some of the best scenes in the book. While her flashbacks were hard to read at times, they were necessary to fully understand her character. Wes was equally interesting and because of their history, Claire’s demons are Wes’s demons, which made these two a couple that was easy to root for.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About TELL ME A STORY 1. Claire. She’s one part straight-laced cop, one part insecure female, and one part snark, making her unpredictable in the best way.
2. Claire’s backstory. Unnerving and dark, the events that took place in her youth helped shape the detective and woman she’s become.
3. Wes. He’s got a good heart, brains, and Chris Hemsworth biceps. Enough said.
4. Liam. Claire’s older brother struggles with being a brother and a boss and his internal conflict makes him one of the best characters in the book
5. Plot twists. Several events took the story in directions I didn’t expect, which made it all the more difficult to put down.
Bottom Line A steamy romantic crime thriller with unique characters.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Jennifer is a thirty something lover of words, all words: the written, the spoken, the sung (even poorly), the sweet, the funny, and even the four letter variety. She is a native of San Diego, California where she grew up reading the Brownings and Rebecca with her mother and Clifford and the Dog who Glowed in the Dark with her dad, much to her mother’s dismay.
Jennifer is a graduate of California State University San Marcos where she studied Criminology and Justice Studies. She is also an Alpha Xi Delta.
10 years ago, she was swept off her feet by her very own sailor. Today, they are happily married and the parents of a 8 year old and 6 year old twins. She can often be found in East Texas on the soccer fields, drawing with her children, or reading. Jennifer is convinced that if she puts her fitbit on one of the dogs, she might finally make her step goals. She loves a great romance, an alpha hero, and lots and lots of laughter.
Synopsis Love turns deadly in a new, heart-pounding thriller from Natasha Preston, author of the runaway bestsellers The Cellar and The Cabin.
ROSES ARE RED VIOLETS ARE BLUE WATCH YOUR BACK I’M COMING FOR YOU
Lylah and her friends can’t wait to spend a night out together. Partying is the perfect way to let loose from the stress of life and school, and Lylah hopes that hitting the dance floor with Chase, her best friend, will bring them closer together. She’s been crushing on him since they met. If only he thought of her the same way…
The girls are touching up their makeup and the guys are sliding on their coats when the doorbell rings. No one is there. An envelope sits on the doormat. It’s an anonymous note addressed to their friend Sonny. A secret admirer? Maybe. They all laugh it off.
Except Sonny never comes home. And a new note arrives:
My Review YOU WILL BE MINE is a new adult psychological thriller that challenges everything the characters thought they knew. College sophomore, Lylah, shares an off-campus home with five other students. After the sudden, unexpected death of her parents on Valentine’s Day two years earlier, they’re as close to family as she has, with the exception of her brother, Riley. So when Lylah and her housemates are targeted one-by-one by a serial killer, who may or may not have a history with each of them, life becomes a terror-fueled nightmare to catch the killer before he strikes again.
Plot The plotting is magnificent. The story unfolds with one terrifying note from the killer after another. Unexpected twists and turns keep the story moving forward, although not at a breakneck pace. Pacing is one of my two complaints with this book. Lylah spends a lot of time inside her head thinking about the same things over and over again, which drags the pace down. And we’re constantly told what she’s feeling instead of allowing us to feel it through her actions. The ending is pulse-pounding, though, and I never saw it coming.
The Characters This is my second complaint with the story. I couldn’t stand Lylah. She was often reckless and almost always annoying. However, I loved the rest of the characters and that was enough to keep me turning the pages to find out what happened to them. Chace, the love interest, came across as too good to be true at points, but a typical college guy at others, making him a bit of an enigma throughout, which I enjoyed. Isaac, Charlotte, and Sienna were equally intriguing characters and I was rooting for this gang from the opening pages.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About YOU WILL BE MINE 1. The thriller aspects. Nathasha Preston keeps the reader guessing, terrifying us, and ending chapters on a phrase that only makes you want to keep reading.
2. The ending. The author does a masterful job of keeping the truth hidden from the reader, just sprinkling in enough breadcrumbs to never make it feel contrived. I adore a good surprise.
3. Terror. The killings are suitably gruesome to provide shock and horror, without being over the top.
4. Sienna. She was easily my favorite character. Her spunkiness and quiet confidence made her a great foil to Lylah’s dark insecurity.
5. Campus life. I feel as if the author captured college life fairly accurately, contributing to the atmosphere of the story.
Bottom Line A decent thriller with a surprise twist.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author My name is Natasha, but most people call me Tash or Tasha. I don’t mind either. I was born in England and have lived in small towns and villages out in the countryside ever since.
My husband, Joseph, is the most supportive person in my life. Without his love, help and patience I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m a proud mummy to two amazing little boys who are my whole world.
At school I drifted through, achieving average grades. I fell into administration and receptionist jobs, thinking that I couldn’t really do anything else.
In 2010 I stumbled into writing completely by accident. I was searching the ‘app store’ and came across Wattpad – an amateur writing site. For the first few months I just read, but then I decided to type out some of the ideas swirling around in my head. I’m so glad I did because I love creating new stories.
Writing gave me an escape and Wattpad gave me the confidence I lacked..
Synopsis A sabotaged CIA operation makes Navy Trent a captive. But surviving the kidnapping is just the beginning of her ordeal. The CIA will kill her if she doesn’t stay quiet. The saboteurs will kill her if she does. Navy is forced into a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse where only her wits – and a little bit of luck – can keep her alive.
My Review Navy Trent’s life is turned upside down when she’s mistaken for an influential senator’s niece and is kidnapped by terrorists attempting to get the identities of CIA operatives. Her ability to escape and rescue her friends isn’t the end of her ordeal, it’s only the beginning. She knows more about what happened than she’s supposed to and someone wants to keep her quiet. Maybe permanently. TRAP AND TRACE is a fast-paced, wild ride, part thriller, part suspense, part mystery. I wasn’t sure I was going to like Navy in the beginning, but she won me over.
Plot The book was expertly plotted. There were so many twists and turns, all of which were perfectly foreshadowed. I loved that I never knew what was going to happen next. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I was proven wrong. My only complaint is that there was a lot of repetitiveness, the same things being told from different points of view, that had me skimming portions.
Characters I wasn’t sure about Navy at first. She seemed almost too contrived, but as the story unfolded and I learned more about her, it became apparent that everything she did was well within her established character. I loved the entire cast, from Jackson, to Byron, to Erin. Even William came across as the total tool he was for completely plausible reasons.
What I Enjoyed About TRAP AND TRACE 1. Plotting. The plotting was among the best I’ve ever read!
2. Research. The author did her homework. The world of spies felt authentic and even something as simple as the right way to meditate was accurate.
3. Unexpected Twists. Kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to sleep.
4. Characters. Rich and complex, they drive the story in ways lesser characters couldn’t.
5. The End. No spoilers, here, but it was perfect.
Bottom Line Expertly plotted suspense with so many unexpected twists. Will be reading more by this author!
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Megan Carney is an author, geek and amateur photographer living in the Twin Cities. She has ten years of experience in the field of computer security. Her previous short story publications include: ‘Flighty Youth’ in the Raritan, ‘Modern Mayhem’ in the Wayfarer, ‘Swing By Close’ in the Wayfarer, ‘Directions’ in the Bell Tower. ‘Swing By Close’ and ‘Directions’ both won first prize in the fiction sections of that issue. The Christian Science Monitor dubbed her self-published photography book, ‘Signs of My Cities’ as having “youthful zest.”
Her non-literary creations include: a robot to clean the bathroom tub, Zim and Gir costumes, No-Dig tomato stakes, StickFriend the bear bag hanger, and a burning coal costume so she could be Katniss for a night.
Forget Me Always (The Lovely Vicious #2) by Sara Wolf
Synopsis It’s been three years, twenty-five weeks, and five days since Isis Blake fell in love, and if she has it her way, it’ll stretch into infinity. Since then, she’s punched Jack Hunter—
her nemesis-turned-maybe-something-more—in the face, survived a brutal attack by her mom’s abusive ex thanks to Jack’s heroics, and then promptly forgotten all about him.
The one bright spot for Isis is Sophia, the ephemeral girl who shares Isis’s hospital stay as well as a murky past with Jack. But as Isis’s memories return, she finds it harder and
harder to resist what she felt for Jack, and Jack finds it impossible to stay away from the only girl who’s ever melted the ice around his heart.
As the dark secrets surrounding Sophia emerge, Isis realizes Jack isn’t who she thought he was. He’s dangerous. But when Isis starts receiving terrifying emails from an
anonymous source, that danger might be the only thing protecting her from something far more threatening.
My Review It was fun to be back with Isis and Jack and the gang. I do love Isis, and even though she’s got some memory issues, she’s as snarky, irreverent, and insecure as ever. I wasn’t sure about this whole amnesia thing at first. It felt too contrived, but as the first third of the story unfolded, the author made a convincing case not only for the brand of amnesia itself, but also why it happened. Isis has a lot of issues and it definitely fits with her character. Once I fully embraced that, I was deep into the story that picks up where Love Me Never leaves off. As Isis struggles to come to terms with her memory loss, she befriends Sophia in the hospital. Jack’s Sophia. That’s so ripe with potential conflict, I knew it would set some great events in motion.
There is a bit of a mystery this time around, too, or maybe elements of a thriller. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was on the edge of my seat more than a few times. A lot of unanswered questions from the first book are resolved, but more are introduced and we’re left with another cliffhanger ending.
The plot is fantastic. Isis struggles with regaining her memories, Jack is bereft that Isis doesn’t remember him. There’s the trial of Leo, the discovery of more information about what happened that night in middle school, and a side of Jack we never knew. There’s a lot going on, but it never feels overwhelming.
Characters Isis is incredibly complex and I love her. I love the way she thinks out loud, the way she over-analyzes everything, the way she puts up walls to protect herself. She has some growth in this book, but not as much as she could have. But part of that is because of the amnesia, so much of the struggle is getting back to who she was, not leaving enough time for her to really grow more. So hopefully we’ll see more in the next installment. Jack, on the other hand, is dissected this time around. We see so much more of what makes him tick and he has some great character development.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The principal. Still not sure about this guy. He doesn’t come across as completely believable. But he’s more of a minor character this time,so I’m giving him a pass.
2. The cliffhanger. Not a huge fan. Yes, I want to read the next book, but I would have read it anyway.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Love me Never 1. Isis. I just love everything about her and she is so much more…Isis…this time.
2. Jack. Being inside his head gave me a new appreciation for him. Sure, he’s still a complete jerk, but understanding why goes a long way toward me embracing him.
3. Mystery. I love all the missing pieces falling into place like a beautiful, messed up in a total head-case kinda way, puzzle.
4. Wren. This boy is everything and a bag of chips.
5. Angst. Always, always, always. And when done well, makes me one happy reader.
Bottom Line Forget me Always is a thrilling teen romance with an edge.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things.
When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series.
She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.
Synopsis A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.
Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.
Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders. He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.
My Review This was very different from any other young adult book I’ve read. Ever. Seventeen-year-old Riley’s father has been on death row since she was seven for crimes he claims he didn’t commit. Riley’s close relationship with her father is shown through weekly visits where the two hug and play chess. When the last of her father’s appeals run out, Riley must accept that she’s going to lose her father, something she can’t quite bring herself to accept. At least until her father confesses he’s guilty, telling Riley to move on with her life. Riley is devastated and confused, which gets worse when he immediately recants his confession. With the help of her only friend, adorable dark-haired Jordan, Riley decides she needs the truth, whatever that may be.
Plot The main plot centers around Riley’s search for the truth and unfolds like a mystery. A secondary plot is the romance between Riley and Jordan. Riley’s family has many secrets and the more Riley learns, the more she begins to question everything, not just her father’s sudden confession and retraction. At times the pacing was slow, but the author throws in a number of twists to keep things interesting.
Characters Riley is intriguing. Having essentially grown up with only her mother and a relationship with her father who is behind bars, her life is anything but normal. The story takes place over summer, so there is little interaction with other kids her age, with the exception of Jordan, whom she meets at a mall an hour away — a place she goes so she won’t be recognized. Being the daughter of a convicted serial killer can’t be easy and I would have loved to explore a little more of this aspect of her life. Riley’s father was an enigma throughout and her mother was complex. Jordan is likeable as the friend and love interest, but he isn’t as deeply developed as he could have been. This is Riley’s story though, and she’s pretty well fleshed out. On the other hand, Mr. Masters, the defense attorney for Riley’s dad, is well developed and a great foil for Riley.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Parts of the plot. I don’t want to give anything away, because there are some great twists, but not all of it works. There were a few things that happened that I thought needed more fleshing out for me to fully embrace them.
2. The cover. I don’t think the cover does the story justice.
3. Jordan. He’s interesting right off the bat, but I never really understood why he was so devoted to Riley from the beginning. They don’t spend all that much time together before he’s dropping everything to help her out, pledging his enduring loyalty.
What I Enjoyed About The Row 1. The chess. I love how the author weaves in the game of chess throughout, drawing parallels between the game and the plot.
2. Riley. She’s sympathetic, smart, determined, and tough. She’s not perfect by any means. There are many times she makes huge mistakes, but it’s easy to forgive her because so much of how she reacts is based on her unorthodox upbringing.
3. The plot. I love both the mystery aspect and the young adult romance. Both are well done and tie together nicely.
4. The law. I love legal thrillers and this almost reads like one from a teen’s point of view.
5. Mr. Masters. Riley’s dad’s law partner, defense attorney, and Riley’s surrogate father figure is fantastic, driving some of the best parts of the story.
Bottom Line The Row is a dark tale of a girl seeking truth and justice about and for the father she adores.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: The Row Author: J.R. Johansson Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Release Date: October 11, 2016 Pages: 352 Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Links:Goodreads | Amazon
Author J.R. Johansson
About the Author J.R. Johansson’s books have been published in a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. She lives inUtah with two sons, a wonderful husband, three cats, and a hot tub named Valentino.
She is represented by the stellar Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Synopsis There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . .
Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.
She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.
It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.
Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets.
Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?
Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.
A contemporary YA romantic mystery for ages 16 and up.
My Review Valley of the Moon is a young adult page-turning thriller/mystery with a healthy dose of romance and a huge twist I never saw coming. Author Bronwyn Archer creates a stunning tale of a girl caught in the middle of the Russian mafia and a mystery surrounding her mother. There is a thread of the supernatural, but it may not be supernatural at all, that’s part of the mystery. Lana lives with her father, the owner of an exotic car dealership with financial difficulties. She meets and begins dating a hot guy who seems almost too perfect to be true. When her ex-stepmother starts meddling in her life, Lana is sure she’s up to something, but even she couldn’t anticipate how bad that something is.
The story is well-plotted with lots of suspense. There’s a particularly dark event I never saw coming and couldn’t believe at first, but the more I examined the story in retrospect, the more I realize it’s part of the longer plot, as this is the first book in the series. The author weaves an intricate tale of loss, fear, longing, and revenge with fascinating characters and mind-numbing twists.
The Writing The writing is fluid and poetic at times. The author does a great job of building tension and interspersing it with lighter moments, allowing the reader to breathe, before building back up again to a breathless conclusion.
Lana is one of my favorite young adult heroines. She’s brash, tough, smart, but is still vulnerable enough to make her sympathetic. She’s got a smart mouth and sometimes overuses it, but that’s one of my favorite things about her. The other characters are equally interesting, especially because we never get to really know them except through Lana’s eyes, making them all enigmas that I can’t wait to find out more about in the next book.
What Didn’t Work for Me 1. There’s only one thing that rubbed me the wrong way and that’s the ending. It wasn’t a cliffhanger, it just…ended. It was odd and it left me unsettled rather than satisfied or dying to read more. This was the only thing that kept this from being a perfect five stars for me.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Valley of the Moon 1. Lana. She’s an amazing heroine with just enough grit and softness to make her kickass and belivable.
2. Lana’s dad. He’s troubled, but I like him. He puts his daughter’s safety and interests first.
3. The mystery. Trying to figure out what’s going on is half the fun with this gripping tale.
4. The twists. So many things I didn’t see coming kept me turning the page to find out what the heck happened.
5. The cars. Lana has an amazing collection of awesome cars at her disposal. If only the Russian mafia weren’t trying to kill her, she could have really enjoyed them.
Bottom Line Valley of the Moon is a fast-paced young adult mystery thriller with enough romance and suspense to please nearly any audience.
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: Valley of the Moon Author: Bronwyn Archer Publisher: Bronarch Books Release Date: April 13, 2016 Pages: 285 Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Mystery/Thriller Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Author Bronwyn Archer
About the Author Bronwyn Archer is a young-adult author, digital media copywriter, and mother to several children, last time she counted.
At her all-girls high school, Bronwyn discovered a love of writing and the importance of a good fake ID. The only sport she was good at was boogie-boarding, but she decided to hang up her board after a terrifying close encounter with a seven-foot blue shark in the Santa Monica Bay.
She still gets nervous in black-bottomed swimming pools.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in English and Art History, she moved to Paris, where she edited a magazine for expatriates. After failing to become the next Hemingway—despite putting in many hours at the Ritz Hotel’s Hemingway Bar—she moved back to the States, where she developed a semi-successful career in New York and Los Angeles as a copywriter for ad agencies and companies like HBO and Disney.
Now Bronwyn writes fiction and raises children. She’s up to two rescue mutts and four kids, which makes her a semi-freak in this neck of the woods, but she’s learned that once you decide to live your life your way, everything else gets a little easier.
Besides writing and expertly avoiding baskets of laundry that need folding, Bronwyn loves movies from the 80s, comedy, Disneyland (sorry WDW), the paintings of Winslow Homer and Maxfield Parrish, coffee, Paris, Oscar Wilde, hot sauce, the Christmas season, Thai street food, making things with felt, and the smell of freshly printed books.
She is still searching for her own “signature fragrance,” which she’ll know when she finds it..
Two weeks late, but you know, the holidays… Also, some front yard landscaping, and Aussie exchange student for eleven days, and final edits and publishing of The Uprising (which comes out on Tuesday!). Better late than never. Here are the books I read and reviewed in December, 2015.
Title: Gone Girl Author:Gillian Flynn Release Date: May 24, 2012 Publisher: Random House Audible Narrators: Julia Whelan andKirby Heyborne Length: 19 Hours 11 Minutes Genre: Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Story Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Audio Production Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Audible | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Synopsis On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.
Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
Bottom Line Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.
Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin
Title: Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel Author:Jen McLauchlin Publisher:Loveswept Release Date:September 15, 2015 Pages: 242 Genre:New Adult Contemporary Romance Rating:4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Synopsis In this explosive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.
Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?
Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.
Bottom Line Bad Romance is a page-turning romance about forbidden love and learning to live your own life.
Title: Royal Marriage Market Author: Heather Lyons Publisher: Cerulean Books Release Date: December 15, 2015 Pages: 335 Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo
Synopsis Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms. Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.
Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other. Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.
Bottom Line Royal Marriage Market is a fun twist on the contemporary romance genre with plenty of chemistry and more than a few laughs.
Title: The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus: An Interactive Guide for Developing Ideas for Novels and Short Stories Author: Fred White Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books Publication Date: September 30, 2014 Pages: 320 Category: Writing Fiction Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble
Synopsis Endless ideas at your fingertips, and at the turn of a page…
Need an idea for a short story or novel? Look no further than The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus. It’s far more than a collection of simple writing prompts. You’ll find a vast treasury of story ideas inside, organized by subject, theme, and situation categories, and listed alphabetically for easy reference. Author and award-winning writing instructor Fred White shows you how to build out and customize these ideas to create unique plots that reflect your personal storytelling sensibilities, making The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus an invaluable tool for generating creative ideas and vanquishing writer’s block—for good.
Inside you’ll find:
•2,000 unique and dynamic story ideas perfect for novels and short stories of any genre or writing style
•Twenty major idea categories, such as The Invasion of X, The Transformation of X into Y, Escape from X, The Curse of X, and more
•Multiple situations that further refine the major categories, such as The Creation of Artificial Life, The Descent Into Madness, Love in the Workplace, The Journey to a Forgotten Realm, and more
•Invaluable advice on how to customize each idea.
The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus is an interactive story generator that opens the door to thousands of new story arcs and plotlines.
Bottom Line The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus lives up to its name as a unique reference guide to aid writers in developing story ideas.
Synopsis Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible. After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend. Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.
It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte. To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins… He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.
So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again. Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad. Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?
Bottom Line While Next Door to a Star moves slow at times, it’s filled with a colorful cast of young teens who think and act like the kids on the cusp of adulthood they are. .
Synopsis On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary.
Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.
Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.
Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
My Review I got the unabridged version of this book from Audible. All 19 hours and 11 minutes worth. At times, I loved the story and took the long way to and from my destination, or lapped the block one more time to continue listening. Other times, I hated it, chose music over audiobooks for months at a time. It took me nearly ten months to finish it. What I can’t deny is that Gillian Flynn is a hell of a writer. The story is intriguing, captivating, unnerving. The audiobook production is among the best I’ve ever listened to, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks. The narrators are talented and brought the characters to life. And what characters they are. Complex, deep, fully three-dimensional, and unfortunately, utterly loathsome.
I absolutely salivated over the brilliant writing of Gillian Flynn, took notes, wished I could write like that. The story was engaging at times, difficult to read at others. The pacing was slow in spots, and those were the times I felt myself less inclined to listen for awhile. At other times, it was fast, riveting. At no point did I figure out what was going to happen next. The plot twists are inspired. So with all of this going for it, why couldn’t I give it five stars? The book left me unsettled, and not in the way a good thriller does. It left me feeling ambivalent toward all the characters, as in I don’t really care what happens to them. In some ways, I wish I’d never read about them. And the ending was flat, not living up to the expectations the author set with her amazing plotting throughout.
The plotting was fantastic. There were so many twists and turns and unexpected surprises. Gillian Flynn is a master of pre-shadowing. Everything that happens has a purpose that may not become clear until a long time later, but her method of storytelling ensures even the smallest detail is memorable.
Characters The characters are well developed, believable, stunningly crafted. Even the smallest character was thoroughly developed. I just didn’t care for any of them. Didn’t care what happened to them, and still don’t. But they will not soon be forgotten.
What Didn’t Work for Me 1. The ending. I absolutely despised how it just ended in a way that felt unfinished. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe it went on longer than necessary, other times, I think it stopped too soon. I just know it feels unfinished and not in a “sequel is coming” kind of way.
2. The characters. Man, I hate them all, with the exception of maybe Margo and Boney. I can’t deny the characters are three-dimensional and wholly realistic. The world is full of people who are difficult or impossible to like. But in the end, I had no one to root for in Gone Girl.
What I Enjoyed About Gone Girl
1. The writing. Flawless, beautiful prose underlies a dark mystery with contemptible characters.
2. The plot twists. There were so many of them and they were so perfectly woven in, they were nearly seamless.
3. The narration. Both voice actors were amazing. This is one of the best audiobook productions I’ve ever listened to.
4. The character development. Yes, I loathe them, but they are so well crafted, I have to remind myself they’re fictional.
5. Attention to detail. The vivid writing made the scenes come alive in my mind as I listened. In some ways, I feel as if I watched a movie.
Bottom Line Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.
About the Audiobook
Title: Gone Girl Author: Gillian Flynn Release Date: May 24, 2012 Publisher: Random House Audible Narrators: Julia Whelan andKirby Heyborne Length: 19 Hours 11 Minutes Genre: Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Story Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Audio Production Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Audible | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Author Gillian Flynn
About the Author Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.
Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.
In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.
Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.
A brilliant civil lawyer, David Hennings has always been the outsider—at odds with his wealthy family, shunning relationships, defying convention as a sexy leather-jacketed biker. Which is why sculptor Amanda LeBlanc agrees to his request to reconstruct a skull from a cold case murder. The instant heat between them is scorching.
But once Amanda takes the job and gets too close to the rebellious attorney, her carefully balanced life is upended by a series of methodical attacks. Someone doesn’t want her to finish the job. Now David will risk everything not to lose the woman he unknowingly put in jeopardy.
My Review I love a good mystery. Add romance and instant heat and I’m there. The Rebel pairs pragmatic artist, Amanda, with edgy civil lawyer, David. David comes from a family of lawyers, but he’s the only one to shy away from criminal law, so it’s ironic he’s the one his mother enlists to convince Amanda to reconstruct the identity of a woman only from her skull. Sparks fly upon their first meeting, but they dance around their attraction for more than half the book before anything happens. There was more than enough intrigue, and good juicy mystery, and lots of unresolved sexual tension to keep me invested.
The timeframe is short, so a lot is packed into several fast-paced days, including a red hot romance. Despite that, the pacing of the writing itself is steady rather than intense. It moves, but for me, never reached the I-can’t-put-it-down stage. Not to say that I didn’t find that I wasn’t interested in finishing it, only that I was okay to wait until morning to finish reading. It was a good solid story, though, with interesting characters and an intriguing plot.
On the surface, it seems the plot is the mystery of the skull found in the prologue, but it’s really the story of David and Amanda’s romance. They’re thrown together because of the mystery, and danger follows them as a result, driving conflict. The romance moves almost too quickly based on the compressed timeframe of only a few days, but in the span of the story itself, it unfolds slowly. But at no time did I doubt these two would end up together.
The characters are where this story really shines. Adrienne Giordano creates deep, layered characters who are exceedingly likeable as they spew witty banter. The family dynamics of David, his siblings, and his mother are as real as it gets and were at the root of some of the best scenes in the book.
Writing The author does a great job of setting the scene, getting us inside her character’s heads, and developing those characters. There were a few pacing issues, but nothing major. There was also a pretty good twist I didn’t see coming, even though it was excellently foreshadowed.
Ending Things wrapped up pretty much the way I expected in a satisfying conclusion.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About The Rebel: 1. The mystery. When a skull is found, the hunt is on for the identity it belongs to, putting everyone in danger.
2. The flirty banter between David and Amanda. Their attraction is instant and it shows.
3. Family dynamics. The sibling rivalry and revelry between David and his brother and sister is palpable.
4. The twist. I won’t give it away, but it was fun to not figure it out ahead of time.
5. Jenna. The smart, tough investigator is a solid supporting character and I’d love to read a whole book from her point of view. Think Kalinda from The Good Wife.
Bottom Line The Rebel is a mystery wrapped in a romantic suspense with a big dose of fully-developed characters.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.