Friday, September 20, 2019

Book Review: This side of Tomorrow by Sally White

Release Date: July 05, 2019
Publisher: Independently Published
Format: ebook
Pages: 300 pages
Genre:  paranormal romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | 

Synopsis:

Life isn’t fair…and neither is death.

When seventeen-year-old Nebraskan, Rachel Sutton moves into her new home in Maine, she quickly discovers it is the former residence of Noah and Ethan Thompson, teenage brothers recently killed in car crash. Brothers who have yet to move on.

Ethan, spiteful and jealous, is obsessed with Rachel, and Noah, guilt-ridden and gorgeous, is trying to save his brother’s soul. As Rachel spends countless hours with Noah, and dates Parker Redding, a popular football player, she finds herself torn between her feelings for the living and the dead.

One fateful night, Rachel must choose. Will she embrace her life on earth with those who love her? Or find out what’s on the other side?

Review: 

This is a great teen paranormal romance.  Rachel moves from Nebraska to Maine and finds that her house is haunted by the two teenagers that used to live there.  One is angry and determined to claim Rachel as his own and the other, his brother swears to protect Rachel from him.  With the help of some other ghosts Rachel's life becomes anything but ordinary although she is trying to maintain a normal life as well.

White created an interesting ghost story with likable characters and a plot that keeps you interested.  She was able to breach spirituality with a little bit of religion and make it not preachy but palatable. This is a fun YA romance that reminds us to live life to the fullest because you never know when it will end. .







Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through booksirens.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Blessing Way ( A Leaphorn and Chee Novel Book 1) by Tony Hillerman

Release Date: May 7, 2007
Publisher: Recorded Books
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours 28 minutes
Narrator: George Guidall
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Buy: Audible | Kindle 


Synopsis: 

Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high lonely place, a corpse with a mouth full of sand, abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn cannot help but suspect the hand of a supernatural killer. There is palpable evil in the air, and Leaphorn's pursuit of a Wolf-Witch is leading him where even the bravest men fear, on a chilling trail that winds perilously between mysticism and murder.

Review:

Strangely enough this is my first Tony Hillerman book even though I've seen his name many many times on my perusal of book stores, libraries etc and am always interested everything Native American. This is the first book in Hillerman's series about tribal police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. Investigating a murder and the harming of animals Leaphorn finds himself trying to find what everyone thinks is a witch inhabiting their land.  I found the plot a bit clumsy and plodding but it still held my attention with the descriptions of landscape and ceremony. By the time I got to the end of the book my attention started coming back.  I am going to try another in this series and see if it gets more cohesive and less clunky. However it was a good introduction to the characters.





Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review: The Boy Who Lived in the Ceiling by Cara Thurlbourn

Release Date: July 22, 2019
Publisher: Amazon Digital Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 300 pages
Genre:  YA / coming of age
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | 

Synopsis:

Freddie’s life isn’t like it used to be – he’s alone, homeless, and carrying a secret that threatens to swallow him up. Every day is a struggle. Until he meets Violet Johnson.

Violet’s life is going down-hill. Her parents argue, her little brother’s stopped speaking, and she’s about to move schools. She used to be popular, she used to be happy, but now every day is a struggle. Until Freddie enters her life.

Despite their differences, Freddie and Violet grow closer. Freddie’s nightmares begin to fade. He stops having panic attacks. And he can’t believe that Violet Johnson actually likes him back. 
But Freddie’s past is catching up with him, and what will happen when Violet finds out what he did?

Review: 

This is a beautiful story of a homeless boy and a family in mourning. Its also about the invisibility of homelessness and how we are more likely to give money to help people who seem well off than we are homeless people on the street.

Violets family is in turmoil. After losing her beloved Grandmother the family is thrown into mourning.  Her father is never around, her brother has stopped speaking and her mother is sad. Financially struggling Violet has agreed to go to the public school instead of the private school she was attending.  While she was popular at her old school this new school is very different and she finds herself with only a strange girl as her friend.

Freddie is homeless and an accident finds him living in Violets attic unbeknownst to the family.  After he witnesses Violet almost get attacked by a school mate he outs himself and starts a strange and beautiful friendship with Violet.  Freddie has goals, he wants to get his own place, and go to college or get an apprenticeship.  He doesn't want to be homeless. 

This is really an interesting study of how we treat each other and our perceptions of others.  I really enjoyed this book.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through booksirens.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

ARC Review: The Nobody People by Bob Proehl

Release Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Del Rey
Format: ebook
Pages: 465 pages
Genre:  Sci Fi/Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | 

Synopsis:

Avi Hirsch has always known his daughter was different. But when others with incredible, otherworldly gifts reveal themselves to the world, Avi realizes that her oddness is something more—that she is something more. With this, he has a terrifying revelation: Emmeline is now entering a society where her unique abilities unfairly mark her as a potential threat. And even though he is her father, Avi cannot keep her safe forever.

Emmeline soon meets others just like her: Carrie Norris, a teenage girl who can turn invisible . . . but just wants to be seen. Fahima Deeb, a woman with an uncanny knack for machinery . . . but it’s her Muslim faith that makes the U.S. government suspicious of her.

They are the nobody people—ordinary individuals with extraordinary gifts who want one only thing: to live as equals in an America that is gripped by fear and hatred. But the government is passing discriminatory laws. Violent mobs are taking to the streets. And one of their own—an angry young man seething with self-loathing—has used his power in an act of mass violence that has put a new target on the community. The nobody people must now stand together and fight for their future, or risk falling apart.

Review: 

This took me way too long to read and I'm not sure why.  I love the X-men so this type of book is up my alley.  I think there were so many characters that it started to make my head spin a bit and there were things that just didn't suspend my disbelief totally.  

Avi Hirsch is addicted to adventure and danger.  He has traveled the world as a reporter until an IUD took his leg. When he discovers the world of Resonants he finds his new calling.  However there comes a point where they turn on him and I'm still not quite sure why. Emmeline his daughter is a resonant, and a powerful one, no one really says what exactly she can do until late in the book and still I'm not quite certain of how it works.  Then there are all the other Resonants that play a significant role in this story and the main antagonist who is a resonant who literally just devours people and things.  He feeds them to what is termed the null but he is following the wishes of someone else - a dark entity in his head. 

Of course after the Resonants go public the government goes into a frenzy and there are hate crimes galore and military camps set up, people snatched off the streets, and talk of registration and legal internment camps. 

This is the first book in at least a 2 book series.  So it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I really hope that Proehl can tie some of these lingering questions together in the next installment. I almost think that if he had made this series longer and delved a little deeper into each character but making it more books it would have been better. 








Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Audio Book Review: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Release Date: November 20, 2018
Publisher: Random House Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 4 hours 15 minutes
Narrator: Adepero Oduye
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.

Review: 

I heard good things about this book so I had to grab it. Short, dark and well written this book is a wild ride. Ayoola is the "pretty" sister, the one who everyone talks about and always attracts the boys, Korede is her sister who isn't as noticeable but the "responsible" one. Korede is a nurse and is attracted to the doctor she works with but once he notices Ayoola, Korede is just a way to get to her sister. Korede knows that the men Ayoola dates all seem to wind up dead.  Who do you protect, your sister or the man you want to be yours?

Set in Nigeria this short book is fascinating in a dark way.  Well crafted with relatable characters and an interesting take on family and how we treat each other. There is a wealth of family dynamics lessons in this book that I'm sure could be torn apart and examined.  Excellent read.





Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Audio Book Review: Brain on Fire (my month of madness) by Susannah Cahalan

Release Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Highbridge Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 48 minutes
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Genre: Medicine/autobiography
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

In 2009, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room strapped to a bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records - from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory - reported psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-year-old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter.

Susannah's astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. Weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia. Over one million dollars worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, until the celebrated neurologist, Dr. Souhel Najjar, joined her team. With the use of a simple - yet ingenious - test, he was able to make a lifesaving diagnosis - revealing a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain.

Review:

Terrifying, intriguing and brilliantly written, Brain on Fire is the true story of Susannah Cahalan who developed an autoimmune disorder that attacked her brain causing her to seem to go insane.  As doctor after doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong, misdiagnosing her again and again, Susannah suffered in the hospital.  Her families and friends fought to keep her out of a mental health facility and tried desperately to "save" her. Even once she was diagnosed her road to recovery wasn't an easy one, leaving her with big gaping holes in her memory of this time, not to mention the months it took to regain the motor coordination, and cognitive function she once had.

This book was pieced together through journals, discussions with her parents, her boyfriend, doctors and video that was taken of her while she was in the hospital. Its tragic that this young driven writer was reduced to one word sentences, psychotic outbursts, and seizures with no one being able to figure out what was wrong. Even today it seems not all doctors know about this disease although more and more people have been diagnosed with it.  This book is a cautionary tale to always get a 2nd and sometimes a third and fourth opinion.  Scary yet deeply moving this book held my attention up until the very end.





Tuesday, September 3, 2019

ARC Book Review: The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

Release Date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 352 pages
Genre:  Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 

Synopsis:

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

Review: 

So many reviews compare this book to Pretty Woman but for me it was more like Fatal Attraction.  Natalie is a struggling art student who lives with 2 roommates who really want her to move out.  She can barely make her rent or pay her other bills and she knows its only a matter of time until she is out on the street.  A friend of hers tells her about Sugar Daddies and how she gets paid to be an escort, it doesn't always involve sex but can if she feels a connection.  So Nat desperate for money decides to give it a try.  What she finds is Gabe a handsome attorney who says he is a single dad. Gabe is a rich man whose wife has turned away from him but he loves her and doesn't want to end their marriage so he has turned to the Sugar Daddy website to find "entertainment" for when he is in the city during the week.

Natalie is young and naive, she quickly falls for Gabe and thinks that there is more to their relationship, even Gabe seems torn but divorce can't happen so he tries to give up Natalie and thats when things turn crazy.

This is a fast paced, well researched thrill ride.  You know from the beginning of the book that Natalie is being charged with murder but the murder of who is the question that doesn't get answered until 3/4 in and even then its a mystery, did Natalie really do it? She can't remember.  I had never heard of the Sugar Bowl before but I can see why a lot of young women fall for it and harding did her research on it, throwing out terms like splenda and salty, and also showing the darker kinkier side of the sugar bowl.  Overall this is a quick good read.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Audio Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 26 minutes
Narrator: Graham Norton
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Audible | Kindle 


Synopsis: 

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, but when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be those of Tommy Burke - a former lover of two different inhabitants - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated sergeant PJ Collins struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

In this darkly comic, touching and, at times, heartbreaking novel, perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

Review:

Witty tale about a small town in Ireland and an unexpected crime. Graham Norton's personality shines through as he reads his novel. Well written with fleshed out characters this book is more than a whodunit. Holding is more a tale of people, how we lie to ourselves and others, how we change as we age and how small towns can also hold big secrets.

Even though there are quite a few characters they are all very well developed.  Some you love and even those who aren't so nice show their humanity. The mystery itself keeps your interest and keeps you reading or in my case listening.  I was pleasantly surprised by this find.





Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Audio Book Review: Little Girl Lost A Foundlings Novel (The Foundlings Book 1) by Wendy Corsi Straub

Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 11 hours 45 minutes
Narrator: Hillary Huber
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle 


Synopsis: 

MAY, 1968
On a murky pre-dawn Mother's Day, sinister secrets play out miles apart in New York City. In Harlem, a church janitor finds an innocent newborn in a basket. In Brooklyn, an elusive serial killer prowls slumbering families, leaving a trail of blood and a twisted calling card. Cloaked in lies, these seemingly unrelated lives - and deaths - are destined to intersect on a distant, blood-soaked day.

OCTOBER, 1987
Reeling from shocking personal discoveries, two strangers navigate a world where nothing is as it seems. Amelia Crenshaw embarks on a search to discover the truth about the birth mother who abandoned her, never suspecting she's on a collision course with a killer. Detective Stockton Barnes, a brash young NYPD detective, trails a missing millionaire whose disappearance is rooted in a nightmare that began 20 years ago.

The past returns with a brutal vengeance as a masked predator picks off victims whose fates intertwine with a notorious murder spree solved back in '68 - or was it?

Review:

This was a complicated mystery with a lot of characters with nicknames and was often hard to follow. I really struggled with Amelia who seemed so bitter and angry at her parents for not having any money that she came off as much younger than she was supposed to be.  Even her new found friend who was also complaining about being a foundling wasn't nearly as whiny as Amelia's character although that seemed to shift at the very end.   I was very confused as to why all these people had to die, I understand that there was something about the end of days or something like that but it all didn't make much sense to me. I was also a bit confused how all the women from the first murders wound up pregnant - was he timing their cycles? it was never explained.  Overall this book was hard to get through just when I found myself following it something new was thrown in and I wasn't sure how it all fit or why.  There is a second book in this series and I am reluctant to read it but it did get better reviews than this one so I may be tempted to check it out but its not high on my to be read pile.





Friday, August 23, 2019

Audio Book Review: What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell

Release Date: October 1, 2018
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 9 hours 6 minutes
Narrator: Chris Andrew Ciulla 
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle |   Paperback

Synopsis: 

When a mutilated body is found hanging in a seedy motel in Philadelphia, forensics specialist Liam Dwyer assumes the crime scene will be business as usual. Instead, the victim turns out to be a woman he'd had an affair with before breaking it off to save his marriage. But there's a bigger problem: Liam has no memory of where he was or what he did on the night of the murder.
Panicked, Liam turns to his brother, Sean, a homicide detective. Sean has his back, but incriminating evidence keeps piling up. From fingerprints to DNA, everything points to Liam, who must race against time and his department to uncover the truth - even if that truth is his own guilt. Yet as he digs deeper, dark secrets come to light, and Liam begins to suspect the killer might actually be Sean...
When the smoke clears in this harrowing family drama, who will be left standing?

Review:

This book was written prior to I Know Everything and although it has a similar feel it isn't as good as the other.  Liam Dwyer is a forensic detective, his brother Sean is a homicide detective.  When Liam is called to a horrific crime scene that seems eerily similar to his mother who went insane and tried to drown him and his brother. What I had a hard time with is despite all the mounting evidence Liam is a FORENSIC SCIENTIST!!!! Don't you think if he was going to commit a crime he wouldn't be so careless as to leave his fingerprints or DNA for the police to find?

I figured this one out fairly quickly and wasn't surprised by the real killer.  I was a little confused by the ending not sure what Farrell was trying to imply with the interaction between Sean and Liam at the very end.

Liam was pretty whiny and weak through most of this book, turning to his brother at every opportunity which made it hard for me to like him.  He was such a victim. Sean the charismatic older brothers character was more developed and likable. Although not many of the characters in this book were very likable.  I think I felt more for the victims than I did the people still alive trying to solve the case.

Given that Farrell's second book in this series was so much better I will still try him again.





Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Audio Book Review: Tangled Web books 1-3 by Althea Romig

Publisher: Audible Audio
Format: Audio
Narrator: Charlotte North & Jacob Morgan
Genre: Romance Suspense
Buy: my amazon store

Synopsis: 

TWISTED: The underworld of Chicago is far from forgiving. It's a world where knowledge means power, power money, and money everything.

While I paid the ultimate price to have it all, it wasn't my decision to give my life....

That doesn't mean I ceased to exist, only to live. Going where the job takes me and living in the shadows, with deadly accuracy I utilize the skills inherent to me, not knowing from where they came, not recalling what I'd lost.

And then I saw her. Laurel Carlson. I shouldn't want her, desire her, or need her, yet with each sighting I know she is exactly what I have to have. Laurel has the ability to do what I thought was impossible. She sees what others don't.

My gut tells me that it's a deadly mistake to change my plans and open my world to her. My mind says she'll be repulsed by my twisted existence.

None of that matters, because my body won't take no for an answer.

I've made dangerous mistakes before. This time, will the price be too high?

OBSESSED: Everything changed the night our eyes met across the room. His green gaze upon me prickled my skin with uncustomary warmth while my peek beneath his cuff - of a riot of color on his wrist - sparked my insatiable curiosity. Tall and mysterious, Kader was a man whose secrets I longed to know.

Little did I realize that the night we met was only the beginning - the beginning to the end of the existence I knew.

What will happen as his assignment becomes our obsession?

BOUND: With danger lurking around every corner and my life turned upside down, I struggle with who to believe and who to trust. 

Can my heart convince my mind that what was bound long ago is where I'll find love, safety, and security?

Or are the memories simply an illusion? 

Review:

This was a pretty good series. It was more mystery and thriller than steamy romance although there was a bit of that as well.  I really liked how each book started where the last one stopped and then carried forward. Secret government agencies, hit men, dark web and smart houses move the story along at a fast clip.  I may have to seek out other books by this author because I read a review that said that some of the characters in this book bleed over to another series.  Over all this was a solid good read.





Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Audio Book Review: I Know Everything by Matthew Farrell

Release Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 9 hours 17 minutes
Narrator: Cynthia Farrell
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle |   Paperback

Synopsis: 

Police investigator Susan Adler is ready to close the book on a deadly car accident, but after the medical examiner discovers evidence of foul play, she knows she has a murder on her hands. The victim was the wealthy wife of Randall Brock, a renowned psychiatrist who treats patients with disturbing, brutal fantasies. And just like that, Susan’s got a suspect.

Randall has a violent past but knows he didn’t kill his wife. In the midst of his crushing grief, Randall receives a visit from a stranger with information to share about his wife’s death. But there’s a catch: in exchange for the stranger’s information, Randall must reveal dark secrets he’s kept hidden for years. As this shady figure applies more pressure and Susan closes in, Randall begins to doubt himself, clinging desperately to the pieces of his sanity.

Revelations and suspicious coincidences send shock waves through the investigation, and circumstances spin out of control. Susan must race to put it all together before it’s too late—before the next murder strikes too close to home.

Review:

This was a twisty tale.  I kind of figured it out about halfway through but apparently I was only half right.  This creepy story kept me engaged all the way through as I tried to figure out who may have actually killed Randalls wife.  Lots of twists and turns, and edge of your seat thrills, this one will keep you up all night trying to figure it all out and just when you think you have it, something happens that leads you down another path.  Excellent writing.





Friday, August 16, 2019

ARC Book Review: Consent: A memoir of unwanted attention by Donna Freitas

Release Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Little Brown & Co
Format: ebook
Pages: 337 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | 

Synopsis:

Donna Freitas has lived two lives. In one life, she is a well-published author and respected scholar who has traveled around the country speaking about Title IX, consent, religion, and sex on college campuses. In the other, she is a victim, a woman who suffered and suffers still because she was stalked by her graduate professor for more than two years.

As a doctoral candidate, Freitas loved asking big questions, challenging established theories and sinking her teeth into sacred texts. She felt at home in the library, and safe in the book-lined offices of scholars whom she admired. But during her first year, one particular scholar became obsessed with Freitas' academic enthusiasm. He filled her student mailbox with letters and articles. He lurked on the sidewalk outside her apartment. He called daily and left nagging voicemails. He befriended her mother, and made himself comfortable in her family's home. He wouldn't go away. While his attraction was not overtly sexual, it was undeniably inappropriate, and most importantly--unwanted.

Review: 

I struggled through this book.  While the story was engrossing I felt that Freitas went off on tangents that just went on and on.  I don't really care how many people she kissed at prom nor does it really do much for a story about a professor's inappropriate behavior. It almost seems like she is trying to build a case for why his behavior is wrong which makes me sad.  Stalking is brutal in the sense that it takes away your sense of security, you find yourself jumpy and always looking over your shoulder.  No matter what she wore, talked about, discussed, even if she had had sex with him, his behavior is wrong because it was unwanted.  Once the relationship moves beyond consent its unwanted and creepy. 

This is an interesting story and one I think others should read, her writing style just wasn't for me. 






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Book Review: A Divided Mind by M Billiter

Release Date: July 27, 2019
Publisher: Tangled Tree Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 322 pages
Genre:  Psychological Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | 

Synopsis:

Sometimes that little voice in your head isn’t always yours.

What if the only friend you have isn’t real? When the voices in his head begin to make sense, high school senior Branson Kovac turns to the one friend he’s still got… only to discover he’s not really there.

Review: 

There are many books out there with characters with mental illness and not all of them really show you the ripple effect that has on the family, and the people around them.   Based on Billiters own mental health family struggles this one hits it out of the ballpark.

I was drawn in from the first and as the book goes along I wanted to cry for the whole family.  The loss of who a person was to who they become when the mental illness takes hold, the struggle of the person suffering, trying to navigate through life. The blame a parent feels and the struggle to hold it together for your child is all in here and tears at your heart.

Written in alternating chapters you see the point of view of Tara the single parent to four children, and the point of view of Branson  one half of twins who has been struggling with mental health issues since 8th grade.  Now a senior in high school his symptoms are getting worse and its time for him to reach out for help.

I can't say enough about this book.  With so many families struggling with mental health issues its time we take this out and start talking about it.  Having positive conversations about it and stop shying away and looking disapprovingly at those who are struggling.  Fabulous book and I can't say enough good things about it.







Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through booksirens.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, August 9, 2019

ARC Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Release Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 352 pages
Genre:  Mystery/Thrillers
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | 

Synopsis:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Review: 

Unlike many of the reviews I actually really enjoyed this book...to a point.  I was immediately sucked in trying to figure out what child was killed, how they were killed and who may have done it if it wasn't Rowan.  The writing is a little strange since it is supposed to be Rowan writing to a solicitor and telling her story, however you often forget its a letter until Ware pops in something about who the letter is to which is slightly distracting but still didn't take away from the story.  Overall I was thoroughly engrossed in this mystery trying to figure things out as I usually do, then bam it ends.  Just like that.  No real ending.  I have no real clear cut answer as to what happened to Rowan. I feel very unsatisfied and a little angry that I'm left in limbo just guessing at what may have happened.

I wish I could recommend this book because I really like the author but the ending was so disappointing that I just can't knowingly put anyone else through that.







Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Audio Book Review: The Witch Elm by Tana French

Release Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 22 hours 7 minutes
Narrator: Paul Nugent
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life - he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden - and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed. 
A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Review:

This is a dark mystery. Toby has everything, a good job, a lovely girlfriend and a charming personality that allows him to talk himself out of just about anything until the unthinkable happens. He is attacked in his apartment and left struggling to survive, the attack leaves his memory in taters, his speech impaired, leaving him reeling and struggling. He goes to stay with his Uncle who is sick and lives alone. While there a skull is found in a tree in the garden, leading to a murder investigation of a young man who Toby and his cousins went to school with. Toby doesn't remember much about that time in his life, the attack wiped out a lot of his memory and his cousins seem to be hiding something. Torn between letting sleeping dogs lie and finding out the truth Toby goes on a quest to find out if he was the killer because if he is, he isn't sure he can live with himself.

This is a slow paced mystery that keeps peeling back layer upon layer. It is not like French's other books but I still liked it. Toby is a young guy who has had it all but when it gets taken away he is left trying to pick up the pieces of his life and try to discover who he was and who he is now. This isn't just a mystery of who dunnit but a mystery of who you are and if you are the same person after something tragic befalls you. I found this book to be really interesting and the Narrator kept me engaged. Not all of the characters are likable, in fact I would say the vast majority of them aren't likable but there is something so childlike and lost about Toby that I couldn't stop listening.




Monday, July 15, 2019

Book Review: Who She Is by Diane Byington

Release Date: March 28, 2018
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 278 pages
Genre:  womens fiction
Buy: Kindle | paperback

Synopsis:

In the fall of 1967, Faye Smith’s family moves to Florida to work in the orange groves, and she has to start a new school… again. She tries out for the track team, knowing her mother would never approve because of Faye’s epilepsy.

When Faye discovers she has a talent for distance running, she and her friend Francie decide to enter the Boston Marathon, even though women aren’t allowed to compete. Desperate to climb out of the rut of poverty, Faye is determined to take part and win a college scholarship.

After the school bully tries to run her down with his car, a strange memory surfaces—a scene Faye doesn’t recognize. Her parents insist that it’s a symptom of her epilepsy, but Faye thinks they might be lying, especially when it keeps happening. To get her life on the right path, she’ll need to figure out what her parents are hiding and never lose sight of the finish line.

Review: 

This was a fast paced read, that I couldn't put down.  Faye Smith's family moves around a lot.  She is never in the same place more than a few months at a time but this time her parents have said they would stay until she finishes high school in a year and a half.  Faye makes friends for the first time and discovers a love of running.  Her parents don't agree with it and want to keep her home but Faye and her friend Francie decide to enter the Boston Marathon despite her parents protests and the fact that women aren't allowed to run.  Faye is determined to run in order to obtain a full scholarship to college so she can break free of the transient hard work of the farm hand.

What starts off as a book about a strict family with a daughter who wants to break free and find her own way turns into a mystery.  Faye starts having flashbacks and bad dreams about another woman, a car wreck and another life. As her home life unravels Faye is forced to try to defend herself and her will.

I liked that this was set back in the late 60's when women were just starting to break out of gender stereotypes. You weren't sure what was just a family scared of the unknown and wanting to keep their daughter "in her place" or what is actually fear of something else. Well written and interesting I really enjoyed this book. 




Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Friday, July 12, 2019

ARC Book Review: After the End by Claire Mackintosh

Release Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: ebook
Pages: 400 pages
Genre:  Womens Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio

Synopsis:

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They're best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can't agree. They each want a different future for their son. 

Review: 

This book is tough, but not overly so.  What would you do if your child was terminally ill? Would you make the decision to let them go or would you fight to give them a little more time, even if that time is spent confined to a wheelchair, and unable to communicate? Max and Pip have different opinions on what would be best for the their son Max. This leads to court hearings and a huge strain on their marriage. There doesn't seem to be any right decision and about halfway through the book Mackintosh shows you what would happen with Max and Pip if the ruling went in their favor - two different outcomes with similar results.  Its not a happy book but its a book that makes you think.  Some have compared it to books written by Jodi Picoult and I have to agree.  There is a moral dilemma that doesn't have a definitive answer.  I was a little confused when the book branched off into two different directions but once I got the hang of it, it was interesting to see what the author felt the outcome of Pip and Max would have been if they had made different decisions.





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Review: Love Lines by Sheri Langer

Release Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 344 pages
Genre:  Chic Lit, romance
Buy: Kindle | paperback

Synopsis:

Fordham Price is juggling her job at a publisher, her precocious 10-year-old daughter, and her feisty mother. She wants to find time for men, but a stream of dating disasters has her relationship status stuck at single. As if her Latte wasn’t already overflowing, a co-worker gets pregnant, sticking Fordham on the hook for the company’s latest reality read from their popular series. She must supplement her own romantic misadventures with tales of cynical cat-ladies, identical-twin husbands, spunky monks, and creepy web-crawlers.

As she wades through submissions, one from a widower gives her tingles in all the places she forgot existed. His words draw her in until she finds herself daydreaming about him more than she’d care to admit…

Review: 

Fordham is a single mother trying to juggle her profession and her job as a mother.  With the help of her mother she is raising her daughter who is a precocious 10 year old with a physical disability. Her best friend keeps setting her up on dates that she really has no interest in but then she runs into her high school boyfriend and first love, Aaron. Could this be the start of what was meant to be all along? In the wings is her daughters principal, David who always seems to show up at the same places she is and they appear to have a chemistry of sorts.

Fordham's mother lives with her and between helping Fordham she plays online scrabble and always wins until she finds the one player she can't seem to beat.

This is a sweet romance, learning how to start over and move forward. Its a reminder to us all to really pay attention to the people in our lives and what they are putting out there.  I really loved all the characters and Fordham's relationship with her daughter is sweet. I really enjoyed this book and think it would make a great beach read. 




Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Monday, July 1, 2019

ARC Review: Those People by Louise Candlish

Release Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ebook
Pages: 368 pages
Genre:  thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio

Synopsis:

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying—and everyone has something to hide.

Review: 

I read Louise Candlish's last novel "Our House" and this one shows how little it takes to make average everyday people do things that seem out of character. When Darren and Jodie move into the close knit community of Lowland Way they disrupt the lives of their neighbors causing an uproar in the neighborhood.  There is scheming, plotting and downright bad behavior from these "nice" suburban families.

I really appreciate how Candlish uses normal everyday activities like a new neighbor to launch these books into the horror show they turn out to be. Darren and Jodi are not good neighbors, they blast music all night, have turned their front yard into a construction zone / used car lot but what about the other people in the neighborhood who are so involved with other peoples business that they are constantly on the lookout for something new to police.  These so called good neighbors aren't so good, plotting and scheming about how to get Darren and Jodi to move since they won't toe the line.

You feel the anxiety and crazy as it starts to amplify throughout the book.  The mystery unfolds at a fast pace leaving you with so many suspects its almost hard to keep up! Great book with an element of wondering if this could really happen anywhere to it.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ARC Book Review: We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn book 4) by Becky Masterman

Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 156 pages
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio

Synopsis:

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo's days as a prison chaplain--a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo's old things--has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he'd like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Review: 

I didn't read the first 3 Brigid Quinn books and I didn't feel that you needed to.  There were some questions I had about Brigids relationship with the local sheriff that seems to have been strained by something that happened in a previous book but it didn't take away from the story.

Masterman weaves her own story regarding Perry Smith and Dick Hickok who were convicted of murder and were the main characters in Truman Capote's classic In Cold Blood. Masterman imagines what it may be like if Hickok had made a confession claiming his innocence in writing prior to being put to death and given this confession to the care of a Catholic priest. What if someone else was named in that confession and now that person is out of prison and worried that if the confession comes to light he may be forced back to prison or worse sentenced to death.

Brigid Quinn's husband Carlo was a prison chaplain back when Hickok and Smith were in jail. Jerry Beaufort tracks Carlo down hoping that he can find this written confession and get rid of it before it incriminates him, what he doesn't count on is Quinn. Ex FBI with a moral compass that is just off center, a psychopath niece and excellence at defending herself and others.

This is a fast paced mystery that re imagines Smith & Perry's crimes and pits Quinn against a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to try to hide his past crimes. I really enjoyed this book despite not having read the others.  In fact I may go back and pick up some of the past books to see how Quinn's character has evolved. If you like kick ass women this may be a good series for you.






Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 

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