Review: The Long Revenge by Andrew Barrett @AndrewBarrettUK @Bloodhoundbook

Amazon

Release date: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

They say you can always trust a policeman. They are lying.

They lied thirty years ago and they are still lying today.

When a booby-trapped body is discovered in a long-abandoned chapel, CSI Eddie Collins and his team are called to investigate. But when the scene examination goes horribly wrong, Eddie and DI Benson are injured and one of the team killed.

Heartbroken by the death, Eddie is also guilt-ridden. But more than that he is angry. Very angry.

Eddie will stop at nothing to bring the guilty to justice, and will teach them that even when served cold, revenge is a killer dish.  

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Long Revenge today!

Review:

This was my first introduction to Barrett’s work though it’s the fourth book in his Eddie Collins series. I wasn’t bothered by this and never felt like I was missing out on any pertinent information, but I have added the first three books to my ever growing TBR.

Eddie Collins is not a detective like the protagonist in most crime novels, he’s a CSI. I loved this, it made for a really unique and fresh point of view to see things from that perspective instead of a cops perspective. That type of stuff has always been interesting to me and couple that with a character like Collins? Well you’ve got quite a set up. He’s a cheeky guy and very sarcastic, which I adore because sarcasm is my first language. I didn’t always agree with him but I always found him highly entertaining and I especially liked any scenes between him and his father Charles.

The case Collins is working is a series of historical murders which is one of my favorite storylines in crime fiction. I always think the killer must be pretty smug after thirty years have passed and they’re still flying under the radar, until something or someone unearths their darkerst secret.

The pacing was pretty mild to start (but never boring) but the tension was slowly mounting and by the last quarter of the book things really ramped up.Eddie being a CSI means that the reader gets a graphic look at how this profession works and there is also abuse and some violence, but as most of you know by now that doesn’t bother me. Barrett uses some great dark humor that balances out the heavy stuff which I always appreciate and wonderfully lightens the mood just when you need it the most.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld

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Release date: August 14, 2018

Publisher: Spark Press

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Twenty-five years ago, a group of ninth graders produced a Saturday Night Live-style videotape to cheer up their ailing friend. The show’s running time was only ninety minutes, but it had a lasting impact: Becca laughed her way through recovery, and the group—Jordana, Seth, Holly, and Lex—became her supporting cast for life.

On the silver anniversary of Becca Night Live, the friends reunite over the Fourth of July to celebrate Becca’s good health—but nothing goes as planned. The happy holiday card facades everyone’s been hiding behind quickly crumble and give way to an unforgettable three days filled with complex moral dilemmas and life-altering choices. Through humor, drama, and the alternating perspectives of five characters, The Cast explores the power of forgiveness, the importance of authenticity, and the immeasurable value of deep, enduring friendships to buoy us when life plays out differently than expected.

Review:

The Cast has one of my favorite structures in a book, it’s told from several various perspectives and gives the reader the opportunity to see the dynamics of a group of lifelong friends through all of their eyes. I love the insight this provided into their thoughts, feelings and emotional processes and felt pretty bonded to these five people by the end of the book.

I think anytime an author writes an ensemble story it must be tricky to maintain different voices for each character and Blumenfeld does an admirable job. This is also the authors debut making it all the more impressive and besides maintaining individual personalities and voices for each character, she also manages to write really smoothly about some heavy topics.

This is definitely a pretty emotional read about the highs and lows of life and the friendships that help people keep it together when things are really tough. The relationships between Becca, Jordana, Holly, Lex and Seth are both complicated and sweet and entirely relatable on so many levels. There was also some humor and lightness so it’s definitely not all heavy, but it’s one that makes you think and be grateful for the people in your own life who are there no matter what may be happening.

The Cast in three words: Meaningful, Honest and Tender.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

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Release date: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genre: Mystery

Blurb:

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Review:

Missing children storylines are nothing new in a mystery novel but Frey has managed to turn the idea on its head and come up with an angle that’s new and exciting. What if a child is taken from their family in order to keep them safe and not put them in any danger? What if their home life is so fraught with tension and abuse that being taken in by a total stranger is the best option for them? This book raised SO many questions, there was a depth of thought not often found in a mystery that made me think it would be absolutely perfect for a book club.

This switches back and forth between Amy and Sarah both Before, During, After and Now. The pacing is nice and steady, tension builds gradually and I was totally hooked almost instantly. It was so bizarre to be rooting for a kidnapper and not the grieving parents for once, but the difference in personalities between Sarah and Amy was so stark you can’t help but be pulling for little Emma and Sarah to get away and be happy.

This was a highly emotional read that completely sucked me in, I just had to know how things would turn out in the end. This did require me to suspend a little disbelief but I really wasn’t bothered by it, it fit with the story so well and ended exactly as it should have.

Not Her Daughter in three words: Evocative, New and Gripping.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Bucket List by Georgia Clark

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Release date: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn’t want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.

This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. Ultimately, this is a story about Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things she thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. Both are things she will change by choosing to have a major surgery that could save her life, and will give her the future she really wants.

Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The Regulars, The Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.

Review:

I honestly don’t think the blurb for this one accurately conveys exactly what type of story this one really is, I feel like it doesn’t totally prepare you for both how emotional it is and also how sexy it is. Bit of a weird combo, right? No doubt about that and while it sounds strange it works in an odd way.

It took me awhile to warm to this one, initially I found it a bit hard to switch between some tender and touching moments where Lacey deals with her feelings about a possible double mastectomy and then onto the next chapter where she’s off on one of her sexcapades as part of her boob bucket list. It was a big leap to say the least and the sex scenes aren’t the type left up to the readers imagination but instead are graphic and racy making the transition pretty bold.

As I kept reading this I did become more accustomed to the style and vibe of the book and I enjoyed it more as I found a groove. It was one of those reads that just kept getting better the further along I read, so for me it was worth it in the end. This was really witty and felt hip and modern, definitely a book a twenty something could relate to as Lacey herself is edgy and cool but there was enough depth and maturity that someone older (ahem cough ME) could still relate on some level. The overall message was fantastic, very female positive and kick ass without being cheesy. It’s definitely not your average chick lit book and I admire the author for making some bold choices and tackling an extremely scary and serious subject matter in a really interesting way.

The Bucket List in three words: Provocative, Empowering and Honest.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Big Woods by May Cobb @maykcobb

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Release date: July 8, 2018

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

It’s 1989 in the sleepy town of Longview, Texas, when ten-year-old Lucy disappears. Her parents, the police, and the community all brace for the worst, assuming her body will soon be found in Big Woods. Just like the other unsolved kidnappings.

But then Lucy’s fourteen-year-old sister, Leah, starts having dreams about Lucy—dreams that reveal startling clues as to what happened. Leah begins her own investigation, and soon she meets a reclusive widow who may hold the key to finding Lucy . . . if only she can find the courage to come forward.

Delving into the paranoia surrounding satanic cults in the 1980s, Big Woods is an emotionally wrought, propulsive thriller about the enormity of grief, the magical bond between sisters, and a small town’s dark secrets.

Review:

If you’re in the mood for a book that sucks you in from the very start then look no further, because Big Woods hooked me after just two pages. A little girl goes missing in the late eighties and being an eighties baby myself I’m always nostalgic for books set then, and throw in a side of satanic cult worshippers and a hint of magical realism and I’m all in!

This alternates between Leah and Sylvia, Lucy is Leah’s sister so her connection was obvious but with Sylvia I wasn’t quite sure how she would fit in, it definitely kept me guessing. I was very invested in these characters, Leah and her family were good, hardworking and sweet people and Sylvia was the same, it made for a nice change of pace to actually like the characters in a thriller compared to many books that are full of hateful and unsympathetic ones.

The pacing here was fantastic, the chapters are short and sweet, you get straight to the point and just keep going for another chapter and then another and before you know it you’re finished! I was so curious about what happened to Lucy, was it the work of a devil worshipping cult? A pedophile? Did she run away? I had many theories and I’m so pleased to say I never quite guessed before the reveal.

I was really impressed that this was Cobb’s debut, she has an assured style that I really liked and she crafted a really interesting story that was part mystery/thriller part family drama that worked so well together. I would definitely read another book from her and will be curious to see what she comes up with next.

Big Woods in three words: Quick, Engrossing and Deft.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Rush by Lisa Patton

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Release date: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Set in modern day Oxford, Mississippi, on the Ole Miss campus, bestselling author Lisa Patton’s RUSH is a story about women—from both ends of the social ladder—discovering their voices, courage and empowerment.

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all.

Review:

I was never in a sorority but Greek life has always fascinated me so when I read the description of Rush I was all in. It had the added bonus of being set in the South and I’m a sucker for southern fiction as well and this one was oozing good old fashioned southern charm with a side of, oh bless her heart sass. It was witty, fun and I felt like I got a secret look behind the scenes of sorority life.

There are three points of view here, Miss Pearl the longtime housekeeper at Alpha Delt, Wilda who’s daughter Ellie is rushing for the first time as a freshman and then Cali another hopeful freshman who becomes fast friends with Ellie. My favorite of the three was easily Miss Pearl though everyone was enjoyable and fun to hear from. Pearl just stole the show for me with her heart that’s bigger than Mississippi and her love and affection for all of the Alpha Delt girls, she was a true gem.

While this was a light and fun read it definitely still explored some important issues pertaining to race relations and old, outdated traditions that are really just a disguise for casual racism. The only people of color involved in the sorority are the staff with the exception of just one member and the antiquated rules are finally questioned and challenged. There was a quiet power to this book with some relevant themes that make you think and contemplate which I always appreciate, definitely some substance beside sweet southern charm.

Rush in three words: Charming, Topical and Fun.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @Mejiawrites

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Release date: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Review:

I was a huge fan of Mejia’s debut and have been impatiently waiting for her next book since late 2016, but man was the wait worth it! This was totally different from Everything You Want Me to Be, I love when authors switch things up and avoid getting caught in a formulaic cycle and Mejia surely does that here. It’s every bit as compelling as EYWMTB but in a totally different way that excited me.

This is mainly told from Maya’s point of view and she’s not your average mystery protagonist. She’s a speech pathologist who works at a psychiatric facility and I so enjoyed her unique viewpoint. One can only read so many thrillers with a detective as the lead and Maya was a breathe of fresh air. There are a few very imperative chapters from Josiah, the man who disappeared ten years ago that add an additional layer to an already multilayered story.

The atmosphere played such a huge role in this one and that’s the biggest difference (to me) from Mejia’s last book. The Boundary Waters were a character all of it’s own thanks to her incredibly vivid writing style, she brought this hauntingly beautiful and terrifying place to life effortlessly to the point where I felt like I was there alongside her characters. Besides a fantastic setting the characters themselves were complicated people with fascinating backstories, the type you find yourself rooting for even when you’re not entirely really sure if you should be. They’re flawed, intense and wonderfully interesting making for a captivating read.

Once again, Mejia had quite a few tricks up her sleeve and she definitely sucker punched me at least one time. I raced through this one as there were way more questions than answers and when all my questions were answered in the end, I was satisfied and extremely impressed by her talent and ability to construct a story. Hugely recommended by me, especially for fans of Force of Nature I had very similar feelings while reading this one and predict fans would enjoy this one as well.

Leave No Trace in three words: Atmospheric, Intense and Multifaceted.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

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Release date: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

Review:

I swear every woman on the planet should read this book you guys. I don’t know of a single woman who hasn’t struggled with her weight or dealt with body image issues or struggled with low self esteem. Higgins captures all of the feelings and emotions that coexist alongside these complicated feelings women have about themselves perfectly and she does it with humor and grace as well.

This is told from all three friends perspectives, Marley and Georgia in present day and then Emerson in a series of heartbreaking journal entries that truly brought me to tears. These women are like so many others, their weight is always at the forefront of their thoughts and it has an effect on every single aspect of their lives, they were painfully relatable on so many levels that I wouldn’t hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend this one to any woman I know personally.

While this was a very emotional read it was also funny and poignant and unabashedly honest in the way women perceive themselves and other woman. While we can be our own harshest critics we can also be super quick to judge other women even as we struggle with our own body image issues which is so profoundly sad but also the God’s honest truth.

Marley and Georgia stole my heart completely and totally and made me yearn for friends just like the two of them. Their friendship was beautiful and inspiring and also raw and vulnerable, they’ve been friends through the bad and the good and know they each have a safe place to land in the others arms. While many of the issues covered here are heavy and sometimes dark this was a truly uplifting and hopeful read that will make you feel less alone in your insecurities and doubtful moments. Highly recommended read from one of my all time favorite authors, Higgins hit it out of the park with this one!

(Quick P. S. I’ve seen this book getting slammed for fat shaming and I just want to say that it doesn’t at all, I found it to be the opposite so if you’re hesitant because if that it’s not even true.)

Good Luck With That in three words: Vulnerable, Emotional and Relevant.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

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Release date: August 1, 2018

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

This review may seem familiar to you and that’s because I read this last month and loved it show much I had to share my thoughts right away! If you missed it the first time around you get to see it today as part of my stop on the tour with TLC Book Tours 😊

Review:

God you guys, this was such a refreshing read, especially for a psychological thriller. There’s not an unreliable narrator in sight, there are not multiple perspectives and there are zero time jumps. If a book labeled as a psychological thriller doesn’t have all three of those is it even really a psychological thriller? Hahaha, I’m kidding, this definitely is and it consumed me, I freaking loved it.

Jane is unapologetically who she is, and she’s a sociopath on a mission. She wants revenge and Steven is her target and she won’t let anything get in her way. She had one of the best voices I’ve encountered in ages, highly unique, she’s funny in a super dry way, she’s cold, manipulative, calculating and cunning and I loved her. I couldn’t help it, I think it goes back to what I said earlier, she doesn’t apologize for who she is, she’s confident and smart and insightfully self aware. She knows she’s not normal, but she doesn’t care, she’s not trying to change and she only pretends to be someone she really isn’t if it serves a greater purpose.

I totally binge read this, I could not wait to see how things played out and if Jane would be successful in all of her plotting and planning. I had so much fun with this and was rooting for Jane so hard, who knew an emotionless sociopath could be so likable? The ending was also great, very strong, a little surprising and super satisfying.

Jane Doe in three words: Crafty, Interesting and Vengeful.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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Release date: January 8, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

Review:

I really have no business reading books that aren’t even out until next year (I may be drowning in ARCs) but when a copy of An Anonymous Girl arrived in my mailbox I dropped everything else and started reading it immediately. Last fall when I read The Wife Between Us I was totally blown away and I haven’t really stopped raving about it ever since. As excited as I was about this book I had that apprehension that I tend to get before reading a highly anticipated book. I kept wondering if Hendricks and Pekkanen could possibly top TWBU and if so, how? You guys, they can and they did!

This one should come with a warning label: Do not start this unless you have enough time and commitment to read in one breathless sitting. That’s really the only way to read it, once you start and then have to stop (because life) you’ll be irritated and desperate to get back to it, so fair warning.

I really don’t even want to get into the plot details at all, the blurb gives you the perfect amount of information and is intriguing enough on it’s own, but I will tell you why I loved this one just as much as Wife. For starters, it had that same addictive writing style that urges you to keep reading just a few more pages, that feeling you get when a really awesome book just grips you. You know how sometimes you’re so absorbed by a book that when something from the outside world interrupts you it takes you a few seconds to snap back to reality? This is that kind of book. Another thing that made this one fantastic is that instead of being a series of shocking twists and turns like Wife was it doesn’t solely depend on crazy revelations but instead is compromised of several smaller twists that still surprise you but almost catch you even more off guard because there’s a subtlety to them. It’s like a sneak attack, but in a very good way, an unexpected bonus that slaps you upside the head and makes you think, what in the hell is really going on here?

My final thoughts? Pre order this bad boy and prepare to be consumed, you won’t regret it and Hendricks and Pekkanen prove they are a force to be reckoned with.

An Anonymous Girl in three words: Obsessive, Riveting and Cunning.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.