Always With a Book

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

Title: The Real Michael Swann
Author: Bryan Reardon
Published: June 2018, Dutton
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

In a new novel from New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon, a suburban family is rocked in the wake of a terrorist attack on American soil.
On a typical late summer day, Julia Swann is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly goes dead. Then the news rolls in: A bomb has gone off at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home. New York City is in a state of chaos.

A frantic Julia races to the city to look for Michael, her panic interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she's now desperate to find. When someone finds a flier she's posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her dreams seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered.

Weaving between the aftermath of the explosion and Julia's memories of her life with Michael, new developments raise troubling questions. Did Michael survive the explosion? Why hasn't he contacted her? What was he doing when their last call was cut off? Was he—or is he still—the man she fell in love with?

Part family drama, part tragic love story, and part disaster narrative that hits terrifyingly close to home, The Real Michael Swann is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable--both in our country and in our own homes.

My thoughts: I am not new to Bryan Reardon's books, having read and loved Finding Jake, though I admit it wasn't until reading the author bio in the back after I finished the book that I realized it was the same author. Still, this book was a highly anticipated read and one that I was lucky enough to grab at Book Expo this year...I even had the opportunity to meet Bryan and get a signed copy of this book!

This is such a timely read, though I admit it might be a bit of a difficult read for some given the subject matter of the book. It is a scenario that is only too realistic for many of us, something that has happened and unfortunately has the potential to happen again. But the genius of this book is in the way it is told, the way the story unfolds. It is certainly a thriller, no doubt about that, but in many ways I would also classify this book as domestic suspense. It is an intense, intimate look into a marriage that from all outward appearances seems to be just fine, but once you start looking closer, the little cracks show. 

Having the story told via two narrators and going back and forth in time really does add to the tension and suspense of the book. It is through this that we learn about who these characters are, who the Swann's as a couple are. The memories and the strolling stream of consciousness really allow you as the reader to really know and understand these characters. And the shortness of the chapters also heightens the tension - giving us just the right amount of information at a crucial time to keep you reading. 

This book will take you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. It's powerful and those feelings are so palpable. I was immediately hooked in the first few chapters - and then by the time I got to the second half, I was glued to the pages...I just couldn't put the book down. I was constantly trying to figure out just where things were headed and it wasn't until the very end that I figured some things out...but still, I loved every minute of it. It brings up a whole slew of questions that you will be asking yourself and ones that I am still thinking about days after I have finished reading. 

This book, while it may start off simple and benign, delves into a pretty complex and layered story - the kind I enjoy the most. And because this scenario is one that we see on the news time and again, it made the book that much more realistic and engaging. It was a thrilling, gripping yet haunting and frightening read that I certainly won't be forgetting any time soon. Bryan Reardon has one again given us an emotionally charged, thrilling read. I can't wait to see what he writes next!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Published: June 2018, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

My thoughts: B.A. Paris has become the author where I just about drop everything to read her latest book when it shows up. And the fact that they are usually quick, binge-worthy addictive reads is just an added bonus! She really knows how to do play with your mind and get under your skin and I love every minute I am immersed in one of her books!

I devoured this latest book in two sittings - it's that quick and addictive a read. Yes, it does have short chapters and that always helps but I also think the story line itself lends to the binge-worthiness of this book. You just can't help but become completely wrapped up in what is going on and find yourself in a place where not only do you NEED to know what is going to happen next but you also NEED to know how it is all going to play out. That is this book, in my opinion.

Right from the start I had an uneasy feeling about the characters and was unsure of who I could trust. And let me just say - I love books like this...I love trying to figure out if it's just the main character that is unreliable or if there are others that are just as unreliable. It makes for such a good, fun reading experience - always wondering if what has been said or done is done in good will or not.

This book is full of tension and dark undertones - that is apparent right from the start - and it carries through all the way. You just know all is not really what it appears to be and this makes for such good suspense - when is it all going to come crashing down? Because you know something is going to happen, something just don't know what or when. 

And that ending...while it may not be what you were expecting, I think it definitely deserves major kudos for being one that took my by surprise. I had put some of it together but by no means going to that extent, which is why I liked it so much.  Will it work for everyone? Probably not, but I guarantee you, if you like a thrilling, creepy ride along the way, you won't be disappointed. This has just moved up to be my favorite book from her - and I've really them all! 


Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

Tomorrow, Stephanie Butland's latest novel, The Lost for Words Bookshop, comes out, and because I ended up with an extra copy, I'm going to give that copy away - and it's a finished copy! I will be reading this book soon and am really excited about it.  You can also see what others have to say and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!!!

Title: The Lost for Words Bookshop
Author: Stephanie Butland
Published: June 2018, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place—the bookstore where she works - come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

The Lost for Words Bookshop is a compelling, irresistible, and heart-rending novel, perfect for fans of The Storied Life of AJ Fikryand The Little Paris Bookshop.

What readers are saying:

"Filled with mystery and intrigue...Lovers of literature will enjoy this mix of contemporary women's fiction and mystery." -- Library Journal

"Truly a book for book lovers. Readers who want to get lost in a world of literature, love, and companionship in a story about breaking out of the past to create a new life will fall in love." -- Booklist

"Rich characterizations, a vibrant bookstore setting, and several poignant Wednesday poetry nights will have readers hoping for a sequel." -- Publishers Weekly

"A tale full of romance and violence demanding readers not judge a book by its cover." -- Kirkus

"In The Lost for Words Bookshop, Stephanie Butland has created a bibliophile's delight. Witty and irreverent, funny and sad, this is a charming tribute to stories on the page and in our lives--and the powers they can hold over us." -- Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

""Burns fiercely with love and just. A rare and beautiful novel." -- Linda Green, bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed

"Loveday captured my heart from the very first page...and her bookshop is the bookshop of readers' dreams." -- Julie Cohen, bestselling author of Dear Thing

"Quirky, clever, and unputdownable." -- Katie Fforde, bestselling author of A Summer at Sea and A Secret Garden

"It is such a beautiful read and Loveday's voice is so exquisite story that I couldn't put down." -- Liz Fenwick, bestselling author of The Cornish House and A Cornish Affair


Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publicist, one reader will win a finished copy of The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by June 25th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends June 25th.

Good Luck!!!


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Review: The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer

Title: The Chosen Ones
Author: Carol Wyer
Series: DI Robyn Carter, #5
Published: May 2018, Bookouture
Format: ARC E-copy, 374 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

They had not been forgiven. And they would never be forgotten ….  

When a doting young father is murdered and his body discovered in a cornfield for his family to see, it’s a harrowing new case for Detective Robyn Carter. But just as Robyn starts to investigate, a popular local doctor and young mother, is found dead outside her surgery. 

As Robyn tries to find the link between the victims, she uncovers a dark web of secrets. Were these much-loved members of the community as innocent as they seemed? 

The killer has a message for Robyn and the carefully chosen victims. Can Robyn get to the truth before she becomes the next target? 

If you love Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney and Rachel Abbott, you’ll love the latest pulse-pounding thriller from Carol Wyer. The Chosen Ones will keep you guessing until the very last page. 

My thoughts: This series is one that I really enjoy. The books are a bit on the dark side, but the character development is top notch and it's a series that calls me back with each subsequent book.

I think one of my favorite aspects of this series is that we always get chapters in the killer's voice. It's not always apparent who this person is right away, and sometimes I am able to figure it out before it's revealed and sometimes not, but either way, these chapters really provide some chilling insight as to why the murders are happening. I think the why is just as important, if not more in some cases - and for sure that is the case here. I did figure out the murderer before the actual reveal, but trying to understand the why was key.

As the team is working on tracking down what has become another serial murder, Robyn is also working with her cousin, Ross, tracking down the latest developments on her presumed-dead husband. Is he really dead? What exactly has happened to him? And who has been watching her house? This is a thread that has had me waiting for more clues for a while now and I was happy to see progress happening here. While there isn't exactly closure on this just yet, it's still progressing and I am anxious to see where it heads in the next book. I just hope it isn't dragged out forever!

The twists and turns in this book really keep it moving at a quick pace. It pulls you in right from the start and never really lets up. And as the case is being investigated, we get to spend time with some Robyn's team, which I love. I like these characters and I like that some time is devoted to them in each book - not a ton, but enough to feel that you are getting to know them a little bit.

This book is a wild ride on the emotional front as well. Some events happen that for the series die-hard like me, are a tough pill to swallow. I even felt a tinge of sympathy for our murderer at one point - once things are out in the open and you know the why, this statement will make more sense - but that's not anything I expected to feel, yet that's how adept and skilled Carol Wyer is at writing these stories. And that's just one example.

I love this series - it's a complex, dark, gripping crime series that I just cannot get enough of - I sure hope the next book comes out soon!!!

Books in this series: 
  1. Little Girl Lost
  2. Secrets of the Dead 
  3. The Missing Girls 
  4. The Silent Children
  5. The Chosen Ones 


Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: The Daughter by Lucy Dawson (audio)

Title: The Daughter
Author: Lucy Dawson
Narrator: Rachel Atkins
Published: April 2018, Bolinda Audio (Brilliance Audio)
Length: 9 hours 10 minutes
Source: Publisher

A heartbreaking and unputdownable psychological thriller that will keep you guessing right until the end.

You lost your daughter. You will never forgive yourself. And now someone is determined to make you pay....

Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire...but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt.

To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years.

My thoughts: This is the first time I've read/listened to anything by Lucy Dawson and it definitely won't be the last. I love finding new authors, especially ones who's books translate well on audio and certainly Lucy Dawson's psychological thrillers seem to fit that bill, if this one is anything to go by.

This book definitely kept me guessing all the way through and I loved it all the more for that very reason. I had no idea where it was going to go - I was on edge the entire time, not knowing what was going to happen and not knowing who I could trust. There was this underlying sense of unease I had as the book progressed - this growing tension that you just know something was about to happen but I just couldn't figure it out until it finally did...and boy, did I not see that happening!

I love when a book causes me to keep the characters at bay - not sure if they are completely trustworthy or not. You want to believe in them, but there is just this inkling that perhaps all is not really what it seems or appears to be. That is definitely what is going on here and it really adds to the overall suspense of the story. The twists really throw you for a loop, for sure!

This book will play on your emotions. As much as it is a psychological thriller, the beginning of the book is terribly heart-breaking, but then it moves on until it becomes a bit creepy. The book is a little like a roller-coaster at times, and that's the fun of it - your emotions go on a wild ride, so hold on! This really is quite a thrilling reading experience - intense, emotional and gripping.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will certainly be picking up more of Lucy Dawson's books as soon as I have a chance. Have you read any of her books? If so, what do you suggest I pick up next? 

Audio thoughts: This was such a great book to listen to and Rachel Atkins did a fantastic job narrating the story. She really brought the characters to life, especially Jessica. Her pacing and tone were spot on and she infused just the right amount of emotion and inflection into the voice as needed. And I just loved the voice she gave the little sounded so cute! I really enjoyed listening to this audio book and hope that Rachel narrates more of Lucy's books as I think she really gets the nuances of Lucy's characters and story. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: Find You In the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Title: Find You In the Dark
Author: Nathan Ripley
Published: June 2018, Atria Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Martin Reese is obsessed with murder.

For years, he has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and using them to locate long-lost victims. Then he calls the police anonymously and taunts them with his finds. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of all the mistakes cops have made for years.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees it differently. A case-closer and on a meteoric rise in police ranks, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source -- the Finder, she names him. Even if the Finder isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, who's to say he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches in a graveyard for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the murderer in the nineties who may have been responsible for the disappearance of Martin's sister-in-law. But at the site, Martin finds a fresh body lying among decades old remains. Someone knows where Jason Shurn buried his victims…and that someone isn’t happy about Martin's finds. Hunted by a murderer and by Whittal, Martin realizes he will have to go deeper into the world of death than he ever thought.

A chilling thriller that glimpses into the mind of a killer in a way that is both fascinating and provocative - and that you will remember long after you've turned that last page.

My thoughts: I love when a thriller keeps me guessing as to how it will all play out from beginning to end and that's how I felt with this book. Add in that you get inside the mind of a killer and you are definitely in for one creepy, disturbing read!

This book is unique in that it is a different take on the usual serial killer thriller we have all come to like. This time around, we have not only our serial killers at work here, but there is also Martin Reese, who gets his hands on police files to find the bodies of those women killed by said serial killers. He then taunts the police, letting them know he was able to do their job. He's known as "The Finder" and does a pretty good job finding these bodies.

What I loved about this book is that it really keeps you on your toes - it will have you questioning everyone and everything. I was glued to the pages once I started reading it - and surprisingly, it's more of a slower-paced book than other thrillers. But the story line is what kept me going...I needed to know what was going to happen next and how everything was going to come together. I also loved the pitting together of Martin and the detective - Sandra Whittal. Both are very strong personalities and you really go back and forth as to who's side you might ultimately be you want Martin to "get away" with what he is doing or should he be held responsible in some way?

This thriller has some crazy twists and the tension is there, slowly building up to the finale...and I think it was well-worth the wait! Add to that the overall feeling of unease that is seamlessly built into the story and it will have you looking over your shoulder a time or two while you are reading it.  I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be keeping Nathan Ripley on my radar.


Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Find You In the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Next week, June 19th, Nathan Ripley's debut novel, Find You In the Dark, comes out, and because I ended up with an extra copy, I'm going to give that copy away - and it's a finished copy! I've just finished reading this book - it's amazing!!! - and will be posting my review later on today. You can see what others have to say below and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!!! 

Title: Find You In the Dark
Author: Nathan Ripley
Published: June 2018, Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

In this chilling and disquieting debut thriller perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’s Hidden Bodies and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, a family man with a habit of digging up the past catches the attention of a serial killer who wants anything but his secrets uncovered.

For years, unbeknownst to his wife and teenage daughter, Martin Reese has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and obsessively studying them, using them as guides to find the missing bodies of victims. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees the situation differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case‑closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source she calls the Finder, especially since he keeps leading the police right to the bodies. Even if he isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, how can she be sure he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his wife’s sister. But when he arrives at the site, he finds more than just bones. There’s a freshly killed body—a young and missing Seattle woman—lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn left the corpses of his victims…and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work. And when a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder.

Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape, he may have to go deeper into the killer’s dark world than he ever thought…

What readers are saying:

“A fast-paced, morbidly addictive novel of chilling infatuation. Ripley’s impressive debut is a rich and innovative thriller.”Iain Reid, bestselling author of I'm Thinking of Ending Things

 “A wickedly smart thriller that manages to be both chilling and wry. The page-turning plot . . . is thickened by a great cast of characters and Nathan Ripley’s fantastic eye for detail and dialogue. Just when you think you’ve got a grasp on it, the story twists to new and darker places.”Amy Stuart, bestselling author of Still Mine

 “It's not always easy diving into the mind of an obsessive protagonist, but Martin Reese's fixation on finding dead bodies makes for one heck of an addictive thriller. Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley is an original, inventive take on what happens when you go looking where you shouldn't. Start reading early in the day, or you'll be up all night like I was! A standout debut novel.”Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts and Wonderland

 “Find You in the Dark is an unsettling exploration of obsession you won’t soon forget. Nathan Ripley delivers a first novel that fans of Patricia Highsmith psychological thrills and Thomas Harris cat-and-mouse suspense will devour. I certainly did.”Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist and The Only Child

 “Crafty and dark, Nathan Ripley’s novel toys with the lines between predator and prey, his sentences as careful and considered as the crimes he depicts…a truly exciting new voice in the thriller world.”Roz Nay, bestselling author of Our Little Secret

 “A fresh angle to the serial murder game. There's a certain Silence of the Lambs feel to the twisty narrative.”Kirkus Reviews

 “Gripping . . . . Dexter fans will enjoy the creepy vibe.”— Publishers Weekly

 “Ripley’s debut offers a twist on the typical serial-killer story….This offers a unique spin with just enough creepy details to keep suspense readers interested.”Booklist


Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publicist, one reader will win a finished copy of Find You In the Dark by Nathan Ripley. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by June 20th.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends June 20th.

Good Luck!!!

Blogger Template Created by pipdig