Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung


Title: The Eighth Girl
Author: Maxine Mei-Fung Chung
Published: March 2020, William Morrow
Format: ARC Paperback, 480 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary: 
Optioned by Netflix and a most anticipated book of 2020 from Bustle, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, and LitHub.

The Eighth Girl is an exquisite exploration of childhood trauma and its impact on the psyche. Part thriller, part character study, I devoured this novel in one sitting, reflecting on each sentence, each passage, and each astute observation of humanity. A true gem!” — Wendy Walker, bestselling author of The Night Before

In this unsettling, seductive psychological thriller, a young woman with multiple personalities is drawn into London’s hellish underworld when she becomes entangled with a man who has an abominable secret, for fans of Caroline Kepnes and Clare Mackintosh.

One woman, multiple personas. But which one is telling the truth?

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?


My thoughts: I have a slight obsession with anything that deals with multiple personalities...I just find it incredibly fascinating, so of course this book totally appealed to me. Little did I know just how compelling and incredible I would find it.

This book consumed me right from the start. I was totally hooked and loved every second of it. But make no mistake, this book is dark, disturbing and a little unsettling. I loved how it was told, alternating between Alexa, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) after years of sexual abuse from her father, and her therapist, Daniel. I found it incredibly powerful to be able to dig into both these minds, especially since the therapist has a rather dark past himself.

I think what sets this book apart from others is that the author herself is a trained psychoanalytic psychotherapist and her expertise clearly shines through in this book. From the detailed therapist sessions, which were raw and utterly fascinating, to the insightful look into the mind of someone with DID and how one personality takes over when certain situations arise. I loved getting to see these different personalities come out, but you never knew just who would be showing up...Alexa or Runner or Dolly or any of the Flock.

The entire book is gripping and the storyline just pulls you in and you can't help but turn those pages to see how it all ends. And let's talk about that ending for a moment...I was definitely not expecting that last part...it was intense and surprising to say the least. It totally took me off guard and has me wanting to start reading the book all over again to see if I somehow missed any clues. Don't you love that? 

This book is definitely going to be one of my favorite reads of this year...it's such an accurate portrayal of someone with mental illness. It's a fascinating character study with just the right amount of suspense thrown in to make this psychological thriller completely binge-worthy. I cannot recommend this book enough...pick it up and be prepared to be totally consumed! 




About the author: Maxine Mei-Fung Chun is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. Trained in the arts, she worked as a Creative Director for ten years at Condé Nast, The Sunday Times and The Times. She lives in London with her son. The Eighth Girl is her first novel.

Author links:  Website  | Twitter  | Instagram 

Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #theeighthgirl).



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Review: Summer of '79: A Summer of '69 Story


Title: Summer of '79: A Summer of '69 Story
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Published: February 2020, Little, Brown & Company
Format: E-book, 61 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY!
Elin Hilderbrand's brief, irresistible postscript to her #1 New York Times bestselling novel Summer of '69.

 
Catch up with Blair, Jessie, and Kirby ten years after the summer everything changed. This "Summer of '69 story" by Elin Hilderbrand will be published in print in spring 2021 as part of a Dorothea Benton Frank tribute anthology. Get it now in digital form, for a limited time!



My thoughts:  I cannot get enough of Elin Hilderbrand's books. If she writes something I will read it and so of course, I had to read this little novella that is a follow-up to her last summer's book, Summer of '69. But let me just say, you absolutely need to read Summer of '69 in order to fully appreciate this novella. 

I am a big fan of series, but I like my stand alones just as much. And there's something to be said for a book that has a ending that leaves you satisfied, but aren't you still left wondering what comes next for those characters? Don't you wonder where they end up a few years down the road? Well, Elin Hilderbrand gives us a peak into the Foley-Levin clan ten years after Summer of '69 ends and how fun it was to reconnect with them. 

This is a short book, coming in at only 61 pages, but in true Elin Hilderbrand fashion, you still feel the characters come to life and it feels as if you only just left them. While they are gathered for a somber occasion, it was a time for the family to reconnect and we see where these characters have landed, getting a quick snippet into their lives.

I love Elin Hilderbrand's books. They are refreshing, original and completely entertaining.  I've read every single one and am counting down the days until this year's summer release. 


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Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel


Title: The Familiar Dark
Author: Amy Engel
Published: March 2020, Dutton Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 256 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.

Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it's better not to know.

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother's cruel brand of strength if she's going to face the reality about her daughter's death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother's trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family—women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances—as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.



My thoughts: I seem to be on a roll this month with phenomenal thrillers and this one certainly fits that bill. This is the first book I've read by Amy Engel but it certainly will not be the last...I somehow missed The Roanoke Girls last year but have added it to my must-read list.

This is a dark, gritty read that is completely captivating right from the start. I read this book in two sittings because I just could not stop reading it. This book will haunt you as you become enmeshed in Eve's life as she becomes determined to find out who killed her daughter. 

I loved the way the author ever so slowly gives us pieces to the puzzle, a little bit here, a little bit there, as we learn about all the players in this book. It's full of completely developed yet flawed characters, but the one that gets the most under your skin, the one you will not be forgetting anytime soon is Eve. I loved her. I loved her strength and how she was so willing to do anything even if that meant turning to the one person she never thought she would in order to get the answers she is so desperate to get. What she feels, her emotions - grief, anger - are so palpable...you cannot help but feel them yourself as you are reading this book. 

I loved that this book completely consumed me for a few hours. I thought about nothing but this book and what was going on within these pages. Yes, it's dark and gritty and completely atmospheric - my favorite kind of psychological thriller! - but it's also a book that takes a hard look at the relationships between mothers and daughters as well as the lengths mothers will go to for their children. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves dark, gritty, captivating reads. You don't want to miss this one!


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Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel


Title: Darling Rose Gold
Author: Stephanie Wrobel
Published: March 2020, Berkley
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships...

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling...

And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home.



My thoughts: As soon as I heard of this book, I requested it. I am completely fascinated by
Munchausen syndrome by proxy and will read just about any book that touches upon it. And this one...WOW. 

This is loosely based on the Gyspy Rose Blanchard case and one that I am somewhat familiar with, but not enough that I know the story inside and out, though I do plan on looking into it further after reading this book. But what sets this story apart from all the others on this topic is that it deals with the aftermath of everything. And buckle up because things are about to get bumpy and a little crazy!

I loved this book. Yes, it is dark and twisted and filled with characters you love to hate on, but isn't that what a good thriller is all about? One that has characters that you can't help but wonder about? One that has you wondering if you can trust their actions, even though you might be swept up in their backstories and made to feel sympathy for them. 

I loved the way this story was told, alternating between two points of view - mom and daughter - and moving quite effortlessly back and forth between the present and the past so that you get a false sense of security with these characters. You will feel things for them - lots of emotions here - but can you trust those emotions? Getting to know Rose Gold you start to put together how she turned into such a complicated character...she's devious and complex for sure and you can see why she turned out the way she did.

This book will keep you on your toes and once you start reading it, you will be hard-pressed to put it down. I flew through the pages, not able to guess where it was going. It's a dark and disturbing cat and mouse game that is such a fun, thrilling read and I cannot recommend it enough! And for sure, I will be keeping an eye out for what Stephanie Wrobel writes next...this debut was quite impressive and I am eager to read more from you!!!




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Friday, March 27, 2020

Review: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby


Title: Miss Austen
Author: Gill Hornby
Published: April 2020, Flatiron Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 288 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
Whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw the young heroine she once was?

England, 1840. For the two decades following the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen has lived alone, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Now in her sixties and increasingly frail, Cassandra goes to stay with the Fowles of Kintbury, family of her long-dead fiancé, in search of a trove of Jane’s letters. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra bare the most private details of her life to the world, or commit her sister’s legacy to the flames?

Moving back and forth between the vicarage and Cassandra’s vibrant memories of her years with Jane, interwoven with Jane’s brilliantly reimagined lost letters, Miss Austen is the untold story of the most important person in Jane’s life. With extraordinary empathy, emotional complexity, and wit, Gill Hornby finally gives Cassandra her due, bringing to life a woman as captivating as any Austen heroine.



My thoughts: I was excited to read this book and even though it is not centered primarily about Jane Austen, I still enjoyed it very much. It was the perfect book to sit down with along with a nice cup of tea and lose myself in during this crazy time right now.

This book centers around Cassandra Austen, Jane's sister, and I have to admit I do not know much about Jane Austen's personal life so I found this book to be quite fascinating. Even though the book is a work of fiction, it is based on true events and it does have me yearning to know more about the Austen family as a whole, which I love.

Cassandra and Jane were the best of friends and I can very much relate to that kind of sibling relationship as I have that with my sisters. Now that Cassandra is close to the end of her days, she is determined to find any letters written to or from Jane to close friends that may damage Jane's reputation. She feels it is her duty to her sister and her family to do so. As she finds these letters, she is swept up in the memories and this allows the book to move from the present to the past.

I loved the way this story was told. It completely swept me up in the Austen sisters' lives and I felt as if I were right there along with them. It was interesting to learn a bit about Jane as she was writing her stories - I did not know that some of her books had different names before they became what we now know them as. I found myself completely in awe of Cassandra - she was dealt a tough hand early in life and ended up spending the rest of her life caring for those around her. This was by choice, but it didn't necessarily have to be this way. I did not, though, agree with her decision to burn the letters once she found them...oh how this angered me.

This was a great book to learn a bit more about not only Jane Austen as a person, but also her sister, who was so near and dear to her. It is well researched and quite enjoyable, and has left me with a hankering to reread some of my beloved Jane Austen books. I highly recommend this to all fans of Jane Austen...you won't be disappointed. 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Book Spotlight: Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan -- with link to #BookGiveaway

Yesterday, Patti Callahan's latest book, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, was released in paperback. I am really looking forward to read this - it sounds like the perfect book to get lost in right now.  I am also thrilled to be able to share this book with one lucky reader! 

This expanded paperback edition is the perfect book to read while quarantined with your family and friends. It includes:
  • A map of Oxford
  • An expanded discussion with 20+ questions for book clubs
  • A timeline of Jack and Joy's lives
  • Joy's (imagined) letter to Jack
  • 10 Things You May Not Know About Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis's Love Story
  • A Behind the Scenes Essay: Oxford -- The City

But take note...the Giveaway is happening on my Instagram page!!!

Read on to see what others have to say and then you can find out where to enter the giveaway below!!! 




Title: Becoming Mrs. Lewis
Author: Patti Callahan
Published: March 2002, Thomas Nelson
Format: Paperback, 448 pages

Summary: 
In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.



Praise for Becoming Mrs. Lewis: 

"With an eloquent and effective narrative, a realistic continuing theme of unbreakable relationship bonds, and a fantastic multilayered story line of secrets, regrets and a good dose of teenage drama with new beginning and an old mystery" -- Library Journal

“Patti Callahan seems to have found the story she was born to tell in this tale of unlikely friendship turned true love between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis, that tests the bounds of faith and radically alters both of their lives. Their connection comes to life in Callahan’s expert hands, revealing a connection so persuasive and affecting, we wonder if there’s another like it in history. Luminous and penetrating.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife

“Patti Callahan Henry breathes wondrous fresh life into one of the greatest literary love stories of all time . . . The result is a deeply moving story about love and loss that is transformative and magical.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale

“I was swept along, filled with hope, and entirely beguiled, not only by the life lived behind the veil of C. S. Lewis’s books but also by the woman who won his heart. A literary treasure from first page to last.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours


“Profoundly evocative, revealing an intimate view of a woman whose love and story had never been fully told . . . until now . . . Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a tour de force and the must-read of the season!” —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion


“Patti Callahan somehow inhabits Davidman, taking her readers inside the writer’s hungry mind and heart.  We keenly feel Davidman’s struggle to become her own person at a time (the 1950s) when women had few options . . . An astonishing work of biographical fiction." —Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe

 
"I thought I knew Joy Davidman, the oft mentioned but little examined wife of C. S. Lewis, but in Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Patti Callahan breathes life into this fascinating woman whose hunger for knowledge leads her to buck tradition at every turn. In a beautifully crafted account, Patti unveils Joy as a passionate and courageous--yet very human--seeker of answers to the meaning of life and the depths of faith. Becoming Mrs. Lewis is an unlikely love story that will touch heart, mind, and soul." --Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Daughter


"Patti Callahan has written my favorite book of the year. Becoming Mrs. Lewis deftly explores the life and work of Joy Davidman, a bold and brilliant woman who is long overdue her time in the spotlight. Carefully researched. Beautifully written. Deeply romantic. Fiercely intelligent. It is both a meditation on marriage and a whopping grand adventure. Touching, tender, and triumphant, this is a love story for the ages." --Ariel Lawhon, author of I Was Anastasia  


*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publicist, one reader will win a copy of  Becoming Mrs. Lewis  by Patti Callahan. To enter the giveaway, please head over to my Instagram page to this post. The giveaway ends Saturday, March 28th and is not affiliated with or sponsored by Instagram.
 



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Review: Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen


Title: Please See Us
Author: Caitlin Mullen
Published: March 2020, Gallery Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.



My thoughts: There is nothing I love more than finding a unique voice in a genre that at times feels over-saturated with the same-old. That's not to say that I don't love reading these books or that I will ever tire of these books, or at least not any time soon, but when one comes along that has that little something different, you definitely take notice.

This debut novel is certainly not going to be for everyone as it is dark and haunting, yet it is also completely captivating. It is the type of book where the setting absolutely works in favor of the story - Atlantic City is not what it used to be and this author was able to capture that in her writing and use it to full effect. The closed up shops, the empty board walks, dark hotels - it just lends itself to a dark, chilling setting and you already get that sense of foreboding and that stays with you throughout the story.

The book is told from many viewpoints and this can be confusing at first, but in the end it really comes together quite nicely. While all the characters are flawed and have dark pasts full of secrets, I found myself quite drawn to their stories, desperate to know more. I especially liked that we hear from the victims - the "Jane Does" and while this in and of itself is quite chilling, it is this unique angle that gives this book an edge over the usual serial killer story. 

There is also a small supernatural element to this story that I think worked perfectly. Normally, I am not a fan of this kind of thing, but here I found it to be just right. Having Clara be a clairvoyant teen just seemed to make sense, especially with the Atlantic City setting. It wasn't over the top and this supernatural element actually gives the book a bit of a creepy vibe, which just adds to the overall suspense in my opinion.

This is the type of book that sticks with you long after you have finished reading it. It's heartbreaking and dark, yet the writing is phenomenal. I am definitely going to be keeping an eye out for what Caitlin Mullen writes next!





This is not your typical fast-paced thriller, but rather a slow-burn
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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith


Title: The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy
Author: Jean Kennedy Smith
Published: December 2018, Harper Perennial
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
In this evocative and affectionate memoir, Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, the last surviving child of Joe and Rose Kennedy, offers an intimate and illuminating look at a time long ago when she and her siblings, guided by their parents, laughed and learned a great deal under one roof.

Prompted by interesting tidbits in the newspaper, Rose and Joe Kennedy would pose questions to their nine children at the dinner table. "Where could Amelia Earhart have gone?" "How would you address this horrible drought?" "What would you do about the troop movements in Europe?" It was a nightly custom that helped shape the Kennedys into who they would become.

Before Joe and Rose’s children emerged as leaders on the world stage, they were a loving circle of brothers and sisters who played football, swam, read, and pursued their interests. They were children inspired by parents who instilled in them a strong work ethic, deep love of country, and intense appreciation for the sacrifices their ancestors made to come to America."No whining in this house!" was their father’s regular refrain. It was his way of reminding them not to complain, to be grateful for what they had, and to give back.

In her remarkable memoir, Kennedy Smith—the last surviving sibling—revisits this singular time in their lives. Filled with fascinating anecdotes and vignettes, and illustrated with dozens of family pictures, The Nine of Us vividly depicts this large, close-knit family during a different time in American history. Kennedy Smith offers indelible, elegantly rendered portraits of her larger-than-life siblings and her parents. "They knew how to cure our hurts, bind our wounds, listen to our woes, and help us enjoy life," she writes. "We were lucky children indeed."



My thoughts: If you know anything about me, you know I have a deep fascination with all things Kennedy. I was ecstatic when I came across this book at the bookstore one day while browsing the nonfiction section. I am always looking for new books on the Kennedy clan to add to my Kennedy collection - and while I have not read all the books I own, I am determined to read them one day.

I decided to pick this one up and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It isn't a tell-all about the family, but rather a look back about what her family meant to her and how important family life was to her parents. It contains vignettes of growing up in her large family and is filled with pictures. I loved getting to live in Jean's life as a Kennedy kid - she made it seemed like she had such a regular childhood and perhaps to her, that's the way it felt, but that was because her parents worked hard to make it that way. 

I loved that she went through the whole family in this small book - her grandparents, her parents and each of her siblings - and while she focused on some more than others, I felt like I got to know them all a little better and now I am even more determined to start digging into my other books - some that are quite meatier and denser than this one, for sure. But this was a great one to start with and I enjoyed every bit that she wrote. 

This family definitely lived its life in the spotlight, but I think credit goes the Joe and Rose Kennedy for giving the Kennedy children a childhood they truly deserved and this book shows that. The world has changed, life has changed, but values are still values and one thing that is quite evident is that Joe and Rose Kennedy felt it important to instill certain values in their children and they did it their own way. 

I recommend this book not only to all Kennedy fans, but also to anyone raising a family today. It's a quick read that really provides a lot of food for thought.


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Monday, March 23, 2020

Review: Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone


Title: Problem Child
Author: Victoria Helen Stone
Series: Jane Doe, #2
Published: March 2020, Lake Union Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 266 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series—and this time she’s met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn’t lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane’s deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl’s eyes. It’s the empty stare of a sociopath.

Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her—by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one’s more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.



My thoughts: I am so glad that Jane Doe is back...she is one of the best psychopaths I have ever come across in a novel and I love being in her company! Is that crazy? Probably...and I'm not quite sure what that says about me, but I just cannot get enough of her!

I'm so glad that Victoria Helen Stone has given us readers another dose of Jane Doe. Did we possibly strong arm her into writing it? Maybe...maybe so many of us wanted it so bad that she had no choice or maybe it was the plan all along. Whatever that case may be, all I know is that I was ecstatic when I heard it was coming and begged for this book and it did not disappoint! I flew through it and enjoyed every second I had with Jane once again. 

Now, I will say I definitely think you need to read the prior book, Jane Doe, before reading this one to really get the full effect of Jane in all her glory. In this book, it's a bit different, with a more sedate pace, but Jane is still Jane and her voice is still so original that you cannot help but love her for it. She now has a steady boyfriend - who would have thought that possible??? - but is still kicking a** and taking names. 

I love that we learn a bit more about her history in this book. Meeting her family and seeing where she came from gives us such great insight into Jane and why she is the way she is. I loved this part and while at times it does feel like parts dragged, I think this is such crucial information. But, true to form, the author does infuse such levity that you cannot help but laugh and so it really does keep things moving.

So, is this the last of Jane Doe? I do not think so. Now that Jane has found her niece and seen for herself that she really is like her, I think we will be seeing more of these two. And I cannot wait! Jane being given the opportunity to mold her niece into her protege? What could be better???

This is a great series to pick up...it's fun, original and completely binge-worthy. Exactly what we need during these uncertain times. Get out of your head and get into Jane's...you won't be sorry!


Books in this series:
  1. Jane Doe
  2. Problem Child

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
Author: Peter Swanson
Published: March 2020, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 270 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary: 
From the hugely talented author of Before She Knew Him comes a chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. There is killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.


My thoughts: I absolutely love picking up a novel by Peter Swanson...I love that they are all so different, yet so thrilling and completely binge-worthy. And this latest one is quite clever, yet a bit more slower-paced than his previous books.

I loved the way this book pays homage to so many beloved crime novels - some I've read and some I haven't. Now if you are the type that is worried about spoilers, you probably should read all these books before reading this book, as you will find out murderer and the way the murder happened in each of the books. 

I'm always a fan of books about books and when you add in that our narrator, Mal Kershaw, is the owner of a bookstore, it just ups the ante. But even better is that he is a little manipulative. He tells us things when he is ready to tell us and not a moment sooner. It's clear he has secrets, but it's also clear that he is not willing to part with these secrets until he is ready. And because he comes off as a somewhat likeable guy, you are given the sense that his secrets can't be all that bad. 

As I already mentioned, this book isn't fast-paced, though I did find myself glued to the pages. The writing is very compelling and I really needed to know what was going to happen next. There were quite a few twists and turns, each subtle yet still having an impact on what was going on. I loved this and it kept the suspense up the entire time. Peter Swanson is definitely a master at his craft and I cannot wait to see what he writes next!




About the author: Peter Swanson is the author of five novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Before She Knew Him. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science FictionThe Atlantic MonthlyMeasureThe GuardianThe Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. He lives outside of Boston, where he is at work on his next novel.

Author links:  Website  | Twitter  | Facebook  | Instagram 

Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #eightperfectmurders).



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