Sunday, September 20, 2020

Review: All Adults Here by Emma Straub (audio)


 

Title: All Adults Here
Author: Emma Straub
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Published: May 2020, Penguin Audio
Length: 11 hours 5 minutes
Source: ALC via Libro.fm

Summary:

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family--as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she'd been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid's youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid's thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.


 

My thoughts: This is the first time I've read anything by Emma Straub. I've seen her books around and this one just called to me - being from a big family, I love reading about books that tackle families and their issues and boy does this one do that.

This is definitely a character-driven novel and I had no problem with that. I tend to enjoy those every now and again, and loved that this one included such interesting, quirky characters. Family dynamics are always so intriguing to me and when you start to get into how relationships are forged between parents and their children, I am always gung-ho. I just felt that at times, this one was a little all-over the place. Rather than focusing on a few issues, this tried to cover too many at once therefore never really digging too deep into any one issue.

Overall, it was a good story, but not necessarily my favorite. It is very much a slowburn and takes a while to meander to the point.


Audio thoughts: Emily Rankin does the narration for this book and I thought she did a fantastic job. Her pacing and intonation were spot on and I thought she infused just the right amount of emotion into her voice as needed. Had I been reading the print version of this book, I might not have finished, but the audio kept me engaged, so kudos to Emily Rankin!

 

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Review: Her Last Mistake by Carla Kovach (audio)

 


 Title: Her Last Mistake
Author: Carla Kovach
Series: Detective Gina Harte, #6
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Published: May 2020, Hachette - UK, Bookouture
Length: 10 hours 38 minutes
Source: Personal copy

Summary:

Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.

People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.

Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.

When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.

There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.


An unputdownable crime thriller with an ending you will never see coming,
this is the latest gripping novel from bestselling author Carla Kovach. If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love Her Last Mistake.

 

My thoughts: This is the sixth book in the Detective Gina Harte series and I absolutely believe this series keeps getting better and better with each new installment! It's so addicting and compelling...I just love when I find these crime fiction/police procedural series with a strong female lead.

While this book can definitely be read as a stand-alone - something that I am finding most books in series can be done these days - I will say that I highly recommend reading the previous books first. There is quite a lot of backstory on the characters that I think is helpful in really understanding the characters more fully and some threads that deal with the character development are carried over from book to book.

This latest installment really tests Detective Gina Harte and her team, and we see it take a toll on Gina personally as she is determined to solve this case as fast as possible, even if that means no sleep. Of course, it doesn't help that she shouldn't even be working on this case as she was supposed to be on leave right now - this totally isn't helping matters with her daughter. 

I love how author Carla Kovach makes such a point to show how Detective Gina Harte has such an internal struggle balancing her work with her family. This is not the first time that her daughter has given her grief for putting work first, nor I'm sure will it be the last. And while Harte loves her job and her family equally, she has a hard time deciding at times which should be the priority, something I think everyone can relate to. I also love that there is still a strong bond between Harte and Briggs - with all that they shared in the previous book, I like that this is still being explored. There is definitely more here that needs to be resolved and I can't wait to see how it happens.

I really like this series. It's action-packed while still providing great character development that keeps you coming back for more. I somehow missed this one when it was released so the next one is already out and I cannot wait to start reading it soon! 


Audio thoughts: Because I  missed this one when it first came out, I decided to grab the audio version and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator, Alison Campbell, did a great job with the voices and her intonation and pacing were spot on. She infused just the right amount of emotion and tension into her voice as needed.

 

Books in this series:

  1. The Next Girl
  2. Her Final Hour
  3. Her Pretty Bones 
  4. The Liar's House
  5. Her Dark Heart 
  6. Her Last Mistake
  7. Their Silent Graves

 

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Review: A Mother's Secret by Tess Stimson


 
Title: A Mother's Secret
Author: Tess Stimson
Published: May 2020, Avon
Format: Papberback, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 

Of course you trust your family…
But should you?

When every mother’s worst nightmare becomes Maddie’s reality, her first instinct is to turn to those closest to her for support: her loving husband, her brilliant children, her caring mother.

But as the truth about what happened to her baby starts to emerge, Maddie realises she can’t trust anyone. Not even her family. Not even herself.

A Mother's Secret is a taut, twisting and unsettling story of loss and lies, perfect for readers of B.A. Paris and A.J. Finn.


My thoughts: Domestic thrillers have become one of my favorite sub-genres within the thriller genre and I feel that each one has it's own unique quality to it that sets it apart - at least the ones I've read so far. And this one from Tess Stimson, a new-to-me author definitely fits that bill.

This is a dark and quite disturbing domestic thriller, yet it was one that once I started reading it, I could not put down. I needed to know what was going on and how it would all play out. While I had my guesses, I totally did not see that end coming - and I loved that. When you read as many thrillers as I do, you tend to predict how things will play out and I'm so glad I didn't this time. 

I loved how the book was told. We are introduced to Maddie right away, and most of the story is told from her perspective but we are also introduced to Lydia, a young child that has the most horrific upbringing. I was so curious as to what the connection between the two characters was and could not read fast enough to find out.

This book has characters that you will love to hate (my favorite kind) and characters that you will be immediately suspicious of. Each character has their secrets and while some are eventually revealed, it doesn't make them look any less guilty. I immediately found myself rooting for Maddie as I felt she had no one in her corner.

This is such an addicting read, though at times, the subject matter can be a little tough to digest. I still recommend it as it was quite a thrilling read with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing all the way through.

 

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Blog Tour, Review & Excerpt: Village of the Lost Girls by Agustin Martinez

Today, I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the blog tour for Village of the Lost Girls by Agustin Martinez - I have review & an excerpt for you to read thanks to Mobius.
 



Title: Village of the Lost Girls
Author: Agustin Martinez
Published: September 2020, Mobius
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 

A breath-taking missing persons thriller set under the menacing peaks of the Pyrenees

Five years after their disappearance, the village of Monteperdido still mourns the loss of Ana and Lucia, two eleven-year-old friends who left school one afternoon and were never seen again. Now, Ana reappears unexpectedly inside a crashed car, wounded but alive.

The case reopens and a race against time begins to discover who was behind the girls' kidnapping. Most importantly, where is Lucia and is she still alive?

Inspector Sara Campos and her boss Santiago Bain, from Madrid's head office, are forced to work with the local police. Five years ago fatal mistakes were made in the investigation conducted after the girls first vanished, and this mustn't happen again. But Monteperdido has rules of its own.



My thoughts:  As soon as I was approached about being part of this blog tour, I knew I wanted to be...crime fiction is one of my favorite genres and I especially love when books are set in locales I am not familiar with. I haven't read too many books set in Spain, so I couldn't wait to dig in!

This is such an atmospheric thriller that totally kept me engaged right from the start. There is such a strong sense of place and the small-town feel is both strong and quite claustrophobic at times. It is a chilling and haunting tale that is full of secrets and complex characters, characters that you can't quite put your finger on because you aren't quite sure you can trust. I loved that the main inspector on the case, Inspector Sara Campos has her own personal issues - I love when we see this internal battle happening as it makes them so much more real and relatable to some extent. 

 I will say, this is not a very fast-paced thriller, but rather a deep-dive character study into the townsfolk of Monteperdido. It still centers around what happened to the two girls, but you really get a sense of who all the players in the town are and how they relate to the families of the girls, including the family members themselves. I really liked this approach, because you find out everything there is to know about who could possibly have been involved with the girls disappearance and it really gets you thinking.  

I found myself completely immersed in this book and even though it is more of a slower burn, I still couldn't turn the pages fast enough. There are just enough twists and turns to keep you engaged and I found I needed to know how things would turn out. I definitely recommend giving this book a chance...it's a good read.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Agustin Martinez was born in 1975 and studied audiovisual communications in Madrid. Today he is one of Spain’s most renowned screenwriters who has worked on some of the country’s most popular crime series. On a holiday trip with his family to the Pyrenees he overhead the locals talking about a case of a missing child—the idea for Village of the Lost Girls was born and has since been translated into many languages. This is his first novel.

 

Village of the Lost Girls
by Augstin Martinez
Mobius
 September 15th, 2020
  Hardcover ISBN: 9781786488428
Price: $26.99 US/$32.49 CAN
 

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 Excerpt:

 

MONTEPERDIDO SHOCKED 

BY DISAPPEARANCE OF TWO

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRLS

 

Eleven-year-olds Ana M. G. and Lucia C. S.  left Valle del Esera School at 5 pm last Monday, 19 October 2009, and set off to walk along their usual route to the neighbourhood of Los Corzos, on the outskirts of the village of Monteperdido, in the province of Huesca. Neither of the girls made it home.

"We are keenly aware that the first 48 hours of an investigation are crucial. We have not been able to do as much as we would have liked, but we will not rest until Ana and Lucia are safely home," said a police spokesperson, who denied that there had been any evidence of violence at the site where the girls were last seen, which could lead to fears for their safety.

The parents of the girls have not made a public statement, though a spokesperson for the families has said that they are shocked and deeply concerned. Since their daughters were very familiar with the route home, the parents have rejected suggestions that the girls might have become lost, but have no idea who might have taken them. They firmly hope that their daughters will soon be able to give them answers.

A VILLAGE IN SHOCK

Monteperdido is a well-known tourist spot, famed for its spectacular natural setting, ringed as it is by two national parks in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Pyrenees. Ana and Lucia are well known to local villagers. Both are excellent students and, being next-door neighbours, they are inseparable friends.

Although neighbours are doing everything possible to help with the search, there has been a growing impatience at the lack of any concrete results. No witnesses have come forward; it is as though the two girls vanished into thin air. The Guardia Civil has dispatched a number of officers that speicalize in abductions of minors to lead the investigation.

"We know that it is difficult, but we would ask that people be patient and respect the privacy of the families during this difficult time," said one of the recently assigned officers. "This is a distressing case, but one that we hope to resolve quickly. In order to do so, however, we need the support of the people in the Monteperdido area, and of the media."

"Of course we want to believe that the girls are safe and well. We're clinging to that hope; it's what is keeping us going," confessed someone close to the two girls. It is a hope shared by everyone in Monteperdido.

 

Excerpted from Village of the Lost Girls by Agustin Martinez, Copyright © 2020 by Agustin Martinez
Published by Mobius
 
 

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Review: The Vacation by T.M. Logan

Title: The Vacation
Author: T.M. Logan
Published: July 2020, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 374 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday - a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs - to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . .

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.



My thoughts: This is the third book I've read by T.M. Logan and I have to say, his books are downright addicting.  They are type of book that keeps you fully engaged, frantically flipping the pages, trying to piece together what is happening. This latest book is much the same and I absolutely love it!

I loved that every single time I thought I had things figured out in this book, something else would come to light to change my thinking. This book really kept me on my toes and I love books like that. It's one of those books where at some point, you just stop trying to figure things out and just go with the flow, enjoying what comes and stop playing sleuth. 

I loved that the short chapters really keep you reading, giving you that mentality of just one more chapter. The lies and secrets keep you hooked and the setting is just ideal - oh how I would give anything right now to be able to take such an exotic vacation! Someday again we'll be able to travel, but for now, books are my escape and this one was pure heaven, even with the murder!

This domestic drama is full of suspense and tension and I loved that we heard from multiple perspectives. This allows us to really get a better understanding of all the characters, who have such interesting dynamics. Each one seems more troubled and complex than the next.

I highly recommend this book and if you haven't read any of his others books, I suggest adding them to your reading list as well! I know when I pick up a T.M. Logan book, I am in for some thrilling, binge-worthy reading and right now, don't we all need that?


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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Review: Spring Girls by Karen Katchur (audio)


Title: Spring Girls
Author: Karen Katchur
Series: Northampton County, #3
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo
Published: June 2020, Brilliance Audio
Length: 9 hours 45 minutes
Source: Publisher

Summary:
She’s the only one who survived…and the only one who can help find the killer.Another spring, another dead girl pulled from a lake in the Appalachian foothills: the latest victim in a series of murders with few leads. But Detective Geena Brassard and her partner, Parker Reed, finally land a break when they receive a tip about a previously unknown survivor of the so-called Spring Strangler.

The survivor’s reluctant to help with the case for reasons that aren’t all clear. Even so, Geena uncovers a connective thread between the victims, and recently discovered DNA brings her closer to the killer’s identity. But Geena knows the survivor has the most to offer the investigation—if also the most to lose.

Geena is torn between securing the surviving victim’s help and protecting her from further danger. One thing is certain: Geena and Parker must find answers before the killer claims another life—or returns to finish off the one who got away.


My thoughts: This is the third book in Karen Katchur's Northampton County series and it's a series I am really enjoying. As much as I've liked the previous two books, I think this might be the best one so far!

This book pulls you in right from the start and keeps you engaged all the way through. It is told from multiple view points and I loved how all this comes together - it might not make sense at first, but that just made me more intrigued as to where it was all heading. 

I love Detective Geena Brassard and her quirky memory. It serves her well and her perseverance makes her such a great detective. When it comes out that her previous partner knew who the survivor was, she was unwilling to let it go. This doesn't sit well the some, but Geena knows this is the only way they will get to the bottom of the case.

I loved how we were pulled right into this case. I felt the frustrations that these detectives had as they worked the case, feeling like they were getting no where when the survivor wouldn't give them much to work with. The tension rises as things escalate and it keeps you flipping the pages until the conclusion.

I really enjoy this series and while each case is separate, I highly recommend reading the entire series. Each one utilizes nature and one particular season extremely well, the atmosphere clearly coming through very effectively. I think it is the perfect balance of police procedural and psychological suspense. I cannot wait to see what the next case brings!


Audio thoughts: I listened to this book and it was done so well! Lauren Ezzo, one of my favorite narrators, did a fantastic job with this audio book. She gave each character their own unique voice and personality and really made this book come alive. The pacing is spot on and she used just the right amount of tension and emotion in her voice as needed. Great audio!


Books in this series:
  1. River Bodies
  2. Cold Bones 
  3. Spring Girls

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker


 
Title: Don't Look for Me
Author: Wendy Walker
Published: September 2020, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher via Publicist

Summary: 
In Wendy Walker's thrilling novel Don't Look for Me, the greatest risk isn’t running away. It’s running out of time.

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.

She doesn't want to be found.

Or at least, that's the story.

The car abandoned miles from home.

The note found at a nearby hotel.

The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.

They called it a “walk away.”

It happens all the time.

Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.

But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?



My thoughts: I have long been a fan of Wendy Walker's books, ever since reading All Is Not Forgotten. She has such a way of telling a story that just pulls you in. I was completely captivated with this story - a most basic premise that was turned upside down in only the way Wendy Walker can do!

I read this book in just one afternoon - once I started reading it, I could not put it down! It was that addicting and I was completely entranced with what was happening. This story has everything I love in a psychological thriller - it's suspenseful, it's gripping, it kept me guessing and had me on the edge of my seat. I didn't even want to get up to get a drink or go to the bathroom, I was that involved in this book. 

I don't even know how to put into words my thoughts about this book without giving away too much - and believe me when I say, you don't want anything to be given away about this book! You want to experience it for all that it is. I can say that it is twisty and disturbing at times, but it is so thought provoking, too. And the characters - oh my word! Each one had their own secrets, which made them suspicious right off the bat. 

I loved how creepy and sinister this book is. The pacing is pitch perfect and like I said, I could not turn those pages fast enough - and I loved that each chapter ends with little cliff-hangers, that just beg you to keep reading! This book will have your heart pounding and leave you gasping for breath time and time again.

This book will have you wanting to go back and reread it as soon as you finish the book to see if you missed any clues along the way...at least it did for me. How everything came to together at the end was pure brilliance. I thought I had it worked out but I wasn't even close! I cannot recommend this book enough. This will absolutely be on my list of top thrillers and I will be recommending it to everyone!


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Monday, September 14, 2020

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Last month, Lee Matthew Goldberg's latest book, THE ANCESTOR was published. I'm so happy to be participating in the blog tour for this book and am excited to be able to host a giveaway for this book. Read my review and see below for details on the giveaway!!!


Title: The Ancestor
Author:  Lee Matthew Goldberg
Published: August 2020, All Due Respect
Format: ARC Paperback, 348 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary:  

A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s.

After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future.

The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…



My thoughts: I have to say, this book was a little out of my comfort zone, yet I was totally intrigued by the premise. The cover absolutely pulled me in and I found that while time travel is not my typical type of read, I actually enjoyed this one. 

I love books set in Alaska and Lee Matthew Goldberg definitely knows how to set the scene, making you feel like you are right there in the cold along with his characters. I got such a strong sense of place while reading this and that always adds such an unique layer to the story. As for the time travel part, this really amped up the thriller/suspense part of the book because I had no idea where it was heading. Combining family saga with the time travel, but adding in family drama, greed, small town life, acceptance and a slew of other issues, this book really kept my interest and I found that I kept coming up with ideas as to where I thought things might end up only to fall short every time. But that's okay because this book really kept me thinking and I loved that! 

While I didn't love all the characters, I loved that they were all realistic. I loved the relationships and how they were portrayed. Ever so slowly the layers were peeled back to reveal just who Wyatt was both to us the reader and to Travis, and while I sometimes wished this happened a bit quicker, in the end, I think the timing was just right.

This book really took me by surprise and I'm so glad I agreed to read it. The writing is perfectly matched for the frozen Alaskan landscape - crisp and stark. It doesn't get overly wordly and is at times quite gritty, but it matches the story it tells and works quite well. This is the first book I've read by this author and I definitely want to check out his other books, especially if they are anything like this.




About the author: Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of THE DESIRE CARD, SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR from St. Martin’s Press. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second novel in The Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming. THE ANCESTOR will be out from All Due Respect books in 2020 along with a reissue of his debut novel. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City.


Author links:  Website  | Twitter  | Facebook  | Instagram 

Purchase Links:    Amazon | Down & Out Books

 

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

 

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Giveaway Details -- (US  only) Thanks to the publisher, one reader will win a copy of The Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett


 
Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Published: June 2020, Riverhead Books
Format: Hardcover, 343 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
From the New York Times -bestselling author of The Mothers , a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Brit Bennett and I know without a doubt it will not be the last. I read this as a buddy read and am so glad I had the opportunity to discuss it afterwards. There is so much to talk about here.

This book is such a thought-provoking, powerful read that takes a look at race and other important topics. Talk about a timely read. It took me out of my comfort zone for sure, but that is such a good thing every now and again. That is why I read - to learn, to find out new things, even when I read fiction. I read to experience things that I might not experience in my own life and that is exactly the experience I got with this book.

This book is about family and I love books that center on family, so right away, I was pulled in. Brit Bennett creates these characters, these two sisters that you immediately become invested in. I had never heard of the term "passing" before, but that is what one twin does, while the other continues to live as a Black woman. This book took me through a roller coaster of emotions and also challenged me. It had me pausing to really think about things that were occurring in this book, things I might not have thought twice about before.

I know that this is a book I will definitely be reading again. I have already purchased Brit Bennett's book, The Mothers, and cannot wait to read that one, and know that I will be keeping an eye out for whatever else this talented author writes.


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Friday, September 11, 2020

Review: Chaos by Iris Johansen



Title: Chaos
Author: Iris Johansen
Published: September 2020, Grand Central Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
The #1 New York Times bestselling author introduces CIA agent Alisa Flynn, who is willing to go rogue if it means catching the most heartless band of criminals she's ever encountered.

When CIA agent Alisa Flynn flaunts the rules by breaking into a mansion in the middle of the night, she skillfully circumvents alarms and outwits guards only to find herself standing in billionaire Gabe Korgan's study . . . busted by Korgan himself. This could cost her her job unless, in a split second, she can turn the tables and try to convince him to join her on the most important mission of her life.

In a ripped-from-the-headlines plot, schoolgirls in Africa have been kidnapped, and Alisa knows that Korgan has the courage, financial means, and high-tech weaponry to help rescue them. With so many innocent lives hanging in the balance, what she doesn't reveal is that one of those schoolgirls is like a little sister to her. But when the truth gets out, the stakes grow even higher.

Calling in additional assistance from renowned horse whisperer Margaret Douglas, Alisa and Gabe lay their plans, only to see them descend into chaos as the line between right and wrong wavers before them like a mirage. Every path is strewn with pitfalls, each likely to get them -- or the hostages -- killed. But with the help of a brave team and a horse with the heart of a warrior, they might just get out of this alive.



My thoughts: I have been reading Iris Johansen's books for what seems like forever now, ever since picking up a copy of The Killing Game at a friend's house. Since then, I became hooked on the Eve Duncan series, my all-time favorite, and have even read all the spin-off series she has created from that one. And now she is back with a brand new protagonist that might just be the start of a new series, if we are so lucky!

Iris Johansen has such a knack for giving us such unique, addicting thrillers that have non-stop action, are full of strong characters, and lately tend to have bits of paranormal that hint towards the psychic side. All this combines for such a thrilling reading experience and I find that with each book, I am in awe of how everything comes together at the end.

It's been a while since Iris Johansen has given us a new character. Usually, we are introduced to a character in one of her books but here it seems it's starting on it's own, not that I'm complaining at all! Though, if you've read all her other books, like I have, you might see a few familiar faces - Margaret Douglas and Jed Novak.  But not to worry if you haven't. This book is a stand-alone as it stands now, though I am really hoping it is the start of a new series!

What I love about Iris Johansen's writing is that she has an incredible talent for creating strong, fierce female characters. Here we have two incredibly strong female characters - Alisa and Sasha. Both these characters are strong-willed and fierce, willing to do whatever it takes to protect their own. Sasha, a student at an elite boarding school that is attacked for their horses, also happens to be able to connect with the horses - a horse whisperer if you will. Alisa, a CIA agent, is the responsible adult in Sasha's life and willing to do anything to get her away from the men who took her and the other students as well as the horses.

Iris Johansen creates such dynamic characters. Her good guys are such good guys - Gabe Korgan is literally a knight in shining armor here time and again - and her bad guys are awful, despicable men that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. When they finally get caught, you can't help but cheer. 

This book is full of nonstop action from start to finish. In a case ripped from the headlines, the tension mounts as Alisa and Korgan work together to try to save Sasha and the horses before it's too late. Yes, there are a few times when you might have to suspend belief - with Sasha's talent - but if you are a true Iris Johansen fan, than that is just par for the course by now. And of course, let's not forget the unbelievable chemistry that develops between Alisa and Korgan.

I am a huge Iris Johansen fan, but I think this might be her best book yet. And I so hope this book turns into the start of a series. I definitely want more Alisa and Korgan!

 
 

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