The Other Girl

The Other Girl
The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

Jane Doe

Jane Doe
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler-Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

From the New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler comes The Other Girl, a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.

A horrific crime. One witness—a fifteen year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, one known for lying and her own brushes with the law.
Is it any surprise no one believed her?


Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community.

When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealedexcept for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist.

Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop—the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:

The Other GirlThe Other Girl by Erica Spindler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Quick and uncomplicated novel of suspense-

When a popular college professor, who also happens to be the son of a prominent citizen, is found brutally murdered, small town cop Miranda, (Randi), Rader’s hard- earned road to success takes an abrupt turn.

For starters, the case brings back disturbing memories of a harrowing night, years ago, when Randi was abducted, but made a narrow escape. As she and her partner, Jake, begin investigating the murder, they uncover some unsettling information about the victim. But the powers that be aren’t interested in hearing it. As a matter of fact, it looks as if someone is trying to set Randi up- framing her for the murder…. But why?

Back in the 90s, I read my share of books by Erica Spindler. Unfortunately, I lost track of her for a time. But, over the past couple of years I have added a few of her newer books to my reading list. Unfortunately, they always slipped down the list before I had a chance to reacquaint myself with her books.

However, over the Christmas holidays, I decided to take a break from ARCs and chip away at my ridiculous TBR pile. This book has been sitting on my Kindle for close to two years, so I plucked it from the middle of the heap with eager anticipation. It was just the right book, at the right time for me, as it turned out.

The plot isn’t all that deep, and is quite transparent, to boot. But the atmosphere is creepy, and the twists are effective, despite my having guessed whodunit, and why, well in advance.

In some ways the style of this book is a bit nostalgic to me. The format is very similar to all those romantic suspense novels I gobbled up back in the day. The romance is not the prominent thread in the book, but it is a part of the story, so I think it counts as romantic suspense, although I'm sure it was marketed as a psychological thriller.

Despite some imperfections, I enjoyed this book and fervently wish romantic suspense would return to this format again someday. It used to be one of my favorite genres, and I really do miss it!!


GRAB A COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Other-Girl-Novel-Erica-Spindler-ebook/dp/B01MRBH6A5/

https://www.amazon.com/The-Other-Girl-A-Novel/dp/B072HTT3Z8/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-other-girl-erica-spindler/1124362518


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A New York Times and International bestselling author, Erica Spindler's skill for crafting engrossing plots and compelling characters has earned both critical praise and legions of fans. Her stories have been lauded as “thrill-packed page turners, white- knuckle rides and edge-of-your-seat whodunits.”

Erica loves meeting and interacting with her fans, both in person and online. She has a wicked sense of humor, an optimistic spirit and loves coffee, chocolate and red wine, not necessarily in that order.

In 2002 her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels Forbidden Fruit and Dead Run and was a four-time RITA® Award finalist. In 1999 Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.

Erica lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and two sons.

Friday, January 24, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Impersonator by Mary Miley- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family's vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he's found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he's wrong. Orphaned young, Leah's been acting since she was a toddler.

Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she's let go from her job, Oliver's offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There's only one problem: Leah's act won't fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie's disappearance.

Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.



READ AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:


The Impersonator (Roaring Twenties Mystery, #1)The Impersonator by Mary Miley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a 2013 Minotaur publication.

The roaring twenties, vaudeville, and a puzzling mystery – a winning combination!

When, Leah, a Vaudeville performer, is approached by a gentleman, who introduces himself as her ‘Uncle Oliver’, and swears she is the spitting image of his niece, Jessie Carr, she blows him off, thinking he’s a creep.

But he persists in his pursuit, finally revealing that dear Jessie disappeared when she was fourteen years old, and that if she doesn’t show up to claim her generous inheritance soon, it will be forfeited. Leah, as an actress, could impersonate Jessie and secure the fortune, which she and Oliver would share. Initially. Leah refuses the offer, but shortly thereafter, she finds herself down on her luck and in dire straits. Desperate, Leah contacts Oliver and agrees to play the part.

However, once she arrives at Cliff House, she begins to think the real Jessie might have met with foul play. Not only that, her cousins, who stand to lose a fortune, have promised to prove she’s a fake. With the deaths of two other girls nearby, Leah begins to think the cases are connected to Jessie somehow. She must also keep her wits about her and avoid making any grave errors until the estate signs over the inheritance.

Is Jessie still out there somewhere, or has something terrible happened to her? Will Leah manage to pull off the performance of a lifetime, or will she be exposed and arrested for fraud… or worse?

This book has been sitting on my Kindle for at least six years!! I’ve been looking through my device recently, trying to read a few books that slid down the TBR list and off my radar over the years. This book stuck out because I’ve been dying to read more historical fiction lately, but all the new releases tend to follow a current trend and there are few choices beyond that right now. However, that unfortunate situation did force me to look through my older titles for something to satisfy my craving, and as a result, I have found some real gems- this being one of them!

The 1920s is one of my favorite historical settings, and the Vaudeville theme also sounded intriguing. To put the cherry on the cake, there’s a mystery to solve- a cold case, at that!

The plot is not totally original, as there have been other books, and even real -life cases in which someone claimed to be a long lost relative to gain access to a title, power or wealth. However, the author did a great job of making the story uniquely hers, especially when it came to characterizations. Leah is a great heroine, full of spunk and enthusiasm and one couldn’t help but root for her.

While the culprit is rather obvious, there are several nice twists and surprises along the way, and I loved the way the story ended.

As I suspected, this book was a good fit for me. Why I didn’t get around to reading it ages ago, I’m not sure. But, better late than never! But the best news is that there are at least three other books in this series! I can’t wait to see what Leah will get up to next!


GRAB YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Impersonator-Mystery-Roaring-Twenties-Book-ebook/dp/B00CQY9EJG/

https://www.amazon.com/The-Impersonator/dp/B00F3IBUVM/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-impersonator-mary-miley/1130724376

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



I'm an Army brat who has lived in Virginia most of my adult life. I received my BA and MA in history from the College of William and Mary and taught American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirteen years. I am the author of almost 200 magazine articles, most on history, travel, and business topics, and of ten nonfiction books. For fun, I write mysteries set in the Roaring Twenties.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

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

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

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

Just as he did to her.
 

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:

Jane Doe (Jane Doe, #1)Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone is a 2018 Lake Union Press publication.

A dark, delectable tale of revenge!

Jane has put her high-powered career on hold in order to insinuate herself into the life of a control -freak- religious zealot named Steven.

Jane, one of the most likeable sociopaths you are apt to meet, proceeds to lure Steven into her web, pretending to be a needy, docile woman who is so insecure she will behave just the way her new boyfriend orders her to.

The question is: Why is Jane trying to ensnare Steven into her cleverly laid trap? Will her mission succeed or will Steven turn the tables on her?

I loved this book! Jane is hilarious and had me laughing out loud as she toyed with her prey and gave us access to her dry wit and inner thoughts. Sociopath or not, Jane is assuredly more of loyal friend than most. I had to hand it to her. She’s a smart, clever anti-hero and could easily become one of my favorite characters!

I promise, this is a devilishly fun thriller with an ingenious plot and absolutely pitch perfect pacing! If you like Dexter- you are going to love Jane Doe!

4.5 stars

*Interesting aside- Romance readers who enjoy Victoria Dahl’s books will enjoy getting a glimpse of her dark alter-ego here.

View all my reviews


GRAB A COPY:

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Doe-Victoria-Helen-Stone-ebook/dp/B076V125RV/

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Doe-A-Novel/dp/B07DKMMD8J/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jane-doe-victoria-helen-stone/1127492352


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 





Victoria Helen Stone is the nom de plume for USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl. After publishing more than twenty-five novels, she is now taking a turn toward the darker side of genre fiction. Born and educated in the Midwest, she finished her first manuscript just after college. In 2016, the American Library Association awarded her the prestigious Reading List Award for outstanding genre fiction. Having escaped the plains of her youth, she now resides with her family in a small town high in the Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and not skiing (too dangerous).

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis - Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Wildstone with the touching story of finding your place in the world—and the people who make it home.

Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblingswell, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herselfand Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun.



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:



Almost Just Friends (Wildstone, #4)Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis is a 2020 William Morrow publication.

A wonderful feel good story full of inspiration, hope and laughter!

Piper is an oak. She had to grow up fast and put her own hopes and dreams aside to raise her two siblings. Not only did she put her life on hold until everyone else was taken care of, she also tucked away her feelings and never gave herself time to grieve her parent's deaths.

However, now that her siblings are living their own lives, Piper is finally able to work on realizing her own dreams. All she needs to do is to renovate the Lake House she inherited, and then sell it….

Meanwhile, Piper reluctantly agrees to a birthday celebration, where she meets Camden Reid. When a storm moves in, the couple gets to know each other a whole lot better. As it turns out, Piper and Cam know some of the same people, and both have a lot of pent of grief to work though.

Cam’s feelings are still raw, while Piper’s are deeply buried. Recognizing in one another the pain they are both living with, Piper and Cam forge a cathartic, yet tentative friendship- a friendship that sometimes leads to kissing.

Meanwhile, all of Piper’s plans for her own future could come crashing down when both of her siblings return home, harboring a few stunning secrets. Will Piper ever get the chance to achieve her own dreams? Can she manage to let go, accept help, and share her feelings? Could Cam and her siblings hold the key that will unlock the door to the new life she’s been dreaming of?

Shalvis has this stuff down to a science. This is another stellar contemporary tale about family, life and love.

The characters in the story are flawed, but each of them grabs the opportunity to give and take, let go, accept, and grow as individuals, while making room for a little romance, too, of course. I loved the way the story flowed, and how the momentum took the reader on a realistic journey that leads to a sweet, very inspirational finish.

Things may not always go as we planned them, but sometimes there’s a silver lining. Sometimes people need help seeing it, or maybe we need a little help finding it ourselves. But, at the end of the day, these characters really came through, leaving my heart feeling full and happy.


GRAB A COPY HERE:


https://www.amazon.com/Almost-Just-Friends-Jill-Shalvis-ebook/dp/B07QWLDDL9/

https://www.amazon.com/Almost-Just-Friends-A-Novel/dp/B07TD9L4MY/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/almost-just-friends-jill-shalvis/1131171716


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill's ALMOST JUST FRIENDS and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold. Visit http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and fun blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter....

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:


Her One MistakeHer One Mistake by Heidi Perks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks is a 2019 Gallery Books publication.

Exceedingly good psychological thriller!

Charlotte has taken her children, along with her friend Harriet’s young daughter, Alice, to the park. While the children are playing, she looks down at her phone, checks on her social media, then looks back up to find that Alice is missing. Frantically, she searches for her friend's daughter- but to no avail. Instantly, the popular Charlotte loses her standing in the community, having lost a child entrusted to her care, while Harriet’s husband, Brian, outright blames Charlotte for his daughter’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Harriet is living a double nightmare. Her child is gone, and her marriage and state of mind is more fragile than ever.

While Charlotte is the last person Harriet wants to see or talk to, she may the only one who can help Harriet get her daughter back.

After taking a year off from reading psychological thrillers, with just a few select exceptions, I decided to go back and look through the mountain of books I had listed in this genre and pick out a few I thought might be worth taking a second look at. This book sounded a little different, so I plucked it out the massive pile, and I’m so glad I did!!

This story is very suspenseful, told in a dual narrative format, giving the reader a chance to hear the story from both Harriet and Charlotte’s perspectives. Naturally, one must decipher if the narrators can be trusted or not.

The suspense builds slowly, as a picture begins to develop that is startling and disturbing. Looking back on it, I see areas where I should have questioned things, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The twists are well-timed, but quiet, subtle, clever and understated, which was very effective.

But, for me it was the fallout that really gave me pause. I can’t say too much, but I’m still mulling everything over in my mind. I must say that for a psychological thriller, this is really a thought-provoking story. There was a lot to digest but, overall, as controversial as the conclusion may be, it does pack a punch. The path forward still left me with a feeling of unease, but also with a sense of fragile peace and hope.

Overall, if you are looking for a well-executed and unsettling psychological thriller, give this one a try.

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Her-One-Mistake-Heidi-Perks-ebook/dp/B07GNVJG5F/


https://www.amazon.com/Her-One-Mistake/dp/B07FYRSYY5/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-one-mistake-heidi-perks/1128864421



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.
Heidi is now writing her second novel

Friday, January 17, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Watching Edie by Camilla Way- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:


Watching EdieWatching Edie by Camilla Way
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Watching Edie by Camilla Way is a 2016 Berkley publication.

A psychological thriller done right!

The past few months have been very hectic in my household- so I’ve been either catching up on my holiday books before the season is over, or going through my TBR pile and pulling out a few books that have slipped down the list so that I can read them at my leisure, instead of being on a deadline.

I remember when this book was making the rounds on Goodreads, I was very intrigued, but the wait time at the library was so long, I decided to try back later. Three years later, I still had a short wait, but I must say it was well worth it.

Edie’s life hasn’t turned out quite as planned. The once popular girl, now finds herself pregnant, living alone, with very little emotional support. Then out of the clear blue sky, Heather, an old friend from her school days, one she would rather not ever see again, pops up at her door, just when Edie is at her most vulnerable.

From there, the reader is taken back and forth through time as Heather and Edie’s relationship developed, keeping one on edge, wondering just what monumental thing came between them all those years ago, and worried about what will happen now that Heather has wormed her way back into Edie’s life.

Heather is obviously a bit obsessed with Edie. While at times she seems to be a great, supportive friend, the reader senses something is off about Heather. Does she mean to do Edie harm? Is the baby in danger? Is she out for revenge, or is she just a lonely woman who needs a friend?

This is a stellar novel of suspense! The author did a fantastic job at creating a taut, sinister, creepy atmosphere, while building the tension at such an excruciating pace, I was sitting on the edge of seat from start to finish.

Yet, I never fully guessed the direction the story would take me, until the shocking conclusion.

This is the way a good psychological thriller should progress, in my opinion. There were no over the top twists tossed in for mere shock value. The story is smart, tense, and emotional. There are a few very important topics addressed and I found the story had a lingering effect on me.

Overall, if you are still a bit wary of psychological thrillers, unable to decipher the good ones from the many sub par offerings in an overcrowded genre, I think this one is a very safe bet. I’m going to press the ‘recommend’ button for this one.



GRAB A COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Watching-Edie-Camilla-Way-ebook/dp/B01839Q5MG/

https://www.amazon.com/Watching-Edie/dp/B01HTXWNSC/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/watching-edie-camilla-way/1122958542



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Camilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London, and studied Modern English and French Literature at the University of Glamorgan. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls' magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men's style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- American Predator- by Maureen Callahan- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Alaska PD.

Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried 'kill kits' - cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools - in remote locations across the country, and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years - uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake - many of which remain unsolved to this day.

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement, and in Keyes' life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America's most isolated environments - Alaska - when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:







MY REVIEW:


American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st CenturyAmerican Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan is a Viking publication.

When I first noticed this book, the crime didn’t ring any bells for me. As the blurb stated most of us had never heard of Israel Keyes. As far I knew, this was a true crime story I had heard nothing about. But, after reading several positive reviews from my Goodreads peers, my curiosity was piqued, so I added it to the pile.

The book opens in Alaska, with a harrowing scene, in which a teenage girl is kidnapped, her fate obviously precarious. The girl’s father immediately swings into action, collecting reward money for any information about his daughter. However, some of his actions raised a few eyebrows and he quickly became law enforcement's first person of interest.

Meanwhile, Israel Keyes, was moving far, far away from Alaska. Eventually he was pulled over by the cops in Texas, leading to his arrest for murder. It would soon come to light that Israel Keyes had a long history of rape and murder-possibly dating back as far as 1996.

Callahan follows the investigation from Alaska to Texas and back again. Readers get to see what challenges law enforcement faced, including jockeying for position, jurisdiction issues, and politics.

Not only that, judging from the intense interrogations, the investigation was far from pretty. It was a very complex and complicated situation, to be sure. Despite that, the monster was caught- although it was mostly pure luck.

The story was definitely absorbing, and Keyes’ background was truly shocking. But, as the manhunt transitioned to Texas, I was stunned to learn that Keyes had planned his crime so carefully, he had even created a cunning escape route through Texas well in advance. Not only that, one of the spots on this journey through Texas just happened to be in the town I reside in. What? For the life of me, I could not recall hearing anything about this. So, I quickly did a Google search and sure enough, back in 2012 Keyes passed through my little town.

Not only that, he made a pit stop at a state park about thirty miles away, where he had nearly chosen his next victim. The woman was walking a large dog and Keyes ultimately decided that disposing of both a dead body and a large dead dog was too much of a hassle.

In my defense, this did happen eight years ago, and I’ve slept since then. However, now I do vaguely remember hearing about a serial killer marking out our town on a map while planning his escape route. While we may have been spared any of Keyes’ evil doings, investigators are positive that Keyes probably did take someone while he was in Texas.

I guess you never know how close to true evil we are at any given time.

But- I digress-

Overall, this is a spine-tingling true crime saga. Although Keyes never became a household name like other serial killers of his caliber, he was every bit as chilling and terrifying. The man was an enigma, a kind of hybrid serial killer, who failed to fit into a neat profile. He was cunning and as the title states- meticulous! Truly the stuff nightmares are made of!

True Crime enthusiasts will not want to miss this one!

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/American-Predator-Meticulous-Serial-Century-ebook/dp/B07L2GMT7J/

https://www.amazon.com/American-Predator-Meticulous-Serial-Century/dp/B07T85TN78/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/american-predator-maureen-callahan/1129963484



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Maureen Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning investigative journalist, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is Critic-at-Large. She lives in New York. Visit her at maureencallahan.net.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.
 



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:









MY REVIEW:


The Myth of Perpetual SummerThe Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall is a 2018 Gallery Books publication.

Heart wrenching southern style coming of age tale, bracketed into a touching story of eventual hope!

Mississippi during the 60s and 70s is boiling pot of tension and scrutiny. It’s the perfect backdrop for this coming of age story centered around Tallulah James and her dysfunctional southern family.

Tallulah copes as best she can in a house full of secrets and miseries. Her father exhibits the hallmark symptoms of mental illness in a time when it was something people didn’t understand or discuss. Her mother has little regard for parenthood, which leaves Tallulah, her brother, Griff, and younger twin siblings under their grandmother’s supervision most of the time.

Her grandmother’s overwhelming emphasis on propriety is overbearing, and her parent’s constant arguments and failings, leaves Tallulah desperate to escape Mississippi. Eventually, circumstances force her hand, propelling her to leave home and start a new life for herself. But several years later, a horrendous family situation sends Tallulah racing back home, back into her grandmother’s life, where she also reconnects with her old friend, Ross.

As memories from the past collide with the present, the family is finally forced to face the buried truths that have burdened them for far too long, paving the way for long overdue understanding, forgiveness, redemption, and healing.

I have been trying to work this book into my reading schedule for over a year and a half. It was supposed to be a summertime beach read for me, but I’m glad I ended up reading the book now, instead. It’s been a cold, dreary week, (proving there is no perpetual summer in Texas either, contrary to popular belief), and this book pulled me away from my present time and place, sucking me into a good old- fashioned southern family drama.

This story is absorbing, and so heartbreakingly sad. My heart ached for these children who longed for paternal love and guidance, but all too often had to be the adults in the family. Dark, buried secrets, is the foundation upon which lies, and scandals and whispers are built around the family, and Tallulah bears the brunt of something she doesn’t fully understand, as a teenage girl.

While the simmering Mississippi climate creates a haunting and taut atmosphere, the emotions run long and deep, building and cloying, desperate for a release. The dam will finally burst, and the relief is palpable and immediate. While the aftermath still leaves some uncertainty to contend with, overall, the predominant feeling is one of hope and new beginnings.

This is a terrific drama, which addresses a host of family issues, but with an emphasis on mental illness. The time frame reveals how once taboo topics are finally becoming less stigmatized and better understood.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ross is THE show stealer! He is the most satisfying character in the book, all the way around. His unconditional love, patience, kindness, and loyalty are a much- needed balm. However, I also thought his own bit of family rebelliousness, which resulted in a most fitting career choice, was wonderfully ironic.

Although this book was marketed as a summer beach read, the weightiness is balanced enough to make it a great year -round choice. If you enjoy family sagas, historical fiction, or coming of age stories- this book is one you might want to consider!

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Perpetual-Summer-Susan-Crandall-ebook/dp/B075RT5P7T/

https://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-of-Perpetual-Summer/dp/B07BDJGNF4/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-myth-of-perpetual-summer-susan-crandall/1127208715



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Alas, the rumor is true, Susan was a dental hygienist in her previous career. However, she "retired" from that profession many years ago and has been a full-time author ever since--thanks to all of you fabulous readers.

Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay.

She's received a RITA, two National Reader's Choice Awards and a SIBA Award for Fiction. Her books include an Indie Next Pick, Okra Picks, a Target Book Club pick, and are popular with book clubs.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Are you Sleeping? ( Truth be Told) by Kathleen Barber- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie...is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.
 



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:







Are You SleepingAre You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you Sleeping (Truth be Told) by Kathleen Barber is a 2017 Gallery Books publication.

Highly suspenseful psychological thriller!

I received a newsletter/ email from one of the many book related sites I subscribe to, I can’t remember which one- but they highly recommended a book called ‘Truth be Told’ which will soon be adapted into a miniseries for Apple TV. When I went to Goodreads to see how well the book was received, I didn’t find it right away. A little digging revealed the book was originally published under a different title- “Are you Sleeping”

As it turns out, I already had this book on my Kindle, but as so often happens, it slid down on my TBR list a long while back. So, I pulled it up, intending to only sample a few chapters, and before I knew it, I was halfway through it.

True Crime Podcasts are all the rage, and have been instrumental in helping solve cold cases, or in casting doubt on the guilt of a prime suspect or the person currently serving time for a crime they may not have committed. As such, the premise of this book is timely, capitalizing on a very hot trend.

In this case, ruthless crime reporter, Poppy Parnell, the host of a true crime podcast, begins poking around in the murder investigation of one Charles Buhrman. When Poppy challenges the eyewitness accounts, going so far as to suggest the man sent to prison for the murder might, in fact, be innocent, the podcast goes viral almost immediately. Everyone is talking about it.

But for Charles’ daughter, Josie- the podcast becomes her worst nightmare. After her father’s death, she left home, changed her name and started a new life. Now with the popularity of Poppy’s podcast, hurling the lurid details of her father’s murder into the public’s consciousness again, her hard won battle for privacy is skating on thin ice.

Then she gets a phone call explaining that her estranged mother, who had joined a cult after her husband was killed, has died, forcing Josie to return home and face the past she has been running from for over a decade…

As much as she is loath to think about her messy family situation and the awful events surrounding her father’s murder, deep down Josie is worried Poppy might be right. What really happened the night Charles Buhrman was murdered? Could there have been a mistake? Is the wrong man in prison? Is the real killer still out there?

The tension in this book is thick- not just from the mystery surrounding the murder, but from all the family drama and the prickly situation Josie finds herself in with her fiancĂ©, who knew nothing of her past. I’m always a sucker for deep dark family secrets and betrayals, and stunning revelations. On top of that, cold case mysteries are one of my favorite crime tropes, which explains why I was so easily pulled into this drama.

As engrossing as the story was, it was probably impossible to fully prevent one from developing a strong suspicion about the ultimate big reveal. I guessed it in advance, but the author left me twisting in the wind almost to the bitter end before finally letting all the missing pieces to click into place.

Normally, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but in this case, the author waited a bit too long to lock in the final puzzle piece, which under the circumstances, was anticlimactic, and a little too convenient, as well.

However, I still enjoyed the story. It was a fast read- in a good way- and was very absorbing and atmospheric.

Overall, this is an impressive debut novel and I think Kathleen Barber is an author we’ll want to keep our eyes on.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Are-You-Sleeping-A-Novel/dp/B072BXQG34/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Are-You-Sleeping-Kathleen-Barber-ebook/dp/B01HMXRURS/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/truth-be-told-kathleen-barber/1132198702



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kathleen Barber's first novel ARE YOU SLEEPING is being adapted for television by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine. Kathleen was raised in Galesburg, Illinois, and is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and son. FOLLOW ME is her second novel.

Monday, January 13, 2020

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENTS: Bowie's Bookshelf by John O'Connell- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Part epic reading guide and part biography of a music legend, Bowie’s Bookshelf is a collection of mini-essays exploring David Bowie’s list of 100 favorite books in the context of the artist’s life and work.

Imagine a beloved friend sharing their favorite books with you—the ones that shaped them, made them who they are, and inspired them to achieve their dreams. Now imagine that friend is David Bowie.

Three years before he died, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning artist David Bowie shared a list of the hundred books that changed his life—a wide-ranging and eclectic selection that spans beloved classics like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and George Orwell’s 1984, to more esoteric gems like Fran Lebowitz’s Metropolitan Life and Hubert Selby Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, and even cult comic strips like Beano and Raw.

Bowie’s Bookshelf celebrates each of Bowie’s favorite books with a dedicated mini-essay, exploring each work within the context of Bowie’s life and its role in shaping one of the most versatile, avant-garde, and cutting-edge musicians of the twentieth century. A fresh approach to celebrating the enduring legacy of David Bowie, Bowie’s Bookshelf is a resounding tribute to the power art has to change our lives for better. 

READ AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:


Bowie's Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie's LifeBowie's Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie's Life by John O'Connell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell is a 2019 Gallery Books publication.

Because reading is, among much else, an escape—into other people, other perspectives, other consciousnesses. It takes you out of yourself, only to put you back there infinitely enriched.

This is such a cool little book! I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway and was smitten with it the instant I laid eyes on it.

Book people tend to like other book people, and Bowie should get a nod of approval from voracious readers, even if you are more of a casual fan, because -as his son, Duncan, has pointed out, he was a ‘beast of a reader’. In 2013, David drew up a list of a hundred books that had influenced him the most.

I had never seen or read his list before now. Naturally, I was very curious to see what books might have influenced someone as diverse as David Bowie. However, I was a little worried that I might not know any of the books on the list. I had imagined David Bowie’s taste in reading material would differ vastly from my own simple taste.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by how many books on the list that I recognized. That doesn’t mean I’ve read them, just that I’d at least heard of them. In truth, I’ve only read three books on his list. But I plan to add more than a handful of them to MY list.

Naturally, Bowie was well read and had a wide range of interests. The list itself is very telling. What John O’Connell has done here, is to write a brief composition about each book, speculating on how or why it may have made an impression on Bowie.

One would have to know Bowie pretty well, I’d think, to assume such a task, but the author did an admirable job, in my opinion. Since I’ve only read three of the books, I can’t really speak to how close to the mark O’Connell’s theories were, but it was fun to read his hypothesis, even if a few of them were a bit odd. Sometimes, the influence is very clear, though, and I had a few “a ha” moments while reading these essays.

There were some interesting tidbits about Bowie sprinkled throughout as well- including how he traveled by train, never in airplanes, and carried with him an entire trunk full of books, neatly arranged.

The author also gives readers a suggested Bowie tune to listen to while reading each specific title on the list.

I thought this book was unique and original, and is one that Bowie fans will relish, and book lovers will cherish. The book is insightful and informative, maybe a little nostalgic and poignant, but also really fun too!



GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Bowies-Bookshelf-Hundred-Books-Changed-ebook/dp/B07P5G378K/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bowies-bookshelf-john-oconnell/1130508167

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



John O'Connell is a former books editor at Time Out magazine and writes regularly for the Guardian and The Times. He is the co-author of I Told You I Was Ill and The Midlife Manual.