• Book Reviews,  Recommendations

    Before She Knew Him: blog tour & review

    About Before She Knew Him

    • Paperback: 320 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 25, 2020)

    Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

    From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

    Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

    But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

    Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

    The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

    Review

    Can you reread a thriller and love it just as much the second time? When it comes to a book by Peter Swanson, absolutely.

    I originally read this book last year and if I remember correctly, I tore through it in a few sittings. That’s always a good sign!

    Unreliable narrators are my favorite when done well and Swanson is a master at leaving a tiny doubt in the mind of the reader about each character. Hen was my favorite character because she struck a balance of endearing and barely believable because of her obsession with the case and her past.

    This book had me guessing from the beginning the first time around and while I did guess the big twist, I wasn’t disappointed but instead impressed with myself because Swanson always writes a great twist… or two. Reading it a second time gave me the opportunity to pick up on some subtleties I missed the first time and I appreciated the writing even more.

    I originally went into this book a bit concerned about the portrayal of mental illness but it is handled well. If you are sensitive to this, it’s something to be aware of but I wouldn’t let it discourage you from reading this book.

    Peter Swanson is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to thrillers – and I’m picky. If you haven’t read this one, add it to your TBR list soon!

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow Books for this gifted copy in exchanged for my unbiased review.

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Photo by Jim Ferguson

    About Peter Swanson

    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.

    Find out more about Peter on his website and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

  • Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Resistance Women: a book review

    About:

    • Paperback: 640 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 4, 2020)

    One of BookBub’s best historical novels of the year and Oprah magazine’s buzziest books of the month.

    From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of an era and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin.

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Synopsis:

    After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.

    As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.

    For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.

    Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.

    Review:

    Just when I thought that WWII historical fiction had been exhausted, a book like this comes along.Going into this book knowing that it was based on actual events and people kept me on the edge of my seat.

    Expertly researched, the author did a wonderful job highlighting the importance of not just military operations but also the resistance efforts of everyday civilians. The attention to detail and descriptions of 1930’s & 40’s Berlin captured my attention and the heroic actions of the characters – 3 real life people and 1 composite person – held my attention.

    This is a long book but never felt like it to me. Granted, I love thick books but I never felt that there were parts unnecessary to the plot. My one drawback, it takes awhile to get a good grasp of all the characters and their roles. But once you do, the book flies by. This is one I would recommend taking a few notes on as you go.

    Lastly, please don’t close this book until you read the Author’s Note – it is what made this book a five star read for me. Jennifer Chiaverini went above and beyond in her research and it should not go unnoticed.

    If you enjoyed The Alice Network, you will love Resistance Women.

    About the author:

    Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

    Find out more about Jennifer at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow Books for a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

  • Book Reviews

    Last Day: Blog Tour

    Today is my stop on the Last Day blog tour! Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

    SYNOPSIS: From celebrated New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice comes a riveting story of a seaside community shaken by a violent crime and a tragic loss.

    Years ago, Beth Lathrop and her sister Kate suffered what they thought would be the worst tragedy of their lives the night both the famous painting Moonlight and their mother were taken. The detective assigned to the case, Conor Reid, swore to protect the sisters from then on.

    Beth moved on, throwing herself fully into the art world, running the family gallery, and raising a beautiful daughter with her husband Pete. Kate, instead, retreated into herself and took to the skies as a pilot, always on the run. When Beth is found strangled in her home, and Moonlight goes missing again, Detective Reid can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu.

    Reid immediately suspects Beth’s husband, whose affair is a poorly kept secret. He has an airtight alibi—but he also has a motive, and the evidence seems to point to him. Kate and Reid, along with the sisters’ closest childhood friends, struggle to make sense of Beth’s death, but they only find more questions: Who else would have wanted Beth dead? What’s the significance of Moonlight?

    Twenty years ago, Reid vowed to protect Beth and Kate—and he’s failed. Now solving the case is turning into an obsession . . .

    My thoughts:

    The opening of this book was captivating. It began on Beth Lathrop’s last day. While the rest of the people in her life were starting a new day, she was already dead. Beth was also six months pregnant which added yet another layer of complexity to an already tragic situation when she was found by her sister, Kate.

    My mind instantly went to – it’s always the husband – but this family, they are not strangers to tragedy and it became obvious that more was amiss when the painting stolen during the first crime years before, had once again gone missing.

    This book was a page-turner as it moved between two tragic plot lines. I really liked that the author used the same detective; it made the story more cohesive for me. And while the easy out would have been the husband, Beth had her own secrets that she kept from her sister which kept me second guessing everything.

    I enjoyed the writing and character development. And even though the story was a devastating one, the author kept the plot moving without getting stuck in the tragedies of the characters’ lives – had this not been the case, I probably would have struggled more with violence and loss of life.

    I didn’t guess the ending, which I actually prefer with a plot like this one. This was my first book by Luanne Rice and will definitely not be my last. This was a compelling book which will make the reader reflect on family relationships, the bonds of siblings, and secrets kept.

    Purchase Links:

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    About The Author:

    Luanne Rice is the New York Times bestselling author of 34 novels, which have been translated into 24 languages. The author of Last Day, Dream Country, Beach Girls, Pretend She’s Here and others, Rice often writes about love, family, nature, and the sea. She received the 2014 Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award for excellence and lifetime achievement in the Literary Arts category.

    Several of Rice’s novels have been adapted for television, including Crazy in Love for TNT, Blue Moon for CBS, Follow the Stars Home and Silver Bells for the Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Beach Girls for Lifetime. Rice’s four cats are her muses, and she speaks their language. She lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

     

     

     

  • Book Reviews

    The Last Sister: Blog Tour

    Welcome to my stop on The Last Sister blog tour! This book is a page-turner and I’m excited to be sharing it with you today. Many thanks to Over The River PR and Montlake for a gifted copy to read and their generous offer of a copy to give away to one lucky reader… look for the giveaway information at the end of this post.

    Synopsis:

    Twenty years ago, Emily Mills’ father was murdered, and she found his body hanging in the backyard. Her younger sister, Madison, claims she was asleep in her room. Her older sister, Tara, claims she was out with friends. The tragedy drove their mother to suicide and Tara to leave town forever. The killer was caught. The case closed.

    Ever since, Emily and Madison have tried to forget what happened that night – until an eerily similar murder brings it all back. It also brings FBI special agent Zander Wells to the Oregon logging town. As eager as he is to solve the brutal double slaying, he is just as intrigued with the mystery of Emily’s and her sisters’ past.

    When more blood is shed, Zander suspects there’s a secret buried in this town that no one wants unearthed. Is it something Emily and Madison don’t know? Or aren’t telling? And Tara? Maybe Emily can’t bear to find her. Because when Tara disappeared, she took a secret of her own with her.

    My thoughts:

    The Last Sister is the first book in a new romantic suspense/mystery series by Kendra Elliot. If you read her Callahan & McLane series, you will see a few familiar faces but you won’t be lost reading this first book as a stand alone.

    I love books set in small towns where you can feel the atmosphere in the words. And just like large towns, small towns have their fair share of secrets too. So when a double-murder draws in Emily, she is forced to face her own past, a town full of dark secrets, and a link that forces old wounds open in order to solve the case.

    The past and present plot threads were masterfully woven together and the characters were well developed and engaging. The writing is well done and I can easily see room for the next book in the series – which isn’t always evident. This book will leave you wanting more.

    While this is classified as romantic suspense, there was a small romantic undercurrent but no full blown romantic plot line. I appreciated this because I personally would have found that distracting with the secrets, murders, and racial complexities at the forefront of the story.

    The drawbacks: this book is dark at times. If suicide, violence, murder, and/or dark family secrets bother you, these are all things to be aware of going into this book. With that being said, nothing was gratuitous or over-done for shock value.

    I couldn’t put this book down and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

    The Last Sister is available now at your favorite bookseller!

    Or for a chance to win your own copy, please visit my Instagram to enter the giveaway. Sorry, US entrants only. Good luck!

    About the author:

    Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list
    multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets
    and Callahan & McLane series, as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick
    novels. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier
    Award, an International Thriller Writers Award finalist, and an RT
    Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her
    teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden,
    and Laura Ingalls. She was born, raised, and still lives in the rainy
    Pacific Northwest with her family, but she looks forward to the day
    she can live in flip-flops. Visit her here to learn more about her and her work.

  • Writing

    28 Day Challenge

    𝐷𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑅𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑒𝑟,

    𝐻𝑜𝑤 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑠𝑎𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑙𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑜𝑜𝑘? 𝑊𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑒𝑑? 𝑈𝑛𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒? 𝑀𝑎𝑦𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑣𝑒. 𝐼 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑦 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑓𝑒𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑛𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑙. 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑠𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑤𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑏𝑜𝑜𝑘, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑎𝑛 𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑦 𝑜𝑛𝑒. 𝑊𝑒𝑙𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘.

    -𝐋𝐚𝐲𝐥𝐚 𝐅. 𝐒𝐚𝐚𝐝

    𝐒𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬: Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, 𝑴𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑾𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒆 𝑺𝒖𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒎𝒂𝒄𝒚 takes readers on a 28-day journey of how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

    ✂️

    Equal parts excited, nervous, and intrigued summed up my feelings when I opened up the envelope from Booksparks containing this book. But I’m thrilled that it’s part of their winter reading challenge lineup because I believe we all have blindspots and I’m ready and willing to look for and examine my own.

    This is 28 day challenge includes writing prompts, readings, and lots of self-reflection. I write so I’m going to blog about my experience and include some of the my answers to the writing prompts in those posts. It should be interesting.

    This won’t be an every day post but I will share my full 28 days over a period of time.

    If you plan on reading this book and would like to discuss as we go, let me know here or via email.

    Thank you to Booksparks, Sourcebooks and Layla F. Saad for a gifted copy of this book.

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