• 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

    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

    Meet Me On Love Lane: a review

    From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens.

    Synopsis:

    Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

    She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

    With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

    A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

    Review:

    This was such a fun evening of reading! I’m a sucker for small town romances – probably because I didn’t grow up in a small town but did go to the same private school K-12. That basically meant that your school mates were more like siblings instead of dates.

    I read the first book of this series, On The Corner of Love and Hate, and was so excited to start this second book. I am admittedly not a big series reader and I believe one of the reasons is because there seems to be at least one book that drags while setting up the next part of the story.

    That was not the case here and Meet Me On Love Lane could easily be read as either a stand alone novel or as a well done sequel. Kudos to the author here because keeping a story moving through multiple books isn’t always easy to do.

    Henry, one of my favorites from the first book, was back and as the high school English teacher. There was something so endearing about him and I really enjoyed getting to know him better in this book – as did Charlotte who had significant memory issues as a result of leaving home during the tumultuous and traumatic time of her parent’s divorce.

    The book flirts with a love triangle which is my least favorite romance trope. Fortunately it was brief and actually helped to move the plot along as Charlotte began to reconnect with her family and friends.

    I absolutely loved her grandmother, Gigi. She was the sassy and fun grandma we all wish we had if we did not have that growing up. Gigi added the perfect amount of humor to the book along with a few of the other characters.

    For me, this book was light on the romance and more about a woman finding herself after leaving one life behind as a child and then leaving another life behind to find herself as an adult. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and I’m definitely looking forward to more books by this author.

    If you would like to enter to win a copy of this book, head over to my Instagram to enter!

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Gallery Books, and Nina Bocci for a free copy of this book in exchange for my promotion and review of this book.

    Connect with Nina

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

  • Book Reviews,  Writing

    Lake Season: a book review

    Lake essentials: Chacos sandals, a blanket, coffee & a good book

    𝑨 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒍𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓, 𝒂 𝒏𝒆𝒘 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒍𝒅 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒌𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒔𝒖𝒎𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒍𝒖𝒆𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝑰𝒏𝒏.

    Synopsis: In a new series by Denise Hunter, when their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic Bluebell, North Carolina home back into an inn. The situation would just be temporary—three years at the most—then they would sell the inn and Molly could get back to chasing her own dreams.

    Adam Bradford (aka bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive novelist with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to the setting of his next book, a North Carolina lake town. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

    Molly and Adam strike up an instant friendship. When Molly finds a long-lost letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But Adam has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

    Review: I paused for a moment before accepting this review opportunity. I am typically not a big romance reader but there were enough other moving parts to intrigue me. By the second chapter, I was hooked because it’s not your typical romance.

    Complex grief – when there is more than one loss at the same time – is incredibly difficult in real life and the author was able to capture and write about it perfectly. I appreciated that the siblings were actually siblings – they had issues, differences in grief, and different lives yet they still managed to work together in a realistic way.

    This is the second book this year that I have read where an old house a previous post office. I don’t know why but I love this premise. Maybe because mail is falling by the wayside in favor of emails or perhaps it’s because of the art of letter writing is becoming a thing of the past.

    Without giving any spoilers, I liked the relationship between Molly and Adam much better than I expected to. Add that to the fact that Adam is a writer and you had me hooked – I enjoy a good plot involving writers written by a writer.

    Last but not least, the characters were surprisingly well-developed for the first book in a series – another typical drawback for me with a series.

    This was a pleasant book to read on a rainy afternoon and I’m looking forward to loaning out this book while waiting for the second book. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, a big sticking point for me is who I can recommend a book to and for this book – the answer is anyone who enjoys romance with complex characters and multiple storylines that don’t always revolve around romance.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and TNZ Fiction for a free copy of this book in exchange for promotion and my honest review.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    Connect with Denise

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  • Book Reviews

    Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of A Delinquent Girlhood

    • Hardcover: 240 pages
    • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 16, 2019)

    The “mesmerizing . . . daring and important”* story of a risk-taking girlhood spent in a working-class prison town —Andre Dubus III

    Synopsis: For Maureen Stanton’s proper Catholic mother, the town’s maximum security prison was a way to keep her seven children in line (“If you don’t behave, I’ll put you in Walpole Prison!”).  But as the 1970s brought upheaval to America, and the lines between good and bad blurred, Stanton’s once-solid family lost its way. A promising young girl with a smart mouth, Stanton turns watchful as her parents separate and her now-single mother descends into shoplifting, then grand larceny, anything to keep a toehold in the middle class for her children. No longer scared by threats of Walpole Prison, Stanton too slips into delinquency—vandalism, breaking and entering—all while nearly erasing herself through addiction to angel dust, a homemade form of PCP that swept through her hometown in the wake of Nixon’s “total war” on drugs.

    Body Leaping Backward is the haunting and beautifully drawn story of a self-destructive girlhood, of a town and a nation overwhelmed in a time of change, and of how life-altering a glimpse of a world bigger than the one we come from can be.

    Review: For a child of the 80’s, married to a child of the late 60’s-70’s, this was a raw and emotional read. If you didn’t live through this time period, you tend to get a Forest Gump, hippie, free love idea of this time period when in reality teens growing up in the 1970’s faced tremendous amounts of upheaval, drugs, absentee parents due to their own drug and alcohol use and/or divorce and remarriage, etc.

    It’s quite honestly a miracle that a lot of them are here today and are functioning and successful members of society – like Maureen Stanton, the author of this book.

    Her writing style is unique and while her memories are interspersed throughout the book, I never got an angsty teen vibe. This book read as a mature reflection of her child and teen years and is not one I will soon forget.

    I also enjoyed the historical backdrop of Nixon’s presidency and war on drugs. I feel this is a time period many would like to forget and that I don’t read much about it in the books I read today.

    Body Leaping Backward was a quick read and memorable – especially for those of us who know and love people who grew up during this time. It would make a great gift for your adult child of the 70’s and one I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone wanting to better understand this time period in our country’s history – I know it gave me a lot of insight into the world my husband grew in.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours, the publisher, and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for my review and promotion. All thoughts are my own.

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