Book Review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

Book Review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

A roller coaster of suspense, tension and emotions, The Last Thing To Burn is not one you’ll want to miss!

Synopsis:

On an isolated farm in the United Kingdom, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her seven years ago. When she discovers she is pregnant, she resolves to protect her child no matter the cost, and starts to meticulously plan her escape. But when another woman is brought into the fold on the farm, her plans go awry. Can she save herself, her child, and this innocent woman at the same time? Or is she doomed to spend the remainder of her life captive on this farm? 

My Review:

To use one word to describe this book, that word would be: tension.  My stomach was in a knot the whole time I was reading The Last Thing To Burn and I simply could not put it down. Literally from page one until the end, I was worried for the main character and admired her strength and selflessness as she thought staying in her horrific situation would help her sister. While this story was similar to Room by Emma Donoghue, there are plenty of differences that make this read equal as entertaining without feeling like you’ve read it before. 

In addition to all the stress and tension, Dean inserted twist after twist that made this novel one of the most compulsive books I have ever read! I really just can’t say enough how much I loved this book: not only did I love the story but my experience reading it was like nothing I have ever felt before!  That’s a powerful book, people! 

I always feel like the books I love most are the hardest to review, and this is no exception. I really enjoyed it, I felt so deeply for the main character and her struggles and of course I was rooting for her the whole time.  I definitely feel the need to address some trigger warnings, however.  This novel includes triggers of abduction and kidnapping, trafficing, capitivity, as well as some sexual abuse, however thankfully Dean did not describe in any kind of detail the sexual acts that may have happened, but rather hinted about what was going on. Because of the intensity and dire situations presented in the book, people with similar traumas in their past may not want to read this. 

Book Review: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Book Review: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Thank you so much to Flatiron books for sending me a free copy of Razorblade Tears in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change – and maybe even redemption.


My Review:

I honestly don’t even know where to start. This book. THIS BOOK! Oh, my…this is just one of those unique, special, inspiring, heart wrenching books that only comes along once in a while. Not only is it a fast paced, action packed, impossible to put down suspenseful thriller, but it is also an insightful and reflective examination of a father and son relationship, and in this case: fathers and sons.

As the main characters Ike and Buddy Lee get wrapped up in the search for their sons’ killer, what grows between them isn’t so much an unlikely friendship but a mutual understanding of each other, which was better in my opinion, it felt more realistic. Their difference in race served as a catalyst for some difficult racial conversations and as both men were trying to come to terms with having a gay son, they both learned and grew into more evolved minds. These two men who had been raised a certain way, with certain ideas about right and wrong, lived their whole lives perpetuating that thinking until unspeakable acts force them to challenge those old school ways. And as loveable as Ike and Buddy Lee are, they are not upstanding citizens, this book has you rooting for the bad guy!

Pair all that deepness with nonstop action and what you have is a book that is near impossible to put down. While there is a lot of action and violence, I don’t feel like any of it was over the top. This is definitely one of the best books I have read all year and I will be recommending this one to anyone and everyone. Cosby’s writing is superb, it is equal parts emotional and cut to the bone raw. He writes sentences that I literally read 2-3 times over, just to absorb them again. I read the last three sentences of the book five times while wiping tears from my face. A must read book, do not pass on this one!

**Trigger warning, which is implied in the description, there is hate and hate crimes towards the LGBTQ community.

Book Review: The Therapist by B.A. Paris

Book Review: The Therapist by B.A. Paris


Thank you St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy of The Therapist in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Synopsis:

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…


My Review:

Let me start off by saying that B.A.Paris is one of my favorite authors.  It all started with her first book Behind Closed Doors, which is a book that engrossed me from the first to last page and made me realize just how much I like suspenseful and dark novels.  It literally changed my reading habits.  I used to read mostly literary and historical fiction, but with this one book, I started finding different books to read in darker genres such as mystery, thriller and crime fiction. And instead of slowly reading a book here or there, my true love for reading took off and had me flying through the books that all of a sudden I couldn’t get enough of!   So I can honestly say that this author has made a lasting impact on my reading life.

I have read all of her books, and I feel like they are all different from one another yet each has something to offer.  And I love that!  I do not want to read the same book over and over.  When I feel like an author is following a “formula” I feel a little taken advantage of. 

I enjoyed The Therapist just as much as Paris’ other books for many reasons.  Instead of diving right into the drama, this novel starts out by simply introducing the characters and their place in life, allowing the reader to get to know them at almost a personal level.  But that is not to say that the book starts off slowly, it doesn’t, rather it starts at the beginning and gradually unravels the mystery, suspense and unease as it goes, which I thought was perfectly executed!  

The simmering progression of the plot made things occur in a way that felt natural, rather than forced or ridiculous.  I would imagine it being a fine line for the thriller writer between suspenseful and unrealistic, but with the naturally unfolding chain of events in The Therapist, this story felt almost as if it is something that could actually happen. 

With no gore or violent scenes, this is a thriller for the masses!  I really enjoyed it and I think this one will be a summer hit!

Book Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

Book Review: The Anatomy of Desire by L.R. Dorn

Synopsis:

Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident . . . or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner.

My Review:

Thank you to Libro.fm and Harper Audio for the gifted audio copy, all opinions are my own.

I didn’t learn until the author’s note at the end of the book that this is a retelling of An American Tragedy, which is a story I am not familiar with, but that I think is worth mentioning in case you are. I can’t compare the original and the retelling since I have never read the original, but Anatomy of Desire had a very modern feel to it. The novel is told as a podcast style docu-series for starters, which made the full cast audio narration feel extra important. It also focuses a lot on social media and how it became such a large part of the lives of several characters.  Social media was referred to as an addiction at one point and it altered the choices and directions the character’s lives took, which is ulta reflective of our current culture in America right now. 

Of course I  enjoyed the full cast narration, but I also found the novel very reflective and an interesting examination of the effects of trauma on how people make choices in their lives and move forward. The main character made some unusual decisions that made her appear in a negative light, but then getting to learn about the trauma in her past, it started to make sense. In the end, she was able to start to make these connections for herself and it was very inspiring. 

This was easily a five star read for me, one of those kind of books that you think about when you aren’t reading it and can’t wait to get back to! And while it seems to be marketed as a thriller, and a crime is the central plot point, I do think that a variety of readers would enjoy this one!

Book Review: The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Book Review: The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Thank you to Berkley for providing me a free digital copy of The Hunting Wives in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.

Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.

When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

My Review:

While I have never seen an episode of any of the “Real Housewives” TV shows, I know what they are and I have to imagine that The Hunting Wives has a lot for the same elements in common: wives behaving badly, keeping secrets, living wildly, and all the drama! If you like that TV series, then this book is perfect for you! I don’t normally get into stories heavy with the drama, and this one did go a little over the top for my personal preferences, but I still had fun reading it. The mystery in the second half of the book is what made this one work for me. If it was just going to be naughty drama all the way through, I don’t think I would have liked it as much.

With that being said, I think The Hunting Wives is very well written. The character development is strong and the plot was also well done, with lots of storylines weaving together. This is one of those novels that is just a lot of a fun to read, a great guilty pleasure! If you are looking for something light and fun to take your mind off of things for a while, this is a great choice!

Buy on Amazon:

https://amzn.to/2XG4tMu

B & N: http://bit.ly/35DV3Wi

Book Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Book Review: The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and Kaye Publicity for sending me a free copy of The Dead Husband in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Twenty years ago an unspeakable tragedy rocked Rose Yates’s small, affluent hometown… and only Rose and her family know the truth about what happened.

Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she seems to have it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead.

As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn’t as happy as she’d led everyone to believe, and worse, she’s connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won’t let her or her family escape justice this time around.

Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home, hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can’t trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her.

My Review:

The Dead Husband started out strong. It has a lot of mystery build up, with plenty of history the characters are trying to keep hidden in the past. I was really enjoying the book and was eager to find out everyone’s secrets. There is more than one piece of the past being hidden and I was curious to see how everything would fit together in the end.

However, the ending of this one really let me down. First of all, it felt rushed. After all that build up, and at almost 400 pages, everything came crashing down all at once, and there wasn’t a sense of closure, either positive or negative. Also, the big twist at the end felt a little on the unrealistic side, which is something that really bothers me. I was left feeling really disappointed, because I liked the book up until the last 30 pages, so I guess I will go right down the middle with this one and rate it at 2.5 stars.

Book Review: Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Book Review: Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Synopsis:

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

My Review:

Magpie Lane was such a lush book to get lost in! I wouldn’t necessarily call it atmospheric, but the Oxford setting, the old master’s house and the scholarly college vibes made for a very immersive reading experience. I love when a book gives you the chance to see a behind-closed-doors look at the lives of posh people, and Magpie Lane delivered that. Nick and Mariah are those type of people that seem to have it all together, but only the parts that they let people see. I loved getting to see how much they dropped the ball on while trying to project a much more elevated front.

One thing that was a little hard for me was the timeline and overall format. The novel is almost like a collection of stories about the nanny’s time with the family, all told in response to questions the detectives are asking her, in their efforts to find Felicity. For the most part, the stories go in order but I felt the lines between past and present were a little muddled. Someone like me likes nice headings that tell the when and where, but this is something that might not bother most people.

I really was guessing until the end. I had a lot of theories, and one of them did turn out to be right, but I wasn’t sure until the end. I felt like this was a slow burn of a thriller, but I really did enjoy it overall. There weren’t too many characters, which is good, yet they all had their own shadowy history, so you really don’t know who to root for! A little on the cozy side, this would make a good fall or winter mystery!

Book Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Book Review: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Thank you to Libro.fm and the publisher for the free audiobook!

Synopsis:
here’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

My Review:

What a fun and outside of the box thriller. The Good Sister did not start off as a thriller, in my opinion. It actually didn’t start feeling that tense way a thriller feels until about the 60% mark. But that’s not to say the first part of the book wasn’t enjoyable, because it definitely was!!

As a character driven novel, the book starts off by introducing us to Fern. And what a character she is! She struggles with social situations and her dialog, both internal and external felt comically relatable! She seems to be on the Autism spectrum, but that is never stated. (Note: I am not sure if this was intentional for the character and how accurate the portrayal of an autistic person is.)

The reader also gets to meet Fern’s sister Rose, albeit mostly through Rose’s journal entries. What begins as a story about these two sisters, their unstable childhood and how they are supportive of each other as adults takes a screeching 180 spin towards crazy town! The last 40% of the book was so hard to put down, it was tense, emotional and suspenseful!! I enjoyed every minute of this one and will be looking for this author’s backlist titles! 
Book Review: The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Book Review: The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Synopsis:

On the day she returns to active duty with the Serial Crimes Unit, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is called to a crime scene. Dismembered body parts from two victims have been found by the river.

The modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer, who has spent the past two years behind bars. When he learns that someone is co-opting his grisly signature—the arrangement of victims’ limbs in puzzle-piece shapes—he decides to take matters into his own hands.

As the body count rises, DI Anjelica Henley is faced with an unspeakable new threat. Can she apprehend the copycat killer before Olivier finds a way to get to him first? Or will she herself become the next victim?

Drawing on her experience as a criminal attorney, debut novelist Nadine Matheson delivers the page-turning crime novel of the year. Taut, vivid and addictively sinister, The Jigsaw Man will leave you breathless until the very last page.

My Review:

Let me start by saying that The Jigsaw Man is the best book I have read so far in 2021! Yes, that good! Let me follow that up with a trigger warnings: this one is on the violent side. The serial killer being tracked is pretty brutal, and his crimes are described in the book. The descriptions are not over the top gruesome, however Matheson doesn’t hold back, either. If that is hard for you, consider yourself warned.

So what made this my favorite book of the year? Quite a few things! First, the character development is fantastic. In the police procedural style mystery novels, many times the main detectives and characters are described in terms of their jobs. The reader gets to know what history they have as a detective, and often times he or she may have trauma spawning from difficult cases in the past. In The Jigsaw Man, we get all that but so much more. DI Anjelica Henley had such a realness to her that I actually found extremely relatable! She is a married, working mom, just like so many of us, and is also struggling to balance it all. Bring in her trainee Ramouter and the dynamic blossoms even more! When Ramouter joins the case as Henely’s trainee, she is less that enthusiastic, yet as they work together a bond forms and she finds out that Ramouter is not only a good detective but a good person. I loved watching their relationship grow and cannot wait to see where they are heading in the next book!

At just under 500 pages, I was a little wary. Did this mystery really need all those pages to find a killer? The answer is yes! I didn’t get bored once, something was happening on literally every page and I just could not read this book fast enough! The plot is one of the most intricate and well planned out that I have ever read, and I was also able to easily follow along. Some of the more complex detective novels can get a little confusing, but not The Jigsaw Man. Everything fit and made sense and the ending is left as a very unusually cliffhanger. I am anxiously awaiting book 2!

Unfortunately, I feel like I write the worst reviews for the best books, I just want to say I LOVED IT over and over! I hope I did this one justice, it really is so incredibly good!

Book Review: What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton

Book Review: What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton

Thank you to Crooked Lane books for providing me with a free digital copy of What You Never Knew in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Idyllic Avril lsland, owned by the Bennett family, where their hundred-year-old cottage sat nestled in acres of forest. Forty-year-old June Bennett believed that the island had been sold after the summer of her father’s disappearance when she was only twelve years old. It’s months after the shocking death of her older sister May in a fatal car accident, that June finds out that the cottage was never sold. Avril Island is still owned by the Bennett family and now it’s hers.

Still reeling from the grief of losing her sister, June travels back to Avril lsland in search of answers. As she digs, she learns that the townspeople believe her father may in fact have been murdered rather than having abandoned his family in the dead of night, as she was led to believe by her mother. And that’s when she begins to notice strange things happening on the island–missing family possessions showing up, doors locking on their own, unexplained noises in the night, shadowy figures disappearing into the woods. It takes June no time at all to realize that her childhood summers at Avril Island were not at all what they had seemed to be.

My Review:

I am a sucker for an atmospheric novel and this one hit the spot. June’s childhood summer cottage is on it’s own private island, in the middle of a lake. Having been closed up for 30 years, she heads back to see what is left of it, and also to find some answers to her unconventional upbringing. What ensues is a story about a woman starting over, finding herself, and also dredging up dark secrets from the past.

I really enjoyed this one, and it was a quick read. The author did a good job of building up the characters of this unusual family, especially considering all but one of them are dead. The chapters alternate between June and her sister May as a spirit. However, I don’t feel like that gave it a supernatural feel, it was more like the reader could feel just how close the two sisters were, and I felt that those parts were very well done. The mystery elements adding a nice air of suspense that of course I loved, and the twist at the end was fun, but not all that surprising.

However, I don’t feel like this one was correctly marketed. It’s out there as a dark and ominous thriller. This was not a thriller. Yes, there is a mystery surrounding June’s past and there are some shady characters, but I felt like the focus of this book was more on June’s recovery and how she is dealing with the grief of loosing her beloved sister. I did like the book, but if you are looking for a fast paced thriller, this is not the one. But if you are in the mood for something engaging but a little lighter, you might really like What You Never Knew.