Book Review: These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Book Review: These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Thank you to Ecco books for sending me a free copy of These Women. All opinions in this review are my own.

Synopsis:

In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved … 

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

My Review:

These Women is one of the most unique stories I have ever read. Even though the synopsis tells you that the book is about “these women” getting murdered in Los Angeles, the focus of the book is on the women themselves. Rather than follow a typical detective style or police procedural hunt for a serial killer, Pochoda instead introduces us to the women one by one. The story is told in a few sections, each section from the point of view of another woman, all interconnected to one another. They are mothers, daughters, neighbors, and friends among other things. But their society has only seen them as “those women”.

So what are “those women”. Simply put: sex workers or prostitutes. But what this novel does is show the reader that they are not simple. They are so much more than their work. They are strong women, fighters, not willing to give up, trying day after day to carve a better life for themselves. But as they are murdered, those left behind see that not much effort is put into finding the killer because society doesn’t see the importance of a mere sex worker or the need to spend the time or money needed for a full investigation.

These Women is a raw look into the lives of those not as fortunate, those that some view as insignificant. It examines the judgement society places on people and how that judgement makes it harder for those women or people to rise up and overcome obstacles. It sheds light onto the need that some people have to simply rid prostitutes of their neighborhoods, without one thought about what exactly would happen to those women. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Even though this novel is crime fiction, I absolutely loved that the crime was not in the forefront, and that as the reader I got the chance to know the victims more personally. A traditional crime novel focuses on the perpetrator, not the victims, which makes this a standout read! I enjoyed it and know this one will stay with me for a long time. I always love when a book forces me to see another point of view.

The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter

The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter


Thank you to Atria books for sending me a copy of The Preserve! This action packed sci-fi thriller is out today and you don’t want to miss it!

Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered. 


Synopsis:

Chief of Police Jesse Laughton on the SoCar Preserve is assigned to the case. He fears the factions that were opposed to the preserves will use the crime as evidence that the new system does not work. As he digs for information, robots in the outside world start turning up dead from bad drug-like programs that may have originated on SoCar land. And when Laughton learns his murder victim was a hacker who wrote drug-programs, it appears that the two cases might be linked. Soon, it’s clear that the entire preserve system is in danger of collapsing. Laughton’s former partner, a robot named Kir, arrives to assist on the case, and they soon uncover shocking secrets revealing that life on the preserve is not as peaceful as its human residents claim. But in order to protect humanity’s new way of life, Laughton must solve this murder before it’s too late. 

The Preserve is a fresh and futuristic mystery that is perfect for fans of Westworld and Blade Runner.

Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Thank you Tor Books for sending me a free copy of Eventide in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I don’t read much YA, I usually just mix it in as a palette cleanser. I guess I don’t expect much from YA, the stories are pretty linear and the writing can be simplistic, but that’s ok. It really is! However, Eventide did not fall prey to the typical traits of a YA novel. It was much more sophisticated and I really enjoyed it!

The plot follows two orphaned sisters as they step off the orphan train in a small town and are unexpectedly split up, being taken by different families. That alone was enough for me to want to keep reading. But as their lives go in different directions, a mystery surrounding the girls’ parents arrises, making the book even more compelling. Some witch craft makes an appearance towards the end to tie everything together, and the result is a very well done historical fiction novel!

I really like the witch crafts elements, which were well done. If you’re instantly thinking of the typical fantasy tropes common in YA, think again. Eventide’s magic is more of the folklore variety and fit in perfectly with the time and setting. Oh, and it’s not scary, so it would make a perfect spooky fall book for anyone who doesn’t like scary! I do, but was still able to enjoy this book!

Elliott Ness and the Mad Butcher by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz

Elliott Ness and the Mad Butcher by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Kudos to both authors for writing a seamless and extremely well done nonfiction book about Elliot Ness. This book is as far from ‘dry’ as I think I have ever come in nonfiction. I learned so much about the prolific police man and really enjoyed the book.

I did hope for more of a true crime take about the serial killer that Ness never caught, but the book was mainly a timeline of Ness’ life. The parts of the investigation of the torso killings were just sprinkled in.

Still a good book, and I am still glad I read it!

One By One By Ruth Ware

One By One By Ruth Ware

❄️ Book Review ❄️
Many of you know that Ruth Ware is one of my auto buy authors and One By One is another guilty pleasure thriller added to her arsenal!
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This was SO atmospheric, which is something Ware does very well. Set in the French Alps, I was so engrossed in the cozy, accessible only by lift chalet! Who wouldn’t want to stay a week in a staffed, luxury mountain resort chalet!?
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The mystery in this one just kept on spiraling out of control. And while I did guess ‘who dunnit’, I still enjoyed the ride. There are quite a few characters and at first I thought I would have trouble keeping track of them, but that didn’t end up being the case. Ware developed them all perfectly, as well as the faux social media app company they worked for.
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This is the type of thriller that I think a wide range of readers will like. It’s got some murders, but it’s not too violent. It has a lot going on but it’s easy to follow. A very fun read indeed!

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

C163A4FB-E662-4E9A-B80E-00D4AB9953FEThank you to Atria books for sending me a free copy of Invisible Girl in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

My Review:

This book really got it’s claws in me, it’s full of dynamic characters that all feel like someone you already know, both the good and the bad!  Lisa Jewell is a master at character driven suspense thrillers and I loved Invisible Girl!

Each character really got under my skin, I was rooting for almost all of them. On the daily, I am constantly thinking about people: the choices they make, their actions, and how they effect others. This books just fueled that brain fire in my head. It’s such a great look at culture, social niceties and expectations, and what happens when someone decides that they will not just sweep the past under the rug or play by the rules.

This novel, while suspenseful for sure, is such a fantastic character study. I loved it, and I think fans of Jewell will love it too.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

FBC0C8D2-E848-4CDE-A0B2-038157539AAAThank you to Ecco books for sending me a free copy of Leave The World Behind in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

My Review:

It’s hard to squeeze this unique little book into one category: Leave the World Behind is part family drama, part suspense thriller, a teensy part horror, and at the end, an apocalyptic story that leaves your head spinning. This powerful book led me through all kinds of emotions while reading. It starts off as a posh little vacation read, but quickly spins a 180 into something else entirely.

I really enjoyed the writing style, it’s definitely more of a literary style, which isn’t always my favorite, but in this novel it works. And considering what is happening to this family, the eloquence in the phrasing is almost macabre in it’s juxtaposition. I do feel the need to warn, however, that the ending is abrupt. There isn’t any closure, and while I actually really like those kind of endings, I can see how it might not work for everyone.

I really enjoyed this one a lot! It packed quite a punch in it’s 240 pages and left me with some deep thinking, which I love! If you’re looking for  something a little different, a little unexpected, this is the book for you!

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

EB3FB174-EEC7-4917-98F4-89065DDD6A58I am new fan of Grady Hendrix but better late than never!  After reading The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires a few weeks ago, I purchased a few more of his previous novels.  My Best Friend’s Exorcism was jsut as good as Southern Book Club!

Synopsis:

The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

My Review:

I am an 80’s baby, so reading this book set in the 80’s was a delight!  Jam packed full of 80’s references and each chapter title a song name are reason enough to like this book.  But just as in TSBCGTSV, what make’s this author’s books so special is the perfect blend of horror and humor!  Great character development, fun settings, and dark humor make for a very fun read.  The gory parts were super gross, but there aren’t many and most come at the end. I’m so excited to have found an author who writes such unique books, I will be reading anything Hendrix comes out with!  Highly recommended!

Cut To The Bone by Ellison Cooper

Cut To The Bone by Ellison Cooper

C8142161-D74F-4A3A-8B6F-F4D1E94331D2Cut To The Bone is the third book in the Agent Sayer Altair series and it is one heart-pounded thrill ride!

Synopsis:

After grieving the death of her fiancé and almost losing her job, Agent Sayer Altair is finally starting to rebuild her life. Her research into the minds of psychopaths is breaking new ground and her strange little family is thriving. But Sayer’s newfound happiness is threatened when she is called in to investigate a girl’s body left inside a circle of animal figurines below a cryptic message written in blood. When they discover that the dead girl is one of twenty-four missing high school students, Sayer quickly realizes that nothing in this case is what it seems.

As the investigation draws her in to a tangled web of fake identities and false leads, the trail soon begins to point directly to her own life. Now, Sayer must confront her painful past to uncover her connection to the deranged killer if she hopes to save the missing teens and protect everything that she loves.

My Review:

I can’t sing enough praise for this series!  It has lightening fast suspense, it has a completely vulnerable yet tough-as-nails lead character, it has intense, intricately built crimes that are mind boggling puzzles.  Agent Sayer’s background in neuroscience adds such a whip-smart edge to these books that they stand out against all the other crime thrillers out there.

Cut To The Bone is a fantastic addition to the series.  This is one of those book reviews that I just want to say “I loved it, I loved it, I loved it” repeatedly because I just can’t seem to fit my thoughts and feelings into anything else coherent. The suspense was insane, the crime and investigation was so sharp, and the ending!!??  It was intense and sets the stage for a fiery sequel!  I can’t wait!  If I recommend one series to you, let it be this one!

How To Bury Your Brother by Lindsey Rogers Cook

How To Bury Your Brother by Lindsey Rogers Cook

D7059D25-E48F-442C-B443-14BAB2750E62How To Bury Your Brother is a  heartfelt book about family, secrets and love really took me by surprise.  It went much deeper than I anticipated and I’m still thinking about it days later.

Synopsis:

Alice always thought she’d see her brother

again. Rob ran away when he was fifteen, with so many years left to find his way home. But his funeral happened first.

Now that she has to clear out her childhood home in Georgia, the memories come flooding in, bringing with them an autopsy report showing her family’s lies-and sealed, addressed letters from Rob.

In a search for answers to questions she’s always been afraid to ask, Alice delivers the letters. Each dares her to open her eyes to her family’s dark past-and her own role in it. But it’s the last letter, addressed to her brother’s final home in New Orleans, that will force her to choose if she’ll let the secrets break her or finally bring her home.

Everything I Never Told You meets The Night Olivia Fell set against a vivid Southern backdrop, How to Bury Your Brother follows a sister coming to terms with the mystery behind her brother’s disappearance and death.

My Review:

One of the thoughts that kept reverberating through my mind while reading How To Bury Your Brother was surprise. I was surprised at the deep life insights found within the pages from a seemingly young author. I am not sure just how old Ms. Cook is, but the picture on her website shows a young lady who looks like she has at least a few more years before hitting 30. How she managed to convey such mature and wise-beyond-her-years digressions about life and relationships is a wonder. I found myself relating to much of what the characters were going through and it made my reading experience so immersive.

This is a story about so much: loss and grief, but also love and relationships.  And more than anything, how keeping secrets, no matter how good the intentions, can hurt those closest to you. This was a slow burner of a novel but packed full of emotional depth.  And it was all moved along smoothly by Alice’s quest to deliver her brother’s letters.  I really don’t have anything bad to say about this one, it was beautiful and I think it will stay with me for a long time.  I will definitely be looking for more from Lindsey Rogers Cook in the future!