When Life Gives You Lemons, You Take a Break from Blogging…

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Hello hello, fellow readers!  I’m back! I have missed the community so much!  Now, I would like to say how much I missed the actual blogging but that would be a lie!  I really needed the break!

The past few months have been filled with change (some exciting and some…not so much) and I found myself in a complete reading slump.  In fact, I haven’t picked up a single book since April!  Coming from a book-a-day reader, that is INSANITY!

Now that I am out for summer break and things have calmed down, I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and doing that on my own terms.  For a while, I was finding myself feeling loads of pressure to read certain books and take part in an abundance of blog tours.  Really, reading was becoming more of a chore than something I could do to relax.  I’ve decided to take an indefinite hiatus from blog tours and am going to try and work my way through my backlist.

So, that may be a little bit boring in terms of new and upcoming books but I want to show the books on my shelves some love instead of getting lost in a sea of review copies.

I am also planning on becoming more involved in the Goodreads community and in the book club that Chelsea (from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me) and I started! Yay!  I am recommitting to my Popsugar Reading Challenge and I am just really excited to move forward and chat books with all of you lovely people!




Book Review: The Art of Fear (Pamela Crane)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 9.06.18 PM.pngI am always on the hunt for a new crime read. I spend a lot of time scoping out book lists on the Internet, browsing Pinterest and asking other bloggers for book recommendations. So, when I discovered The Art of Fear, the first in a series by Pamela Crane, I was intrigued.

Centering on Ari Wilburn, a guilt-ridden woman struggling with sins of her past joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a woman who was trafficked and suspects foul play in the death of her father. Ari and Tina team up to try and figure out the truth and find themselves in danger.

I found this one very easy to get into. Dark and a bit brooding, after reading the first chapter, I found it difficult to put down.  Crane did not mess around with her opening page, that’s for sure!!   Although I didn’t find myself relating to the characters at all, I did find myself feeling a lot of empathy towards them and that compelled me to continue reading on. Ari is completely damaged by the death of her sister but watching her grow throughout the chapters and become more confident as she helped someone else gave me that “phoenix rising from the ashes” vibe.

One of the interesting features of the writing was the countdown to Ari’s death. The chapters are labelled this way and it really did keep my attention and drove my need to read the story. I knew the outcome but I desperately needed to know how she met that fate. I felt like this was a smart choice by the author.

Although I really loved the beginning and some of the small details that Crane added into the text, I did find the pacing to be a little bit slower than what I usually like when reading a mystery/thriller. I thought maybe the story would focus more on Tina’s past and go into a bit more detail about her time being trafficked but instead, it was more character centered and focused on Ari. This does make sense, as the series focuses on her, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting completely.

Overall, I loved the general vibe of this story and loved how it ended! I cannot wait to read more in the series!

Thanks to the author (Pamela Crane), the publisher (Tabella House) and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Book Review: The Manson Women and Me (Nikki Meredith) @KensingtonBooks

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I have always been fascinated by cults. I find them to be equal parts fascinating and terrifying. So, naturally, in high school I picked up a copy of Helter Skelter, learning all about the Manson Family.   This book stayed with me and I actually ended up having to throw the book away because it gave me the creeps. How could people be manipulated into murder? How could one man dictate actions? What could compel a “normal” person to do such awful things?

The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality and Murder, a true crime/memoir by Nikki Meredith, attempts to answer these types of questions by honing in on the Manson women and their mindsets/actions during the time of the Manson Family murder spree.   Beginning with Meredith in the late 60s travelling to the California state prison, as a journalist, which was home to Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, Meredith poses these types of questions and searches for answers over the course of 40 years.

From the first pages, I was completely sucked in. Meredith has a strong narrative voice and I thought it was brilliant to present this book as a true crime/memoir. By bringing in her personal feelings, reflections of her own childhood (growing up part Jewish and encountering some anti-Semitic people) and her own relationship that she developed with the Manson women, I found myself drawn into the STORY and not just the facts. I really appreciated this.   All of her own reflections are also backed by a ton of research and other professional works that she willingly and openly cites; it is obvious that she is a well-versed woman.  I really loved the mix of criminal psychology with historical significance.

I think one of the things I appreciated most about this book was how it made me think. Meredith touches on Nazi Germany and how regular Germans (not Nazi soldiers) were convinced to kill Jews, the Stanford Prison experiment, cult mentalities which all come to the same conclusion that people, who do not suffer from mental illness, can be convinced that murder/human brutality is okay in certain situations and that in these situations, after deprogramming, people can be integrated back into society without threat. This concept was so interesting to me. I went back and forth throughout my reading from being angered to feeling sympathy towards the women.

Overall, I think Meredith delivers a really well done and controversial true crime memoir/novel that will sit with me for a long time. I highly recommend.

5/5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher (Kensington) and the author.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Book Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 8.39.54 PM.pngI know what you are thinking. “Seriously…Another book with “girl” in the title?!” But fear not! The Broken Girls, the recently released novel by Simone St. James, stood out for me!   From the beautifully blended narratives to the small details, St. James creates a novel that is hard to put down. In fact, I found myself reading this one late into the night.

The novel opens with the introduction of Fiona, a reporter with a haunted past. After the death of her sister, things have never been the same and even though the man responsible has been put in prison, Fiona (and her family) have never really been able to move past it. So, when she finds out there are plans to restore the building (an old school for girls) where her sister’s body was found, Fiona cannot help but dig around. And, in doing so, she quickly finds out that the past never really stays buried.

Told in alternating time periods and alternating perspectives, I loved the way St. James chooses to tell this story.  I loved the moments that flashed back to the girl’s school in the 40s and how each member of their group of friends had an individual chapter to voice.   I found each character likeable and I was interested in each of their stories and was truly concerned about their plights. I also found that Fiona, in the present storyline, was a well-developed character.

I think that St. James did a brilliant job incorporating a bit of historical fiction; it didn’t feel distracting. I felt like it really added another layer to the story.

One thing I didn’t care for with The Broken Girls was the paranormal storyline. The ghost at the school felt like it really didn’t belong and was sort of a side-plot. I felt like it wasn’t needed.

Overall, I was a huge fan of The Broken Girls and I think that fans of Fiona Barton or Fiona Davis will enjoy this one.

Thanks to the author (Simone St. James) and the publisher (Berkley) for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought about this one?  Keep reading to find out what they thought!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)”

Book Review: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men (Howard Schechter)

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 6.25.41 PM.pngI’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately, so, when Chandra from #cjsreads suggested we read Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Howard Schechter, I was all about it! I am a fan of historical fiction and true crime so this book seemed like it would be a no-brainer for me.

I hadn’t heard (surprisingly) of Belle Gunness before, so, before I started my reading, I did a quick Google search to get myself a little bit familiar with the story. This ended up being a huge mistake.

The book ended up being a long-winded version of the Wikipedia page. It lacked any real “story” and just ended up being more of a list of facts.

I also really struggled with Schechter’s narrative voice, which I actually found to be a little bit offensive.

Overall, I was not a huge fan.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing for the copy of Hell’s Princess; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review

Want to see if this book worked better for Chandra and Jessica?  Keep reading to find out what they thought of Hell’s Princess

Continue reading “Book Review: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men (Howard Schechter)”

Book Review: The Runaways (Sonya Terjanian) @Sourcebooks @TerjanianSonya

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 7.54.15 AM.pngEvery so often, I come across a book that I become completely engrossed in. The prose is easy, the characters are intriguing and I find myself reading late into the night so I can figure out that the story. That is exactly what happened to me when I opened The Runaways, the sophomore novel by Sonya Terjanian.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened up The Runaways and the synopsis wasn’t exactly clear. I knew it would involve a teenage runaway, trying to break free from what she believes will be a dull future and I knew she would meet a woman who is trying to escape from her mundane life.   Was it going to read like contemporary drama? Women’s fiction? Suspense? These were the types of thoughts running through my head as I sat down to flip open the first page.

What I found, as I continued my reading, was that this novel was a little bit of everything: a dark, cold landscape, deeply flawed characters that collide and secrets flow throughout the plot. It was sort of like Scandinavian Fiction meets Southern Gothic Fiction meets a psychological character study. Needless to say, Terjanian had me hook, line and sinker.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Runaways (Sonya Terjanian) @Sourcebooks @TerjanianSonya”

Book Review: Then She Was Gone (Lisa Jewell) @lisajewelluk @AtriaMysteryBus

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 11.04.22 PM.pngI really love a novel that is a nice blend of suspense and women’s fiction. I find them to be such a nice breath of fresh air in a genre saturated with serial killers and psychological thrillers (mind you, I enjoy those as well!).

After reading the synopsis of Then She Was Gone, the newest publication by Lisa Jewell, I knew this would fit that bill for me. Having read several of Jewell’s other novels, I was excited to dive into this one. Just as entertaining as her others, I flew through my reading but, truthfully, I didn’t find it to be as suspenseful as some of the other novels I have read by Jewell. I actually found it to be quite predictable but still incredibly entertaining.

Let me break it down a bit further.

So, the novel follows Laurel Mack, who is still reeling after the disappearance of her daughter, Ellie, 10 years prior. She has never been able to fully move on and this has ultimately affected most of her relationships.   This begins to change when she meets Floyd and she finally starts to feel like herself again. However, Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter unsettles Laurel when she realizes she shows a startling resemblance to Ellie.   All those memories of Ellie come flooding back pushing Laurel to find out once and for all what happened to her daughter.

I loved the writing style of Jewell, as I always do! Something about her writing is so easy to digest. It is sort of like chatting with a good friend. I really like that I can start one of her novels and them just sort of settle in and enjoy the ride.

However, like I said above, I found this novel lacking suspense. To me, it read more like women’s fiction or contemporary family drama. I enjoyed it. I wanted to know what happened. I just feel like it was a bit misleading in this genre.   Also, I felt like it was very predictable. I was able to guess what has happened very early on in the novel but was still interested to see whether or not I was correct.

Overall, I really like this novel as an easy read and will continue to read more Lisa Jewell. If you are looking for an on the edge of your seat style suspense, this will be lacking but I would highly recommend if you are looking for a well-rounded and developed story.

3.5/5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher (Atria), the author (Lisa Jewell) and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Jessica and Chandra read this one with me for #cjsreads.  Want to know what they felt about Then She Was Gone?  Keep reading to find out!

Continue reading “Book Review: Then She Was Gone (Lisa Jewell) @lisajewelluk @AtriaMysteryBus”