Featured

After the End

⇒What is your life’s crossroad and which new beginning will you choose?⇐


After the End is my second #Julybrary book. I’m celebrating libraries in July by checking out all of this month’s reads from my local library shelves!


Author: Clare Mackintosh

(4.31 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Adult Contemporary

Published June 25, 2019by G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 390

#Aftertheend. #Julybrary


Over the last few months we have learned that hope is one side of a seesaw balanced by despair; too quickly tipped from one to the other.

Before I begin this review, I have to warn that it may inadvertently contain spoilers. I’ll definitely try my best to keep them out, but in case I miss something, just know that you’ve been warned.

Like 90% of other reviewers of After the End, I found it incredibly hard to make it through this book. It isn’t a happy story. Period. But I’m sure it also wasn’t an easy story to tell – especially by an author who had to make this terrible decision irl.

Here’s the book blurb: “Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re the best friends lovers– unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. What if they could have both?”

Sometimes you only know for certain if you’ve made the right decision once you’ve made it.

Within a few pages of the very first chapter of this book, I knew it was going to be a rough read for me. Riddled with personal triggers which acted as emotional landmines throughout nearly all 400 pages, it both started and ended in uncertainty. This story has some serious triggers for sensitive readers: cancer, kids with terminal illnesses, and other triggers that I can’t even mention without spoiling some parts of the plot.

There were many times when I considered not finishing this book. It was, at times, difficult to turn the next page. Dylan’s condition was heartrending, and his parents’ predicament was one no parent should ever have to face. But my difficult decision was to keep reading, and I managed to do it, but not without being deeply affected.

Turns out you can hate what someone’s doing, yet still love them so much it hurts.

Once I was able to separate myself from the story (cancer is a strong trigger for me), I was able to better appreciate the flow and artistry of this difficult story. And then, when the court decision is made and the author introduces two alternate realities along two different timelines, the complications only intensify.

If you’ve read anything by Clare Mackintosh before, I can tell you that this book is not like any of those. I don’t understand why Goodreads lists it as a thriller– it is more like a slow burning emotional suspense novel. The decision of life and death hovers over the entire first half of the book, and little or nothing can be more suspenseful than that.

In the second half, the suspense comes in with Max and Pip making decisions that will take them into the next phases of their lives. Neither portions of the book are comfortable to read and at times I felt my inner reader screaming at both of them. But, here again, is a decision that no one can say is the right one unless you’re living it.

But when you stand at a crossroad you cannot see each destination, only the beginnings of the paths that will lead you there. All you can do is choose one, and walk, and hope that someone will walk with you.

OK, so let’s address the elephant in the room– why only 3.5 stars? It is, by no means, a bad book. It’s beautifully and sensitively written. Even in the midst of horrible circumstances, Mackintosh gives all her characters meaningful and unique personalities and perspectives.

But the hard parts of the book never let up and the ending doesn’t bring the relief or closure that I felt I needed as I closed the back cover. Not every reader feels this way, and I think it’s definitely proof that this book affects everyone very differently.

It’s possible to look without seeing. To act without feeling. You just have to close your heart for a while.


Clare Mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant now writes full time. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.


Featured

#Julybrary Challenge & The Furious Hours

I’m celebrating libraries this month with 31 days of #Julybrary reads!


One of my favorite days in elementary school was the day our class went to the library! The promise of a new adventure and new characters inside the pages of a borrowed book was such an exciting prospect.

Even now, just entering the library gives me flutters of excitement. And not just because of all the books. Libraries offer so many programs these days, community outreaches, group games, STEM projects, crafting lessons, and more. Plus, never forget the amazing library book sales!

So, in July, I thought I would celebrate my local county libraries and libraries in general by picking out all of my July books from their stacks. And I used a great library tool to line up books for my whole month – the library hold! In June, I added some new release titles to my request list and waited patiently. By July 1st, I was getting notifications to pick up some excellent reads.

Following are the titles I requested, received, and have already started enjoying for my Julybrary challenge:

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

Waiting for Tom Hanks

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi


My first #Julybrary book is the audiobook version of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Author: Casey Cep

(3.89 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Nonfiction / True Crime / Biography

Published May 7, 2019by Random House Audio Publishing Group

Format: Audiobook

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

#Furioushours


…the people of Coosa County kept wondering and worrying—not just about what Willie Maxwell had done, but about whether he was done doing it.

Unpopular opinion alert! This did not live up to my expectations.
It was well researched, layered, and fact-heavy. But it wasn’t the true crime-focused thriller I felt was represented in the blurb. The crimes of Willie Maxwell served as more of a long-winded introduction to a biography of Harper Lee, which the author was obviously more interested in sharing.

If you’re into bios, you’ll really enjoy this brazen peek behind the curtains of this famous author’s life. But, if you’re like me, and picked this book up because of the lure of a gritty Alabama true crime story, you’ll only have the length of the front portion of the book to enjoy it.


Casey Cep

Casey Cep is a writer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her first book Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee was an instant New York Times bestseller, and comes recommended by David Grann, Helen Macdonald, and Michael Lewis. Cep graduated from Harvard College, then earned an M.Phil. at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York Times, and The New Republic, among many other publications.


Featured

Save the Date

How good are you at finding the best little beach read? I found mine, but it turns out I could read this little gem anywhere!⇐


Author: Morgan Matson

(3.81 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / YA / Romance

Published June 5, 2018by Simon Schuster

Format: Paperback

Pages: 432 (Paperback)

#SavetheDate


It seemed like the second you tried to tell someone why you loved someone else, it took the luster off it, like pinning a butterfly down in a case—it never quite captured it.

Every year my family goes to the beach. We look forward to it all year long and we often start packing long before the week of the trip. This year was no exception. The clothes, the swim gear, the travel-sized toiletries – all that is important, but the most vital thing is Which Books Should I Bring! 

This is a really hard decision on any regular day, let alone on a day when you will be spending time near surf and sand with nothing but lazy hours in front of you. This is prime reading time people! And the last thing you want to do is waste those hours with a book you don’t really enjoy.   

Thankfully, I made an excellent choice in this perfectly paced little romance that also shared some spicy little family drama and more than one (OK a lot!) of truly comedic slip-ups. Save the Date couldn’t have been a more perfect vacation read. It was an easy read with fun (and funny) characters that were easily introduced and remain unforgettable. Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect. … Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

You don’t get to freeze the picture when you want it. It would have been living in the past and eventually, you just start doing the same jokes over and over again.

If you’re anything like me, it may take you quite a long time to decide on a book to read while you’re on vacation. I made a special trip to the bookstore to pick this one up specifically for this trip. I wanted something light and funny with just enough depth to hold my attention without being frivolous and silly. Save the Date hit the nail on the head on every point.

And, no, it’s not a new release, so I felt that I could choose it on its own merits instead of feeling led along by the masses all grappling for the next new and shiny shelf bauble.  And although I didn’t finish my book while actually sitting on the beach (it ended up raining for most of the time) I found that it really didn’t matter. Save the Date became a book that is good on or off of the sand. I got totally sucked into the Grant family drama and my only regret is that it ended a little too quickly!


Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.


Featured

The Dinner List

⇒When you invite your 5 people to dinner, what will you have to apologize for, or forgive?⇐


Author: Rebecca Serle

(3.64 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Romance

Published September 11, 2018by Flatiron Books

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 276 (Hardcover)

#TheDinnerList #DinnerList


Companionship. Let me sit with you in silence. Let me hold your hand and understand.

Waaaay back in 2015, I tried my hand at modern-day journaling. You’ve seen it on Pinterest and Instagram: bullet journaling, wreck-this-journal, etc. I wasn’t consistent with it, but the few pages I finished are pretty creative, even if I do say so myself.

One of those pages is titled “Last Supper Guests” and lists 12 people I would want to share a dinner party with and why. Get it? 12 people, Last Supper. Hey, I didn’t make it up. My list include Neil deGrasse Tyson (because I have exactly 1.2 million questions for him about the universe), Kelly Clarkson (because I just know that we’d be great friends), chef Bobby Flay (because, hey, somebody’s gotta cook. BBQ, please!), author Janet Evanovich (so we could sit and hash out how her characters Stephanie and Ranger can end up together), Criss Angel (because a magical evening deserves the mindfreak of magic), and the absolute best background music by Norah Jones.

That is the premise of Rebecca Serle’s The Dinner List. 20-something Sabrina Nielson spreads her young adult wings in NYC and learns a lot about love and sacrifice in a city that takes no prisoners. When she finds herself at her own 30th birthday dinner table surrounded by five people – some of whom couldn’t possibly really be there – it seems that it’s finally time to face some hard truths.

There are flowers and there are gardeners. Flowers bloom; gardeners tend. Two flowers, no tending. Everything dies.

I can imagine any university Lit professor having a field day deconstructing and analyzing this book. Not that it’s heavy or complicated – quite the opposite, in fact. It’s meaningful and relevant in relatable and extremely familiar ways. We’ve all wondered “what if?”, or what we’d say to such-and-such person if we ever saw them again. Well, The Dinner List gives main character, Sabrina, just such an opportunity.

Serle cleverly unveils Sabrina’s last 10 years through insights into each guest’s character and their contributions to her life. As we seamlessly jump from her improbable dinner party to past events that have led up to this night, we learn why these particular guests are there and why Sabrina needs each of them in order to move into the next decade of her life successfully.

Our problem wasn’t us together, it was us in the world – a world that demanded we reconcile its reality with our romance.

Picking five people to share an all-important meal with is a monumental task. For my journal, I listed 12 and I still struggled! Plus, my list isn’t designed to help me answer some existential question – I just planned on having a party!

OK, back to the book… This is a very fast read, one that can easily be done in a day, but don’t rush through it! There is great meaning in these pages, and you don’t want to miss any of the insights shared via these uniquely honest characters. The highs and lows feel genuine and I love how Serle doesn’t wait until the end to throw a monkey wrench into the whole works.

Although it is, ultimately, a love story, The Dinner List is so much more than that; it’s a life story. And I’m so glad I got to read it without being graded on how adeptly I could suss out its meaning!


Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between New York and Los Angeles. Serle most recently co-developed the hit TV adaptation of her young adult series Famous in Love, now on Freeform. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited advice on love.


Featured

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)

⇒Reader, don’t think for a minute that this is anything like the Jane Eyre your English-Lit teacher made you read. ⇐


Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

(3.80 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Historical Fiction / Retellings / Romance / YA

Format: Hardcover, Owlcrate Edition

Publish Date: June, 2018 by HarperCollins

Pages: 450

#MyPlainJane #TheLadyJanies


‘I am no one special,’ Jane said. ‘I am just a girl. I can see ghosts, yes, but it has only ever brought me trouble!’

Jane Eyre

Whenever a group of friends gets together to create anything, there’s a certain type of magic that happens. Things get weird, they get messy, and they get magical. I can only imagine that that’s how this process went when these three authors came together to write this second book in their Lady Janies series. And clearly, at least one of them has as much love for The Princess Bride as I do. As you wish.

Here is the Goodreads summary: You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!) Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.


Charlotte had always known Jane to be a kind, thoughtful sort of person. Even when she was committing murder, she was thinking of others.

Reader, you will be fully immersed in this story. You will be addressed, redressed, and made as much a character as the actual characters. So much so, I was surprised to not have been handed a kettle and asked to prepare tea. No, seriously, there’s a lot of tea-making in this book (but not a lot of bathroom-going. Wonder how that works?).

How do you feel about being made a part of the story? If you’re an immersive-type reader (like I am) it can tend to be a little jarring. Yes, yes, I know my introvert is showing! Pardon me while I tuck it back in and continue…

A shudder made its way down Charlotte’s spine. There was nothing so disturbing to her as an overdue book. Possible fines. It was very scary.

Good luck to anyone who is able to pin down the exact genre for this book. Sci-fi / YA / Romance? Historic / Humor / Fantasy? Mystery / Paranormal / Retellings? Yes, yes, and yes. And add whatever else you want to throw in there – it’ll probably fit.

And I don’t mention that to make story seem unfocused. It’s not that at all. It just covers a whole lot of ground and stretches itself across the gamut of literature – past and present. Like a little ghost action with your romance? Fancy a little mystery with your historical fiction? Want a dash of comedy in your YA? My Plain Jane‘s gotcha covered. It’s the buffet of book genres!

Jane sighed. ‘You’ve been around ghosts your whole life- er- afterlife. What are you afraid of?’ Helen shook her head. ‘I think it might be haunted by the living.’

Jane Eyre and Helen Burns

Any reader worth their salt will be able to pick out tons of pop culture and political references. Got a book club? Make a drinking game out of it. Or, if I didn’t want to encourage underage drinking, I’d say offer a gift card to Target for whoever finds the most. Yes, do that one, YA audience. 🙂

This is definitely not your 9th grade literature class’s version of Jane Eyre. (Phew! But love you Ms. Willoughby!) So don’t go into it thinking that you’ll have to translate imagery and determine the ultimate meaning of Mr. Rochester’s moodiness. (You’d never guess!) Just expect the unexpected and you’ll have a good time with this book, their previous title, My Lady Jane, and their upcoming 2020 title, My Calamity Jane.


Ashton, Hand, & Meadows

Authors of the New York Times bestselling novel My Lady Jane, who met in 2012 on a book tour. They’re friends. They’re writers. They’re fixing history by rewriting one sad story at a time. (-bio adapted from cover)


Featured

The Paper Wasp

⇒RELEASE DAY REVIEW! “No one wants the truth. We don’t want to live with it… We long for fabrication, hallucination, false catastrophe. We hunger – all of us – for the distorted mirages…” –The Paper Wasp

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Grove Press, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author: Lauren Acampora

(3.47 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Thriller

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: June 11, 2019, by Grove Press

Pages: 304 (Kindle version)

#ThePaperWasp #PaperWasp


We were fortunate to dwell in dreams as long as we did. It’s easier to linger with a partner.

There were a lot of HAGS in my high school yearbook. And just recently, I looked in my daughter’s 5th grade yearbook, and there are a lot of HAGS in there too. And, no, I’m not a mean girl because I’m not talking about anyone’s appearance, LOL. HAGS meant Have A Great Summer back in my day, and the kids are apparently still using it today.

I also saw a lot of KITs (Keep In Touch) with phone numbers scribbled in either box-graphic or bubbly numbers in my yearbook. I only thought fleetingly about what would happen if I called any of those numbers today – some umpteen years after graduation. (What? I am NOT old!!!)

Who would be on the other line? When I graduated, there weren’t any cell phones (do not say a word!), so who would pick up? And those bright-eyed, hopeful kids who artfully crafted their phone numbers onto those yearbook pages beside silk-robed pictures – who are they now?

This is the premise behind The Paper Wasp: Reconnecting. You run into an old classmate at the grocery store while visiting your parents back in your hometown. Their face may be the same but they’ve gained 30 pounds and now have 3 kids and an ex-husband. Or you may see your 10th grade crush suited up on the cover of a business magazine – all glossy and handsome – and you think, what if…

Reconnecting is an iffy prospect. You never know what you’re gonna get. It could be the most fun you’ve ever had, or it could be what happens in The Paper Wasp. Here’s the Goodreads summary:

In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden. When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she is surprised and warmed that Elise still considers her not only a friend but a brilliant storyteller and true artist. Elise’s unexpected faith in Abby reignites in her a dormant hunger, and when Elise offhandedly tells Abby to look her up if she’s ever in LA, Abby soon arrives on her doorstep. There, Abby discovers that although Elise is flourishing professionally, behind her glossy magazine veneer she is lonely and disillusioned. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise’s world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise, the Rhizome, and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends–until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.


Suddenly, amazingly, I was your closest confidante. I’d slipped back into your life as if I’d never left, as if we’d somehow awoken from a slumber party as grown women.

I went into this book thinking it would only be about an uncomfortable obsession between old friends. And it was that, at first. But then Acampora takes a swift left turn with the plot and we entered the black hole of platonic relationships – everything gets sucked inside.
With an undercurrent of Single White Female vibes, The Paper Wasp creeps slowly, but relentlessly toward a wildly obsessive and threatening middle, denouement, and epilogue.

Written in first person, there is no escaping the immersion into Abby’s steady “enlightened” decline concerning her recovered friendship and all that it means for her imagined future. These are murky waters and fans of good psych thrillers will enjoy treading them.

Who can tell what breath entered into me, after that, and told me what movements to make? I have as much a grasp of it as you do, Elise.

This book is socially awkward and satisfyingly creepy. Plus, it is a logophile’s absolute wet dream. So why only 3.5 stars? Because the story noticeably sags a bit in the middle. We leave sunny California (and most of our characters) for the relative obscurity of small-town Michigan to pick up some necessary plot points and it feels off-kilter, as if specific issues and connections are ultimately left unresolved. This action happens at a pivotal point in the story and it disrupts the forward momentum. Plus, I was looking forward to more of a tie-in with Abby’s prophetic dreams. They are often discussed, but never “explained” or explored deeply. That seems a waste.

Still, Acampora is a gifted writer and The Paper Wasp will keep you on your toes the next time you run into an old friend, classmate, or colleague. No, I’m not a famous actress, but from now on I am going to be very careful while responding to Facebook friend requests!


The Paper Wasp is available today at the following links:


Author Tour Dates

WEDNESDAY06/12New York CityThe Paper Wasp book launch
Lauren Acampora in conversation with Susan Choi
McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
7pm

Lauren Acampora

Lauren graduated from Brown University, earned an MFA at Brooklyn College, and has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, Writers OMI International Residency, and the Ragdale Foundation. Raised in Connecticut, she now lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, artist Thomas Doyle, and their daughter.


Featured

New or Old – That Smell is Incredible

Welcome to my book review blog. Thanks for dropping in!

The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.

–W. Somerset Maugham

Whenever I get a new book, or mooch an old book, or borrow a book from the library, for that matter, I bring it close to my nose… and inhale.

Sometimes the smell is crisp and warm, almost woodsy. Other times it’s ancient and musky, like well-worn furniture. Either way, it’s a great smell. Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory is showing Anna (future Yale student) around the library and she picks up a book and smells it? Yes, just like that: #bibliosmia.

So now you know I read old books and new – and I love them both equally. So if you’re here to just see reviews on all the hot new releases that everyone else is reading and blogging about, then you’re not in the right place. Sorry.

I do read selective New Releases, but I also have a lot of “Dusty Bookshelf” reads that I am committed to getting through in this upcoming year (I said that last year too), and a lot of books that people have recommended to me that I will finally get around to. The books I read/review won’t always be current, but they’ll always be interesting.

I prefer reading hardcovers or trade-sized paperbacks (there’s nothing like the feel of a book in your hands), but I also read several e-books and listen to a few audiobooks each month, so you’ll likely see reviews for publications in those formats as well.

Occasionally, when she lets me, my daughter and I will read her books together. She’s in 5th grade and has a bookcase full of chapter books that we work our way through whenever she’s not bogged down with school-assigned stories. When our read-along books are especially good, I’ll review those too.

I’ll also occasionally be featuring my favorite authors, book events in Georgia, upcoming new releases, links to free e-book deals, and throwback looks at my favorite childhood reads.

I’m a Goodreads member and belong to several groups there. The book cover pics I post will most often come from Goodreads along with mentions of their overall rating of each book. However, I do not – I repeat, NOT – allow the rating from “the masses” influence my personal opinion of any book I read. Reviews are my own individual thoughts and I am absolutely not receiving any compensation for anything I post here.

As you may have guessed, this is my first foray into blogging so I’m sure I have some kinks to work out. If something isn’t working or posting correctly, just bear with me and I’ll get it worked out. Eventually. ♥

Enjoy!

booksniffing

The Silent Patient

⇒”But why does she not speak?” -Euripides, Alcestis


Author: Alex Michaelides

(4.06 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Published February 5, 2019by Celadon Books

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 323 (Hardcover)

#TheSilentPatient #SilentPatient


Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive, and will come forth later, in uglier ways.

-Sigmund Freud

I wanted to read this book from the moment I read the summary online just before it was released. I knew it was going to get great buzz and – if the author did right by it – it would be worth it. I was right on all counts. This is a perfect example of a book that hits all the right subtle notes and then suddenly throws you into a locked room full of crashing cymbals. And you never want to leave.

When you pick up a thriller you want just that – to be thrilled. You want some basic ingredients: Suspense, mystery, and an un-guessable ending. The Silent Patient delivers all that. The scene is set at a mental institution, which only adds to the unstable nature of all the other action. There’s an overlying air of security and structure, with little bursts of chaos here and there that let us know that nothing about this is completely under control.

Here’s the Goodreads summary: Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain. Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word. Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought. And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

I’m only going to write positive, happy, normal thoughts. No crazy thoughts allowed.

Alicia Berenson

What, exactly, is that animalistic draw toward stories involving psychosis and mental institutions? Oh, it’s just me? Maybe it’s just our attempt to understand the whys behind acts we can’t ever fathom doing ourselves. We don’t get it, and we just want to figure it all out. Whatever it is, these stories pull me in and this one was no exception.

I read this book in one day. I am not a fast reader, and I usually have multiple things that pull me away from reading at any given time. But on the day that I read this, I was uninterrupted. Maybe the book gods granted me that time because they knew exactly how this book needed to be digested – in one big gulp. It truly is a page-turner with palpable suspense that grows with each new character introduced, each new bit of the mystery revealed, and each new piece of the puzzle revealed.

But that’s what Alicia did for you. Her silence was like a mirror – reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.

Theo Faber

Tbh, writing this review is difficult for me. There’s so much I want to just blurt out, but spoilers. So I am keeping it very basic by saying that if you like twisty suspense novels, read The Silent Patient. But don’t just read it in anticipation of a great twist. Read it for the masterful story construction, for the depth of deception, and for the silent accusation on the part of more than just the character of Alicia. It’s a thriller to not be missed.


Alex Michaelides

Born in Cyprus in 1977 to a Greek father and English mother, Alex Michaelides studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) and co-wrote The Brits are Coming (2018), THE SILENT PATIENT is his first novel. (-Macmillan)


The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare, #6)

⇒Hijacks, hijinks, and hot stuff in Hawaii.⇐


Authors: Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

(3.70 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Humor

Format: Audible Audiobook

Publish Date: May 7, 2019, by G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Audio)

Pages: 320 (Hardcover & Kindle Versions)

#TheBigKahuna #BigKahuna


Everyone should have one of those series on their reading lists. You know the ones, light-hearted, funny, crazy unbelievable antics, with a kooky cast of characters that immediately separate you from the real world. I never take those books for granted because, after all, that is why I read books in the first place.

The Big Kahuna is a humorous, adventurous escape from my laundry, list of chores, 9-5 (7:30-4:00), and the seemingly endless taxi-ing of my daughter to/from soccer and friends’ houses. The series is funny, smart, sexy, and a great way to spend a few hours away from the reality of adulting.

From Goodreads: A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich. Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O’Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he’s nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They’re working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can’t touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn’t been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate’s been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna’s drop-out son, who’s living the dream in Hawaii – if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna’s son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn’t exactly in Kate’s wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don’t catch a break soon, waves aren’t the only thing she’s going to be shredding (or bedding).


So, we’ve established that it’s funny, its adventurous, and also more than a little kooky and unrealistic. No problem with any of those aspects. The one gripe I have with this books – and others in this series – is that, let’s be honest, isn’t it kind of aggravating when the characters spout out all this knowledge that they just have stored in their brains about the most obscure things. I mean, come on! No one just retains data about the length and width of some random canyon in the back woods of a barely pronounceable island in the most remote part of Hawaii you can find. It’s really OK just to say its long and wide; I’m not gonna test you on that later. Thanks.

Despite all the Trivial Pursuit-style fact-dropping, its an enjoyable trip (for us, maybe not so much the characters!) with 1,000 different twists and turns that keep you guessing throughout. And we even get the satisfaction of a healthy dose of romantic energy between the main characters, Kate and Nick!

Let this book wrap around all your angst and anxiety and strip them away, along with all your anger and responsibility. The Big Kahuna is a fun little book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so neither should you!

Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Blog Tour | The Scent Keeper

⇒Blog Tour: The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister – An olfactory-charged coming-of-age story that will trigger your fondest and deepest memories. ⇐


Author: Erica Bauermeister

(4.19 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Contemporary Adult Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Publish Date: May 21, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 311

#TheScentKeeper

Many thanks to the author and St. Martin’s Press for providing a free copy of this book for my review. I received no monetary compensation and my thoughts are my own.


I inhaled, and fell into the fragrance like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Emmeline

When I was a little girl I lived in the mountains of North Carolina for a time. I thought the world was magical back then. I believed in fairies and mermaids and all types of supernatural things. It must have been that mountain air!

I remember things just smelling differently up there. The soil was blacker in the mountains than it is here in Georgia, and it had a tart, metallic smell to it; like iron. The air was less heavy, and the grass – whether cut or long – smelled tangy and sweet. I still remember all those smells so vividly in my memory.

I’m sure it’s like that for a lot of us. Certain smells trigger specific memories of places or events from our past. The smell of cinnamon and bread takes me back to my Meme’s pantry. And the smell of fried chicken makes me remember my Great Aunt’s kitchen on Friday nights. Smells are powerful that way, and The Scent Keeper is a story all about that very specific power.

Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination. -(from Goodreads)

I inhaled again, slow and deep, and felt the smells flood my head, so full and three-dimensional I could almost wander among them.

Emmeline

I will summarize this book first by saying that books like The Scent Keeper are why I read. They allow me to see the world through someone else’s eyes – the writer’s and his/her characters’. I experience my own world irl and then I can escape into any one of theirs at any given time.

And Emmeline’s world of scent-memory and discovery is one that I could have remained in much longer than the 311 pages allowed. This is a coming-of-age story told with an added dimension: smell. Everything in Em’s life is associated with aromas. There is a certain magical science that goes into the way her father catches the fragrances of life around him and stores them in tiny bottles in their hidden island cabin. She grows up with this magic being as normal and fantastic as the rest of the world around her.

I could feel myself turning into air. The fragrances of the scent-papers became my lungs, the blood in my veins. I found it easier and easier to lose myself in them.

Emmeline

If you are a fan of lyrical writing and story lines that drag you deep into other worlds, then this book will not disappoint. This is a fairy tale told for a modern age – complete with Google searches and skyscrapers. I went from not knowing what to expect in the first few chapters to expecting everything under the sun in the final ones.

It is a tale of adventure, a family drama, and a love story all wrapped into one. There is mystery and suspense, danger and violence, victory and celebration, but there is also tragedy and loss. My biggest takeaway from The Scent Keeper is that people are inherently both good and bad. Just when we think we have them all figured out, they show us something new.

Out there, in the midst of all that air, our scents wove together and had their own conversations. It was as if the more space we had, the less we needed it between each other.

Emmeline

I cannot encourage you enough to read this book. I don’t give 5 stars lightly or regularly. But I meant this one. I really appreciate this book for its poetry, its scenery, and its ability to transport me into a different space among strangers that became friends. And then to not only hear and see them, but to smell what they saw, held, ate, and touched too. It takes a certain talent to pull a reader into a story like that; Erica Bauermeister has that talent.


***I am so embarrassed that my blog tour is a full week LATE! Guess my new-school attempt at keeping an electronic calendar isn’t the best method after all. Sheesh. But I had to go ahead and post my review because this is a book that needs to be touched by many hands and read by many eyes. It is a quick read and is one of the few that I couldn’t drag myself away from. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I hope the kind folks at St. Martin’s Press forgive me for missing my tour date. 🙂 ***


BUY IT HERE:


Erica Bauermeister

Erica Bauermeister is the bestselling author of four novels — The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, The Lost Art of Mixing, and The Scent Keeper. Her memoir, House Lessons, will be published by Sasquatch in the spring of 2020. She is also the co-author of 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She currently lives in Port Townsend, Wa with her husband and 238 wild deer.


Closer Than You Think (Broken Minds Thriller #1)

⇒Can Bryce handle his high-pressure job and his high-pressure life?⇐


Author: Lee Maguire

(3.71 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Published October 21, 2018by TCK Publishing

Format: Paperback

Pages: 314 (Paperback)

#Closerthanyouthink


What happens when a psychologist is stalked? Does he or she react differently than a member of the gen pop would? Bryce Davison shows us that, in fact, they would. Or, at least, he did. Threatening emails, cryptic notes, and obvious home invasions seem to have only a momentary effect on our guy. Then it’s business as usual – conquering the mental challenges of today’s youth. He’s a machine.

OK, let me pause for a moment and say that whenever I am reviewing a book, I am honest. If I love it, I try to convey that without gushing. If it was just OK, I point out the good and bad. And if it wasn’t good, I point out that it just wasn’t the book for me. This especially goes for books that have been sent to me for review. I’m never going to say that a book is good just because I got it for free. Never, ever, ever. But constructive criticism is… well, constructive.

A simple, one-line message sent a shiver through me: Closer than you think.

Here’s the Goodreads blurb: Meet Bryce Davison, a gifted psychologist who can heal any troubled mind-except his own. You see, Bryce’s life is falling apart. His marriage is crumbling. His insomnia brings only half-sleep and troubled dreams-visions of dark and buried memories he’d rather forget or ignore completely. And the new female patient in his psych ward just might be more trouble than he’s able to cope with… and now he has a stalker. Somebody’s been watching Bryce for a long time. Somebody who knows his life inside and out-his fears, his regrets, his greatest longings and deepest despairs. Somebody with access to his most private places-his workplace, his home, his family…anywhere Bryce might have felt safe. They do their dirty work in the shadows… and they want Bryce Davison dead. So Bryce has got to get his life together. To save his patients. To save his family. To save his marriage…and his life. Because no matter how close Bryce gets to the deadly truth, the enigmatic stalker is always closer than he thinks.


Closer Than You Think was just OK. It took me a LONG time to make it through this book. Not totally the book’s fault; but it’s kind of repetitive, so that makes it easy to set down arbitrarily. The story’s premise was promising: a straight-laced, good guy pestered by a malicious mystery stalker who slowly ramps up the threat level. Captivating, right? Meh. I wanted to be sucked into the action, to feel the escalating drama, to be pushed into a proverbial corner by this secretive stalker. But the highs and lows of this book didn’t allow it. And in the end, it just felt… clinical.

…an olfactory memory stirred deep inside, teasing me. It was a peculiar sensation, like having someone’s name on the tip of your tongue.

It was also difficult to connect Bryce’s underlying backstory to the current action. Is that what makes him a good psychologist? A survivor? A victim? It’s unclear. I just ended up feeling sorry for the guy and thinking a little less of him as a hero, if I’m being honest.

Good points: Even though the antagonist was entirely predictable, there’s a perfect little twist added in that I applaud the author for. A good twist always makes mystery/thrillers rate a little higher! Another plus point is for writing in a pet that is totally believable. Max doesn’t have super powers, isn’t dynamically intelligent, or brutally vicious. She’s just a dog, but her role in the story is just as important as any of the human characters (and at least she has a different voice). Too harsh? Maybe.

To sleep, perchance to dream. Or to slip deeper into the nightmare.

Readers should be aware of some intense triggers including suicide, domestic abuse, rape, assault. The book treats these subjects delicately, but sensitive readers should be aware.

As I always say, writing a book is not an easy task. It’s a very personal process, and anyone who manages to pull it off, kudos to you! Here’s my advice to readers, try the indie authors. Pick up the paperbacks distributed by pub houses you’ve never heard of before. Explore new voices. Give debut authors a chance. You never know when you will find a favorite among them, and then you will be able to lend them support and help them develop their craft. And isn’t that what we, as readers, really want – more books to read?


Lee Maguire has practiced as a psychotherapist, behavioral health consultant, and taught master’s and doctoral level psychology. A focus of his practice was clinical hypnosis. Lee resides in central Pennsylvania with his wife and their basset hound.