Featured

The Turn of the Key

“I know you don’t know me but you have to help me. I didn’t kill anyone.” -The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware


Author: Ruth Ware

(3.97 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Thriller / Mystery

Format: Audiobook

Publication Date: August 6, 2019, by Gallery/Scout Press (Simon Schuster Audio)

Pages: 337 (Hardcover)

#TheTurnoftheKey #RuthWare


People do go mad, you know, if you stop them from sleeping for long enough…

Have you ever gone to a wedding reception, looked over, and marveled at a beautiful, intricately designed, smooth surfaced wedding cake? You know that bakers use fondant to create those ultra-smooth surfaces. Fondant gives cakes a designer look – it says, I am the best of the best. You add a lot when you add fondant to a cake: details, decoration, … cost. Where and I going with this? Let’s read the blurb and I’ll tell you why this book reminds me of fondant…

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.


The ghosts wouldn’t like it.

OK, so what does a thriller/mystery have to do with cake icing? Well, fondant cakes are gorgeous, but fondant itself is disgusting. It tastes like sugar glued to plastic. And sometimes it makes the entire piece of cake inedible. Although you eagerly anticipate getting a slice of that beautiful cake, in the end there is only disappointment.

There is a lot to unpack in this book, but only because so much was added to make you think you are getting a great ghost story/psych thriller layered with deception and danger. But in the end, all of that is just a plate full of inedible fondant, and it is disappointing.

Piece by piece, I was being torn apart.

Adapted from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, this book ebbs and flows through the spooky supernatural and the naughty natural to present a tangled mess of a novel with an ambiguous ending that ties readers in knots. Normally a raw finish wouldn’t necessarily be a negative – especially with psych thrillers – but this one had SO many ups and downs throughout, readers deserved a more solid conclusion.

If Ware was attempting to emulate James with her “what the heck happened?” ending, it fell flat. Instead of feeling like a true mystery worthy of reflection, it felt unfinished with a thousand questions unanswered.

I struggled with this review at first – I like Ruth Ware and I never want to give any hard-working author a negative review. But I also understand that I can’t always only post reviews for books I like. So, I’ll embrace this two-star rating today and hope for better next week. I mean, what do I know – you may just like the potty-mouth nanny and the Elincourt’s poisonous progeny. I won’t judge.
However, if you’re looking for a haunted manor/spooked-out governess story, my advice is to stick with the original and read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.


READ THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE TURN OF THE KEY  HERE

Check out Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key web page for some extras that are actually more interesting than the book!


Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her debut thriller. -bio from Goodreads


Blog Tour | The Third to Die (Mobile Response Team, #1)

Blog Tour | “Psychopaths were born and bred, created from both nature and nurture. They would keep coming, and nothing she did could deter them from their destructive path.” – The Third to Die

**Many thanks to Harlequin/MIRA and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author: Allison Brennan

(4.05 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: February 4, 2020, by Harlequin / MIRA

Pages: 464 (Kindle version)

#TheThirdtoDie #ThirdtoDie #3rdtoDie #AllisonBrennan #MIRABooks


Rage filled his veins, memories of the past, the light and the dark, the good and the very, very bad.

You know that feeling when you get in on the very beginning of something that hasn’t hit the mainstream yet, but you just know it’s gonna be huge? I had that feeling decades ago while listening to Jodeci’s demo tape (yes, I said tape!) at an artists exhibition, again when I signed up for Netflix in their first year of operation, and again when I saw Jason Momoa in his first episode of Stargate Atlantis. All three times, I was right – huge.

Any time an author begins a new series, so much rides on that very first book. Will be a hit or a miss? Either one will determine the fate of the series. However, Allison Brennan has nothing to worry about with this beginning to her Mobile Response Team series. Let’s check out the blurb:

Detective Kara Quinn is visiting her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, after being placed on administrative leave by the LAPD, when she comes upon the mutilated body of a young nurse during an early morning jog. The manner of death is clearly ritualistic; she calls it in. Meanwhile back in DC, special agent in charge Mattias Costa is meticulously staffing his newly-minted Mobile Response Team. One of his first recruits is the brilliant FBI forensic psychologist Catherine Jones. When word reaches Matt that the Washington state murder appears to be the work of the Triple Killer–it will be the first case for the MRT. Jones has done the only profile on this serial killer, but she is reluctant to join the unit, still shaken by the death of her sister a year ago under circumstances for which she holds herself responsible. But only she holds the key to understanding the killer’s obsessive pattern–three murder victims, three deep slashes a piece, each three days apart, each series beginning on a March 3rd–3/3, then a three-year hiatus before he strikes again.
This time they have a chance to stop him before he claims another victim strikes, but only if they can figure out who he is and where is is hiding.


She had certainly worked her fair share of cases and tended to think like a criminal. Maybe because she’d been raised by two criminals.

So what does The Third to Die have going for it that already has me buying into a whole series that hasn’t even been written yet? It’s that same type of feeling I get when I know something’s going to be successful.

The Third to Die has all the hallmarks that readers are looking for in great suspense thrillers: diabolical crimes, an elusive criminal with a deep-seated vendetta, and a custom-made team of detectives intent on keeping everyone alive.
Allison Brennan gives us characters who are almost instantly compelling with gritty backgrounds, lost loves, and personal flaws included. This is a series to watch/read for lovers of FBI crime dramas and procedurals or for those who love series featuring seriously twisted bad people.

The writing is taut and moves along steadily up until the end, when the pace quickens and readers are greedily swept along with the intense action. I was not bored one minute, and this story did not suffer as so many others do with a long, complicated explanation of motives and methods. In this one, everyone just does their thing – both good and bad – and the reader is along for the ride; just like I like it!

He needed to release these demons, this overwhelming craving to punish those who were weak. Pathetic. Losers.

As you know, sometimes new things stake a while to catch on. I told many people about Jason Momoa back in his Stargate Atlantis days and 99% of them said, “Who?” Now, after also bringing Conan, Khal Drogo, and Aquaman to the screen, he’s pretty big stuff. I’ll go ahead and pat myself on the back for calling that one. So, trust me when I say that you should check out The Third to Die by Allison Brennan and get ready to follow Kara, Matt, and Catherine into all of their worst nightmares.


The Third to Die will be available February 4, 2020 at any of the following retailers:


Allison Brennan

Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. Allison believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids. Allison and her family live in Arizona. Visit her at allisonbrennan.com


Blog Tour | First Cut

Blog Tour | “I was being haunted by two women I didn’t even know. One was dead and buried — the other waited for me in the morgue cooler.” – First Cut

**Many thanks to Hanover Square Press and the authors for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author: Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell

(4.10 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: January 7, 2020, by Hanover Square Press

Pages: 336 (Kindle version)

#FirstCut #JudyMelinek #TJMitchell #HanoverSquarePress


I wondered, again, if I had mad the right choice in coming to San Francisco. Then again, I had to remind myself, there hadn’t been any choice involved.

Reviewing books isn’t always easy. There are expectations attached to every review you right; publishers want a good review to boost sales, readers want an honest review to fill TBR lists, and authors want outstanding reviews to know that others also love the literary children they’ve released into the world. Sometimes those expectations make a reviewer sentimental enough to bump up a rating – you know, give it an extra star because, hey, it wasn’t terrible.

Don’t get nervous, I am not about to trash this book in the name of keeping things “honest”. Just the opposite, in fact. This isn’t your mother-in-law’s gloppy potato salad that you have to smile and pretend is delicious. This is a Food Network chef’s gourmet potato salad that can more than hold its own at any family reunion picnic. OK, I’ll translate that: This is a good book.


Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discover. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals — on both sides of the law — that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for your yourself, ” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all — even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.


Nothing puts a messy homicide investigation out of your mind like a newer and messier one.

When a book has a certain formula that captures my attention, I get a little giddy; and this one fits the bill. It has a flawed, but relatable, main character, love interests to the left and right of her, several mysteries to solve with villains in abundance, and diverse characters that keep the plot moving along at a rapid, engaging pace. There are different voices here, different backgrounds, and varied experiences – even though they all share one basic career category: law enforcement.

I am so satisfied that First Cut is my first blog review of 2020. I mean, I could have really picked a dud to start out the year, but instead, I happen upon this gem of a mystery/thriller! If you’re into forensic-based crime thrillers, check. If you’re into messy little love triangles, check. If you’re into strong female leads working their way into power positions, check. And if you’re into thorough, clever, inclusive storytelling with heart, check, y’all, check.

You aren’t responsible for the things other people do to themselves.


You can find First Cut at any of these major booksellers on January 7th!


Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical eaminer in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland. T.J. Mitchell, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, who worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time, stay-at-home dad.


Good Me Bad Me

=> More disturbing than hurt is love when it’s wrong. -Good Me Bad Me<=


Author: Ali Land

(3.90 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Psychological Thriller

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: 2017, Bo Dreams, Ltd.

Pages: 292

#GoodMeBadMe


I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m scared. Different. I wasn’t given a choice.

Remember in You’ve Got Mail when Kathleen Kelly tells Joe Fox that she always wanted to be that person that can say exactly what she wants to say exactly when she wants to say it? I totally felt the exact same way. To be able to say that mean or snarky thing to that totally rude or disrespectful person at the exact time that it would affect them the most – that seemed like a lofty goal. The Bad Me wanted that so badly!

But then, like Kathleen, there is the Good Me. The one who keeps the peace and mends the fences, goes home, and then two hours later has an epiphany and thinks, THAT’S exactly what I SHOULD have said. The battle of good and evil, it always rages, but never in my life has it ever been as intense as it is in Good Me Bad Me. Check out the blurb…

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.
But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.
When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

I thought you would own less of me after I handed you in but sometimes it feels like you own more… Invisible chains. Jangle when I walk.

OK, we are introduced to this tragic creature, Milly, who really needs a hug. Her mom is serial killer, which is a pretty rotten way to grow up, no matter how you analyze it. So, naturally, you’d think that things would start getting better after Murder-Mom is arrested (not a spoiler) and Milly starts a new life with her highly-esteemed foster parents, right? Not so fast…

You know how at random moments you might hear your mother’s voice in your head reminding you, encouraging you, nagging you – “Never leave the house with your hair wet.” or, “Use your head for something other than a hat rack!” Well, Milly could hear her mom’s voice too, only that voice wasn’t doing much encouraging. Or maybe it was…

I used to pray for a night light, I believed in a god back then but instead I got you.

Good Me Bad Me really took me on a ride. While readers naturally (and necessarily) sympathize with Milly’s plight, we all know that there are things operating in the background that we just can’t suss out in the beginning (or middle). The steadily building action is dangerous and there is very little that distracts from it. This is a psychological thriller that truly earned its name.

With an unconventional narrative style, Ali Land captures our imagination and forces us into the mind of a teenage girl who certainly isn’t all that she seems to be. The fit is uncomfortable, but that’s how it’s supposed to feel – for most of us. What you get with Good Me Bad Me is not so much a plot twist as a plot untwisting with characters that are motivated by more than just the obvious connections we see on the pages.


Ali Land

After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse in both hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in West London.


The Family Upstairs

Be careful who you let in. The Family Upstairs

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


Author: Lisa Jewell

(4.14 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: November 5, 2019, by Atria Books

Pages: 352 (Hardcover), 464 (Kindle version)

#TheFamilyUpstairs


It’s only now, with decades of hindsight, that I can see how odd it was.

II really want to move closer to my job and my daughter’s school, so I’m currently house-hunting online and by word-of-mouth. Someone recently asked me if I would mind living in a condo. My answer was a hard and fast “no”. Why? Because people are weird.

And after I sat down and swallowed this suspenseful story about the perils of cohabitation, I feel incredibly justified in my answer! Told from multiple perspectives and different timelines, with fatally flawed characters, this is a story that will grab you and pull you into the depths of family for which dysfunctional is an aspiration. Here’s the blurb…

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them. Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.


The weakness of men lay at the root of every bad thing that had ever happened.

OK, what drew me in immediately: (1) an unexpected inheritance, (2) an abandoned mansion, (3) London – all the creepiest strangeties happen in London (and if “strangeties” isn’t a word, it should be, and (4) a baby alone in the midst of chaos. Everything about that summary says you-must-read-this-book. And I am so glad that I did.

When you begin to read a book and you immediately know that you don’t have a clue what is going on or how it’s all going to turn out, that’s when you have the most fun. What begins as the story of a woman learning about her birth parents and possibly getting a much-needed new start in life, quickly becomes something much, much more.

I knew what I had to do and it does not cast me in a good light. But I was a child. I was desperate. I was trying to save us all.


Living with people is tricky whether they be family, friends, or strangers. Can anyone you live with be completely trusted to lock the doors if they’re the last ones in, or to not leave their flat iron on while everyone’s at work? My guess is no. But if the worst you have to ever deal with is having a roommate who plays his music a bit too loud on a work night, then you have it a million times better than the Lamb family living in the mansion on Cheyne Walk.

Lisa Jewell has given us a book (another one!) with great pacing, captivating characters with varying degrees of drastic difficulties and believability, and the meat and bones of a story so dark that its small victories feel like supernovas. Five stars to this new release that I couldn’t hardly put down. If you don’t have it already, this book needs to be on your TBR and on your bookshelf. And after you read it, I think you’ll agree with me – single-family living is the way to go!


The Family Upstairs is available now at any of the following retail stores:


Read an excerpt here: The Family Upstairs Excerpt

Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found YouThe Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.

http://www.lisajewellbooks.com/


Spooky Reads TBR

⇒So many books, so little time! I know it has 31 days, but October still feels like it’s too short to fit in all the #SpookyReads I want to read this month. In today’s post, I’m highlighting the thrilling titles I only have a week left to read!⇐

Avid readers often have the same problem: more books on their shelves than hours in the week to read them. And then writers keep writing, so it’s a never-ending cycle. If you’re anything like me, you have a TBR list that is constantly growing – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

October is a really fun month to fill up your reading list with the most thrilling, spookiest, and most horrifying stories on your bookshelf (or on audiobook, Kindle, or from the library – anywhere you can get your hands on a good book, really).

When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ’tis near Halloween.

unknown author

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

I have been wanting to read this book from the moment it hit my hands. Instead it has been haunting the back of my bookshelf, patiently waiting its turn to surface and tromp through my dreams. Having just recently finished The Heart-Shaped Box, I know that Joe Hill can write a mean horror story that manages to give you shivers and stays with you long after you reach the back cover. Hopefully that will be true, too, of NOS4A2.

“Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls ‘Christmasland.'”


Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

This gem has been on my TBR shelf for way too long. It’s cover drew me in initially and then the cover blurb made me know that I had to come home with it. It has what seems like a perfect combination of thrills, chills, and an off-the-rails crime featuring a monstrous serial killer.

“If you’re desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you’re Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you’ll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe–and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.”


There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.

George Carlin

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

Dolores was hanging out in a Little Free Library waiting for me to come by and trade a few romance paperbacks for her. I don’t know what I’m in for with this popular horror novel, but it won’t be my first King book, so I can just about imagine!

“Forced by overwhelming evidence to confess her life of crime, Dolores Claiborne, a foul-tempered New Englander, describes how her disintegrating marriage years before caused her heart to turn murderous.”


The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I have seen this book on so many lists, especially around the Halloween season. It promises a creepy combo of horror and historical fiction that will add all the atmospheric thrills any reader needs for their #spookyreads.

“[Hundreds Hall], home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.”


I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.

Evan Peters

Petals on the Wind by V. C. Andrews

This sequel to Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic shows us all that sometimes family is the scariest thing we’ll ever have to experience in our lives!

“She knew it was time to put what she knew to the test. To show her mother and grandmother that the pain and terror of the attic could not be forgotten… Show them.”


Lost Souls (Frankenstein series) by Dean Koontz

The first book of Koontz’s Frankenstein series instantly made me a fan. And this time I have a good reason that this book, #4 in the series, is still waiting on the shelf – I have to get books 2 and 3 first!

Before the sun rises, the town will be under full assault, the opening objective in the new Victor Frankenstein’s trajectory of ultimate destruction. Deucalion—Victor’s first, haunted creation—saw his maker die in New Orleans two years earlier. Yet an unshakable intuition tells him that Victor lives—and is at work again.


*All summary blurbs courtesy of Goodreads.com

The Furies

⇒”Once summoned, the Furies cannot be sent back, only leave of their own accord.” –The Furies by Katie Lowe ⇐

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


Author: Katie Lowe

(3.25 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / YA / Thriller

Format: Kindle

U.S. Publication Date: October 8, 2019, by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352 (Kindle version)

#TheFuries


‘They will be your conduit, your intention made flesh; they will destroy the corrupt and murder the wicked, oh goddesses, if you will give to them your gifts.’

If you’ve been to school – almost any kind – you know about cliques. You seem them clustered in groups in the cafeteria or in the quad, or huddled together in the hallways or the library. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the science geeks, and, yes, even the mean girls. And if you were ever “the new kid” you had to quickly figure out where you fit in the grand scheme of the social hierarchy.

This was the dilemma Violet faced as she entered Elm Hollow Academy looking for a fresh start. Here’s the blurb:

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on her boarding school’s property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. What happened to her? And what do her friends know? To find out, it is necessary to go back to the beginning. The school is Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school located in a sleepy coastal town, with a long-buried grim history of 17th century witch trials. A new student, Violet, joins the school, and soon finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, led by the alluring and mysterious art teacher Annabel. Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this addictive new world. But when she comes to learn about the disappearance of a former member of the society, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled in her newfound friendships. Was it suicide, or a foul play more sinister? How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another?


Women are not to be left alone, together, or tragedy will surely follow.

If the thing that draws you in is gorgeous, poetic prose, then this debut novel will give you what you need. Lowe’s poetic prose touches all of your senses at once. You’ll not only “see” the action, but you’ll smell it, hear it, and taste it too. She leaves very little out of her scenic descriptions, which really draw you into the action in every chapter.

However, if you’re more interested in a witchy thriller, you might find The Furies a little lacking. Sure there are spells and what passes as a conjuring, but most of the dark stuff is entirely man-made. I would call it a coming-of-age story; however, instead of character development, the main character experiences more of a moral deterioration and decay. We are witnesses to a clever, intelligent, studious girl being transformed into something much less than that.

…that crush of love and hate, the cruel and rotten bliss of friendship.

Throughout the book, every really interesting thing happens just outside of our field of vision. We’re present for the buildup and then again for the hazy, hungover aftermath. Even when our main character is in the midst of the action, we aren’t privy to the exact details and she is utterly clueless to most of what is going on. Yes, this is a technique to draw readers deeper into the story and preserve some of the mystery, but I also feel alienated by it, as if I can’t be trusted with the truth.

And that just gives me another reason to feel distrustful of the MC, whose point of view is the only side of the story we receive. She comes off as naive, gullible, and just desperate enough to do anything to be accepted. While her tragic history may excuse some of her neediness, she is clearly aware that her associations aren’t healthy – yet, she persists. Can we chalk that up merely to teenage angst and rebellion? Or has her own will become the plaything of the girls she calls her friends?

Let’s just say that a book club could have a field day with this one!

She is the specter that haunts the very image of masculinity, the one who took a bloody blade to the patriarchy itself.

Although I was intrigued through the first half of the book, I soon became disappointed at the direction of the action and the MC’s lack of backbone. And while I should have been focused on enjoying the roller coaster ride through some pretty dark corners of college life, I found myself feeling like I was watching a train wreck that I couldn’t turn away from.


Katie Lowe

Katie is a writer living in Worcester, UK. A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Katie has a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature & Modernity. She returned to Birmingham in 2019 to complete a PhD in English Literature, with her thesis on female rage in literary modernism and the #MeToo era.


29 Seconds

⇒RELEASE DAY REVIEW! “What if a single 29 second phone call could change your life forever?” -29 Seconds ⇐

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


Author: T.M. Logan

(4.04 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Suspense / Thriller

Format: Kindle

U.S. Publication Date: September 10, 2019, by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 356 (Kindle version)

#29Seconds


If she said no, the offer disappeared. Forever. And if she said yes, there was no going back. No changing her mind.

Bullies. You may have dealt with them in school or you may be dealing with them now at work. Maybe there’s one in your gym or – gasp! – in your book club! If you’ve managed to live your whole life up to this point and not be affected by some of the most heinous, manipulative, bossy, dangerous people on planet Earth, then I salute you (and I want to know what cave you’re living in because you must be quite the introvert!).

In this book, Sarah is vexed by a bully. But oh, my friends, that is a very dumbed-down and simplified version of what is taking place in her life and the lives of others around her. And we don’t have to look too far away from our own phones and TVs to see glaring real-life examples (and one in particular) of the type of man our main character is being harassed by. But Sarah’s story is about so much more than harassment. Let’s check out the blurb:

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne, a renowned scholar and television host. The beloved professor rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target. When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, she’s left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid. In the only way he knows how. The man gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear. No consequences. No traces. No chance of being found out. All it takes is a 29-second phone call. Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?


Perhaps sometimes in life, an impossible situation required an unthinkable solution.

Let’s be honest with each other, OK? When you read the blurb, did you come up with a name? That one person that just grates your last nerve, or the one that sets your teeth on edge – is that the name you thought of? I couldn’t think of one. I’m not trying to be Miss Goody-two-shoes; I just honestly couldn’t think of anyone that I despise enough to wish that they’d “disappear”. Did I just get kudos points in Heaven? One can dream…

OK, so Sarah pulls off a good deed by being an upstanding citizen (or very nosy neighbor – you decide), and her reward seems more like a punishment. But like Sarah, you never know what you would do irl with your back pushed against the wall. Did I agree with all of her decisions? Not by a long shot. But was I committed to watching this train wreck that Sarah was conducting? ‘Til the very last wheel came off the track.

You don’t have to go into the lion’s den.


First, Alan Hawthorne is an absolute monster. It says a lot about an author when he or she can make you absolutely hate one of their characters, and Logan clearly has that gift. Hawthorne is despicable, the worst imitation of a human being, and I wanted to rip his head off and spit down his neck! Too much? Maybe so, but maybe not after you read this book. 29 Seconds is about the seemingly mighty preying on the vulnerable weak, but it’s also about finding strength of will in impossible situations. Gotta say it… where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Suspense, suspense, suspense! 29 Seconds has plenty of it. These are characters in 3D that you will sympathize with, angrily criticize, fear, wish dead, and want to go give a comforting hug. This book made me run the gamut of emotions – and that, readers, is all we ever ask any author to do for us. Logan delivers an important message wrapped in thrills and tense action that will leave your mouth hanging open on more than one occasion. No really, you could have flown the Goodyear Blimp down my throat at the end of Part II.

If you love a great, fast-paced thriller where the stakes are high and virtue is cloudy, this is gonna be your jam! I only knocked off half a star because I had a few lingering questions at the end that weren’t fully resolved by the “epilogue”. But those aren’t deal-breakers, and 29 Seconds is definitely worth the read. My only remaining question is… When is the movie release?


29 Seconds is available in the US today, September 10, 2019 at any of the following retail stores:


And be on the lookout for his next U.S. release, The Vacation, in July 2020!


T.M. Logan

Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller Lies was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, winning a Silver Award at the Nielsen Bestseller Awards. -Bio adapted from TMLogan.com