Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Longest Silence (Book Review)

Title: The Longest Silence
Author: Debra Webb
Publication: Mira, 2018, hardcover, also available as Kindle and audio
Genre: Suspense
Plot: A killer stole her voice.  Her only friend has committed suicide. Now she’s ready to take it back.

Joanna Guthrie was free. She had been for eighteen years–or so she needed everyone to believe. What really happened during the longest fourteen days of her life, when she and two other women were held captive by the worst kind of serial killer, wasn’t something she has ever been able to talk about. Not after what they had to do to survive.

But when more women go missing in an eerily similar manner, Jo knows her prolonged silence will only seal their fates. She’s finally ready to talk; she just needs someone to listen. Disgraced FBI special agent Tony LeDoux is that someone and he can’t deny he finds Jo compelling–he’s just not sure he believes her story. But with the clock ticking, Jo will do anything to convince him, even if it means unearthing long-buried secrets that will land them squarely in the cross-hairs of the killer…

Audience: Fans of gritty romantic suspense; authors such as Cynthia Eden and Lori Foster

About the Author: Debra Webb is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 100 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil and the Colby Agency series. She is the recipient of the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense as well as numerous Reviewers Choice Awards.

My Impressions: This is a very dark narrative in which two damaged characters come together to solve a long hidden mystery. Jo has never been the same since she was tortured by a killer during a previously carefree freshman year of college. Years later, she is a journalist for an online newspaper so she can work from home, avoid people, and pick up strangers when she feels like having sex. Tony, forced out of the FBI after obsessing about his career at the cost of innocent victims, has relied on alcohol and women to dull the pain; he no longer has a badge to rely on but is determined to find his missing niece, captured by the same killer as Jo. When Jo comes to him for help, they sleep together (well, why not, when there's a killer or three on the loose) but their relationship reveals little sense of connection other than a collaboration to find a killer. Those looking for romance may be disappointed but readers interested in a suspenseful serial killer novel will enjoy an unusual story. 

Technically, this is the fifth in the series but I felt it worked as a standalone, although I assume Tony's FBI disgrace is covered in The Blackest Crimson.   The plot, while not impossible considering the crazy things we encounter on a daily basis via the media, is not very convincingly handled, and I could have done without the gratuitous violence.

Purchase Links: Barnes & Noble  Amazon  IndieBound

Source: I was provided an ebook by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. I seem to be the final stop on the tour but you can visit earlier stops below:

EXCERPT TOUR:

Tuesday, February 13th: What is That Book About
Wednesday, February 14th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Thursday, February 15th: Books & Spoons
Friday, February 16th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Monday, February 19th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Tuesday, February 20th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, February 21st: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, February 22nd: The Lit Bitch
Friday, February 23rd: Lit Wit Wine Dine
Saturday, February 24th: Clues and Reviews
Tuesday, February 27th: Why Girls Are Weird
Wednesday, February 28th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, March 1st: Books a la Mode
Friday, March 2nd: Read Love Blog

REVIEW TOUR:

Monday, March 5th: The Sassy Bookster
Monday, March 5th: Books & Spoons
Wednesday, March 7th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Thursday, March 8th: Tales of a Book Addict
Saturday, March 10th: Books & Bindings
Tuesday, March 13th: @athousandbookstoread
Wednesday, March 14th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Thursday, March 15th: Katy’s Library and @katyslibrary
Friday, March 16th: Not in Jersey
Monday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Tuesday, March 20th: Mama Reads Blog
Wednesday, March 21st: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, March 22nd: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, March 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, March 23rd: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, March 26th: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip
Tuesday, March 27th: Mystery Suspense Reviews
Tuesday, March 27th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, March 28th: Why Girls Are Weird
Thursday, March 29th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, March 29th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Finding Felicity (Book Review and Giveaway)

Title: Finding Felicity
Author: Stacey Kade
Publication: Simon & Schuster, hardcover and eBook, 2018
Genre: YA
Plot: Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with. But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real.

However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home — and a lot of therapy. Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

Giveaway Link: Enter by 3/29/18 to win a copy of Finding Felicity:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase Links: Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks IndieBound Book Depository

Audience: Fans of books in which the heroines muster their wits, but an older YA audience might find the heroine a bit pathetic or the story too tame.

My Impressions: I never watched the TV show Felicity but I always meant to, as I was living in New York when it began and I always enjoyed stories set at college (a subset of the school story), so was interested in the concept behind this book (also was curious because I remembered one of the actors turned up on Scandal). Finding Felicity is a poignant story about a young woman whose natural shyness has been exacerbated by the departure of her father with his second wife, while Caroline moved across the country and had to start her sophomore year of high school at a new school in Arizona. She is so lacking in self confidence that she literally becomes speechless when confronted by the cool kids at school. Her obsession with the TV show Felicity is an understandable way to escape from the casual cruelties of adolescence (even if she takes it to unbelievable extremes) and I faulted the mother for failing to recognize how miserable her daughter was.
Surely we have all anticipated new beginnings, whether at school, work, or a new home, and yearned to be perceived differently, and I have enjoyed many books with this theme such as Emily of Deep Valley, Don’t Call Me Katie Rose, This Adventure Ends, and a hilariously funny book that turns the theme upside down called How Not to Be Popular in which the heroine/new girl in town tries NOT to make friends because it is so painful when one has to move. However, I did get tired of Caroline’s abject misery and lack of self-esteem. Her story becomes more interesting when she stops moaning and – with the help of her new roommate - starts making an effort to find out who she really is instead of pretending to be someone else.

I liked the character of Lexi, the daughter of the college janitor, who has (with some justification) a chip on her shoulder about being a scholarship student at a college full of rich kids but comes through when Caroline really needs a friend. Even Liam, the boy Caroline foolishly follows to Ashmore, is extremely convincing: the kind of young man who is carelessly kind when he remembers and it does not inconvenience him but ultimately will not consider the feelings of anyone but himself – the best moment of the book is when Caroline turns down his invitation to play Beer Pong. Luckily, there turn out to be some kindred spirits for Caroline and Lexi and, refreshingly, the book ends with the promise of friendship rather than a romance cure-all.  And I think a less cluttered cover would have worked better.


About the Author: The daughter of a minister and a music teacher, Stacey Kade grew up like many of us reading Harlequin romances on the sly. She is the author of two young adult series and recently published her first adult contemporary, 738 Days. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and dogs.

Source: I was provided an ebook by the publisher and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for review purposes. Please follow other stops on the tour below:

March 14th


Pink Polka Dot Books- Welcome Post

Match 15th


Vicky Who Reads- Review & Favorite Quotes

March 16th


We Live and Breathe Books- Review & Favorite Quotes

March 17th


Books, Boys, and Blogs!- Creative Option

March 18th


Life at 17- Review

March 19th


Bookmark Lit- Creative Option
Book Crushin- Review

March 20th




Monday, March 12, 2018

Sunburn by Laura Lippman (Book Review)

Title: Sunburn
Author: Laura Lippman
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover, 2018
Genre: Suspense
Plot: New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals—and cold-blooded murder.

One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware.  Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets.

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give.  Which one will it be?

Audience: Fans of psychological suspense and of authors such as Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Megan Abbott

My Impressions: Laura Lippman, you get darker and darker!  As always, this talented author delivers a fascinating look at the innermost thoughts of people with secrets but here she has
outdone herself as everyone seems to have multiple secrets and trusts no one.  The creepy factor is extreme (although not as extreme as in I’d Know You Anywhere, which is like a perpetual skin crawl), the characters were the type of people you are grateful not to know personally, and yet – bit by bit – the reader becomes invested in their story and starts rooting for Polly not to be exposed, for Adam to either come clean with her or leave town, and for nothing bad to happen to 3-year-old Jani.  There are some books where you can tell what is going to happen a mile off, and sometimes that interferes with your enjoyment of the story.  With Laura Lippman, there is endless suspense but no predictability except that you will be up late reading!

Long ago and oh so far away, I was sitting in a meeting when talented editor Carrie Feron said she was excited about a first mystery with a wonderful sense of place set in Baltimore.   She said the author’s name was Laura Lippman, and I sat up and said, “I’ve read her!”  No editor ever turns down support from the Barnes & Noble sales manager so Carrie hid her surprise and didn’t miss a beat, promising me a manuscript later that day.  I told the room I had recently read a fabulous article by Laura in the Baltimore Sun although perhaps did not mention it was praising the Betsy-Tacy books, one of my favorite series.  In fact, back in those early days of the Internet, it was still pretty rare and exciting to find Betsy-Tacy fans so someone from DC had joyously shared the Baltimore Sun article with me.   Laura is a true fan, and usually hides a clue in her books for fans of Betsy-Tacy and Beany Malone – here, I found two (spoiler below).   Her “in the know” readers love looking for these mentions.  When I couldn’t find it in Wilde Lake (my favorite of her standalones), I broke down and asked her, then was annoyed with myself for missing it.

Maud Hart Lovelace, author of Betsy-Tacy, will be celebrated in Minnesota at a conference in August 2018, and Laura Lippman has promised to speak, which will be a great treat for attendees.  I know she is concentrating these days on her “bigger” standalone books but I am fond of her journalist-turned-sleuth heroine, Tess Monaghan, and hope Tess will find some new fans too.  I gave my copy of Baltimore Blues to my niece when she was about to start at Johns Hopkins because her mother and I wanted her to see her new home with Laura’s eyes (you have to admit, if she saw it through Laura’s husband’s eyes (mesmerizing though that might be) she might have been too scared to leave her Boston high school!).  

Purchase LinksAmazon  B&N  IndieBound  HarperCollins
Source: I was provided a pre-publication copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes.  You can visit other stops on the tour via the links below:

Instagram Stops

Tuesday, February 20th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Tuesday, February 20th: Instagram: @hollyslittlebookreviews
Thursday, February 22nd: Instagram: @hippiechickreads
Wednesday, February 28th: Instagram: @ACaffeinatedBibliophile
Thursday, March 1st: Instagram: @acouplereads

Review Stops

Tuesday, February 20th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, February 21st: The Book Diva’s Reads
Thursday, February 22nd: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, February 23rd: bookchickdi
Monday, February 26th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, February 27th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, February 28th: Novel Gossip
Tuesday, March 6th: A Book a Week
Wednesday, March 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 13th: Clues & Reviews
Wednesday, March 14th: Julie’s Bookshelf
Thursday, March 15th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Spoilers: In Chapter 25 it is revealed that Polly lives on Lilac Way, which is the name of the community center where Beany Malone finds her true calling (and her true love). In the next chapter, Adam quotes from Kipling: "Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone," and although I did not know it was Kipling, I immediately recognized it as the first lines of Betsy and the Great World.