Wednesday, September 30, 2020

You can't believe a word she says: A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER.

A Good Girl's Guide to MurderA Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pippa (Pip) decides to write her senior capstone project on the missing persons case of Andie Bell. Everyone in the town of Fairview believes popular Andie was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh, who then killed himself. The story still haunts the town five years later--including Sal's family and his younger brother, Ravi. Pip knew Sal, though, and he was always so kind to her. As she starts digging into the case, with Ravi's help, hoping to cast some doubt on the investigation, Pip starts discovering evidence that could exonerate Sal--and a lot of dark secrets that people in Fairview do not want dug up.

"'Because I don’t think your brother did it—and I’m going to try to prove it.'"

This is a dark and twisty thriller with an improbable but immediately likable protagonist. While I found it a bit unlikely that this high schooler could become such an excellent detective, I soon put my doubts aside. Pip is tough and determined and while some of the plot bordered on implausible, I was there for it, because I quickly fell for her, and for Ravi, Sal's younger brother.

“'It’s not just that he’s gone. It’s that…well, we’re not allowed to grieve for him, because of what happened.'"

Forming a partnership, the two dig deep into Andie's case, interviewing friends, family, and turning their town on its side. The result is an incredibly twisty and dark story-its sad, but sweet too. I loved the pluckiness of Pip; her friendship with Ravi; and the way the clues slowly unfolded, allowing us to see the horrible secrets and lies that led to what truly happened to Andie.

All in all, this is a quick read, full of twists and turns, and featuring a strong protagonist. 4 stars.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Monday, September 28, 2020

D, A to Z Challenge: DEAR RACHEL MADDOW.

Dear Rachel MaddowDear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book in my #atozchallenge! I'm challenging myself to read a book from my shelves that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Let's clear those shelves and delve into that backlist!

Brynn Harper doesn't have many constants in her life. But Rachel Maddow is one. After writing an email to Rachel for a school project--and getting a response back--Brynn continues writing emails to Rachel but never sending them. She chronicles her life in high school, stuck in the basement as part of the kids in remedial classes; her brother Nick's death; breaking up with her first girlfriend; and how hard things are at home with her mother and stepfather. And soon, she's telling Rachel about how unfair things are at school, when one of the honors kids tries to steamroll his way to being the student representative for the school board, without giving a voice to all types of kids at the school. Brynn knows this issue would fire up Rachel, but is it worth sticking out her neck and getting involved?

I absolutely loved this book and its heroine, Brynn. It's told all in letters (emails)--"epistolary YA written to a real person," as Kisner says in her acknowledgements. I balked for a second, but I quickly loved the format, because Brynn's unique and witty voice shines through via her letters to Rachel. We get the occasional email from someone else to help convey plot and sometimes comments on her letters from her increasingly exasperated, rueful, and impressed English teacher, Mr. Grimm.

Brynn's in remedial classes after some terrible things have happened, especially her brother Nick's death. His loss is a central theme to the book, and her grief is so startling and realistic. I truly loved this girl with my whole heart.

The lesbian and bisexual rep in this book is strong (so wonderful), as is the fact that it touts powerful women (from Rachel Maddow to Brynn and her posse). It's amazing to read a YA novel that covers politics and females fighting for their shot. Nothing is glossed over here--there aren't pretty endings tied up in bows--but you have to root for Brynn, and you have to be impressed with her willingness to stand up for herself. Especially because it seems like the world is stacked against this kid, a lot.

If you're a Rachel Maddow fan, you'll especially love the novel (obviously) as it calls out little quirks and inside jokes from her show. But you don't have to enjoy Rachel to love this book. I think it would be nearly impossible not to love it, honestly, between spunky Brynn and the fact that it's so easy to get caught up in the plot, the school politics, and the characters. There's a lot of depth and heart to this novel, and I highly recommend it, to teens and adults alike. 4.5 stars.

You can read more about the #atozchallenge here.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Friday, September 25, 2020

They’re rollin' in the dough, we’re fightin' for scraps: WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING.

When No One is WatchingWhen No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A terrifying and intense psychological thriller

Sydney Green grew up in Brooklyn and now she's back in her mom's home after a failed relationship. But her Gifford Place neighborhood seems to be changing daily--houses selling, new neighbors moving in, familiar stores closing. To try to help deal with the change, Sydney begins researching a walking tour: one that will truly showcase the real history of her neighborhood. In doing so, she winds up with an unlikely assistant, her bumbling new neighbor Theo. But the more Sydney and Theo delve into the neighborhood's past, the more horrifying things they uncover. And the push for gentrification around them seems to have even more sinister undertones than anyone could have expected.

"The landscape of my life is unrecognizable; Gifford Place doesn't feel like home."

Wow, an insane and wild ride happens when you pick up this book! Told in alternating perspectives from Sydney and Theo, peppered with posts from Gifford Place's "Our Hood" app, this is a tense and utterly spellbinding thriller unlike anything I've ever read before.

This is an incredibly timely book--covering racism in a straightforward and upfront format. Some of the characters are downright despicable, and Cole does not shy away from showing how utterly racist and hateful people can be. Yes, today, in America. The book is, honestly, eye-opening, no matter how informed you think you may be. It delves into the history of Brooklyn and how black property owners were pushed out, and I found it to be very informative (and heart breaking). Just as bleak is how it clearly shows the institutional racism in place today. Slavery may be gone in its original form, but its legacy still exists, and there are still so many ways to keep black people down, to hold them back.

While illustrating this, Cole gives us a completely terrifying thriller that borders on horror. It's suspenseful and horrifying, filled with paranoia and conspiracy theories. I was completely caught up in Sydney and Theo's world--and honestly the entire neighborhood of Gifford Place. This book takes a wild turn near the end and the crazy plot is, well, crazy, but at this point, with everything we've learned and realized, you begin to think that it's almost entirely plausible things could go down the way they do.

No matter what, the result is a truly spellbinding and illuminating read. It's not often a book teaches and yet terrifies, educates and still captivates. I definitely recommend this one. 4+ stars.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and HarperCollins/William Morrow in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

C, A to Z Challenge: COTTAGE BY THE SEA.

Cottage by the SeaCottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in my #atozchallenge! I'm challenging myself to read a book from my shelves that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Let's clear those shelves and delve into that backlist!

After a horrible tragedy alters her life forever, Annie Marlow picks up and moves to Oceanside, a beach town in the Pacific Northwest. It's where her family vacationed once a year--a place that contains her happiest memories. Staying in the same cottage her family once rented, Annie tries to heal. She meets Keaton, a large and often silent man, who helps Annie fix up her cottage; Mellie, her abrasive and reclusive landlord; and Britt, a troubled teenager. Annie feels like she belongs in this town, but when she's offered the chance of a lifetime for her career, she must make a decision with life-altering consequences.

"All he could say was that deep down in a part of him that he couldn't explain, he believed Annie Marlow needed to be in Oceanside. It was where she was meant to be."

Well, this was a lovely little romance that took me by surprise, but in a good way. It's sweet and touching, and I found myself completely enamored by the characters, especially Annie and Keaton. Oh who am I kidding? And Mellie and Keaton's best friend Preston and Britt and her mother and... you get the picture.

I chose this book because I miss the beach terribly, and Macomber did a great job of portraying this little seaside town and its fiercely protective townspeople. Could I see most of the plot coming a mile away? Sure. Did I care? Not at all. There's lots of depth here, between Annie's grief; Keaton's stoicism, which can be attributed to his own difficult past; Britt and her family, who are struggling in their own way; and Mellie, who has traveled her own troubled road. But there's plenty of heartwarming moments, and I won't lie, I might have shed a tear or two along the way.

Overall, this is a book about love, family (wherever you may find it) and healing. It's a quick read, but a very sweet one. 4 stars.

You can read more about the #atozchallenge here.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Monday, September 21, 2020

The birds in the morning don't sing anymore: LITTLE DISASTERS.

Little DisastersLittle Disasters by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A compelling and emotional thriller about motherhood

Liz and Jess have been friends since they met in a prenatal group over ten years ago. So Liz, a doctor in a pediatrics hospital ward, is of course anxious when Jess brings her youngest daughter, baby Betsey, in with a head injury. But the worry turns to further concern when Betsey's injury appears suspicious and Jess's explanations of how it occurred are insufficient. The incident in the ward sets off a series of events that will change the two women's friendship--and lives--forever.

"A voice singsongs in her head, like a child desperate for attention--You're a bad, bad mother--and she tries to shove it away."

Vaughan gives us an excellent read here--powerful, sad, and real, covering a variety of serious topics that are not always discussed. Child abuse, postpartum depression, martial strife: it's all here, in a heartbreaking novel that is, surprisingly, a compelling thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page. Little Disasters is captivating, offering us front row seats into family tragedy and strife. Secrets are uncovered as the pages turn--not only for Jess and her husband, Ed--but also for Liz, as we learn more about her past and her own troubled mother, who had a dark history as well.

Vaughan expertly weaves the past and present together, giving us a taunt and compelling narrative, part mystery, part insight into relationships and motherhood. This wasn't always easy to read, given the difficult subjects, yet I found myself desperately wanting to know what happened to Betsey and what would become of the two women. Overall, this is a well-done thriller and enjoyable in its original plot and emotional realism. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 20, 2020

B, A to Z Challenge: BEHIND HER EYES.

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

This is the second book in my #atozchallenge! I'm challenging myself to read a book from my shelves that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Let's clear those shelves and delve into that backlist!

Louise has a pretty boring life. A single mom and part-time secretary, most of her life revolves around her young son. But then one night she meets a man in a bar and feels an instant attraction. Though it stops with a kiss, she feels excited by the prospect of finally having met someone. So imagine Louise's surprise when, the next morning, she sees the man again. At work. He's her new boss. And he's also very married, to a beautiful younger wife, Adele. Soon, Louise accidentally runs into Adele and the two form a friendship. Louise knows it's wrong, but she feels drawn to Adele as well. She appears lonely. Plus, the more Louise learns about Adele, the more she feels something is off: Adele seems afraid and almost controlled by David. Before she knows it, Louise is spending time with Adele and David, unable to tell the other about what she's doing. She's also realizing that there's something very wrong with this marriage. But how wrong, Louise has no idea.

"You can never know everything about a person. You'd go mad trying to."

Well, this was a spellbinding thriller. It's a wild ride that keeps you guessing the entire time, wondering who is twisting whose mind and what on earth is going on between David, Adele, and even Louise. Is David an abusive husband controlling his wife? Is Adele a cowed and crazy housewife? What happened between David and Adele when they were young and Adele's parents died? Is Louise complicit in their games? I felt befuddled and mesmerized as I madly flipped the pages, trying to figure out what on earth was going on.

"The more I fall for David, the more fascinated I become with Adele. It's a vicious circle."

I knew I didn't really like any of these people, but I didn't care, as I had to know what was going to happen next. Trying to put together the pieces in this psychological puzzle is nearly impossible; it seems like everyone is playing mind games with everyone else. It's told in a Now and Then format, with perspectives from Adele and Louise. But who can we trust? Does anyone tell the truth in this book? I won't spoil it for you, but I can say that the short chapters and flip in time periods make for a captivating read.

Some of the plot is strange and again, the characters are not particularly likeable (Louise, come on, let's make better choices), but the book makes up for it in psychological thrills and twists. Behind Her Eyes has been on my shelf for a while, as I'd heard about its surprises and big ending. I'm glad I used this challenge to pick it up. It was a different read and a crazy one. 3.75 stars, rounded to 4 here.

You can read more about the #atozchallenge here.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Friday, September 18, 2020

A, A to Z Challenge: ALL YOUR PERFECTS.

All Your PerfectsAll Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in my #atozchallenge! I'm challenging myself to read a book from my shelves that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Let's clear those shelves and delve into that backlist!

Quinn and Graham had the perfect romance and marriage. But now, that marriage is on the rocks and all those perfect memories threatened as their union is about to implode. If they can't talk to each other and work things out, they're done. Can they get past their problems and find that perfection again?

Wow, I picked a doozy for the first book in my challenge! This book was almost physically hard to read at times! It's a brutal look at a struggling marriage, as Quinn and Graham--once a perfect couple--can barely look at or talk to one another. Told in a then and now format from Quinn's perspective, we see how the two fell head over heels in love. And, conversely, we see how they fell apart. It's an emotional and tense read that's often bitterly sad and heartbreaking. Hoover makes you feel as if you're in the book, part of the characters' dissolving marriage.

This one hit home, as Quinn and Graham battle with infertility, something I know quite well. If you've struggled with this, this will be a hard read--yet you'll be able to find many parallels with the couple. It's not necessarily a happy book, yet it's romantic and sweet too. It presents a very realistic portrayal of marriage and one of the best portraits of a (straight) couple grappling with infertility that I've ever read.

This isn't an easy book to read, but it's really quite good. It packs a sucker punch, but in a good way. You'll find yourself lost in Quinn and Graham's world--I certainly recommend this fierce, touching look at love, marriage, and how far we will go for the ones we care about. 4+ stars.

You can read more about the #atozchallenge here.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Sometimes I don't see love in anything: WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK.

We Are All the Same in the DarkWe Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Stunning, shocking thriller filled with dark twists

Ten years ago, Trumanell Branson disappeared, along with her no-good daddy. But it's beautiful Trumanell her Texas town remembers and mourns. And, despite no arrests, they blame her brother, Wyatt, who lives alone on the old Branson homestead, hated by the entire town. When Wyatt, a trucker, finds a girl in a field of dandelions, he thinks it's a sign. As for the town cop, Odette--who has a long history with Wyatt--she fears the discovery of this girl will only turn the town against Wyatt fully and permanently. But when she goes to retrieve her, she feels drawn to the girl. Odette is haunted by Trumanell's disappearance, and now, the arrival of this mystery girl. As she digs into the past and the present, she uncovers shocking secrets about her town and the night that forever changed it.

"She has a bad, bad mystery to her. I can feel it deep in the hollow of my spook bone, the one my dad broke when I was a kid. My arm is never wrong."

This is an amazing, absorbing thriller that draws you in from the first page. Heaberlin writes so beautifully and lyrically--all these dark and horrific moments unfold in such beautiful prose. Her words astound me.

"There's no chatter about why I'm alone, scared, speeding on a prairie road with trees scattered like sailboats, thinking how my daddy, the town's late great top cop, told me to never come back to this little Texas hellhole unless it was to bury his ashes. Don't try to find the truth about Trumanell. Some answers are left to the by and by."

The characters here are beautiful--flawed, damaged, tender, and painted with a depth that will astound you. Troubled Odette, lost Wyatt, and Angel, the girl found in the field. They form a trio that one is unlikely to forget for quite some time.

This is a dark read--atmospheric and sad, and not always easy to read. Bad things happen in this town. Heaberlin's twists are true stunners. It's rare when a thriller takes me by surprise, but wow, I found myself shocked several times, and even better, unaware of the true culprit. How nice to read a mystery without guessing the ultimate ending.

Overall, this is a superb tale of a town held captive by its own secrets and tragedy. The characters come to life before your eyes through Heaberlin's elegant writing. It's shocking and twisted and one that shouldn't be missed. 4.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Random House/Ballantine and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The A to Z Challenge!

In an attempt to clear my overflowing shelves, I'm challenging myself to complete what I'm calling the A to Z challenge--reading one book off my shelves for each letter of the alphabet. This is just for fun, and I'll certainly be reading my ARCs, library books, and other books along the way as well. 

This post will keep track of the books as I go, so feel free to refer back here to check on my progress. Since this is all for fun (and to clear off my shelves and backlist!), I'm not really giving myself too many rules, except:

*Books should be physical books unless no copy exists for that letter of the alphabet (technically I have a full Kindle as well, but hey, my wife can't see that!)

 *ARCs are okay, but try to give precedence to clearing off books that I've bought or have been gifted (but really, a book that clears off a space, clears off a space!) 

*Try not to read the same author multiple times, but that's not a hard and fast one 

*No buying new books just to fill a letter :D 

The A to Z List -- an ongoing compilation  

A -- All Your Perfects by Collen Hoover, finished 9/15/2020. Read the full review of All Your Perfects here.

B -- Behind Your Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, finished 9/19/2020. Read the full review of Behind Your Eyes here.

C -- Cottage By the Sea by Debbie Macomber, finished 9/21/2020. Read the full review of Cottage By the Sea here.

D -- Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner, finished 9/24/2020. Read the full review of Dear Rachel Maddow here.

E -- Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, finished 9/27/2020. Read the full review of Emergency Contact here.

F -- Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger, finished 9/29/2020. Read the full review of Follow Me Back here.

G -- George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl, finished 10/12/2020. Read the full review of George & Lizzie here.

H -- Haunt & Me by Liz Kessler, finished 10/16/2020. Read the full review of Haunt Me here.

I -- In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, finished 10/20/2020. Read the full review of In Five Years here.

J -- Just One Look by Harlan Coben, finished 10/29/2020. Read the full review of Just One Look here.

K -- Katerina by James Frey, finished 11/10/2020. Read the full review of Katerina here.

L -- Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, finished 11/18/2020. Read the full review of Love, Hate and Other Filters here.

M -- More Than Words by Jill Santopolo, finished 12/2/2020.Read the full review of More Than Words here.

N -- No Exit by Taylor Adams, finished 1/3/2021. Read the full review of No Exit here.

O -- Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley, finished 1/23/2021. Read the full review of Our Own Private Universe here.

P -- Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory, finished 1/28/2021. Read the full review of Party of Two here.

Q -- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, finished 2/10/2021. Read the full review of Queens of Geek here.

R -- Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, finished 2/27/2021. Read the full review of Raven Black here.

S -- Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, finished 3/4/2021. Read the full review of Since You've Been Gone here.

T -- Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo, finished 3/7/2021. Read the full review of Ties That Tether here.

U -- Under Currents by Nora Roberts, finished 3/12/2021. Read the full review Under Currents here.

V -- Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, finished 3/27/2021. Read the full review of Valley of the Dolls here.

W -- What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz, finished 4/1/2021.

X -- Xeni, by Rebekah Weatherspoon, finished 4/24/2021. Read the full review of Xeni here.

Y -- Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle Zevin, finished 4/30/2021.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

And wait my turn to burn or fade: WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.

With or Without YouWith or Without You by Caroline Leavitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stella and Simon have been together nearly twenty years. Simon, a rock musician, has spent most of those waiting for his one big break. He thinks he's found it now, but right before he and Stella are set to leave for California for the show that could change his life, she falls into a coma. Now Simon faces a choice: get on the plane with his band, or remain behind with his love. As for Stella, she's aware of the world around her while in the coma, and when she emerges, she's different, with a newfound artistic talent. Together, Simon and Stella must reexamine their relationship and figure out the path forward.

What a beautiful and striking novel. I discovered Caroline Leavitt through the power of ARCs in 2016, falling in love with her work through Cruel Beautiful World. She gives us another book filled with compelling characters here. I so enjoyed reading a book with a different plot, especially knowing that the coma story was somewhat based on Leavitt's own life. She's a remarkable writer in so many ways.

With or Without You is incredibly well-written--almost poetic at times. It's told from both Simon and Stella's perspectives, including while Stella's in her coma, and some of those moments are quite profound and touching. Both Stella's realizations as she struggles to realize where she is, and Simon's, as he tries to grapple with the idea of his partner being ill, as well as the awareness that he may be losing his last chance at fame and fortune as his band moves on without him.

"It's a kind of blankness. She's been erased for a while and then redrawn. When she comes back, she always feels a little bit better..."

Even worse for both Simon and Stella is the fact that they fought shortly before she fell into the coma. What kind of relationship, each wonders, would they come back into should Stella awake? In this way, Leavitt gives a beautiful character study: an in-depth observation into a flawed relationship. It just happens to be a relationship where a woman enters and exits a coma. It's an amazing look into love, loyalty, and loss. The novel makes you think, drawing you into the characters. What would you do in Simon's situation, you think? Or Stella's?

"Mostly she thought of all the things that she herself wanted, and like Simon's dreams, they had an expiration date she couldn't ignore."

Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. It's so well-done and such a different and intriguing look at two people trying to find happiness. I love Leavitt's way with words. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this novel from Algonquin Books and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

This was the world and the world was you: IMPERFECT WOMEN.

Imperfect WomenImperfect Women by Araminta Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engaging and suspenseful look into the power of secrets

Eleanor, Nancy, and Mary have been best friends since they met at Oxford. But then Nancy is murdered, leaving behind an adoring husband and a daughter. Her life, from the outside, was seemingly perfect. But Eleanor knows that the night Nancy died, she was going to meet her lover, hoping to break it off. And as the investigation into Nancy's death continues, both Eleanor and Mary struggle with their grief, the memories they have of their friend, and what her death means for those left behind.

"Eleanor felt a jolt of terror pass through her as she realized that everything about Nancy's death was worse than any other death anywhere. They would all suffer, and nothing would ever be the same again."

This was a truly fascinating book: it's part character-driven mystery and part insightful look at the role of women in society. It's told from the point of view of the three friends, but not the usual quick back and forth: we get large chunks of the story told from one woman at a time. Truths unfold slowly, as we learn bits and pieces about Eleanor, Nancy, and Mary--from themselves and each other.

The focal point of the story is Nancy's rather gruesome murder, but Hall fills her tale with thoughts and ruminations on women and how they are seen in society--and how they feel they are perceived. In some ways, it felt like a bunch broad generalizations applied to women, yet as I read, I found that most of them really rang true. I was furiously highlighting passages, nodding my head yes!

At times, it was hard to see where this book was going. Murder? Deep thoughts? It certainly straddled the line on both. In terms of Nancy's murder, I had a good chunk figured out early on, but the story certainly kept me engaged, reading and wondering if I was right. All three flawed (imperfect, indeed) women were interesting in their own way, and I liked each woman's section. I found this to be a very well-written book, but it's not a snappy thriller.

If you want a fast whodunit, this isn't for you. But if you want a well-done and thoughtful read, I recommend Hall's latest. It's a suspenseful and insightful look at love, marriage, and friendship. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews

Friday, September 04, 2020

In heart-stopping waves of hurt: THE NIGHT SWIM.

The Night SwimThe Night Swim by Megan Goldin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark, timely and propulsive thriller

Rachel Krall, from the popular Guilty or Not Guilty true crime podcast, finds herself in the town of Neapolis, North Carolina for season three. It's the first time she's covered a live trial, and it's a divisive rape trial no less. A high school girl "K" has accused popular swimmer Scott Blair of raping her. It's set the town on edge and brought up lots of questions about reputations and who can be believed. As Rachel arrives in Neapolis, she's shocked to find a letter on her car--rarely is the radio host recognized in public. But someone in the town wants her help unlocking the mysteries of what happened to her sister over twenty-five years ago. Jenny Stills' death--at sixteen--was ruled a drowning, but the letter writer insists she was murdered, and they want Rachel to help her find the killer. Quickly the past and present intertwine, as Rachel realizes the two cases may be connected.

"That's why I'm writing to you, Rachel. Jenny's killer will be there. In that town. Maybe that courtroom. It's time for justice to be done. You're the only one who can help me deliver it."

Goldin offers us an excellent thriller with a pervasive eerie feel. While, for the most part, I find myself tired of podcast tales, The Night Swim offers an overall fresh take on the genre, weaving in Rachel's episodes about the trial with her own investigation into both the current case and the Stills drowning. We also hear from the past, giving us even more insight into what happened to Jenny all those years ago. The result is a spellbinding, sometimes heartbreaking, read that's nearly impossible to put down.

I highly enjoyed putting the pieces together on this one--as they filter in via our various narratives. I had an early guess that proved to be right, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book in any way. The ending was a little different, but overall, I was a big fan of the intersection of the two cases and the dark and timely themes this book brought up--rape, assault, and more. It offers an unflinching look at what women experience: and how rarely they are believed, trusted, or can turn to anyone.

Overall, this is an excellent, fast-paced thriller with two storylines that work well together. It's creepy and dark, with a strong, unforgettable message. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

View all my reviews