Mystery, Thriller

Shamed by Linda Castillo

Shamed (Kate Burkholder, #11)Shamed by Linda Castillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out today!

I’m going to be honest here. This is not a book I probably would have picked up for myself. I’m not typically into books that incorporate Amish culture, but I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher so I gave it a shot.

Very glad that I didn’t allow my preconceived notions to deter me. I liked this book very much. And the way Linda Castillo wove the Amish culture into the book was actually one of the best parts. The impact of Amish customs and privacy on the investigation of a murder was fascinating.

When an elderly Amish woman is murdered and her young granddaughter is taken by the perpetrator, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must race against time to save her.

I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and information was given to the reader. I will say that nothing about the story was very shocking. I didn’t find the twists very twisty (until the very end where there was one that caught me completely off guard). But, it was an enjoyable police procedural that I think a lot of readers would really enjoy.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Linda Castillo and Minotaur Books for the opportunity to review.-

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Mystery, Thriller

Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake

Only Ever YouOnly Ever You by Rebecca Drake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out in paperback today!

I’m not going to lie, the cover of this book didn’t really speak to me. I’m (right or wrong) really big on book covers, but I received this book from the publisher and was more than happy to read and review. Let me say that I’m so glad I didn’t let the cover deter me because the story inside is fabulous.

A thriller about a 3-year old girl who goes missing from her home in the night is the not the most unique concept but the structure is what made this book really special. Not many thrillers tell you the culprit from the beginning of the story, but right off the bat the reader know who abducted the small girl. And the story then tells how the investigation unfolds, the parents are suspects (because they always are), the abductor’s actions to cover her tracks.

I did think I had figured out all the plot points and wasn’t really surprised by anything… until the last 30ish pages where a few things really came at me out of nowhere. I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied by the twists at the end.

If you’re like me and feel underwhelmed by the cover, don’t let it stop you from reading the book because you’ll really be missing out. I would definitely recommend this one to thriller lovers looking for something with a different structure.

-I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Rebecca Drake and St. Martin’s Griffin for the opportunity to review.-

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Humor, Romance

Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock

Crashing the A-ListCrashing the A-List by Summer Heacock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out today!

What a fun, witty, and clever book! After a string of thrillers and historical fiction novels, I absolutely needed this book. It provided a ray of sunshine through the heaviness.

Crashing the A-List is about a girl who’s down on her luck. The publishing house she works for gets bought out and she loses her job. She ends up desperately taking a job cleaning out storage units that have been abandoned (think reality TV’s Storage Wars). And she stumbles upon some interesting stuff that might just change the course of her life. In an instant she finds herself blackmailed into being the fake girlfriend of a heartthrob celebrity and the rest is hilarious history.

Summer Heacock injected the perfect amount of humor into this story. There were so many times I stumbled upon witty sentences that took me a second to process, but then made me chuckle uncontrollably. I thought the funny moments were infectious. The romance was cute and not too terribly predictable.

Is the book super realistic? Maybe not so much. But I did feel like while I was reading, a rom com movie was playing in my head. I could totally see this being taken to the big screen.

Overall, I loved this one and appreciated some reprieve from the dark and sinister I’ve been reading lately. A perfect book for light summer reading if you’re looking for a few laughs.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Summer Heacock, and MIRA Books for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is utterly life changing and I’m:

1. Sad that it took me so long to read it, and;
2. Pleasantly surprised that it was written by a man.

In one of the book-oriented groups I participate in on Facebook, somebody asked if her teenage daughter should read The Nightingale or A Thousand Splendid Suns for one of their high school classes. As The Nightingale is my favorite book of all time and I had never read A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was quick to recommend the former. But after reading the recommendations of others, several people remarked that young adults are provided with a plethora of information about WWII, but rarely are they given an in depth look at the struggles in the Middle East. I thought that was an excellent point, and decided to read the book for myself to learn more.

Wow, was I pleasantly surprised. This book really details the struggles of the Afghani people over the 3 decades leaving up to the tragedy on September 11th, 2001. How the Soviet Union played a role in shaping the country. How the Taliban slowly took power and wreaked havoc on the people of Afghanistan. And mostly, how the women of the country were affected. This is probably my favorite part of the book… the deep dive into how women endured and survived through horrific oppression and abuse. And I could not believe that it was written by a man. Incredibly impressive writing from Khaled Hosseini.

The story tells of a young woman who was born out of wedlock and is therefore not claimed by her father. At the age of 15, a marriage is arranged with a much older man named Rasheed who is horrendously abusive and she is shipped off to the city of Kabul. Meanwhile, a baby girl is born down the street. 14 years later, as the fighting escalates in Kabul, the baby-girl-turned-young-woman also finds herself the victim of Rasheed’s tyranny. The story revolves around the two women, their relationship, and how they withstood their awful circumstances in Afghanistan.

This book really gave me a glimpse into how lucky I am to have been born in America. It gives me an incredible respect for people who live in countries that must endure oppressive governments, horrific violence and abuse, and years of injustice. I think those who commented on the Facebook post that prompted me to read this book were absolutely right; this is an important book for young adults to read and understand. Although I must warn that there are significant potential triggers in the book including: rape, domestic violence, abuse, etc.

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but if you haven’t already read it, I would highly recommend it. It’s absolutely eye opening.

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

BethlehemBethlehem by Karen Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out July 9th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Bravo to my fellow Vanderbilt graduate, Karen Kelly, on a beautifully written novel!

This one is a sweeping family drama that takes place over several generations. In this way, it reminded me of Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter or Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book, both of which I adored. So I’m happy to be able to add Bethlehem to these incredible titles.

A woman and her family move into her husband’s family home to watch over his mother and grandmother after his father passes away. And family secrets will be revealed as the past is uncovered. I’m hesitant to give any more of a synopsis because you need to read this one for yourself to appreciate Karen Kelly’s storytelling.

The one thing that was a tad difficult for me was getting all of the names and relationships straight for the first 20% or so of the book. But, there is a really nice family tree drawn in the front of the book that helped me get everything straight. Once I had a handle on the family relationships and dynamics, it was smooth sailing the rest of the book.

I would highly recommend if you tend to like sweeping family dramas!

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Kelly, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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