Friday, May 25, 2018

Bring Me Back Review

Title:  Bring Me Back
Author:  B.A. Paris
Genre:  Thriller, Suspense
Publisher:  HQ
Publishing Date:  June 12, 2018 (1st publ. Mar. 1, 2018)
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  3 Compelling Hearts

*Many thanks to HQ for a copy of this arc via Netgally.

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Bring Me Back is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that begins with the mysterious disappearance of a woman, Layla, at a restroom stop in France.  Finn, her boyfriend, is frantic when he discovers her gone.  After months of searching, he gives up and returns home.  Fast forward twelve years and Finn is engaged to marry Ellen, Layla's sister, and yet Layla is never far from his mind.  After Finn and Ellen's engagement announcement appears in a local paper, an omen in the form of a tiny Russian doll appears on the wall in front of their house.  The relevance and implications are monumental as it's a link to Ellen's childhood.  Only she, Layla, and Finn know the significance of the Russian doll.  From this point, events spiral out of control as Finn begins receiving sinister and threatening correspondence from someone claiming to be "Layla".  Is it possible Layla has returned to reclaim her life . . . and man?  Or is someone playing cruel, obsessive mind games? 

Through alternating chapters of past and present, Bring Me Back unfolds through two points of view.  I was quickly drawn into this thriller and found my heart racing as the story and Finn's state of mind spiral out of control.  The first half is addictive as the dark and ominous tone, frantic pace, and urgent sense of time running out escalates.  I burned through pages looking for answers along with Finn.  The author does a great job setting up the characters, scenes, and plotline leading to an explosive first half.  As the story progresses, secrets and lies surface clueing readers into the fact that all is not as it seems.  A little more than halfway, I realized what was happening, but still felt a sense of urgency and trepidation as I read on to see how the author would weave it all together.  Approaching the end, events occurred that had me thinking back over the story, and I just wasn't quite able to accept things as plausible.  As a result, a story that began with great promise fell short of the mark in my opinion.  Bring Me Back is a compelling story that I admittedly read nonstop, but the direction the author chose to take the plot line didn't work for me in the end.  I think psychological thriller fans will be evenly split on this one.  Give it a shot and decide for yourself!

My Rating:  3 Compelling Hearts . . . And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jar Of Hearts Review

Title:  Jar of Hearts
Author:  Jennifer Hillier
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense
Publisher:  Minotaur Books, St. Martin's Press
Release Date:  June 12, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Shattered Hearts

*Many thanks to Minotaur Books of St. Martin's Press for an arc of this book via Netgally.

A compelling story of murder, betrayal, and the secrets of the past…

Georgina, known as Geo, is a 30-year-old rising executive when her world comes crashing down. Her high school boyfriend has been identified and arrested for a series of serial murders, including Angela, Geo's best friend in high school. Angela disappeared without a trace at 16 and her body has just been found. Now Geo is under arrest for helping her then-boyfriend cover it up. And it's one of her other close friends from high school, Kaiser Brody, who arrests her.

While Geo is sent to prison for her part, Calvin escapes from custody and is on the run. Geo, now thirty-five, is about to be released from prison to try and start over. But someone has started killing people and dumping their bodies in her old neighborhood, with some of the markers of the missing Sweetbay Strangler—her old boyfriend Calvin. Is these killings some kind of message from Calvin? Are they some of revenge? Is she herself now in danger?

Everything turns on what really happened that tragic night back when Geo and Angela were high schoolers. Everyone thinks they know the truth, but there are dark secrets buried deep within other secrets, and it may be too late for anyone to survive the truth.

The cover and title of Jar of Hearts seduced me into taking a closer look, and the gripping, heart-stopping story held me captive until the shocking end . . . and beyond.  It's been several days since I finished this dark, chilling story, and I still can't let it go.  Hillier's writing is magnetic.  It sucked me in and held me in a trance as I burned through page after page - in fear of what was to come and yet helpless to stop reading.  For me, that's the mark of a great author and book.

At the age of thirty, executive Georgina (Geo) Shaw is arrested while in the midst of conducting a boardroom meeting.  After years of looking over her shoulder, the past comes calling.  It took fourteen years for her lies and deadly secrets to be discovered and five more for her to pay her dues to society.  Everyone believes they finally know the truth of what happened that fateful night when Geo's sixteen-year-old best friend disappeared.  Do they?  Or does the tragic truth remain hidden in the chaos of Geo's mind?  Can she keep the past buried and make a fresh start?  I'm not going to risk spoilers by going deeper into this story.  As intriguing as the synopsis is, it doesn't prepare you for the horrendous madness to come.  My advice is to dive in blind and swim for your life.  It's one hell of a ride. 

Hillier does an amazing job with the pacing and execution of the overall story arc in Jar of Hearts.  Brilliantly written, a frantic, sinister tone of impending doom heightens, page by page, from beginning to shocking end.  For me, the strength of the story is in the heart-breaking details of lives forever shattered and altered by an appalling split-second betrayal that can't be undone, and in the slow unmasking of broken characters - their splintered hearts and souls stripped bare as ghosts of the past overpower them, demanding to be set free.  This gut-wrenching, heart-stopping story is dark, graphic, and at times, a little too real.

Through twists & turns, Hiller takes readers on a journey that is unapologetically raw, gritty, and tragic.  While I did foresee one of the plot twists, I was in no way prepared for the shocking ending.  I've reread it three times now, trying to determine in my own mind if Geo's state of mind and circumstances at the time justify her actions in the final heartbreaking scene.  While the ending is jarring, brutal, and abrupt, it's clear now that it's also predestined.  I greatly appreciated the addition of an epilogue which gives readers some closure and hope.  Jar of Hearts is a stunning, gutsy story that will haunt me for some time.  A Page-Burning, Must Read!

My Rating:  5 Shattered Hearts . . . And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Girl In The Moss Review

Title:  The Girl In The Moss
Series:  Angie Pallorino #3
Author:  Loreth Anne White
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Release Date:  June 12, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Up-All-Night-Reading Hearts

*Many thanks to the publisher for an arc of this book via Netgally.


A shallow grave exposes deadly secrets as bestselling author Loreth Anne White brings her thrilling series of romantic suspense to its shocking conclusion…

Disgraced ex-cop Angie Pallorino is determined to make a new start for herself as a private investigator. But first, she and her lover, newly promoted homicide detective James Maddocks, attempt a quiet getaway to rekindle a romance struggling in the shadows of their careers. The peace doesn’t last long when human skeletal remains are found in a nearby mossy grove.

This decades-old mystery is just what Angie needs to establish her new career—even as it thrusts her and Maddocks back into the media spotlight, once again endangering their tenuous relationship.

Then, when Angie’s inquiry into the old crime intersects with a cold case from her own policing past—one that a detective on Maddocks’s new team is working—the investigation takes a startling twist. It puts more than Angie’s last shot at redemption and a future with Maddocks at risk. The mystery of the girl in the moss could kill her.

The book gods were smiling on me when I was pointed toward the Angie Pallorino series and author Loreth Anne White.  After receiving an arc of The Girl In The Moss, I picked up the first two books in the series and fell down the rabbit hole on a thrilling binge read - only finding my way out after finishing all three books.  My only regret . . . there isn't a book four. 

Ex-cop Angie Pallorino is struggling with her distressing new reality.  Even her lover Det. Maddox has given her an ultimatum, drawing a line in the sand that leaves the future of their relationship in her hands.  Angie's at loose ends, floundering to keep her head above water and desperately searching for anything that will give her life purpose again.  Just when she thinks there's no hope, a phone call lures her into looking at a cold case in a small town harboring deadly secrets.  In her search for the truth, Angie risks everything . . . her future, her relationship, even her life.  What she eventually discovers kept me turning pages long into the night. 

Readers should avoid all spoilers and prepare to be sucked into this complex thriller where lies, secrets, jealousy, and deceit abound and any one of several devious characters may be a killer.  White's vibrant, descriptive writing style sets the stage with an ominous atmosphere, heavily layered with impending doom.  With heart racing, I burned through the pages and, like Angie, just when I thought I had all the answers, I realized all the puzzle pieces didn't quite fit.  The story and danger wasn't over yet.

Once in awhile, you read a book with just the right combination of plot, setting, characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense.  You know what I mean - a stunning, riveting thriller that grips you by the throat, makes your heart pound in your ears, and keeps you up all night reading . . . one that carries you on a killer roller coaster ride, refusing to let you off until you reach the final page.  The Girl In The Moss is one of those books.  It held me in its clutches through twists and turns and loops and just when I thought I had all the answers, it kicked into another gear and drove me even higher.  What?!!  Are you kidding me?  Needless to say, I loved this book!  It goes on my 2018 Favorites Shelf just as White shoots up my list of must-read authors.  An intense, shocking thriller that is an absolute Must Read!

My Rating:  5 Up-All-Night-Reading Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IWSG: Spring . . . Season of Possibilities!

Spring has finally Sprung - at least here in the south.  Winter held on to the bitter end, but we're finally enjoying springtime temperatures and planting weather.  Trees are green, new life surrounds us, and anything seems possible.  No other season fills me with hope & promise the way spring does.  And that leads me to May's IWSG Question of the Month:  It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

My question is:  How can you NOT be inspired by spring?  Everything is new and fresh and so alive.  It's a time of new beginnings.  Hope springs eternal.  The land blossoms and so does life.  O Spring . . . How I love thee!  You are indeed my favorite time of year.  

So, my answer is yes, spring inspires me to write as story ideas are everywhere, vying for space to sprout like seeds (& weeds) in new ground.  My only issue this fertile time of year is finding time to nurture my ideas into my next first draft.  As spring struts her stuff, I'm usually found in my yard and gardens.  It's the beginning of the growing season in the south - one of the busiest times of year for us.  While spring inspires me to write, it's not my most productive writing season.  However, I've learned the hard way to always have a notebook & pen on me for jotting down those fleeting ideas as they occur.  They are, unfortunately, fickle things and once gone, they're often gone forever (unlike Cadbury Eggs that return next year).  I guess I could blame it on "getting older", but let's not go there.  Whatever the reason, if it's not in writing, it ain't so . . . and quite possibly will never be remembered again!  lol  

So - while I'm influenced and inspired by spring in all her glory, it's not my best writing season.  How about you?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers who share ideas and encourage each other. It's a great place to express doubts and concerns as well as offer and receive tribulations and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. I know you'll find it to be a great writer's resource that's well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with some of the other IWSG writers/bloggers at IWSG Members.

A big thank you to Angie Hodapp for the great article titled  "Declutter Your Query".  It's really good information to have!
Also, please join me in thanking our awesome May Co-Hosts:
JQ Rose, C. Lee McKenzie, Raimey Gallant, & E.M.A Timar!