Jul 262016
 

FAULTLINES by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
ASIN: B01D04S0OK
Pages: 304
Review Copy From: Author
Edition: ARC Kindle
My Rating: 5+

 

Synopsis: (via GR)

It’s the phone call every parent dreads: in the middle of the night, Sandy Cline learns that her twenty-year-old son, Jordan, has been in a car accident. Her nephew, Travis, was also in the car, along with Travis’s girlfriend. All three are alive—but barely. The car was smashed against a tree along a remote and winding road, beautiful but deadly, in their rural Texas Hill Country town.

In the wake of the car crash, the close-knit family is tested like never before. Jenna, Travis’s mother, blames Jordan—as well as her sister, Sandy—after reports surface that Jordan had been driving. As the young adults struggle to survive, tension between their parents escalates. But when trust is broken and a shocking family secret is exposed, it creates a perfect storm of harrowing consequences. Rumors in the small town spread like wildfire. When details of the accident are questioned, Sandy and Jenna wonder if their family has been destroyed beyond repair.

As always, there’s much more to the story…if the family is to survive, they will have to come together to confront the terrible truth and overcome their pain. But are some betrayals unforgivable?

My Thoughts and Opinion:

Barbara Taylor Sissel has done it again!!! A “can’t put down read”!!

I am a HUGE fan of Ms. Sissel, reading all of her novels, The Ninth Step, The Volunteer, Evidence of Life, Safe Keeping and Crooked Little Lies, and always anxiously awaiting the next book. This time, she gave me the great honor to read an ARC.

Her writing is creatively masterful. She interweaves characters, whereas the reader doesn’t know how or what the relationships are, and when it is revealed, it’s astonshing. The cast in this book were very believeable and relatable.

There were so many twists and turns, I found myself, at times, either gasping for air or holding my breath.

A compelling, emotional, suspenseful read! An amazing and exceptional book! A page turner! This title is definitely in my top 3 of 2016 reads, if not the best.

I highly recommend this book, and all her other books. Pre order!! However, once you pick it up, be prepared because you will be saying “just one more chapter”, and then find yourself having read many more. You will not be disappointed!!

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Aug 062014
 

The Insanity Plea by Larry D. Thompson
Published by Story Merchant
Publication Date: May 4, 2014
ISBN-10: 0989715477
ISBN-13: 978-0989715478
Pages: 378
Review Copy from: Author/PICT
Edition: ARC
My Rating: 5

Synopsis:
A young nurse is savagely killed during a pre-dawn run on Galveston’s seawall. The murderer slices her running shorts from her body as his trophy and tosses the body over the wall to the rocks below. As dawn breaks, a bedraggled street person, wearing four layers of old, tattered clothes, emerges from the end of the jetty, waving his arms and talking to people only he hears. He trips over the body, checks for a pulse and, instead, finds a diamond bracelet which he puts in his pocket. He hurries across the street, heading for breakfast at the Salvation Army two blocks away, leaving his footprints in blood as he goes.

Wayne Little, former Galveston prosecutor and now Houston trial lawyer, learns that his older brother has been charged with capital murder for the killing. At first he refuses to be dragged back into his brother’s life. Once a brilliant lawyer, Dan’s paranoid schizophrenia had captured his mind, estranging everyone including Wayne. Finally giving in to pleas from his mother, Wayne enlists the help of his best friend, Duke Romack, former NBA star turned criminal lawyer. When Wayne and Duke review the evidence, they conclude that Dan’s chances are slim. They either find the killer or win a plea of insanity since the prosecution’s case is air tight. The former may be a mission impossible since the killer is the most brilliant, devious and cruel fictional murderer since Hannibal Lecter. The chances of winning an insanity plea are equally grim.

It will take the combined skills of the two lawyers along with those of Duke’s girlfriend, Claudia, a brilliant appellate lawyer, and Rita Contreras, Wayne’s next door neighbor and computer hacker extraordinaire, to attempt to unravel the mystery of the serial killer before the clock clicks down to a guilty verdict for Dan.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
Since I started blogging/reviewing over the past 5+ years, I have stated on many occasions, how skeptical I am when I start to read the 2nd novel by an author.  Especially if I rated the author’s debut book, in this case Dead Peasants, a 5 star.  Did this particular writer do it again? 
 
Mr. Thompson pulled me in within the first few pages.  But what really surprised me was that this book was so different.  Very early on, the reader knew who the villain was, whereas in Dead Peasants, the race was finding “who done it”.  One similar aspect, however, was that both books enlightened readers to legal issues but not with a lot of legalese.  What a “dead peasant” really meant and how “the insanity plea” is different in each state in this country and how mental illness still carries a stigma to this day.
 
The reader is first introduced to the Little brothers, Dan and Wayne.  Both lawyers but each dealt very, very different cards in the game of life.  Then more of the cast enters, Sarah Little, the mother, three friends of Wayne’s who are aka “The Posse”, and Dr. Parke, a very distinguished psychiatrist who specializes in “serial killers” and  who, for a hefty fee, will sway his testimony for those who hire him.

 

And it seems there is a serial killer on the loose and killing in different states.  And in Texas, where Debbie Robinson is found dead, Dan Little is arrested for her murder.  Could he have killed others?

 

The cast believable.  The setting, so descriptive, I could vividly visualize “The Posse” sitting on Sarah’s front porch after a day in court.  Or Rita, a member of The Posse” taking her morning jog that fateful day.
 
This was another page turner by Mr. Thompson!!  By Chapter 50, my heart was racing.  And as the trial got underway, it was an adrenaline pumping read!!!  Highly recommend!

 

 Bravo Mr. Thompson!!  You absolutely did do it again!!  I can’t wait for your next novel.

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Aug 032014
 

Devil In The Hole by Charles Salzberg
Published by Five Star
Publication Date: August 7, 2013
ISBN-10: 1432826964
ISBN-13: 978-1432826963
Pages: 252
Review Copy from: Author
Edition: HC
My Rating: 4

Synopsis:
In the ballroom of a sparsely furnished Connecticut mansion, police find a shocking sight: four bodies lined up next to each other, three teenagers and a middle-aged woman, each lying on a blanket, each shot once in the head. In an upstairs bedroom: an elderly woman and the family dog, both of them shot as well. The only person missing is the husband, father, son, and prime suspect, John Hartman, who’s got a three-week jump on the police.

Through the eyes of almost two dozen characters, including the neighbor who reports the crime, Hartman’s mistress, a dogged state investigator, the family minister, and some of the characters Hartman meets on his escape route, we piece together not only what happened and how these shocking murders affect the community, but how John Hartman evades capture, where he’s headed, and maybe even why he committed this gruesome crime in the first place.

Based on the notorious John List murders and already compared to works by Norman Mailer and Russell Banks, Devil in the Hole is gripping, literate, and haunting.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
This book was riveting and intriguing right from the start. As the synopsis states, it is based on a horrific true crime murder that went cold for many years. The chapters are short and each one is narrated by a different person as their “take” on the murder.

At first I thought that the amount of more than 20 characters would make this read confusing but after a few chapters I knew that wouldn’t be the case. I was so engrossed in the story that it truly felt that each cast member was talking directly to me with their opinion of this story. So compelling that I had to keep reminding myself that these characters were fictional. So captivating, that by the middle of the book, I had to research the actual murder.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which had me turning the pages, to see what the next voice would reveal. A highly recommended read!!!

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Apr 122014
 

Safe Keeping by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date:  March 25, 2014
ISBN-10: 0778316165
ISBN-12: 978-0778316169
Number of Pages: 320
Review Copy from: Author/Harlequin
Edition: TPB
My Rating: 5

Synopsis (via GR):

My son is a murderer…. So begins this chilling and emotionally charged mystery from highly acclaimed author Barbara Taylor Sissel.

Emily Lebay had always thought of her family as ordinary. Sure, they’ve endured their share of problems, even a time of great trouble; what family hasn’t? But when a woman’s body turns up in the dense woods near their home, and Emily’s grown son Tucker is accused of murder, Emily is forced to confront the unfathomable, and everything she believed about her life is called into question.

This isn’t the first time Tucker has been targeted by the police; a year ago he was a person of interest when another woman was found dead in the same stretch of woods. Still, neither Emily nor her daughter, Lissa, can reconcile their Tucker with these brutal crimes. Terrified, convinced there’s been a tragic mistake, Emily and Lissa set out to learn the truth about Tucker, once and for all. And while his life hangs in the balance, what they discover proves far more shocking than their darkest fears.

“Past secrets contribute to present-day angst in this solid suspense novel, and the even pacing keeps the reader’s interest until the captivating conclusion.” Publisher’s Weekly

…impressive writing and affecting subject matter.” Kirkus Reviews(less)

 
My Thoughts and Opinion:

WOW!!!  I need to emphasize that WOW!
Barbara Taylor Sissel went on my “authors to read list” after reading her novel THE NINTH STEP.  And she stayed that after I finished reading THE VOLUNTEER and EVIDENCE OF LIFE.  Now with this latest book, SAFE KEEPING, she has a permanent spot on that list.

The LeBay family is once again dealing with a heart wrenching and “could it be” family crisis, son and brother, Tucker, is being accused of murder.  Not Tucker!  Yes he has had some difficulty in life, but murder?  Yes, the family has some secrets, but murder?   There are more likely suspects other than Tucker.  With unconditional love, the family will prove his innocence.  Or can they?

I know when I start to read a Barbara Taylor Sissel book, the writing is going to be impeccable, the characters life like and relatable, the suspense incredible.  And she didn’t disappoint with this novel.  She has an amazing talent of weaving a tale full of chapter cliff hangers, possible suspects, roller coaster action that is difficult to put down and comes to a climax with a “never saw coming” ending.  Heart pounding!!  An intense read!

I highly recommend!!!

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DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.

ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.
Mar 312014
 

Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester
Published by The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
ISBN-10: 1611881358
ISBN-13: 978-1611881356
Number of Pages: 355
Review Copy from: Author
Edition: ARC
My Rating: 5

Synopsis via GoodReads:
Rick and Abby grew up together, became best friends, and ultimately fell in love. Circumstance tore them apart in their early teens, though, and they went on to lives less idyllic than they dreamed about in those early days. Rick has had a very successful career, but his marriage flat-lined. Abby has a magical daughter, Paige, but Paige’s father nearly destroyed Abby’s spirit.

Now fate has thrown Rick and Abby together again. In their early thirties, they are more world-weary than they were as kids. But their relationship still shimmers, and they’re hungry to make up for lost time. However, Paige, now nine, is not nearly as enthusiastic. She’s very protective of the life she’s made with her mother and not open to the duo becoming a trio. Meanwhile, Rick has very little experience dealing with kids and doesn’t know how to handle Paige. This leaves Abby caught between the two people who matter the most to her. What happens when the life you’ve dreamed of remains just inches from your grasp?

PRESSED PENNIES is a nuanced, intensely romantic, deeply heartfelt story of love it its many incarnations, relationships in their many guises, and family in its many meanings. It is the most accomplished and moving novel yet from a truly great storyteller of the heart.

My Thoughts and Opinion:

I seem to ask myself the same questions whenever I start to read the latest Steven Manchester book… can he do it again?… can he make me feel the emotions of his characters?…. will I relate to the cast?….will I imagine the settings from his descriptions?… will this read stay with me? …will this book be at the level of the bar that HE, himself set with his first book, Twelve Months?…what about his other books..Goodnight, Brian and The Rockin’ Chair?  OK..let’s see so those questions can be answered!

 

From the first sentence, the reader is swept away to become one and part of the story because of the talented writing style by this author. Not only does Steven Manchester have the gift to pen stories about matters of the heart and relationships, I believe what puts him above many others, is that he truly writes from the heart. It is apparent that he writes about what he knows best, life, but he also has the ability to make his written words come to life in poignant stories.

 

The Cast: are believable and relatable even though I hadn’t experienced the situation of a divorce, which both Rick and Abby were going through when they were reacquainted, I could feel their emotions as the author described.  I did know, and feel, the level of love between mother and child and kept putting myself in Abby ‘s shoes asking myself what I would do in this situation? Does a mother protect her child at the expense of personal happiness? (You will have to answer this question yourself)

 

There were so many other emotions, situations, experiences and feelings that were brought to mind in comparison and relatability to my own life, both present and past.  One example, that brought back vivid memories and emotions of my childhood, of Christmas shopping with my Dad and sister in downtown Providence:
pg 126   Smiling faces, framed in woolen scarves and colorful earmuffs, released a chimney of steam into the starry night and most waved at him.  Shop windows, adorned in the year’s latest clothing styles and ingenious toys, beckoned the masses…..Massive garlands, strung from lamppost to lamppost, dangled red-bowed wreaths at each center.

 

The Setting…it was easy for me to visualize since the setting mainly took place in southern New England with a quick getaway to Aruba, both  places I personally have visited during different stages of my life.  Places like Lincoln Park , a large amusement park that I haven’t thought about in years and has been long gone, Fenway Park, the corner neighborhood store and the beautiful beaches of Aruba.  But I can guarantee that even if you don’t know this area, you will have no problem creating the exact imagery of what he describes.

 

The Answers:  Yes to all!!!  A lasting memory and a read that met the bar!! Once again Steven Manchester delivered!! As with all his books, they are written about love, compassion, parenting, growing, pain, relationships, family, disappointments, all the experiences and emotions of life as we all know it.   Steven Manchester’s books are written with those very emotions and he allows his readers to remember, relive and feel.  His books are timeless!

 

I have to be very honest, however. I did have one very big disappointment. It was when I started reading the final chapter and knew that the final word would be soon approaching. Why? For me, since I have read every one of his books, I now have to wait another year, waiting for his next novel Goosebury Island, which will  be released in May 2015. I highly recommend and urge you to pick up this or any of his other books…..you won’t be disappointed. But like me, I’m sure you will become a Steven Manchester fan and waiting for and wanting more! In my opinion, PRESSED PENNIES, as all his books have, will be winning awards!

 

Bravo Mr. Manchester and thank you!

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER
This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.

ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.  I am an IndieBound affiliate.  I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.