Mini Review Monday: 10/30

Book Title: Cold Harbor
Author: Matthew FitzSimmons
Series: Gibson Vaughn #3
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 10/10/17

After a period of brutal isolation in a CIA black-site prison, former Marine and gifted hacker Gibson Vaughn is free—but with no idea where he was or how much time he’s lost. Struggling to maintain his grip on reality, he races to return to the life he left behind. Angry and disoriented, his thoughts turn to vengeance and the man responsible for his rendition. But Gibson’s drive for retribution and the ghosts of his violent past plunge him back into a world he wants only to escape.

As old enemies and once-trusted allies resurface, the architects of a murderous conspiracy will beat a sinister path to Gibson’s doorstep. In discovering the shocking truth about those he thought he knew best, only one thing is certain: those responsible must be made to answer…and pay.

Cold Harbor was EXACTLY what I was looking for in the next Vaughn book! A couple of years ago I fell in love with the series; The Short Drop was a debut that blew Goodreads away and I had the absolute pleasure of jumping on the bandwagon before it became the “it” book overnight. *Brushing shoulder off* While Poisonfeather (book 2) wasn’t my favorite, I can understand and respect where the author wanted to take us and still found it an enjoyable read. But Cold Harbor?! This one was something special; it felt like we went back to that classic feeling that TSD gave us when the series started. This book was fast paced, thrilling, and really messes with your head. I truly love novels which give us that hazy feeling of being unsure of what is real and what is imagined, and I felt that CH did that wonderfully well. It was a relief to be reconnected with old friends and enemies, and the storyline was unpredictable in the best way possible. If you haven’t begun the series, please know going in that these are NOT standalone novels, but must be read in order to benefit from full characterization and spoiler material for the personal and professional continuing plot. Highly recommended for those who love a good action thriller with hints of the political thrown in.

* I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Book Title: This Is Not A Love Letter
Author: Kim Purcell
Series: None
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Pub Date: 01/30/18
3.5 STARS (Rounded to 4)

One week. That’s all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future–decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he’s run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river–the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie’s town who don’t like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

This book was all kinds of heavy; think heartbreaking and tragic, and the kind of resolution you feel as a reader you could have saved if only you could jump into the story and tell everyone where it all went wrong. As I’m sure you can tell by the title, Jessie is writing “journal entries” to “you” who is Chris, her boyfriend (although they were on a break). If you read the above blurb then you have all the information you need before going in, but prepare your heart my friends. This one is sad. While I felt the writing was really well done, I did find moments where certain things could have been chopped down and I wanted more detail on others. The revelation in the end I felt was well done and really made me want to weep; extra points for the included diversity and talking about hard things such as race and mental health. Recommended to fans of John Green’s writing and of many other popular contemporaries of today. Trigger warning for suicide and bullying.

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Book Title: Little Secrets
Author: Anna Snoekstra
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 10/17/17

What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

I’m such a sucker for books set in Australia; I’m not sure what it is about the setting, but they feel atmospheric in a way that reading about stories happening in the United States just doesn’t compare to. I was a huge fan of Snoekstra’s last book, Only Daughter, and when I saw she had another book coming out I couldn’t request it quickly enough. While this was a good read, I want to be clear that it is completely different from the style and pacing of her debut novel. Where Only Daughter was tense, mysterious, and compulsive, Little Secrets was more of a slow paced, lighter read that left me feeling halfway engaged, but invested enough to want to view the outcome. One thing I felt was done really well in this book was the slow building sense of paranoia in this town. What started as brief, snippets of second thoughts turned into full blown mistrust and delusion. If you enjoy authors such as Liane Moriarty who are excellent at blending domestic drama and a suspenseful mystery together, you may enjoy Little Secrets. I must point out it’s one of my favorite covers of the year. 🙂

* I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. 

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