Blog Tour: Gone Without A Trace

Book Title: Gone Without A Trace
Author: Mary Torjussen
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 04/06/17
Pub Date: 04/18/17

 

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And if he has gone without a trace
why do you still feel that someone is watching you?

The premise of this story is absolutely brilliant. Imagine you are going about life, happily living one day to the next, and all of a sudden your significant other vanishes. He doesn’t just disappear, but somehow all trace of his livelihood ceases to exist. I don’t know about you, but I would be incredibly hurt and extremely curious as to how someone could erase their footprint on this earth so quickly. Had he been planning his Houdini act for months? Why would he just up and leave? What was my part in causing his exit from my life altogether? These are the immediate questions that floated around in my brain after reading the summary; throw in that gorgeous cover art and I was sold. While this ended up being a slightly different read than I expected, it was heavy on the suspense and played well on my need to know WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON????

This was a case of the slow burner that turned into a wild and crazy ride about halfway through the story. The beginning drew me in; I kept wondering how someone could simply vanish as described with no trace of his existence left behind. My first conclusion was that he must be an imagination of a crazy woman, like so many other books I’ve read previously, but this was not the case. Without giving away any plot details, there is a very controversial twist (controversial in the sense that readers have widely varied in their like or dislike of it), and this has seemed to be the make or break point of their rating of this book. Personally, I was torn; on one hand it was quite unexpected on my end and I couldn’t have seen it coming a mile away (which I love), and on the other it did seem a bit far fetched and unrealistic. I came to the conclusion that this book (and twist) will appeal heavily to the reader who doesn’t need any sense of realism in their thrillers; if you have enjoyed books in the past with lavish twists and can suspend your sense of needing a realistic explanation, this very likely will be a 5 star read. It was exciting and engaging at all the right parts and easily devoured in a matter of hours or days.

I did have some trouble connecting with Hannah at times, which I think is expected as she’s not an entirely likable character. I found myself wanting to smack her across the face a few times while she slowly descended into that spiral of frenzy in finding out what happened to Matt, but that is also to be expected as she’s losing her marbles. The ending was wrapped up nicely and a bit quickly; this piggy backs off of the big twist and causes the reader to pause a moment and think back to previous information we were given.

Again, while I did have minor issues with a few plot points, this overall was an exciting read that was paced well and kept the reader engaged throughout. If you can suspend your need for realistic explanations, I think this could be a winner for fans of twisty psychological thrillers. Gone Without A Trace provided a glimpse into the author’s immense talent as a writer and I look forward to seeing more from her.

*Many thanks to Berkley Publishing for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts on the blog. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Torjussen is the acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked for several years as a teacher.

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Weekly Wrap Up: 4/7/17

Welcome to this week’s wrap up! It’s been quiet on the home front; I didn’t post but three times this week and I used some of my time participating in a re-read in preparation for the release of A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) in May. I managed to read five books this week and get up 3 reviews, so I wouldn’t say my time was completely wasted. Next week will be time to get down to the grind and really pump out some arcs. What were some of your favorite reads this week?

NETGALLEY APPROVALS:

I had 3 NetGalley approvals this week and have left my NetGalley ban flapping in the breeze. 😉 Hopefully I’ll be able to concentrate on getting some of these read by the end of the month to at least attempt to keep a reasonable queue going. How’s your NetGalley situation this week?

POSTS FROM LAST WEEK:

Blog Tour: Six Stories

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

Review: One Perfect Lie

BOOKSTAGRAM:

Here are some of my bookish pictures from my Instagram account; these usually consist of arcs from publishers/authors, books I’ve purchased, and library hauls.

 GIVEAWAY:

 

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on my Instagram page (@suspensethrill) for a chance to win 1 of 2 ARC copies of It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell! Winners will be chosen on Tuesday, April 11; this is one book you won’t want to miss! (Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing the giveaway copies)

 

 

That’s it for this week! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads. Until next week, have a great weekend and happy reading! ❤

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Review: One Perfect Lie


Book Title:
One Perfect Lie
Author: Lisa Scottoline
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 04/02/17
Pub Date: 04/11/17


On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

I’d like to start off by saying how much adoration and respect I have for Lisa Scottoline. She is uber successful, writing multiple books a year with thousands upon thousands of followers and fans, all while being completely approachable and down to earth. She’s also a super huge advocate for animals; I know, she’s perfect, right? When I had just begun to get my baby of a blog off the ground last May, I was struggling with attempts to make connections with authors and publishers, as we all do. Lisa offered to send me a signed arc of her (at the time) latest novel, Damaged; I sent her a private message asking if she was sure it was ok, as I was a VERY new blogger and I thought maybe she had mistaken me for someone else. 😉 She came back stating, yes, she was sure, and how grateful she was for us bloggers and how writers would be lost without our promotion. I was blown away by her humility and candid realness; she didn’t know it at the time, but I kept going back to that small interaction when I was feeling down about my numbers or blog related failures and it kept me pushing on. Long story short, I will always consider it a pleasure and an honor to support Lisa and her books; I know as readers we like to support writers who stay true to themselves and don’t get puffed up by success, so support her folks. She’s the real deal!

“Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.”
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

When I first opened this in the mail, I noticed the appealing cover and realized how much I like that there is a theme of sorts to all of Scottoline’s standalone novels. The jacket blurb immediately had me curious; I love a good thriller with multiple storylines that tie together in the conclusion. Something I do everytime I get a book in the mail is briefly flip through the pages; I don’t read ahead but I like to get a feel for the formatting and flow of the book. I really enjoyed how this book seemed to take the “James Patterson” approach; while the plot wasn’t similar per say, it did have those short, addicting chapters that keep you wanting to read “just one more”. This, along with the various parts broken up as “Steps” kept the tension ramped up from beginning to end and made this the type of book you simply can’t put down.

“Chris Brennan was applying for a teaching job at Central Valley High School, but he was a fraud.” 

From the very first sentence we learn that this book is full of questions and lies, so this isn’t a surprise. It tells you right in the summary that Chris isn’t who he claims to be. The idea behind us reading is figuring out the why, which then blends into us asking more questions until we roll far enough down the rabbit hole to uncover all the secrets and the master plan, if you will. I won’t touch further on the plot, because the less you know going in the better, but suffice it to say there are many twists and turns, some coming when you least expect it. This is where it gets tricky to review; I was able to pick out most of the surprises planted throughout pretty far in advance. That doesn’t mean this wasn’t an enjoyable read; it was fast paced and my attention was captured, I think it just gets difficult to be taken aback by most mysteries after you’ve read so many. This was a well-written book, and I think it’s a 5 star read for many folks, especially those who do not tend to spend most of their time reading in the mystery/thriller genre by having a well balanced palate. In fact, if you are someone who usually passes over mysteries and thrillers because you tend to like more characterization and depth in your novels, I highly recommend you pick this (and really any) of the author’s novels up. She truly has a way with words and an ability to write different sub-genres to reach varied readers with apparent ease. I personally LOVE her Rosato & DiNunzio series the best because I love legal thrillers and police procedurals, but she truly has a book to offer every reader.

At the risk of rambling on forever, this was a great read; while it wasn’t my favorite Scottoline book to date, it was still highly entertaining and I would recommend it to those looking for more characterization and meat in their thriller. This was a super fast read; I can easily see women (& men!) lining up to purchase this and bring it to the beach over the next few months.

*Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to produce my honest thoughts here on the blog. 

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Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

Book Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Pirates, Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 03/30/17
Pub Date: 02/28/17

5 STARS


“There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.”

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

I found myself with a little extra time on my hands last week, so I decided to throw aside all of my review copies and pick up this little beauty from the library. It is rare that I get a chance to read books on hold anymore, and ESPECIALLY rare that I can pick up a library book and read it that same day! I was just looking for something entertaining, a great escape that could take me away for a bit into somewhere else, and this was the perfect read for such an occasion. I can’t express how excited I was to find such a fun read; I love how unassuming the cover is. I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did, and while the plot is completely different, it gave me that same dreamy feel I found when I first read Caraval last August.

The front cover boasts how Alosa is “a female Jack Sparrow”, and I would emphatically agree with that statement, aside from the fact she is always sober and much more cunningly brilliant than he. This has a strong Pirates of the Caribbean feel as well, but it was a little more focused on the romance aspect as you would expect from a YA fantasy. Speaking of, I was pleasantly surprised at how age appropriate this book is. It does have some violence but the romantic aspect was quite tame without losing any of the excitement. While I love some of the more mature YA books as much as the next reader, I feel like there is a giant mislabeling of these novels today since publishers are wanting to market certain books to a larger audience in an effort to increase overall sales; never mind that books written for readers in their late teens/early twenties are being marketed toward kids who are as young as twelve. All ranting aside, my point is how grateful I am that some authors are choosing to write books for that awkward age instead of pushing these young kids to grow up too fast.

While it was predictable at times, I loved all the various twists and turns included that were used to set up the sequel coming in 2018. This was a book that’s enjoyment isn’t contingent on the ability to surprise you; even if you are able to guess each and every plot point before it comes, the adventure, witty dialogue, and budding romance between Riden and Alosa are enough to make this a 5 star read on it’s own. I’m so happy to have found a new author to add to my “must read” list and cannot wait to see where she decides to take us on our next adventure with Alosa and her father, who happens to be The Pirate King. I totally pictured these people speaking with a scottish accent throughout the book; I highly recommend you do the same, although I’m not entirely sure why. I was able to read the entire book in less than 24 hours; yes, its a fairly short read but it was just that good. Highly recommended and the perfect book to get you all hyped up for the new Pirates movie coming this May!

 

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Blog Tour: Six Stories

Book Title: Six Stories
Author: Matt Wesolowski
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Goodreads

Date Read: 03/24/17
Pub Date (Orenda Paperback): 06/01/17

5 STARS


1997. Scarclaw Fell.
The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

This was a little bitty book that packed a mighty wallop. WOW. I just keep saying that over and over. While I was initially drawn in by the cover, and we all know Chelsea is a sucker for pretty pictures, the inside is what sealed the deal. I’ve never been a huge listener of pod casts, not because I find them boring or unappealing, but due to the fact I usually can’t squeeze in the extra time and find a quiet place to do so. This gave me the best of both worlds; I was able to read a book per my usual routine while gaining the satisfaction of “listening” to a pod cast. It was brilliant. Utterly genius. I hate to hype this up too much, as I know when people do this to me it ends up making said book underwhelming in comparison, but this one was just SO good people.

This was part murder mystery, part character study, with just a tinge of horror which topped off a near perfect read, in my opinion. The idea was so unique and appealing; I feel as though I’ve started to grow stagnant in my mystery/thriller reads as there isn’t much being published that I haven’t read in some form before. Six Stories immediately tingled my spidey senses and I just knew it would end up being something special, mainly because it had the Orenda stamp of approval. By the way, I read somewhere the author wrote how grateful he was to Karen for giving him a chance when others wouldn’t. I bet those ignorant turd munchers are kicking themselves in the face for missing out on what has turned out to be a buzz-worthy, highly anticipated read by many. 

Ok, here’s a secret; sometimes I get bored in novels that feature heavy characterization because I need all of the things to be happening for my easily distracted mind to stay focused. It’s likely why I gravitate toward thrillers filled with suspense and YA novels of fantasy and adventure. My reading is typically an escape for me; I need something to take me away from kid’s doctor and therapy appointments. All that to say, while this is heavy on the characterization, it is anything but boring. I am shocked at how full bodied and easily connected we are to the character’s story when the book is only 225 pages long. I’m convinced that the format of “episodes” and current day scenes are what give this a special touch. It was a daring risk on the author’s part, yet he pulled it off flawlessly. The thing that set this apart for me as a 5 star read was the fact that the author blurred the lines of reality and the paranormal; while reading the book you are wondering who really killed Tom Jeffries. Was it one of the fellow campers the night he disappeared? Was it one of the cultural legendary boogeymen? You’ll have to read it to know more, but suffice it to say we receive full closure by the final page.

Before I sign out, I just wanted to touch on the issue of bullying and how it was portrayed in the book. I’m pleased the author not only included such a relative and timely problem, but didn’t shy away from showing it’s horror and unpleasantness to the full. I’m always appreciative of diverse characters being added into a book, and I felt the character portrayed with Autism was well done with respect and honor. Having a child with Autism, I could easily recognize the signs and symptoms, and I felt each scene with a realness others who don’t experience that lifestyle on a daily basis might not catch as sensitively.

I’m not sure what else to say, other than READ THE BOOK! What do you have to lose? It’s a teeny little thing, but I’m confident you’ll be thinking about it long after you’ve closed the last page and moved on to the next. Highly recommended for those who enjoy crime fiction with a noir feel!

*Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to participate in the Blog Tour and share my review!

AUTHOR BIO:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

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Weekly Wrap-Up: 3/31/17

Two weeks in a row? I’m clearly a blogging beast. Welcome to this week’s wrap-up; I’m going to stick with the short and sweet as I don’t have much to update but like posting pretty pictures. ❤

NETGALLEY APPROVALS:

So I only had one approval this week, as we discussed last time that I’m being uber cautious in my requests while trying to ever better my ratio there. In the doubts anyone has read this one yet, I’ll ask-what have you been approved for recently? What requests are still pending for you? Anything you’re waiting to see pop up shortly?

POSTS FROM THIS WEEK:

Review: Bum Luck

Blog Tour: Deadly Game

Review: It Happens All The Time

Review: This Is Not Over

BOOKSTAGRAM:

Here’s some of my latest book mail I’ve received from publishers, what I’m currently reading, and a library haul because I clearly don’t have enough books here.

 

That’s it for this week! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads. Until next week, have a great weekend and happy reading! ❤

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Review: This Is Not Over

Book Title: This Is Not Over
Author: Holly Brown
REVIEWED BY: MARY
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Fiction

Date Read: 03/27/17
Pub Date: 01/17/17

4 STARS


“You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the sheets. I couldn’t get the stain out despite professional laundering and bleaching. . .

Miranda”

All Dawn wanted was to stay in a beautiful beach house with her husband, to live like money’s no object, for just one long weekend. Then Miranda, the home’s owner, has to send an e-mail like this, full of lies and the suggestion that Dawn’s so dirty, she needs to throw out her sheets. Someone needs to teach Miranda a lesson.

Beware of your “host”
I wouldn’t leave a review on Getaway.com at all, if I didn’t feel it was my civic duty to warn others . . .
Dawn

Miranda cannot believe her eyes. Yes, she may be a doctor’s wife, but she needs the rental money from the beach house desperately. Someone needs to teach this Dawn a lesson.

Two very different women with one thing in common: Each one knows she’s right, and each is determined to win this battle of words and wills and (eventually) worse. Neither will yield, not before they’ve dredged up hidden secrets, old hurts, and painful truths that threaten to shatter the foundations of their lives.

Because it’s never really just about the sheets, is it?

This is not over.

This is so not over.

We’ve all been there. Something irks you, it really gets under your skin and you find that you cannot let it go. Try as you might, it festers and you find yourself devoting anger you didn’t know you had to this seemingly inconsequential event. Maybe it was someone that cut you off in traffic, or a judgmental look you got that rubbed you the wrong way, or an email from a colleague that had a biting tone to it. You get frustrated, you complain to your BFF, you reiterate the story to your spouse prefacing it with, “Listen to this!” Then, after you’ve vented that frustration away, you move on. But what if you couldn’t? What if you continued to let that nasty look, or that maniac driver, or that passive aggressive email get under your skin? What if you did something about it? Is that a can of worms worth opening?

THIS IS NOT OVER is the story of 2 women that refused to let it go. A curt email leads to a nasty review, leads to a biting rebuttal, leads to a character assassination of epic proportions. What starts as a small matter, an inconvenience, a disagreement, gradually morphs into an obsession of reactionary anger and resentment for Dawn and Miranda. But is it really about some dirty sheets and a bad review, or is there more to the story?

One thing is for sure, the Getaway.com event is the catalyst for both parties undoing. As things around them that were once stable begin to falter, both Dawn and Miranda seem to take unhealthy refuge in the on going war between them. As more skeletons escape each woman’s closet, the lives they have worked so hard to build up, start to crumble around them. The desperation they feel while trying to cling to the end of their rapidly fraying ropes only fuels their anger toward one another. The more things fall apart, the more they pour themselves into their feud, their anger propels them forward when nothing else will.

Refusing to see things from the other’s perspective, their petty war of words escalates, crossing into frightening territory. When neither woman will back down, words become threats, and threats become action. Two women that were once strangers have now managed to dismantle each other, exposing their darkest secrets to the people that they have tried hardest to keep them from. But, to what end? Neither can prevail, so is the fight worth everything they will lose? Or, are they on an inevitable collision course with their own secrets, regardless of their paths crossing?

I loved this story because it is so genuinely relatable. We all know what it’s like when you’ve had a DAY. When you’re perpetually late, you spill your coffee, the garbage bag breaks, dinner doesn’t turn out and you’re out of frozen pizza, the laundry is piling up, the baby spikes a fever, deadlines are looming, essentially, all domestic hell breaks loose. If in the pandemonium you throw in a poorly worded email with a touch too much sass, it’s enough to make any of us lose the little patience we have left in the tank. Most of us just grab a glass of wine and expertly weave together a string of curse words while we search for a take out menu in the junk drawer.

But, if you add to that day an ever-growing pile of secrets, an unstable mother to care for, and a marriage built on lies, well, wine and swearing might not cut it. You might feel as though you had to react, respond, retaliate…open that can of worms. But once you throw yourself down that rabbit hole, you might regret the results, or perhaps you won’t.

I highly recommend opening THIS IS NOT OVER and reading it cover to cover while enjoying a bold red like Cardinal Zin. I give the book and the wine 4 stars.

*Many thanks to the author, publisher, and Get Red PR for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide an honest review.

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