Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

I got this book last year at ThrillerFest because I heard great things about it. I was not at all disappointed. Final Girls by Riley Sager grabbed me right from the start and didn't let go until the last page. It was riveting from start to finish, with twist after twist that shocked me more each time. I loved it so much, I want to buy his next book, too. Good thing it's here at ThrillerFest in the bookstore!

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Book Review: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

Wicked River by Jenny Milchman is a gripping thriller that holds on tight and won't let you go until it's over. I freaking loved this book! I'd been just dying to read it ever since last summer when Jenny released a preview of the book to her newsletter subscribers. I had thought I would have to wait until ThrillerFest to get it, but I didn't! She went on a book tour that brought her through my neck of the woods and I got a signed copy a couple months or so ago. Yay! You should buy a copy, too. In the ThrillerFest bookstore, it's on the far side of the room, in the back row of the table to the right of the U-shape the tables form.

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Book Review: Appalachian Trail by Tim Wellman

I love dystopian novels. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the future. I love technical things, where math and science fuse with creativity to make a strange "maybe it could happen" novel. For a debut novel, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Appalachian Trail by Tim Wellman was an adventure, full of mystery, suspense, and enough steampunk mechanisms to make an engineer cream their pants. 

In this novel, we find the characters in a dystopian future where all old electronics will never work again. Oil is worth far, far more than gold and there is no centralized government. Bandits roam wild over the wastelands between independent city-states. There are people known as Dark Children who were born during a period of death nearly two decades before. All of them remained small, slender, have gray hair, and purple eyes. They are also all geniuses like the world has never seen. People distrust them and they are all treated like second-class citizens. 

Pip is a dark child and Seb is a professor. Together, they embark on a journey to find more oil and make themselves rich beyond their wildest dreams. Along the road, they meet others who want to share in their adventurous undertaking, while also protecting them from the many perilous places that lie between them and their goal.

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Book Review: The One Man by Andrew Gross

The One Man by Andrew Gross is a gripping historical thriller set during WW2. It is full of suspense, secrets, and sorrow. But then, what novel set in Auschwitz could find a way to not be sorrowful? It is not without hope, though. All the way right up until the end, Gross manages to convey the hope that is coursing through the main characters. And it is unclear how it's over until it's actually over. 

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Book Review: The Girl Who Lived by Paul Dale Anderson

The Girl Who Lived: Megan’s Story by Paul Dale Anderson had me riveted. I was glued to the pages and I could not put it down. I started reading it one morning, read all day, and fell asleep reading it that night. The next morning, I had it finished within an hour. It was superb, fantastic, and well-crafted. I absolutely loved it. 

The story is well written. It's full of suspense. It’s a police procedural, mixed with a serial killer thriller, mixed with an investigative journalism novel. The chapters range in size, from a few pages to quite long. Each perspective shift occurs at chapter changes. Actually, let's talk about perspective...

The book opens in first person, from Megan's point of view. She's in the hospital, trying to convince the shrink that she's now sane so that she can get out and exact her revenge on the men who destroyed her life. She must get out, so that she can finish what she's started. Three of her rapists are still alive and she can’t have that, now, can she?

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Book Review: Mister Tender's Girl by Carter Wilson

Last year at ThrillerFest, I got my hands on an ARC of Carter Wilson's latest novel, Mister Tender's Girl. It just came out in February, so I'm sure you can find it in the bookstore this year. In fact, I know you can since I helped set up the bookstore. Find George R.R. Martin's books. Take a few steps left. Mister Tender's Girl is in the center row on the table. Oh, you're not at ThrillerFest? That's ok. You can buy it here. And you totally should. Let me tell you why...

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Book Review: Never Be Alone by Paige Dearth

Never Be Alone by Paige Dearth is the second book of her's that I've read. It got me hooked. As soon as I finished it, I bought another one--Mean Little People. She has five books so far, and more in the works, of course. Her writing is heartfelt and emotionally invasive--in a good way. Her characters are well developed and her books are long. I love it. She really makes you feel for them in her character-driven novels. Each tale tackles a different aspect of child abuse and shows how it can be possible to overcome such tragedy.

Joon's parents die when she is only eight and she is forced into the foster care system. Her foster mother is incredibly abusive and torments her for four long years, much of which is glossed over only to be revealed later in the book by telling bits of her past to friends. When her foster brother tells her he's going to rape her, she runs away. At twelve years old, she finds herself homeless. The novel covers her next seven years in horrifying detail.

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Book Review: Color Blind by Sheila Sobel

Color Blind deals with some heavy issues, like death, multi-generational family secrets, racism, and teenage angst. It's all set to the backdrop of New Orleans, Louisiana. April's father suddenly died of an unknown heart condition. Her military mother went MIA the year before and was presumed dead. With nowhere else to go, the seventeen-year-old is shipped off to NOLA to live with her mother's younger sister--an aunt she'd never met who never wanted to have kids. Their relationship proves to be rather tumultuous. 

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Book Review: One Among Us by Paige Dearth

It's been a whole year since this book came into my possession. For months, it stared at me from my bookshelf. No, really. The cover is of a girl, begging with her eyes for you to help her. It sat sideways because I wanted to read it. I had to read it. Not just because a new friend wrote it and I wanted to support her work, but because I knew how powerful it would be. 

I met Paige Dearth last summer. She was a force all her own and we instantly clicked. We're both real and honest, perhaps to a fault. She's going to tell you like it is and so am I. After chatting with her throughout the week, I knew I'd enjoy her style of writing. 

I also knew her subject matter would make me squeamish. 

Paige writes fictions with MEAN-ing. All of her books are about children who are victims. One Among Us is about a young girl, Maggie, who is abducted from the mall when she is 12. She then spends the next decade being bought and sold as a sex slave, a prostitute, and even an indentured servant of a stripper. 

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Book Review: Bone Music by Christopher Rice

You've heard of Christopher Rice, haven't you? You should have. He's one of the few people out there who was pretty much born with a publishing contract. He's the son of Anne Rice, famed novelist who penned The Vampire Chronicles, you know...Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, and so many more. Christopher has co-written a few books with his mom and he's written more than a handful on his own. My first taste of his writing was in Matchup, an anthology of short stories co-written by ITW authors using their most famous main characters. So, when I saw he was starting a new series, I jumped on board.

It can be daunting, can't it? Finding an author you like and you want to read the whole series, but holy shit--there are already six books/fifteen books/twenty-odd books and how will you ever find the time to read every book this author has ever written? I guess that's why I like trilogies and short series. Serieses? that right? My Grammarly isn't popping up on that, so it must be right. It can't be right... I like a shorter series so as to not feel so overwhelmed by the series' length that I never pick up the first book. WTF, I sound like Gollum. "I likeses the short serieses."

Maybe that's why I was so excited when this book was tagged "Burning Girl Series Book One." A new series? Oh, yes. I'm so down you'll wonder how I can get that low. I snagged it on my Kindle and read it in two days, despite being scheduled twelve-hour shifts at work both days. I couldn't put it down. There was no getting lost in Facebook, no watching TV, no cooking. I ate cereal and I read on my phone until I fell asleep. I absolutely loved it. Let me tell you why...

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Book Review: Matchup (part 1)

“Matchup” is an exciting new collection of short stories that was published in June by the International Thriller Writers. It’s an amazing organization full of remarkable authors. In this anthology, best-selling authors paired up their well-known characters to work together. It’s a crossing and intermingling of worlds. An enticing concept, right? It also happens to be a thrilling execution.

This collection is freaking intense.

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Book Review: No Middle Name by Lee Child (part 1)

“No Middle Name” is a collection of Jack Reacher short stories. All of them, actually. It’s fucking awesome. I mean, what Reacher fan wouldn’t love this? Instead of taking an entire book to see how clever he is, we get short bursts of his brilliance. It’s a quick gratification from a character that I really dig.

You know those tiny little roller coasters you’ll see at traveling carnivals? They don’t really have room to set up a huge, full-size coaster like you’d see at Six Flags or Disney Parks. So they set up little dinky ones that are mostly just a few hills and maybe one upside-down loop on a track that’s more or less an oval if seen from above. They’re extra scary though because they’re so small. The turns are harder, the loop is more terrifying. You wonder—can there possibly be enough time to build up the required momentum for this trip upside down?

Oh, but there is. You feel squished into your seat as you take on a whole new perspective of the world for just a second. Then it’s gone.

That’s what these stories are.

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I got more books in one week than I’ve ever gotten before. Due to the sheer volume of books I acquired at ThrillerFest, I’ve decided to double my blog. Instead of just posting once a week, I’ll up my game to twice. On Wednesdays, I’ll continue to post my series about ThrillerFest, then go back to life stories, short stories, and updates about upcoming works. But on Saturdays, I’ll post book reviews.As my first Saturday blog, I’m throwing out a request for requests. Do you see a book on my list that you’d like me to review? I’ll order my upcoming reviews if people ask for them.

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Book Review: Personal by Lee Child

“Personal” by Lee Child is a fantastic book. I love the voice and the feel of the narrative. He uses a bit of an unconventional writing style, but it is uniquely his own. If you, like me, have never read anything he’s written before, I highly recommend buying one of his books and giving it a shot. I mean, come on… He’s a best-selling author for a damn good reason. He writes gripping thrillers that are really driven and action-packed. I’m already looking forward to picking up some more of his books and devouring them.

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Book Review: Deadly Kiss by Bob Bickford

“Deadly Kiss” grabbed me right from the synopsis. Decades of deaths can all be blamed on a stolen kiss that happened out back of a country store in Georgia in 1946. Mike has to follow the trail of secrets if he’s ever going to solve the mystery of what was silently haunting his father ever since he was a young boy.

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Book Review: The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land

I decided to read this book because it was co-written by two wonderful, friendly people whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year at ThrillerFest. What do you get when two amazing bestselling authors put their heads together? A freaking fantastic book that grabs you and holds on right up until the very end.

"The Rising" by Heather Graham and Jon Land is a gripping thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It took me around a week to read it, but every time I put it down, I couldn’t wait until I had time to pick it up again and read some more. It’s full of questions and the mystery keeps driving the story forward. I just had to keep reading. I had to know what the hell this was all about.

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Book Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

In "Dead Ever After," the thirteenth and final Sookie Stackhouse book, we see a lot of changes and get to revisit a lot of old friends, as well as a few old enemies. First, is the style change. To the best of my recollection, all of the other books were written exclusively from Sookie’s perspective. Entirely first person, and in a very casual form. It’s very colloquial, charming, and endearing. But in this book, we get a number of perspective shifts where we are witnessing an event from third person, well outside of Sookie’s knowledge, even after the end of the book. She had no way of knowing any of it. I actually liked this change. It gave us what we needed to know, without Sookie knowing, too.

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Book Review: A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

The novel starts out at a lavish Independence Day Garden Party on Monday, July fifth, 1915. JP Morgan, Jr. was shot two days ago and people are buzzing with the gossip while Kitty Weeks mingles with the guests. Kitty is an aspiring reporter, who thus far has been relegated to writing fluff for the Ladies Pages. She watches a spectacular display of Japanese fireworks, which showers the guests with little paper cutouts of various shapes. After the hour-long show is over, a man is found shot dead in the stables. Kitty goes with some of the others to check it out, which sucks her into a sinister series of events where nothing is quite as it seems and no one should really be trusted.

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Book Review: The Game by Jack London

Genevieve meets Joe in the candy shop where she works. Both are instantly smitten with each other. After dancing around their shyness, they begin to “walk out” together, strolling in public parks and talking, or even just sitting in an amicable silence. They fall in love, plan to be married, and have a wonderful life together.

What she doesn’t know until after she’s fallen for him, is that he’s a famous boxer. The Game has him, and it doesn’t want to let him go.

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