Tag: Thriller (page 1 of 13)

BLOG TOUR + AUTHOR INTERVIEW + REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney Summers

BLOG TOUR + AUTHOR INTERVIEW + REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers doesn't need any introductions-her work speaks for itself. Howeverrrr...I am MORE than happy to give praise to such a creative, wonderful, and darkly imaginative woman who has never ceased to amaze me. Below is the blog tour for her current work, Sadie, which is claimed to be 'the breakout of her career'. So look below to find my review, an author Q & A with Summers herself (DYING! AGH! Such an honor!), an excerpt from the book, and all the praise she deserves. Enjoy!

BLOG TOUR + AUTHOR INTERVIEW + REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney SummersSadie by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.


I wish this was a love story because I know how it goes in one like mine, where the only moments of reprieve are the spaces between its lines. But here’s the thing I tell myself to dull the sharp edges of everything that’s surely left to come: 
The worst has already happened.

 

This book evoked many emotions within me-some good, some bad. And I think that needs to be explored more by authors. It’s no surprise to anyone that I am-and always have been-obsessed with Courtney Summers. From the moment I picked up This is Not a Test, followed by Some Girls Are, I was a goner. Her dark and languid writing has this way about it-it’s stark and blunt, yet draws you in because of the beautiful simplicity in which the words are sculpted. To get to the point? She’s an evil genius-no explanation needed.

It makes my stomach ache, how, at a time like this, I can’t make that word come perfectly out of my mouth enough to convince him. I can’t describe how bad it feels, this inability to communicate the way I want, when I need to.

 But I would be lying if this book wasn’t one huge trigger for me-and, yes, that’s a personal thing. AND it’s the ONLY flaw I really have with the book. But, as a very honest blogger and friend to many on GR, I must warn that, while Summer’s writing is always dark, this ventures into something far more sinister than anything she’s ever constructed before. Some will REALLY dig it-my best friend and blogger buddy ate it up. And, hey, so did I….but that doesn’t mean the content within (ie, child death and, um, other things?) didn’t hurt my soul a tad.

My body is sharp enough to cut glass and in desperate need of rounding out, but sometimes I don’t mind. A body might not always be beautiful, but a body can be a beautiful deception. I’m stronger than I look.

 And, with that being said, I fully support the direction Courtney is going with her work. It NEEDS to be said. The world is a dark place, and people turn their heads and are blind to most of it. Sadie was a tenacious, strong, young girl hell bent on vengeance, on making the world a better place for other kids-and that was the most alluring thing about this story. Her heart was so large, her soul so crushed-but her spirit, her will to fight, isn’t broken-no matter how shattered she may feel.
Last thing she said to me, my face cupped firmly in her hands, was <I>whatever you’re thinking, you get it out of that damned foolish head of yours right now</I>. Except it’s not in my head, it’s in my heart and she’s the same woman who told me if you’re going to follow anything, it might as well be that. 
Even if it is a mess.

 

Her story is something that was so palpable…you felt what she felt. The hurt. The pain. The soul-crushing panic. The hope. It was all so…addicting. But such is the nature of Summer’s writing. I’m no stranger to it, I’ll admit. I wait and I wait and I wait until she announces she has more books coming out, then I obsess until I get my hands on it. In this case, I bothered the publishers and got a copy-and, MORE AWESOMELY, I got to be a part of the blog tour and was able to do a Q & A WITH THIS AMAZING WOMAN.

And one of the more important questions, to me, that I asked was about what has taken her writing down this path. If you’re an avid reader of her work, you know that her earlier work was of mean girls, zombies, an unlikable heroine with a difficult story and-most importantly and perhaps the most recurring theme-her stories deal with difficult issues such as rape and attempted rape-murder. But All the Rage was the first time we truly saw Summers take the darker road. And I think it’s the story she’s trying to tell, something her work has built up to and she now wants to explore-and it’s truly amazing to see it all play out.

This story was also her first foray into a dual POV situation-but, more than that, it was like a radio show format when we weren’t in Sadie’s POV. West is the person investigating Sadie and it really put things in perspective for me. However, I enjoyed the book most in Sadie’s POV.

It’s about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love … and the high price we pay when we can’t.

 All in all, this story is something to behold. It’s dark, gritty, and without a doubt one of the largest shocks to my system I’ve ever read-and perhaps I needed that. And, for those of you on the fence-read it. It has so much to say with its gut wrenching narrative, and perhaps it can urge you to do more. To see more. Or, perhaps, it will just open your eyes in a way you never expected. Either way, this is Summer’s at her best, her most jarring-and it’s not a book you’ll soon forget. You won’t regret it.

*FYI- in the middle of this review my computer froze up, so my thoughts may seem a bit off or strayed-I promise my opinion is still the same, though. It just changed the flow of the review. But one thing I want to make perfectly clear that I didn’t get a chance to say in my review: If there’s one thing that stayed with me throughout this novel, its the pain. The deep, unfathomable pain of losing someone you couldn’t protect-but then going after it to make it right. It really resonated with me…even if it hurt deeply to think this way. Summers is just epic like that.

 

Q & A with Courtney Summers:

1. I have always been a huge fan of your books-they’re deep, insightful, dark, and they MEAN something-but Sadie is the darkest of your other works (in my opinion)-What lead you to write this particular story? What brought you here?

Thank you so much! That’s so kind and your support of my work means a lot to me. Looking back at my body of work, Sadie feels like a natural culmination of the stories that came before her. I think I was always headed that way. The longer I write, the more inspired I am to dig deeper—or, in my case, darker.

I love that she said this because, in retrospect, all her work really does seem to be leading up to this moment….and its just so pivotal and game-changing. It fits with everything so well. By far my favorite answer 🙂

2. Do you ever write your personality into any of your characters? If so, which characters have your personality?

I’m not my characters, but I sometimes put very little pieces of myself in them. I never reveal what they are because I don’t want to risk readers thinking of me at all when they pick up one of my books.

3. The world can be a dark place-your books don’t shy away from that. So that begs the question: What books [or authors] help you find your happy place?

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, I Hate Everyone But You by Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn and Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt.

 

And check out this gripping excerpt! (If this doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will!):

THE GIRLS
EPISODE 1
[THE GIRLS THEME]

WEST McCRAY:
Welcome to Cold Creek, Colorado. Population: eight hun-
dred.

Do a Google Image search and you’ll see its main street, the
barely beating heart of that tiny world, and find every other
building vacant or boarded up. Cold Creek’s luckiest—the
gainfully employed—work at the local grocery store, the gas
station and a few other staple businesses along the strip. The
rest have to look a town or two over for opportunity for them-
selves and for their children; the closest schools are in Park-
dale, forty minutes away. They take in students from three
other towns.

Beyond its main street, Cold Creek arteries out into worn and
chipped Monopoly houses that no longer have a place upon
the board. From there lies a rural sort of wilderness. The highway out is interrupted by veins of dirt roads leading to nowhere as often as they lead to pockets of dilapidated
houses or trailer parks in even worse shape. In the summer-
time, a food bus comes with free lunches for the kids until the
school year resumes, guaranteeing at least two subsidized
meals a day.

There’s a quiet to it that’s startling if you’ve lived your whole
life in the city, like I have. Cold Creek is surrounded by a beau-
tiful, uninterrupted expanse of land and sky that seem to go
on forever. Its sunsets are spectacular; electric golds and
oranges, pinks and purples, natural beauty unspoiled by the
insult of skyscrapers. The sheer amount of space is humbling,
almost divine. It’s hard to imagine feeling trapped here.

But most people here do.

COLD CREEK RESIDENT [FEMALE]:
You live in Cold Creek because you were born here and if
you’re born here, you’re probably never getting out.

WEST McCRAY:
That’s not entirely true. There have been some success sto-
ries, college graduates who moved on and found well-paying
jobs in distant cities, but they tend to be the exception and
not the rule. Cold Creek is home to a quality of life we’re
raised to aspire beyond, if we’re born privileged enough to
have the choice.

Here, everyone’s working so hard to care for their families and
keep their heads above water that, if they wasted time on the
petty dramas, scandals and personal grudges that seem to
define small towns in our nation’s imagination, they would
not survive. That’s not to say there’s no drama, scandal, or
grudge—just that those things are usually more than residents of
Cold Creek can afford to care about.

Until it happened.

The husk of an abandoned, turn-of-the-century one-room
schoolhouse sits three miles outside of town, taken by fire. The
roof is caved in and what’s left of the walls are charred. It sits
next to an apple orchard that’s slowly being reclaimed by the
nature that surrounds it: young overgrowth, new trees, wild-
flowers.

There’s almost something romantic about it, something that
feels like respite from the rest of the world. It’s the perfect
place to be alone with your thoughts. At least it was, before.
May Beth Foster—who you’ll come to know as this series goes
on—took me there herself. I asked to see it. She’s a plump,
white, sixty-eight-year-old woman with salt-and-pepper hair.
She has a grandmotherly way about her, right down to a voice
that’s so invitingly familiar it warms you from the inside out.
May Beth is manager of Sparkling River Estates trailer park, a
lifelong resident of Cold Creek, and when she talks, people
listen. More often than not, they accept whatever she says as
the truth.

MAY BETH FOSTER:
Just about . . . here.

This is where they found the body.

911 DISPATCHER [PHONE]:
911 dispatch. What’s your emergency?

Purchase Here:

Amazon l iTunes l Book Depository

 

About the Author:

Courtney Summers was born in Belleville, Ontario, 1986. At age 14, she dropped out of high school. At age 18, she wrote her first novel. Cracked Up to Be was published in 2008, when she was 22 and went on to win the 2009 CYBIL award in YA fiction. Since then, she’s published four more critically acclaimed books: Some Girls AreFall for AnythingThis is Not a Test and All the Rage, as well as an e-novella, Please Remain Calm which is a sequel to This is Not a TestHer new novel, Sadie, hits bookstores September 4th, 2018 and is available for preorder now. In 2016, Courtney was named one of Flare Magazine’s 60 under 30. 

Follow her HERE!

instagram: summerscourtney
twitter: @courtney_s
tumblrsummerscourtney.
official websitecourtneysummers.ca

 

More about THE GIRLS podcast (super popular podcast they are doing based after West’s journey to find Sadie in the book!):

THE GIRLS: Find Sadie is the first-ever YA thriller podcast. The Serial-like show is based off the novel Sadie by Courtney Summers. In a brilliant move, Summers scripted periodic chapters of the novel like a podcast script, hosted by fictional radio personality West McCray. The six-part podcast series brings these chapters to life with a 30+ person cast, music, and sound effects and was a collaboration between Macmillan Audio, Macmillan Podcasts, and Wednesday Books. Episode 1 launches on August 1st, and the show will air seven weekly episodes available on all the major podcast platforms. The final episode will feature a bonus interview with Courtney Summers and her editor Sara Goodman.

 

And, yeah, look at all this advance praise:

*THE GIRLS Podcast now available*
* A 2018 BookExpo America YA Editor’s Buzz Book Pick*
*Most Anticipated by BookRiot, Goodreads, B&N Teen Blog &  Buzzfeed *

“A riveting tour de force.”
 —Kirkus, STARRED Review

Summers’ novel is filled with her trademark biting commentary on sexual assault and the mistreatment of girls and women at the hands of predatory men…her hunt for Mattie’s killer is captivating, and Summers excels at slowly unspooling both Sadie’s and West’s investigations at a measured, tantalizing pace.—Booklist, STARRED Review

“A taut, suspenseful book about abuse and power that feels personal, as if Summers, like May Beth and West, can’t take one more dead or abused girl.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

The fresh, nuanced, and fast-moving narrative will appeal to a range of YA and new adult readers, and serves as a larger examination on the way society interacts with true crime…It’s impossible to not be drawn into this haunting thriller of a book. A heartrending must-have.
—School Library Journal, STARRED Review

“An electrifying thriller, taut as a bowstring. A coming-of-age tale, both gritty and sensitive. A poignant drama of love and loss. This — all this — is SADIE: a novel for readers of any age, and a character as indelible as a scar. Flat-out dazzling. —AJ Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

 

And don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

BOOK REVIEW: Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa SteinkeGirls' Night Out by Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

From the bestselling authors of The Good Widow comes a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will make you think twice about what your best friend may be hiding...

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it's time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls' getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they're reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they're hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls' night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she'd met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse--could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren's search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing--or too afraid--to admit.

Thank you NetGalley, the authors (Liz Fenton) and the publisher (Lake Union Publishing) for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

“What kind of girls’ night out does he not understand?” Natalie asked.

This is a perfect summer book. Do yourself a favor and find a body of water (pool/ocean/lake/etc.) and dive in. You’re in for a wild ride.

Girls’ Night Out switches between Natalie, Ashley and Lauren — three friends who are trying to repair old wounds during a trip to Tulum, Mexico. On their last night, Ashley goes missing and Lauren and Natalie are left to piece together what happened.

The book jumps back and forth between the night of Ashley disappearing and the events leading up to the night. Things are certainly tense between the women as there is a lot of history and hurt feelings coming from all directions.

Had she become addicted to how the anger felt, how it slid into the small chasms of her budding happiness, crushing it? Maybe.

“But you know what the difference is? You get to decide! You took that away from me. And I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for that.”

While this book is certainly a thriller, it also takes a deep dive at friendships and whether they can be saved, even after they’ve turned toxic or started to fall apart. I appreciated the author writing three complicated, but strong, women who are neither fully good or bad. All three are complex and we feel for them, even as they make poor choices. And I really didn’t see the ending coming – it truly had me guessing up until the very end.

Just FYI, trigger warnings for abuse (physical and emotional) and drug/alcohol use. Also some mention of rape, but only speculative.

All in all, this was a fun read and I would certainly recommend it. And as I mentioned before, bonus points if you have a cold drink and a warm, sunny spot by some water to read it near.

Girls’ Night Out will be released July 24, 2018.

BOOK REVIEW: After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

BOOK REVIEW: After Nightfall by A.J. BannerAfter Nightfall by A.J. Banner
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

Thank you NetGalley, the author (A.J. Banner) and the publisher (Lake Union Publishing) for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I read A.J. Banner’s The Twilight Wife a little more than a year ago and quite enjoyed it.

So when I saw she had a new book and I received a copy of it early, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped.

After Nightfall is from the perspective of Marissa, who is recently engaged. She is also working on repairing a fragile friendship with Lauren, who she had a falling out in college (reasons explained about halfway through). One morning after an awkward dinner party, Marissa discovers Lauren’s body at the bottom of a cliff, and from there, attempts to find out exactly what happened.

The book is focused on Marissa’s relationship with her fiance and his daughter, as well as her fraught relationship with Lauren. I think many of us can relate to friendships that at one point were everything to use, but later fall apart for various reasons. Sometimes opportunities present themselves to try and fix them, and I think many of us feel the need to try and recapture something that we dearly loved at one point in time. Banner did an excellent job of writing Marissa’s complicated feelings around this very thing.

He lured me in, so how was I to know what he would do?

I was intrigued by this story for sure. However, I found Marissa to be a difficult character to like at times. She made some very poor and confusing choices, but could other times be a great friend and mother-figure for her fiance’s daughter.

I enjoyed the reveal at about the 92% mark, but the last few pages of the book left me frustrated and a bit confused. It’s definitely not a clean ending and makes me wish for more closure to the situation.

 

While I certainly don’t mind unreliable narrators, I don’t enjoy confusing or unfinished endings, which is exactly what happened here. So while I did enjoy various parts of the story, overall, I was disappointed by this book, considering how much I liked the author’s previous novel.

Can a person be good and bad? Even me? Even you?

After Nightfall will be released August 7, 2018.

BOOK REVIEW: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

BOOK REVIEW: Something in the Water by Catherine SteadmanSomething in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut--for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman's enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we're tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Thank you NetGalley, the author Catherine Steadman and the publisher, Ballantine, for my free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I wonder at what stage all of this started. If I could wind it back, how far back would I have to wind?

This book blew my out of the water. Haha, see what I did there?


From the first chapter, we know something bad has happened. I was immediately drawn to Erin, our narrator and main character of the book. Erin is a documentary filmmaker who is engaged to Mark, who works in finance. It was honestly one of the most riveting openings to a book I’ve read in a long time. It was a brilliant way to kick things off.

After the events of the first chapter, we travel back in time and learn how Mark and Erin met and how they fell in love. We start off a few weeks before their wedding, which is also when Erin is beginning her film on prisoners transitioning back into real world.

Erin and Mark then head to Bora Bora for their dream honeymoon, and while scuba diving, they discover something that serves as the catalyst for the rest of the book. From there, we follow Erin and Mark as they deal with the ramifications for what they found until we finally circle back to the events in the first chapter.

I promise myself that once this is all over I’ll be honest; I’ll never lie again. I’ll be the best wife in the world. I promise.


And what a circle it is. I’ve read a number of thrillers in the last couple years, but this one is up there as one of the best ones. I loved it. The writing style is near perfection. Without being overly descriptive and wordy, the author clearly paints an image of everything we (the reader) sees. The setting of Bora Bora certainly doesn’t hurt either! From what I see on Goodreads, this is the author’s first book, which is quite surprising. It is so well done and I’m very much looking forward to reading what she writes next.

I’d highly recommend this–even better if you can read it by the ocean/pool/lake.

But what could I have done? What can you do? You can’t save everyone. Sometimes you just have to save yourself.

BOOK REVIEW – Mafiosa (Blood for Blood #3) by Catherine Doyle

BOOK REVIEW – Mafiosa (Blood for Blood #3) by Catherine DoyleMafiosa (Blood for Blood #3)
by Catherine Doyle
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?

The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

Don’t get me wrong, I would fight tooth and nail for Luca, who was, again, amazing. I don’t think he’s ever disappointed me, and given my usual contempt for this kind of mafia ish male-lead, that’s saying something : he’s respectful, smart, protective in all the ways that count and absolutely adorable. Yet even him couldn’t make me stomach the absolute bullshit that was Mafiosa.

✘ The plot was erratic at best, throwing the most unbelievable twists in our face over and over, and if the whole series has been a rocky challenge to go through, at least it used to kept a semblance of consistence. Not so much in that last installment ; not at all, if I’m being honest. After we hit the 70% mark, nothing made sense anymore, and more and more I found myself side-eyeing the endless drama pilling up. Until then, I had been clutching my kindle and swallowing the distaste I felt for most of the characters, and I did enjoy several scenes (<3). But the nonsensical drama got to me in the end, and spoiled my read.

✘ Sophie’s behavior was so out of character that I’m still debating she’s been cloned, or something, and nine times out of ten I just couldn’t stand being in her head anymore. So much that I had to skim some parts, otherwise I’d have thrown my kindle on the wall. Sure, she did get better in the end, but it hardly lessened my annoyance. Too little, too late. And don’t get me started about the Falcones and the Marinos. I just – no. Their characterization was all over the place and as it was, I couldn’t comprehend their choices and reactions. Honestly, I got the impression that they would do anything, as long as it was convenient for the plot, and to hell with the coherence.

► Ultimately, the scenes that brought the biggest smile on my face – yes, they involved Luca, and yes, I’ll most definitely reread them – were too far in between for me to enjoy my reading experience. I’m not quite regretting reading the series, but god, I’m glad I’m done^^

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