Review: Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac @CatherineIsaac #bookreview #bookblog @SimonSchusterAU

Blurb

You never know what life will throw at you. 
You just need to know who to turn to for help.

One morning in early summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy. 

Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.

Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.

But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.

My Thoughts

This was a lovely book to get to after reading a couple of thrillers in a row! And you know what, It wasn’t until the last three chapters that I decided to give it 5 stars because if you can make cry at least three times, then I think you deserve it.  I loved the journey that Allie took, I loved her as a person. She was not only intelligent, caring, and honest, but also so authentic.  She was likeable from the very first page, and I continued to love being her, taking the plunge and traveling across the continent in search of answers. Ed… You know I think he’s the first guy that I’ve liked since maybe 6 or 7 books ago.  We didn’t know too much about him in the first quarter of the book, but I loved learning about he and his wife and their folding marriage.  You never hope that a marriage ends, but it was certainly an emotional ride for me (anyway maybe not you), that by the end of the book, and the last page in particular, I was wistful crying. It was a story that took me on a worldly ride, both descriptively and emotionally.  You can’t ask for a better story than one that leaves you wanting more when you finally close the pages.

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy and for introducing me to this fantastic author who I look forward to reading again very soon.

I rate Messy, Wonderful Us: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

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Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens #bookreview @ChevyStevens #bookblog

Blurb

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.

Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.

This time there’s nowhere left to run.

As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, THOSE GIRLS is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil.

My Thoughts

This was a fantastic read. Right from the very beginning it pulled you in to the awful situation those poor three sisters faced. It’s unimaginable, and then come across those two boys!

The writing pace was fantastic. I basically didn’t want to put this one down. I was in that story with them and although it was horrific and hard to imagine, the author did a wonderful job of making feel so very real. I always find it slightly annoying that I can’t say what I want to say, especially about the ending because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it had my heart pumping and a few tears falling.

I think if you’re looking for something that’ll get your heart rate going, then try this. But be warned, it does have triggers relating to rape and violence so if that’s something you generally avoid you may want to consider it, or have a support person you can talk to about it.

My first read from this author and most definitely not my last!

I rated Those Girls: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer #bookblog #bookreview @HachetteAUS @KelRimmerWrites

Blurb

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.

My Thoughts

My book of the year. Really, saying that alone, and the fact that we’ve still got six months of the year left still and I’ve already named my book of the year, tells you just how much I loved this story. I absolutely loved it.

Addiction is such a hideous disease.  It affects the user, and everyone else around them. Very much like the ripple effect. This story was the most accurate portrayal of addiction that I’ve read yet. My eyes welled so many times reading this. The emotion, anguish, betrayal, confusion, guilt, worry, disappointment, longing, and love was just overwhelming at times. I felt so much for all the characters in this story that I just didn’t want to stop reading. I was furious at Robert and that part of the storyline, and I absolutely loved the relationship between Annie and her sister as they were growing up.  I think it was the diary entry in CH 18 (going from memory which I have to admit it pretty sketchy LOL) which documented Lexie leaving the ‘Cult’ and leaving poor 12 yr old Annie, that had me ugly crying.  And I do mean UGLY cry.  The trauma that that poor girl endured, and to have the only person that she could trust and knew that loved her disappear with out her (Lexie leaving), was the pivitol moment in her downward fall.  My heart truly ached for Annie.  And I appreciated the thought and effort the author made in conveying her emotional turmoil and struggle.

I also applaud how Lexie’s own struggle was written.  It is tremendously hard watching someone’s life downward spiral with addiction.  Essentially, you’re powerless to do anything because the only person that can help themselves, is the addict. That’s extremely hard to do when a person is dealing with multiple trauma’s, because more often than not, the reason that they’ve turned to the drugs is to self-medicate when experiencing depression, PTSD, trying to forget things etc. So an addict can relapse many many many many times.  They may never get clean.  I loved that the author explored this with Lexi. Shared her frustration, and even anger, with Annie an all the times she’d tried to help her. For Lexi being confused because even though she’s a doctor and KNOWS about addiction, it can be a very different experience to live through it personally.  Lexi was very human.  There was a time or two when I gasped because of something she said to Annie. One of those being when Annie was naming the baby and Lexi didn’t agree with it, they way she talked and what she said to Annie, was awful. I immediately felt for Annie, and thought “wow, that was below the belt Lexi”. But you know what, that was real.  No one’s perfect. We all have our moments, and I think it was just a representation of how addiction effects relationships.

And the poor little baby?  I’m so glad that she survived, although her withdrawal  scenes were vivid and written so well. I had some tears through that as well. And they ending… UGLY CRY. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was hoping for a different out come for sure.  I pictured it happening as though it was on one of my favourite tv show dramas. In slow motion, with some backing music. Not fair.

So as you can see, I LOVED this. It pulled me in from the very beginning and had me finishing it within the day. I just couldn’t put it down because I didn’t want to leave Lexie of Annie’s side. I needed to see where their journey was going, stuff any study or house-work that had to be done!

I rated Before I Let You Go: 5/5 stars and my 2019 Drama Book of the Year

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerrie Rawson #bookblog #bookreview @kerrierawson

Blurb

In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. As news of his capture spread, Wichitacelebrated the end of a thirty-one-year nightmare.

For Kerri Rawson, another was just beginning. She was plunged into a black hole of horror and disbelief. The same man who had been a loving father, a devoted husband, church president, Boy Scout leader, and a public servant had been using their family as a cover for his heinous crimes since before she was born. Everything she had believed about her life had been a lie.

Written with candor and extraordinary courage, A Serial Killer’s Daughter is an unflinching exploration of life with one of America’s most infamous killers and an astonishing tale of personal and spiritual transformation. For all who suffer from unhealed wounds or the crippling effects of violence, betrayal, and anger, Kerri Rawson’s story offers the hope of reclaiming sanity in the midst of madness, rebuilding a life in the shadow of death, and learning to forgive the unforgivable.

My Thoughts

Fantastic. I’ve seen a lot of talk from people who, quite frankly, are plain ignorant stating things like the author just wants her “five minutes of fame” “she’s not a victim” and worse things. I find it hard to believe that people are that heartless, but then I see it daily.

I can’t imagine waking up one day and learning that your father is responsible for murdering 11 people. However, the author does a wonderfully honest job of showing and telling us just that. It doesn’t matter how much I read, or how many clients I see, the fact that these people look so normal to us on the outside and function just like everyone else. The betrayal, shock, heartbreak, denial, loss, and everything else that she goes through is nothing I would wish on anyone. And then to have to deal with his actions as well and the shame that comes from it… Of course, she and her family are victims.

I was completely surprised at how well this book was written. It actually had a fiction feel to it. I got completely wrapped up in this and finished it in a day, it was that good. But then I’ve read so much about the offender and the murders, that it felt so good to read something about this event from another angle. It just goes to show how good these killers are at being ‘normal’, it’s actually hard to comprehend…

Fantastic read, and congratulations to the author. I hope she found some peace and solace in writing it, and wish her the very best in her healing journey.

I rated A Serial Killer’s Daughter: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: My daughter’s Secret by Nicole Trope #bookreview @bookouture #bookblog @nicoletrope

Blurb

My baby girl, I’ll never forget you – your smile, your laugh, the way your hair sparkles in the sun. I cannot comprehend this pain. I cannot breathe through it.

In the middle of the night, Claire wakes up to discover that her beloved daughter, Julia, is dead – and life, as she knows it, is over.

Searching for answers, Claire stumbles upon a pile of letters, hidden under Julia’s bed in an old, battered shoebox, and feels closer to her daughter than ever before. They tell her that Julia was happy, that she was thriving at university, that she was in love.

But as the letters go on, Claire starts to feel uneasy at something hidden between the lines. Even as she grieves, she must prepare to face a shocking discovery. Because Julia was hiding a terrible secret – and when it’s uncovered, it will devastate a family already torn apart by tragedy.

An emotional, twisty and gripping page turner that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher, Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult.

My Thoughts

My first read from this author and I was pleased overall.  It’s a story that tackles two of the biggest stigmas to date, domestic violence and suicide.  Although I couldn’t entirely jel with all the characters, I could definitely understand Claire’s incredible grief when it came to her daughter’s suicide. It’s a tremendously shocking and sudden lose that many find it hard to comprehend.  I felt that.  Is it depressing, yes. But it’s also very real, and definitely strikes a chord among readers.  It certainly makes you think especially when it’s so prevalent in society today.  And then there’s the domestic violence. Shocking, infuriating, emotion provoking, and senseless. Again, it’s a topic that is current and needs to be talked about in order to spread awareness.  I felt the author did justice to both topics and thank her for making it a highlighted topic in her story. The more it’s talked about, the more we’re looking for it.

It was well written, overall, I did come across a few slowish moment and no real twists although I was left emotionally touched and happy that I crochet my blankets and donate them to a domestic violence safe house program!

Thank you Netgalley and Bookouture for my ebook copy to review.

I rated My Daughter’s Secret: 4/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline #bookreview @LisaScottoline #bookblog @HachetteAus

Blurb

Christine Nilsson and her husband, Marcus, are desperate for a baby. Unable to conceive, they find themselves facing a difficult choice they had never anticipated. After many appointments with specialists, endless research, and countless conversations, they make the decision to use a donor.

Two months pass and Christine is happily pregnant. but one day, she is shocked to see a young blond man on the TV news being arrested for a series of brutal murders-and the blond man bears an undeniable and uncanny resemblance to her donor.

Delving deeper to uncover the truth, Christine must confront a terrifying reality and face her worst fears. Riveting and fast-paced, with the depth of emotionality that has garnered Lisa Scottoline legions of fans, Most Wanted poses an ethical and moral dilemma: What would you do if the biological father of your unborn child was a killer?

My Thoughts

I have to admit, just reading the blurb sucked me right into this one.  I was definitely thinking, how would I act if I found out I might be carrying a serial killers child? The writing really was excellent. I forget I was reading a book and fall into the story so many times. I would have read it quicker if I wasn’t at the end of my semester and had exams and assignments to finish off!

Christine’s husband gave me the shits (aussie slang for annoyed, lol) but I also empathised with him at the same time which is extraordinary, because it would be quite easy to just write him of as a self-fish tool. However, the author did a spot on job of really diving into his feelings, thoughts, and behaviours when it came to not being able to biologically contribute to their growing child.  I was glad he came to his senses in the end and was able to enjoy what the future has to bring for them both.

When it came to Christine, the paralegal, I have to admit I groaned because I thought that seems so unlikely.  There’s no way that would happen in real-life. But I found that part quite…exciting. I like the pace change it gave the story and it actually ended up not being as cheesy as I thought and I really loved the memorial scene! Did I enjoy the DNA outcome at the end?  I actually wish it had of went the other way, I would have really liked to see how they would have handled it and what it would have meant for their relationship. But, I guess that’s more of a personal preference rather than a story flaw so I can’t take away any stars for that.

For me, it was an excellent read. It’s the second book I’ve read from the author and I think I can almost say that she’s a favourite (think I need to read 3 to give a definitive answer, ROFL) but I’m so super impressed!

Have you read it? What did you think?

I rated Most Wanted: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading!

Nat

Review: Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter #bookblog #bookreview

Blurb

Terror stalks a small Virginia town.

FBI rising star, criminal profiler Evelyn Baine, knows how to think like a serial killer. But she’s never chased anyone like the Bakersville Burier, who hunts young women and displays them, half-buried, deep in the woods. As the body count climbs, Evelyn’s relentless pursuit of the killer puts her career – and her life – at risk. And the evil lurking in the Burier’s mind may be more than even she can unravel.

Terror is closer than she thinks.

The Bakersville Burier knows he’s got an FBI profiler on his trail. He knows who she is and where to find her. And he’s biding his time, because he’s planned a special punishment for Evelyn. She may have tracked other killers, but he vows to make this her last chase. This time it’s her turn to be hunted!

My Thoughts

Once upon a time I was an avid lover of profiling.  One of my fav shows is Criminal Minds. However, I grew up, I went to university and learned about human behaviour and now I’m anti-profiling. Really, it’s the equivalent of fortune telling!

That’s not the say that I didn’t enjoy this read because I did. The story was very well paced, the characters (while not spectacular) were interesting, and I did enjoy some aspects of the killer. However, the profiling the main character did was so ridiculously weak, it made me a touch angry. There’s no denying that the author did an awesome researching researching, blah. And I do have to say that the main character was hard to like.  Her incident (I won’t say what so I don’t spoil it) was weak and not very believable. I’m usually the first to say, hey it’s fiction the author has the right to put in whatever she wants, but with so much ‘fact’ it just felt un-natural and would have been better to leave out I feel.

If you enjoy Criminal Minds and like shows, then you may just enjoy this one.

I rated Hunted: 3/5 starts

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: An Evil Mind by Chris Carter #bookblog #bookreview

Blurb

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the Sheriff’s Department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery – a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years. The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception – can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behaviour psychologist and lead Detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD, Robert Hunter, is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man. These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could’ve foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed … until now.

My Thoughts

Well, like always the writing was great. Good character development, although I did think that the “bad guy” was a little too cliche’. Way too similar to Hannibal Lecture, if you ask me, and that sort of annoyed me because every time we saw him, it was like his superiority was being thrown in our faces. 

It was definitely a different read from the authors previous books.  I think to have done that in the middle of a series, was annoying as a reader. The first two chapters I was thinking, wow this is different. Like real different. By the end of it, I don’t know if it was a good different though.  I didn’t like that Garcia wasn’t in it, or the other regular characters.  And even Hunter himself, didn’t seem like his usual self.  I was shocked towards the end, with “the shooting” but other than that, i didn’t come across any twists or surprised so that was disappointing. Overall, it was ok, definitely not the best in the series.

I rated An Evil Mind: 3/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat