#BlogTour: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that further shows how an often stigmatized neurodivergence can actually be used for good rather than its stereotypical evil. For this blog tour we’re looking at Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian.

Complex Story With Interesting (But Unnecessary) Commentary In Finale. This is a particular idea that I didn’t really know I was drawn to until reading Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe books, about a slightly more mature psychopath than these college students here. So when I saw the premise here, I pretty well *had* to check it out. The overall story works well and will keep you guessing – and you’re most likely not going to guess right until the final reveal. The various aspects of psychopathy shown work well, and work well to show that *everyone* can lead a fairly normal life – thus helping (a bit) to destigmatize the condition. Including the romance that at least a few other reviewers panned – I enjoyed it for showing that even true psychopaths are capable of it, though admittedly this isn’t a romance book and thus that element is never a core focus of the tale. The switching from character to character was usually abrupt and could have used a bit better editing, perhaps naming the character at the top of the chapter and even breaking into a new chapter (with character name) when a perspective jumps mid chapter. But that is perhaps something that could be seen at the beta/ ARC level (and this book is still almost two months from publication as I write this review) and *perhaps* corrected. So if you’re reading this review years after publication, know that this particular issue may or may not exist any longer.

The commentary in the finale, about the doc and his perspectives, wasn’t really necessary but did provide an interesting, rarely seen wrinkle. One I happened to know about outside of this book and largely agree with, so it was refreshing to see it both discussed and discussed in such a positive light here. But again, it was ultimately unnecessary for the tale and thus a bit of a momentum killer in the final stretch. (Though fortunately it *is* fairly brief, so there is that at least.)

Overall a truly enjoyable read with a fairly rare and possibly unique premise. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the usual publisher details – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: An Unreliable Truth by Victor Methos

This week we’re looking at a compelling court room drama set in a fascinating world. This week we’re looking at An Unreliable Truth by Victor Methos.

But A Reliable Author. This was my first time reading this author, which makes me a bit different from most of the other ARC reviewers on Goodreads just under three weeks before publication. And I can tell you without hesitation that this is a perfectly fine first-for-you book, so long as you don’t mind coming into a world where at least some of the characters have already had other adventures with each other. (Though the way this one reads, one presumes even the first book was written such that the reader is coming in to already-established relationships.) The crime at the heart of this one is particularly grisly, and worthy of a capital trial (for those that believe murdering a murderer is something anyone, let alone a government, should be allowed to do). The personal dramas among the lawyers are compelling. The courtroom drama as the lawyers fight with and against each other is at least as compelling as any other factor. And the outcomes are satisfying within the realms of the world and particular story – though that in no way gives you any hint as to what they actually are. ๐Ÿ˜€ Basically, if you like courtroom dramas, you’re likely going to like this one. If you like compelling mysteries, you’re likely to like this one. If you like just good stories period, you’re likely to like this one. So if you’re open to any of the above at all, you should read this book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Far Gone by Danielle Girard

This week we’re looking at a compelling mystery that keeps things refreshingly realistic – if completely twisted. This week we’re looking at Far Gone by Danielle Girard.

Compelling Mystery. This is one of those mysteries that has so much going on that it could feel disjointed in a lesser storyteller’s hands, but Girard manages to make it work quite well. We get the story primarily through three perspectives – Hannah, who witnesses a murder in her opening scene, Lily, a nurse who is a former kidnapping victim who is now working to rebuild her life, and Kylie, the detective who helped Lily in the first book and who here is investigating the murder. Girard manages to keep the pace of the reveals driving through the narrative, all while maintaining plausibly realistic scenarios. Indeed, even the ending is surprisingly refreshing in its realism on all fronts – despite what some activists would have liked. Truly a great story told very well. Very much recommended.

#BlogTour: Trouble In Big Timber by BJ Daniels

For this mid-week entry in the Slide Into Summer Romance Blog Tour Series, we’re looking at a romantic suspense that while deep in a series actually works quite well as a standalone book and entry point to the series. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Trouble In Big Timber by BJ Daniels.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Solid Romantic Suspense. This book is listed as Book 5 in a series, but I can tell you from having read it without having read any of the other books that it works totally fine as a standalone as well. The existence of people from the prior books is mentioned, but I didn’t actually note anything that could even really be a spoiler about those books in this one (other than the not-really-a-spoiler-due-to-genre-rules mentioning that certain people are together, possibly). Overall a truly solid book mostly on the mystery/ suspense side – it opens with a man attempting suicide and being stopped by what he believes is the butt-dial of a long-lost friend being murdered by his long-lost ex-best friend. But this *is* a romance, and that *does* develop, it just mostly develops later as our leading man and leading woman are largely approaching the investigation into the phone call and what it revealed from two very different angles that later become more intertwined. One of those with twists almost until the very last page (other than the epilogue). Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt and the publisher details! ๐Ÿ™‚
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#BlogTour: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that has a *phenomenal* sequence after the opening scene… and then gets confusing. But then picks back up by the end and “breaks” a lot of “rules” for its genre, which makes it quite interesting indeed. For this tour, we’re looking at Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Confusing Front. Interesting Ending. This book has one section at the front of the book that seems to go on *forever*… and yet is the singular most fascinating passage of the tale. In this particular section, we get a girl who is trapped in utter darkness and we *feel* what it is doing to her after being here for so long. Then she *finally* breaks free and runs for her life, and we feel her utter terror viscerally.

And then… the book completely transitions into a more “typical” domestic psychological suspense/ thriller. There is someone threatening someone. There is a murder. There is a suicide. And through 2/3 or so of the book, we get a fairly standard (though to be clear, engaging, if a bit confusing to pick up on at first, particularly in the mind-shock of coming from the escape into this) tale.

But then… Kubica begins to do things that you’re not supposed to do in this genre. We get a major reveal *before* the last 20% of the book. And then we build… and we get *another* reveal before the last 10% of the book! And another! And the actual ending… well, it isn’t the complete mind-bender that so many of these books end on. Which may be a good thing, depending on your tastes. And which I enjoyed just because it *didn’t* go the “typical” route, if for no other reason.

Truly an interesting story, one that could have arguably been told in a better way. But still engaging and still worthy of reading – and without any objective flaws to hang a star reduction on. Therefore it maintains the full five stars and is very much recommended.

Below the jump, a chapter long excerpt from one of the early scenes in the book followed by the book and author details.
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#BookReview: Dead Secret by Noelle Holten

Intriguing Mystery. Explosive Ending. This was my first book from Holten, and thus obviously I hadn’t read the prior three books in this series. And yet this book totally works. Yes, there are references to prior events, but they are explained enough to keep the current story going without overburdening the current story with prior details. If you’ve ever started in the middle of a military technothriller series ala Tom Clancy or Dale Brown – similar feel here.

Overall, the world is interesting in that you get a typical-yet-not detective and an entire cast of well developed characters all working together almost in an ensemble fashion that works so well in so many mediums. Holten shows herself adept at the technique of using the final sentences of a chapter to hook the reader into reading the next, and indeed uses the final chapter of the overall book to similar effect – the reader is left almost breathless in desperate need for the next book.

If you’re open to police procedurals at all, particularly those set in the UK, you’re going to enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you should really give this book a chance – the characters are that strong. Very much recommended.

This review of Dead Secret by Noelle Holten was originally written on March 10, 2021.

#BookReview: The Last One Home by Victoria Helen Stone

Slow Burn Family Mystery With Explosive Twist. Let’s get a common criticism dealt with up front: No, this is NOT a Jane Doe novel. That dispensed with, this *IS* a great example of Stone’s ability to tell more than one type of story in more than one way. What we get here is a compelling slow burn family mystery involving killers, rapists, mistresses, and one confused kid. Told in dual timelines from the modern era and the 80s, we see mom and daughter explore their situations and come to startling revelations – though neither is quite prepared for the explosive revelation at the end of the tale. This picks up some of the creepier elements of Christopher Rice’s Blood Music while spinning an engrossing gothic – in the classic sense of the word, involving a foreboding building – mystery all its own. Very much recommended.

This review of The Last One Home by Victoria Helen Stone was originally written on October 25, 2020.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Take It Back by Kia Adbullah

This week we’re looking at a strong British courtroom thriller that seems to set up a new series. This week we’re looking at Take It Back by Kia Abdullah.

Writer’s block still plagues me, but here’s the Goodreads/ BookBub review:

Nuanced Courtroom Thriller. This is an interesting one. One with a main protagonist that… has several rough edges, at least a couple of which come back to bite her. One with a strong commentary about the role of Muslims in British (and by slight extension, Western) society, at many different levels. One with a strong discussion of what it means to be the “other”… in so many different ways. And one with secrets almost literally to the last word. Tremendous book, and very much recommended.

#BookReview: Housewife Chronicles by Jennifer Snow

Fun Tale Told In A Possibly Unique Way. In some ways, this was a typical light-ish, women’s fiction level mystery involving a dead husband, a separated wife, and the mistress who caused the separation. It ultimately becomes a feel-good tale of friendship and bonding between female neighbors with a bit of a dark undertone, which was very well executed – darker than the Hallmark Romance level romances Snow typically writes under this name, but nowhere *near* as dark (and *far* funnier) than the depths Snow plumbs as JM Winchester. But what truly makes this book so rare and possibly unique is the decision to tell the tale from the perspectives of both the wife… *and* the mistress. Excellently told story that will ultimately have you guessing until very nearly the last word. Very much recommended.

This review of Housewife Chronicles by Jennifer Snow was originally written on October 23, 2020.

#BookReview: Standoff by Jamie Thompson

Solid, Compelling, Yet Blatantly Biased In Favor Of Cops. Four years ago nearly to the day when I read this book on July 11, 2020, Dallas cops used a brick of C4 to murder a suspect in a college building, rather than arresting him and bringing him to trial. This book is a detailed telling of the events of that night, taken from multiple interviews and videos with many of the very people in question. It doesn’t really delve into race or policing generally so much as the thoughts and histories of those involved, and not one person involved comes out looking like so much as a good person. Even with the narrative blatantly biased to put them in as favorable a light as possible. A compelling read that very much puts the reader in the night in question and in the heads of the cops in question, and this fact alone is the reason it rates so high. A great primer on exactly what cops think of the rest of us in modern America, and thus very much recommended.

A final note: While I absolutely recommend reading this book, I recommend getting it from a library or waiting until it hits the used market because the cops in question stand to benefit financially from its sale. This is a novel recommendation from me, but warranted in this case as these people should *not* stand to make money from murdering someone.

This review of Standoff by Jamie Thompson was originally written on July 12, 2020.