Throwback Thursday: August 9th, 2018

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I’ve decided to do Throwback Thursday but blog style. I am going to select a book I have read before and see if I would still read it.

This week’s Throwback Thursday is a horror/short story.

Bursting with Confidence

click on the picture for Amazon link.

Haley and Abigail are best friends.Abigail is babysitting a little boy named Peter Larsen at an old mansion. She calls Haley and ask her to visit.
Haley visits the Larsen mansion.
After Haley meets Peter, strange things start to happen. Soon, Haley and Abigail learn a few of the Larsen mansion’s dark secrets.

 

Other places you can find Bursting with Confidence: Only on Amazon


 

Did I like Bursting with Confidence when I first read it? Yes. I normally don’t like short stories but this one was interesting.

Would I read Bursting with Confidence now? Maybe. I would have to be in the mood to read it.

How many stars did I give Bursting with Confidence when I first read it? 4 stars

How many stars would I give Bursting with Confidence now? No clue. I would have to reread the book.

Age I read Bursting with Confidence? I think I was in my mid-30’s.

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Rust & Stardust

5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: August 7th, 2018

Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Trigger Warning: Kidnapping, sexual abuse, physical abuse

Where you can find Rust & Stardust: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11-year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52-year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says. 

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San José, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

My Review:

As I stated in another review, I do not like historical fiction. It bores me. It takes a well-written book in that genre to captivate me. That is exactly what Rust & Stardust did. Captivated me. I couldn’t put this book down. I had to read what was going to happen to Sally. I needed to know if she was ever reunited with her mother. I needed to know what was going to happen to Frank.

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What I wasn’t expecting, when I started reading this book, was the connection it had to Lolita. The author explains it in the author’s note at the end of the book. That was something that made me go “Hmmmm” when I read it. Without this awful kidnapping, that book wouldn’t have happened. It would have been burned.

The plot of Rust & Stardust was rather easy to follow. Sally was caught stealing a notebook from Woolworth’s as part of a dare from a group of girls she wanted to be friends with. Frank sees her, tells her that he is with the FBI and she will go to jail if she doesn’t do what he says. Within the next few days, Sally is on a train to Atlantic City with Frank. She convinced her mother that Frank was her friend’s father and he was taken her to the shore to meet up with her. When Sally isn’t home by the time Frank said she would be, Sally’s mother becomes concerned. Then frightened when the police tell her that Frank is a bad man (read the book to find out how bad). Sally is moved across the country. She is beaten and raped. She is under Frank’s control. Until she meets Ruth. But can Ruth help Sally escape Frank? Will Sally go home?

Rust & Stardust was told from 12 different POV’s. Yes, 12 different POV’s. I usually can’t handle more than 2 before I start getting confused. But, in this case, it worked. I was able to go between POV’s fine and wasn’t lost. What I didn’t like is that some POV’s were only once. Then they were dropped from the story. But those POV’s added more insight to what Sally was going through in the book.

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I felt awful for Sally during the book. She went through hell with Frank. I wish that she had been rescued earlier in the book but it wouldn’t have matched up with real-life events. She did have an inner strength that was showcased throughout the book. No matter what Frank did to her, she was able to keep a small bit of what she used to be alive.

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I could not believe that Sally’s mother went with her to the bus terminal and let her get on the bus with Frank. I know that the world was different back then. There was no stranger danger. People like Frank existed but were never given much thought. Still, as a mother of a 12-year-old, I couldn’t believe that she didn’t pick up that something was wrong. That Sally didn’t want to go with him. I also thought the way she treated Sally after she came home was awful. I had zero sympathy for her.

The author did a great job of covering the abuse scenes. She gave enough detail at what was happening but didn’t get graphic. The rape scenes were tastefully written. Still shocking and left me in tears but tastefully written.

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I was not expecting what happened at the end of the book. I truly wasn’t. It threw me for a loop. In the last scene (not with Ruth but before that), I was praying that what happened was to someone else. I put my Kindle down and cried when I realized who it was. Very sad.

What I like about Rust & Stardust:

A) Captivating story

B) The tie to Lolita (which I didn’t know)

C) Sally’s strength

What I disliked about Rust & Stardust:

A) Frank.

B) Sally’s mother. I had no sympathy for her

C) The end of the book.

I would give Rust & Stardust an Adult rating. There is sex but it is not graphic. There is mild violence. There is mild language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read Rust & Stardust.

There are trigger warnings for Rust & Stardust. They are kidnapping, sexual abuse, physical abuse. If you are triggered by any of these, I suggest not to read the book.

I would reread Rust & Stardust. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Rust & Stardust.

All opinions stated in this review of Rust & Stardust are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

Believe Me

4.5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine

Date of publication: July 24th, 2018

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Trigger Warning: Mental Illness

Where you can find Believe Me: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

My review:

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This book messed with my head, big time. See, I liked psychological thrillers. I like reading a book where I don’t know what is going to happen from one chapter to the next. I like damaged main characters. I didn’t think that I was going to get that with Believe Me. I thought this book was going to be your typical who done it with the female main solving the crime. What I got instead was a book that kept me guessing from chapter to chapter. A book that I had a hard time forgetting about once I was done with it. A book that got under my skin. I should have known better than to assume the book was going to be a typical book.

Believe Me’s plot started off simple and progressed into complex. Claire was a British ex-pat actress living in New York City without a green card. Desperate for work, she starts doing decoy work for divorce lawyers. It is that job that puts her in the path of Professor Patrick Folger. His wife is found dead the day after the setup. Claire is brought in for questioning since she was the last person to see her alive. She is recruited by a shady psychologist to get to know Patrick and to get a confession out of him. Little does Claire know that her life is going to be turned upside down and inside out.

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Claire was such a complex character to write. As a reader, I love it when characters have different layers to them. Claire definitely had them. There was one point in the book where I was questioning her memories of growing up in foster care. She was such a great actress that she made me, the reader, question what I was reading. I am sure that was the author’s intention. I loved it!!

I didn’t know how I felt about Claire. My feelings for her went from one extreme to another. I could love her in one chapter and then hate her in another. I have never had another book do that for me. Even at the end of the book, when we were seeing the “realClaire, I was still on edge about her. I mean, was that the real Claire we were seeing or was it another one of her personalities?

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I’ve gotta say that Patrick had me fooled the entire book. I went from thinking one thing about him to thinking another to rethinking my opinion. So, needless to say, I was surprised by what he revealed to Claire. I shouldn’t have been but I was. Actually, let me rephrase that. I was more shocked by what he revealed.

I was also surprised that the poem referenced in the book “Les Fleurs du Mal” is an actual book written by Charles Baudelaire. To be honest, I did think that it was made up. Until I did a google search and there was a ton of information about it. I’m not going go too much into him but I will say that those poems are freaky. Google them and him. You’ll see what I mean.

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The end of the book was insane. It is where the plotline went from simple to complex. I am not going to get into much of the ending except I wasn’t expecting what happened to happen. Also, as I mentioned above, I wasn’t too sure about Claire. Even with everything revealed, I still had my doubts about her.

There were a few reasons why I didn’t give Believe Me a 5-star rating. The main reason was that the book got off to a slow start. I know that the author was laying the groundwork for Claire’s story but still. It crept. I almost DNF’d (but I am glad I didn’t).

I also felt that the plot faltered towards the middle of the book when Claire was in the mental hospital. I felt that her experiences in that hospital were not relevant to the storyline. It was interesting but not relevant.

My last reason was the last few chapters of the book and how Claire’s secret came out. While it was shocking, I definitely didn’t see it coming. It came out of left field. When the book finally ended, I felt it was anticlimactic.

What I liked about Believe Me:

A) Got under my skin

B) Complex characters

C) The end of the book

What I disliked about Believe Me:

A) Book got off to a slow start

B) Plot faltered towards the middle of the book

C) The ending felt almost anticlimactic

I would give Believe Me an Adult rating. There is sex. There is violence. There is language. I would suggest that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

There is a trigger warning for Believe Me. They are mental illness. If you are triggered by that, I suggest not to read the book.

I would reread Believe Me. I would recommend this book to family and friends. But I would include a warning about the triggers.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Believe Me

All opinions stated in this review of Believe Me are mine

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas

The Family Tabor

1 Stars

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Date of publication: July 17, 2018

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Where you can find The Family Tabor: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Harry Tabor is about to be named Man of the Decade, a distinction that feels like the culmination of a life well lived. Gathering together in Palm Springs for the celebration are his wife, Roma, a distinguished child psychologist, and their children: Phoebe, a high-powered attorney; Camille, a brilliant social anthropologist; and Simon, a big-firm lawyer, who brings his glamorous wife and two young daughters. 

But immediately, cracks begin to appear in this smooth facade: Simon hasn’t been sleeping through the night, Camille can’t decide what to do with her life, and Phoebe is a little too cagey about her new boyfriend. Roma knows her children are hiding things. What she doesn’t know, what none of them know, is that Harry is suddenly haunted by the long-buried secret that drove him, decades ago, to relocate his young family to the California desert. As the ceremony nears, the family members are forced to confront the falsehoods upon which their lives are built. 

Set over the course of a single weekend, and deftly alternating between the five Tabors, this provocative, gorgeously rendered novel reckons with the nature of the stories we tell ourselves and our family and the price we pay for second chances.

My Review:

There are times when I request a book from NetGalley, get accepted and immediately think “Oh man, what am I in for“. The Family Tabor is such a book. When I saw it on NetGalley, I immediately thought it would be a book like The Ring by Danielle Steele. A drama that crosses generations of the same family. In a way, The Family Tabor is like that. But it also is not like that. This book isn’t a multigenerational drama. Instead, it focuses on secrets and how they can wreak havoc with lives.

I found The Family Tabor to be confusing to read. The 3rd person perspective jumped from family member to family member in the same chapter. I could be reading about what Roma was thinking and then it switched to Phoebe with no warning. There were times that I had to reread the chapter to understand who I was reading about. I do not like it when I have to do that. It ruins the flow of reading for me.

While I understand Harry’s guilt over something that happened over 20 years ago, I don’t understand how he suppressed the memory of it. I am not an expert on these things but his company was funded with some of the missing money. You would think that he would remember something like that. It didn’t scream realistic to me. It also didn’t make me like him once the full truth came out. He took advantage of a situation and got away with it.

Out of the 3 kids’ issues, the only one that I actually connected with was Camille’s. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. Simon’s issues were spiritual. Phoebe was the one that I couldn’t understand. She didn’t have to lie about having a boyfriend. But she did. It made no sense.

I didn’t like Simon’s wife. When he told her that he wanted to look more into his religion, she flipped her wig. She didn’t want him to be a Jew? Seriously? And to end her marriage of 10 years because of that was ridiculous. So much for true love. Also, her irritation with Lucy and her repeating words was beyond annoying. To be honest, after that bigoted comment, I skimmed over her parts. I didn’t want to read anything more about her.

I wish more attention had been paid to Roma. I was fascinated by her grandmother’s story and how it shaped Roma’s life. I was also fascinated by Roma’s profession. I wanted to know more about her patient and why that child was running.

The last half of the book was as awkward to read as the first half. I barely hung in throughout Harry’s epiphany and disappearance. The only thing that perked me up was the almost mystical dreams that Camille, Simon, and Phoebe had. I felt that their resolutions to their problems were convenient. Even the end of the book was blah. I saw it coming from a mile away.

What I liked about The Family Tabor:

A) Nothing. Normally I find something nice to put here but yeah, not this time

What I disliked about The Family Tabor:

A) Confusing to read

B) Simon’s bigoted wife

C) Everything after Harry’s disappearance

I would give The Family Tabor a rating of Adult. There is mild violence. There is mild language. There are sexual situations and sex but they are very vague. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 21.

There are no triggers in The Family Tabor.

The Family Tabor is a book that I would not recommend to family and friends. I would not reread this book or be willing to read any other books by the author.

I would like to thank Flatiron Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Family Tabor.

All opinions stated in this review of The Family Tabor are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Jilliand by Clare Gutierrez

Jilliand

3 Stars

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, River Grove

Date publication: April 17th, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction

Where you can find Jilliand: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Bruised, bloody, and barely dressed, she knew it was over. She had no doubt the Vikings would search for her if she tried to run—especially now, with their companion lying dead. It would be dark soon, and she had no idea where she could go or hide. Jilliand knew they would come for her. The Vikings were not likely to let this go—especially it being an attack by a woman. She was defeated. Weak and shaking, she stared at the man’s body. I think tonight I die. 

My review:

I haven’t read a lot of books that have taken place in the Viking Era. So, I was pretty excited to read Jilliand. I have a genuine interest in the Viking culture and was looking forward to reading about it. While the book did cover that, I felt it was lacking in some areas. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the book. I loved that the author took her time to research the Viking culture. I also liked that she made Jilliand a strong female character. I also liked how Jilliand seemed to overcome the odds. But there were things I didn’t like about the book. I felt that Jilliand was a little too progressive for the time. Not a lot of women traveled alone during that time. Also, not a lot of women knew how to fight. I also felt that she was too easily accepted at the Viking village. Everything else I have read points to the exact opposite for slaves. I also didn’t believe that Jilliand’s brother didn’t know how she was living when she was a child? Please.

Jilliand’s storyline was interesting. Jilliand was an abused, young girl who was going to be married off to her father’s closest ally. But, on the eve of her arranged marriage, Jilliand is set free. Given clothing and a short dagger, she makes her way to a nearby village. It is there that she settles down with a family. Her freedom is short-lived. She is soon captured by the Vikings in a raid. Ruik, the sea-king of his village, falls in love with her. But language stands in the way, as does Jilliand’s attempts to escape. Eventually, she ends up at his village and they are married. But a huge tragedy happens and Jilliand is separated from Ruik, for years. Taken in by her brother, Jilliand is treated as a treasured, if eccentric sister. What happens next, though, will bring Jilliand back to Ruik. But will it be too late for them?

I liked Jilliand and I admired her for overcoming awful beginnings. But I couldn’t quite connect with her. She was progressive for that era. Females were only there to have children. They contributed little to society other than that. So for Jilliand to be taught how to fight struck me as a little odd. There was an explanation about why she was taught but still.  Saying that she was a very strong and positive female character. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how she was portrayed.

I thought her relationship with Ruik a bit Stockholm Syndromeish. I know that captives can fall in love with their captors after being with them for a while. So, that part is believable. But to have the village accept her? I don’t think that would have happened. She came in as a slave and she would have been at the bottom of the totem pole. Instead, she was treated very well and accepted as Ruik’s wife almost from the beginning. I also felt that their relationship was flat. There was no sizzle to it. I didn’t get the warm fuzzies when they were together. It was blah.

The subplot with Jilliand’s brother didn’t sit well with me either. I could believe that a king wouldn’t go wage war on the man who kidnapped his mother and forced her to marry him. I also couldn’t believe that he left Jilliand with that man, knowing how he was. It didn’t sit right with me.

I will say that I liked the end of the book. Jilliand was magnificent. I loved the surprise at the end. I was expecting it and but it didn’t make the ending anymore happier for me.

What I liked about Jilliand:

A) Jilliand being a strong female character

B) The research that went into the book. It was unbelievable and I learned so much about the Viking culture

C) The ending.

What I disliked about Jilliand:

A) She was too progressive for the era

B) Her relationship with Ruik

C) The subplot with her brother

I would give Jilliand an Older Teen rating. There is sex but it is not explicit. There is violence. There is no language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

There are trigger warnings in Jilliand. They are child abuse, attempted rape, kidnapping, and slavery. If you are triggered by any of these, I recommend not reading Jilliand.

I am on the fence about rereading Jilliand. I am also on the fence about recommending this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Greenlove Book Group, River Grove, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Jilliand.

All opinions stated in this review of Jilliand are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

The Girl in the Tower is now in paperback

Yes, you read that right. The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden is now in paperback. So run, not walk, to your computer and grab it. It’s well worth the read!!!

Where you can find The Girl in the Tower: Barnes and Noble |  Amazon

My review of The Girl in the Tower – here

The Cyprus Papers by C.W. Bordener

The Cyprus Papers

2 Stars

Publisher: C.W. Bordener

Date of publication: November 11th, 2017

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Where you can find The Cyprus Papers: Amazon 

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A consortium of people determined to keep a secret safe. A woman hell-bent on exposing the truth. A relentless assassin hunting her down. 

The odds are heavily stacked against Emily. Armed with fortitude and determination, she does everything she can while the world around her crumbles. 

Back Cover:
Emily, a consultant specializing in financial forensics, discovers an unspeakable plot of ambition and greed. Her investigation uncovers a paper trail of obscure evidence that her client, a congressman, and hopeful presidential candidate, is part of a corrupt consortium of individuals with links to international tax havens. 

As she learns more about her client and the consortium, a deadly cover-up quickly reaches her colleagues and inner circle of friends. Unsure of whom to trust and where to go, Emily is forced into hiding. 

With her life in the balance, she searches for the internal fortitude to battle and expose the consortium. Hindering her investigation is a ruthless assassin with his sights trained directly on her. While the people around her continue to perish, Emily stands up for what she believes is right, trying to preserve her moral compass amidst the chaos.

My review:

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The Cyprus Papers is a slow-moving espionage novel. With a strong female lead, it failed to keep my attention. I almost DNF’d the book. But I didn’t. I made myself read the book through to the end. I will say that the book started picking up towards the end but by then, it was too little too late. I could not connect with the main character. The plot fizzled towards the end of the book.

I did like Emily but I could not connect with her. I felt that she kept making the same bad decisions over and over. I also felt that she should have heeded the man with the gray and black hair’s warning. It would have saved her a lot of pain.

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I did admire Emily’s obsession to get the job done. I mean, if I had an assassin coming after me and I had people warning me to stop investigating things, I would have noped the heck out of the assignment.

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I also thought Emily was toxic to her friends. Every single one of her friends that she told about her assignment turned up dead. You would think that she would have stopped after the last death but no, she didn’t.

I know that she was written to be a tough woman but man, she was running rampant around Washington and Virginia. Bodies were piling up. I was surprised that she wasn’t arrested during the book.

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The ending of The Cyprus Papers was boring. The plot fizzled out after the scene with the assassin. As with most of the book, I had to force myself to keep reading it. I figured what happened at the end of the book would happen. I wish it was done differently. I did see an opening for a book 2 but I am not sure if I want to read it.

What I liked about The Cyprus Papers:

A) Strong female character

B) I guess that’s it

C) Yup, pretty sure about that

What I disliked about The Cyprus Papers:

A) Failed to keep my attention

B) Couldn’t connect with the main characters

C) Plot fizzled towards the end of the book

I would give The Cyprus Papers an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

Surprisingly, there are no trigger warnings in The Cyprus Papers.

I would not recommend The Cyprus Papers to family and friends. I will not be rereading this book.

I would like to thank the author and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Cyprus Papers

All opinions stated in this review of The Cyprus Papers are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

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