Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

23746004Expected Release: August 11th, 2015

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Length: 368

Pre-Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Format: Kindle

Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Rating 6/10

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?


Julia Heaberlin is a new author to me but I have to say that I really enjoyed her new upcoming thriller, Black-Eyed Susans.

Tessa is the victim of a serial-killer, left for dead on a pile of bones and bodies, who manages to send her monster to jail where he’s waiting for the death penalty. Now, years later, she is haunted by her past, the “Susans”, and desperate to keep her teenage daughter, Charlie, safe.

She has never been able to recall the details of her ordeal and as the execution date of her monster draws near, she’s beginning to have doubts. Has she let the wrong man go to jail?

The narrative switches between the past and present as Tessa relives her experience, therapy, the trial, and interactions with her best friend, Lydia, who hasn’t been seen since the trial ended.

The beginning was a little slow for me and I didn’t really become engaged in the story until a quarter of the way through. It was even a bit confusing in the beginning which I attribute to having to adjust to the narrative style and the constant flip-flopping between the past and present. It was a bit distracting, but eventually I was able to get into the flow of it.

I also felt that there was a huge emphasis on the court proceedings/death penalty process and less on some of the really key moments, like the explanation of ‘what really happened’ to Tessa, so that was bit of a letdown for me. Though I can appreciate the care and research that went into making those trial moments ‘real’.

I was intrigued by Lydia’s character and wanted more of her. Think manipulative, dark and very secretive. Tessa’s daughter, Charlie, and her eccentric neighbor, Effie, were likeable characters that I felt really grounded the story. And for a teenager, Charlie handles getting dragged into her mom’s crazy world like a champ!

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to a friend. There were great twists and revelations that made it truly enjoyable in the end! It might even be worth a second read to see if there were things I didn’t pick up on before.

Definitely worth adding to your “to-read” list.

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Bargain Friday: Serial Killers Abridged by RJ Parker and JJ Slate

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First, Happy Friday! Not only is it one of the best days of the week, it’s also a gorgeous spring day here in Boston.

Just a quick update to kick off a new weekly series that I thought would be fun to do.

Welcome to Bargain Friday’s!

A new series where I’ll share the books I’ve picked up, either for FREE or on super sale, during the week (not including books I’ve received for reviews).

This week I picked up Serial Killers Encylopedia of 100 Serial Killers by RJ Parker and JJ Slate

Where to buy: Amazon

Kindle Price: $0.99

The ultimate reference for anyone compelled by the pathology and twisted minds behind the most disturbing of homicidal monsters. From A to Z, and from around the world, these serial killers have killed in excess of 3,000 innocent victims, affecting thousands of friends and family members. There are monsters in this book that you may not have heard of, but you won’t forget them after reading their case. This reference book will make a great collection for true crime enthusiasts. Each true story is in a Reader’s Digest short form.

So here’s the thing – I’m not really a big fan of true crime. True Crime novels are too procedural for me, generally dry and a little sterile. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right ones, but that has been my experience.

That aside, I am fascinated by the pathology of a killer. Have you ever seen that show Deadly Women? Or those serial killer documentaries on Netflix? I love that shit. A book detailing some of the deadly killers that have roamed our streets? I’m all over it.

Don’t Turn Around by Caroline Mitchell

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Release:  April 24, 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Series: Detective Jennifer Knight #1
Length: 318 pages
Buy:  Amazon | Book Depository
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Crime, Paranormal
Rating: 6/10

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You don’t know him. But he knows you.

‘Soon he would be able to touch her, to feel the warmth of her blood. And when the time came, nothing would stop him.’

As D.C. Jennifer Knight investigates a routine stabbing in the quiet town of Haven, she is shocked at what seems like a personal message from beyond the grave.

When more bodies are found, Jennifer is convinced the killings are somehow linked. What she discovers is more chilling than she could possibly imagine. The murders mirror those of the notorious Grim Reaper – from over twenty years ago. A killer her mother helped convict.

Jennifer can no longer ignore the personal connection. Is there a copycat killer at work? Was the wrong man convicted? Or is there something more sinister at play…

With her mother’s terrifying legacy spiraling out of control, Jennifer must look into her own dark past in a fight not only to stop a killer – but to save herself and those she loves.


Don’t Turn Around is Caroline Mitchell’s first fiction novel – which is incredible, because as a debut it’s pretty solid. Paranormal Thrillers are a mixed bag for me – I tend to shy away from them because it can take a really good book, and turn it into cheese really quick. I’m both happy and relieved, that the blend of supernatural and crime fiction was smooth which made for an enjoyable read – no eye-rolling necessary.

DC Jennifer Knight is a high-heel wearing, OCD Detective with a tiny little unwanted problem – she hears voices. This “gift” landed her a transfer and a visit to the mental health counselors the last time she expressed her concerns on a case, so when these voices begin to appear again after a spate of questionable deaths, she doesn’t know where to turn. She knows how her DI will react – but will her partner and longtime friend, Will Dustan, believe her?

In an alternate perspective we meet Frank Foster. His childhood is a nightmare: his mother’s a whore, his father left because he couldn’t deal with it, and there is a darkness in Frank that overwhelms him. We follow Frank from a young boy to a dark and dangerous man with ties to DC Knight’s dead mother.

Then things start getting strange and eerily familiar.

The story for me isn’t flawless, but there’s a lot I love about it. Take Frank, for instance. He’s evil and creepy and I enjoyed watching how his story unfold (not sure what that says about me but hey…don’t judge). It made switching the POV work for me because I was always anxious to get back to his perspective. Overall, I just loved Mitchell’s well fleshed-out characters. Aside from Jennifer and Frank, there are a lot of peripheral characters and they all work and feel integral to the story.

Not only are the characters in this thriller well written, there are some great twists that I really appreciate as well. And I won’t lie…there are a few “I just had to read that twice … with the lights on” moments in the book.

For me, the ending left a little to be desired. There was so much buildup that when the time came for the showdown, it just felt rushed. With that said, though, Mitchell nails it when it comes time to tie up loose ends and builds up the anticipation for the next novel – because I’m already itching to read it!

Stacking the Shelves

While I work on my next review I thought it would be fun to participate in Stacking the Shelves, a weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews where you share what books you’ve purchased, picked up from the library, received from giveaways, as gifts, or for review.

STS 5/4/2015

FOR REVIEW:

Black-Eyed Susans by  Julia Heaberlin

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

As Nights Falls by Jenny Milchman

The Starved: Inception by Rick Ochre

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk

I’m pretty excited to read all of these books but let it be known that Paul Cleave is one of my favorite authors of the mystery & thriller genre. The fact that I get to read an advanced copy of Trust No One pretty much makes my year!

I received all of these books as e-books from the publishers and NetGalley except for Method 15/33. The publisher contacted me through Goodreads and sent me a hard-cover.

The Kind Worth Killing

FROM THE LIBRARY:

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

On Saturday mornings my daughter and I hang out at our local library. I get to grab a new book to read and she gets to play in the kids room and read lots and lots of fun new books. It’s one of our favorite places to hang out together.

I had to put in a request for this book because my local branch did not have it.  I’ve heard great things about it! Two folks meet on a flight back to Boston, make small talk, then things get weird…and dark… then a plot for murder is born. Yikes!

Genres: Mystery & Thriller, Fiction, Suspense

RL STINE 176402

PURCHASED:

Party Games by R.L. Stine

Dangerous Girls by R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine takes me back…I mean WAY back! I don’t know many people who didn’t grow up reading Goosebumps or the Fear Street series and these books were huge for me growing up! Party Games is the first book of the Fear Street relaunch so when I saw it at my local bookstore I felt a little nostalgic and had to snag it.

Dangerous Girls is a new series all about romance and vampires (interesting) which made me so curious that I had to grab it too. And for $2.00 I mean, why not!?

Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Vampires, Paranormal, Mystery

We the Living

GIFTED:

We the Living by Ayn Rand

This book was gifted to me by someone through Free Objectivist Books. Basically the site gets donors to send books to students who’d like to read them. Pretty simple…and very cool.

We the Living is Ayn Rands first book and was published in 1936. The theme is  “the individual vs. the state” and portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three people who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness.

Her politics, views, and writings are not for everyone. I’m reading this one to sort of prime me for Atlas Shrugged which is a doozy of a novel.

Genres: Fiction, Classics, Philosophy, Literature

If anyone needs me I will be spending every free moment I have (that’s funny) nose deep in all these awesome books!

Happy Reading!

Only The Brave by Mel Sherratt

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Expected Release:  May 26, 2015

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Series: A DS Allie Shenton Novel Book 3
Length: 353 pages
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime Fiction
Rating: 6.5/10

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.

DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.

As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realizes she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.

Set over forty-eight tension-filled hours, Only the Brave is the latest gut-churning police procedural from acclaimed author Mel Sherratt.


Only the Brave is the third book in the DS Allie Shenton series by Mel Sherratt. I highly recommend reading the first two books, Taunting the Dead and Follow the Leader before you touch this one. I did not and there were a lot of references to past events that I felt left out of the loop on and left me feeling like I was missing out; sort of like in gym class when you didn’t get picked to be on the dodge ball team or that time you didn’t get invited to the years most note-worthy party.

ADVICE: READ BOOK ONE AND TWO FIRST

With that being said, there were a lot of things I really loved about this book. The story takes place over 48 hours with the chapter headings ticking away at the clock. I loved this and gave a sense of urgency not only with what the police were up against, but the circle of suspects as well. And let me just tell you that the circle of suspects are quite a cast of morally conflicted individuals.

One of these suspects is Kirstie Ryder and she is nasty little piece of work. You meet her and her father (who is in prison) in the previous books, so this is where I’m talking about missing out on some of the  juicy details. Allie and Kirstie hate each other because of events that occurred before and Kirstie isn’t to happy about having Allie nosing around again. I kept waiting for the spitting and hair pulling. Awesome.

Behind the scenes, Allie is dealing with a lot of personal drama. Her sister is dying, the man behind her sisters attack is watching her, and her husband is tired of playing second fiddle to the job. She’s constantly teetering on the edge of breaking it down.

I highly enjoyed Mel Sherratt’s writing style and I can’t wait to check out more. I only wished I had read the first two before I read this one which is why I rated it the way I did so next time I’ll listen to my own advice. If  you’re a fan of gritty, fast-paced crime fiction then you must read this book!

Twisted by Andrew E. Kaufman

51DshXmHvpL__UY250_Release:  April 7, 2015
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Length: 338 pages
Buy: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 9/10
The Psychologist with a troubled past…
Dr. Christopher Kellan spends his days at Loveland Psychiatric Hospital, overseeing a unit known as Alpha Twelve, home to the most deranged and psychotic killers imaginable. His newest patient, Donny Ray Smith, is accused of murdering ten young girls and making their bodies disappear. But during his first encounter with Donny, Christopher finds something else unsettling: the man looks familiar.
The killer with a secret…
Donny Ray knows things about Christopher – things he couldn’t have possibly learned at Loveland. As the psychologist delves deeper into the mysterious patient’s case, Christopher’s life whirls out of control. The contours of his mind are rapidly losing shape, and his grasp on reality is slipping even faster. Is he going mad, or is that what Donny Ray wants him to think?
The terror that binds them…
In this taut psychological thriller from Andrew E. Kaufman, bestselling author of The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted, a tormented man must face his fear and enter the mind of a killer to find the truth…even if it costs him his sanity.

There are only a handful of authors out there that when I find out they are releasing a new book, I’m glued to the calendar, eagerly counting down the days until I can get my hot little hands on a copy. Andrew Kaufman is one of them. His new book, Twisted, was more than worth the anticipation.
It has all the makings of a really great thriller: serial killer, creepy mental hospital, psychologist; you think “this is going to be good but will I be dazzled?” Oh yes…yes you will be. The plot is so fucking clever that even when I thought I had it all figured out, I could not have had it more wrong.
Kaufman weaves a tale of such intensity that, like Christopher, you begin to question what is real and what is not. The characters are very well written, so much so that I got attached and a little misty during a few moments in the book.
It’s impossible to fully discuss the plot without giving away major spoilers at every turn so I will not. I can only encourage you to read this book. And when you do, sit down and hang on tight because you are about to go on quite a ride!

Journal Day #6

Well technically number one for me, but the sixth prompt in the series created by Sometimes Sweet. Every Sunday or Monday, Danielle gives a prompt to help inspire herself and those who want to join, to write! You can read more about the project here. I’ve had good intentions to write on some of the previous prompts, but something would come up and I’d forget all about it until it was time for the next one.

I don’t profess to be much a of a writer, I’m just someone who enjoys using her words sometimes.

So without further ado, here is this weeks prompt:

Everyone has different things that keep them going. Sometimes it’s the people around us, other times it might be what’s waiting for us on the other side of hard work. Whatever it may be, there’s usually some sort of motivation to get up every day, get things done, or maybe even go the extra mile. With that said, what would you say is your biggest motivation in life? Has is always been this way? 

The biggest motivation for me now is my daughter. It has not always been that way; before, my motivation varied and at times I really, truly struggled to find it. Usually though, I found motivation on the other side of hard work…the results.

And even though I’m still driven by hard work, my life is very different now. I have this beautiful baby girl who looks at me like the sun and moon rises because of me. I’m incredibly aware that the things I say and do will someday influence her on things like: how she feels about herself, how she perceives others, the actions she does or does not take. It’s sort of a big deal. And hugely overwhelming. I’m petrified of getting it wrong.

She is my motivation in all the big things and all the little things too. When I want nothing more to sit on the couch all night after working all day, I just think of her and I keep going. Whether it’s working out, finishing the dishes that piled up in the sink, or working on the homework assignment that’s due at the end of the week…I just keep going.

I will lose the weight again (and keep it off for good) because I want to show my daughter that a healthy life is a good life.

I will run half marathons again (and a marathon) because I want to show my daughter that she can do anything if she wants it bad enough and is willing to put in the hard work.

I will finally get my degree because I want her to see that no matter what decisions she makes or where she is in her life, she doesn’t have to give up.

I’m a work in progress. I don’t have everything perfectly in order, I have laundry piles covering the floors of our bedroom and my bathroom hasn’t been deep cleaned in almost two months. I’ve only successfully worked out twice in one week once since my daughter was born (almost a year ago). But I’m working on it. I wake up every day knowing that her sweet chubby face will be smiling to greet me. In that moment, all of the things I haven’t gotten around to or didn’t do right the day before, fade away and staring back at me is my little motivation to keep on, keepin’ on.