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!

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!

What I’m Reading Lately

Since my last semester ended, I’ve been able to sneak in some leisure reading again and I’ve been flying through the books. I recently renewed my love for the public library. There is nothing like spending a quiet morning at the library and pulling a book off the shelf to take home with you. Or, more realistically, going to their webpage and searching for the book, putting it on hold at which point they email you to come pick it up when it’s ready. Same thing, right?

Going to the library was a big part of my childhood and I remember it fondly. I loved bringing my tote with me and surrounding myself with books, picking the very best ones to take home with me. I want to share that same love and enthusiasm for reading with Natalie. And speaking of which (and slightly off topic) I brought Natalie to her first story time this past Monday. She was the smallest there but she was having so much fun squealing and watching all the bigger kids. It was so adorable to watch.

I have to talk about this series of books I’ve been reading because I just can’t put them down! I’ve read the first five in about a month.

A girlfriend from work introduced me to Chelsea Cain, she’s a New York Times best selling author and noted for her thriller detective novels that follow Gretchen Lowell (a dangerously beautiful serial killer) and Archie Sheridan (the damaged detective).

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Heartsick is the first book and introduces the readers to Gretchen and Archie. Gretchen has been killing for 10 years and Archie has been hunting her, not knowing she’s been right under his nose until he becomes one of her victims. Gretchen loves to torture her victims for days before she kills them, but not Archie. She tortures him for 10 days until for, some reason, she lets him go. She then turns herself in and while she is in prison, Archie struggles to regain the life he once led. Addicted to pain killers and completely powerless when it comes to Gretchen and the 10 days he spent with her, he’s a completely different person (but who wouldn’t be). Archie continues to visit Gretchen in prison in order to get her to name all of her victims. Meanwhile another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the street and Archie struggles to pull himself together in order to lead the task force investigating the murders. In this book, Cain introduces us to Susan Ward, a young hungry journalist in charge of writing a story on Archie and who also begins following him around. She’s one of my favorite characters with her crazy changing hair colors and her naïve tough girl attitude.

I could not put this book down and because I loved it so much, I read the next four back to back.

Sweetheart (Gretchen Lowell, #2)  Evil at Heart (Gretchen Lowell #3)  The Night Season (Gretchen Lowell, #4)  Kill You Twice (Gretchen Lowell, #5)

I just finished The Night Season over the weekend so I put a request for Let Me Go, the sixth book, but I’m still waiting for it. Kill You Twice was my absolute favorite so far so I’m really anxious to read the next one and find out where Cain takes Gretchen and Archie. Hopefully I can hold out before I order it for my Kindle…the suspense is killing me! If you like a good thriller, then definitely check out this series.

You can also find out what I’m reading over on goodreads.com.