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.

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!

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!

Right Now | Friday 2.28.14

Reading: After I finished “In the Woods” (which I really do need to write a review…such a disappointment), I started reading “Collecting Cooper” by Paul Cleave and “Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All” by Joanna Strober. Since becoming a full time working momma, I’ve found myself reaching for resources to help me put systems in place to manage my life better. My husband is already super great at actively participating in the household duties and raising our daughter, so 50/50 is not necessarily anything new for us. Not very far into this at all yet though because I’ve been absorbed by “Collecting Cooper”. People start disappearing in a town called Christchurch. Professor Cooper Riley doesn’t show up for work one day and then suddenly his student, Emma Green goes missing after work one night. Ex-cop Theo Tate, freshly released from prison after nearly killing Emma in DUI accident, is asked by her father to help find her, because well…he owes him. What no one knows is that both Cooper and Emma are being held captive by a former mental patient who has a fascination with serial killers and collecting souvenirs. The best thing I like about this book so far is Adams perspective (the former mental patient). The character development here is strong and I feel more connected to who this person is then some of the other characters which I feel fall a little short. But so far, a great read.

Quest Bars. Greatness Inside.

Eating: QUEST BARS! As far as protein bars go, these really are top of the line. I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of them by now. I first tried them a few years ago when they only had three flavors and then I took a break from protein bars and protein powders for awhile. Now they have tons of great flavors including a chocolate chip cookie dough that if you warm in the microwave for a few minutes, tastes pretty close to the real deal (I just read somewhere that someone tried baking it in the oven for 5 minutes…I need to try this). I always have one in my purse, stuffed in my desk drawer, or hidden in the diaper bag. These have quality ingredients that you can read and understand, gluten free, high in quality protein and they’re not full of junk. Currently I’m eating my way through a box of the Cinnamon Roll flavor but I’m crazy excited to order their new flavor: Cookies & Cream!
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Thinking: Wednesday was my dad’s birthday. He would’ve been 57. People say it get’s easier although I beg to differ. It will never be easy to not have him here. To know that my daughter will never have the chance to know him. To never see them play together and create special Grampy and Granddaughter memories together. Those things will never be easy. But you do create a new normal. You have to keep going because what else can you do? I miss him every single day and I find myself thinking of him at some point every single day. Some times it’s overwhelming and I really have to fight to hold back the tears from coming, and other days I smile and am able to think of happy moments we shared or a corny joke he told or the way he smelled…of fresh cut wood and cold, crisp air. Someone shared this passage with me and it really resonated with me.
 My dad was a wonderful human being; Loving, loyal, nurturing, hard working, funny, caring to his very core. He was genuine and I learned so much from him and I am so grateful for the time he was here with us. I will always miss him but I hope that I can keep him very much alive in the eyes of my daughter, so that she can in someway, know exactly who he was.
Enjoying: Bedtime is currently my favorite time of day. Not because N is going down for the night, but because I love our little routine we have together. There’s tubby time, followed by jammies, lavender lotion and songs and then snuggling up in our bed for stories until she can barely keep her little sparkly eyes open. Being away from her all day is difficult, so when I get home at night my focus is all on her. Bedtime is special for both of us and it doesn’t hurt that I get to lay down with her and unwind for a bit.

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Watching: We just finished the second season of House of Cards and O.M.G. wow! This show is just amazing. Some of the best acting, writing, plot twists, etc. I’ve seen on TV (though Breaking Bad and Dexter are way up there). Kevin Spacey plays the ruthless Frank Underwood and really is the anchor to this show followed by Robin Wright who plays his enigmatic wife, Claire Underwood. They are a power couple and though their relationship seems stale and cold, they work off each other in such a way you just can’t take your eyes off them. This season was so good that we binge watched it (staying up far to late on a few nights) and now I’m sad it’s over. At least Hannibal is starting tonight!

N in the Ergo during her first visit to the Aquarium

Loving: I’m a big fan of babywearing and I’ve been lusting after ring slings and wovens since N was born but they’re a little intimidating. I used the K’tan when N was teeny tiney and now that she’s bigger we use the Ergo (which we love). But today is the day and I’ve finally ordered a ring sling for us to try and I’m so SO excited! I ordered this one from BabyEtte on Etsy and I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting for it to be delivered! I guess I should wait until it’s actually here in my hands and have had a chance to use it but I’m just so excited that I finally pulled the trigger! As much as I love our Ergo, and will still continue to use it, rings slings are just beautiful and a lot “prettier” for momma. I’m already lusting after a few others…yikes!

Happy Friday!