Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Hello Kittens! Today I present for your reading pleasure, a novel of psychological suspense that is going to have you hooked until the last page. It came out a few days ago on the 19th (which was a big pub date for a lot of titles that I’ve read recently). This one kept me engaged for two days of very enjoyable suspense. I am a big fan of this genre, and I especially love to find a new author. I am going to be adding B.A. Paris to my automatic TBR list from now on. Without further ado!

Title: Bring Me BackBring Me Back

Author: B.A. Paris

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

ISBN: 9781250151339

Pub Date: 06/19/18

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Buy the Book: Amazon Barnes and Noble

What an amazing psychological suspense novel! I think readers of this genre are going to love this one, but it is going to have a broader appeal because it lacks some of the gore and graphic detail that many titles have been trending towards in the last few years.

Bring Me Back is the story of Layla and Finn…and also of Ellen and Finn. A short time into their intense relationship, Finn and Layla go on vacation together and on their way back Layla disappears without a trace. Finn has trouble getting the police not to suspect him or murdering Layla, but once he convinces them, he spends years wondering about what happened to Layla, often envisioning the worst and blaming himself.

But then, almost a decade later, he meets Ellen, Layla’s older sister, at a memorial service to mark the anniversary of Layla’s disappearance. Ellen is extremely different from Layla, and their relationship progresses at a slower pace, but they are soon engaged. As they overcome the gossip of people who think their engagement is improper, Finn and Ellen began finding items that remind them of Layla. It seems Layla may be back, and neither of them knows how to feel about it. Neither of them can figure out why Layla won’t come out in the open so they can all deal with this, and the story takes a sinister turn when Layla’s symbols and messages start to turn against Ellen. It’s possible the town gossips aren’t the only ones who don’t approve of this wedding. But what does Layla really want from Finn and Ellen? Where has she been all this time? And what will answering those questions cost them all?

This was a fast-paced story, rich in details that had me hooked from the first few chapters. At 304 pages, this is a quick read that I got through in less than two days. While I thought I had the major plot twist figured out about halfway through the story (and I did), I was still dying to get through the rest of the story to find out how all of the threads came together. This is some of the best psychological suspense that I have read in a while. I had never heard of B.A. Paris before this, but I will definitely be going back to read her earlier novels, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown. There’s just enough violence, with a little gaslighting mixed in to make you question Finn’s sanity and Layla’s, with multiple perspectives extremely well-represented.

Disclaimer: I received access to an e-galley of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: This genre isn’t for everyone, but there’s not really any gore and no swearing (at least none that I remember) so I give it:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan

Hello Kittens!

Today I’ve got an upcoming YA novel for you from an author making her solo debut.  This one has a fun concept and loveable characters that will put you right back in a high school state of mind.  It is being published tomorrow, on June 19th, so abracadabra and enjoy!

Title: The Art of Escaping

Author: Erin CallahanThe Art of Escaping

Author’s Website: https://erinpcallahan.com/

ISBN: 9781944995652

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Publish Date: 06/19/18

Genre: Young Adult

Buy the Book: Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Remember that weird kid in high school who liked magic? The one who everyone avoided and refused to make eye contact with? The Art of Escaping is the story of that kid’s life…if that kid had actually been a really cool, witty teen girl named Mattie who was into Jazz Age history and could perform death-defying stunts.

This book did what I think all the best realistic YA fiction should do: it reminded me of high school. Specifically, the dialogue was so witty, direct, and current that it was hard not to imagine these characters as anything but friends.

My one criticism, if you can call it such, is that despite Mattie’s awesomeness, in my opinion, Will with Two L’s gets the best lines.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that is is a YA novel that does not focus on romance too heavily. This story acknowledges some of the other pressing issues in teen’s lives.

The pacing is fairly quick, covering a span of several months in less than 350 pages. The backstory is complex and there is a moment when you are reading excerpts from Akiko’s diary where you are going to be very confused if you pay attention to chronology, but this blip is explained shortly thereafter in a fairly convincing manner, but with a twist that changes how the reader will view these diary entries going forward (I even went back and re-read them).

I don’t think we get enough of the character of Miyu, a fascinating recluse who suddenly isn’t shut in anymore, but the truth is that the story is not about the adults.

I was also a little surprised that Harry Houdini’s story was not featured more prominently in this, given that he was mentioned in several of the blurbs I read before digging into the story. He feels like more of a footnote in the story structure, but anchors the history of escapology for those of us who are less familiar with the art form.

Disclaimer:  I received an electronic copy of this book from BookishFirst/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

Hello Kittens! I have got a treat of a book for you today. I can’t even hide my Southern bias here, but this is a book that is going to make you want to sip sweet tea on a porch swing on a hot day. Susan Crandall is a well-established author (you may remember her for Whistling Past the Graveyard) and she has definitely upped her game for this book, which will be coming out in a couple of days on the 19th.

Title: The Myth of Perpetual Summer

Author: Susan Crandall

Author website: http://susancrandall.net/

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publish date: 06/19/18

ISBN: 9781501172014

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

I read Susan Crandall’s Whistling Past the Graveyard in a book club that I was leading a few years back, and it was pretty much universally loved. While Crandall stays firmly in Southern territory, this novel was a step above Whistling in terms of the subject matter and the depth of the characters.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer is the story of Tallulah Mae James and her family, set in Mississippi in the late 1950s. Tallulah is a young child growing up in the shadow of the James family legacy, a Southern family with seemingly deep roots in their town of Lamoyne, MS. But while appearances matter immensely to Tallulah’s Gran, Tallulah herself tries to be a little more practical about her family’s problems. She and her three siblings, an older brother and two younger fraternal twins, are constantly dealing with their volatile parents and the pressures of living in a small Southern town. These pressures come to a head the Fall of 1963 when her brother is arrested for murder.

We are introduced to Tallulah initially several years in the future in 1972 when she is preparing to return to Lamoyne because her other brother is being charged with murder. We learn that she has built a new life for herself and that she is living in California because of an event from her past that forced her to flee. We spend the rest of the story hopping back and forth in time, piecing the rest of the story together.

Tallulah is a strong character and seeing her development and growth in the face of unimaginable circumstances is inspiring. There are several moments in this story that will make you question whether she can truly count on anyone other than herself. This story destroyed me and then built me back up again. It’s the type of Southern family story that rings so true, you’ll want to pass this book along to your family with the comment, “Remind you of anyone?”

The writing is authentic and clear. I would have loved to get more backstory on what happened with Walden, and the epilogue came way too soon for my taste, but this story was an exquisite read. I highly recommend this one to anyone looking for their next good read.

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader copy of this book from the publisher/BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone.  There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners.  (This kind of book is a Librarian’s dream.  As much as we love good literature, suggesting a book for someone can be nerve-wracking work that can backfire BIG TIME.)

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

Hello Kittens!

Long time, no post, I know.  I have been reading faster than I have been writing, but I am happy to say I’ve got the next month of posts all ready to go for you and I hope you’ll enjoy them!  We’ll start out with a dark and sexy option to get your summer off to a steamy start.  This one comes out in a few days and while it has a limited audience, it is well-written and gripping.  Without further ado…

 

Title: Tell Me Lies

Author: Carola Lovering

ISBN:9781501169649

Publisher: Atria Books

Publish Date: 06/12/18

Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Debut Author

Author Website: http://www.carolalovering.com/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carolatlovering/

Buy the book: Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Carola Lovering’s first novel concerns the life of a young woman named Lucy and her first experiences with love. Like so many, Lucy has a lot to learn about what love is and what it isn’t. As she strikes out on her own, leaving her East coast life for a West coast college, we learn that she is fleeing a secret about her home life that has been haunting her for four years. It’s easy to blame everything that happens next on that secret and its impact on her life, but it’s too easy. As Lucy meets Stephen, a young, slightly older man, early on in her first days at Baird College, she is swept up in a completely new lifestyle of partying, drugs, and sex that will unravel her life as she knows it.

This story is a coming of age tale for Lucy, who will face secrets, lies, and emotional distress over the course of the story, covering several years of her life. Her story will be recognizable to so many young women today. Everyone has dated a guy similar to Stephen, or knows a friend who did. The story will infuriate you as you silently plead for Lucy to get a clue about what is going on and get her life together, but it feels true to life.

The story is told from Lucy and Stephen’s point of view, alternating chapters and flitting between the early 2010s and present day. The story is broken into four parts, although they are not particularly distinct from each other. If you’re looking for likeable characters, this novel is not for you. You may pity Lucy, but you probably won’t think highly of her for most of the book. While Stephen is clearly the villain, Lucy certainly has her faults. Lucy’s musings on love serve as an interesting contradiction to Stephen’s thoughts on relationships. The juxtaposition is very reminiscent of predator-prey relationships.

This story won’t give you the warm and fuzzies, but the lessons it imparts are important. This was a good debut for this author, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her work in the future. That being said, with its emphasis on sex and drugs, this book will not be for everyone. I would recommend it to those who like their women’s fiction gritty and raw and want a focus on the strength of women’s friendships.

And lastly, while I don’t judge books based on them, I love the cover for this one.

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_icon1 glass of lemonade= a book that can only be recommended to someone whose reading taste you know well, like a best friend.  There may be a fair amount of curse words, spicy sex scenes, or potentially morally repugnant behavior.  This does not mean that the book is bad, just that the audience might be a little more limited.

The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

The Oracle Year

Author: Charles Soule

Photo of the cover of The Oracle Year by Charles Soule. Cover features a black and white eye with a red iris.
The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 9780062686657

Get the book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble (note: these are NOT affiliate links, just regular ones.)

The Oracle Year tells the story of one year in the life of New Yorker Will Dando after he awakens from a dream with 108 predictions about the future. His average life takes a rapid turn when those predictions start coming true. He begins asking himself questions: Who sent the predictions? Why were they sent to Will? Can he change anything about the predictions? How much of what comes next is his fault? Will and his friend Hamza set up a website to begin monetizing the predictions as they release them to the world. Will and Hamza become very wealthy while Will struggles to deal with the implications of his newfound fortunes, people around the world become desperate to learn more about this person known only as The Oracle. Is he an abomination? A sign of the end of days? A threat to national security? A spy? A fraud? The quest to learn the truth consumes some of the most powerful people in the free world and Will finds himself on the run from operatives with guns and a destiny that he still cannot understand.

This book is fast-paced and loaded with adventure, and is divided into the seasons of the year portrayed. I appreciated the modern touches to this story, including the use of Tor browsers and the creation of (almost) untraceable websites elevated this story of the Everyman Prophet. It will also have readers pondering the greater questions in life about what we were each put on this Earth to do. What is our purpose?

Rating: lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon

4 glasses of lemonade. This one would be great for book clubs. I can certainly see it being made into a movie, and I sense that a lot more people are going to be talking about this title in the next few weeks. The only reason it falls a glass of lemonade short is a little cursing and some hefty religious questions. The story poses the theory that major religious beliefs would not respond well to a prophet suddenly appearing on the scene. Some people might be offended to see religion portrayed in a short-sighted fashion, and others might completely agree with the way religion is portrayed in the book and be offended by the idea that the prophecies did not come from God (although that question is not specifically answered in the book).

I chose this book as part of my Book of the Month Club subscription. I’m really enjoying this service and you might too. Check it out here. (Disclaimer: This is a referral link and I will get a free book credit from BOTM for every person who signs up for the service using my link.) The service costs 14.99/ month and you can add extra books for 9.99. The cool thing that some of the books are pre-publication, so you will literally be getting your hands on them before they even hit stores, and you can skip months anytime you want if there are not titles that appeal to you.