Friday, June 8, 2018

JAR OF HEARTS by Jennifer Hillier

     Sixteen-year-old Angela went missing, without explanation, never to be heard from again. Fifteen years later, her body was found in the woods behind her best friend’s—Geo’s— house. She was the first victim of serial killer Calvin James, Geo’s boyfriend. Geo kept the secret, until the body was discovered, and she was arrested for the crime. She testified against Calvin and served five years in prison, while Calvin escaped shortly after his conviction and disappeared. When Geo is released from prison, a new string of murders begins, mimicking the death of Angela. Geo learns that some secrets can’t be kept buried, and her crimes continue to haunt her. 

     What an amazing surprise this book was. Jar of Hearts is my first book by Jennifer Hillier, and from the jacket description I was somewhat ambivalent about it. But the first chapter had me hooked, and it only got better from there. 

     I particularly liked that the story jumped from past to present, allowing for fragmented revelation of information so readers could eventually piece together what happened. Geo was a frustrating but likable character, largely because of her self-awareness. The guilt over her bad choices that led to and followed the death of her best friend, was always present despite the outward appearance that she was living her best life. Angela, Geo, and their third wheel and friend-zoned Kaiser Brody--who grows up to be the cop who arrests Geo and Calvin--are all well-developed, believable, and relatable characters. 

     Among many great books this year, Jar of Hearts is a surprise favorite. A perfect blend of mystery, thriller, and good characters.

Hillier, Jennifer. Jar of Hearts, Minotaur Books, June 12, 2018. 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250154194

A copy of Jar of Hearts was provided by the publisher via No compensation was received for this review. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

TRUE FICTION by Lee Goldberg

     Thriller author Ian Ludlow unwittingly becomes the target of a private security firm making a play for outsourced CIA clandestine services. After he discovers he has survived two attempts on his life by luck and foils a third, he decides to become the secret agent he has only known in his imagination and on the pages of his books to take on the diabolical man that has the resources of a private army at his disposal. 

     True Fiction, it's larger than life characters, and far-fetched plot is a fast read filled with action and laughs. It's comic book superhero feel reminds me of movies like True Lies, RED, and books like the Nikki Heat Series by Richard Castle. A fun distraction!

Goldberg, Lee. True Fiction, Thomas & Mercer, April 1, 2018. ISBN: 978-1503949188

A copy of True Lies was provided through Kindle First Reads
No compensation was paid for this review. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Sunburn by Laura Lippman

     Adam is hired to get close to Polly, whom his employer told his is a thief, liar, and worse. Adam does, but doesn't count on falling in love. Neither does Polly. 
    Their love, while true, is complicated by the lies and secrets it is based on. Each make sacrifices for each other and for their relationship, but they never make the sacrifice that could save it. They never share the truth. 

     Sunburn is a stand-alone novel by Laura Lippman, author of the series featuring Baltimore private detective Tess Monaghan. 
     I particularly enjoyed the complexity that was Polly. Among her secrets and lies, there was hope that there was something good in her. Was she created by circumstance, a victim of abuse who learned to adapt to survive? Or was she born cold, ruthless, diabolical? 
     Or perhaps I was rooting for Polly because those that surrounded her were worse--sadistic, abusive, greedy, selfish, envious.

     Sometimes I find myself liking least people who are neither good or bad, but painfully indifferent to anything but their own needs. Sunburn is a novel that demonstrates that sometimes those are people that finish last. And that sometimes love can conquer all, but perhaps not the love readers will expect. 

Lippman, Laura. Sunburn, William Morrow, February 20, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-06-238992-3