Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I love reading mysteries and thrillers that deals with what happens after a traumatic accident. What happens to that person who was rescued or who has gone through some kind of terrible/horrific tragedy? How do they start viewing the world and how does that change things? Maybe it’s the psychology student in me but I’ve always found this area to be fascinating. Throw in some more crazy plot twists, and I get super excited! So before I go on and on and spoil the whole story plot for this novel, here is my review:

16-year old Tessa Cartwright was found buried in a field in Texas, barely alive and surrounded by scattered bones. She has no idea how she got there or who did this to her. Since she is the only survivor, she has become known as the “Black-Eyed Susan”, a nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow wildflowers that covered their grave site. After being hounded by the press for months on end, Tessa is finally trying to move on with her life. She even manages to give a testimony about those tragic hours, a testimony that puts a man on death row. Now, almost two decades later, certain events make Tessa believe that the wrong man is behind bars. It’s up to Tessa to go back into her memories and find out what really happened all of those years ago…. before the real killer comes back for her.

Let me start by saying that the story plot is intriguing and it kept me going throughout the novel. I just had to know who it was and what was happening. I liked that the story switched from one time-point and POV to the other; it made it all the more fascinating. Reading about the trauma and the struggles that Tessa goes through as she tries to be “normal” was also very interesting and felt very realistic, which is something I always like. That being said, there were parts to the ending that definitely fell short for me. Although I would never have been able to guess who the real killer was nor how everything played out, there were a lot of unanswered questions. Also, I didn’t like how the author just dismissed some of the behaviours that Tessa did as mere paranoia on the character’s part; although it works with the story, it would have been better if there had been some significance to it all. It definitely kept me occupied and I was not able to put it down, so that is a good sign! Is it on Gillian Flynn’s level? No. But it was definitely a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes light thrillers with a psychological flair.

Happy reading ~

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A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt

This novel was given to me by NetGalley as an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

YAYYY Historical Fiction!!!!! Most of the time, when I choose to read a historical fiction novel, it is something sad that illuminates the trials and struggles of a certain race during a difficult period of history. I am happy to say that this story, while outlining the struggles of women and the acceptance of mental disorders, is not extremely sad in its portrayal of the 1900s. So before I give more away, here is my review:

1907 is a difficult time to be a female physician in New York. Most men do not respect you and there is a great deal of discrimination when it comes to being hired and moving up in the ranks. This career path becomes even more difficult when you are a psychiatrist; it is a field that most people scorn. Dr. Genevieve Summerford is determined to make herself a name in psychology and decides to launch a course where she talks to a group of women and helps them deal with their mental disorders. However, she may have bit off more than she can chew, when one of her patients is accused of committing murder – a murder Genevieve may have accidentally provoked. Desperate to clear her patient’s name and assuage her guilty conscience, Genevieve begins to dig around for clues that could point to another suspect. But even she couldn’t have been prepared for the secrets she discovers – and the ways in which they could destroy everything she holds dear.

I really enjoyed this novel. As soon as I began reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Genevieve is a strong female character who is passionate and caring and HUMAN. What I mean by human is that she is just like any other person you would encounter in real life; she is not some ultimate protagonist who is completely righteous. Her ability to make mistakes and her doubts make her a believable character that a reader can feel kinship towards. I enjoyed the fact that she was in the medical profession, and as someone who has studied psychology, I found that the terms and behaviours described for various conditions in the book were mostly on point, which made me very very happy. Overall, this was a great historical fiction novel with a fast-paced plot and interesting psychological references. The novel will be coming out in September so keep an eye out for it! You definitely don’t want to miss it!

Happy reading ~

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh

This novel was a top priority for me because it is an advanced copy that is being released TOMORROW. Yes, you heard me, TOMORROW! And I will let you know right now that this book was quite fantastic and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new crime fiction novel!

When DC Leah Mackay is sent to investigate a missing persons report, she is stunned to find out that the missing woman, Dr. Selena Cole, left her two young children all by themselves. What ends up being even more surprising is when Selena comes back all by herself – but with no recollection of where she has been for the past 24 hours. Although the file is now closed and DC Mackay is sent off onto another case, Leah cannot help but wonder what happened during those hours. Where did Selena go and what compelled her to leave her two vulnerable children outside in a park? As Leah investigates her next murder case, she can’t help but see connections between the two cases, connections that could potentially reveal what happened during the 24-hour disappearance of Selena Cole.

What I loved about this novel is that it was not a straight narrative told from the perspective of one character. Not only did it have the viewpoints of a range of characters, but it also included case reports and articles on incidents – all of which gave clues to the main mystery in the novel. I always find that when authors use these different modes of telling the story, it is more interesting to read. Another point that made this book enjoyable was its focus on the business of kidnapping and ransom. I never actually knew how big of a deal this issue was, let alone that there was insurance for it! This novel gave me great insight into that world, and kept it interesting and relevant to the reader! I loved all of the characters and the subplots and the way in which everything tied together. I enjoyed my whole experience with this novel, where I was caught up in the story from the very first page all the way to the very last. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to read this advanced copy and I urge anyone interested in crime fiction to give this novel a chance!

Happy reading ~

The Survivors by Robert Palmer

I think I chose this novel because it had an interesting premise. I don’t recall how it is that I stumbled upon it; it certainly wasn’t on any big list that I was following. But either way, I placed a hold on it and waited patiently for a chance to read it. Well, now I have so here is my review:

Cal Henderson is a successful psychologist with his own practice and a busy group of clientele. But he harbors a terrible secret, one that has caused him to take on a new identity. When he was a young boy, his mother killed his father as well as his two brothers and severely wounded his best friend, Scottie Glass. The only way for Cal to recover from this was to move away from his past and ignore it forever. This all changes on the 25th anniversary of this event, when Cal gets a surprise visit from Scottie. Scottie is no longer a smiling, happy boy. Instead, he is edgy and paranoid, with a rooted belief that there was more to that traumatic event than was told to them. With some persuasion, Cal decides to help Scottie piece that day together – and find out who Cal’s mother really was. Was she really capable of killing those she loved? Or was there a more sinister plot at play?

This was quite a good book. It was such an intriguing concept that I found myself pushing through to see how the story unfolded. There were times when it got a bit … draggy but it was definitely worth it. One thing that I noticed is that the focus on the main character shifts. In the beginning, my attention was solely on Cal but soon it shifted to other characters. It was only then that I realized that I didn’t really KNOW the character of Cal; Cal was simply a narrator who took part in the events. That was a bit disappointing to me because I would have liked him to play a stronger role and be better at solving the mystery. But at the end of the day, everything was explained to a satisfactory level. As I mentioned before, this was a good novel. It didn’t blow my socks off but I would still give it a solid 3/5 stars (which, from me, is definitely a good thing). This novel is actually the first book in a series. I don’t know if I will stick around long enough to read the next book but if you decide you like this novel enough to do so, please let me know how it is!

Happy reading ~

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

For the first time, I forgot to blog about a book I read. This is my problem with borrowing physical copies of a book; I get so worried about returning it on time that I forget about everything else. It’s a good thing I went through my posts and realized it was missing!

Grace Blades is a brilliant psychologist with a penchant for knowing how to reach out to people in all stages of grief in order to console them. She seems perfect on the outside, with her beautiful home and her nice clothes and fancy cars. No one would ever imagine that at the age of five, she had witnessed a murder-suicide that had left her parents dead. Although Grace was adopted by a warm family and was able to use her intellect as a way of escaping the trauma, she still harbors a dark side. And when both of her worlds come together, Grace’s past returns – with the intention to kill.

This book was good. But not great. Grace was portrayed pretty interestingly. She did not show many feminine characteristics in her thoughts and glimpses of emotion were a rare thing. Although the story made sense, the ending was anticlimactic and abrupt. There was a lot of buildup and detail (sometimes a bit too much) throughout the novel but the ending took away from that by happening so quickly. I wish there had been a bit more to it because that would have really taken it to the next level. This is a pretty good psychological thriller but if you want something fast-paced, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Happy reading ~