Book Review: Into the Black Nowhere

80D6C469-4943-4E6D-BB40-36DD48309C58Title: Into the Black Nowhere
Author: Meg Gardiner
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 30, 2018

From Dutton: In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

Netgalley and the publisher provided me an advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: I am a true crime buff. My high school psychology teacher was an eccentric woman with a lending library and some books were about high profile serial killers. I was terrified and consumed at the same time and I could not stop reading about high profile cases. And now more than twenty years later I’ve been reconnected with the likes of high profile deviant masterminds, The Zodiac Killer and Ted Bundy thanks to Meg Gardiner’s Unsub Series.

INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE is a fictional tie-in to serial killer, Ted Bundy, who went on a murderous rampage killing upwards of 30 women during the 1970’s. He was educated, intelligent, good looking, and charming making it easy for women to fall prey. Set in modern day Texas and spanning across the desert Southwest up to the Pacific Northwest, Kyle Detrick is calm, cool, confident and leaves a trail of bodies in his wake. His weakness is blondes with a cheerleaders physique – he can’t help himself so he stalks them and they disappear into the black nowhere.

This book has incredible plot twists that left me spooked to the core! Gardiner injects you into the mind of a serial killer so you know his thought process, how he preys on his victims and how he plans his next kill. She knows her stuff when writing about the criminal investigative side of things and expertly ties up the critical details into a nice, neat package that packs a powerful punch.

Few things scare me but the Unsub Series are so well crafted you will need to keep the lights on and maybe even someone in the room with you while reading these books – they are thrilling and all consuming.

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June Book Wrap-Up

IMG_0628Happy Summer! Yesterday was the last day of school for my kids so we are officially on summer break. The plan is to enjoy a couple weeks of downtime including chilling at the beach and pool, which is code for R-E-A-D-I-N-G. Mid-month I’m taking my kiddos to visit my parents for 3 weeks – woo hoo! We will be swimming, shopping, sewing and reading. My mom is a huge reader so I look forward to lots of book discussions with her.

I read some great books in June. It’s a toss-up between Beartown and UNSUB for my favourite. Both were amazing stories that kept me fully engaged from the first page to the last page. What are you reading this summer?

The People We Hate at the Wedding – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
The People We Hate at the Wedding is scores of family dynamics and dysfunction. It was like watching an upper echelon reality show chock-full of painful moments and endless entertainment.

The Fourth Monkey – ⭐️⭐️ / 5
The Fourth Monkey is portrayed as a cross between Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Both movies are creepy, have disturbing aspects, literally keep you on edge but most of all stay with you. Years later you still remember those movies and may re-watch them. The Fourth Monkey has none of those attributes. It did not check off those typical suspense / thriller checkboxes for me. I am surprised because a bit of research into J.D. Barker and he has some near-award worthy books out there, unfortunately this one isn’t one of them.

Beartown – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
This book can be summarized in one word: POWERFUL! Beartown instilled emotion in me that made my heart want to explode from page one. Backman transported me into a place where I could feel the pain of every resident who inhabited Beartown, flailing on the cusp of survival but longing for so much more.

Chemistry – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Chemistry is a uniquely written story that reads like a non-fiction book. Wang’s brilliant depiction of an unnamed woman who recounts why she left a chemistry PhD program is coursely humourous. This kind of fiction writing is a departure from what I would normally pick up and read but I am so glad I ventured outside of my reading comfort zone. This book is written like a succinct diary and reads quickly so if you are looking for a book in between heavier stories this one is perfect.

Sweet Home Cowboy – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
This was my first book from the Love at the Chocolate Shop series and I thought it was a cute story. This was a pretty big variation in my reading choice. I normally don’t read romance-y books and definitely not western’s but this was light on the western romance. I thought it was entertaining and quick to read – perfect for summertime sitting poolside or at the beach.

UNSUB – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
UNSUB is the most intense and engrossing book I have read, which speaks volumes because I have read many true crime books. This book is fiction but Meg Gardiner made it feel like true crime. The story is a takeoff of the Zodiac Killer that haunted the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s but with a dialled up creepy factor. This book is not for the squeamish – it’s graphic and cuts to the quick, but totally suitable for any true crime lover. And the best part, a sequel is coming! This is a series I look forward to and know I will dig into.

The Secrets of Married Women – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Jill, Wendy and Leigh are best friends, each have very different personalities. Jill is married to Rob of 10 years, they adore each other but can’t have children because Rob is infertile. Wendy and Neil buried their baby daughter Nina and Wendy has never recovered from the loss but rarely complains and puts on a happy face. Leigh’s husband, Lawrence is a stay at home dad with OCD. He loves her dearly, would do anything for her but she no longer feels that spark with him and finds him a bit of a wuss.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
This book is super-cute! I listened to the audio book version narrated by Laura Knight Keating. Her narration is amazingly authentic as if Lara Jean herself were reading the story out loud. This book is entertaining and fast-paced making it a perfect summertime read.

Book Review: UNSUB

UNSUB by Meg GardinerTitle: UNSUB
Author: Meg Gardiner
Publisher: Dutton
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Dutton: A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

My Review: UNSUB is the most intense and engrossing book I have read, which speaks volumes because I have read many true crime books. This book is fiction but Meg Gardiner made it feel like true crime.  The story is a takeoff of the Zodiac Killer that haunted the Bay Area in the 60’s and 70’s but with a dialled up creepy factor. This book is not for the squeamish – it’s graphic and cuts to the quick, but totally suitable for any true crime lover. And the best part, a sequel is coming! This is a series I look forward to and know I will dig into.

The story takes place present day in the Bay Area. Caitlin Hendrix grew up watching her father, Mack try to take down the Zodiac Killer in the 90’s. The case was intense and consuming and shattered Mack’s life. He lost his partner at the hands of the killer, his wife left him and Caitlin nearly killed herself at fifteen. Mack never gave up trying to find the Zodiac Killer and is a hardened man for it. It was Caitlin’s calling to join the ranks where her father left off, she knows everything about the Zodiac – she helped Mack organize the gory files in the family garage. Now a fresh new detective on the scene and twenty years passed, the Zodiac is back and has his sights set on a new target. Caitlin!

This is my first Meg Gardiner read and I loved everything about this book.  The only thing keeping me from devouring it in one sitting was my kids needing me! (#momlife).  The plot had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  It never fell flat, there were no early spoilers and I felt invested in the story.  Every detail was well thought out and executed.  I literally could not wait to turn the pages.  The characters were fully developed and the images so clear in my mind. I could see a hardened Mack where life turned it’s back on him, a rattled Caitlin who carried a heavy past and a psychopathic serial killer completely void of emotion.

This is a book that will stay with me for a long time and one I hope to read again.

I want to give a huge shout-out to Netgalley and Dutton for this free ARC. My review is my own.

Summer Reading List 2017

This is a loosely curated list of books I think are great summer reads covering several genres.  Some of these books I have already read and highly recommend to you, others are from my extensive to-be-read (TBR) list which I’m excited to read and a few will be published this summer.

It is likely this summer book list will continue evolving throughout the summer.  As I read new books that I think are summer-worthy reads I will add them here so please check back!

UNSUB by Meg GardinerTitle: UNSUB (review coming soon!)
Author: Meg Gardiner
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Crime Mystery
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
From Dutton: A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

The Forever Summer by Jamie BrennerTitle: The Forever Summer
Author: Jamie Brenner
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: When a DNA test reveals long-buried secrets, three generations of women reunite on Cape Cod for the homecoming of a lifetime.

The Arrangement by Sarah DunnTitle: The Arrangement
Author: Sarah Dunn
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: A hilarious and emotionally charged novel about a couple who embark on an open marriage-what could possibly go wrong?

Dark Matter by Blake CrouchTitle: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
From Crown Publishing: – “Are you happy with your life?”

 

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin KwanTitle: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction – Women’s
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
From Knofp Doubleday: From the bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians comes a deliciously fun story of family, fortune, and fame in Mainland China.

Bear Town by Fredrik BackmanTitle: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction – Literary, Humourous
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Atria Books: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys…

Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudwigTitle: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig
Genre: Fiction – Coming of Age, Family Life, Literary
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
From Park Row Books: Ginny Moon is an illuminating look at one girl’s journey to find her way home. In this stunning debut, Benjamin Ludwig gives a voice to the voiceless, reminding us that often we only hear those who speak the loudest, and there’s much to be learned by opening up our ears and our hearts.

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionTitle: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Genre: Fiction – Romance, Humourous
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
From Simon & Schuster: The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers…

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen WaiteTitle: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
Author: Jen Waite
Genre: Biography & Memoir | Psychology
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
From Penguin Random House: What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?

The Hatching by Ezekiel BooneTitle: The Hatching
Author: Ezekiel Boone
Genre: Science Fiction | Suspense | Horror
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
From Atria Books: An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut novel about the emergence of an ancient species, dormant for over a thousand years, and now on the march.