Review: The Cheerleaders

THE CHEERLEADERS KARA THOMAS REVIEWTitle: The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Young Adult | Mystery & Suspense
Synopsis from Delacorte Press
Free copy provided by publisher.

Review: Sunnybrook High School hasn’t had a cheer squad for five years.  Five of its cheerleaders died tragically; two died in a car crash, two were murdered by a neighbor and one committed suicide.

Sixteen year old Monica is coming off a rocky summer.  She’s recovering from a fling with an older guy and reeling from the physical and emotional pain of a terminated pregnancy.  She’s also the younger sister of the suicide victim, Jen.  Monica wants to move past all the tragedy but comes across information that forces her to question what really happened five years ago.  With the help of her new friend Ginny, they begin to unravel many details across a large cast of characters, confusing at times but the ending was a wild surprise!

THE CHEERLEADERS is a dark and intriguing mystery toggling between Monica and Jen’s points of view, present and past respectively.  This is my first book by Thomas and I was drawn in from the get-go and it held my interest.  I would classify this one as an older YA read due to a lot of adult content; abortion, suicide, murder, drugs.

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Review: VOX

VOX by Christina Dalcher ReviewTitle: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Thriller & Suspense
Synopsis from Berkley
Free copy provided by publisher.

Review: Imagine a place where women are second rate citizens – limited to a mere 100 words per day, expected domestic bliss, and Pure Movement religion and presidential propaganda spewing from the television. Welcome to a near future, political dystopian United States.

Now imagine you are Dr. Jean McClellan, a highly educated linguist, top in her field presented with an opportunity to come out of forced retirement to find a cure for the president’s brother whose Wernicke’s area (the part of the brain that controls speech) has been damaged in a skiing accident.  In exchange Jean is offered a spot on the team inclusive of salary, an office and the word counter removed from her wrist, which delivers an electric jolt post 100 words.  But Jean wants more.  She wants verbal freedom for her daughter.

VOX is a hybridization of the far reaching effects of government control and the gift of linguistics.  If we can no longer speak we can no longer persist.  This story is pretty far outside of my genre comfort zone – I typically don’t read books of any near future / dystopian themes but I’m grateful the publisher surprised me with this one! Dalcher gives readers a birds-eye view into gender politics, culture change and oppression of women.

What a wake-up call that all women and men should read!

Review: The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter - Book ReviewTitle: The Good Daughter
Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Suspense
Synopsis from William Morrow

Review: Full disclosure: THE GOOD DAUGHTER is my first Karin Slaughter book and I know I’m not the first to admit I wished I had started reading her work sooner!  This book is not for the feint of heart – it’s violent and gritty and Slaughter’s descriptions are boldly graphic and necessary.

Pikeville, Georgia attorney Rusty Quinn has defended his share of lowlifes and has gotten a bad name.  The story opens up at his home where two masked intruders create a gruesome scene killing his wife Gamma, shooting his daughter Sam in the head and burying her alive while his other daughter Charlie escapes.  The fallout creates a rift between sisters and memories they never forget.

Twenty eight years later, the sisters have put their lives back together; Sam is a successful patent attorney in New York and Charlie is a criminal defense lawyer in Pikeville.  Charlie is witness to a school shooting and her role in the shooters defense brings rise to the memories all those years ago.

The characters are complex and multilayered – Slaughter creates a small town vibe with townspeople who are raw, emotional and real.  The plot is a labyrinth of deep dark turns fluctuating between two storylines and timelines while weaving in and out of each other.

This book is difficult to review without giving too much away.  If you can handle graphic violence then I highly recommend you pick this one up!

Review: In the Grip of It

In the Grip of It - Sheena KamalTitle: In the Grip of It
Author: Sheena Kamal
Publisher: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Suspense
Synopsis from Witness Impulse
Book provided by Edelweiss & HarperCollins

Review: Nora Watts returns in the novella, IN THE GRIP OF IT, on assignment to surveil a boy in a child custody case on Salt Spring Island.  Cheyenne has taken her son, Trevor from Vancouver to the island’s Spring Love yoga retreat but her ex-husband, Ken is convinced there are more sinister activities taking place in the commune.

Nora joins Spring Love run by Vikram and Wanda, to investigate what is happening on the inside.  The islands typical welcoming community does not extend to the commune and Vikram and Wanda are suspicious of Nora from the get-go and the intensity builds as they take measures to oust her once and for all.  But Nora’s connection to Trevor reminds her of the daughter she never got to know and she vows to get him back home safely with his father.

This story lacks the same intensity Kamal delivered in her suspenseful debut, The Lost Ones, and I’m not entirely sure how this novella fits into the series, but I’m committed to it and will read It All Falls Down, which releases this summer.

Review: Here and Gone

Here and Gone - Haylen BeckTitle: Here and Gone
Author: Haylen Beck
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Suspense
Synopsis from PRHC
Book provided by Broadway Books & PRHC

Review: Audra flees her New York lifestyle and abusive husband with her two children in tow for a better life in California.  In the middle of Arizona, Audra is pulled over by a small town sheriff who plants marijuana among her belongings, arrests her and hauls her into the station.  Meanwhile his deputy takes her children to an undisclosed location.  During questioning Audra demands to see her children and is met with, “What children?”  The sheriff convinces the feds into thinking Audra has killed her own children.  She becomes headline news and everyone thinks she’s crazy.

Unbeknownst to Audra, the sheriff has arranged to sell her children to an underground group for a sizeable payout.

Meanwhile, a man in San Francisco hears Audra’s story, a story similar to his – his daughter was taken from his wife by authorities and never found.  The only person who believes Audra is innocent, he immediately heads to Arizona to help her.

Here and Gone is a chilling story of every mother’s worst nightmare.  I found the plot fairly predictable but enjoyed the fast pace and strong female lead.