Book Review | Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

jar of hearts

Book Description:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Whoa! I love psych thrillers and loved the synopsis of this book when I read it. Then I began it, and immediately I’m in the courtroom, reading about Geo and how her life ended up as a result of a horrible decision as a teenager.  From there, she goes to prison and then assimilation back into real life. Sadly, not much of a normal one.

So much happens so fast, and the book is written so well, that it is like a soft ribbon enclosing the book that when pulled lightly, slowly unravels and each new revelation is more bizarre than the previous. And yet, you keep pulling because you know the buildup will be worth it.

Geo is a believable character, especially as a teenager who has a small circle of trusted friends, is competitive and like normal young women, insecure.  The explanation of her early years, and the contrast as the story switches to her best friend growing up, Kaiser, lends relevant history to her character.  And her love interest, turned boyfriend, exaggerates how young love can be manipulated and not really love at all.

Caution: The book was graphic at parts with sex, rape and the aftermath of all of that. Though relevant to the story, I just want readers to be aware that this is not an after school special.  This is definitely more Lifetime. Or Snapped, even.

And about 80% into the book, an even deeper revelation is revealed that is a fantastic twist, but goes a disturbing direction (one I was able to predict, but still made my jaw drop).  This book is a fantastic suspense read, very deep and methodical.  I hear it may become a movie.  But kudos to the author. It’s a great book with depth and bizarre twists that came through as promised.  And I can never look at cinnamon hearts the same.

Well done!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

are you sleeping

Whoa…talk about suspense!  Twins who grew up together shared a very sad secret for years, but it looks like it has finally caught up to them.  Josie and Lanie’s father was murdered, and a man has been in prison for over ten years, due to Lanie’s eyewitness account.  But when a woman who runs a podcast begins to question if the right person is serving time, it shakes the remaining family members to the core.  Did Lanie tell the truth?  If she didn’t, who killed their father?

The sad truth too, is that Josie, unable to trust her twin, moved away after the murder and has no relationship with her sister.  When their mother, who had run off to join a cult commits suicide, they are brought together to unravel the lies, determine the truth and shut down the suspicion of the podcast following.  Their interactions are believable (I have a sister) and I was able to relate to Josie very easily.

I loved the book, enjoyed the characters and appreciated the outcome.  Very well written first book!  I would gladly read another book by Kathleen Barber.

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery, Threshold and Pocket Books for the advanced reader copy and the opportunity to read and review this book honestly.  It is a privilege and an honor.

Book Review | Subject 375 (or The Spider in the Corner of the Room) by Nikki Owen


subject 375

Dr. Maria Martinez is being accused of murdering a priest, and is awaiting trial in prison while the details get figured out.  Sadly, she has no recollection of the event.  She also has Asperger’s and is incredibly intelligent.  While in prison, she meets with a few therapists and others who try to help her determine what really happened the night the priest was murdered.  Could she really have killed him and then forgotten about it?  Did she commit the murder, or is she being set up?  And if so, by whom?  Who is Subject 375?

This story moves around quite a bit, as it jumps from present to Maria’s early childhood and back again.  And sometimes it seems as if her “memories” may have been fabricated.  She questions everything and everyone so often, you wonder midway through the book if she has a type of paranoia or some other type of mental illness.  The characters she encounters are well-defined.  Some relationships seem strained, but the reasons for people distancing themselves from Maria is explained later in the book.  I enjoyed the suspense and recommend it for anyone else who does, especially when it’s a trilogy, with two more books to come.  Can’t wait to see how this unfolds!

I would like to thank NetGalley and Blackstone Audio for the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.  It’s my privilege and honor to do so.

Book Review | Death on Hold: A Prisoner’s Desperate Prayer and the Unlikely Family Who Became God’s Answer by Burton Folsom Jr and Anita Folsom

death on hold
Death on Hold was the first book I’d ever read that was based on the life of an inmate.  Very intense at times, somber and sad at others, but told from the perspective of the one who lived the moments.  It’s an amazing story of growth, love, forgiveness and God’s redemption.

Mitch Rutledge made some bad choices after his mother passed and his dad abandoned him and his siblings.  He took to the streets and followed the path of drugs, alcohol and gangs.  Finding his “family” in the gang worked for a length of time, but eventually landed him in trouble.  He made a decision to take a life, and as a result, was found out by the law, and prosecuted.

Mitch’s story is told primarily by Mitch, however he begins to develop relationships with some families outside of prison; people who want to show him hope, the Gospel and love.  These families that wrote to him shared their perspectives through this book as well.  It’s beautiful to see their hearts and viewpoints during court sessions, meeting Mitch in the “yard” and during their prayers as he had to wait to see if he could get off of death row.

To Mitch, a young man who couldn’t read or write, it took a while to find out what the letter writers were saying, but he began to study English and believe that he had value.  Fellow inmates would read him the letters of those who wanted to teach him about Jesus, and as a result, he learned to read and write, and took what he was learning from his friends and the Bible to heart.  He ended up becoming repentant, and became a person known in prison for staying neutral and defusing tough situations.

Read this book to learn the story of a man who is rehabilitated, learn about Jesus in a new way, and/or see the work of the Lord behind bars.  No one is out of His reach!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”