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Monday, March 19, 2018

Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate

Setting: Chicago
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: MIRA
Author: Courtney Evan Tate
Release Date: March 20, 2018

Many years ago, Dr. Connie Cabot's father was arrested for murdering a woman and her husband. Connie remembers seeing their bodies, but she can't remember details. Since her father was sentenced, she's never spoken to him.

Connie is married, but her long hours in the ER weigh a bit on her marriage. When she starts having panic attacks and hearing voices, her sanity is questioned. To unravel what's really going on with her, she'll need to go back to her teenage years and figure out what really happened.

Such Dark Things has a number of twists in its swift pace. I can't say I was shocked when certain revelations were made. I saw them coming. I never connected with the characters, either. Jude was scum in my opinion. Connie was a little more likable, though at times, I wondered how she could be so gullible.

The story bounces between Connie and her husband, Jude. It bounces between the present, the past few weeks, and the murder Connie cannot fully remember. You won't have a problem with the changes if you read the opening to each chapter. It will detail where you are in terms of time.

In all, I loved the suspense, but there were parts of Such Dark Things that were pretty predictable. Being predictable lessened some of the impact that the suspense novel should have had.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hot Mess by Emily Belden

Setting: Chicago
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Graydon House
Author: Emily Belden
Release Date: March 20, 2018

At 25, Allie Simon is on a hot track to a promotion. She has a chef boyfriend who is the talk of the town. Together, they're a power couple that's on the rise. When Benji talks her into fronting the money to helping him become part owner in a restaurant in Chicago's prime restaurant zone, she panics. After all, $30,000 is just about her life savings. She also knows he's a killer in the kitchen, so she agrees. Just in time for him to fall off the wagon and disappear.

Allie has about $1,000 to her name. The only way out of this is to have the new restaurant prove to be a success. It means quitting her job and diving into a world that she knows little about. With the help of the other partners, the goal is to make this restaurant work without Benji. Worse, they only have about a month to make this happen.

There's nothing messy or unfinished in Hot Mess. The story sucked me in and had me rooting for everyone other than the loathsome Benji. My heart broke for Allie as she learned that he was no good the hard way. I cheered them on as they struggled to get the restaurant open on time. My mouth watered as I read some of the food descriptions. This book held my attention and left me feeling very satisfied.

It's not quite a romance, but it's also not really women's fiction. It's simply a very good story at the power to overcome obstacles. I loved it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Half a Heart by Karen McQuestion

Setting: Wisconsin
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union
Author: Karen McQuestion
Release Date: March 13, 2018

Logan Weber stopped talking when his mother died. His father's cruelty has him suffering every day. When his father decides another beating is in order, Logan flees. He winds up hiding in a moving van and finds himself ditched in another state with only the clothes on his back.

As Logan tries to keep himself sheltered and fed, he doesn't realize that the grandmother he was told died is actually out there and trying to find him. The problem is that his father is also hot on his heels and only one can get there first.

Half a Heart is a poignant, often maddening look at a young boy's determination to find his place in a world that hasn't shown him much in the way of kindness. I really liked Logan's grit. At the same time, I found myself questioning the actions of many adults. Once they saw a kid who appeared to be alone or questioned if the kid was alone, not speaking up was just absurd to me. I have been in their shoes, and I did speak up. It's not that hard, and it could end up being what is needed to save a child from harm.

The book is a quick read. The ending comes fast, and I wish some of the characters' stories hadn't been rushed in spots. That said, I did enjoy it as a quick, refreshing story of the true power of love.