Blog Tour: Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Hello, and welcome to the blog tour for Fractured by Catherine McKenzie! Before I tell you about all the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this book, check out the synopsis below:

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Fractured by Catherine McKenzie. Lake Union Publishing. 362 pp. 

Welcome, neighbor!

Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

We know where you live…

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

MyReview

As I’ve mentioned a few times, TLC is great for my reading habits because it’s a great opportunity for me to branch out. My husband reads far more suspense novels than I do. I enjoy them, but I often don’t know where to start when choosing one. And TLC’s authors rarely disappoint. I was very pleased to be introduced to Catherine McKenzie’s words this month. This book is a smooth blend of voice, mood, clues, intrigue, and (huzzah!) clean writing.

Maybe it’s because I don’t know the bad from the good, but I’ve grabbed a thriller here and there and been shocked by how weak the writing was. The sentences were sloppy, the dialogue was unbelievable, and I had a tough time slogging through. (These were bestsellers, too.) Over time, though, I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter authors like Catherine McKenzie, ones who’ve shown me that perhaps I just picked up the wrong authors when I was getting started in this genre. She writes like a dream. I mean, I don’t think there was a moment in this book where she didn’t have me exactly where she wanted me, and it was an absolute pleasure to be manipulated by her words.

I loved that Julie’s and John’s chapters sounded different, that the weather could do so much to affect the mood of a scene, and that the author just nailed the minutiae (and mundanity) of suburban life.

I appreciated not knowing who was involved in the accident until the last possible moment; I didn’t figure anything out ahead of time, and believe me, I tried. My brain felt itchy and alive, working overtime as it assimilated new clues. I also loved how the characters began to question reality. It made it even more difficult to guess where things were headed. The plot started to feel hazy, like jogging through fog or slipping vodka into my morning orange juice.

I go to the bookstore often just to browse. Sometimes I buy a book or two; sometimes I don’t. But it’s a great way to see what’s been published recently. Also, it’s like Penny Lane says in Almost Famous: I’m visiting my friends. I look at cover art, I read synopses, I feel how velvety the covers are, and I enjoy myself immensely. To me, one of the signs of a good book is that it makes me want to pick up another book by the same author the next time I’m browsing. I may buy it that day or I may not, but it’s piqued my interest. (I may turn it to face forward on the shelf, even if I don’t buy it, in the hopes that it catches someone else’s eye. I know you’re probably not supposed to do that but I do it sometimes anyway and I’m sure I’m not the only one.) Catherine McKenzie has joined the ever-growing list of authors who I’ll be visiting the next time I browse. She’s gifted, and I look forward to reading more books by her.

OtherInfo

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Catherine McKenzie, a graduate of McGill University, practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels SpinArrangedForgotten, and Hidden are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages. Hidden was an Amazon #1 bestseller and a Digital Book World bestseller. Her fifth novel, Smoke, was an Amazon bestseller, a Goodreads Best Book for October 2015, and an Amazon Top 100 Book of 2015.

Connect with Catherine

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

OtherTourStops

Tuesday, October 4th: Chick Lit Central

Wednesday, October 5th: Open Book Society

Thursday, October 6th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Friday, October 7th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Monday, October 10th: Write Read Life

Tuesday, October 11th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, October 12th: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Thursday, October 13th: Reading is my Superpower

Thursday, October 13th: Stranded in Chaos

Friday, October 14th: A Book Geek

Monday, October 17th: Luxury Reading

Tuesday, October 18th: Booked on a Feeling

Wednesday, October 19th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Thursday, October 20th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, October 21st: Not in Jersey

Monday, October 24th: 5 Minutes for Books

Monday, October 24th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, October 25th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, October 26th: Wall to Wall Books

Thursday, October 27th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, October 28th: Book Chatter

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Shady Cross by James Hankins

Shady Cross by James Hankins. Thomas & Mercer. 308 pp.

Shady Cross by James Hankins. Thomas & Mercer. 308 pp.

In one hand, small-time crook Stokes holds a backpack stuffed with someone else’s money—three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of it.

In the other hand, Stokes has a cell phone, which he found with the money. On the line, a little girl he doesn’t know asks, “Daddy? Are you coming to get me? They say if you give them the money they’ll let you take me home.”

From bestselling author James Hankins comes a wrenching story of an unscrupulous man torn between his survival instincts and the plight of a true innocent. Faced with the choice, Stokes discovers his conscience might not be as corroded as he thought.


I’m always nervous when I agree to be part of a blog tour. I mean, what if I don’t like the book?! It’s difficult to post a negative review as part of a tour, and yet I still want to be honest, so there’s always a bit of anxiety when I start reading a book I’ll be featuring. I needn’t have worried in this case, though, because the only problem I had with Shady Cross is that I enjoyed it so much that I want to read more of James Hankins’s books! (And no, I’m not just saying that to be nice. That’s not what I do.)

Let me start by saying that I don’t read many suspense books. It’s not that I dislike them, but since suspense isn’t one of my top genres, I often feel overwhelmed by the number of options. Rather than figuring out where to start, I just stick to my usual fare. But when Lisa from TLC sent me the synopsis for this one, I was hooked. I was dying to read it and was thrilled to have the chance to do so. (I recently mentioned this book to my mom, which I do whenever I’m really enjoying a book. When I told her what it was about, she literally gasped. It’s that great of a concept.)

Shady Cross lived up to my expectations and then some. I had a difficult time putting it down…and that’s saying something, considering how little sleep I’ve been getting lately. There have been times when I view dilemmas in a suspense novel as cheap ploys to keep the reader invested in the story. Maybe I’ve been reading the wrong books, though, because in this case, all Stokes’s troubles made me want to do is get into the next chapter as quickly as possible.

The characters in this book were different for me, too: I didn’t actually like (m)any of them, but that didn’t stop me from flying through the pages to see how their situations turned out. Stokes is a brilliantly-executed protagonist. He’s done more bad than good in his life, but that doesn’t stop you from rooting for him as he makes an honest effort to save a little girl. Although he’s more sinner than savior, he goes much further than you could expect for a stranger’s daughter. Reading this book made me wonder how many people I know — myself included — would be willing to do the same.

All in all: A story of struggle and redemption that’s an absolute pleasure to read. A piece of genre fiction with wide-ranging appeal; I can’t imagine anyone that wouldn’t like this.

If this sounds like a book you might enjoy, then I’ve got great news: I have a copy to give away! I’m unable to post the Rafflecopter widget directly on my blog, so click below if you’d like to enter.

GiveawayClickHere

OtherInfo

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Bestselling author James Hankins pursued writing at an early age. While attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he received the Chris Columbus Screenwriting Award. After career detours into screenwriting, health administration, and the law, Hankins recommitted himself to writing fiction. Since then, he has written three popular thrillers, each of which spent time in the Kindle Top 100. Additionally, Brothers and Bones received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was named to their list of Best Books of 2013, while both Jack of Spades and Drawn were Amazon #1 bestsellers. He lives with his wife and twin sons just north of Boston.

OtherTourStops

Tuesday, February 24th: Vic’s Media Room 

Wednesday, February 25th:  Book Dilettante

Thursday, February 26th: Bell, Book & Candle

Friday, February 27th: 5 Minutes for Books

Wednesday, March 4th: Life is Story

Thursday, March 5th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Monday, March 9th: Daily Mayo

Tuesday, March 10th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, March 12th: Kissin Blue Karen

Monday, March 16th: FictionZeal

Wednesday, March 18th: Mary’s Cup of Tea

Thursday, March 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, March 19th: Building Bookshelves

Monday, March 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, March 25th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, March 30th: Brooke Blogs

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Review: The Never List by Koethi Zan

TheNeverList

The Never List by Koethi Zan. Pamela Dorman Books. 320 pp.

When people ask what I “do,” I tell them I’m a stay at home mom. Which is true. I’m many other things as well, of course, but the few people closest to me know me for what I truly am: a professional worrier. I’m a worst-case-scenario kind of girl, not a fan of uncertainty or unpredictability, and prone to overplanning to avoid any potentially unpleasant outcomes. So I probably shouldn’t have picked up a book about a group of girls who were abducted and tortured by a psychopathic college professor. As if I wasn’t looking over my shoulder enough already, right?

The Never List is a story of two young girls who survive a terrible car accident and make a list of overcautious “nevers” to protect themselves from future evils, both accidental and intentional. After years of safety, they make a minor lapse in judgment one night and become captives, held in their abductor’s basement with two other girls for over three years. The novel follows Sarah, one of the four girls, as she struggles to maintain a sense of security ten years later. However, her world is upended when she learns that her abductor has an upcoming parole hearing and may soon be back in the world, again a real and terrible threat to her safety. She gets in touch with her fellow victims, attempting to decipher clues he has sprinkled throughout his letters to the girls, in an effort to find evidence that will keep their captor imprisoned for the rest of his life.

I love books, I really do. But I’ve found that not many authors can capture that breath-stuck-in-your-throat, strings-in-high-register feeling that films give me. There’s something about having the experience handed to me, visually and auditorily, when watching a movie that makes it easier to sit back and let the suspense wash over me. When I’m more invested and envisioning a scene in my head, sometimes there’s too much description, too many words, for me to feel that same level of emotion. A recent exception for me was George Saunders’s short story “Tenth of December.” It blew me away. I was taking a hot bath, and I sat up, rapt, holding my breath, letting the water cool around me as I turned page after page, characters’ lives hanging on the line.

The Never List was a book that I could hardly put down because I needed to know what happened, especially in its final scenes. It’s worth reading if you don’t mind thinking about the terrible things that can happen to women in our society, even the careful ones. This was a great book with an ending that took me completely by surprise, but in the best way possible. I totally didn’t see it coming, but once it had happened, I realized that it was the only sensible way for the story to end. I hope this one becomes a film.

Review: Montaro Caine by Sidney Poitier

MontaroCaine

Montaro Caine by Sidney Poitier. 320 pp. Spiegel & Grau.

Disclosure time: I recognized Sidney Poitier’s name when I started reading this book, but I had no idea who he was. Didn’t even know he was an actor. Terrible, I know, considering his many accomplishments. I guess I could use the excuse that he was before my time, which he most certainly was, but I think it’s good to know a little bit about the culture of many decades, not just my own. (This is especially important because…well, have you seen some of the swill this generation has produced?) I’m glad that reading Poitier’s (first) novel gave me the opportunity to learn a bit more about him. Also…I know age doesn’t terribly matter, but I find it vastly admirable that he decided to pursue this new avenue in such a late season of his life. I hope that I don’t spend my later years resigned to “doing what I’ve always done” and am brave enough to venture out and do anything that I haven’t gotten around to yet.

Anyway. About the book. Montaro Caine is about the title character and his search to discover the origins of two mysterious coins. The elemental composition of these coins is unlike anything he has ever seen before, and he quickly becomes absorbed in a quest to uncover as much information about them as he can. (Fortunately for him, he is the CEO of a company whose resources are at his disposal.) As murmurings about these strange coins reach other scientists, collectors, and thieves, everyone wants to get their hands on them. What follows is a story of intrigue, deception, and suspense with a dash of family struggles and personal growth.

There are many great things about this book. For starters, Montaro Caine is a great protagonist because he isn’t perfect, but he is noble. I enjoyed watching him figure out his place in the world. The writing is clean and efficient. Also, Poitier is a good storyteller: there are so many characters in this novel, and their stories intertwine so often, that it has the potential to become dizzying and confusing. But it doesn’t; Poitier manages his web masterfully. Transitions between scenes and locations are smooth, and it’s fairly easy to keep everyone straight. This is no easy feat. Also, although the book is very slow to start, once the action picks up it flows right along and sweeps the reader up in its swift current. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

Okay, negative time. I didn’t do this on purpose, I swear, but my complaint with this book is exactly the same as my primary complaint with the last book I reviewed: it gets too teachy-and-preachy for me. I love it when good prevails, but I hate having to be told, “Good is winning over evil. Do you see? These characters are coming out ahead because they are good. And they have love. And integrity of intention.” I’d rather an implicit moral than an explicit one.

That being said, I still think this book is worth a read. It’s good. I just wanted a stronger ending.