BOOK REVIEW: The Shape of the Night by Tess Gerritsen

This review is going to take a look at the book The Shape of the Night by New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen. I received an eArc of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book was released on October 1st–so get out there an read a copy!

This novel is set mostly in a Maine coastal town with some appearances by Boston. Our main character, Ava Collette is a food writer, and while punishing herself she has decided to get away from Boston to test some recipes for her very late book.

The cookbook she is writing is about traditional New England cuisine, so where better than Maine to write!? She finds an old home available to rent of the summer called Brodie’s Watch. It is the former home of a sea captain that perished at sea. At first all is normal, until she begins hearing weird sounds.

Ava becomes all consumed with trying to figure out who is watching her and what is happening. She begins to wonder if it’s her, and the binge drinking to cope with tragedy, or if it’s all real? Who can she trust in this small coastal town where locals fit in and tourists aren’t trusted.

Gerritsen does a great job of writing the story in a way that it could actually be a ghost, or it could be this other more logical option throughout the entire book. Even after finishing the book I was left wondering–but was the ghost real? The story instills a real feeling of being right there the entire time. I felt like I was by the ocean in Maine. I drooled over the recipes Ava made, just like her carpenters. It was an entertaining read and I encourage you to go read it so you can be in Maine too!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Ice Hard by Tracy Goodwin

This review is going to center on the book Ice Hard by Tracy Goodwin. I received an ARC through NetGalley. This was published on October 8th, and is the second book in the New York Nighthawks series. The first book in the series is Ice Hot.

The main characters in this book are Nicholas Alexander George (yep, three first names make up his name), a right winger and NHL league enforcer, and Camille Bennetti, a loyal daughter currently running the family’s Italian restaurant.

Nick meets Cami while she’s helping out working a bar shift during Nick’s best friend’s bachelor party. Nick can’t take his eyes off her and the two share some quick banter. The major problem, as he finds out, is that she doesn’t date hockey players. Cami’s tortured past slowly comes to light throughout the story. Nick plans to prove himself worthy of Camille any way he can.

Will Camille be able to stick to the one night deal, or will she end up wanting more, much more?

I enjoyed reading this book and read it during this past weekend’s 24 hour Dewey Readathon. I think Goodwin did a good job of making her characters imperfect. They were believable in their personalities. It was clear that the characters understood that relationships are hard and take work to maintain instead of the many romance novels that are a bit easier in getting to the Happily Ever After. Persistence was a big aspect of this book. I hope those of you that pick it up enjoy it!

Happy reading 🙂


BOOK REVIEW: The Furies by Katie Lowe

This review is going to focus on The Furies, written by Katie Lowe. I received an ARC through NetGalley. This book was released on October 8th and is a great option for a Halloween read–so check out your local library or bookstore of choice and grab a copy.

The story of the Furies is set in 1997-1998 at Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school. We follow Violet, the main character, on her journey through what is meant to be a fresh start after the abrupt passing of both her father and younger sister in a car crash that she survived.

Violet finds herself drawn to one girl at the school, Robin, who allows Violet to join her group of friends, consisting of Alex, and Grace. Elm Hollow Academy has a history with the witch hunt in the UK, with the founding headmistress being accused of witchcraft and executed on campus.

But, before she died, Ms. Boucher, had created an advanced studies class, which is now taught by Annabel. There are only four students, Robin, Alex, Grace, and now Violet. The classes focus on mythology and the occult, and the girls quickly start believing that the spells and rituals will work to their whims. And once they cast a spell, and their desire comes true, the group really begins to believe in the Furies.

Drugs, sex, and alcohol all take part in the chaos that ensues. Especially once the second girl in two years is found dead, sitting on a swing.

Katie Lowe did an good job of setting up the characters in this story. The group dynamics were quite interesting to follow, and there was plenty of mystery to solve. In a school filled with 16 and 17-year-old girls the resulting drama and pettiness comes through well. It was an interesting read, and a decent read for Halloween when the reader may want something dark, but not especially frightening.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This review is going to focus on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks written by Rebecca Skloot. This book was published in 2010–which means it’s out there for you to read folks! I had heard many good things about this book and bought it several years ago. Then I went back to graduate school and reading for fun wasn’t at the top of my priority list so this book lived on my TBR shelf for quite a while.

This book is a non-fiction biography that tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and her legacy through science and her family’s story. If you’re into science you may have heard of HeLa cells–they came from Henrietta.

Henrietta was a tobacco farmer. She lived and worked on the same land that her ancestors did. Then she got sick. She went to Johns Hopkins for some tests and found out that she had cervical cancer. The cells that were taken for biopsy were also used to try and grow more cells for research, without her consent. These cells were the beginning of HeLa, and they are still alive today.

Although Henrietta succumbed to her disease, her cells were responsible for virus and cancer research, studying the aftermath of an atom bomb, and helping to develop the polio vaccine, in vitro ferilization and gene mapping to name a few uses.

Not only did Rebecca Skloot bring to light the scientific importance of the cells, but she highlights the wrong doing that the scientific community performed by taking human cells without permission, and also by not financially helping the Lacks family.

Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah is a large part of the research that Rebecca did to uncover the story behind HeLa. Deborah and her siblings did not handle learning about the cells well. Deborah didn’t understand how cells work, and had many health problems of her own.

This book was very interesting in that it talked in both science and emotion. I finished reading this book in just a couple days and would love to learn more about what HeLa has helped develop around the world. However, it is also an important work highlighting injustices against African Americans in this country and an example of how they were taken advantage of and experimented on.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: In the Warsaw Ghetto by Glenn Haybittle

This post is going to focus on In the Warsaw Ghetto by Glenn Haybittle. I received an eARC through NetGalley. It was published on July 30, 2019. This book took me quite a while to get through–much longer than I expected.

When I read the summary and saw the beautiful cover of a ballerina in a rundown building I thought this would be a story that tried to take an uplifting route through World War II. I assumed Ala Silberman would be a dancer, impacted by the move to the ghetto, but somehow overcoming the atrocities performed against the Jewish people. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

I found the first half to two-thirds of the book incredibly difficult to get through. It was much slower paced than the last bit of the book, and did a lot of the building of scene, when life was still as “normal” as it could have been for the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. The book is told in alternating chapters between Ala Silberman, and her uncle Max.

Ala has been training to be a ballet dancer when she and her family is forced to live in the ghetto. In the beginning she leads a privileged life compared to many of the others in the ghetto because her family has ties to the Judenrat.

Max is still in love with the ghost of a girl he was close with while at university. They have been apart for a decade, and she has married and had two daughters. Once times become a bit harder, he finds Sabina once more, now separated from her husband. Max cares for her and her daughters to give them a better life within the ghetto.

As the story continues and years pass, living conditions within the ghetto get much worse. The reader is able to see what life is like through various characters that were previously built up. More and more are deported to Treblinka, or killed within the ghetto. Finally, there is a Jewish uprising against the Germans in the ghetto, which really sped up the reading.

This was a really heavy book to read thematically, but it was also somewhat enlightening to read. I feel like it brought you more into the world that the Jews lived in, instead of only learning about the atrocities committed against them by the Nazis. In school, students learn that Nazis are bad, and what they did was bad, but the deeper lessons are often glossed over, and I think this book did a good job of bringing some of those to light for the reader.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Chase Darkness With Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen

This review is going to take a look at Billy Jensen’s new book: Chase Darkness With Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders. It was released on August 13, 2019 so it is still relatively new. I was lucky enough to purchase an autographed copy from the Poisoned Pen!

I am a somewhat new listener of the My Favorite Murder Podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, and have been binging episodes pretty much everyday. While listening to My Favorite Murder, I learned about the rest of the podcasts on the Exactly Right Network, and have been a proud listener of Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad since the beginning of the show.

For those of you not familiar with the Murder Squad podcast, it is a true-crime podcast hosted by Billy Jensen, who is a crime reporter and the author of the book covered in this review, and Paul Holes a retired homicide detective who helped solve the Golden State Killer (GSK) murder case. The premise of the podcast is in line with what Jensen has written in Chase Darkness With Me in that they both aim to put the general public to work to help solve cold cases, whether they are murder cases, missing person cases, or something else.

Obviously, for the sake of time they can’t go into too many details on the podcast to instruct listeners how they can help the cause. That is what this book does. It covers some of Jensen’s white whale cases from his career, and how he has worked diligently over social media to help get tips on these cases and more. He goes into depth on how the civilian citizens can help do the same.

One of his white whale cases, known as the Allenstown Four, happened in my home state and I was immediately interested when I heard them cover it on the podcast. I had never heard of the crime before, but since I listened to the podcast I have heard it referred to more and more. And for good reason! Three of the four victims have since been identified by a librarian. It was fascinating to learn more about the Allenstown Four while reading Jensen’s new book.

It was touching to learn about how his relationship with his father trained him to spot crimes, and how he followed up on posting the social media campaigns related to these cases after the death of his close friend Michelle McNamara.

I highly suggest everyone go out and pick up a copy of Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen. It was an excellent read, and really meaningful to connect with readers that can help solve some of these crimes in the future. Also, take a few minutes and check out their website to learn more about some of the cases they are working on and how you can help: The Murder Squad.

Instead of my usual sign off, I’ll use Billy’s–“Don’t be an irony”

BOOK REVIEW: This is Me by Chrissy Metz

This is Me by Chrissy Metz, of the TV show This is Us, is a heartfelt memoir that chronicles Chrissy’s life from the time she was a small child through to her major success as an actress on This is Us.

This book was quite the page turner! I picked it up and finished it in two days. To those of you who don’t know me, that’s really quick. Only fluffy fiction stories get finished that quickly usually. But this meaty, deep story hit home for me in many ways.

I found it beyond easy to connect with Chrissy, as someone who was bullied through school. I envied her courage to move across the country to follow her dreams. I also was beyond happy to see someone famous showing readers/followers that it isn’t easy to enter Hollywood. Although many actors didn’t have it easy, we don’t often hear such gut wrenching stories about the “before they were famous”. This is Me truly does this with vivid detail.

This is a super short review because I actually read this quite some time ago, but it was a beautiful book, and I hope that you pick it up to read this enlightening read.

Happy Reading 🙂