Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski #bukowski #literature #fiction #classics #bookreviewer #bookblogger

Susanne’s Review:

Dysfunction that Breaks the Heart Ten Times Over.  Knowing, however, that You Can Break Free from the Chains.

Ham on Rye: My first read by Charles Bukowski, came highly recommended.

A semi-autobiographical coming of age story about a young man named Henry Chinaski.

There is angst, desperation, dysfunction, heartache, and pain and then there is hysterical laughter. 

Growing up during the Great Depression, this is the story of a young man who learned to question his existence, during a time when such a thing was not acceptable.  

A father who is an abusive, alcoholic and is also mentally unstable, from whom Henry learned the finer points of alcohol.  A mother who is unable to stand up for herself or her son.

Bullied, covered in acne, and terrible with girls, Henry sort of becomes a bully himself. Can’t say I blamed him, all things considered.  

Then there is Henry’s personality. His cynicism. His sexual frustration. His adoration of Panties (yes, I said panties) and finally, Miss Gredis’ classroom – thump, thump, thump. That, my friends, is where the hysterical laughter comes in.                                                                                   

What makes this novel so wholly realistic is the writing, which is inflected with honesty and sincerity and clearly comes from a place of both pain and salvation. From knowing that there is more to life than the hand that Henry Chinaski was dealt.  

What is astounding is that at such a tender young age, Charles Bukowski as Henry Chinaski, was wise beyond his years, asking pertinent questions, including what he wanted out of life. Pushing boundaries, and rejecting social conventions, making others do the same. Though somewhat crude, rude, and brash, “Henry Chinaski” was also brave, going where others had not gone before.

While I didn’t quite love this book, due to the way it was told, it resonated with me for a variety of reasons. At first, I found the writing to be a bit choppy though, thankfully it evened out as the story got going. Bold, and daring, Henry Chinaski is a “character” I won’t soon forget as he is one I identified with in many respects. Sadly, his parents, unfortunately, were quite like my own in many ways. The fact that this novel is semi-autobiographical broke my heart.  

I have heard that Mr. Bukowski has written several other books that are a bit more profane, shocking, and vile.  That remains to be seen. 

Published on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.  

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes #caroline kepnes #you #mystery #suspense #fiction #thriller #bookblogger

Susanne’s Review:

Oh Joe, Say it isn’t So!

After having liked “You” and found Joe’s crazy antics to be wildly entertaining, I had high hopes for “Hidden Bodies”.. Sadly it didn’t quite deliver. 

Why, do you ask?

Joe’s personality was sorely lacking here.  His obsessive personality which was funny and ok, yes I’ll say it, wholly endearing in “You” was missing that “je ne sais quoi”… that special something that made him funny, sarcastic, and likable.  Here, he was simply obsessive, pathetic, and more often than not, boring.

I quickly lost interest and couldn’t wait to be done.  Here’s hoping the next book in the series gets back to the essence that is Joe.

A buddy listen with Kaceey that left us both unsatisfied.

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of the audiobook. 

Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

Kaceey’s Review:

Well, Joe is at it again. 

The poor guy just can’t help himself.

He is quick to fall in love. 

But even faster to seek revenge if he feels betrayed. Careful ladies! He can turn on a dime and will follow you across the country to seek his justice.  

This was a fun addition to the series. And it should really be read in order for you to get the entire picture of Joe.  

And though Joe lacked some of the wit and charm he displayed in book one, I was still rooting for him (sort of). In a twisted kind of way.🤪

I listened to the audio of this book. And highly recommend that version as it adds a whole new dimension to Joe!

Book three of the series, You Love Me is on my shelf calling out to me. Can’t wait to see what Joe has in store for us next!

A buddy read with Susanne.

Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham @michaelrobotham #suspense #mystery #fiction #bookreviewers #bookbloggers

Kaceey’s Review:

This is book 8 of the Joseph O’Laughlan series. And once again Michael Robotham has delivered another great addition to his very popular series. 

As always Joe, a clinical psychologist is drawn into a police investigation despite promising his estranged wife he was done with that line of work. But Joe was left no choice. His reputation is on the line. 

And once Joe commits to something, there is no turning back. Both professionally and personally.

Joe is one of the strongest and most vulnerable characters I have come across. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. And though that has become a big part of his life he refuses to let it beat him. 

What’s important to Joe is his family. He is a devoted father to both his daughters. And he has never stopped loving his wife, even through their separation. Will we see a reconciliation?

No spoilers here.

I listened to the audio version and the narrator does an amazing job with Bringing Joe to life.

A buddy read with Susanne of a series we both love. Up next…The Other Wife!

Susanne’s Review:

I love Joseph O’Loughlin dearly and I always have.  I simply can’t help it. 

This is why, when Kaceey asked me to read the remainder of this series with her, I jumped at the chance, even though I had previously read this book and knew what would happen at the end.  Joseph O’Loughlin has my heart and thankfully, Kaceey likes him too!  

Complex, courageous, fallible, funny, kind, and caring, logical, self-aware, and extremely vulnerable, Joe is a man who loves his family desperately.  Separated from his wife Julianne, he holds out hope for their reconciliation.  

Far from perfect, he admits it. Joe has made a lot of mistakes and has paid for them dearly. Suffering from Parkinson’s, he makes the best of every day. 

It is his perseverance, strength, wit, and his love for his family that makes me love him so.

As a Clinical Psychologist, Joseph O’Loughlin is a profiler who works with the police to hunt down killers. This time, a mother and daughter are brutally killed in their farmhouse and it’s up to Joe to try and figure out who did it.  

A game of cat and mouse that becomes personal.  

A pulse-pounding thriller that ratchets up the suspense.   

A shocking end that changes everything and one that I remembered every second of from my first go-round and which, frankly, I despised.  Nevertheless, I adored diving back into the life of Joseph O’Loughlin, in “Close Your Eyes” and am anxious to see what’s next.  

A buddy listen with Ms. Kaceey, which I’m so glad we finally got to.

Posted on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.

Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell @DavidBellNovels @BerkleyPub #thriller #bookblogger #bookreview

Kaceey’s Review:

Every summer I look forward to the latest book by one of my favorite authors. And once again David Bell delivers a fantastic thriller I devoured over the long weekend.

Professor Connor Nye is desperate. He lives in the academic world of publish or perish. And after struggling for years he realizes his time is running out.

Madeline, one of Professor Nye’s very talented students, submits her thesis and vanishes the next day… Connor sees no harm in submitting it to a publisher as his own. I mean… no one will know he didn’t write it… except maybe Madeline! But she’s missing…right?

Oh Connor! You should have known better. It all comes crashing in on him when the premise of the book details an open murder investigation. Now the detectives are knocking on his door.

Can Conner come clean? It would mean losing everything.

As always David Bell writes an exciting thriller that will keep you turning the pages and pointing your finger at everyone.

Though I had a hard time warming up to Connor I enjoyed watching him squirm as his world started to crumble. (Lol! I’m really not that mean!)😂

Already looking forward to next year’s book by David Bell.

Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Berkley Publishing.

The Child In The Photo by Kerry Wilkinson @bookouture #fiction #bookreview #bookblogger

Kaceey’s Review:

I have been a huge Kerry Wilkinson fan. But lately… I’m not sure what happened?🤷🏻‍♀️. This is the second book in a row of his that I’ve just struggled to get through. This latest one took me close to a month to read! Yup…a month! And I finally just skimmed to the end just to finish.

The premise was great. Hope receives a newspaper clipping of a baby that went missing. Strangely enough that baby has the same scar on her ear as Hope. Is that photo of her? Could her parents have kidnapped her? Hope is determined to find the truth.

As good as that premise sounded (though not all that original) this book just never grabbed me. I never felt connected to Hope thus had a difficult time following her quest.

There are some great positive reviews for this book so please take a look at those when deciding on this book. I am definitely in the minority here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture.

The Book of Magic (Practical Magic, #2) by Alice Hoffman @ahoffmanwriter @simonschuster @netgalley @edelweiss_squad #fiction #literaryfiction #magicalrealism #bookreview

Susanne’s Review:

Alice Hoffman, you have surpassed my wildest expectations!  

With The Book of Magic, the fourth book in the magic series, Ms. Hoffman has accomplished what I consider to be an impossible feat.  Writing a final installment, that is, in my opinion, better than all prior books in the series.  

I adored The Rules of Magic and Magic Lessons and frankly didn’t think any book could surpass those, yet The Book of Magic did exactly that.  Bravo Ms. Hoffman, Bravo!

Weaving together all prior books, here we have the final book in the Practical Magic series, with

Aunts Jet and Franny Owens, Uncle Vincent, Sally and Gillian, and Sally’s children, Kylie and Antonia.

Troubling times are ahead for the Owens family, though this should not come as a surprise.  The curse that Maria Owens bestowed upon this family still hovers.  

When Jet Owens hears the knocking of the deathwatch beetle, she knows her time is drawing to a close and that a lot of work must be done before she draws her last breath. 

The Rules of Magic of course, still apply here “Do as you will but harm no one, What you will give will be returned to you threefold” and of course, no falling in love. The issue is of course, that Sally Owens has raised her children as if magic does not exist, thus they know nothing of the curse until it strikes. For Kylie Owens, this spells disaster.  

What happens next, is well, pure magic.  

Almost from the start, chills ran down my spine and made my pulse quicken at the predicament the Owens family found themselves in. Racing against time, Franny, Sally, Gillian, and Vincent desperately try to save Kylie and destroy the curse once and for all.  

Written from the heart, The Book of Magic is character-driven fiction, magical realism and literary fiction all rolled into one.  

The Book of Magic is filled with LOVE. Fierce, wicked, and pure. Love is what defines the Owens family and it will prevail.

This is a novel that will most definitely be on my Goodreads best-of-list for 2021. 

To Alice Hoffman, thank you for sharing the Owens family with us for all of these years.  To Hannah, Maria, Faith, Jet, Franny, Vincent, Sally, Gillian, Kylie, and Antonia Owens: You are loved, Always.    

Thank you to Simon & Schuster, Edelweiss, and NetGalley for the arc.

Published on NetGalley, Edelweiss, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash @WileyCashAuthor @WmMorrowBooks @customhousebks @netgalley #southernfiction #fiction #mystery #bookreviewer

Susanne’s Review:

Simple Brilliance.

The night Sheriff Winston Barnes and his wife Marie are awoken by the sound of a plane flying low overhead, both he and his wife get an eerie feeling.  Upon investigating the incident, and discovering that the plane crashed down in an airfield nearby, he realizes why.  

Sheriff Barnes notices that several things have gone awry, most notably, that there is a body of a local citizen dead next to the plane,  and that he’s been murdered. 

As if tensions weren’t high enough, the mayhem that ensues thereafter makes things go from bad to worse, for the residents, the Sheriff, his wife, and his daughter Colleen, visiting from Texas. 

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash is a simple, lyrical, multilayered, character-driven novel with heart. It’s Southern fiction that grabbed my attention from the get-go and held it throughout. This being my first novel by Wiley Cash, I had no idea what to expect. That said, I admit to going into this novel with very high expectations, all of which were met.  Mr. Cash’s novels are now on my backlist and I can’t wait to get started.  

Thank you to NetGalley, William Morrow and Custom House, and Wiley Cash for the arc. 

Review to be Published on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter. 

A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker @jdbarker @HamptonCreek @NetGalley @recordedbooks #thriller #suspense #mystery #bookreviewer #bookbloggers

Susanne’s Review:

A Fast-Paced Thrill Ride!

Jordan Briggs is a no holds barred satellite radio talk show host. She’s known for taking no prisoners.  Little does she know she’s about to get played and the game is a deadly one.

The minute she takes a call from a man named Bernie, everything changes and I mean everything.  Bernie you see has an agenda, and it’s all about revenge and Jordan is at the top of his list.

Detective Cole is at the right place at the right time, or is it the wrong time?  Once he realizes that Jordan Briggs and her entire crew are in trouble, he takes it upon himself to help.

A suspenseful, fast-paced, full roller coaster of a ride, “A Caller’s Game” kept me glued to the edge of my seat, desperate to get to the end.

The author’s note at the end is not to be missed.

A huge thank you goes to NetGalley, Hampton Creek Press, RB Media/Recorded Books and J.D. Barker for the arc.

A buddy read with Kaceey.

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. 

Kaceey’s Review:

Ready…Set…GO!

Jordan Briggs is a very controversial radio host. A rising star with a huge following.. Jordan won’t hold back! She tells it like she sees it! 

But what happens when someone calls into her show and wants to play a game? Could be fun? Higher ratings? Or… it could end up being a deadly mistake!

Right from the start, this book is nonstop action! And it doesn’t let up until the final chapter! Hold on tight because you are in for a ride!

This book would make a fabulous movie! All I needed was my 🍿 comfy chair…and 🎬

Ok, I’ll admit, some of it was a bit over the top. But it was all in good fun. JD Barker has quite the imagination and we as readers are lucky enough that he shares it with us.

Oh and make sure to read the author’s note at the end. It gave me chills!

A buddy read with Susanne.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hampton Creek Press.

Getaway by Zoje Stage #zojestage @mulhollandbooks @NetGalley #thriller #mystery #bookreviewers #bookbloggers

Kaceey’s Review:

You know how sometimes everyone just loves an author? And though you’ve had a less than stellar previous experience you jump back in because you know for sure it will work this next time. A terminal case of FOMO.  

Yes, that’s me!🙋🏻‍♀️. And as you guessed, I tried…I conquered…and no, it still didn’t work!😫

Imogen, Beck, and Tilda are about to embark on a hike of a lifetime down the Grand Canyon. Going in the off-season to ensure privacy (really didn’t know there was such a thing when it came to hiking in National Parks). A time to reflect on their lives and friendships and hopefully emerge from the canyon stronger.  

Only they realize they are not alone on this trail. Their food and belongings have been rifled through. Items critical for their survival…missing.  

Is it more unsettling not to know who’s responsible? Or come face to face with the culprit? 

The storyline was painfully slow and the first half of the book consisted of everything you ever wanted to know about hiking/camping. (Not my cup of ☕️).

Once the hike finally started and we were moving forward (excuse the pun😜). I settled in for what I hoped was going to be a good ‘ole creepy read.

Unfortunately, my eyes started rolling🙄 and didn’t stop till the end. The premise sounded so good. I really thought I was going to have an edge of my seat thriller. But these women just made one bad mistake after another and I lost all interest in their “getaway”.

If this book is on your list, I hope it works out better for you.

A buddy read with Susanne

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books.

Susanne’s Review:

No Way, No Day.

I’m all for hiking (though I wouldn’t do it in this heat!) and I love the Grand Canyon, but the decisions made by Imogen, Beck, and Tilda in Zoje Stage’s “Getaway” had me scratching my head. 

When sisters Imogen and Beck, and their friend Tilda go hiking through the Grand Canyon they expect that it will be a way for them to reconnect after growing apart.  Little do they know that they are walking into a death trap, literally. 

After a day of hiking, some of their supplies disappear.  Then, they notice someone following them. Instead of hightailing it out of there, they decide to keep at it, and that my friends, is their first mistake.  

If only I found this book to be gripping, but detailed descriptions about hiking took their toll page after page. Bad decisions thereafter, had me rolling my eyes and shaking my head.  In the end, I simply decided that I was the wrong reader for this novel.

Another buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for the arc.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter

What’s Done In Darkness by Laura McHugh @LauraSMcHugh @randomhouse #fiction #bookreview #bookblogger

Kaceey’s Review:

Do you have plans this weekend? No? Good! Because once you start this book you will not be able to put it down.

Sarabeth’s life was turned upside down when her family gave up everything from their lifestyle to their possessions and joined a very conservative church on the outskirts of small town Arkansas.

Sarabeth’s siblings all took to the new lifestyle. Homeschooled. The girls in long plain looking dresses. No internet, tv or cell phones. Of course she is rebellious. She wants her old life back. Her friends…the mall. When she finds out that her mother has picked a groom for her and she is to be married by her 18th birthday, all her plans to escape now become urgent.

But before Sarabeth’s has a chance to leave…she is abducted. Held captive for a week in a dark room chained to a wall. Then just as suddenly dumped by the side of the road. Will anyone believe what happened? Or will her family think this was just a stunt to leave the family and church?

This was a taught psychological thriller that gripped me right from the beginning. I found myself flying through it wanting to solve the mystery behind Sarabeth’s disappearance.

My only negative was the ending wrapped up a bit too quickly with a couple loose ends, otherwise I would have given this amazing thriller all five stars.

Highly recommend! Will be looking forward to more from this very talented author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing.