A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes #BookReview

Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history is often overlooked: Gretchen is an admitted sociopath once suspected of killing her aunt. Shaughnessy still thinks Gretchen got away with murder. It’s not going to happen again.

When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself.

If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.

My thoughts on A Familiar Sight

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Non-fiction Reader Challenge 2022 Sign-up

I read a fair bit of non-fiction. But I always feel like I should be reading more. Or rather, I feel like I should read more books outside of my favourite subjects (a.k.a. the Tudors).

Which is why the 2022 non-fiction reader challenge appeals. Organised by Book’d Out the aim is to make non-fiction part of your reading life.

You set your goal by choosing the number of books you want to read and the categories you want to read from and then off you go, posting your reviews on the challenge’s main page to encourage others to read more non-fiction.

The goals are:

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My Week in Reviews: 28th November, 2021

Happy Sunday everyone! For those in the states, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. For those in the UK, I hope you weren’t too battered by Arwen. We lost our pergola but otherwise our house survived unharmed (unlike my neighbour, who lost most of her fence and a shed). I hope this isn’t a sign for things to come weather-wise…I really don’t like wind and rain!

Blog wise, I’m patting myself on the back for making it through another week of getting reviews posted regularly – I know it’s only two weeks in a row but given my track record the last few years, it’s a start. Plus, I started to get into the habit of visiting and commenting on other bloggers’ posts – I think the community is something I missed more than writing reviews.

Write I did, though. I got two reviews written and posted. First up, was These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall, which I liked but didn’t love – mainly because I couldn’t get away with the main character Mickie (she drove me potty!). Then I reviewed Americanaland by John Milward – a very different type of book as it looks at the history of Americana music, something I’ve come really enjoy over the last decade (after spending most of my life as an ‘indie kid’). It’s a really interesting book but so full of facts that I feel like I need to re-read it to get the full benefits of Milward’s knowledge.

Next up for me is A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes, and after that I’m not quite sure. I made the mistake of going onto Netgalley earlier in the week and requesting a few too many books (assuming I wouldn’t get approved for them all given how long it’s been since I’ve logged on – oh how wrong I was!) so I may need to start on at least one of those. Who knows though. One thing I’m determined to do is not get bogged down in review copies as I think that put me off reading at the start of ‘the slump’.

What about you – what are your plans, reading and otherwise, for the week?

Emma x

Joining in with the Sunday Post and Kimberly, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Americanaland by John Milward #BookReview

A musical genre forever outside the lines

With a claim on artists from Jimmie Rodgers to Jason Isbell, Americana can be hard to define, but you know it when you hear it. John Milward’s Americanaland is filled with the enduring performers and vivid stories that are at the heart of Americana. At base a hybrid of rock and country, Americana is also infused with folk, blues, R&B, bluegrass, and other types of roots music. Performers like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Gram Parsons used these ingredients to create influential music that took well-established genres down exciting new roads. The name Americana was coined in the 1990s to describe similarly inclined artists like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Wilco. Today, Brandi Carlile and I’m With Her are among the musicians carrying the genre into the twenty-first century.

Essential and engaging, Americanaland chronicles the evolution and resonance of this ever-changing amalgam of American music.

My thoughts on Americanaland…

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These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall #BookReview

A dead woman’s cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.

Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain—twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.

It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.

My thoughts on These Toxic Things

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My Week in Reviews: 21st November 2021

So the last time I did a weekly update was at Easter, when I announced I had found my blogging mojo back. I think I might have been a bit premature, though I had definitely re-found my love of reading (which is much more important to me!). Anyway, hello again…I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Mine has been really quiet so far. My husband is in the states for Thanksgiving – he’s finally getting to see his family again for the first time in over two years – so I’m a single mom for a couple of weeks. Timing wise it isn’t ideal as I’m swamped at work and trying to get read for Christmas, but I’m really glad he’s gotten to go – these last few years have made me realise just how important family is.

I have to say, his being away, also gives me more time for reading (I tend to watch less TV when I’m home alone on an evening). I have already made it through one book since he’s been gone (These Toxic Things) and am halfway through my second (Americaland). I’ve also managed to post two reviews, which seems like a nice number a week for me (more than that and I stress myself out!).

On Wednesday, I posted my review of Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll, which was an interesting idea if a little too long. Yesterday, I reviewed On Small Mistake by Dandy Smith. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a ‘hit’ for me – it was too long and I couldn’t connect with the characters. I really struggle when the central characters annoy me, and that’s what happened here. Saying that, I still gave it three stars, so it wasn’t all bad!

What about your week – has it been a bit more interesting than mine? Or have you done better with your reading choices?

Emma x

Joining in with the Sunday Post and Kimberly, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

One Small Mistake by Dandy Smith #BookReview

One small mistake. One deadly consequence.

Elodie Fray wants to be more like her perfect sister, Ada, the one her parents are actually proud of. When she decided to quit her job and pursue her dream of becoming an author, she thought it would be her time to shine, but a year on nothing has happened. And she’s getting desperate.

When Elodie makes one small mistake on a drunken night with a friend, things quickly spiral and suddenly everyone believes she has a book deal. Unable to find a way back from her little lie, her perfect dream becomes a perfect nightmare – and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Meanwhile, everything is not as it seems in Ada Archer’s perfect life. When her sister suddenly disappears, she questions everything – from her marriage, to the man who’s been charged with Elodie’s abduction. The papers say it’s him, but the more she digs into her sister’s life the less convinced she is. Ada will do anything to discover the truth, even if it kills her.

No one knows what happened to Elodie Fray, and now her only chance of survival is her sister.

My thoughts on One Small Mistake…

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Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll #BookReview

It’s their daughter’s graduation and Rachel and Ed Hartley are expecting it to be one of their family’s happiest days. But when she stumbles and falls on stage during the ceremony, a beautiful moment turns to chaos: Gemma has been shot, and just like that, she’s fighting for her life.

PI Matthew Hill is one of the first on the scene. A cryptic message Gemma received earlier in the day suggests someone close to her was about to be exposed. But who? As Matthew starts to investigate, he finds more and more layers obscuring the truth. He even begins to suspect the Hartleys are hiding something big—from him and from each other.

While Gemma lies in hospital in a coma, her would-be killer is still out there. Can Matthew unravel the family’s secrets before the attacker strikes again?

My thoughts on Her Perfect Family…

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Good as Dead by Susan Walter #BookReview

Holly Kendrick’s husband is dead. Holly saw it all. In one violent moment, a hit-and-run accident turns Holly’s life upside down. Then a fixer for the high-powered guilty party approaches Holly with an offer she is in no position to refuse. Holly and her daughter, Savannah, will want for nothing, beginning with a luxury dream house—all for the price of their silence. But when their sudden appearance in privileged Calabasas, California, piques the curiosity of neighbors, the price becomes greater than they imagined. Because Holly and Savannah aren’t the only ones in the neighborhood with something to hide.

Told from alternating points of view, Good as Dead draws together an unlikely group of people bound to one another by a crime, a cover-up, and compounding deceptions. As carefully constructed lives begin to crumble, how far will everyone be willing to go to bury the truth and protect the people they love?

My thoughts on Good As Dead

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