Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: The Late Show

Summary: #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly introduces Renee Ballard, a fierce young detective fighting to prove herself on the LAPD’s toughest beat–the Late Show.

Renee Ballard works the midnight shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing few, as each morning she turns everything over to the daytime units. It’s a frustrating job for a once up-and-coming detective, but it’s no accident. She’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night Ballard catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with. First, a prostitute is brutally beaten and left for dead in a parking lot. All signs point to a crime of premeditation, not passion, by someone with big evil on his mind. Then she sees a young waitress breathe her last after being caught up in a nightclub shooting. Though dubbed a peripheral victim, the waitress buys Ballard a way in, and this time she is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night.

As the investigations intertwine, Ballard is forced to face her own demons and confront a danger she could never have imagined. To find justice for these victims who can’t speak for themselves, she must put not only her career but her life on the line.

Propulsive as a jolt of adrenaline and featuring a bold and defiant new heroien, The Late Show is yet more proof that Michael Connelly is “a master of the genre” (Washington Post). -- Little Brown

One of my very favorite authors in the whole wide world is Michael Connelly. I anxiously await each of his latest novels, and I'm never, ever disappointed. His latest novel, THE LATE SHOW, once again delivers... and it introduces a new female lead! What more could a fan of his ask for?

THE LATE SHOW features Renee Ballard, a young detective who is now working the midnight shift in Hollywood -- not exactly a coveted beat. She once had a promising career as a detective, but after a sexual harassment claim against her supervisor, she was demoted to that shift. It's not a fulfilling job, so when two unique cases happen to occur under her watch, she desperately wants to follow them through until conviction.

The first case is a transgender prostitute who ends up getting almost beaten to death and then left in a parking lot. It seems like the assault was premeditated, and there are a few clues which Renee wants to pursue. Second, a waitress in a nightclub is brought to the same emergency room where Renee is with the first victim. She is barely alive after being shot, and even though she seems to be a peripheral victim, Renee is able to work her way onto the case.

Renee is supposed to turn both of these crimes over to other officers, but she's determined to keep them for herself. Acting against orders from her supervisor and advice from her partner, she works both cases during the day while also working her normal shift on "the late show." As Renee gets closer to discovering the truth, she has to confront some difficult baggage from her past. In addition, the risks she's taking to solve these crimes end up affecting not only her job but also her life!

I loved, loved, loved THE LATE SHOW. It's not really a surprise that I'm gushing over Mr. Connelly's latest novel. I always gush over his novels. But I am thrilled that he introduced a new character that is so intriguing. While Renee is very different than Harry Bosch (one of my favorite characters in fiction), she has a few things in common with him that makes her a terrific detective. She's an extremely good cop who is battling some inner demons, and she also sees herself as being in a fight against the higher ups in the force. I loved the complexity of her character, both personally and professionally; and no one does the inner struggle of cops better than Michael Connelly.

Another great thing about THE LATE SHOW are the mysteries in this novel. Renee is working two crimes and both are integral to the plot. (The poor gal doesn't sleep for pretty much the entire novel.) The assault case against the transgender was one that showed both Renee's compassion as a cop as well as her fantastic detective skills. I actually thought it was the "secondary" mystery to the novel, but it ended up providing some terrific tension towards the end of the novel. The second mystery about the nightclub shooting was Connelly at his best. This case ended up delving into squad politics and some unethical cops in the force... and I was truly surprised by the resolution!

I don't really have much more to say about THE LATE SHOW. I devoured this book despite having a crazy week, and I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries!

I received a copy of this novel from the local public library.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.
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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kid Konnection: It's Not Jack and the Beanstalk


Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you an adorable picture book that is a twist on a classic fairytale.

Summary: Jack is not fond of the bossy narrator of his fairy tale! When Jack is told to trade his beloved cow Bessie for some magic beans, throw the beans out the window, climb the ENORMOUS beanstalk that sprouts overnight, and steal from a GIANT, he decides this fairy tale is getting out of control. In fact, he doesn’t want to follow the story line at all. Who says Jack needs to enter a life of daring, thievery, and giant trickery? He takes his story into his own hands—and you’ll never guess what happens next!

With laugh-out-loud dialogue and bold, playful art (including hidden fairy tale creatures for kids to find), this Jack and the Beanstalk retelling will have children rolling with laughter till Bessie the cow comes home. -- Two Lions

IT'S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK by Josh Funk and illustrated by Edwardian Taylor is not your typical fairytale. While the book begins with the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk story, it quickly becomes apparent to the reader that this picture book is definitely "not Jack and the Beanstalk." This take on the the classic kids' story is a hilarious look at Jack's encounter with the Giant!

In IT'S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, Jack is a bit annoyed by the narrator of the story. He's a bit bossy and likes things just-so. Jack isn't so sure that he wants to obey the narrator's directions. I mean, Jack does have a point -- why would he trade his cow for some magic beans? Then, why wouldn't he just eat the beans? And finally, why in the world would he climb a huge plant?

Jack tries to change the story to better suit his needs; however, the narrator makes sure that Jack stays on track...  at least as much as he can. Jack definitely has a mind of his own, and when he eventually takes over the story, the ending is a fun and silly twist for young readers!

I laughed quite a bit while reading IT'S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. It is a very fun take on the story, and Jack is a piece of work. I think adults will definitely appreciate the humor (although some of it might fly right over younger kids heads), and elementary age children will find Jack's antics to be very silly -- especially his references to not wearing pants and toots!

I thought the way this book was presented was extremely cute. The story goes back and forth between Jack and the narrator (with a few other characters chiming in!). The narrator's voice is in traditional text, while Jack's voice is written in speech bubbles. In addition, they banter throughout the entire book reminding me a bit of a parent and child (just sayin'). Regardless of how you take it, the narrator and Jack provide some funny entertainment.

I also enjoyed the illustrations which were the perfect complement to the story. The pictues are brightly colored, and the characters have proportionately large eyes which allow the illustrator to show their feelings. All in all, they are as silly as the story!

I think   IT'S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK is a very entertaining picture book. If you'd like to learn more about the book, check out a book trailer, collector’s cards, and more at https://www.joshfunkbooks.com/stuff-for-kids.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

Thanks to the fine folks at Two Lions, I have a copy of IT'S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before Friday, October 6th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!



If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: The Trust

Summary: The newest novel from Ronald H. Balson, the international bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle's funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm. -- St. Martin's Press

I was extremely excited to see that Ronald H. Balson had a new book in his Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart series. THE TRUST is the fourth book in this series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the prior two that I've read ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS and KAROLINA'S TWINS -- you can read my review here and here. Obviously, I need to get my hands on a copy of SAVING SOPHIE because I love these characters and I love these books!

THE TRUST mainly stars Liam, although fans of Catherine will be happy to know that she does make a few cameo appearances. This novel begins when Liam learns that his Uncle Fergus back in Northern Ireland has died. Liam and his uncle have been estranged for years, but Liam decides to return home to say goodbye. Upon his arrival, he discovers that his uncle was murdered... and that he had a feeling that it would happen.

Liam isn't exactly greeted warmly by his family when he returns home. No one (minus one cousin) is happy he's there because of the huge fallout when Liam left. Imagine their reactions when they learn that Uncle Fergus left all of his assets in a trust until his killer is found... and that Liam was appointed the trustee.

In addition to dealing with many angry relatives, Liam is forced to face some baggage from his past including his relationship with his uncle, the loss of his parents, his role in a spy for the U.S. government, and even the end of an engagement. Even more important, Liam wants to get to the bottom of who is responsible for his uncle's murder. His uncle and all his brothers were heavily involved with the IRA, so Liam wonders if it could be someone with a grudge from the past?

As Liam gets more involved and closer to discovering the truth, the stakes get higher. Members of his family start getting killed -- one at a time, and even Catherine and his young son are at risk. Liam has to balance the memories of his past with the events of present day and find the killer before he loses everything!

I found THE TRUST to be a highly entertaining mystery! I honestly love Liam and Catherine and I think Mr. Balson reinforced that he knows how to weave a historical fiction mystery. In the case of the TRUST, Mr. Balson takes the reader to Northern Ireland and even back in time to when the IRA was in full force. I have always found Ireland's history to be fascinating (especially after visiting the Belfast and seeing the walls dividing the neighborhoods), so I loved the backdrop of this novel.

I also found the mystery angle of the story to be a great one. I honestly changed my mind at least ten times about who I thought was responsible for the murders. And while I'd like to say that I figured out everything before it was revealed, I'd be lying. I was on the right track, but I definitely didn't get everything right. Good thing I wasn't the one that needed to solve the mystery before my family members were all killed!

One of my favorite things about Mr. Balson's novels are the characters of Liam and Catherine. They've come a long way in four books and are now parents of a baby boy. Liam and Catherine are a fantastic couple and they definitely complement each other both personally and professionally. Even though this novel was about Liam and his Irish family, Catherine still managed to keep him or track from the States; and I love that it's her intuition that is always right!

THE TRUST really delved into Liam's past and I so appreciated learning more about him. Not only was it interesting to read about his childhood and even his years as an agent for the U.S. government in Ireland, but I found the parts about his fiancee to be enlightening too. I really felt as if the author did a terrific job in developing Liam's character, and it definitely brought this mystery to the next level for me.

I am an even bigger fan of this author and this series after reading THE TRUST. You can definitely start with the TRUST -- it does work as a stand-alone novel -- but I recommend reading the entire series. The books are a wonderful blend of historical fiction, mystery, and drama... and you don't want to miss out on them!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Best Day Ever

Summary: In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

“I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…”

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. -- Graydon House

Books like BEST DAY EVER seem to be the new rage. I have read quite a few thrillers lately about some pretty messed-up families; however, I do believe that this novel by Kaira Rouda stands out. It tells the story of one family who seemingly has it all, but underneath the surface, they are living in a nightmare of sorts.

Paul Strom has a wonderful career as an advertising executive. He lives in a grand home, is married to a beautiful woman, and has two great kids. Life should be perfect for this family, but appearances can be deceiving.

Paul's wife Mia has been sick for awhile, so Paul decides that he wants to give his wife the "best day ever" and take her on a romantic weekend to their lake house. However, as Paul and Mia are in route to their vacation home, the tension between them rises... and escalates into a shocking finale!

I have to say that I enjoyed BEST DAY EVER quite a bit. It's definitely a fast-paced psychological suspense story, and I can guarantee that Paul and Mia will remain in your thoughts for sometime. The majority of the story is told in Paul's voice, and he's a piece of work. Actually, he's a sociopath that couldn't be more selfish and horrible (although in fairness to Paul, he did have a difficult childhood.)

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this novel was how the story unfolded. The book begins with a husband and wife leaving for a romantic getaway weekend. The reader might sense that there is something brewing below the surface, but it doesn't seem all that out of the ordinary for a few chapters. As Paul tells more of his story, and becomes much more honest and forthcoming, it becomes apparent to the reader just how twisted he really is.

Mia, on the other hand, appears to be a woman who doesn't really see her husband for the horrible man he is. She's overwhelmed with her mysterious illness and parenting her two young sons, and it's almost if she doesn't have the energy or desire to see through Paul's lies. However, Mia isn't as weak as she first appeared. I don't want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that it's entirely possible that Paul has met his match with his wife!

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the pacing of the novel. Overall, I'd say that the the book was fast-paced, but about half-way through, it really took off for me. The culmination of the all that tension that was building from the first chapter just exploded. I loved how manic the story (and Paul) became, and I found the ending to be pretty darn satisfying. What I liked even more was that the ending was left a little open-ended, so I'm not entirely sure that these characters won't be back in a future book.

BEST DAY EVER is an exciting story about a husband and wife and the secrets between them. Highly recommended for fans of domestic suspense and psychological thrillers.

Thanks to the Get Red PR and Wunderkind PR for providing review copies of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Kid Konnection: Hockey Then to Wow!


Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you another great book from Sports Illustrated Kids.

Summary: Hockey: Then to WOW! shows readers how the cool sport has evolved from the early days of its 19th century origins to the game as it is today. Using NHL action photographs, illustrations, stories, and trivia, the book is a journey through time both for hockey fans and those new to the game. Kids will learn how basic equipment has changed from a ball to a puck and how the evolution of game strategy has transformed the sport, players, and equipment. Players throughout history are stacked up against each other in every position so fans can dream up the perfect fantasy team with Wayne Gretzky playing alongside Patrick Roy and Stan Mikita. A fun-filled section of the book explores everything fan culture-from the best ice rinks, to the iconic hockey sweater and the hockey haircut along with key aspects of the toughest sport around. -- Sports Illustrated Kids

Hockey has really taken off in our area in recent years. I grew up in the South and I didn't know any kids who played this sport, but it seems like it's gaining popularity every year here in Central PA. Why I enjoy watching the occasional Penn State hockey game, I don't know a heck of a lot about the sport past the basics. That's why I found SPORTS ILLUSTRATED KIDS HOCKEY THEN TO WOW! to be a great resource for me.

Of course, HOCKEY THEN TO WOW! isn't geared towards middle-aged adults, but it is a quick and fun look at the sport. It's actually aimed at kids ages nine to twelve, but I would say that kids of any age would enjoy aspects of this picture book. HOCKEY THEN TO WOW! is a terrific book that does a great job of introducing hockey to newbies.

HOCKEY THEN TO WOW! shows kids just how much hockey has changed since it was created in the early 19th century. It delves into the the rules, the equipment changes, the origins of the players, the passion of the fans, and more. This book is so interesting, not only because of what it teaches, but because it has amazing color photographs that almost pop off the page. (The creators of this book cut around the figures to give it this fun appearance!) The book also provides information in many unique ways including time lines, graphs, and charts. I love the overall look and feel of this book because it's both fun and educational!

Another great thing about HOCKEY THEN TO WOW! is that it has loads of hockey trivia. I found this part of the book to be especially interesting because I don't know much about the sport. Outside of knowing the major players and teams in hockey, I really know next to nothing. I liked seeing the various graphics about hockey player's record setting achievements, and I also appreciated learning the basic rules of the game. Kids like Booking Son who love sports history will definitely embrace the sections that provide statistics and records.

Overall, HOCKEY THEN TO WOW! is a great book to introduce hockey to kids (and some adults!). It is highly entertaining because of the way the information is presented, and it also has some fantastic full color photographs. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Booking Mamas' September Meeting

Summary: The breakout novel from the critically acclaimed author of the short story collections Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do—when a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

What happens to the girl left behind?

A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

Like Everything I Never Told You and Room, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime. It is a dark, beautifully rendered, and gripping novel about coping, about coming-of-age, and about forgiveness. It is also a beautiful illustration of how one family, broken by tragedy, finds healing. -- Simon & Schuster

Last evening, my book club met to discuss THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW by Susan Perabo. I haven't been doing these meeting recaps now that we aren't one of Book Club Girl's book club; however, this meeting was so much fun that I had to share it with you! We were fortunate enough to have the author, Susan Perabo, join us... and it was one of our best meetings in fifteen years.

Prior to the announcement that we would be reading THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW, I had already read and loved the novel -- you can read my review here. While I was under the impression that this book would be a thriller and, therefore, perfect for my Mystery Mondays feature, it was definitely more of a literary fiction book. And while it did have an element of a mystery, it was truly a look at how one family was coping with a tragedy. And a fantastic look at that!

I loved having the opportunity to talk with Susan last night about... pretty much everything. She is an professor at Dickinson College, so she's only a half hour away. I honestly wish we hadn't waited so long to invite her. She was extremely gracious, both when we complemented her and challenged her; and I appreciated her honestly. I had already loved this novel, but I appreciated it even more after hearing her thought processes for the characters and the major events in the book.

One of the highlights of the evening was learning why Susan chose to write the ending the way she did. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that some of the feedback she's received wasn't always positive. Many readers didn't appreciate that the novel wasn't tied up neatly with a big red bow. Her reasons for doing this made total sense to me, but I have a feeling that not everything was as okay with it as I was. What I do think everyone walked away with from the meeting last night was how much thought went into every decision in the novel. So even if they didn't agree, they understood and respected her artistic decisions!

Another interesting part of the evening was learning about her writing process for this novel. THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW wasn't the book that she was "supposed" to write. She actually thought she'd write one about Little League baseball and the families that are involved in the sport. (She's a huge baseball fan!) However, when she tried to write this book, she couldn't get anything down on paper. What she did feel she could write was THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW because these characters kept floating around in her mind. Once she committed to this novel and these characters, it only took her six months to write... and it obviously was meant to be!

Of course, we didn't only talk about the novel -- that wouldn't be typical of my book club. Any time you get a bunch of moms together, you always end up talking about kids and parenting. However, this fit perfectly into the discussion of this novel. The mother character in this novel, Claire, definitely is a controversial one. Ms. Perabo has received some pretty interesting feedback in criticism of her. Ironically enough, I loved her and found her to be the most realistic character in the novel -- or at least the one that resonated with me the most. Everyone in my book club agreed with me! Naturally, the discussion of Claire led to some talk about our own lives; and isn't that one of the reasons we all read and belong to book clubs? There is nothing better than reading a well-written novel, thinking about it long after we finish, and then discussing it with friends!

All in all, I had a fantastic time last night and I highly recommend reading THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW. The hardcover is available now and the paperback is coming out in the spring. There is even a reading guide with fifteen questions.

I also want to suggest that maybe your book club invite an author (in person or via Skype) to a future meeting. It's guaranteed to be a special discussion and just might give your regular monthly meetings a little boost!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: Good Me Bad Me

Summary: Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter. -- Flatiron Books

The past few weeks, I've seen the novel GOOD ME BAD ME by Ali Land popping up everywhere -- especially my Facebook feed. I was drawn to the cover, but the description made this book irresistable to me. I was a big fan of the television series Dexter, and I loved the psychological aspect of the character. I had a feeling that I'd feel the same way about this book.

GOOD ME BAD ME tells the story of Milly, a teenage girl whose mother is a serial killer. Milly saw some pretty scary things and decided that the best thing would be to turn her mother into the police. She is now living under a new identity with a foster family, but Milly is tormented because she still loves her mom.

Life isn't exactly easy for Milly despite living with a wealthy family and attending a good exclusive school. Her new "sister" is less than thrilled that she's there, and she doesn't exactly fit in with the other girls at school. As her mother's trials approaches, Milly is nervous/excited about seeing her and testifying, but she's even more worried about the girls at school discovering her identity.

As the tension in the novel ratchets up, Milly becomes more and more conflicted between the good aspect of her personality that did the right thing by turning her mother in and the bad aspect that resembles her mother.

Sounds pretty good, right? And GOOD ME BAD ME is fantastic! It's hard to believe that this novel is Ms. Land's debut. It's that good. The story is suspenseful and the writing is outstanding. There is no doubt that Ms. Land is one talented writer, and I look forward to more of her books in the future. She's definitely one to watch out for!

There are so many positive things to say about GOOD ME BAD ME, but what really stood out to me was the premise of the story. How intriguing is it to write this story from the mind of a teen-age girl who turned her mother in for being a serial killer! In addition, I was so happy that even though Milly wasn't the most reliable of narrators, I didn't feel manipulated by her like I often do.

Another fun thing about this novel was that it delved into the nature vs. nurture debate. I was attracted to that question of Millie's personality, although I'd argue that watching your mom kill little kids puts her at risk for both nature and nurture personality issues. In addition, I appreciated the wild ride of Millie's internal tug-of-war -- the struggle between being good and bad, and I loved the constant doubts about her that I had while reading this book!

And finally, I really liked Ms. Land's writing style. The book was highly readable, and that's a credit to not only the story, but the way it was told. In addition, I thought this psychological suspense novel was very smart... and gave me quite a bit to think about. One thing I definitely appreciated was how the author wove the themes of LORD OF THE FLIES into the novel. The comparison of the characters in the play with the girls in the school is extremely interesting. I also enjoyed how the author showcased that all families have secrets... even the ones that look perfect.

I probably don't even need to say this, but GOOD ME BAD ME would make a terrific book club selection. There is a reading guide with twelve intriguing questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include hereditary behavior, nature vs. nurture, second chances, family dynamics, secrets, bullying, and forgiveness.

In summary, GOOD ME BAD ME is a disturbing and suspenseful novel that entertained me from the first page. Highly recommended to fans of psychological thrillers!

I received a copy of this novel at this year's BEA.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.