2019 Book 134: THE SECRETS WE BURY by Debra Webb

The Secrets We Bury (The Undertaker’s Daughter #1) by Debra Webb
ISBN: 9780778308300 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488085796 (ebook)
ASIN: B07FD8WBP7 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Nothing stays buried forever…

Doctor Rowan Dupont knows death. She grew up surrounded by it in her family’s Victorian funeral home, and it’s haunted her since the day her twin sister drowned years ago. Between her mother’s subsequent suicide and the recent murder of her father, coming home to run the funeral home feels fitting—even if it leaves her vulnerable to an obsessive serial killer.

Rowan refuses to let fear keep her from honoring her family. But the more time she spends back in Winchester, Tennessee, the more she finds herself questioning what really happened that fateful summer. Had her sister’s death truly been an accident? And what pushed their mother to take her own life? The dark lake surrounding Rowan’s hometown holds as many secrets as the bodies that float in its chilling depths. But Rowan is running out of time if she’s going to uncover the truth before somebody sinks her for good.

Dr. Rowan DuPont is a forensic psychiatrist. She was once well respected by law enforcement and thought her career was beneficial. After her father was murdered by her longtime mentor she is questioning all that she’s ever known. She leaves Nashville behind and returns to her hometown of Winchester, Tennesse and takes over the family mortuary business. Rowan’s life has been filled with heartbreak, beginning with the drowning death of her twin sister when she was twelve. This was followed only a few months later by her mother’s suicide. Rowan even attempted suicide a couple of times during her youth, but the only ones that know that secret are her father, her mentor and former psychiatrist, Dr. Julian Addington, and her childhood friend, Billy Brannigan, who’s now chief of police in Winchester. During one of Rowan’s waterfront walks near the place of her sister’s drowning, she discovers bones of a teenaged girl. The bones are eventually linked to a missing teenager from California, Dr. Julian Addington, and Rowan’s deceased twin sister Raven. Adding to the drama of Rowan’s return is her discovery that one of the bodies in the mortuary may not have died of a fall as initially expected. This sleepy small town is now dealing with murder after murder and all are linked to Dr. Julian Addington and his quest to torment Rowan. Can Rowan and Billy uncover all the secrets her family tried to keep hidden all those years ago before it’s too late?

The Secrets We Bury by Debra Webb is the first installment in the Undertaker’s Daughter series and it starts off with a bang, figuratively speaking. Rowan is dealing with the psychological torment of someone that knows all of her secrets and even worse, he knows many of the secrets kept by her parents that she was completely unaware of until now. Rowan feels as if she’s unraveling as she tries to figure out what happened in the past along with what’s currently happening. Yes, there’s a lot going on in this story and there’s no way I can tell you everything without massive spoilers. If you’re into suspense thrillers or psychological suspense reads, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Secrets We Bury. If you’ve read anything by Debra Webb in the past, then you’re familiar with her writings and you’ve probably already got this book on your TBR list and a copy on pre-order. If you haven’t read anything by this author in the past, then I suggest you grab a copy of The Secrets We Bury and then you can enjoy reading her backlist while you wait for the next installment in this series. I enjoyed The Secrets We Bury and can’t wait to read the next book to see what happens next with Rowan and Billy.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Secrets We Bury

The Secrets We Bury


2019 Book 133: THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Result (Don Tillman Book 3) by Graeme Simsion
ISBN: 9781925773811 (hardcover – May 28, 2019)
ISBN: 9781925773828 (trade paperback – May 28, 2019)
ISBN: 9781925774580 (ebook – February 5, 2019)
ASIN: B07KRNFGJD (Kindle edition – May 28, 2019)
Publisher: Text Publishing

I was standing on one leg shucking oysters when the problems began…

Don and Rosie are back in Melbourne after a decade in New York, and they’re about to face their most important project.

Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school: his teachers say he isn’t fitting in with the other kids. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards.

For Don Tillman, geneticist and World’s Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new.

It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity.

And opening a cocktail bar.

Hilarious and thought-provoking, with a brilliant cast of characters and an ending that will have readers cheering for joy, The Rosie Result is the triumphant final installment of the internationally bestselling series that began with The Rosie Project.

We were first introduced to Rosie Jarman and Don Tillman in the delightful The Rosie Project. Rosie was a psychology doctoral student in search of her biological father and Don was a research professor in search of a wife. I won’t go into all of the amazing details of their relationship, but let’s just say it was fraught with comedic errors, mostly unintentional. By the end of the book, Don had proposed marriage and Rosie accepted. In the second book in this series, The Rosie Effect, Don and Rosie are living in the United States. Don is working in research at Columbia University and Rosie is finishing her doctorate and just entering medical school when she learns she’s pregnant. Again, errors of omission and commission occur and their relationship flounders for a while before they regain their footing and have their baby, a son named Hudson. 

Fast-forward eleven years and the Tillman family has moved back to Australia from New York City. Don has become embroiled in a racist stereotype brouhaha at his college, which was definitely not his intention, but in this era of social media and judge first and ask questions later, the school can’t be seen as insensitive. As a result of this incident, Don takes a sabbatical and decides to become the primary carer for his son. Rosie is also going through some political machinations at her job and feels torn between her responsibilities to her son and those of a job that she feels is important. Hudson, on the other hand, didn’t want to leave New York, is dealing with the death of a grandparent and also somewhat of a social outcast at his new school. Don sees parallels between Hudson’s school life and his own tortured school life and tries his best to provide advice, all the while avoiding a psychological diagnosis of Asperger’s, Autistic, or Neuro-atypical for his child. Don and Rosie are also working together to get a new business off the ground, a bar. Don is used to solving problems but is having difficulty solving the problems his son is facing, as well as facing the reality of his own possibly diagnosis of Asperger’s, along with new business woes, his wife’s job issues, and more. Can Don, Rosie, and Hudson successfully navigate a society that wants to diagnose and often ostracize anyone that is slightly different? 

The Rosie Result is the third book in the Don Tillman series by Graeme Simsion. I considered it to be a fast-paced and thoroughly engaging read. As with the previous books in this series, Mr. Simsion deals with relationship dynamics in a realistic manner, that is sometimes painful and sometimes quite humorous (just like life). I enjoyed getting to know Don’s family a bit better in this book, along with Rosie’s father. Don and Rosie’s friends from New York, Sonia and Dave along with their children, move to Australia for work. We even get to see the grown-up Carl and Eugenie, along with their parents Gene and Claudia. George the drummer even makes a token appearance. This story includes a wide variety of topics, including domestic violence, anti-vaxxers, the rights of children to medical care against parental wishes, well-meaning school personnel wishing to pigeon-hole children with a blanket diagnosis if they’re just a little bit different, dying wishes, acceptance for who and what people are without judgment, and lots of family drama. It’s been interesting to watch Don and Rosie’s relationship develop and change over these three books and I loved the incorporation of their son and his drama in this third book. If you’ve already read The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect I probably don’t have to tell you to grab a copy of The Rosie Result to read as it’s most likely already on your TBR list. If you haven’t already read The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, first where have you been for the past few years?!, and second, go grab copies and read them ASAP! After you’ve successfully read those two books, you’re now ready for The Rosie Result. I encourage you to take a few weekends to enjoy these books or set the three books aside for your vacation reading. Seriously, if you haven’t read these books, get your copies and start reading. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I consider The Rosie Result to be a must read book and this entire series to be a must read series. (And yes, I reread the first two books before I read the third one. I’ll probably reread all three books at some later this year simply because I enjoyed them all so much.) All I can say at this point is thank you Mr. Simsion for hours of reading pleasure with the Don Tillman series. I’m going to miss Rosie, Don, Hudson, and their friends and family.   

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Rosie Result

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The Rosie Result

Character Guest Post: CAUGHT UP IN IT by David Burnsworth

Caught Up In It by David Burnsworth

Hello, my bookish peeps. For those of you that celebrated Easter and Passover, I hope you had wonderful holidays. For those of you that don’t celebrate, I hope you had a pleasant weekend. I’m super-excited to welcome today’s guest, as he takes a moment and steps off the pages of Caught Up In It by David Burnsworth, the latest in the Blu Carraway Mystery series. Please welcome Blu Carraway as he tells us a bit about himself and the other Charleston (the one further south than the one I reside in here in West Virginia 😉). 

My name’s Blu Carraway and I run a private investigation agency in South Carolina in a little city called Charleston. I’m guessing most of you have visited my locale or are at least planning on it. The fact that it’s a popular vacation destination does help my business.

I live on a small barrier island just south of the city along with a small herd of Carolina Marsh Tackey horses who are convinced it’s theirs and only barely tolerate my presence. Except that two of them, named Dink and Doofus, who hit up all visitors for treats upon getting out of their cars. I’m not excluded and I live there for Pete’s sake. My grandfather bought the nine acres (measured at low tide) and I inherited it when my parents retired and decided to travel the world.

My daughter Hope manages the business side of things. Barely in her twenties, she helped double the accounts receivable in six months she’s that good. All I can say is she got her mother’s face, and not mine thank God, and a calmness I’m not so sure came from either of us. I’m almost twenty years divorced and don’t ever want to see Hope’s mother again if I can help it.

My business partner, Mick Crome, drinks too much and gets into too many fights. And he kills people, only some of which I know about. But, we’ve been blood brothers since Desert Storm. I only wish he’d make better choices.

The jobs we take are simple. We pride ourselves that we don’t shy away from violence and enjoy private security gigs as much as finding some socialite’s missing spoiled brat (which you can read about in my first adventure, In It For the Money, from 2017.)

This morning, I got up, drank my usual two glasses of iced coffee, and went to the gym for a hedonistic workout routine with two meatheads who seem to enjoy piling on the reps. After a quick shower, I checked in with my daughter—I mean office manager—since I’m between jobs. My partner was already on the job, working background for a security gig we have booked for later in the week and complaining because I wasn’t at work yet. Never mind that he once dropped out for three years, leaving me holding the bag on a huge mound of debt. But that’s another story.

Tonight I’ll have dinner with my girlfriend Tess and she’ll give me another slice of her twenty-year-younger-than-me insight of the world and I’ll eat it up.

Things could be worse, like having to work a real job. Instead, I live in the best place on earth. If only I could keep Crome from shooting someone else. Then I’d be in high cotton.

Author Bio:

David Burnsworth

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

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Caught Up In It

by David Burnsworth

on Tour April 22 – May 25, 2019


Caught Up In It by David Burnsworth

The award-winning diva, C, has got a big problem: someone wants her dead. A team of mercenaries attempts to gun her down in Kuala Lumpur. Lucky for her, Lowcountry Private Investigator, Blu Carraway, is already on the job there for a different client. Double-lucky for C, they make their move when she’s chit-chatting with him in a bar. Unlucky for the mercenaries, four of them end up dead. The hunt is on now for the mega-pop star. Where does she go to hide out? The sleepy islands around Charleston, South Carolina — Blu’s backyard. He’s already proven himself once, so C hires the Blu Carraway Investigation Agency to protect her for real. The job takes Blu halfway around the world and several cities in between. The search for the truth reveals what could drive a person to want someone else dead. And Blu Carraway ends up right in the way.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Number of Pages: 285
ISBN: 9781635114751
Series: Blu Carraway Mystery #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Burnsworth. There will be 6 giveaway winners. There will be 1 Grand Prize winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. There will be 5 2nd Prize winners of one (1) Print or eBook Edition of Caught Up In It by David Burnsworth (US Mailing Addresses only). The giveaway begins on April 22, 2019, and runs through May 26, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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2019 Book 122: THE BETTER SISTER by Alafair Burke

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
ISBN: 9780062853370 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062853356 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062895264 (audiobook)
ASIN: B078R4J4SY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 16, 2019 
Publisher: Harper Books

From Alafair Burke—New York Times bestselling author of the runaway hit, The Wife—comes another twisty tale of domestic noir. When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.

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Chloe Taylor might have been the younger Taylor sister, but she’s also the one that seemed to have more drive and ambition. She’s also the sister that went to college, moved away from home, and became a successful journalist. Her older sister, Nicky, always seemed to struggle with relationships and following through with pretty much everything including jobs. It wasn’t until Nicky began her relationship with Adam Macintosh that she began to settle down. She married and quickly had a child. Then her life began to unravel and Adam turned to Chloe for assistance. Although Chloe lived several hundred miles away, she wanted to be there for her sister and her brother-in-law, but when tragedy struck everyone felt that Ethan’s best interest had to come first. Adam wound up divorcing Nicky, obtaining sole custody, and staying in Ohio for several years afterward before relocating to New York. It wasn’t until Adam and Ethan moved to New York that Chloe became a central part of their lives and before you knew it, Chloe was married to her ex-brother-in-law and stepmother to her biological nephew. 

Fast forward a dozen years and Chloe is now a successful journalist and publisher with a book deal. She is well-respected in her industry and is considered to be an integral media spokesperson for the #MeToo and #ThemToo movements. Her marriage to Adam seems idyllic. She has a husband she loves, a child she adores, and a job that is incredibly rewarding. Shortly after receiving an industry award, Chloe, Adam, and Ethan plan to spend a weekend away from New York City and go to their second home in East Hampton. Ethan spends the night with a friend. Chloe spends the evening at a party to celebrate her award and Adam opts to spend a quiet night at home. Sadly, that quiet night at home ends with Chloe finding Adam’s murdered body. The police investigate and quickly turn their sights to Chloe and then to Ethan. It seems the idyllic family that Chloe liked to portray in public wasn’t so idyllic. Chloe may not know much, but she knows she didn’t kill her husband and she also knows that Ethan didn’t murder his father, but who did? Since Chloe is only Ethan’s stepmother and aunt, she has no legal rights and Nicky returns to the picture. Amazingly, she provides support to both Ethan and Chloe while they wait for the trial to begin and during the trial. Can these two sisters repair their relationship while fighting for the life and freedom of their shared son? Will they ever uncover the real identity of Adam’s murderer?

I found The Better Sister to be a riveting psychological suspense thriller. In addition to the murder, there is adultery, emotional and physical abuse, gaslighting, illegal corporate shenanigans, and tons of family angst and drama. Yes, there are several twists and turns in the story and the author keeps you guessing as to whodunit until the final reveal. Are there bad guys? Yes and no. (Trust me, that answer makes a lot of sense once you read the book.) None of the primary characters are what they appear to be initially. Chloe is not as laid back and easy going as she would have everyone believe. Her marriage to Adam is nowhere near perfect. Adam wasn’t happy in his job and had severe anger and control issues (still not an excuse to be murdered). Ethan is caught not just between two parents, but between three and is struggling to hang tough and please them all as best he can and ends up arrested and on trial accused of murdering his own father because of his desire to please everyone. Nicky isn’t quite the trainwreck she was thought to be. The Better Sister seems to go out of its way in letting the reader know there are often more than two sides to a story and just because one side seems more plausible than another doesn’t make it the right side. Truth is often stranger than fiction and Chloe, Nicky, and Ethan seem to have a lot of difficulty in dealing with the truth until their backs are pushed against the proverbial wall. Although there is a lot going on in this story, the three main characters are inextricably linked together and it’s only when they realize that together they are stronger that they rise above their problems and begin to survive. Does Ethan get out of jail? Do they ever find the real murderer? What exactly are the corporate shenanigans? Who was committing adultery? Who was the abuser and who was getting abused? Who was gaslighting whom? Which sister is The Better Sister? Read the book to find out for yourself!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Read an excerpt from The Better Sister here. 

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Book Spotlight: LAW AND ADDICTION by Mike Papantonio

Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
ISBN: 9781939116468 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781982652968 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07MX8LPY3 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Waterside Productions

One week before Jake Rutledge is scheduled to graduate from law school, he receives the devastating news of the death of his fraternal twin, Blake. What makes this death even more terrible for Jake is that his brother died of a drug overdose. Until hearing of his death, Jake had no idea his brother was even using drugs.

When Jake returns home to Oakley, West Virginia, he takes a hard look at the circumstances of his brother’s death. In the five years Jake has been away for his schooling, his hometown has drastically changed. Because of the opioid epidemic, and the blight it has brought, many now call Oakley Zombieland. Jake can see how his town’s demise parallels his brother’s.

Undeterred, the newly minted lawyer takes on the entrenched powers by filing two lawsuits. Jake quickly learns what happens when you upset a hornet’s nest. The young attorney might be wet behind the ears, but is sure there is no lawyer that could help him more than Nick Deke Deketomis and his law firm of Bergman/Deketomis. Deke is a legendary lawyer. When he was Jake’s age he was making his name fighting Big Tobacco. Against all odds, Jake gets Nick and his firm to sign on to his case before it’s too late.

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Meet the Author

Mike Papantonio is a crusader who uses fiction to entertain and inform readers about some of the most pressing issues of our times. In each of his legal thrillers – from Law and Disorder to Law and Vengence, and now Law and Addiction – he lays bare the conspiracies and white-collar crimes that hurt ordinary Americans. A senior partner at Levin Papantonio, he’s taken on Big Pharma, tobacco companies, and the automobile industry, among others. One of the youngest trial lawyers to have been inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, Papantonio is also a distinguished media presence as one of the hosts of the syndicated Ring of Fire radio show and as the host of American Lawyer on RT America network. A skilled musician and athlete, Papantonio is based in Pensacola, Florida. To learn more, visit: www.mikepapantonio.com

This book spotlight brought to you courtesy of http://www.wesmanpr.com/” target=”new”>Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc.

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2019 Book 103: CONFESSIONS OF AN INNOCENT MAN by David R. Dow

Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow
ISBN: 9781524743888 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781524743901 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781984841865 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07FLP58RD (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Dutton Books 
Publication Date: April 9, 2019

A thrillingly suspenseful debut novel, and a fierce howl of rage that questions the true meaning of justice.

Rafael Zhettah relishes the simplicity and freedom of his life. He is the owner and head chef of a promising Houston restaurant. A pilot with open access to the boundless Texas horizon. A bachelor, content with having few personal or material attachments that ground him. Then, lightning strikes. When he finds Tieresse—billionaire, philanthropist, sophisticate, bombshell—sitting at one of his tables, he also finds his soul mate and his life starts again. And just as fast, when she is brutally murdered in their home, when he is convicted of the crime, when he is sentenced to die, it is all ripped away. But for Rafael Zhettah, death row is not the end. It is only the beginning. Now, with his recaptured freedom, he will stop at nothing to deliver justice to those who stole everything from him.

This is a heart-stoppingly suspenseful, devastating, page-turning debut novel. A thriller with a relentless grip that wants you to read it in one sitting. David R. Dow has dedicated his life to the fight against capital punishment—to righting the horrific injustices of the death penalty regime in Texas. He delivers the perfect modern parable for exploring our complex, uneasy relationships with punishment and reparation in a terribly unjust world.

Rafael Zhettah was a successful restauranteur. He wasn’t a millionaire, but he was well-off financially speaking and his restaurant was booming. He was loved and respected by his staff. Although without any close family ties in the States, he wasn’t really wanting for anything or so he thought until Tieresse walks into his restaurant. Their relationship began with Tieresse complementing the food and progressed from there. In less than a year, 37-year-old Rafael was married to the 51-year-old billionaire socialite. Their marriage was unconventional by most standards, but they were definitely devoted to one another and head-over-heels in love. And then the unspeakable happens, Tieresse is murdered. Rafael has an alibi, but his unconventional marriage is misunderstood by most, and he is considered the prime suspect. Rafael is an innocent man and trusts the judicial system until he is found guilty of a crime that he did not commit. Adding insult to injury, he is given the death penalty. Rafael then spends over five years on death row then new evidence is uncovered that could potentially exonerate him. Surely, the Supreme Court of Texas will provide a stay of execution and allow the evidence to be tested? Thankfully, the federal courts did provide a last-minute stay of execution and Rafael is completely exonerated and released from prison. Rafael has lost the love of his life, his business, his good name, and over six years of his life. He doesn’t blame his lawyers or even the jurors from his original trial for his legal debacle. He’s incredibly grateful to his legal team for all of their hard work. He does, however, harbor growing animosity toward the two judges on the Texas Supreme Court that thwarted his legal team at every turn. Can he let go of this animosity and live his life in peace or is it time to teach these judges a lesson? How far is too far when exacting revenge? 

Confessions of an Innocent Man is the first fiction book written by David R. Dow and it packs quite a punch. The author provides an interesting glimpse into the troubled legal system where a suspect is often considered guilty with little presumption of innocence rather than innocent until proven guilty. This legal thriller shines a light on the miscarriages of justice that are often perpetrated against people of color within the judicial system. This book isn’t a diatribe against the legal system. It does highlight the faults within the system, but it also highlights the things that work. Confessions of an Innocent Man is more than a story about an innocent man being railroaded on a murder charge, it’s about unconventional relationships, vengeance, reparations, and more. Yes, there’s a lot going on in this story. The reader gets a fascinating glimpse into the life of people on death row, the legal system (at least the Texas legal system) from arrest through trial and after, the emotional toll of being on death row and how inmates there are treated, the struggle to adjust after exoneration and release, in addition to witnessing the growing relationship between Tieresse and Rafael, and more. This book deals with some difficult subjects: murder, death row, abuse of prisoners, etc., but it was a compelling read. I couldn’t put the book down until I got to the end and thoroughly enjoyed it even with the dark themes. If you enjoy reading realistic fiction or legal thrillers, then I urge you to get a copy of Confessions of an Innocent Man to read. This book is one of my #mustread recommendations for the year. I look forward to reading more fiction by Mr. Dow in the future.

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the author/publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Confessions of an Innocent Man: A Novel

Confessions of an Innocent Man: A Novel

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2019 Book 102: BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by Heather Gudenkauf

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778308621 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778307730 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488095429 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488205996 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07CS5X1R7 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books 
Publication Date: April 16, 2019

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession, and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

Violet Crow and her family never intended to live in Pitch, Iowa, but their car broke down on their way to a larger town. Now, she, along with her mother and older brother, is simply trying to make the best of a bad situation in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Violet is the new girl in town and at the school and all she wants to do is fit in and get along. Jordyn Pettit wasn’t born in Pitch, but her father and grandparents were. She’s now living with her paternal grandparents and has been for the past eight years. Jordyn may not have been born in Pitch, but she is definitely the queen bee of the sixth grade. No one wants to get on her bad side because they all know that there will be repercussions, perhaps not today, or tomorrow but at some point in time. Cora Landry was born in Pitch. She was born premature, is small for her size, quiet, often nervous and anxious, and definitely doesn’t fit in. She’s the child that takes everything to heart and her feelings can be bruised quite easily. 

Cora is initially quite pleased to welcome Violet and the two quickly become friends. Violet even begins to spend afternoons and nights at the Landry home. Things are great for Cora in middle school, but they definitely take a turn for the worse when she begins to work on an “urban legend” assignment along with Violet and Jordyn for school. The assignment ends with Cora unwittingly antagonizing a friend of Jordyn’s in class followed by an argument with Jordyn and a slap in Jordyn’s face. If Cora was ostracized before that incident, her life afterward became a virtual hell. Then, several months after the classroom incident, Cora, Violet, and Jordyn seem to be getting along quite well. Plans are made for a sleepover at Cora’s house and the night ends with Cora suffering from a severe beating and stabbing, Violet being in shock, and Jordyn being evasive and defensive about what happened. Were the girls out for a random walk or were they attempting to prove/disprove a local urban legend? Was there someone else at the train depot that night or had one of the uninjured girls finally gotten the long-awaited revenge?

Before She Was Found is an unsettling read, primarily because of the subject matter, a child found beaten and stabbed and the possibility it might have happened at the hands of another child. It is also a fast-paced read with plenty of twists and turns. One minute you’ll think the culprit is suspect A and the next you’re sure it’s suspect B before deciding there’s a possibility it could be suspect C or even D. (No, I’m not going to reveal just who the suspects are…read the book!) It’s hard to imagine young twelve-year-old girls with deep, dark secrets, but the more you read, the more you realize these aren’t your typical twelve-year-old girls (or at least you’re praying that these aren’t your typical twelve-year-old girls). Throughout most of the story, it’s quite easy to sympathize with both Cora and Violet’s situation. Jordyn begins the story as a mean girl and it’s just hard to feel for her despite the circumstances. But all is not what it appears in this story and don’t be so quick to judge. (Again, I’m not going to reveal who-did-it or why, read the book!) I enjoyed the way Ms. Gudenkauf wove the history between these girls into the present situation so you’re gradually learning more and more about each girl and what brought them all to now. It isn’t until the last few pages that the author throws the reader a curve and makes you ask “why didn’t I see that coming?” I enjoyed the characters, the small town setting, and the action. There were characters I liked and characters I didn’t like and felt quite unsympathetic towards throughout. This story is about more than an urban legend or even one injured girl, it provides elements of tween angst and drama, friendship, bullying, family drama, and the lengths family will go to while trying to protect a loved one. Before She Was Found is a taut psychological suspense read that kept this reader on the proverbial edge of my seat wondering just what would happen next and why. If you enjoy reading books based on reality (think Slenderman) or suspense reads, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Before She Was Found to read. I enjoyed reading Before She Was Found and look forward to reading more from Ms. Gudenkauf in the future.

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the author/publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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