Book Review: Cicada Spring by Christian Galacar

Published: March 18, 2015
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 368
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Description: On a warm May evening in the spring of 1979, the people of Heartsridge, Massachusetts, are living the American dream. Families are gathered for barbecues. Kids are playing in front yards. Gardens are being kept. 

Meanwhile, Kara Price stumbles home through the woods, raped and beaten, her life shattered by a wicked act of violence, perpetrated by one of the town’s most beloved and public figures. 

Surrounding Kara is a cast of compelling and nefarious characters—a violent-tempered mayor who can do no wrong in the eyes of the town, a sheriff bound by the rules and plagued by a guilty conscience, a father bent on revenge, a serial killer in the midst of an identity crisis. 

And at the center of it all there’s Kara, who just wants to move on with her life and forget everything that happened to her. But how can she do that when everyone thinks she is a liar who is only out for attention? 

With plot and emotion braided together by a careful hand, this haunted group of people all acting on behalf of their own interests begs the question: How far would you go to protect your own?

This was my first read by this author and Galacar did not disappoint. I feel like this author took the risk of addressing sensitive topics into his novel that most authors would decide to leave out. This story starts off with the main character, Kara Price, heading home after being a victim of sexual assault. At first, she believes that she is going to keep her attack secret but by the time she makes it home she breaks down and confides in the authorities the details of her assault. Kara’s courage to acknowledge her assault and identify the perpetrator should be a huge relief for law enforcement, but that is not the case considering whose name it is that is mentioned. 

Kara’s revelation leaves everyone shocked and doubtful: the sheriff, the deputy, the doctor, and other prominent figures of the town. It doesn’t take too long before word gets around about what has happened to Kara and citizens start to label her as a liar. As a result, Kara becomes a target for bullying and cruel comments. As Kara’s world continues to crumble, she does gain an ally in a female deputy who refuses to let Kara’s case go without justice; with her help, lies and alibis begin to unravel and the truth is brought to light by an unlikely source in an ending that won’t want to miss!

Book Review: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

Published: July 23, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Thriller
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 346
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Description: Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?

As those that follow my blog know, it is rare for me to reward a book with a five star rating. When it comes to books, there are certain factors that must be present in order to be bestowed a five star rating and here is the list:

  1. Reading speed-Did I finish this book in one sitting or less than three days?
  2. Content-Was the content engaging enough to keep me reeled in until completion?
  3. Predictability-Did I catch onto where the plot was heading?
  4. Re-Read-Would I be able to reread this book at another date?
  5. Purchase-If reading on my Kindle, would I go out and buy a physical copy because it needs to be on my shelf?

This is the first book that I have read from Michele Campbell and I know it will not be the last for me; I finished it in one sitting! This book was the perfect combination of psychological thriller and “whodunit?” The author tells the story from two perspectives: Aidan, a twenty-seven year old man who falls head over heels with a married woman after a one night stand and Caroline: a forty-two year old married woman whose marriage is falling apart and suspects that Aidan is stalking her after their brief sexual encounter. The readers are taking on the journey of hearing both characters recount memories differently from the other, which will leave readers constantly wondering who could be the true culprit when both are accused of murdering someone. Although I caught onto a part of the storyline towards the end, it still didn’t prepare me for what I would discover!

➤ I would like to take a moment and thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The One by John Marrs

Published: February 20, 2018 by Hanover Square Press

Genres: Science fiction, Suspense

Edition: E-book

Pages: 416

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Description: A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

Five reasons to read this book:

  1. This book is filled with unexpected twists; I’m not lying when I say there is a surprise within each chapter of this book. 
  2. I love how the author gives readers perspectives from five different characters. I find it rare to read a book where multiple points of views are highlighted, I personally wish there were more books like this! By allowing different insights, the readers are less likely to become bored while reading and have a better chance at coming across a character they enjoy and can relate to.
  3. This book reminded me of the episode titled Hang the DJ from the Netflix Original show, Black Mirror. In the episode, a dating system is responsible for pairing up couples and providing them with the knowledge of when their relationships will expire. If you have seen the show or this episode in particular and enjoyed it, then you should definitely give this book a read!
  4. If you are a person who likes to read the book before a show is created based off it, then you will want to be putting this book on your “to be read” list because it’s being adapted into a television series by Netflix and is expected to make its debut in January 2020.
  5. The One is the type of book that you will find impossible to put down! If you are looking for a book that is fairly short with an interesting concept that will keep you turning the pages, then this is the book for you. I rarely award books with a five star rating, so I think it’s safe to say this book definitely deserves this review and praise.

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Book Review: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

Published: February 15, 2016 by Broadway Books
Genre: Memoir
Edition: E-book
Pages: 319
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
If viewers have not noticed, I have a thing for memoirs. I personally love memoirs where the author is completely vulnerable with his/her readers and does not seem to lean towards a good or bad only perspective. For those that are unaware of the author, Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold; he is one half of the shooting duo responsible for the April 20, 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. In A Mother’s Reckoning, Sue Klebold does an exceptional job at chronicling the events from her son’s childhood up until the events of Columbine that ultimately ended with the suicide of her son. Although she is the perpetrator’s mother, she does not condone the actions of her son that resulted in the loss of thirteen lives or try to make excuses as to what may have caused him to make the decision to commit this heinous act. However, she also showcases the wonderful aspects of her son that have completely come undone due to that one fatal decision.

Sue Klebold has always kept a diary, which is the source for all the recollections she provides throughout this book. Growing up, Dylan was a normal, well-behaved child that presented no warning signs that he would mature into a person that would be capable of any act of violence upon himself or others. He always did his homework, maintained good grades, never argued with his parents, or even used profanity; he gave his parents no reason to worry. It is often that individuals assume that parents are aware that something is going on with their child and refuse to accept the signs being presented, while others seem to feel as if it is the parents who are at fault when their child demonstrates harmful, deadly behavior. Klebold shines light on the errors of this thinking; in her raw and honest style of writing, she lets readers know that it is impossible to truly know everything about your child and that you can do everything right as a parent and at the end of the day still fail.

During the last few months of Dylan’s life, he exhibited no signs of the horror that lied ahead. He maintained his usual, content self; he was partaking in normal senior activities: prom, college applications, as well as even declaring to his parents the college he wanted to attend and they even took him there for a tour! Life in the Klebold household could not have seemed happier and bright, but that quickly came crashing down on that fateful April day. Sue was at work when her husband called to let her know about the school shooting; as would any mother, she immediately thought of Dylan and how to deliver him to safety. It would only be a few hours until everything in her world came crashing down when she discovered her son was one of the members responsible. By the end of the shooting, thirteen lives were loss including Sue’s son, Dylan who ultimately committed suicide in the school’s library by gunshot wound to the left temple. 

In the aftermath of the tragedy, everything for the Klebolds started to fall apart. The community that once welcomed them with open arms now turned their backs in disgust and anguish. The public outrage led to the family’s decision to not have a funeral, but instead a small, private viewing among close family before having the body cremated. The grieving process took a toll on Klebold and her husband, which sadly led to their divorce. This experience has shaped her life into what it is today and she has spent the last two decades sharing her personal story with others in hopes to bring about more awareness towards mental health. 

In conclusion, I must say this read is definitely worth it. I rarely give books a five star rating, but this one absolutely deserves it. I hope by reading this review, you feel encouraged to give the book a chance.

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Book Review: Who Killed These Girls? by Beverly Lowry

Published: October 11, 2016 by Vintage
Genre: True Crime
Edition: E-book
Pages: 371
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Description: The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of the four girls–each one shot in the head–were found in an I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt! shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the investigation was often misdirected and after eight years only two men (then teenagers) were tried; moreover, their subsequent convictions were eventually overturned, and Austin PD detectives are still working on what is now a very cold case. Over the decades, the story has grown to include DNA technology, false confessions, and other developments facing crime and punishment in contemporary life. But this story belongs to the scores of people involved, and from them Lowry has fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel, comprehensive and thoroughly engrossing.

Five Reasons To Read This Book:
  1. Readers that enjoy true crime shows and stories will want to have this one on their “to be read” list! This book details the horrendous, quadruple murder of four female teenagers in Austin, TX, which remains unsolved to this day.
  2. The author shows off the extensive researching that she did on this case in order to publish this book. Lowry takes readers on a journey of events on the four girls’ last day alive and shares some background information on their personalities, relationships, and other critical elements that establishes a connection among those that read this book. By the end of the book, the author follows up with those that she interviewed and got to know during the making of the book. This allows readers to see what has become of the yogurt shop, the original suspects, how the families of the victims are doing, and other information that one would want to know after the aftermath of this case.
  3. This book will have readers feeling a whirlwind of emotions; shock on the total of individuals murdered and how, hatred that whoever committed these acts remains unpunished, sorrow for the victims and their families, among others. Personally, I had to take a few breaks from the book in order to process my own feelings on what I was reading; this just goes to show how awful this case was and how well the author had written it.
  4. For those that are like me, when you watch shows or read about cases that are unsolved you want to try to see if you can be the detective that catches what might have been overlooked. This book definitely educates those that read it on everything that happened that fateful night all the way up until recent years, which helps get conversations started on what might have happened, what might not have been checked out, bring about new suspects, among other useful information that can help bring closure to this case.
  5. For those that do not understand legal terms, this is the perfect book to obtain knowledge on such terminology because Lowry takes time to define those that she includes within this book. It makes for an easier reading experience and helps ensure readers are interpreting her words in the right way.

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