Review: A Gathering of Secrets (Kate Burkholder #10) by Linda Castillo

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A deadly fire exposes the dark side of Amish life in A Gathering of Secrets, a harrowing new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series by Linda Castillo.

When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead? Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

A Gathering of Secrets will be available July 10, 2018.

Sometimes when a series has been around for awhile, the characters and the stories seem to get a little stale. That is not the case with the Kate Burkholder series. We are ten books in and I still enjoy it just as much as I did the beginning of the series.

I thought A Gathering of Secrets was a very well done procedural. As with most cases, there is a lot more going on than first suspected and the case becomes really personal for Kate, reminding her of things from her past she thought she moved on from. I also thought these elements were pretty timely to what’s going on in the world today. The pace was really steady with new clues revealed in every chapter. There were a few red herrings here and there, but everything about the resolution of the mystery made sense.  I suspected so many characters and it took me about as long as it did Kate to figure things out.

There are a couple of big character developments in this book. One with a beloved side character and one with Kate and Tomasetti. One of the only things I haven’t liked about the last few books in this series is that there isn’t as much Tomasetti as in the beginning. Now that he and Kate are involved, it makes working cases together a little trickier and since the romance is not front and center his role has been reduced. While I do wish we would’ve gotten a little more of him in this installment (I will never stop wanting more Tomasetti), it made me appreciate what we did get even more. He is such a great partner for Kate and I’m looking forward to watching their relationship develop even more in future books.

Overall, I really enjoyed A Gathering of Secrets. I thought the mystery was so well done and I found the book hard to put down. The story takes place in a fictional town in a real county that’s close to where I grew up and it’s always fun to recognize the locations mentioned (this one included the venue I had my junior prom at!). I definitely recommend this series to Mystery fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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June 2018 Recap

June was a pretty good reading and blogging month for me, as you’ll see below, so I’m going to take a moment to talk about some life updates. My parents’ dissolution was completed this month. It’s been a very stressful several months and there has been a lot of changes in our family and I’m glad we can all finally move on. My mother has been staying with me, in my one bedroom apartment, for over 7 months. (I’m not sure what the qualifications are for sainthood, but I’m pretty sure I meet them haha.) She is finally going to get back to her condo soon and I think we’re both pretty pleased about that. Maybe one day I will do a whole post about the events that led up to all of this. I think it could be kind of cathartic. It’s felt like a poorly written Lifetime movie. Anyways, on to the books!

Books Read: 14

Adult: 12
YA: 2

Favorite Book I Read This Month:

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The Promise (DI Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond

  Books Reviewed: 9

The Book of Me by Peng Shepherd – 3/5 Stars

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering – 4/5 Stars

The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash – 4/5 Stars

Providence by Caroline Kepnes – 2.5/5 Stars

Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley – 2.5/5 Stars

One Small Thing by Erin Watt – 4/5 Stars

The Date by Louise Jensen – 2/5 Stars

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – 3/5 Stars

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall – 3.5/5 Stars

Books Read in 2018 Overall: 82

Funny Fridays:

I assumed you owned a bookstore.

June 8th

Blessed are the children of the bookworm for they shall inherit the books.

June 15th

June 22nd

Other Posts:

May 2018 Recap

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I’ve Given up on / Don’t Plan to Finish

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2018

Bellarke

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I’ve never been a huge fan of the show The 100, but I’ve watched it – mostly as background noise – since it’s been on. I’ve always shipped Clarke with Bellamy and that has basically been the only reason I’ve stuck with the show for so long. However, I’ve really been enjoying this season so far and decided to go back to the beginning because I don’t remember who a lot of these characters are or how they got there. Between the current season and the first couple of seasons I’ve re-watched now I’ve become, like, a #Bellarke super fan. I spent so much time on Pinterest lately looking at Bellarke pins. It’s a problem, but I can’t help myself. I ship them so hard!

Looking forward to July

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There are 2 author events I’m really excited about in July. As part of my favorite Summer tradition, Linda Castillo will be in the area for her book tour. (Look for my review of her latest book on July 2nd). She is also holding a writing seminar while she’s here that I’ve signed up for. I am also going with book buddy Amanda to see one of my favorite authors, Linwood Barclay!

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth. Read June 1-3. 3 Stars. 

I think maybe I’ve just read too many books like this lately. The writing was fine and I liked all the POVs we got, but I just didn’t really like the characters or their problems. I did like the twist. I had several guesses and none of them were right, so I’m giving an extra star for that twist.

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline. Read June 3-6. 3.5 Stars.

I liked the structuring of the novel. Chapters alternated between Noah and Maggie’s POVs and the timeline was played around with, too, very effectively. However, I just felt like for the most part the pace was very slow and once the conclusion to the trial was reached the timeline stayed more linear and it kind of threw me off. I absolutely hated Maggie, too. I just found her so unlikable. The end of the book picked up a little, but I thought the developments were kind of unbelievable. However, it was still an enjoyable book and it did have a nice twist that I was hoping for.

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Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington. Read June 9-10. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a lot more angsty and heavy at times than I was expecting, but it worked. I liked the alternating POVs and timelines and thought it was used effectively. I loved Cam. I liked Vee in the “Then”, but found her kind of hard to like in the “Now” until towards the end. I thought the romance was super cute (though angsty for awhile). I loved the reality competition show angle and would’ve liked to have seen even more of that. Overall, this was exactly the cute weekend read I wanted and I will be checking out more from Pennington in the future.

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I Think I Love You (Oxford #5) by Lauren Layne. Read June 12-14. 4 Stars. 

To be honest, the synopsis for I Think I Love You almost scared me off. Anything where the plot sounds like it’s centered around a physical relationship is not generally my thing. However, I’ve learned that when it comes to a Lauren Layne book, it’s always best to give her the benefit of the doubt and I’m once again glad I did. While there were a few of the too-graphic scenes I don’t really appreciate, there weren’t more than her other books I’ve read have had. Full Review to come next month.

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond. Read June 15-16. 4 Stars. 

Last year I read and fell in love with the DS Imogen Grey series and The Promise was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I’m so happy to report that it completely lived up to my expectations. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Other Woman by Sandie Jones. Read June 16-18. 2 Stars.

I thought the synopsis for this sounded kind of like a Lifetime movie and I was expecting a really fun, guilty-pleasure type of read. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris. Read June 20-21. 3.5 Stars. 

After all the mixed reviews I’ve seen on this, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found it really enjoyable. The short chapters and alternating timelines or POVs gave it a steady pace and helped make it a quick read. I did have a couple of theories going for awhile before I finally settled on one which ended up being right. I was ok with it, but when it came time for the explanation of how it all happened to be revealed I found myself kind of disappointed. It just seemed a little far-fetched and I thought it could have been done in a more fun-crazy way. So even though I enjoyed reading it, I have to dock a little bit of points from my rating for the ending.

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Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Read June 22-24. 2 Stars. 

Well, I really did not care for this book. Unlikable characters and an entirely predictable plot made it a struggle to complete and I wish I didn’t waste my time on it. Full review to come next month. 

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Our House by Louise Candlish. Read June 24-26. 4 Stars.

Our House is one of my most anticipated books of the summer and while it wasn’t quite what I expected, I definitely enjoyed it. Full review to come closer to release date.

********Back on the TBR********

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. My hold for this finally came in at the library, but I just never got to it before it expired.

Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

“This is simply one of the nastiest and most disturbing thrillers I’ve read in years. In short: I loved it, right down to the utterly chilling final line.” —Gillian Flynn

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

Well, this was a twisted little tale. Based off of my experience with similar books, I expected Mike to be your standard sociopath, but I didn’t really feel he was. He has some obvious mental health issues and while he did lack empathy for most people and situations, he didn’t lack ALL empathy. I mostly just felt bad for his poor, delusional life. However, I was pretty much on his side the whole time and I don’t even feel uncomfortable saying that.

I did not care for Verity at all. Never getting her POV, I’m not really sure how much of what she said was true. I think Mike read way too much into what she said and assigned meaning to her words that weren’t true, but she was still not a good person. I thought she was purposefully cruel where Mike just took all of his cues from her and didn’t seem to know better. I also thought for how well she knew him, she had to have known how some of her actions would seem to him. I kind of spent the whole book waiting for her to go down.

I felt like this book was much longer than it needed to be. Dude, we get it. You love V and you want to be with her and you’re playing an elaborate game. It just went around and around like that for far too long. Additionally, instead of traditional chapters, the story was told in three very large parts and I think that contributed to making it feel long. I did enjoy Part 3 of the book much more than the first two parts, though.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Our Kind of Cruelty, but I didn’t love it. I thought it went on a little too long and did not find the story quite as compelling as similar books. However, I did really like the final part of the story and I liked Mike. This book wouldn’t be for everyone, but there is definitely a niche audience for it that will love it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish.

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1. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard. I read the first 9 books in this series before I just couldn’t take it anymore.

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2. The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. I read the first 6 books. I read it back before I started writing reviews, so I don’t remember what my thoughts on book #6 were, but I did only give it 1 star.

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3. Eve by Anna Carey. I remember liking the first book alright, but I was just never interested enough to pick up the next book in the series.

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4. Pure by Julianna Baggott. I remember being very excited for this series and I think this one of the first ebooks I ever bought, but it was another one I just was never inspired to read the sequel for.

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5. Partials Sequence by Dan Wells. I read the first two books in this series and kind of lost interest in it. Technically the last book is still on my TBR, but I highly doubt I’ll ever get to it.

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6. The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle. I was so excited for a genre mashup of Amish and vampires, but this just fell pretty short of my expectations. Still, I think I actually started the second book once, but couldn’t get into it.

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7. Starbound series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Like everyone else at the time, I was so excited for this series. I blame the stunning cover. It ended up being way too sci-fi for my tastes at the time and although I planned on picking up the second book, it just never happened.

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8. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Another book I bought and later regretted. It seemed like I saw nothing but good things about this book and it did not live up to my expectations and I never bothered with the rest of the series. I actually just noticed there’s a 4th book in this series publishing next month.

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9. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This didn’t come close to living up to the hype. I did like the ending, though, and planned on continuing the series, but after all the mixed reviews of the second book I kept putting it off and I really don’t think I’ll every pick it back up.

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10. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. I had such high expectations of this book and it just was not my cup of tea at all. This series fell so far off my radar that I didn’t even realize the second book was published until I came across a review recently (and it’s still the only review I’ve seen on it).

Have you read any of these series? Did you finish/are still reading, or have you given up on them, too?

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Baby Teeth will be available July 17, 2018.

The hype for Baby Teeth has been building for months. It’s mostly the reason I’ve kept putting off reading this because I was afraid my expectations were too high. And while it didn’t quite live up to the hype, it was still a pretty entertaining read.

It took me a little while to get into the story. The writing style, especially when it came to Hanna’s POV, took some getting used to. But once I really got into the story and could start to appreciate what a little psycho Hanna was I started to enjoy it. I became invested in the characters and really wanted to see how it would all turn out.

While I enjoyed seeing what crazy thing Hanna would do next, I did think it dragged on a little too long. The same type of things just kept happening again and again and there was a lot of needless description. Towards the end of the book the plot really began to advance and the power struggle between mother and daughter was really compelling to me and then it just abruptly ended. The ending felt more like it was leaving things open for a sequel than properly giving any type of closure to a stand-alone story. I found it disappointing that just when I was really getting into it, it was over.

Overall, Baby Teeth was certainly an entertaining read, but fell short of the hype for me. A little steadier pace and a less abrupt ending would have made it a little better, in my opinion. I don’t know if this book would be for everyone, but I think there are a lot of people who would enjoy it. I could definitely see it becoming a fun, creepy movie.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars