Category Archives: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review: Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble

Title: Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 370 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

To all my old friends:
So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he’s dead.

When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby’s whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.

Because even friends keep secrets. They just don’t stay secret for long.

Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blurb, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.

Review:

Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble is an engrossing novel of friendship and forgiveness.

Ten years after leaving Chatwick, Vermont and never returning, Ruby St. James is back for her childhood friend, Danny Deuso’s funeral. Her reunion with her best friends from childhood through high school (dubbed “the crew) is uneasy since she cut off all contact with them when she left for college in New York.  Navigating the death of their friend is already difficult, but when Danny’s mom invites the crew back to her house for a private memorial, everyone is shaken by the letter Danny left behind. From beyond the grave, he threatens to reveal their deepest darkest secrets if they do not do so themselves. Over the next few months, they each receive unnerving messages they have no doubt are from Danny which leaves them all nervously anticipating how he will destroy their lives.

Growing up, Ruby and Danny has the most in common since their home lives are so dysfunctional.  Ruby is the person Danny turns to for comfort but Murphy is the one who provides him with a safe haven. As Danny’s life slowly implodes due to his chaotic life, Ruby and Murphy become close friends who spend long hours talking on the phone. Rounding out the group are Ally, who relies on the crew for support after her life is upended, Emmett, the serious friend who walks the straight and narrow and Aaron who becoms a defacto member after he and Ally begin dating.

Despite how closely intertwined their lives were back then, each of them have secrets that have been kept hidden from one another. Danny leaves each of his friends an envelope with their secret that he expects them to reveal. He also leaves a legacy of guilt for members of the crew since, in his opinion, they all failed him when he needed their help.

A series of flashbacks provide an insightful and thought-provoking view of their friendships and their lives. The secrets they are each keeping are cleverly concealed despite these peeks into the past and the suspense surrounding what they are hiding is propels the storyline.

A riveting debut, Friends and Other Liars is an intriguing novel that has a wonderfully unique premise. The characters are multi-layered and well-developed. Kaela Coble does a brilliant job keeping each of the secrets under wraps until the novel’s emotionally satisfying and cathartic conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Friends and Liars, Kaela Coble, Rated B+, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark

Review: Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis

Title: Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis
Ryan DeMarco Mystery Series Book Two
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

When long-buried secrets come back to the surface…

The bones of seven young girls, picked clean and carefully preserved, discovered years ago… that’s all Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows about the unsolved crime he has unwittingly been roped into investigating during what is supposed to be a healing road trip with his new love, Jayme.

DeMarco is still reeling from the case that led to death of his best friend months ago and wants nothing more than to lay low. Unfortunately, the small southern town of Jayme’s idyllic youth is not exactly a place that lets strangers go unnoticed—especially strangers who have a history of solving violent crimes. And if there’s anything DeMarco knows, it’s that a killer always leaves clues behind, just waiting for the right person to come along and put all the pieces together…

Walking the Bones is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies. Acclaimed author Randall Silvis delivers another heart-stopping investigation as DeMarco finds himself once again drawn into a case that will demand more of himself than he may be willing to give.

Review:

In Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis, the discovery of the bones of seven murdered young women is a fascinating mystery that has been impossible to solve for the past few years. In this second installment in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series, Ryan and his girlfriend (and fellow state trooper) Jayme Matson agree to give the case a second look during their stay in Aberdeen, KY.

Still haunted by the death of his baby son several years earlier and struggling to cope with the death of his close friend, Thomas Huston, Ryan is ready to retire from Pennsylvania State Troopers.  Jayme and their boss know he will regret the decision, so they come up with a plan for Ryan to take some time off before his retirement becomes official. While traveling together in their recently purchased RV, Jayme receives word her beloved grandmother has passed away so the couple heads to Aberdeen for her funeral. Not long after their arrival, Dr. Hoyle, Rosemary Toomey and David Vicente appeal to DeMarco to investigate the still unsolved murders of the girls whose remains were found behind a false wall in a local church. Will Ryan and Jayme be able to uncover the identity of their killer?

Hoyle, Rosemary and David have worked hard to solve the murders but they have run into dead ends at every turn. Their main suspects are Eli Royce, Aaron Henry, Chad McGintey and Virgil Helm. Royce is the pastor of the church where they remains were discovered and he has since moved out of state and now leads a mega church that is quite prosperous. Aaron is a former teacher who is a convicted child molester. Chad is a white supremacist who was once employed as handyman at the church where the remains  were found. Virgil also worked at the church and no one has seen him since he disappeared right before the bones were discovered.  With high hopes that Ryan and Jayme can figure out which of the four is the young women’s killer, Holye, Rosemary and David turn all of their files over to the couple.

Although they have their doubts they can achieve what no other law enforcement agency has yet to accomplish, DeMarco and Matson methodically review the information and then proceed with their investigation. They re-interview Royce, McGintey and Henry and begin searching the still missing Helm. Their investigation yields a few new clues but will these discoveries be enough to unmask the killer? Can Ryan and Jayme track down Virgil? And if so, will he have new information that will help them crack the case?

Interspersed with the chapters detailing the investigation are flashbacks to Ryan’s childhood. These memories are quite informative and provide valuable insight into what shaped him into the man he is today. As he becomes more aware of how deeply the events of his childhood continue to affect him, he gradually realizes he is in danger of repeating the past. DeMarco also continues to wrestle with the longstanding guilt from his son’s death and by novel’s end, he is much closer to coming to terms with his loss. Ryan also begins to admit the depth of his emotions for Jayme but before their relationship can move forward, he must deal with his still unresolved marriage to his son’s mother, Laraine.

Despite the confusing weaving back and forth in time in the first several chapters, Walking the Bones is a fast-paced and compelling murder investigation. Jayme and Ryan are complex characters with realistic and easy to relate to strengths and weaknesses. Their investigation into who might have murdered the seven young women is interesting but readers will have to be patient as DeMarco and Matson meticulously unravel the threads of the perplexing case. Randall Silvis takes the story in a very unexpected direction and the truth about who killed the girls and how their remains ended up in the church is somewhat shocking. Old and new fans of the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series will enjoy this newest installment which features a very intrepid crime solving duo.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Randall Silvis, Rated B+, Review, Ryan DeMarco Mystery Series, Sourcebooks Landmark, Suspense, Walking the Bones

Review: The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph

Title: The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 338 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A bone-chilling novel about a woman found holding a hunting knife, covered in blood that is not her own, who communicates with a single, ominous drawing, and the man who must get inside her head to solve a mystery without a crime.

Detective Steven Paul has had the same nightmare for as long as he can remember, a strange symbol figuring prominently into his terror. He decided long ago that the recurring dreams are nothing more than an unfortunate side effect of his often traumatic profession. Until, that is, he’s assigned to the case of Emily Lindsey, the beautiful, elusive, and controversial blogger found alone, who can’t possibly know the symbol from his nightmares… unless she does.

Review:

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph is an enthralling mystery about popular blogger Emily Lindsey who is found covered in blood yet she has no injuries.  Clearly traumatized, she remains in the hospital with her husband by her side as detectives Steven Paul and his partner Gayla Ocasio are assigned to the case.

Due to his worsening nightmares and horrifying visions, Steven is in danger of losing his job following his involvement in an incident with a bank robber. Undergoing department ordered counseling, he continues his lifelong habit of keeping his problems to himself. When he and Gayla meet Emily at the hospital, she is unresponsive to their questions and Steven is taken aback to learn his name was discovered in her possession. Immediately following their meeting, Emily begins drawing a symbol that is all too familiar to Steven since he has been seeing it in his nightmares. Delving into her blog, he and Gayla find a starting point for their investigation, but they continue to hit a brick wall when trying to trace her movements prior to her admittance to the hospital.

The chapters alternate between the investigation in the present and a group of five children who are appear to be involved in some type of cult. One of the children, Jack, is trying to find out what happened to his mother, who disappeared without a trace a couple of years earlier. Her disappearance is somehow connected to the mysterious happenings that occur every year on June 2nd. The chapters devoted to this part of the storyline follow the children and their efforts to devise a plan to sneak into the upcoming secret June 2nd meeting.

In the present, Steven and Gayla are frustrated by the lack of progress on Emily’s case. Steven is also struggling to keep his nightmares and visions at bay amid concerns that Gayla will tell his therapist about his ongoing problems. Their investigation about what happened to Emily moves in fits and starts as they continue to run into dead ends. Steven is bothered by some inconsistencies he uncovers and he is also troubled by a mysterious man who keeps turning up at odd times. Their lead from Emily’s blog is initially promising but will it hold up under closer scrutiny?

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Jospeh is a fast-paced and intriguing mystery. The story weaves seamlessly back and forth in time but it is initially impossible to understand how the two storylines will eventually intersect. The novel comes to a twist-filled and exciting conclusion that satisfactorily brings the divergent story arcs together. All in all, a compelling police procedural that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Nic Joseph, Rated B+, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark, Suspense, The Last Day of Emily Lindsey

Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

Title: If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

He’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn

Sadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That’s long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby.

Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out.  When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline…if she can just figure out how to use it.

This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Review:

If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss is a gritty yet incredibly poignant character study of Appalachian life. With most of chapters written from different characters’ points of view,  this debut novel offers an in-depth peek into the various people living in the fictional town of Baines Creek, NC.

The starting point of the story is pregnant Sadie Blue and her brand-new marriage to Roy Tupkin. Taken in by the charm that belies his true nature, Sadie discovers the violent truth about her husband right away as he takes his frustrations out on her with shocking brutality. Her Granny Gladys Hicks offers no help other than a temporary place to stay but Sadie does find warmth and compassion with her Granny’s neighbor and friend Marris Jones.  Hope for her future arrives with outsider Kate Shaw, the town’s new teacher and Sadie eagerly accepts the newcomer’s offer to teach her to read.

The fictional town of Baines Creek serves as a character in the story as well as the novel’s setting. These small, rural towns tend to be extremely insular where everyone knows each other’s business and gossip abounds. Despite this knowledge about both the good and bad things that are occuring in their neighbor’s lives, the prevailing attitude tends to be more of a live and let live as friends and family turn a blind eye to abuse and criminal activity. The perfect example of this is Sadie’s situation with Roy.  There is not a single person in Baines Creek who is unaware he is beating her but, with very few exceptions, no one steps in to help her. Yet if an outsider tries to intervene, the townspeople immediately close ranks in order to protect the person under threat. They are also quick to rally around one another when disaster strikes.

There is also an underlying sense of inevitability and hopelessness within families. This is certainly the case with Sadie’s Granny Gladys.  She has firsthand experience with her granddaughter’s situation, yet she never extends her a helping hand. When Gladys is confronted with Sadie’s bruises and beaten down countenance, there is a pervasive sense of “you’ve made your bed and now you must lie in it”. Gladys remains passive and without empathy for Sadie’s plight as she fails to even bring up Roy’s abusive treatment of her pregnant granddaughter.

For much of the novel, readers have no idea when the story is taking place. This omission feels deliberate since an exact time period is somewhat irrelevant due to the fact time tends to stand still in rural or isolated areas such as Baines Creek. A few clues are dropped as the story unfolds that are helpful in narrowing down an approximate year but this sense of timelessness remains even after the specific time frame is eventually revealed.

If the Creek Don’t Rise is a heartbreaking yet occasionally uplifting debut from Leah Weiss . This deeply affecting novel is a compelling and sometimes stark portrayal of Appalachian life. The story comes a somewhat abrupt but immensely satisfying conclusion and readers will revel in the healthy dose of poetic justice that is served to those who so richly deserve it.

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Filed under If the Creek Don't Rise, Leah Weiss, Literary Fiction, Rated B+, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark

Review: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

Title: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In this powerful, affecting debut, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.

Review:

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan is an intriguing novel about a young woman who is haunted by the death of her best friend ten years earlier.

Although Julie Portland managed to escape from the small southern town where she grew up, she  is still haunted by the death of her best friend Reba McLeod. While the events surrounding Reba’s fateful fall from a bridge are hazy, Julie is certain she is responsible for her friend’s death. Haunted by her memories, she is barely getting by as she raises her five her old daughter, Beck, in New York City. When Reba’s former boyfriend August Elliott tracks Julie down and begs her to return to Lawrence Mill, Mississippi to find Reba’s diary, she reluctantly agrees to his plan. Will finding Reba’s long lost diary provide Julie and August the answers they both need to finally lay the ghosts of their pasts to rest?

Best friends from the moment they met when they were five years old, Julie and Reba are thick as thieves until their senior year in high school. The two begin growing apart soon after the school year starts and Julie begins practicing for an upcoming play. Reba continues working in the local flower shop where she meets newcomer August Elliot. Immediately attracted to the young man, the two begin secretly dating since Reba’s bigoted father will not approve of his daughter having an African American boyfriend.

Julie knows that Reba is keeping a secret from her and after she sees her leaving her cousin Toby’s bedroom late one night, she is stunned by his revelation.  Julie and Reba have a huge fight over this disclosure and although they finally make up, things are not quite the same between them. Reba’s behavior is completely out of character and Julie wants to get to the bottom of what is happening with her best friend.  However, before she can uncover the truth, Reba is dead and soon after, Julie leaves for college.

Julie and August’s return to Lawrence Mill quickly resurrects their unsettled feelings about the events leading up to Reba’s tragic death. Despite repeated warnings to leave the past alone, Julie finally locates Reba’s diary.  The diary entries are somewhat shocking since Reba wrote detailed accounts of exactly what she doing in the months before falling from bridge. Both Julie and August are stunned to discover the truth about Reba but will this newfound knowledge help them come to terms with the demons that have plagued them for so long?

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan is a captivating novel of healing and redemption.  Written from multiple points of view (including Reba’s diary entries), the story unfolds in a leisurely fashion that quite is riveting. With unexpected twists and turns, this well-written, suspenseful read comes to a completely satisfying and somewhat surprising conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Haley Harrigan, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Secrets of Southern Girls, Sourcebooks Landmark, Women's Fiction

Review: Murder between the Lines by Radha Vatsal

Title: Murder between the Lines by Radha Vatsal
Kitty Weeks Mystery Series Book Two
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Intrepid journalist Kitty Weeks returns in the second book in this acclaimed WW1-era historical mystery series to investigate the death of a boarding school student.

When Kitty’s latest assignment for the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page takes her to Westfield Hall, she expects to find an orderly establishment teaching French and dancing-but there’s more going on at the school than initially meets the eye.

Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctor’s proclaim that the girl’s sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn’t so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario-a murder that may involve Elspeth’s scientist father and a new invention by a man named Thomas Edison.

Review:

Murder between the Lines is the second intriguing installment in Radha Vatsal’s fantastic Kitty Weeks Mystery series.

Nineteen year old Capability “Kitty” Weeks is still writing articles for the Ladies Page of the New York Sentinel.  During her interview for her latest assignment, she is delighted to meet a Elspeth Bright, a highly intelligent young woman who has dreams of pursuing a degree as a scientist after she completes her studies at Westfield Hall. Kitty agrees to meet Elspeth away from the school but their discussion is interrupted by a nosy neighbor. Before they can talk again, Kitty is stunned to discover Elspeth died under tragic circumstances. Suspicious Elspeth’s death was no accident, Kitty is quick to agree to the Brights’ request she look into what was troubling their daughter before her death.

Kitty is trying to make her way in the world at a time when women have very few rights. She continues to live with her father but she is growing a little weary of how overprotective he is as she tries to look into Elspeth’s death. She is also shaping  her own opinions as she is exposed to the various issues of the time period, the most important of which is the Suffrage movement.  Delighted that her editor Helena Busby is becoming a little more open to allowing her and her co-worker Jeannie Williams to cover more controversial (for the time period) topics for the Ladies Page, Kitty works on her assignments in between her investigation into Elspeth’s death.

Kitty’s investigation into Elspeth’s death takes her down some very unexpected avenues of inquiry. She is surprised to learn Elspeth was working on a project involving batteries and their use in submarine warfare. She is also rather curious about Elspeth’s relationship with her father’s former assistant Phillip Emerson. Was Elspeth’s death nothing more than a tragic accident related to her sleepwalking? Or is there a more sinister reason for her untimely death?

Set in late 1915 and early 1916, Murder between the Lines is an extremely clever mystery that is quite engrossing. Kitty is fantastic lead protagonist and Radha Vatsal’s impeccable research brings the time period vibrantly to life.  The investigation into Elspeth’s puzzling death takes a very unexpected turn and Kitty discovers that life is not always black and white.  A wonderful addition to the Kitty Weeks Mystery series that readers of amateur sleuths and history buffs are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Historical, Kitty Weeks Mystery Series, Murder between the Lines, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark