Author: Jason Parent
Narrator: Joe Hempel
Published: April 4, 2022
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 6-12, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
By-the-book Detective Asante Royo can only clean up Fall River’s filth for so long without getting dirty. When he’s called to an apparent suicide at an apartment complex notorious for its prostitution and drug trade, he doesn’t shed a tear for the life wasted. Yet something about the scene haunts him, and when his investigation gets swept under the rug, he has a hard time living with the stain.
Jaden Sanders is an unstable loner who lives across the hall from the crime scene. When three men break into his apartment, Jaden is ready for a fight. He kills two of his attackers in self-defense then stalks and stabs the third in the back. Jaden is soon arrested for murder.
With no clear motives for the home invasion or Jaden’s violent response, Royo must uncover the true story before more people get hurt. His only leads are derived from the version of events extracted from a truly unbalanced mind. Is Jaden a victim being steamrolled by cold justice or a murderer capable of killing again?
We have murders, an apparent suicide, and more in this police procedural/ thriller from Jason Parent. The novel starts fast and doesn’t ever really drop. First, we have a suicide and then months later in the apartment across the hall a home invasion where the victim killed his attackers. Or did they actually end up being victims themselves? We have Detective Royo who responded to both calls. We also have Jaden Sanders who lives in the apartment and defended himself… Or did he?
What seems as separate cases may actually not be and then we have a case of an unreliable narrator. Once I realized that was the case I got nervous, since those types of books are hit or miss for me. Fortunately, this one was not a miss! I was intrigued the whole time and looked forward to what was going to happen next. I was intrigued with Jaden and did he defend himself, is it some kind of mental illness or was he actually a killer? I had differing opinions throughout the read. The courtroom scenes were great! I also liked Royo and would enjoy another book with him in it.
If you like thrillers, police procedurals, court cases, then you might want to check out Unbalanced!
I was sent an audiobook copy to listen to and review from the author. Many thanks for the chance to introduce yourself to a new reader/listener!
Sister Funtime: A Smileyland Story
Author: Spencer Hamilton
Published: December 1, 2021
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
“Welcome to hell, Sister.”
Sister Mary Matthew arrives on the steps of St. Teresa’s Joyous Youths Orphanage determined to be the children’s favorite nun. But she can’t seem to win over the head of the orphanage: stern, withered Sister Agatha Eustace, whom everyone secretly calls Sister Killjoy.
Mary tries to rise to the challenge, but things at St. Teresa’s feel . . . off. A mysterious benefactor. Sick children denied medicine. A crowded cemetery. Strange noises from the basement. Cruel punishments. Terrifying dreams.
Worst of all, her prayers remain unanswered. She feels as if God has abandoned her and everyone at St. Teresa’s. Until, one full-mooned night, a voice calls to her. A voice that claims to know her heart’s desire.
Before there was Smileyland, before Mister Smiley, there was a decrepit orphanage run by an evil nun and full of children who chanted:
“Sister Funtime, Sister Funtime, Sister Funtime!”
From the author of Welcome to Smileyland and The Fear comes the new religious horror novella, the latest entry in the Smileyverse. Come on in—and don’t forget to say your prayers.
Holy cannoli! Since this is a prequel written after the initial book that I have not read, I wasn’t expecting too much. I could not have been more wrong! This book was terrifying! Just enough paranormal to keep it from being a simple gore fest, but enough gore to keep it realistic. I want so badly to read Mr. Smiley, Hamilton’s original work, but I guess I have to wait until the next printing. But I am now emotionally invested and psychologically hooked! Nuns running orphanages is one of those tropes I adore, then you add in the horror elements and I’m happy! Plus, the cover is fabulous! I definitely recommend it to all the horror fans out there!
Author: Megan Goldin
To Be Published: August 9, 2022
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 19-25, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.
Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.
Whoa! Stay Awake was quite the ride to go on! It kept reminding me of the movie Memento, with some similarities and a murder mystery. I love that movie, though it has been many years since I have seen it. It might be time to watch that one again!
Stay Awake has dual timelines: present day and two plus years ago. It also has two narrators: Liv Reese, our main character with memory issues (every time she falls asleep she forgets everything from the past two+ years. We also have a female detective Halliday as our other narrator, who is trying to figure out a murder case and putting things together.
Once I realized we have an unreliable narrator with Liz I got nervous as those novels can be hit or miss for me. But it reminded me so much of Memento, I really enjoyed it! It was fast paced, intense and everything I love about thrillers! This is one you won’t want to put down because you just have to know what’s going to happen next!
I liked both Liz and Halliday. You can’t help but feel for Liz with her memory issues and not knowing what is going on, who to trust (basically no one!) and you just want Halliday to solve the case! The two narrations and dual timelines all come together to wind everything up in an intense conclusion.
The narrators are Imogene Church and January LaVoy, both whom I have listened to previously and also enjoyed. Imogene Church portrayed Liz perfectly with her confusion and LaVoy was just as good with portraying Halliday.
If you choose to read the physical book/kindle I can see a reader doing their best to stay awake and finish this in one sitting! I really enjoyed Stay Awake many thanks to Macmillian Audio for granting me an audio arc to listen to and review![Top]