The Holdout: A Novel by Graham Moore - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780399591778
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Published: Random House - February 18th, 2020

An enticing legal thriller that focuses on, race, integrity, and the injustices within the justice system. The Holdout is a strong new release that’ll keep you hooked with two mysteries set ten years apart, fatally coming together in the present. The book goes back and forth from a 2009 murder trial in L.A. where the jury must decide if a young black teacher is guilty for the murder of his teenage white student, to present day where that same jury party comes together for a televised reunion at the same hotel they were sequestered in. Night ONE somebody is already dead, but how and why?
With strong writing, pacing and an intriguing protagonist in the character of Maya Seale, The Holdout is a great mystery pick for any fans of courtroom dramas. I can totally see this becoming a mini series! ~ Reviewed by Kirstin Swartz

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781250219596
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Published: Celadon Books - February 18th, 2020

An entrancing and diverse read, Saint X is easily one of my favorite books of 2020 so far. Tragedy strikes a family of four on a vacation to the island of Saint X in the Carribean; college-age daughter Allison is found dead, and two island locals are accused of her murder, but never charged. Her younger sister, Claire, was seven at the time, and years later an adult Claire by chance runs into Clive Richardson, one of the men who may have been involved in Allison’s death. The mystery of what happened to Allison on Saint X consumes Claire’s life as she becomes intent on uncovering the truth from Clive.
This novel feels like a character study with themes of racism, privilege, and class heavily dissected through the character of Allison, Claire and Clive. There is so much in this debut novel to unpack. This would be a great book group read! ~ Reviewed by Kirstin Swartz

Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781947793019
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Published: Tin House Books - June 12th, 2018

This delightful reinvention of the spy novel introduces us to Vera Kelly a special agent posted to Buenos Aires in 1966, politically unstable and the battleground for the CIA and the KGB. She's tough, resourceful, clever, and charming. But there's also Vera 10 years before: out of place, questioning her sexuality, stealing her mom's car, and being arrested before making it to Greenwich Village and discovering a new world. A brilliantly fast-paced thrilled, Knecht introduces us to a spy who honed her skills in the field through navigating identity in a straight, male world. I can't wait for the sequel, Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery.   ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

The Winter Sister: A Novel by Megan Collins - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781982100155
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Published: Atria Books - October 8th, 2019

A strong debut novel for Collins, this psychological thriller on the surface appears as a basic mediocre family drama with predictable plot twists, but under the skin lies a beautifully written, tragic and traumatic tale (and there are some twists you really wouldn’t see coming). This was a very complex story, with a lot to unravel considering the short page count but it’ll keep you engaged and turning every page. A great winter book! ~ Reviewed by Kirstin Swartz

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781501188770
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Published: Gallery/Scout Press - August 6th, 2019

An engrossing read that will keep you reading late into the night. It will have you trying to piece together every little bit of information thrown your way in order to solve the mystery. And in the end, I promise you, you will be SHOCKED! I am much more interested in Ruth Ware’s other novels now! ~ Reviewed by Cassidy Washburn

The Family Upstairs: A Novel by Lisa Jewell - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781501190100
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Published: Atria Books - November 5th, 2019

The Family Upstairs is a horror-mystery that keeps you on your toes until the very last page. Libby, a young woman who was adopted as a baby, discovers on her 25th birthday she will be inheriting a multi-million dollar mansion from her dead birth parents, whose bodies were found in the mansion along with a third mysterious man, and Libby as a baby, then known as Serenity Lamb. She begins to investigate the house’s history with the help of a local reporter to uncover the mystery behind her parents’ deaths and to find her missing siblings, but little does she know that others have been waiting for Libby’s return, both revealing their connection to the mansion and to Libby over the course of the novel. The tension builds to a near unbearable stage, and explodes just as the sinister past of the house is revealed. Shocking, suspenseful and well-written! ~ Reviewed by Kirstin Swartz


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