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review 2018-07-30 11:24
Paper Ghosts: A Novel of Suspense - Julia Heaberlin

A road trip with a difference. Was Carl really the murderer that Grace thought he was? Carl has dementia, so whatever he says can’t be relied upon, but Grace doesn’t care. I really wanted to like and enjoy this story, but sadly I couldn’t and I didn’t. It was ponderous and seemed to take a long time to get through all the pages/percentages. The beginning was intriguing, but then my interest started to flag. I did love the photos and thought they were a nice touch. Sorry but I found it all a bit tedious and Grace a letdown. I’m sure lots of other people will enjoy this book though.

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review 2018-05-14 04:32
Paper Ghosts
Paper Ghosts: A Novel of Suspense - Julia Heaberlin

Paper Ghosts started out with a creepy feel to it with our main character posing as a potential serial killer's daughter in order to find out if he killed her sister years before. The back and forth between the characters pulled me in and led me to think I had a riveting psychological thriller to sink my teeth into. Is Carl a serial killer? Does he really suffer from dementia or is he just a great actor hiding behind a facade? Did he kill this young woman's sister or is she on the wrong trail? All of these questions should've kept the suspense level high, but less than a hundred pages in, things become more about our main characters inner musings, and there are a lot of those. Considering the amount of time spent inside this woman's head, I was surprised that we don't learn her real name or what she does in her real life until the end. What I did learn was that she walked into a situation with a much too high opinion of herself and her ability to handle a man with dementia, let alone the possibility of him being a serial killer. We're told a lot about her "trainer" and how much time she's put in to learning to protect herself from Carl should she need to. The problem is that she really didn't know as much as she thought. I will admit that Carl does play some psychological games with our narrator, and those had the potential to be spine-tingling had our oh so prepared main character not been so completely unprepared for handling them. We do get answers to the many questions posed in this story, but too many were a bit too predictable and I never quite warmed up to the main character. I do prefer my mysteries and thrillers to be more edge of your seat, what's gonna happen next type stories and I didn't find that here, so quite possibly, this one just wasn't for me.

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review 2018-04-03 23:48
Very Lackluster and hardly any suspense at all
Paper Ghosts: A Novel of Suspense - Julia Heaberlin

I was psyched for this one! I love these kinds of books that keep you guessing and sets you on the edge of suspense. Among other things that are prevalent throughout the novel. Unfortunately, I think I was just a little too hyped over this book.


Although the plot had some good moments and the occasional suspense, I found it lackluster and often wondering where this is going to take me. I wish the mystery and suspense was more heightened. It was a very flat plot with not much going for it except the mysterious bits and even  then, it feels like you hit what you think it was a climax only for it to die down quick and we’re back to the same flat plot line again. It feels like a long dreary car ride with people you don’t like. (The entire book they’re frequently on the road, so this relates.)


When all the mystery is revealed - it was all right. Yet it felt like a simple shrug of the shoulder and it was off to go back home. It was a bit frustrating, and it wasn’t anything to be surprised about. Nothing creeping from out of the blue, or anything to blind side you. It’s similar to the feeling when you are opening a gift and you already know what it is. There’s not much element of surprise or much feeling to go with it.


However, the one theme I did like was the one with dementia. It’s pictured with accuracy and this aspect of the book was well written. You can feel the high strung energy and  the main character feeling ready to snap when Carl starts going off track in his mind and unfortunately that’s really how it is when dealing with someone who is suffering from this disease. It’s extremely hard to maintain your patience but at the same time you are realizing it’s not their fault. Her relationship with Carl throughout the novel perfectly depicts this and because of this dynamic, this was why I stuck through and read the book.


This book could have been better in the suspense area. Overall the plot is pretty much lackluster and had few suspenseful moments. Worth reading? I say read for the character relationship and development. Otherwise those that want a scare or a surprise won’t find any of that in here at all.

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review 2018-01-26 19:44
Paper Ghosts
Paper Ghosts: A Novel of Suspense - Julia Heaberlin

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

I had liked ‘Black-Eyed Susans’ by the same author well enough, and I thought I’d like this one as well, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the case. As evidenced by the time I needed to finish it, that wasn’t because I had too much work and no time to read, but because it kept falling from my hands and I’d reach something else to reach instead.

It started well enough, and I thought that the story would be a game of cat and mouse between the main character and the suspected killer. However, while I kept waiting for said character to reveal her hand—for instance, to show that she had made this or that mistake on purpose, in order to better turn the tables—such moments never happened. I think this is where it went wrong for me, and I believe the first-person narration wasn’t an asset in this case: with a third person POV, I could’ve been fooled into thinking the ‘heroine’ knew what she was doing, since I wouldn’t have been completely ‘in her head; but with first person, it’s more difficult to fool the reader...

So, well, I wasn’t fooled. In spite of all her alluding to her ‘trainer’ and to how she had taught herself to face various difficult situations, she wasn't really one step ahead. Perhaps in the very beginning, but this fell down the train as soon as Carl started coming up with new ‘conditions’ along the way, and she was totally taken aback, and... just relented, or protested weakly. That didn’t fit my idea of someone who had planned carefully, or whose plans were unravelling but who still had the savvy to bounce back.

Also, I wasn’t convinced at all by the twist at the end. Something you can’t see coming because there was never any hint of it throughout the story, is not what I call an actual twist, but cheating the reader. (Now, when I read something and I’m all ‘a-ha! So that’s why she did this in chapter2, and said that in chapter 6, and that character did that in chapter 14’, well, that’s a proper twist.)

Conclusion: 1.5 stars. Too bad.

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review 2016-08-08 15:14
Review – Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin @juliathrillers
Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense - Julia Heaberlin

The cover for Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin told me all I need to know.


I am a sucker for a great cover and the book design by Dana Leigh Blanchette evokes feelings of mystery and intrigue, making it a book that I want on my shelf.


What do you think of when you look at the cover?


Black-Eyed Susans




I won Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway and I was very excited to get my hands on this character-based psychological thriller. I love reading about serial killers and Black -Eyed Susans has enough twists and turns that it kept me guessing to the very end. To delve into the minds of Tessie and Lydia shows the games our mind can play with us and how nothing is ever as it seems on the surface. Being buried alive is one of the creepiest things I can imagine and even though Tessie survived the experience, the emotional scars are much deeper than the physical ones. Lydia… Is her entire story told…or does she keep some secrets never to be brought to light? Doesn’t matter to me, I love her anyway. The death penalty…O J Simpson…guilt…innocence…If you want to jump at every noise in the night, every doorbell ringing…you will want to read Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars


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