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review 2018-06-28 18:45
What Happened That Night - Sandra Block

The thing about My Book Box, a subscription book service, is that whoever chooses books has a tendency to chose books I would bypass in a book store but actually love once I read them. It’s true that this has been more the rule for the non-fiction selections. The mystery selection is a bit more hit and miss. Not that the books are bad – they are more I could easily be just as happy as not reading them. But every so often the mystery book is something like Block’s work.

Honesty, this is something that if I saw in a bookstore, I might have picked it up, read the back, and walked off without it buying it. I would have written it off as a Lifetime movie, you know the one, where the woman discovers that her bestest girlfriend set her up to be raped. I hate Lifetime movies, so why would I want to read one?

But this book is not a Lifetime movie. To be fair, it does play with the idea of that trope, but it does something a bit different with it. 

Dahlia was gang raped during college, she dropped out and now works as a paralegal. She has cut herself off from many things. The really good part of this book, and what Block does extremely well, is show us how Dahlia realizes that she is not as cut off as she thinks she is, how she has friends that she didn’t quite realize she had. This book has more than one positive woman/woman friendship and that is absolutely wonderful.

The book is also told from the perspective of James, a co-worker and romantic interest for Dahlia. He has his own set of issues, and to be honest, one of his reveals isn’t quite as hidden as the questions at the end of the book imply. But it to is an important and timely reason.

The book is about rape as well as the toxic masculinity that in some situations drives it. Block also deals with the question of mental illness, in particular depression, and she does it extremely well. The mental changes that both James and Dahlia go thorough are powerful, and I cannot describe the pleasure in reading a book that doesn’t treat the idea of going to therapy as something to be ashamed of or to be laughed at. She also illustrates how the process of determining to go to therapy works for some people.

In dealing with rape, Block also confronts the reaction of those to rape in a public setting, in particular with the use of social media accounts. It actually is a real examination of a variety of things that occur because of toxic masculinity. It’s a really good book.

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review 2018-06-08 14:21
What Happened That Night - Sandra Block

Sandra Block wrote a book that grabbed me from the very first time I looked at the gorgeous cover and held me until I read the very last word.    When I first saw the book I knew that this was a story that I had to read.   I knew that the suspense would keep me on the edge of my seat, the characters would make me want to be part of their friend circle, and that there would be so many twists and turns that I wouldn’t know which way I should go next.    

 

The storyline was not an easy one to read.   There were subjects, especially the rapes, that had to be tough to write about but Sandra Block did an amazing job.   She gave enough detail for the reader to have no doubt what was happening but not too much.   I had no doubt how much pain and fear Dahlia felt while being raped and the intense feelings that she was trying to figure out how to deal with.   I love that Dahlia was strong enough to continue her life, she fought to find a way out of the black hole, and she found a way to move on.   I was concerned when Dahlia met James, was he leading her down the right path or would he hurt her more than she already was hurting.  By the end of the story, I enjoyed seeing the friendship grow and loved that Dahlia had someone she could trust.

 

The setup of the book with short chapters and multiple points of views had me flying through the story.  I was anxious and excited to get to the end to find out what happens.    The ending… oh, the ending… PERFECT.   I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t even dream it but it was amazing.

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review 2018-06-05 23:10
What Happened That Night - Sandra Block

Wow!!

A woman was drugged and gets raped on campus and doesn't remember a thing, except birds chirping, men in line, laughing, and, of course, the pain. Now, she suffers from PTSD, imagine that.

The last part of this book was killing me. I feared for Dahlia. She was crazy with her revenge. I wanted to holler "you go girl!" so many times but I just couldn't. My fear was so strong for her. That kept me going for like over half of this book.

I'm not going to spoil it for you and tell you what happened. Just know if you have a heart problem, you may want to use caution before picking this book. Because mine was beating like crazy and it kept on until the very end. However, if you like really good suspenseful books, pick this one!

A really good book that would not let me put it down or go to sleep for a while after I finished.

Huge thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2018-05-07 18:45
TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERT'S CASEBOOK OF HORRORS, by Joe & Kasey Lansdale
Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors - Kasey Lansdale,Joe R. Lansdale

 

Joe Lansdale always delivers and now we know that Kasey Lansdale does too!

 

In the foreword, the "Champion Mojo Storyteller" shares with us a little bit about his character Dana Roberts, and how she came about investigating what she calls the "supernormal." This being what most people call "supernatural," but what Dana believes are just events that science cannot yet explain. I enjoyed her tales a LOT, mostly because I loved the framework of Dana being asked to share her stories with a group of skeptical men, (and sometimes women), in a smoky club. In the last two tales, Dana hires Jana, (Kasey Lansdale's creation), and they investigate a few cases together. While Dana is the skeptical, professional and beautiful lead "investigator," Jana is the irreverent, less polished, but also beautiful, sidekick. Having these last tales be from her POV was brilliant, giving us a different look at Dana's work while also highlighting the fact that Dana is kind of hoity-toity and not as willing to get her hands dirty as this reader first thought.

 

My favorites of the bunch were:

 

THE CASE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SHAMBLER I'm a sucker for haunted lighthouse stories and this one was a doozy.

 

THE CASE OF THE FOUR ACRE HAUNT was the tale of a haunted house. What made it special for me were the descriptions of the shadows; some of them honestly gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that doesn't happen often. Well done!

 

 

THE CASE OF THE ANGRY TRAVELER featured one of my favorite tropes-the whole city discovered beneath today's city type-thing. Now you know that Dana and friends found something down there, but what was it, exactly? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

Of the two Jana and Dana stories, THE CASE OF THE RAGMAN'S ANGUISH stood out the most for me. This was more of a novella than a short story, but there were different aspects to it than in the other tales, (I won't say what those aspects were), which made it unique and my favorite story of the bunch.

 

TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS was just plain fun and reminded me of the flat-out horror tales Joe Lansdale wrote back in the day. Joe's famous sense of humor may not be the prominent one in this collection, but Kasey's, (or Jana's) humor is, and it turns out? She's funny too!

 

Highly recommended for fans of short, scary stories that have a healthy side of humor and skepticism!

 

*Thanks to the authors and to the publicist at Cutting Block Books for the chance to read this book free, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-04-07 22:35
Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen 4.5 Star Review!!
Block and Strike - Kelly Jensen

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.

 

Review

 

Jacob and Max. I love the complexity of this romance. I love how much each hero has going on internally and externally when they meet. 

All the conflicts press in on them and they fall in love anyway and we want them too. 

This is a well written love story with so many fine details: internalized homophobia, martial arts, bi phobia, anger management. Despite the dark themes, this is a hopeful and healing romance overall with a great cast and wonderful arc for each hero. 

Jacob delays telling Max somethings too long in ways that don't make sense but they are both flawed, lovely and lovable characters that I adored.

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