Review: Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Take It BackTake It Back by Kia Abdullah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

((me: reads final scene))

Blushing and looking around, I think to myself, she got me. Kia Abdullah got me good!

This provocative legal thriller was a non-stop guessing game. My head was reeling the entire way through trying to decipher who to believe.

I hate to say that, but I have to be honest. The reason I don’t like to say that is because the case central to this story is that of a sexual assault.

This would be an enticing book club read. I can see a lot of great discussions stemming from the deep content of this book that was expertly crafted for maximum impact by Abdullah.

Zara Kaleel, a former lawyer, is now a sexual assault counselor. When 16-year old, Jodie Wolfe, arrives in her office, Zara is stunned to hear her tale of assault by four male classmates.

Jodie has a genetic abnormality that has given her severe facial deformities, which makes her difficult to understand at times. In spite of any slight communication issues, Jodie’s pain is pouring off of her. She is traumatized and Zara vows to help.

We follow the investigation into the case through multiple perspectives and then get front row seats to the subsequent trial.

The four young men accused are Muslims, from immigrant families, while Jodie is a white girl. As you can imagine, this adds an incredible amount of tension to public reception of the case.

It all becomes a bit of a circus, with even Zara beginning to fear for her safety.

As a Muslim woman herself, also from an immigrant family, she is branded a traitor and must push really hard, both personally and professionally, to continue with Jodie’s case.

I really loved how Abdullah chose to tell this story. The pace was spot on and the little reveals and clues along the way left me constantly guessing at the truth. I had no idea what the final outcome would be until it was on page.

Additionally, I loved the cultural elements that were included through Zara’s perspective, and a few of the accused boys. I thought those aspects made this one stand out in comparison with other books in the genre and will make this story, overall, more memorable for me.

I loved this. Very compelling, suspenseful and thoughtful. I will definitely be picking up more books from Kia Abdullah in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I love discovering new authors to enjoy, so thanks for adding another to my auto-buy list!

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Blog Tour: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night SwimThe Night Swim by Megan Goldin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Megan Goldin does it again!!!

Rachel Krall is the creator and host of a hugely successful True Crime podcast.

During her first season, evidence she procured through her work was subsequently used to free an innocent man.

Now a household name, with a reputation as a tireless truth seeker, many people reach out to her with cases they think she should investigate next.

A lot of these people feel they have no other options when searching for justice for a friend or loved one; that the system has failed them and Rachel is their last resort.

These letters for help generally come in the form of email or through more traditional post. Therefore, Rachel is surprised when a letter ends up stuck under her windshield wiper at a remote rest stop.

How would someone even have recognized her? People generally know her voice, not her face?

When she receives the first mysterious note, Rachel is on her way to Neapolis, where a high profile rape case is currently dividing the small coastal town.

For the latest season of the podcast, Rachel will be looking into the case and attending the trial.

In the ultimate, her story versus his, the victim is the granddaughter of the police chief, and the accused perpetrator is a golden boy, local-celebrity champion swimmer.

As Rachel throws herself into her investigation, the mysterious letters continue to show up in unexpected places, including her hotel room.

The author of the letters, a young woman named Hannah, pleads with Rachel to look into the death of her sister, Jenny, 25-years earlier in Neapolis.

Rachel admittedly finds Jenny’s case interesting. A reported drowning, Hannah insists that foul play was involved.

Y’all, I loved this book! The format Goldin chose to tell this story was absolutely perfect.

We get multiple perspectives, past and present timelines, and full episodes of Rachel’s podcast!

The way that Goldin was able to weave these two mysteries together was flawless. I found myself so invested in both the current rape trial and the historical perspective of what actually happened to Jenny.

I was blessed enough to have received both an e-copy, and an audio copy, of this from the publisher to read and review. I started it off switching back and forth between the two, but ultimately stuck with the audiobook.

The audiobook is so well done. The podcast chapters are incredible!

I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t actually listening to a podcast, that it was fictional. It’s that believable!

I was already a fan of Goldin after the release of The Escape Room last year, but this one, The Night Swim takes it to a whole new level.

Megan Goldin is for sure an autobuy author for me!

In addition to the fabulous presentation of this story, I was also impressed with the commentary regarding rape culture and the treatment of victims of rape and sexual assault.

I love when a Thriller can not only be surprising and immersive, but also when it has something to say on real world issues. I think it opens up so many great discussions that are important and impactful.

In short, if you have not picked up The Night Swim yet, please do so. I particularly recommend the audiobook, although the story is fantastic regardless of the medium.

A heartfelt thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with the opportunity to read this early. It will definitely be making my Favorites List for 2020!!!

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Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

A Nearly Normal FamilyA Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apparently, legal thrillers are something I am into now because I f*ing loved this!!

I listened to the audiobook and I feel it was brilliantly cast and narrated. I definitely think that had an influence on my reading experience.

I thought the format was so clever. The three perspectives were presented in three separate chunks as opposed to alternating back and forth.

The story started with ‘The Father’s’ perspective. Adam, a family man and pastor, tells his side of the story. His relationship with his 18- y.o. daughter, who is now being held in police custody accused of a brutal murder.

He fills in a large part of the narrative and you think you have a fairly good handle on the overall story.

Then we get ‘The Daughter’s’ perspective. Well, she would know, wouldn’t she? She was there. The events happened to her.

But as I love, Stella, is a deliciously unreliable narrator, who openly admits to her outstanding ability to lie and manipulate others.

Her perspective fills in some blanks and of course, creates some new ones.

At this point, I was thinking a lot about how two different people can experience the same things and interpret those events completely differently.

It’s fascinating to think about. I love this type of psychological examination of characters.

Lastly, we get ‘The Mother’s’ perspective. Just when you think you have a super firm handle on the events in question, you discover there’s so much more going on.

Stella’s mom, a high powered attorney, knows how the system works and she’ll do anything in her power to protect her little girl.

While I can see how some readers may find this slow or choppy, I had absolutely no complaints about the writing or the format.

I was hooked into this story, start to finish, and loved how much it made me think outside of the reading experience itself.

Overall, a huge fan of this, recommend to anyone who enjoys a legal or crime drama. Would absolutely recommend the audiobook as well!

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