The Stories You Tell

Rating:
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Genres: Mystery
Pub. date: Jul. 9, 2019 (read Mar. 2019)
Series: Roxane Weary #3

Thanks for Minotaur Books for providing me with a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This series is fantastic! I really liked the first book, but honestly, they just keep getting better and better. Roxane is such a great character and I love the balance Lepionka has found between the mystery element and the development of her recurring characters. The secondary characters change up a bit from book to book, but I love Roxane’s relationship with her family and her growing friendships with Tom and Shelby. No comment on Catherine.

Lepionka is a really great writer. I’ve said this in other reviews, but I know she’s great at connecting her readers with her characters because of the level of frustration you feel for them. The characters are extremely compelling and her plots of so relevant to today’s society. They are always, predominantly, mystery novels, but she weaves a lot of relevant social commentary into her stories that makes them so much more meaningful and relatable to her readers. She didn’t have to do anything special with these books and I think they still could have been successful, but I love that she takes the effort to make her stories diverse.

I love that Roxane is bi-sexual and I love how she incorporated some thoughtful commentary on racial justice and equality in this book. Her previous books have focused on the inequity that women face in the justice system and I like how she spent a little bit of time in this book looking at how black people are disenfranchised in the system and drawing attention to the ways in which white people don’t realize what kind of privilege they actually have.

I’m not going to get into the plot too much. At this point, the plot of the mystery doesn’t really matter to me, I’m here for Roxane. I would definitely recommend reading the series in order though because otherwise you’ll miss out on all the great character development! The only thing that wasn’t great about the book was that the transitions between scenes were very abrupt, with no break in structure to let us know the scene had changed. I think this is just a quirk of the ebook arc I had though and I’m expecting this will be changed in the finished copy.

So in conclusion, I highly recommend this series. I totally flew through this installment and read the whole thing in a single day!

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More 2019 Books I Can’t Wait to Read

There are so many amazing books coming out this year! I already published one blog about new releases I can’t wait to read, but there’s so many more books coming out, I had to make another list.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok – Jun. 4, 2019
Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation was one of my favourite books that I read last year, so I’m stoked to see her publishing something new! Sylvie is the accomplished older sister of the Lee family and her younger sister Amy has always looked up to her. When Sylvie disappears on a trip to the Netherlands, Amy has the opportunity to help find her, discovering along the way that her perfect sister had her own dark secrets. The synopsis calls it a ” deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing.” I live for family dramas and everything about this intrigues me!

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker – Aug. 6, 2019
I know K.A. Tucker has a million other books that I could have read after finishing (and LOVING) her latest book, The Simple Wild, but there’s something so much more exciting about a new release from an author you like. Tucker writes romance, which is not normally my cup of tea, but The Simple Wild had so much more depth than a traditional romance novel that I can’t wait to read more from this author. Say You Still Love Me is about ‘new adult’, Piper Calloway, who works as a VP at her Dad’s wealthy real estate company: cue the drama of working in a male-dominated industry with your ex-fiance! Tucker is great at writing relatable millennials and has expanded the New Adult genre, so I can’t wait to read this one.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin – Jan. 24, 2019
Good news! This book is already out! When All is Said takes place at a bar over the course of a single night as Maurice Hannigan toasts 5 influential people in his life. This book has been getting rave reviews and the idea of reflecting on those that had the most impact on your life sounds like a really compelling story. In the same way that I love a good family drama – I love character-driven stories about relationships. I’ve ordered a copy of this one from book depository and I’m just waiting for it to show up so I can dive in!

The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta – Apr. 2, 2019
Melina Marchetta is one of my all time favourite authors and I will pretty much read anything she writes. She mostly writes Young Adult, so I assumed this was a new YA book, but friends, upon closer inspection I’ve discovered that this is another New Adult book!! Two NA books on one list! That rarely happens because the genre is so underdeveloped. The Place on Dalhousie is about the house Rosie Gennaro’s father built for his family but never completed. It’s not totally clear from the synopsis, but I believe Rosie has lost both of her parents and this book is about coming to terms with that grief and learning to build a new family with the special people left in her life. I may be off with this description, but the story sounds so moving and if it was written by Melina Marchetta, it definitely will be!

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon – Mar. 1, 2019
Another book that’s already been released! I started this book recently and I’m about 50 pages in (at the time of writing this post). Amy Harmon has a lot of books, but I’ve only read her one fantasy series, The Bird and the Sword. Most of her other books are romances that haven’t appealed to me that much, but this one is historical fiction about the Irish uprising and the struggle for independence. Our story centers on Anne Gallagher, who inadvertently travels back in time to Ireland 1921. It sounds a bit like ‘Irish Outlander’ to me, but Harmon’s writing is so gorgeous and lyrical that I’m anticipating a thoughtful and sensitive take on this piece of Ireland’s history (something I’m woefully uneducated on, so definitely a learning opportunity for me!).

The Stories You Tell by Kristen Lepionka – Jul. 9, 2019
This book stands in contrast to most of the others on this list, but somehow I forgot it on my other list, even though I’ve known it’s coming for awhile. The Stories You Tell is the 3rd book in Kristen Lepionka’s mystery series about private investigator Roxane Weary. The series is pretty much what you expect from this type of series, with each book looking at a different investigation, but I love Roxane as the main character! She has so much depth and I love how Lepionka develops Roxane’s character around her over-arching mystery plot and how many relevant social themes she incorporates into her storylines. A mystery series with meaning, depth, and a killer MC.

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin – Apr. 16, 2019
This was a recent discovery for me, but 4 years after her beautiful debut novel, The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin is publishing a new book! Benjamin is a middle grade writer and her new book is about 7th grader Caitlyn Breen who is starting a new school in Vermont. As if it’s not hard enough starting a new school, Caitlyn’s classmates are reeling from the loss of their beloved class clown, Paulie Fink and decide to run a competition to replace him (he’s left the school, not died or anything!). The Thing about Jellyfish had the most gorgeous writing and in this second novel I’m expecting another beautiful story about growing up and finding yourself.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum – Mar. 5, 2019
A Woman is No Man was one of Book of the Month’s featured picks, so of course, I keep seeing it popping up everywhere now! This is Rum’s debut novel and focuses on 18-year old Arab-American teenager, Deya. Though she’s only 18, her grandparents are forcing her into an arranged marriage, not unlike the marriage that was forced onto her own mother, Isra. This has been getting rave reviews and the premise sounds fascinating to me! Another family drama I can’t wait to get my hands on (I’m also intrigued by what the title means).

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton – Apr. 9, 2019
My book club pick for this month is Next Year in Havana, which Chanel Cleeton published last year, I haven’t even started it yet, but I’m really excited to read it and then even more excited to hear it was getting a second novel. My understanding is that When We Left Cuba will be a companion novel, with each book focusing on one of the Perez sisters. I don’t want to get too into the plot having not read the first book yet, but they’re both set in Cuba in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s and focus on Cuba’s political climate at that time. I’m thinking I might read these two back to back before my book club meeting!

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – Mar. 19, 2019
Queenie was just released and is being called a “modern day Bridget Jones”. It’s about a 25 year old Jamaican-British woman living in London (New Adult books representing on this list!) and her quest for love and to deal with her anxiety. All the reviews I’ve read said that this has the humour you would expect from a book being compared to Bridget Jones, but that it has a lot more depth. I love that more and more books like this are being published and I really hope this trend continues!

What You Want To See

Rating: 
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pub Date: May 2018 (read May 2018)

Okay, so DO NOT read the synopsis of this book! Fortunately I did not read the synopsis because I loved the first book in this series and knew I wanted to read this anyways (and because I hate having even one thing ruined by the synopsis). But I was just reading through some other reviews of this book and one mentioned that the synopsis ruins almost the entire plot of the book and when I went back and read it, I actually couldn’t believe how much the synopsis steals away from the reader! Shame on you publisher/whoever writes these things!

Anyways, Roxane Weary and Kristen Lepionka are fabulous and that’s pretty much all you need to know. Ignore the synopsis and pick up a copy of her first book The Last Place You Look, because it is great! I was not disappointed with this book either.

Roxane Weary is a bi-sexual private investigator who is struggling to move on with her life after the death of her father on the job as a police officer. She had a complicated relationship with her Dad, which later developed into a complicated relationship with her Dad’s partner and her ex-girlfriend. She mostly just tails adulterous spouses, but when her most recent tail, Marin Strasser, is shot on the street, she can’t help but get dragged into the murder investigation that just doesn’t seem right to her. Despite warnings from the police force to mind her own business, she continues her investigation into Marin Strasser and her tangled web of acquaintances.

I really liked Roxane in the first book because she was complicated without being too cliche. She is a bit of an alcoholic, but she’s not really destructive and she knows her shortcomings. I became just as invested in her personal life as I was in her cases and I really liked how Lepionka grew her relationships in this novel and the development of some of the secondary characters. I was so done with Catherine after the last book and Lepionka somehow made me kind of like her in this book? Plus I loved that she kept Shelby in this story, which I was totally not expecting, and I think really added to the development of Roxane’s character.

This book had a strong mystery element too. I did kind of see the ending coming on the last book, but this book kept me totally mystified throughout. Lepionka actually answers several questions for us early in the second half of the novel, which is surprising in a mystery novel, but she still leaves other questions unanswered to keep you intrigued while simultaneously escalating the drama in the story.

Kristen Lepionka is also fantastic at making you mad. You know the term ‘righteous anger’? That is what Lepionka is so good at making you feel. I was so enraged in the first book when the police threw Roxane in prison and basically ignored her and all her rights, and parts of this book were also rage inducing. I hate nothing more than when female characters are ignored or dismissed, and the author’s use of subtle sexism in both of her novels is so effective because it is so accurate and I can immediately relate with Roxane and her frustration because literally every woman has been ignored or dismissed or belittled at some point in her life.

To conclude, I really liked this and now I am just really sad that I will have to wait again for the next book. Book 3 already has a name on goodreads though!

Sequels I can’t wait to read in 2018!

I love and hate series. I love them because there’s nothing quite like returning to a set of characters that you already know and love – but I hate them because there’s always so much waiting! Here’s the new books I’m looking forward to reading this year:

Throne of Glass Book 7 by Sarah J Maas
Release Date: September 4

This one isn’t titled yet, but nothing could steal the top spot away from this book! I thought I would be getting this book last year, but Maas postponed it to instead release a full standalone novel about Chaol, so I was forced to wait another year for this one. Throne of Glass is my favourite of all the YA fantasy series out there (except HP duh) and the last novel (Empire of Storms) ended on the most outrageous cliffhanger! So I am desperate for what Sarah has said will be the conclusion of the series!

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton (The Lady Janies #2)
Release Date: June 26

The second book in the Lady Janies series, but I’m pretty sure this one could also be a standalone. Three YA authors are releasing 3 books about historical Janes. The first book, My Lady Jane, was about Jane Grey who was queen for 9 days in the 15th century. It was pretty much the funniest book I’ve ever read and I’m anxiously awaiting My Plain Jane, which will focus on Jane Eyre and the Bronte sisters.

Saga, Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan
Release Date: December 27, 2017

Okay this one was actually released at the end of last year, but close enough. Saga is the weirdest graphic novel series, but I can’t help but love it and I love getting a new volume every year! I love this little ill-fated inter-galactic family and the artwork is fantastic (although a little graphic, made the mistake of reading the first one on public transit, LOL)!

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Release Date: October 2

This is another sequel/standalone novel. Similar to My Lady Jane, the first novel in this series, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was hilarious! My favourite character was easily Felicity and I was so thrilled to see that she would be getting her own spin-off novel! Lee said that some of the same characters would be present in this book, but I’m not sure if you need to read the first one or not. But you should read it either way because it’s hilarious!

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (The Conqueror’s Saga #3)
Release Date: July 1

I’m am obsessed with this series! I totally thought it was a fantasy series when I picked it up, but it actually doesn’t have any magical elements and it’s more historical fiction than anything else. Like My Lady Jane, I would again place this in the “re-imagined” history category. Kiersten White has re-imagined Vlad the Impaler as a teenage girl in this series and it’s all about Romania and the Ottoman Empire in the 1400’s. It is dark and intense and so so good!

What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka (Roxane Weary #2)
Release Date: May 1

I don’t read mystery/thrillers all that often, but I picked up the first one in this series, The Last Place You Looked, last year and thought the main character, Private Investigator Roxane Weary, was fantastic! She’s a classically flawed PI, but I really enjoyed how the book goes just as in depth to the PI as it does to the case she’s trying to solve.

All The Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett (Even the Darkest Stars #2)
Release Date: September 4

The first book in this series definitely had some flaws, but I LOVED the setting and I definitely want more. It’s set in a Himalayas-type fantasy world and involves lots of hiking, camping, and exploring mountains. Pretty much all my favourite past-times, so I’m very excited to continue on with this story.

Other Notable Sequels:

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.5)
Release Date: May 1
I can’t decide if I’m over this series or if I want more….

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #3)
Release Date: June 12
It’s been so long since the last one that I’m not as excited about this one anymore, but I’ll probably still read it.

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel (Themis Files #3)
Release Date: May 1
Not my favourite series, but I suspect this will be the last book and I want to see it through.

Sequels I’m dying for but don’t have a release date yet:

Warcross Book 2 by Marie Lu
I NEED THIS ONE SO MUCH!!

Lethal White by JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #4)
Seriously, when is this book finally going to be released? Enough with Fantastic Beasts, she left the last one on the biggest cliffhanger and I need it. I need it now!

The Last Place You Look

Rating: 
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Read: July 2017

 

This was a pretty dark read, but The Last Place You Look had everything I look for in a good mystery novel. It had suspense, a compelling plot, and a great detective/PI. There were a lot of layers to this story, which kept it engaging throughout the entire novel. Once I got into it, I could not put this book down!

It’s a pretty straight forward detective novel. Private Investigator Roxane Weary is hired to look into the disappearance of teenager Sarah Cook, whose parents were murdered 15 years prior. Sarah hasn’t been seen since the night of her parents murder and her boyfriend Brad was convicted of the crimes and has been sitting on death row ever since. However, Brad’s sister is convinced of his innocence and hires Roxane when she sees a woman she believes to be Sarah Cook pumping gas at the local station. Roxane tries to track the woman down to see if there might be more to the story.

I really like a mystery where I’m just as invested in the personal life of the PI and I really liked Roxane Weary. She was facing her own struggles and made some questionable decisions, but not unbelievable ones. Roxane was smart, as was Lepionka’s writing. She did some great things with this novel and I thought it had some great social commentary on how women are ignored, belittled, and dismissed by law enforcement. The Belmont police frustrated me so much in this book and I have to give an author props when they can make me empathize with a character as much as I did with Roxane. It infuriated me the way the police kept dismissing missing women as runaways with mental health issues, although it sadly didn’t surprise me.

I’m excited to see this listed as “Roxane Weary #1”, I’d definitely be interested to continue this as a series!