Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Mentalhealth themed #Suspense, THE BUG JAR by Ava Black @jlightbody11 #TuesdayBookBlog

The Bug JarThe Bug Jar by Ava Black

4 stars

The Bug Jar is a suspense story with a mental health theme. The book is contemporary and set in Chicago.

Samantha Hollard (Sam) has mental health issues. Her medication allows her periods of release from the world. She thinks she killed a boy called Evan. However, she first heard of the story on the news; a car with her distinctive type and colouring was reported at the scene. The crime scene is a neighbourhood she regularly visits, and her car does has a child-size dent in the bumper; she just can’t remember the accident.

Sam has a complex life; she dropped out of college, struggles to hold down a job and is sleeping with two men. One of them is politician Richard Harrison, who is currently in the running for mayor; he’s also Evan’s stepdad.

The layers of plot are skilfully muddied by Sam; the reader must decide if her state of mental health makes her a reliable witness or not. And what about the police; do they want to solve Evan’s murder, but risk political wrath, or maintain their pay checks? In a stand against a society label which threatens to keep Sam quiet and locked away, she fights to be heard and to be given a fair second chance.

I enjoyed this book, and was first attracted by the stunning book cover. The descriptions of the rampaging political machine, which shows no remorse or care for fellow humans, were very believable. I thought the mental health themes were well written and they made me think about the messages in the book long after I’d finished reading. Recommended for those who enjoy a mild suspense.

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Book description

For make-up salesgirl Samantha Holland, life is a constant struggle to cling to reality. Her tenuous hold on sanity is exacerbated by a toxic affair with wealthy and powerful State Representative Richard Harrison, who gets sadistic pleasure toying with her already confused mind. But Sam comes closest to losing her grip when Harrison’s emotionally disturbed stepson is murdered—and the police suspect her. When Harrison tries to break off their relationship, Sam tries to save herself by piecing together patchy memories of what might be her own involvement in the killing. The truth she uncovers is more sinister than she could have imagined.

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Happy New Year!

Masquerade by Catherine Marshall @KateMacCormack #Suspense #Mystery #bookreview

Masquerade: When telling the truth is a dangerous gameMasquerade: When telling the truth is a dangerous game by Catherine Marshall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Masquerade is a modern day suspense mystery. The book opens with a murder, but the reader is already plunged into the twisting plot by not being told who the narrator is. We are several paragraphs in before we find a character with a name. Anna Pasternak is on her way to Bath to attend a week of summer school at the University on a Psychology course.

There is a complex storyline which you need to keep on top of. It hops back and forth between present moment and past background and I kept dropping the thread of the plot scrambling to catch up with the sudden changes. There are four main characters whose background is peeled away in layers. Anna is a single Mum, Carys has escaped an abusive husband, Michael is grieving the loss of his wife and Jack balances on his own knife-edge of pain. They are drawn together on the course and agree to work together on a project.

The course offers the opportunity of anonymity, to re-invent themselves to escape for a week amongst strangers. An important part of their project is the process by which the brain makes certain assumptions from visual and oral messages and how we are trained to jump to stereotyped conclusions. One of the sub-characters is a deaf women, she opens the readers eyes when she talks about a character whose eyes and mouth say different things, her lack of hearing makes her notice different things to others.

The psychology course is very important to the storyline because the characters are embedded in it and the course lessons and findings draw the reader along in the plot. There are lots of twists, and just when you think you have it sorted the story twists again.

There were times when I really struggled to know who was talking and there were others when I felt I needed to dig the storyline out from under the depth of descriptive writing plus a few niggling editing issues. I also think the book cover is wrong for this book, the message from the cover characters is historical, I know they are wearing masks but when readers internet shop with their eyes from thumb-nail sized book covers they probably won’t think modern suspense mystery.

Overall a complex mystery which will keep the reader on their toes.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Cathy reviews Drowned Murmurs by Honor Dawson

Today we have a review from Book Review Team Member Cathy, she blogs at


Cathy chose to read and review Drowned Murmurs by Honor A Dawson.


Here is Cathy’s review.

Set in an old house in Cornwall the story parallels the lives of two women. Michaela in the present day and Catherine, who lived there in the early 1900s and is one of Michaela’s ancestors. Michaela has inherited the house from an uncle she never met. She and her husband, Sam, are renovating the property for themselves. The house has a less than favourable history and Michaela and Sam are warned against settling there.

After having several visions about Catherine and the distressing events in her life, Michaela confides in Sam and decides she wants to prove Catherine innocent of the accusations levelled against her. Michaela is convinced the rumours surrounding Catherine are unfounded.

Catherine’s story is very sad and I appreciate the difficulties she faced as a woman without rights of any sort in the days of terrible inequality. The cultural and environmental factors of the time were not focused on the welfare or support of women. I could feel Catherine’s frustration and feelings of injustice at her helplessness.

The premise of the story is interesting and makes you wonder if evil and tragedy can live on and affect future generations.

‘You think this is about Bloomer?’
‘Are you completely stupid?’
He perched on the bed and reached out his hand. She knocked it away. ‘Just go, I want to be alone. And don’t bother me again.’

Sadly, I couldn’t empathize with Michaela. She comes across as very abrasive, especially to Sam, and, to be honest, I was quite surprised he took all that was dished out as meekly as he did. Although the possible cause is discovered and she is redeemed somewhat, as it’s written in the book ‘it explains but doesn’t excuse.’ For all that she wants to dig and find out the truth when Sam sees a suspicious photograph Michaela doesn’t want to take it further, saying it’s none of her business.

There are several missed edits which was quite off-putting and frustrating after a while.

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