The Rescuer by Jason Sautel

A BarksBeachesBooks

Welcome, welcome! I’m here for my TLC Book Tour post this week to share The Rescuer: One Firefighter’s Story of Courage, Darkness, and the Relentless Love That Saved Him.

This was a powerful read. I was expecting an emotional and tug-at-your-heartstrings memoir but this was much more. From the first chapter Jason gives an eye-opening glimpse into what it is to be a fire fighter. Spoiler alert: it is not just fighting fires. And while it is camaraderie and brotherhood it is also a very emotionally and mentally difficult job. Jason takes readers through many different scenarios that can, and for him have, come up as a fire fighter. But deeper than that, he brings readers to see how he was affected and what was going on in his mind during the best and worst of times.

This was a truly incredible, heavy, and yet hopeful collection of stories that I am so glad I got the pleasure of reading. Everyone respects fire fighters in a general sense (especially since many will never need their help directly) but The Rescuer brings light to the many ways a fire fighter puts their life on the line every day. I recommend everyone reads this. Absolute must read and so important. It will completely change the way you look at fire fighters and give you a whole new sense of appreciation.

He helped save people every day—but he had no idea how to save himself.

Jason Sautel had it all. Confident in his abilities and trusted by his fellow firefighters, he was making a name for himself on the streets of Oakland, California. His adrenaline-fueled job even helped him forget the pain of his childhood—until the day he looked into the eyes of a jumper on the Bay Bridge and came face to face with a darkness he knew would take him down as well.

In the following months, a series of traumatic emergency calls—some successful, others impossible-to-forget failures—drove Jason deeper into depression. Even as he continued his lifesaving work, he realized he could never rescueeveryone, and he had no idea how to save himself.

In the end, Jason was forced to confront the truth: only the relentless power of love could pull him back from his own deadly fall. Action-packed, spiritually honest, and surprisingly romantic, TheRescuer transports readers inside the pulse-pounding world of firefighting and into the heart of a man who needed to be broken before he could finally be made whole.

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How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Raymond Fleischmann gives us a beautifully written debut novel with How Quickly She Disappears. Following Elisabeth on dual timelines we witness in one the grooming and taking of her 11-year-old twin sister, Jacqueline, and in the other we watch Elizabeth slowly unravel at the appearance of a mysterious man named Alfred. Alfred, who claims to know what happened to Jacqueline. Alfred, who knows everything about Elisabeth though they’ve never met. Alfred who might be a little bit mad.


Elisabeth is living in remote Alaska with her distant husband and fiercely intelligent daughter, Margaret. When Alfred shows up claiming he needs to rest before a flight, Elisabeth allows him to stay in their guest room. From there things quickly spiral out of control. Even after murder, her daughter’s attempts to get attention, her husband constantly battling her beliefs and actions, and prison (among other things) Elisabeth pursues the truth about her sister. 


This book reads like The Silence of the Lambs watches (I’ve only seen the movie) with a drawn-out cat and mouse chase between Alfred and Elisabeth. Alfred’s quickly changing moods do nothing to quell Elisabeth’s hunt for facts. Repeated attempts from her husband and police to stop her vigilante investigationdoes not deter her. I loved the steady pace of this book and the way Raymond really brings us with him to watch Elisabeth lose herself in her search for her 20-years-missing sister.


This book is dark and beautiful and haunting and I will absolutely be buying Raymond’s next book.

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

 Synopsis

Lila Bennett is a big-time criminal defense attorney whose bad choices have split her life in two – literally. In one reality she is kidnapped and held captive to be tortured with her past mistakes and come to terms with the wrongs she’s committed and lives she’s ruined. In the other reality, she is free. She escaped her captor and is living in fear as she watches the choices she’s made come crashing down around her.

Review

The Two Lila Bennetts is the story of what happens when you make certain choices. In one instance, Lila can choose whether she goes out and “celebrates” after winning a big case. She can go, which will lead her down one road. Or she can pass on the outing and head home, which will lead to consequences of its own. This is the story of the series of events followed by each choice. One choice leads to Lila’s capture. She is held captive in a small cement room, starved and tortured by her past. She does not know the man who is keeping her (alive, for now) but he sure does know all about Lila. He is making her relive her worst moments and watch from her cell as the world investigates her disappearance, alternately blaming the people closest to her, victims from her past cases, and even herself.

The other choice leads to Lila escaping her captor and being free to roam while her world comes crashing down. In both realities her choices are coming back to confront her. Past relationships, cases gone wrong, her marriage. Every choice she has ever made has led her to this point, and what she chooses to do now is life or death.

I really enjoyed this book which is obvious in that I was reading it on work breaks and doctor’s appointments to see what happens next. I was slightly disappointed in the ending(s) though. While they were satisfactory enough, I would have liked to know why or how her life was split into two, literally. I think a couple of things were left out that would have made the book a five-star book for me. Those things are spoilers so do not read the spoilers if you do not want me to spoil the story. Also, please don’t take this to mean the book isn’t worth reading because it is definitely worth it. It will likely be even more enjoyable to people that don’t poke holes in sci-fi theories such as the alternate realty aspect of this book.

*SPOILERS*

Please stop reading if you do not want spoilers.

Spoilers below.

Last chance to avoid spoilers.

Okay here we go with the spoilers.

At the end of the book, Lila is fighting off her captor in one reality and fighting for her marriage and relationships in the other. She sees what happens in the “free” reality, where she gets to make the choices she always knew she should be making: not defending guilty murderers, not cheating on her husband, etc. The captive reality is what happened when she made one last bad choice that landed her directly in the path of her kidnapper.

What I would have liked to know (since she lives in both versions of her realities) is why she gets to live in both? If her one good choice that led to her being free while her life was torn apart which in turn makes her start making good decisions and thus live, why not kill her off in the other? If she is literally two people in the book, why not kill off her bad side? That’s it. That’s the sci-fi of it that is driving me crazy. If she was literally two people, it seems that one of her should have been killed because how can there really be two Lila Bennetts? How are people not going to notice that? Especially because in the end of both situations Lila does make the same decision: to right her wrongs and be a better person. (Which is why I think it may only be “literally” two lives until Lila takes off her virtual reality goggles.) And yes, alternate realities/universes – I know, I know. Like I said, I poke holes in sci-fi.

The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison

The team is back in The Collector series by Dot Hutchison! This time Eliza Sterling takes the lead as both detective and story teller in Dot’s most recent case, The Vanishing Season. I am so excited because this is a series that has really stuck with me. Usually I find a series fizzles out after a few books but somehow Dot is doing what others can’t seem to do. I am again, truly, so impressed with her.

Brooklyn Mercer has disappeared. On her walk home from school, the same walk she takes every day, she vanishes without anyone seeing a thing. This throws Eliza and her team into action…a day late. The local authorities didn’t report Brooklyn as a missing child because they were sure they would find her that night. So, their case starts half way to the 48-hour mark, a critical timeframe for missing children.

This is an intense case on top of a currently stressed-to-the-max team as one of their own, Brandon Eddison, is struggling with the time of year: the anniversary of his own missing sister, Faith Eddison. Put all of this together, plus Brandon’s mentor and retired Detective Ian Matson showing up with new links, and suddenly the team has uncovered a chain of missing girls all over the United States. All look alike. All have been the same age. All have been taken during the same time of year, late October to early November, every other year. All have no evidence. It could be a coincidence. It could be a serial kidnapper.

One of the things I love about these books is that each one is told by a different person. Each book also introduces the next likely narrator. In the Butterfly Garden it’s Vic Hanoverian (and a tiny bit of Brandon Eddison) along with Maya telling the unthinkable story of The Gardener. In the next book Brandon takes the lead. It’s incredible how Ms. Hutchison can do this. She tells these amazing stories using all these different characters (from all different backgrounds no less) and yet she does it so seamlessly that I wonder what her real life looks like to do this so effortlessly. (Personally, I imagine she travels all over the world and interviews all kinds of people from different countries and backgrounds to use in her books.)

Another thing that draws me in with this series is that it’s not all serious or all funny or all one tone. Dot seems to really tell the story of a team. Everyone has different personalities, and all are better at something than the others, which contributes to the overall greatness of the team as a whole. Being able to do this makes it harder to stick her books in one genre as well. They are not just horror stories. They also have a true sense of humor as well as drama. They have a true crime sense, as these types of cases are definitely rare but also likely. I’m going to keep calling them thrillers because that’s their best fit but honestly these books would be enjoyable for everyone. Or, mostly everyone. They are “scary stories” after all.

I cannot wait for the fifth book, which there is currently no promise of, but I am placing my bet now: something with dead bodies narrated by the newest team member, Cass Kearney.