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She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be

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A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster. After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child--this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster. After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child--this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after. The body of a man found in an alley, every inch of his flesh horribly burned, yet his clothing completely untouched. For Detective Faustino Brier, this wasn't the first, and he knew it wouldn't be the last. It was no different from the others. He'd find another just like it one year from today. August 9, to be exact. Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject "D" waits, grows, learns. He's permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls. All of them linked in ways unimaginable. SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE conjures thoughts of early King and Koontz. A heart-pounding ride that creeps under your skin and will have you turning pages long into the night. “J.D. Barker is a one-of-a-kind writer and that’s a rare and special thing. Stephen King comes to mind and Lee Child, John Sandford. All one-of-a-kinds. Don’t miss anything J.D. writes.” —James Patterson, #1 International Bestselling Author “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind!” —Jeffery Deaver, NY Times Bestselling Author “I don’t say this lightly: J.D. Barker is a force to be reckoned with.” —Tosca Lee, NY Times Bestselling Author


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A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster. After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child--this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster. After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child--this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after. The body of a man found in an alley, every inch of his flesh horribly burned, yet his clothing completely untouched. For Detective Faustino Brier, this wasn't the first, and he knew it wouldn't be the last. It was no different from the others. He'd find another just like it one year from today. August 9, to be exact. Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject "D" waits, grows, learns. He's permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls. All of them linked in ways unimaginable. SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE conjures thoughts of early King and Koontz. A heart-pounding ride that creeps under your skin and will have you turning pages long into the night. “J.D. Barker is a one-of-a-kind writer and that’s a rare and special thing. Stephen King comes to mind and Lee Child, John Sandford. All one-of-a-kinds. Don’t miss anything J.D. writes.” —James Patterson, #1 International Bestselling Author “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind!” —Jeffery Deaver, NY Times Bestselling Author “I don’t say this lightly: J.D. Barker is a force to be reckoned with.” —Tosca Lee, NY Times Bestselling Author

30 review for She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be

  1. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Boy meets girl in a cemetery. The girl is driven away in a white SUV. The boy sees the same girl in the same cemetery on the same bench one year later... Kismet? You decide! The description calls this book "A haunting tale of suspense." but it's more than that. For me, this was also a love story, J.D. Barker Style. There are many kinds of love in this book - love for family, love for friends, romantic love, etc. Family is also a theme. What makes a family? It's not just those we are related to, it i Boy meets girl in a cemetery. The girl is driven away in a white SUV. The boy sees the same girl in the same cemetery on the same bench one year later... Kismet? You decide! The description calls this book "A haunting tale of suspense." but it's more than that. For me, this was also a love story, J.D. Barker Style. There are many kinds of love in this book - love for family, love for friends, romantic love, etc. Family is also a theme. What makes a family? It's not just those we are related to, it is those who are in our community, our friends, those who we have grown up with and have grown with, it can be the lady across the hall of the man who is hard of hearing who flips burgers where you work. Love, family, gunfire, death, burnt bodies, secret labs, obsession, and the search for the truth! "You have been in every line I have ever read." -Charles Dickens, Great Expectations Jack Thatch (John Edward Thatch) a.k.a Pip was visiting his parent's graves with his Aunt Jo, the first time he met Stella, sitting on a bench in the cemetery with her favorite book, Great Expectations. From that moment on, he can't get her out of his mind. Then he sees her again in the same place a year later. Who is this mysterious young Stella? Who are the people with her? What's with all the white clothes and cars? Detective Brier has been noticing things or shall I say, dead people. Those like the man whose body was found in an alleyway burned but his clothing remains intact, untouched by whatever burned him. It happens every year on August 9th. Soon Detective Fogel is on the case as well. Then there is Subject "D" a young boy in a mysterious lab, who wears a mask and is not permitted to speak to anyone. He is powerful, and those who have him there, never want him to leave. He is kept alone, growing, thinking, imagining.... All these things and people are connected in intricate and interesting ways. This is a BIG book, there is a lot going on - it's easy to digest but some of it will break your heart. Barker quotes Great Expectations in this book; however, while reading one scene from this book I was reminded of a quote from another book": "He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry." - Markus Zusak, Book Thief. Well, he did it. Barker made me cry with that one scene. This book is reminiscent of early King and Koontz. King fans know he is not afraid to kill his darlings....so who will Barker kill in this book? He had me grabbing my tissues. For those that have read Barker's other books, this one is a little different but just as wonderful. Here he shows us a different side. He also shows us character development, he gives us a glimpse into his character's lives over a span of time. We see them grow, change, make mistakes, get knocked down, get back up, keep on going. In his 4MK series, we see character development throughout his series, in this book, we see it over the span of these character's lives. Besides being a love story, this is also a coming of age story with a sci-fi, suspense/thriller plot. This book is not as fast-paced as his other books, yet it is just as rewarding. Keep in mind, that even though I am saying it is not as fast-paced, in no way am I saying it is slow - it's not. This book keeps building, just like Jack and Stella, it keeps growing. There are characters to love and characters who are creepy, characters who are bad and those who are a mixture of both good and bad. There are those you will root for, those who you wish would do better, and then there was "D". There is a human factor here, these characters will get under your skin, and their plight will have you feeling all kinds of emotions. Like his other books, this book was beautifully written and came together brilliantly. Nothing felt rushed or drawn out. I found the pacing to be perfect. I found this book to be compelling and I was riveted to the pages, turning them as fast as my schedule would allow. I loved getting to know these characters and reading where Barker took them. Plus, he has me wanting to read Great Expectations again, and again and again. Highly Recommend! As long as Barker keeps writing, I’ll keep reading! He’s the real deal and has proven he can and will deliver book after book. P.S. Don’t overlook the “From the Author” section at the end. Thank you to J.D. Barker, Hampton Creek Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it was fantastic! All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    4.25 stars ENTHRALLING She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is a weird, dark, and mysterious novel about a mystery surrounding a girl who appears once a year in the cemetery on the anniversary of the death of a young boy’s parents. The plot has many characters and many layers. While not complex, there are a lot of threads and strange dynamics to keep track of. Combining a mixture of genres, this is a story about a boy and a girl who meet at a cemetery. They both happen to be orphans. 4.25 stars ENTHRALLING She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is a weird, dark, and mysterious novel about a mystery surrounding a girl who appears once a year in the cemetery on the anniversary of the death of a young boy’s parents. The plot has many characters and many layers. While not complex, there are a lot of threads and strange dynamics to keep track of. Combining a mixture of genres, this is a story about a boy and a girl who meet at a cemetery. They both happen to be orphans. Infatuation grows into love, but dark forces are keeping them apart.It’s about friendship and family. It’s about exploitation and evil. It’s about the good vs. the bad. The normal vs. weird. The natural vs. the supernatural. Most significantly, it’s about love. There is something about the way J.D. Barker writes these characters and their story that is so compelling. I couldn’t put this book down. I was sucked in almost immediately and quickly got lost in the tale of Jack and Stella. The more I read the more I wanted to know. The more I read, the stranger it became. But it also became more and more enthralling. This a lengthy read, but it never felt long. A lot happens, but all of the threads come together and all of the events are meaningful. The characters are well-developed and Jack makes for a great hero. Influenced by Great Expectations combined with elements from X-Men set in Pittsburgh, She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is a thoroughly entertaining, original, and refreshing read. This is a story to get lost in. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    My first thought about this JD Barker novel was what an unwieldy title, but this terrific multi-genre mystery thriller is a captivating and emotional roller coaster of a read, revolving around Dicken's Great Expectations whilst paying tribute to Stephen King. First though, you need to ensure you have time to sink into the story, the book is long, but rest assured you will not notice this as you become immersed and will not want to stop until it all concludes. Young Jack Thatch is living an impov My first thought about this JD Barker novel was what an unwieldy title, but this terrific multi-genre mystery thriller is a captivating and emotional roller coaster of a read, revolving around Dicken's Great Expectations whilst paying tribute to Stephen King. First though, you need to ensure you have time to sink into the story, the book is long, but rest assured you will not notice this as you become immersed and will not want to stop until it all concludes. Young Jack Thatch is living an impoverished life with his Aunt Jo, whose love for him runs deep, his life has been touched by heartbreaking tragedy when his parents died in a horrifying car crash. On visiting his parents grave in the cemetery, Jack encounters 8 year old Stella sitting on a bench, reading the best book in the world, Great Expectations, for Stella, Jack is Pip. Their meeting might well have been brief, but Jack is captivated and cannot forget her. Despite turning up numerous times to see if he can see Stella again, it takes a year to the day before Jack sees Stella again, and through the years they meet on the exact same day. Detective Faustino Brier and his partner are puzzled when the body of a dead man is found in the strangest of circumstances, he is burnt and charred, yet his clothes are untouched, and every year on the same day, another body turns up. In a world of shadows, in the most secret and isolated of laboratories is a boy, codenamed Subject D, a boy with the kind of abilities that ensures he will never be released. Through the years, Barker develops his characters in a narrative that includes oodles of suspense, road trips, a Jack surrounded by death, and twists as surprising connections become clear. This is the most intriguing, haunting, and riveting of novels, of love, friendship and a coming of age tale. This is one hell of a thrill ride which I recommend highly. Many thanks to Hampton Creek Press for an ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I'll be honest and tell you that I have never read J.D. Barkers 4MK series even though so many of my friends have sung its praises. For whatever reason I was just not sold on the premise. One day I was on NetGalley (I know, shocking!) and She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be was available to "read now". The title piqued my interest, the cover is perfection, and the synopsis intriguing - what does a girl have to lose? I am so happy to have downloaded this gem of a book because it is n I'll be honest and tell you that I have never read J.D. Barkers 4MK series even though so many of my friends have sung its praises. For whatever reason I was just not sold on the premise. One day I was on NetGalley (I know, shocking!) and She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be was available to "read now". The title piqued my interest, the cover is perfection, and the synopsis intriguing - what does a girl have to lose? I am so happy to have downloaded this gem of a book because it is nothing short of phenomenal. I truly did get King vibes from this one. This epic story of nearly 800 pages covers a 30 year span of time which makes this review incredibly difficult to write. John Tatch lost his parents in a car accident and now lives with his fierce but loving Aunt Jo. Every August 8th, the anniversary of their death, they spend the day at the cemetery by their gravesides. This year is different though. John spots a girl his age sitting on a bench reading a book. He becomes completely mesmerized by her and makes his way to her bench to introduce himself. (This scene is so damn cute!) Her name is Stella and she is reading Great Expectations and she doesn't seem to find John interesting at all and tells him so. Dumbfounded by her honesty he continues to sit in her company until, before he knows it, Stella is being ushered away by the people in white. John is not deterred and continues to visit the cemetery and the bench they shared day after day and Stella never arrives. He doesn't see her around town or in school. She is a mystery that he becomes obsessed with. Then when August 8th rolls around again, much to his surprise, Stella is sitting on the bench reading her book. The people in white are also nearby. Who is this girl? Where does she come from? Why must she wear gloves? And who are the people in white? These are all questions you will be asking yourselves. I loved so many characters in this book: John, Duncan, Stella, Aunt Jo, Gerdy. 💗 Subject "D" - Talk about goosebumps! A very creepy young man wearing a mask, locked in a cell, and no one and I mean NO ONE should ever listen to him speak. If he doesn't keep you flipping the pages then I don't know what will. Every single emotion was felt while I read this book and for that - ALL THE STARS!!! Thank you to NetGalley and Hampton Creek Press for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    It's funny how some tales take parts of a person. This one did it for me. I'm undecided whether it's a great story, or just o.k. Barker hits my weird bone! Some may have a funny bone, but that's a nerve ending. I can't tell ya' how Barker works in my head...but, he does! That's really all I care about. Love this author!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelli Wilson

    FABULOUS! After the first 100 pages I had to check whether I was actually reading a Stephen King novel. By the end though, I knew it was a J.D. novel all his own because I had been totally enthralled! Some context: I don't personally care for Stephen Kings books. (I know, it's a reader sin to admit that!).  Initially I was worried it was going to be just like another recent King read: another very long, very dark and very dry book. But I was wonderfully proven wrong!  This book was exactly how I w FABULOUS! After the first 100 pages I had to check whether I was actually reading a Stephen King novel. By the end though, I knew it was a J.D. novel all his own because I had been totally enthralled! Some context: I don't personally care for Stephen Kings books. (I know, it's a reader sin to admit that!).  Initially I was worried it was going to be just like another recent King read: another very long, very dark and very dry book. But I was wonderfully proven wrong!  This book was exactly how I wish King's books could be. It was paced much better, and while it is over 500 pages long, it doesn't feel like a marathon when you're reading.  The reader is with the main character, a boy named Jack, from his early years to his mid 40s. An epic story that involves a young boy, falling for a mysterious young girl, and a mystery that he spends his life trying to solve, trying to understand. A corrupt business always trying to thwart or kill him and a generous dash of paranormal that makes for a thrilling read. The reader lives every moment of his life along with him. Along the way we meet all the different people that had a major impact in his life, and we learn to like, love, or hate each of them as we continue on his journey. The detail written in all his relationships is completely engaging.  You come to truly care for these characters. And maybe most important, this book has plenty of light and love to counter the darkest parts.  A fabulously well written book that I feel excited to now add it to my "Read" book list! *Thank you to the author, J.D. Barker via NetGalley for access to the digital review copy!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    Hot Diggity Dang! If I were to describe this one in one word, it would be MASTERFUL. But of course, I have many words, and so much I want to say about this one. I just had to ask J.D. Barker about his books and he joined us in The Behind the Pages group for a Q & A. I am always intimidated by longer books, and J.D. has intimidated me a few times with the length of his books. Even the title is long for this one! Lol, I am slow to start, but once I do, I can't wait to finish but don't want them to Hot Diggity Dang! If I were to describe this one in one word, it would be MASTERFUL. But of course, I have many words, and so much I want to say about this one. I just had to ask J.D. Barker about his books and he joined us in The Behind the Pages group for a Q & A. I am always intimidated by longer books, and J.D. has intimidated me a few times with the length of his books. Even the title is long for this one! Lol, I am slow to start, but once I do, I can't wait to finish but don't want them to end. She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is one of a kind here and there are a few things going in the story that is weaved together so brilliantly. A twisty romance, mystery, unquie characters, a little horror to the story and enough suspense that will have you asking many questions. Making this one a great for a group discussion. I read this one in The Traveling sister group and we had a lot to talk about. Things start a little strange, and I had no idea what was going on here with the characters, and the suspense that created had me turning the pages as fast as I could. It's all about the characters here for me, and J.D creates a wide variety of characters here with conflicts that all come together so well. The characters are multidimensional, and through their actions and decisions under pressure, I changed how I felt about some characters as they developed. They were characters we wanted to talk about. The story reaches an exciting, dramatic climax that had me at the edge of my seat, flipping the pages as if my fingers were on fire. After finishing, I was left wanting more from the characters, and I thought about them long after finishing the book. We did ask J.D. if he has plans for a sequel with these characters, and this is what he said "I have no plans to revisit them in a sequel at this time. Too many other books to write!" I am looking forward to those many other books he has in store for us! To see what else J.D. Barker has to say check out our Behind the Pages Q & A https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/... I received a copy from J.D. Barker on NetGalley

  8. 5 out of 5

    marilyn

    From the beginning of this book, I didn't want to put it down. It's a long book but it certainly didn't seem long. It's full of interesting, multi faceted characters, people that make choices, right or wrong but also full of people that are caught in something that makes them do things they would never do, under other circumstances. I think that is the scariest thing about this book, the horror of losing control of everything that you are, everything that you believe, being just a passenger insi From the beginning of this book, I didn't want to put it down. It's a long book but it certainly didn't seem long. It's full of interesting, multi faceted characters, people that make choices, right or wrong but also full of people that are caught in something that makes them do things they would never do, under other circumstances. I think that is the scariest thing about this book, the horror of losing control of everything that you are, everything that you believe, being just a passenger inside your body, with no options but to act a certain way.  Jack is such a likeable main character. He's an honest, hardworking, smart kid and he loves his Auntie Jo, he pines for his dead parents and relives vivid dreams about something that happened to him and them, when he was four years old. Auntie Jo says those visions are just dreams but they are so real and as time goes on, there is more and more proof that what Jack dreams really did happen.  Auntie Jo is another character I really like. Smoking herself to death, working hard at her job as a waitress, she loves Jack and as harsh, blunt, and crude as she is, her heart is gold. Her customers, neighbors, and co-workers know that Jo is a diamond in the rough, a good person and Jo will do anything for her nephew Jack.  Jack and Auntie Jo visit his parents graves very August 8th, the anniversary of their death. When Jack is 8 years old, he meets a beautiful, mysterious girl, Stella, who is sitting on a bench at the cemetery. From that first meeting, Jack is obsessed with Stella and can not get her out of his mind, thinking of her, drawing pictures of her, wanting to see her again. He continues to see her on that date for several years and then things get crazy, crazier than they already seem to be, with Jack's strange dreams and strange things happening around him.  In the end, so much is connected, connected to Jack's dreams, to Stella, to the people he knows. Who can Jack trust? Why can't his heart let go of Stella? What is it that draws them together and who are the people dressed in white, who are always with Stella?  What Jack learns is bigger than two people and there is danger and death in Jack's past and future that he sees coming, sees happening in the past, and he can't stop what is happening even as he is part of it. And, there is another child, a boy, who might be the most dangerous person of all, who wants Stella and will let nothing and nobody get in his way.  This is a great book to read with buddies because there is so much to discuss! Thank you to the author, J.D. Barker, Hampton Creek Press, and NetGalley for this ARC.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jayme

    Masterful! (And a gorgeous cover, too!) Who would’ve thought that you could start with a Charles Dickens classic, “Great Expectations” and reimagine it, as a haunting tale of suspense/horror?! Not me, that’s for sure. But J.D Barker, does just that, and he does it brilliantly! This 700+ Page Kindle copy, opens with 8 year old Jack Thatch, an orphan who lives with his Aunt Jo Gargery, visiting the cemetery to visit his parent’s graves. He spots a beautiful, young girl about his age, called Stella, Masterful! (And a gorgeous cover, too!) Who would’ve thought that you could start with a Charles Dickens classic, “Great Expectations” and reimagine it, as a haunting tale of suspense/horror?! Not me, that’s for sure. But J.D Barker, does just that, and he does it brilliantly! This 700+ Page Kindle copy, opens with 8 year old Jack Thatch, an orphan who lives with his Aunt Jo Gargery, visiting the cemetery to visit his parent’s graves. He spots a beautiful, young girl about his age, called Stella, who is sitting on a bench clutching a copy of her favorite book, “Great Expectations”. It is a book about an orphan, Pip, who lives with his abusive sister and her husband, Joe Gargery, who likes to explore in a churchyard, near his parent’s graves. One of his only friends is Estella, the adopted daughter of a wealthy, reclusive woman. Estella treats Pip, in the most demeaning ways, but he becomes obsessed and is determined to “better himself” to “win her over”. Jack introduces himself to Stella, who informs him that he is “common” and since he clearly beneath her in social class, she dubs him “Pip”, after her favorite character in the book. Jack becomes obsessed with Stella, and he rushes home to find a copy of the book that she was so enthralled with! He searches for her everywhere. But, he won’t see her again, for exactly one year, when on the same day, August 8th, she is again on the bench in the cemetery clutching the same book. Something else occurs around that same time every year. Every August 9th, a body will be found, flesh burned but clothes, unscathed. And, a little boy, called “Subject D” is locked away and studied. All will be linked, throughout their lives.... This book has been compared to early King and Koontz, which I read religiously, as a teen and young adult, so although I have moved away from horror, I was intrigued. I would agree that those are fair comparisons. Where this story is suggestive rather than graphic in its descriptions, It does share with the other authors early works, great characters which had me laughing and even tearing up, at times. Just like when I read King’s 11/22/63, I enjoyed the “nostalgia” of THIS book, as it mentions songs that were being played on the radio in the 70’s and 80’s, the novels being read by everyone, in those years, such as all of James Patterson’s, and things like pay phones and matchsticks in hotel rooms. I enjoyed the first half a bit more than the second half, when the the mystery is unfolding. The second half is more of a “cat and mouse” chase. Will Good triumph over Evil? Will Love conquer Hate? Dicken’s “Great Expectations” had two endings..one sad one and one happy one. Which one J.D. Barker chooses to go with, will be for you to figure out.. I will be watching for his future collaboration with James Patterson, “The Coast To Coast Murders” on NG and EW, scheduled for publication on Sept 21, 2020. And, I plan to read an earlier work, Dracul, as well. THIS book is available NOW if you want to pick up a copy!! I Highly recommend that you do!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    One thing is for sure with a title such as this book has, one could certainly expect to be in for a surprise. With a book of close to eight hundred pages, this story's length might be one to discourage a reader. However, do yourself a favor and grab a copy for this is one heck of a story brilliantly told. Jack Thatch is a young boy who is left bereft when his parents die in a car crash. Left to live with his hard working but very poor Aunt Jo, Jack's life look bleak and one where he will find lit One thing is for sure with a title such as this book has, one could certainly expect to be in for a surprise. With a book of close to eight hundred pages, this story's length might be one to discourage a reader. However, do yourself a favor and grab a copy for this is one heck of a story brilliantly told. Jack Thatch is a young boy who is left bereft when his parents die in a car crash. Left to live with his hard working but very poor Aunt Jo, Jack's life look bleak and one where he will find little to be joyful about. One day, August 8th to be exact, while visiting his parents' graves, Jack meets, sitting on a bench, a young girl who is followed by a team of white clad people and cars. How very strange and mysterious! Stella becomes an enigma, a conundrum, a puzzlement to Jack. She will return at intervals on that same August 8th day, to the same bench this journey began on, always with those people in white. The odyssey of Jack and Stella commences. There is something sinister, something eerie, something otherworldly about Stella, but the attraction Jack feels becomes stronger every year, and his heart becomes involved with a love that is tenacious and vibrant. There is not a day when Jack does not think of Stella for he is convinced she is his destiny. Meanwhile life goes on for Jack. He works with his aunt in a diner and the two of them scrimp and save to try to make ends meets. But mysterious things start happening. Jack receives five hundred dollars monthly, left on his bed, and has no idea where or how this money comes to be. He meets with Stella whenever she appears on August 8th, and they find common ground in the work of Dickens's Great Expectations. Jack becomes Stella's Pip. There is much about Stella that is shrouded in mystery. Why the wearing of gloves and why is she accompanied to the graveyard by these white clad people with a women tender.......and then there are the bodies that are starting to surface. Bodies that seemed to have been burned and yet not burned. The police get involved. Detectives Fogel and Brier are on the trail especially since there seems to be a pattern of one dead body found on August 9th, the day after Jack and Stella's intermittent meetings. There is another perplexing character, a boy D, who is locked away, harboring a terrible secret and ability. How he and the others figure into this enigma drives the story forward at a pace that takes one's breath away. This is a love story, love in its many forms, familial, friendship, but ultimately, it is the love Jack has for Stella that brings this story full circle to a most amazing conclusion. I totally fell in love with the book. It was one in which hours passed, and one more chapter became two, three or four. It was one where the middle of the night reading became the rule. It was just that good. So, do indeed take a look at this book. It has everything one loves in stories and through its masterful telling is able to weave a tale so intricate, so loving, so scary, so intriguing that the words you can't put this book down takes on new meaning. Many thanks to J.D. Barker, Hampton Creek Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this fantastic book due out on March 31, 2020.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: Pittsburgh had a lot of cemeteries. This particular one, All Saints Hollow, was one of the largest. The mausoleums. I didn't much like the mausoleums. When we drove by a cemetery, Auntie Jo said you're always supposed to hold your breath to keep the spirits of the dead from finding you. I'm not sure why this rule didn't apply when you were actually in the cemetery, but if it applied anywhere, it would be at the mausoleums. The air was still here. I pictured the dead peeking out from the EXCERPT: Pittsburgh had a lot of cemeteries. This particular one, All Saints Hollow, was one of the largest. The mausoleums. I didn't much like the mausoleums. When we drove by a cemetery, Auntie Jo said you're always supposed to hold your breath to keep the spirits of the dead from finding you. I'm not sure why this rule didn't apply when you were actually in the cemetery, but if it applied anywhere, it would be at the mausoleums. The air was still here. I pictured the dead peeking out from the cracks in the stone, bony hands ready to reach out and snatch unsuspecting little boys, pulling us into those squat structures, never to be seen again. ABOUT THIS BOOK: After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child—this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She'd creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after. The body of a man found in an alley, every inch of his flesh horribly burned, yet his clothing completely untouched. For Detective Faustino Brier, this wasn't the first, and he knew it wouldn't be the last. It was no different from the others. He'd find another just like it one year from today. August 9, to be exact. Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject "D" waits, grows, learns. He's permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls. All of them linked in ways unimaginable. MY THOUGHTS: When I read the promotional blurb for this book, 'SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE conjures thoughts of early King and Koontz. A heart-pounding ride that creeps under your skin and will have you turning pages long into the night.', I thought 'Yeah, right.' I had not been having a good run with my reading. Nothing seemed to satisfy me. But this did. I was consumed by it. I woke in the early hours of the morning after dreaming of Jack and Stella, and cemeteries, and read through the remainder of the night until it was finished with me. And the blurb is right. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be, is reminiscent of early King and Koontz. 'As the older woman turned, as she spun around, the wind caught the edge of her coat and I saw something beneath it, an image that is still as clear as day in my mind; the barrel of a shotgun resting against her leg.' .... 'The Gunslinger' was the first thing I thought of. But it is also so much more...there really is nothing to compare this to. It is in a class of its own. Yes, this is horror, but it is plausible. Do we know what trials/medical experiments are/were being carried out? No, we only know what we are told. And as my favourite uncle was fond of saying, believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see. Although the main theme is horror, there's more. Barker writes with a tongue in cheek humour- 'What don't you do while I'm gone?' 'Open the door.' 'Except for the pizza guy.' 'Except for the pizza guy.'.....'What if the pizza guy is an axe wielding murderer and he wants to chop me into little pieces?' 'Well then, don't tip him.' There is romance, and coming to grips with the reality of life and death, and adventure and heartbreak and action all wrapped into one package. And it works, brilliantly. I have in the past, and very recently, criticised authors for trying to pack too many genres into their work, of trying to be too many things to their readers. Barker proves that it can be done, and very successfully. There are a lot of characters in this book, and yet it is surprisingly easy to keep track of them. Some of them are very ordinary, some are strange, and others just downright weird. All have depth and all, strangely, feel very real. This book is eerie, and weird. It is enthralling and compelling. It will stay with me for a long time. I will especially remember it whenever I see a white SUV. This is a book that is going on my favourites shelf, and one that will be reread. ❤😱😱😱❤ 'The light of morning reached through my window and tried to grab me under my mound of blankets.' 'She wore her uniform like a hanger with feet.' 'Potential parents paraded through in search of a good find, not unlike bargain shoppers at a yard sale.' 'You don't answer any of my questions.'.....'Maybe you should stop asking questions.' And one quote that I think is particularly pertinent right now:'Of all things, I believe I'll miss the night sky the most. The absolute vastness of it, the unknown. While we're down here, fighting our pesky little battles, we're really just a little speck on the shoe of the universe. Any problem life may present seems so small, so insignificant, when you simply look up and realise your true place in all things.' THE AUTHOR: J.D. Barker is the international best-selling author of numerous novels, including DRACUL and THE FOURTH MONKEY. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His novels have been translated into two dozen languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember. A note from J.D. As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head. I would never go down to the basement. Never. I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories. Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own. I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good. DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hampton Creek Press (IBPA) via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Oscar

    tw: rape, home invasion, brutality, child abuse, alcoholism 'That's a mouthful for a title.' My first thought when I read the title. And that cover? It emits mystery but still bland personally. I thought this book was going to revolve around a dead/missing girl trope. Boy, I was wrong. COMPLETELY WRONG. (ps. I don't read the synopsis of the books I'm reading. I always just check the genres if I got it right.) The story follows John Edward Thatch, a boy who persistently named himself as Jack, throu tw: rape, home invasion, brutality, child abuse, alcoholism 'That's a mouthful for a title.' My first thought when I read the title. And that cover? It emits mystery but still bland personally. I thought this book was going to revolve around a dead/missing girl trope. Boy, I was wrong. COMPLETELY WRONG. (ps. I don't read the synopsis of the books I'm reading. I always just check the genres if I got it right.) The story follows John Edward Thatch, a boy who persistently named himself as Jack, throughout the span of the almost forty years of his life. It started when Jack, at the age of 8 back then, met this girl sitting in a bench in the cemetery. He found that she appears and sits here with her book annually. When he asked, she gave him riddles instead. I advice to go blindly as possible for a better reading experience! Also bodies are being found almost at the same time of the year and an unknown evil locked far away is bidding his time. She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is a thriller/fantasy/romance story full of tension and complex characters. Probably one of the best books that I have read. Definitely a stand out from the rest. The writing here was highly compelling. I found myself turning the page again and again. Right from the beginning, I was already invested both with these characters and the story itself. Nothing here made my eye roll surprisingly. The characters, especially Jack, were fleshed out and nuanced. Their development through out the story was remarkable. As readers, we saw them fell in love, got their heart broke, did some questionable things and in the end did what was right. All of their misfortunes made them wholly human. I believe that the moment you start to feel for the characters, that's it. You'll just fall in love with the book itself. Their struggles are your struggles. Their heartaches feel real. These are the people who you will root for. The take on the villain was quite interesting. No tragic backstory, no conscience whatsoever. Just straight up wicked and vile. I wouldn't say that I liked this type of villain but he was written interestingly that it was difficult for me to look away. Another thing that I loved in this was the family and friendship dynamics. Jack is an orphan from the very beginning but with Auntie Jo, who works in a diner, and Kendral, who owns it, he never felt that he was alone. These people are considered as his new found family. They were his constant support. As Jack's friends, Duncan and Willy backed him up in everything even though his actions themselves are questionable. I love their friendship until...... Let's just move on! "I'm sorry. You were my friend, and I let you down. I let you down so many levels. I should have been there the whole time, and I wasn't. I'm here now, though. I want to make things right somehow." - Willy "I know you have reservations about what happened, I know you don't believe me. I've made peace with that. Maybe someday you will, too. I wouldn't let you down back then, and I'm not about to do it now. You're my brother, man. Family." - Duncan. I adore genuine friendships in books. Lastly, the twists in this were somehow good. Not shocking or bone-chilling to my taste but I'll take it. I wouldn't classify this book as horror. Nothing here was actually horrifying to me. If you enjoyed this as much as I did, I'm recommending Stephen King's The Institute. That book reminded me quite much when I was reading this. Happy reading! (view spoiler)[What happened to Will though? It was implied in the end that he's from the enemy but I just couldn't believe it. (hide spoiler)]

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, JD Barker, and Hampton Creek Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. A fan of JD Barker and his off the wall work, I was happy to get my hands on this ARC of his latest standalone. This book kept me up late, wondering how things would fall into place, while also impressing me with the twists embedded in the narrative. John Edward ‘Jack’ Thatch suffered quite the loss when he First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, JD Barker, and Hampton Creek Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. A fan of JD Barker and his off the wall work, I was happy to get my hands on this ARC of his latest standalone. This book kept me up late, wondering how things would fall into place, while also impressing me with the twists embedded in the narrative. John Edward ‘Jack’ Thatch suffered quite the loss when he was four, as both his parents died in an automobile accident. He visits their gravestones every year on August 8th and when he does so in 1984, young Jack meets Stella, a mysterious little girl. Captivated by her, Jack sees her every year on the same day, but cannot understand who she is there to see or what brings her back. With no parents of her own, Stella is accompanied by a group who wear white coats and travel in sleek vehicles. Jack’s infatuation grows over the years, though Stella remains aloof about his interest. Jack’s day-to-day life heats up in Pittsburgh as he becomes a teenager, particularly when his aunt passes away and leaves him a sum of money. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh PD have been chasing down a number of cold cases, all committed around August 8th. Each of the victims seems to be ‘scorched’ but the surroundings are untouched. Acting on some curious intel, the authorities wonder if Stella might be behind the murders, even though she was just a baby when they began. At the standoff, many die, but Stella is able to elude capture. She flees into the night, on the run for crimes about which she knows all too well. Jack also falls off the grid after learning his father kept a monumental secret from him, which could explain the connection to Stella. This baffling mystery might bring Jack and Stella even closer, while explaining some of the odd things taking place around Pittsburgh for so long. A mind-bending novel that only Barker could concoct. It will leave the reader more confused than when they started, but in the best possible way. Recommended to those who love something that challenges the norms of mystery and thriller writing. When I first discovered JD Barker, I knew I was in for an exciting ride. His stories are never a simple A to B, meandering around and keeping the reader enthralled until the very end. There is so much to them that the reader must pay close attention and hope that their comprehension hat is firmly affixed. Jack is a wonderfully complex character who develops so well throughout this book, but seems to do so in fits and starts. His backstory is thorough and keeps revealing itself, much as his developments throughout will keep the reader trying to sketch out what they know and how it all fits. There is so much on the go and yet it does not seem overwhelming when taken in small doses. Others, including Stella, develop nicely throughout, as Barker peels back their layers to discover some wonderfully juicy tidbits of their own. Many characters complement what Jack is doing, though some take the story in many tangents. Speaking of the larger story, this is a massive one and goes in so many directions. That being said, Barker keeps it grounded enough that the reader can follow what is going on and see the progression with ease. Broken into multiple parts—which are themselves divided into ‘annual chapters’—the story is more easily digested, without losing the needed narrative momentum. I found myself in awe as I finished, to see where I had come in this reading journey. This book is not for the weak of heart or superficial reader, but I can assure any who take the journey, it will not be easily forgotten. Kudos, Mr. Barker, for a great tale that took me on quite the adventure. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is an exciting un-put-downable thriller. DON’T read the rest of this review. DON’T read any reviews. JUST dive into the book like I did based on all the unspoken promises in the amazing title and prepare yourself for the unexpected. Truly, you will find yourself fascinated by what’s being told. And, you won’t have a bloody clue where this yarn is going. Not a damn clue. JUST read the damn thing. C’mon now, it’s less than 800 pages (barely). If you She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is an exciting un-put-downable thriller. DON’T read the rest of this review. DON’T read any reviews. JUST dive into the book like I did based on all the unspoken promises in the amazing title and prepare yourself for the unexpected. Truly, you will find yourself fascinated by what’s being told. And, you won’t have a bloody clue where this yarn is going. Not a damn clue. JUST read the damn thing. C’mon now, it’s less than 800 pages (barely). If you can’t however heed my warnings and you must know more, then read on. I feel much like Gene Wilder in Willie Wonka though imploring the children not to drink from the chocolate river, not to try to grab the golden goose, and not to get in the way of the real tv camera. I know you can’t help yourself but don’t say I didn’t warn you. If anyone can convince us that Great Expectations (the book that English teachers 👩‍🏫 ruined for most of us) is worth reading, JD Barker has now made the argument. It is the key 🔑 to all the mysteries here (well. Some of them. Anyway). I never thought I would willingly discuss That Book again, but Stella thinks it’s the best book in the world. It all begins with a young boy in a cemetery visiting his parents’ graves where he unwittingly meets a high and haughty spoiled princess who informs him that he is a dirty unmannered proletariat like Pip (read Great Expectations). And, once a year, the princess and her snooty entourage return and mock his comic books and his upbringing. And each year - on August 8th he waits for her (Stella) to return. He even reads that crazy book for her - you know, that book. But it’s not just this tender sorta romance sorta sick infatuation. There’s more. Because there’s a twisted connection and between the bullets, the serial killings, the exploding diners, the mysterious benefactors, the secret cult of those dressed in white, you’ve got a Jane Hawke type thriller and a Jack Reacher wandering guy on the run thriller with good guys and bad guys and the fate of the world depending on them. On the way, we are treated to magic and friendship and trust and distrust and family and not family and experiments gone wild. The pacing is superb. The writing ✍️ designed to slowly but surely draw you in.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The wonderful thing about starting to read a book by J.D. Barker is that you never know where his weird and amazing imagination is going to take you. A consummate storyteller, he admits that he doesn't work to a plot outline and lets the book take him where it will and perhaps that is why it works so well for him. As promised She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is not as dark as the 4MK trilogy but it is just as wondrous. We have two children who meet in a cemetery on 8th August eve The wonderful thing about starting to read a book by J.D. Barker is that you never know where his weird and amazing imagination is going to take you. A consummate storyteller, he admits that he doesn't work to a plot outline and lets the book take him where it will and perhaps that is why it works so well for him. As promised She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is not as dark as the 4MK trilogy but it is just as wondrous. We have two children who meet in a cemetery on 8th August every year, a little girl kept in a mansion surrounded by guards dressed in white, a boy kept locked in a sound proof room and carefully watched and studied every minute of the day and a detective who keeps what he calls a 'wall of weird' documenting bodies that have turned up over the years their flesh and internal organs strangely burnt but their clothes intact. Jack Thatch is the narrator who meets the little girl, Stella (Estella) Nettleton in the cemetery in 1984 when they are both eight years old. Jack is with his Auntie Jo visiting the graves of his parents, killed in a car crash four years previously. Stella is sitting on a bench reading her favourite book, 'Great Expectations'. As in the book, Stella's parents are also dead and she lives in a mansion with a guardian. She decides Jack can become her Pip. Even though they speak for only a few minutes and won't meet again for another year, it's the start of a lifelong obsession for Jack and he becomes compelled to seek Stella out to find out more about her. Although this is a long book, I enjoyed every minute of it. All the strange and unusual pieces fit together so well in a perfectly made jigsaw - Stella's isolated and privileged existence, Jack's strange dreams about his father, the mystery boy in the locked room, the people in white and their ever present white cars and the strangely burnt people. Great characters and a fabulously original tale full of suspense, intrigue, friendship and love, just as a great novel should be. With many thanks to Hampton Creek Press and Netgalley for providing a copy to read

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helga

    “Life is a series of crossroads, and most of the time, they lead down one-way streets.” Ladies and Gentlemen! May I have your attention please? I declare this book deliciously delectable. This book ROCKED! I am rocked! I deliberately read it at a snail’s pace in order to savor every little detail, every sentence and every instance. I love Charles Dickens and have read and cherished almost all of his work. I read Great Expectation for the first time when I was 12 and reread it a couple of years ago. “Life is a series of crossroads, and most of the time, they lead down one-way streets.” Ladies and Gentlemen! May I have your attention please? I declare this book deliciously delectable. This book ROCKED! I am rocked! I deliberately read it at a snail’s pace in order to savor every little detail, every sentence and every instance. I love Charles Dickens and have read and cherished almost all of his work. I read Great Expectation for the first time when I was 12 and reread it a couple of years ago. Although this book is inspired by the masterpiece, it is brilliant and refreshing in its own right. The characters (some lovable, some pleasant and a few despicable) are so well-developed and wonderfully sketched, that little by little you realize you have become a member of the family, a part of their lives and at the end, when the time to say goodbye is fast approaching (all good things must come to an end) you find yourself addicted, mesmerized, haunted. “A moment can be an eternity, if we let it.” Every year on August 8, on the anniversary of his patents’ death, Jack Thatch and his aunt Jo go to the cemetery and visit their graves. One day on August 8, Jack sees a girl sitting on a bench in the cemetery. Her name is Stella, she carries Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and she calls Jack “Pip”. “I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.” -Charles Dickens, Great expectations Dear reader, if you like suspense and mystery, then this book is for you. If you like an enjoyable love story, then this book is for you. If you like to lose yourself for a while in the land of fantasy, then this book is for you. You’re going to be in for the ride of your life. Thanks to J.D. Barker, Hampton Creek Press and the NetGalley for the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan Cotterell

    I received this from NetGalley in exchange for my review I highly recommend this book, but make sure you don't have anything planned, as once you turn the first page. It is impossible to put down. This book is right up there with the 4MK trilogy, as one hell of a literary ride. The story line was well thought out and written with fantastic characters that are well drawn and developed. This is a multi-genre mystery, thriller, paranormal, love story. The story takes you from 1978 all the way through I received this from NetGalley in exchange for my review I highly recommend this book, but make sure you don't have anything planned, as once you turn the first page. It is impossible to put down. This book is right up there with the 4MK trilogy, as one hell of a literary ride. The story line was well thought out and written with fantastic characters that are well drawn and developed. This is a multi-genre mystery, thriller, paranormal, love story. The story takes you from 1978 all the way through to 2020, with the main character Jack hiding from the mysterious people in white, while he is constantly trying to follow Stella. There is so much going on in this story, that you read furiously, trying to catch up and anticipate what is next. Just when you think you have worked it all out, then something happens to say “no, you are wrong” or “close but not quite” This is a very long book approx. 770 pages, but there are no wasted words, paragraphs etc, that I sometimes find in much shorter books. Worth a lot more than 5 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be, was a book that I just could not put down! I read another book by JD Barker last year - Dracul which I also thought was exceptional. I will definitely be reading more of this author's collection. A young boy Jack Thatch meets a young girl Stella every year on August 8th on a bench, in a cemetery by the graves of his parents, who were killed when Jack was just a little boy. The story unfolds throughout events that cover a great many years of their li She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be, was a book that I just could not put down! I read another book by JD Barker last year - Dracul which I also thought was exceptional. I will definitely be reading more of this author's collection. A young boy Jack Thatch meets a young girl Stella every year on August 8th on a bench, in a cemetery by the graves of his parents, who were killed when Jack was just a little boy. The story unfolds throughout events that cover a great many years of their lives. A story that is both thriller as well as sci-fi /fantasy in description, and with a little in comic book feel to it. The readers will connect to many of these characters throughout the pages, and never a dull moment. A highly recommended book to read in my opinion, and a strong 5 Star rating as well Thank you to NetGalley, Hampton Creek Press, and Author J.D. Barker for my early copy in exchange for my review. #SheHasABrokenThingWhereHerHeartShouldBe #NetGalley

  19. 4 out of 5

    Warrengent

    A stunning novel, I loved the characters in this book,obviously jack and stella but I had a soft spot for dunk. Honestly do yourself a big favour and get yourself copy the story is excellent, and the ending was brilliantly done cant praise this book enough. Many thanks to publishers Hampton creek press,for allowing me to read this also a massive thank you to J.D.Barker,for such an exceptional book, and also many thanks to him for answering messages.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    Jack was eight years old when he met Stella, a girl his age sitting reading a book on a bench in the cemetery where his parents were buried. This meeting would be the beginning of an obsession for Jack that would change the course of his life. I was completely hooked on this book from the first page. The story had everything, mystery, suspense, intrigue, romance, friendship and plenty of action. There was also lots of great characters. The book has almost 800 pages but I read it three days because Jack was eight years old when he met Stella, a girl his age sitting reading a book on a bench in the cemetery where his parents were buried. This meeting would be the beginning of an obsession for Jack that would change the course of his life. I was completely hooked on this book from the first page. The story had everything, mystery, suspense, intrigue, romance, friendship and plenty of action. There was also lots of great characters. The book has almost 800 pages but I read it three days because I didn’t want to put it down. This is the first book I have read from this author and I will be looking out for more of his work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael David

    Have you ever read a book that sounded like it may take you out of your routine reading comfort zone because you could no longer ignore all of the amazing reviews and recommendations...and come to find that you love it? For me, this is that book. On August 8, 1984, 8-year old Jack meets Stella at the cemetery while visiting the graves of his parents with his Auntie Jo. Stella is sitting alone on a bench, reading GREAT EXPECTATIONS, while her chaperone watches in the distance. Although Stella isn Have you ever read a book that sounded like it may take you out of your routine reading comfort zone because you could no longer ignore all of the amazing reviews and recommendations...and come to find that you love it? For me, this is that book. On August 8, 1984, 8-year old Jack meets Stella at the cemetery while visiting the graves of his parents with his Auntie Jo. Stella is sitting alone on a bench, reading GREAT EXPECTATIONS, while her chaperone watches in the distance. Although Stella isn’t initially very friendly to Jack, he is smitten and strongly drawn to her. He will not see her again until the following year, on the same day, at the same cemetery, on the same bench. On August 8, 1984, a man is killed. His body will be found in an alley, looking horrendously burned but with his clothing in normal condition. A similar incident will happen in exactly one year. On August 8, 1984, Subject “D” is a young child who is locked up in some sort of laboratory. Nobody should ever hear him speak in real time, and they go to great lengths to ensure that stays the case. The next update on Subject “D” will be in exactly one year. These threads will slowly intertwine year after year. This wonderful and beautifully written book is a journey through multiple decades and multiple genres. It’s part coming of age love story, part mystery, part suspense, part horror, part sci-fi. It also goes through so many feelings: happiness, sadness, terror, the joy of discovering love, the difficulties of loss. It is dark and violent, and also light and gentle. Every character and scene is written with such obvious care. It’s a long book, but well worth the journey. One word to describe this book and everything in it: EPIC. Just a side note: I couldn’t help but think of the Cameron Diaz movie, “The Box”, while reading this. The plots are completely different, and the film takes place in the 70’s. I think there were 3 reasons for having it in my head: 1) There is a serious retro vibe to both of the stories. 2) I am not a sci-fi fan, but both of them have some sci-fi elements. I was too deeply invested in both of the stories to care once those elements came into play. 3) Despite everything that happens in the stories, they are both told with so much heart and feeling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    "Her name was Stella, and I loved her from the first moment I saw her. Even after watching her kill a man who looked a lot like me, I couldn't help but love her." Spanning years, from 1984 to 2020, we follow Jack "Pip" Thatch starting at age 8 on his journey of growing up, heartache, love and obsession. Jack lives with his Auntie Jo and every year on August 8th, they visit his parents graves in an old cemetery. This is where he meets Stella ... and the obsession starts. Stella is a beautiful myste "Her name was Stella, and I loved her from the first moment I saw her. Even after watching her kill a man who looked a lot like me, I couldn't help but love her." Spanning years, from 1984 to 2020, we follow Jack "Pip" Thatch starting at age 8 on his journey of growing up, heartache, love and obsession. Jack lives with his Auntie Jo and every year on August 8th, they visit his parents graves in an old cemetery. This is where he meets Stella ... and the obsession starts. Stella is a beautiful mysterious little girl and Jack is captivated by her the moment he meets her. Family, love, obsession, burned bodies that turn to ash, someone locked in a lab with strange powers, secrets and death are all packed in the story. Stella always travels around with a group of mysterious people who wear white coats with her driving expensive cars that protect her. There is so much going on in the story that it will keep you wondering who Stella is and why she can't touch or be touched, what happened to Jack at an early age, who the white coats are and so much more. There is also a "Subject D" injected inbetween chapters. A young boy with abilities that scare everyone who is guarding and evaluating him in a secure facility. Who is he and what is his connection? This is a very BIG BOOK with a lot of tense moments and an equal amount of heartbreak at almost a whopping 800 pages. Clear your schedule as you embark on a mind-bending journey of multiple characters lives, loves, and losses. Maybe toss in a Stranger Things and also a Stephen King suspense vibe. Not fast paced like his other books -- more of a slow steady burn building to an amazing yet satisfying end. There are characters that I loved and some that I disliked and most all are creepy. But always a touch of human factor that makes them feel real. Normally I'm not a fan of extremely long books but this one was a smooth ride that draws you in from the beginning with a page-flipping read. A cleverly crafted tale of friendship, love and coming of age. Recommended to fans of paranormal thrillers. Special thanks to JD Barker, Hampton Creek Press and NetGalley for the ARC!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    OMG what a book! This is only the second book I've read by J.D. Barker - the first being a collaboration with Dacre Stoker - Dracul - which was a fascinating read. This book is horror first of all, but could be considered mystery or thriller as well - there is definitely quite a mystery and thriller definitely fits. In the acknowledgements J. D. Barker said he wrote this book as something lighter after his dark 4MK thriller series. I thought this one was pretty dark, but now I'm figuring I'll ha OMG what a book! This is only the second book I've read by J.D. Barker - the first being a collaboration with Dacre Stoker - Dracul - which was a fascinating read. This book is horror first of all, but could be considered mystery or thriller as well - there is definitely quite a mystery and thriller definitely fits. In the acknowledgements J. D. Barker said he wrote this book as something lighter after his dark 4MK thriller series. I thought this one was pretty dark, but now I'm figuring I'll have to read that 4MK series as well. I raced through this book because I couldn't put it down. I could never figure out exactly what was going on until the end and I'm still filled with questions. I'm going to be thinking about this one for a while. Totally engrossing and fascinating - and let me say pretty darn original. Kudos J. D Barker! The characters are so realistic and yet fantastic. The plot is engrossing and fast paced. Loved it. Thanks to J. D. Barker and Hampton Creek Press through Netgalley for an advance copy. This was an awesome read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Xavier Hugonet

    She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is the first novel I’ve read from J.D. Barker, in spite of having exchanging with him on Twitter about his 4MK series a while ago (I still have to get to it). This is a great novel. August, 8 1984. A boy codenamed « D » is kept in an inescapable room by an unknown organization. He’s constantly under surveillance through monitors on a thirty seconds delay. August, 8 1984. John Edward Thatch, then 8 years old, visits his parents’ grave with his aunt She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is the first novel I’ve read from J.D. Barker, in spite of having exchanging with him on Twitter about his 4MK series a while ago (I still have to get to it). This is a great novel. August, 8 1984. A boy codenamed « D » is kept in an inescapable room by an unknown organization. He’s constantly under surveillance through monitors on a thirty seconds delay. August, 8 1984. John Edward Thatch, then 8 years old, visits his parents’ grave with his aunt Jo. On a bench in the cemetery, he meets a girl his age, Stella. She’s reading Great Expectations while being monitored by a woman in white. She leaves with her in a white SUV. Jack will again see her on August 8 the following year, and then again. She only appears on the bench on this exact day. August 8, 1987. Detective Faustino Brier investigates the death of a man found in an alley. Burnt, but not burnt, as if everyone of his cells turned to ash. This isn’t the first time he encounters such a case. Similar bodies have turned up every year, on August 8, since 1978. Reviewing this novel without spoiling anything proved particularly difficult. At some point, Stella will fail to appear. Jack will embark on a quest to find her. Pittsburgh’s finests (at least their de facto X-Files division) will do the same to try and solve their serial deaths.. We’ll also learn more about an organization reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Shop (antagonists in Firestarter, Golden Years, The Tommyknockers, The Stand...). When we begin to figure out where J.D. Barker’s story is going, we are proven wrong by a major twist. Many characters embark on a road trip, and a game of cat and mice, across the USA. Cats and mice roles shifting along the way. This book is a paranormal thriller. But, it is also a story about growing up, friendship, love, obsession, addiction. A story about conspiracy, about good and evil, but also all shades of grey between them. It is masterfully crafted by J.D. Barker, who has such a way with words that you’re kept hypnotized by his pages. There is humor, subtly weaved in the narration of this real big story. Big not solely by its page count, but foremost big in scope. She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be should have its place on the shelves where you keep Stephen King and Dean Koontz’ best novels. Thanks to Hampton Creek Press and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for this unbiased review. Now, please excuse me while I go buy and read everything else J.D. Barker has written. It’s about time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Wowsers! I absolutely loved this book. My favourite read for 2020 so far. Saying anything about the plot will give too much away, but I can tell you that it is part coming-of-age, part adventure, part fantasy, part mystery, part conspiracy, part horror and it had a pretty thrilling ending. My friend Mort often mentions songs that go with the book he is reviewing. This book really invoked Ava Adore by The Smashing Pumpkins. The lyrics are perfect for it. Actually the Pumpkins with Billy Corgan’s n Wowsers! I absolutely loved this book. My favourite read for 2020 so far. Saying anything about the plot will give too much away, but I can tell you that it is part coming-of-age, part adventure, part fantasy, part mystery, part conspiracy, part horror and it had a pretty thrilling ending. My friend Mort often mentions songs that go with the book he is reviewing. This book really invoked Ava Adore by The Smashing Pumpkins. The lyrics are perfect for it. Actually the Pumpkins with Billy Corgan’s nasal voice (at a deafening volume) provided the soundtrack to a few dark years for me in the 90’s and early 00’s. Of course part of this book was set in that era too. It really brought back some memories - some good and some ... not so much. I’ll have to go listen to them again 😁. We follow the main character, Jack Thatch, from a geeky eight year old through into adulthood and beyond. Life throws an awful lot of manure at Jack and he deals with it - sometimes badly, sometimes rising to the occasion but at all times we are rooting for him, for his dogged perseverance. This was a long book, e-books don’t have page numbers but it is around 800 or so pages long and yet it doesn’t feel anywhere near that long. You are in it for the journey and, for me, it finished too soon. This is nothing like the author’s 4MK trilogy. I was captivated, the characters were brought to life and I could not put this down. Thanks to Netgalley, Hampton Creek Press and especially J.D. Barker for my review copy. I wish I could give it more stars! If you enjoyed Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, I am confident you will enjoy this, it has a similar ‘vibe’.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Javier

    Last summer I read the 4MK series in a little more than a week and it instantly became one of my favorite thrillers ever, so when I saw on NG that its author had a new book coming out I requested it even without reading the blurb and I'm so glad I did. "She has a broken thing where her heart should be" was a mesmerizing read. It's a multi-genre story with so many layers I got sucked in almost from page one. It is a friendship tale, a thriller, a coming of age story, an 80s kids adventure, a secre Last summer I read the 4MK series in a little more than a week and it instantly became one of my favorite thrillers ever, so when I saw on NG that its author had a new book coming out I requested it even without reading the blurb and I'm so glad I did. "She has a broken thing where her heart should be" was a mesmerizing read. It's a multi-genre story with so many layers I got sucked in almost from page one. It is a friendship tale, a thriller, a coming of age story, an 80s kids adventure, a secret experiments mystery, a road trip journey...but above all it is a love story spanning decades. I couldn't stop reading specially for the first half of the book. I just needed to know more about what was happening. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a big fan of sci-fi/supernatural stories where baffling events happen, but here it was told in such an enthralling way I didn't even care for my reticences. Even though it is almost 800 pages long, it doesn't feel long at all. The characters are so well developed that you even care for the secondary ones, suffering along with Jack when something bad happens. It gave me some serious Stephen King/X-files vibes and I couldn't help myself imagining some scenes on the big screen (that final confrontantion with the villain gave me chills!) Highly recommended story with a premise so original that you will find yourself glued to the pages. With this book J.D. Barker has got me to read anything he writes from now on whatever the genre. Thanks to Netgalley and Hampton Creek Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    The Cats’ Mother

    Day 16 of Lockdown. This is a genre-bending stand-alone novel by the author of the 4MK series. Mashing up Great Expectations, Stranger Things, X-Men and Stand By Me/The Body, has created a wholly original paranormal fantasy story, reminiscent of the early Stephen King books. Be warned, this is a LONG book, over twelve hours according to my Kindle, which could be considered a positive if you’re trapped at home by a global pandemic, but can feel like a bit of a challenge when your review is overdu Day 16 of Lockdown. This is a genre-bending stand-alone novel by the author of the 4MK series. Mashing up Great Expectations, Stranger Things, X-Men and Stand By Me/The Body, has created a wholly original paranormal fantasy story, reminiscent of the early Stephen King books. Be warned, this is a LONG book, over twelve hours according to my Kindle, which could be considered a positive if you’re trapped at home by a global pandemic, but can feel like a bit of a challenge when your review is overdue, you can’t stop checking news updates, and the author is emailing you politely to chase it up... Visiting his parents’ graves on the anniversary of their death with his Aunt Jo, eight year old Jack Thatch meets a mysterious girl reading a book in the cemetery, and is immediately smitten, but then she is driven away by silent guardians all dressed in white. Stella is obsessed with Great Expectations and is a horrible to Jack as her namesake in the book is, but Jack doesn’t care. Returning often in the hope of finding her again, Jack pines for her but she doesn’t reappear until exactly a year later. Meanwhile inexplicably burned bodies have been showing up every year on the same date, leaving the police baffled. Years go by, but Jack will never give up hope, even when his passion has taken everything from him, but who is the dangerous young man locked in a room who is equally besotted with the beautiful Stella...? I was forced to read Great Expectations for my English Lit O-level, and got a D, which for a neurotic over-achiever was a great trauma, so I never read it again. (To this day I’m crap at interpreting themes and symbolism which is why I learn so much from other people’s reviews.) Around that time Mr King would’ve been my favourite author, but it’s been a while since I read anything from him as I grew out of the horror genre. I read and loved The Fourth Monkey, and finished the trilogy but was disappointed by the last book, but this is very different. Jack is a likeable hero, so having most of the story told from his first person past perspective was a big plus here, although it meant the parts told by Jack as omniscient third person narrator could get a tad confusing. There is a large cast of characters but I had no problem remembering who was who. While not as dark as the 4MK series, this nevertheless had some pretty gruesome scenes, and a high body count. I was rapidly sucked into the mystery of exactly what was going on at Charter and Barker does a good job of revealing just enough information and clues. There are also some great secondary characters like Jack’s best friend Dunk, and the mysterious hitman Preacher. I was left with a few questions - like why was everything at Charter white? - and several other points that I can’t mention without spoilers, so won’t, but this doesn’t feel like the start of a series and I liked the ending. At times creepy, at others hugely emotional, this was a brilliant change of direction from an accomplished story-teller. Highly recommended. My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc which allowed me to give an honest review, and apologies to Mr Barker that my review is 10 days late - blame the virus!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Well this wasn't the book for me. The first half of the book was great, I was intrigued and the story seemed interesting, but after that I got bored. The story was dragged out and it took way too long for us to find out what was actually happening. I lost track on a lot of stuff, because by the end of it, I wasn't interested at all.

  29. 5 out of 5

    debbicat

    Holy Hell! 5 stars! This was my favorite read so far of 2020! It's a long one. I rarely undertake long books (like almost 800 pages) during the school year. That's a pretty big commitment for this teacher, but when I got offered this one I HAD TO READ IT. Fortunately, some other cool peeps in The Traveling Sisters Group got it too and we did a buddy read. That was so much fun and made for the best discussion. We all loved Jack right off the bat! He is a great main character. Stella brought more Holy Hell! 5 stars! This was my favorite read so far of 2020! It's a long one. I rarely undertake long books (like almost 800 pages) during the school year. That's a pretty big commitment for this teacher, but when I got offered this one I HAD TO READ IT. Fortunately, some other cool peeps in The Traveling Sisters Group got it too and we did a buddy read. That was so much fun and made for the best discussion. We all loved Jack right off the bat! He is a great main character. Stella brought more of a challenge. That's a gorgeous cover, isn't it? And she is quite beautiful and sought after for her beauty but also for things she can do. The book, Great Expectations, plays a big part in this thriller. It has always been a favorite of mine and is Stella's favorite book too. The boy and girl here meet when they are quite young in a cemetery. Jack has a lot of things he is trying to figure out about his past...things about his parents, an accident they were in, why he dreams about them and what those dreams mean. Stella has her own demons. He falls in love with her from the moment he meets her but they don't get to see each other but once a year. When people dressed in white bring her to the cemetery, which Jack has figured out; he plans to visit at the same time. They get a few stolen moments on a bench once a year. She always has her book with her. Meanwhile, the mystery develops as they grow into teenagers and we get to become closely acquainted with Jack's aunt, Jo, who is raising him, some of his friends, and other confused characters in his life. We become knowledgeable about murders going on all around, who is behind those murders, drug use, and some really evil people who want control. There are some pretty scary people in this book. One is a kid locked up in a room where no one can hear him speak or great harm will come to them. There are characters with powers. They can do some horrible things. There is death, violence, love, fear, compassion, longing. So many emotions come to the surface while reading this. I think that makes for a really great read. So, what kind of power to some of these characters have? How did they get it? How are they connected? Will Jack and Stella ever get to experience their love for one another? Who is the boy locked up? Who are the people in the white coats? Is Stella even capable of feeling and showing real love? This book is haunting and beautiful. I am very thankful to the author, J.D. Barker, and the publisher via NetGalley for a digital copy to read for review. I can't recommend it enough. As I write this review (I am late as I read it before it was released), I notice that is is available to read for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. For those who enjoy horror, thrillers, memorable characters, and beauty, I say go download it right now. Barker has become a favorite author I can rely on for a very satisfying escape. You even love the very bad characters in this book. Well, some of them. That just never happens (for me).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    After reading the 4MK trilogy by Barker, when given the opportunity for an early copy of this book, I immediately said yes, never read the synopsis and went in completely blind. 700+ pages had me putting it off just for a bit - not because big books intimidate me, they don't, but because I wanted to get through a few others before my concentration could be put into such a large story. I am SO glad that I did. I absolutely loved this entire book. With being such a large novel, it read extremely f After reading the 4MK trilogy by Barker, when given the opportunity for an early copy of this book, I immediately said yes, never read the synopsis and went in completely blind. 700+ pages had me putting it off just for a bit - not because big books intimidate me, they don't, but because I wanted to get through a few others before my concentration could be put into such a large story. I am SO glad that I did. I absolutely loved this entire book. With being such a large novel, it read extremely fast and my attention never waned. I was extremely intrigued with the storyline and I HAD to know what was going to happen with Jack and Stella. While this book does span decades, every single page has its purpose and reading the "from the author" part afterwards, I agree with Barker - the book itself is big but so is the scope of the story. Such wonderful character growth. I found myself needing answers and was willing to take them as they can and even as a fast reader, didn't rush myself throughout. There are definite X-Men, Stranger Things vibes going on here but I didn't really think on that until after I was done reading. I truly just got lost in the pages and I suggest you let yourself do the same. Beautifully written, it's nice to see the not so darker side of this author. Jack and Stella's story will captivate you and while certain things might be clear as you read, there are plenty of unknowns to keep you guessing. Highly recommend.

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