Jar of Hearts

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Although I have read several reviews of this novel, it still surprised me on many levels. Not at all what I expected.

We meet the protagonist, Geo (Georgina) Shaw, as she is arrested for a murder that took place fourteen years previously. The arresting officer, is one of Geo's best-friends from high-school - a boy who loved her, but who she never thought of as more than a friend.

In the intervening years, Geo has made a success of her life, going to university, attaining a high-ranking corporate job, and becoming engaged to a wealthy man. Now, her life, which she worked so hard for, is in dire jeopardy.

Geo is sentenced to five years in prison. Although in many ways, Geo feels relief to have finally be found out, prison is still an experience that scars her, hardens her, and incontrovertibly changes her. Her fiance drops her like a hot brick. She has ample time to think about her past, and plan for her future. She also made a couple of good friends.

How did she get in this mess you might wonder? Well, Geo's first love was a man called Calvin James, also known as "The Sweetbay Strangler". When Geo was only sixteen, Calvin raped and murdered her best friend Angela. And Geo helped him to dispose of her body. Then she went on living her life for fourteen years, not divulging a word about her crime.

Calvin James was caught and sent to prison, but he later escaped...

Later, after she has served her time, Geo is released and goes home to live with her father. With no job, or job prospects, and now aged thirty-five, Geo doesn't have much to look forward to.

Now though, more murders are taking place near Geo's home. Women are being murdered in the same way Angela was all those years ago. Only now, the women are accompanied by children... children with a heart written on their chests in lipstick. Inside the heart are the words "See Me". 

Is it Calvin James? 


I had very mixed emotions about the protagonist, Geo Shaw. Sometimes I felt sympathy for her plight, sometimes I wondered how she could sleep at night. How COULD SHE have done what she did? How COULD SHE have not reported the crime - for fourteen years!

As the book moves along, the reader is made privy to Geo's past and what really happened back then. Yet still, I was torn about whether I could like her.  Did my sympathy outweigh my repugnance for her former actions? I chided myself for being judgmental.

This novel was well-written and very fast-paced. Often intense and unsettling, though riveting at the same time. The ending had what I can only deem a shocking and unsavory twist. Was justice meted out in the end? You be the judge.

One things for sure. I'll never be able to eat a cinnamon heart again without thinking about this novel.

3.5 stars rounded up
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I really struggled with how to review this book. On the one hand, I thought the writing was good- very engaging and good movement. Where I struggled was the subject matter. Pervasive sexual assault and rape as plot devices to propel the story forward was repugnant to me, and I felt the publicity team could have done a much better job of offering hints to the reader without giving away the whole story. One in four college-aged women are sexually assaulted in the US, and it behooves the people promoting books that explore this element (even in an empowering context) to provide some clues as to its inclusion for prospective readers.
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So so incredibly messed up and engrossing!  I saw a lot of positive things about this book and just never got around to it, but it was so good I couldn't put it down.  I loved the structure, I loved the characters, even with their flaws...  I 100% did NOT see the ending coming at all.  Well done Hillier!
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I read this a while ago and I forgot to review. It was a great, fast read. Enjoyed every bit of it and can't wait for the next Jennifer Hillier book. Will definitely buy for my library.
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Jennifer Hillier is one AMAZING story teller. From the start of this book I found myself completely hooked in the development of this story. The grand reveal was presented with impeccable timing . This was enjoyable, fast paced, and definitely worthy of a second read.
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Whoa! I love psych thrillers and loved the synopsis of this book when I read it. Then I began it, and immediately I’m in the courtroom, reading about Geo and how her life ended up as a result of a horrible decision as a teenager.  From there, she goes to prison and then assimilation back into real life. Sadly, not much of a normal one.

So much happens so fast, and the book is written so well, that it is like a soft ribbon enclosing the book that when pulled lightly, slowly unravels and each new revelation is more bizarre than the previous. And yet, you keep pulling because you know the buildup will be worth it.

Geo is a believable character, especially as a teenager who has a small circle of trusted friends, is competitive and like normal young women, insecure.  The explanation of her early years, and the contrast as the story switches to her best friend growing up, Kaiser, lends relevant history to her character.  And her love interest, turned boyfriend, exaggerates how young love can be manipulated and not really love at all.

Caution: The book was graphic at parts with sex, rape and the aftermath of all of that. Though relevant to the story, I just want readers to be aware that this is not an after school special.  This is definitely more Lifetime. Or Snapped, even.

And about 80% into the book, an even deeper revelation is revealed that is a fantastic twist, but goes a disturbing direction (one I was able to predict, but still made my jaw drop).  This book is a fantastic suspense read, very deep and methodical.  I hear it may become a movie.  But kudos to the author. It’s a great book with depth and bizarre twists that came through as promised.  And I can never look at cinnamon hearts the same.

Well done!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Jar of Hearts was filled with twists and turns. A story of friendship, love and fear that follows friends from high school through successful careers. I recommend this book.
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I can't believe I waited so long to read this book!

Jar of Hearts hooked me from page 1 and held my attention all the way through. I was jarred at how the scenes were unfolding. It was intense and full of amazing twists and turns.

This is a well-crafted story. There were no dull moments, and Hillier keeps you wondering where everything is going to go. It doesn't end with a neat little bow. It ends with you saying 'wait, what....' and then you think back to all the little clues and you'll be amazed at how it all ties together. The writing is phenomenal and was the fuel to guiding this story. 

Impossible to put down, Jar of Hearts is a book that will keep you guessing and leaving you stunned and wanting more.
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Jar of Hearts is well-written but dark and fall of unlikable characters.  I'm growing disillusioned with the trend of twisty psychological thrillers full of horrible characters.  If I cannot find a character to like or relate to, I most likely am not going to like the book.  I figured out some things early on but wanted to get everything tied up but I can't say I enjoyed Jar of Hearts.  It was just too dark for me.  Good writing but a disturbing story.
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Jar of Hearts was so amazingly good! I was in the mood for a thriller I couldn't put down and this novel had me gripped from start to finish. Loved the jumps between past and present as a way to understand how each character ended up connected to the death of Angela. The characters were complex with messy backstories, which made them feel very real. The mystery surrounding the new serial murders kept me guessing and the ending came as a big surprise. Highly recommend to thriller fans! Can't wait to check out more books by the author.

Review posted on Goodreads and Amazon
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Angela, Geo, and Kaiser are the very best friends.  Angela is the popular one of the group with Geo always falling into her shadow and Kaiser hopelessly in love with Geo.  They are all but inseparable until Calvin James comes into the picture to sweep Geo off her feet.  Geo is over the moon when older, handsome, and charming Calvin chooses her over Angela.  Soon this close-knit group of friends has been fractured by this new romance as Geo has become all about Calvin and no longer has time for her other friends.  
Suddenly Angela goes missing and the community is frantic to find her.  Fourteen years later when her remains are found it comes out that she is a victim of serial killer Calvin James, Geo’s ex-boyfriend, and that Geo has been carrying a big secret all these years.  
When similar murders begin again Geo cannot help to wonder if Calvin is back and if he is coming for her.  
My thoughts:
Jar of Hearts is an intense, chilling, and very dark psychological thriller.  The story was well paced that kept me wanting to come back to read more to find out what happened next.  I really liked the used of the flashbacks as a way to slowly fill out the story and gradually big about the big reveal at the end.  I have come to really enjoy this kind of dual time line kid of storytelling.  
I found this to be very unique read enjoyable read with some great twists and turns along the way, though there were some places that I found difficult due to the graphic description of the violent crime.  
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press NetGalley for the copy of this book.
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What an amazing book!! I was hooked from the very first page. This one had everything it needed to be the perfect book!
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Sooo good!  This is one intense page-turner!  This has all the making of a great murder mystery - suspenseful, creepy, and addictive.  Far exceed my expectations!  A great read!
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This was an extremely unputdownable (???) read. After just a few pages, I was in for the long haul and had to know exactly the truth behind what happened to Angela and what role Geo played in all of it. And by the time I made it to the end, I was a bit breathless. I sure didn't expect that ending, although once it started unfolding I wanted to thunk myself on the forehead and ask how I didn't even suspect that!!! The writing was great and the storyline engaging. A very enjoyable, suspenseful read!
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This was  a pretty good!! But very disturbing and dark.   

Thanks to netgalley for providing me with this book.
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Probably the best twisted suspense/ thriller of the year. I enjoyed a lot the writing style, the pace and the actual plot with beautiful twists. I somehow guessed part of the ending, but not the whole thing. Jennifer Hillier is quite the master of twisted plots it seems. Just wow. I cannot possibly be perfectly coherent at the moment, the book is too fresh in my mind still. While many times I was annoyed with Geo and her actions and lies, she is so complex that I realised it is ok to neither like nor not like her. Her character however is really well built throughout the book.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this arc.
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A Jar of Hearts kept me up late into the night, flipping pages until the end! A must read for psychological thriller fans!
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Loved this read! This story kept me on the edge of my seat and I could not wait to finish to see what happens. I enjoyed the character Geo and following her story with conflicting feelings if she was a villain or victim. I would highly recommend this psychological thriller
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The best way to describe Jar of Hearts is that it’s a cross between Orange is the New Black and Gone Girl.

Georgina Shaw (Geo to her friends) is a successful lawyer on the path to marry the partner’s son. But here she is, on the witness stand. She’s an eye witness to the murder and dismemberment of her best friend 14 years ago and Geo said nothing.

Her then boyfriend ends up becoming the Sweetbay Strangler. If Geo had only spoken up years ago, she could have saved the lives of many women.

Geo receives 5 years in prison. This sentence strips her of her fiance, career, income, and reputation. But she deserves the time she spent there. The first few days were horrendous, but with her business skills, she works with an inmate to gain protection and authority among the prisoners. Just one thing has here worried, Calvin James, the Sweetbay Strangler has escaped from prison.

When five years is up, Geo tries to get her life back together. Her detective best friend, who arrested her five years ago, is trying to protect her. Bodies have started to turn up. The Sweetbay Strangler is at it again, and Geo might be his next victim.

This book is definitely a thriller with a capital T. The action seems a little slow at first, especially with Geo’s time in prison. But once it picks up, it never stops. There’s many twist and turns that keep you reading and you never want to stop.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier receives 5 stars.
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Georgina Shaw has everything going for her in her life in Seattle. She's in a top position at work and she is engaged to one of the wealthiest men in the city. So why is she being arrested for the murder of her best friend, Angela Wong, 14 years earlier? Geo(as she likes to be called) didn't murder her friend, but she was there when it all happened and kept this secret for this long. There are so many secrets from that night, that need to come to the surface, but one Geo will keep hidden for as long as she can. 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Geo is sentenced to 5 years in prison for her actions on the night her friend was killed. After she is released, more murders similar to what happened with her friend that night begin to happen. Geo's friend who was also friends with Angela, Kaiser Brody is now a police officer and is working on this case. But is it too much for him considering his feelings for Geo in the past. He believes, Calvin is responsible for these murders since he's escaped from prison, but there is something different about these that has everyone stumped. 

I was on the edge of my seat while reading this book. It's impossible to read this story and not become fully engrossed. Geo is really the kind of girl that you would probably be friends with. She is pretty down to earth and knows how to get what she wants. My heart went out to her during the whole book, I wanted to jump in and try to save her. But the ending will have you thinking to yourself, "What the hell just happened?" I recommend this to anyone who likes a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
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