top of page
Top of Blog
coffee book glasses SMALL .jpg
  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Jar of Hearts

ISBN: 9781250154194

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: 6/12/2018

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars

"Jar of Hearts grabs you by the throat! The perfect blend of riveting characters, chilling details, and gasping twists in this standout thriller will keep you frantically reading until the explosive end.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You This is story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong―one of the most popular girls in school―disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser―now a detective with Seattle PD―finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

My Review

Compelling, Engrossing, 😍 Chilling!!! Jennifer Hillier is the "queen" of thrills, and JAR OF HEARTS seals the deal. I have been a huge fan of hers since her first book and she continues to WOW me and readers worldwide! Top books of 2018. Cleverly crafted, razor-sharp, JAR OF HEARTS is an emotional page-turning riveting psychological suspense thriller that will keep you reading long past your bedtime. Not sure you will be able to sleep after reading, though.😜 A story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . . The Sweetbay Stranger (Calvin James). The trial. The disappearance of Angela Wong fourteen years ago. Now Angela's body has been found. Was she the victim of Calvin James who murdered at least three other women. Geo and Angela were best friends. Geo was a popular cheerleader with a future until she met bad older drop out boy, Calvin James. He was her first love. They had an obsessive and dysfunctional relationship. Dominance and control. Things turn violent.

Now she is engaged to someone else but Calvin is still on her mind. Does Geo know what happened to Angela? Who is she protecting and why? Can she live with her past? She now has a successful life. Now, in Seattle years later, Geo is to testify at the murder trial of her old love, the Sweetbay Strangler, a serial killer. Geo goes to prison for five years. What was it like to do something years ago and fall in love and things you do which have consequences? What is the truth? There are secrets and lies. These two have a secret. They have a jar of hearts. (not sure you can ever look at candy hearts in the same way). 💘 Would Calvin be her first love and her last? What was love? Is love supposed to be demented and monstrous? The line between love, hate, and obsession.

Wow, this one grabs you by the heart and never let's go. It is terrifying. Plot-driven and character-driven, JAR OF HEARTS is heart-wrenching. Once again, Jennifer delves into the human psyche to explore the intimate and emotional feelings of two teenagers in love. This book is loosely based on the story of Paul Kenneth Bernardo, also known as Paul Jason Teale, a Canadian serial killer, and serial rapist. Bernardo is known for initially committing a series of rapes in Scarborough, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, between 1987 and 1990. Watch Video. The most sinister account in Canada. He and his wife, Karla Homolka were The “Ken And Barbie Killers.” Paul Bernardo had met Karla Homolka in 1987 when he was 23 and she was 17. Did she share the same psycho personality? On the exterior, these two were the all American couple. It is chilling to read. I spent a lot of time Googling and watching videos and documentaries about this couple and it is scary and terrifying. Do you really ever know anyone? I this case she gets out of prison after cutting a deal and now she is rebuilding her life and living among everyone as a normal person. I urge you to WATCH Jennifer's powerful Videos before reading the book. (below and above). It will enhance your reading experience. JAR OF HEARTS is Deep. Intense. Extreme! It will chill you to the bone. You will learn the inspiration behind the book, as she dives deep into the mind and the 5 stages of grief (5 sections) —of a sixteen-year-old-girl and her troubled relationship with a killer. All teens make mistakes. However, this is a big one. The five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. "But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief." Her best book yet! (that says a lot since I have read every book of hers, and they are TOPS). She is a "Thriller" writer like no one out there. She is genuine and enjoys connecting with her readers. It is time she is finally receiving the "applause" for her talent. Will be a killer movie. Congrats! Winner: Best Novel, 2019 ITW Thriller Award.

My Reviews

FREAK (2012) before blog

CREEP (2011) before blog Congrats, Jennifer! Can't wait. Greatly- deserved. A huge fan of her writing. EXCLUSIVE: Cinelou Films has secured the film rights to Jennifer Hillier’s novel, Jar of Hearts, which is slated for publication June 12 via Minotaur Books. The announcement was made today by Cinelou co-CEOs Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon, both of whom will produce the project with Danny Davids, Neil Canton and David Hopwood. Hillier will serve as an exec producer. Read More #JDCMustReadBooks

Look for my Q&A with the Author coming April 2020 - LITTLE SECRETS!

Jar of Hearts

Now Available in Mass Market Paperback


Winner: Best Novel, 2019 ITW Thriller Award Mystery Tribune Ten Women Mystery and Thriller Writers You Should be Reading Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Best of 2018 Bustle’s Best Thriller 11 Authors Read This Year

CrimeReads’ 20 Best of 2018 Writer Types Podcast Favorite Books LitReactor Best Books of 2018 CrimeReads Favorite Crime Books of the Year BOLO Books Top Reads of 2018 Best Mystery Novels of 2018 Suspense Magazine Best of 2018 - Mystery/Thriller category

"It's not often that a mystery features such a fresh plot. Jennifer Hillier's thrilling, and quite terrifying, Jar of Hearts is definitely not something you've read before...The answers will surprise even the most hardened thriller readers."

―Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Mesmerizing... Find a comfortable chair because you won't move until the last page." ―Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"Engrossing...there's no denying her page-turner's grab-you-by-the-throat power."

Publishers Weekly

"There is a dynamite thriller-horror plot pulsing through these pages... Hillier has a Chelsea Cain-like ability to horrify her readers in a way that feels agonizingly real."


"Call in sick and cancel your plans, because when you jump into Jar of Hearts , you won't want to leave. Jennifer Hillier has crafted a gripping page-turner about crime and punishment, guilt and hope. It's a damn good doozy, deliciously engaging . . . This one hurts, and that's a compliment." ~ Caroline Kepnes, New York Times bestselling author of You and Hidden Bodies

"Intense and compelling, Jar of Hearts is a well-written blend of fascinating characters and a deeply layered story, which unwinds with excruciating intensity. This page-turner will grip your imagination until the very last, astonishing twist."

Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Still Missing and Never Let You Go

"Jar of Hearts is harrowing and intense―a vivid look at the long repercussions of violent crime, with a central character you won't soon forget. Jennifer Hillier locks you in on the first page, and astonishes to the last."

Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Switch

"We all have embarrassing exes, right? You almost feel bad for Geo, the slippery heroine at the heart of Jennifer Hillier’s dark and twisted tale. It’s just that Geo's ex turns out to be a serial killer. And, maybe, just maybe, she had something to do with his first murder; and, oh, that first murder victim was one of Geo’s best friends. Hmm. I was hooked on page one. Hillier’s masterful story-telling and compelling voice pulled me deeper and deeper. The plot only twisted and ratcheted tighter from there until I couldn’t pull away. This is a smart, edgy thriller with lots of surprises. Buckle up."

Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of The Red Hunter

"As dark as a storm-torn night and just as unnerving, Jar of Hearts will have readers gasping in shock as they tear through the pages. Suspenseful, gritty, and utterly unforgettable."

~ Riley Sager, bestselling author of Final Girls

Jennifer Hillier

About the Author

Like most writers, I started writing at a very young age. My first short story was a re-imagining of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, where the Wicked Queen dies a horrible death at the hands of an angry and vengeful Snow White. I was six. The story earned me a place on the bulletin board of my classroom and a coveted gold star sticker, which promptly fell off when I spilled juice on it after bringing it home.

I started writing more original stuff when I was ten, mostly short stories and poetry. Every once in a while I'd attempt a novel and get a few chapters in before giving up. I wasn't very ambitious about it. When I was in my twenties, I didn't write anything at all.

In my thirties, I started writing again. I wrote my first full novel in three months. It was a horror story, and it was terrible. I wrote my second novel, a psychological thriller, in fourteen months. That novel was CREEP, and it was published in 2011 by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books.

I've written three more thrillers since then: FREAK (2012), THE BUTCHER (2014), and WONDERLAND (2015). My new novel JAR OF HEARTS (the title may change) is a psychological suspense, and will be out in spring 2018 from St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books.

I was in born in Toronto, but I live in Seattle. I'm a Seahawks fan but I married a Packers fan. We have a young son who looks most like me when he's crying. My favorite authors are Stephen King, Jeffery Deaver, and Chelsea Cain. I'm afraid of the dark, but get annoyed when it's too sunny. I recently marathoned Game of Thrones on HBO and totally get the hype.

I'm a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a regular columnist at The Thrill Begins. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but not every day. Read More






bottom of page