With so many fun book challenges to participate in, I could no longer be without a blog. I intend for the blog to help me keep track of my reading for the year as well as my progress on the challenges I choose to join.
Published: September 13, 2019
At nineteen-years-old, college student Josie Stratton was kidnapped by a madman and held shackled for ten months in an abandoned warehouse before she finally escaped her hellish prison.
Eight years later, when the body of a young woman is found chained in the basement of a vacant house, Cincinnati Police Detective Zach Copeland is instantly reminded of the crime committed against Josie Stratton. Zach was just a rookie on the perimeter of that case, but he’s never forgotten the traumatized woman with the haunted eyes.
As more information emerges, the crimes take on an even more sinister similarity. But Josie’s attacker died by suicide. Does the city have a copycat on its hands? A killer who picked up where the original perpetrator left off? Or are they facing something far more insidious?
Josie has spent the last eight years attempting to get her life back on track, but now there’s a very real chance she could be the unknown suspect’s next target. As Zach vows to keep her safe, and Josie finds herself responding to him in a way she hasn’t responded to any man in almost a decade, the investigation takes on an even more complex edge of danger.
As past and present collide, Josie and Zach are thrust toward a shocking and chilling truth. A revelation that threatens not only Josie’s life, but everything she’s been fighting so desperately to reclaim.
Published: February 26, 2019
If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.
I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.
My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.
And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.
So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.
Please don’t make her go through it alone.
The Last Letter is the story of Ella MacKenzie and Beckett Gentry and the people they both call family. He is her brother’s best friend and brother in arms. When the war claims Ella’s brother, Ryan, Beckett finds himself doing everything he can to fulfill his best friend’s wishes. Ella needs someone to lean on as she keeps everyone and everything else going full steam ahead, and all Ryan asks is for Beckett to go be a solid force for her to find strength.
There is absolutely zero shortage of feelings associated with this book. I have been through all the stages of grief, along with about 1,000 stages of happiness, and also anticipation and worry and disbelief and pure, pure joy. This is the kind of book you start on a rainy Saturday morning and spend all day cuddled up with. Just make sure you keep a cozy blanket and the tissues handy. Lots and lots of tissues.
Ella is a great heroine. She’s a little stubborn, a lot independent, and a fierce and ferocious mama bear, desperate to keep her little ones safe from anything that could do them harm. That includes any man that shows up with intentions of wooing her. While Beckett’s initial motive is to fulfill Ryan’s last wish, Ella is too much of a force of nature for him to resist her pull. He enters her orbit and is lost to her gravity, even if she pushes him away with equal fervor.
Beckett is kind of the perfect man… with a flaw or two, of course. He is ready to uphold his end of the bargain and be there for Ella and the kids even after things don’t go his way. He betters their lives in infinite ways. I honestly kept reading his chapters and falling more and more in love with him. Ella never stood a chance. Hell, I’m impressed she resisted him for as long as she did.
Besides all of the tears and sadness, there’s so much hope and laughter, and while the sad parts do pack a punch, so does the happiness. I love that no matter what comes their way, neither Beckett nor Ella ever say quit. They both know what it’s like to lose, so their determination is all the more heartening and reassuring.
The only negative thing I’ll say is that the last tragedy could have been left out and the story would have been just as good or maybe better, but the author choose to shock us one more time, and it almost did me in. (more tissues, please)
Published: January 24, 2019
The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.
When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.
Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.
And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .
“When two girls traveling in Thailand turn up dead in a suspicious fire, journalist Kate Waters follows the story without disclosing a hidden agenda.
Kate’s son, a former golden boy, dropped out of school and traveled to Thailand two years prior, and he’s been in sporadic touch since. Coincidentally, it turns out that he was present at the same guesthouse on the night the girls died. Sidelined because of her conflict of interest, Kate continues to investigate, as does DI Bob Sparkes, a compassionate policeman distracted by the impending death of his wife. Which leads one to wonder: When did all thriller writers begin to fashion themselves as psychologists? There’s a dead giveaway to any possible plot twist—a character whose face or eyes is described as “blank.” In Barton’s book, to be fair, it takes almost 300 pages to reach this moment, and up until that point, she creates quite a bit of narrative interest by giving voice to the victims in addition to the many people involved in the investigation—driven reporters, bereaved parents, and very human policemen. But once the killer is clearly outed, even though it takes another 100 pages for all the pieces to fall into place, the novel quickly loses steam. Even a final moral conundrum that should immediately freeze the blood of any parent seems overly constructed rather than shocking. By that point, it had become tiresome reading about most of the characters and their shifty relationships to the truth. “No one is to be believed ever,” seems to be a major takeaway. Oh, and P.S., don’t let your kids run wild in Thailand.
This has the potential to be a thoughtful thriller with an interesting setting, but Barton is too willing to cater to expectations—short chapters, familiar clues, and stereotypical villains.” Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews is spot on and I couldn’t have said it better. I did have a problem with the ending and I haven’t decided if I will continue with this series.
Published: June 18, 2019
Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.
Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.
“A year after her best friend’s supposed suicide, a young woman must clear her name when new evidence is uncovered.
The Lomans own much of Littleport, Maine, a fact that hasn’t changed much since their only daughter’s death a year ago. In the summer of 2017, on the night of the annual Plus-One party, aimed at summer people who’ve stayed a week longer than the traditional Labor Day end-of-season, golden girl Sadie Loman apparently threw herself off a cliff into the churning sea, but to those who knew her, especially her closest friend, Avery Greer, she seemed to have everything to live for.
Year-round Littleport resident Avery was adrift after her parents’ deaths when she was a teen, but when she met the mesmerizing Sadie, a summer person, her life took on new meaning. Sadie and Avery became so close, it was sometimes hard to tell where one ended and the other began. After Avery’s grandmother died, Avery was alone, and the ridiculously wealthy Lomans seemed to welcome her into the family, even giving her a job as property manager for their coastal rentals and a place to live in their guesthouse. But everything fell apart after Sadie died.
When Avery finds Sadie’s phone hidden in the rental cottage where last year’s Plus-One party was held, she turns it in to the police—after doing a bit of snooping. Additionally, someone’s been breaking into the rentals, and Sadie’s brooding older brother, Parker, is acting strangely. Sadie’s death is looking less and less like a suicide, and Avery is at the top of the suspect list. The Loman family’s lies are rising to the surface, but can Avery keep her head above water? The narrative, which flips between 2017 and 2018, grows increasingly tense as Avery, who is a surprisingly reliable narrator, gets closer to the truth, but while the author builds some creepy atmosphere in the lead-up, the final revelations are more sad than shocking. Most compelling are the class tensions between Littleport’s year-round residents and the seasonal, moneyed tourists as well as the elusive nature of memory and the intricacies of friendship.
An evocative and perfectly readable thriller, but genre fans will find few surprises within.” Kirkus Reviews
Even though KIRKUS REVIEWS found this novel wanting … I loved it and found it thoroughly enjoyable.
Every southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart throb with steel blue eyes. “The Fixer” who can make or break you in this city.
Oh, and my new husband.
That’s me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life.
But then he caged me.
And killed every chance I had to runaway from the place where we grew up.
Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings.
I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he’d ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he’d decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all.
Sparrow is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.
Sparrow Raynes is a survivor. She can’t be caged or caught or forced unless she wants to. Abandoned by her mother at an early age and caretaker for her alcoholic father, she has learned that life is never going to be easy. She was never going to have free and easy. She had to work for everything she has. That’s fine. She doesn’t mind working hard for what she loves. She’s going to cooking school with dreams of owning a food truck one day. Until, everything gets taken from her… yet again.
Troy Brennan knows death. He knows blood and loss and pain. The son of a murdered mobster. When he was nineteen and Sparrow only nine, his father made him make another promise –to marry and take care of Sparrow. Another burden that his father heaped on him. He is stuck with her, but he won’t ever love her and she better get used to it.
Troy Brennan is on a mission to avenge his murdered father. But before he can finish his mission he has to full fill a promise to his father first. Marry Sparrow Raynes. Yes, he’ll be stuck with her, but that’s beside the point. He doesn’t have to like her. He is just full-filling the promise he made to the father the loved. He informed her of their impending marriage by take her from her home, installing her into his apartment, supplying her with take out menus and leaving her to it. Have a good week.
Marriage is new for him. Feeling are new to him. Her spark of fire and take-no-shit attitude attract Troy. She reminds him of… well, him. He doesn’t really see the point in caring about her. He know their relationship is doomed from the beginning.But he does like to see her occupied and maybe a little happy. (It would get her out of the house and allow him to see his mistress without having the worry about her) So when he finds out that she likes to cook he installs her into his high end restaurant where she meets Brock, right hand man of Troy and restaurant manager.
Sparrow tries to finds her way in the new world that she is trust into. Working, jogging, meeting with friends. Living with her awful husband as best she can, but it’s more that difficult. He cheats on her openly and living with him is a chore. She tries to connect with him but he takes joy in trying to make her feel small. Well, good luck with that. She can’t be taken down by a man like her husband.
As the days go on, Troy watches Sparrow take all of his challenges and rise above them. All of them. She is strong. She proves that daily. He stops looking at his mistress as the ideal beauty and starts to really see this small, red haired, girl-woman as the true beauty and warrior that she really is. As he learns more about her life, he finds she has survived much more than he knew.
When she is taken on the street on morning, Troy must finally come to feel and acknowledge the feeling that he hasn’t been dealing with for a few weeks. He has to find her. He finally sees what his hate has been blinding him to for too many years. He has to save his wife. He does and fast forward and he frees her from their marriage and eventually she realizes she can not live without him and there is a very HEA.
I loved this book. I loved the story and the characters, although, Troy at first, not so much! The pace of the plot is good. You get to see the couple first hate each other, then slowly find things they liked about each other and then come to love each other in the ways that they can, but so much of this book is about Troy’s mission and Sparrow’s past. Troy isn’t ever going to be anything but who he is, but once he figures out that he loves her, Troy loves her wholeheartedly.
Loved this book and the narration was great, although might have been plus five stars with the addition of a female narrator.
Published: February 5, 2019
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…
A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides shows you exactly what type of book it’s aiming to be from the very first sentence: “Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.” No messing around here.
For people who like their thrillers/mysteries to have twisty plots and straight-forward writing, this recent release is one to look at. Since its February 2019 release, it’s been climbing all over the bestseller charts and is being developed into a movie by heavy-hitters Annapurna and Plan B.
The premise of this book is fantastic. I was engaged right away. The ending is surprising, even if you guess the twist (I didn’t, but some might), and the way the crucial scene of the book plays out is well done. I was skeptical of whether the book would come together, and I pleasantly surprised that it ultimately does.
For most thrillers, I think, the ending is the make-it-or-break it aspect of the story, and this one is pretty solid. Michaelides’s debut novel is an easy, accessible and entertaining read, and it will undoubtedly make for a thrilling movie if and when that is released.
Overall, the story keeps your interest and is well-paced. It reads pretty much the way a thriller should read, with plenty of twists and intriguing bits of information doled out at a steady clip.
I didn’t really see what all the hype was about, because I’ve read better books, even this year. I only gave it three stars because the “ah ha” moment doesn’t come until very late in the story and some of the journal entries are just plain boring and even at times laughable.
When a child goes missing, two mothers’ lives collide in a shocking way in this suspenseful novel from the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie .
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night.
When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.
Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.
Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.
Another great novel by Kimberly Belle. The author writes about everyday, average people thrust into terrifying situations in such a relatable, yet exciting manner that you can’t help getting sucked into her books within just a few pages.
This is told alternately from Kat’s point of view as she searches for her missing son Ethan and then Stef who is married to the mayor and who’s son Sammy was Ethan’s classmate. Kat’s fear and anguish was tangible, Belle’s writing was so fantastic that it became a living, breathing thing that consumed me almost as much as it consumed Kat herself. I kept thinking, this woman could be me, how horrifying to not know where your child is after you’ve trusted his teacher and school to keep him safe on a field trip, it was scary to put it mildly. Besides the well crafted characters you have this highly tense atmosphere coupled with some gut punching twists that left me reeling, I couldn’t ask for more.
The ending of The Marriage Lie is one of my all time favorites and this one was excellent as well, it was executed to perfection and left me completely satisfied and impressed. Missing children premises are nothing new but the author managed to put a fresh spin on the idea and managed to make me excited about a plot that’s been done before because she puts her unique stamp on it.
Published: December 27, 2016
Even the perfect marriage has its dark side…
Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane.
Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core.
On the day after Iris and Will’s seventh wedding anniversary, they’re ready to start trying for a baby. But all is not as it seems.
From the outside, it looks like they have a perfect marriage. Friends and family admire their beautiful home, great jobs, and passionate commitment to each other. All this changes when Will dies on a plane flight he wasn’t supposed to be on.
Scheduled to be en route to Florida to make a presentation at a cybersecurity conference, his name is found on the passenger manifest of a plane bound for Seattle after it crashes in a field. Looking through his files to try to figure out what he was up to, Iris finds a new will and $2.5 million in life insurance policies Will had taken out only months earlier. At a memorial service for the crash victims, she meets Corban, who introduces himself as a friend of Will’s from the gym. According to Corban, Will was on his way to a job interview in Seattle, but the office he was interviewing with has never heard of him. Will doesn’t seem to be hiding a secret lover, but nothing Iris believed about her husband turns out to be true. Iris proves herself a relentless investigator in a case that takes her to Will’s hometown to solve the mystery of whom she married. High school classmates present a very different—and chilling—picture of Will. The suspense builds rapidly from there as Iris pulls back Will’s layers of deception and solves the mystery of what the circumstances of his death meant for their marriage.
Another compelling adventure from Kimberly Belle!
Published: September 30, 2014
One woman will stop at nothing to discover the devastating truth about her family…
Chasing disasters around the globe keeps humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews away from her own ground zero. Now, after sixteen years in jail for the murder of her stepmother in small-town Tennessee, Gia’s father has come home to die of cancer. And she’s responsible for his care.
Resuming the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer means confronting the past she’s spent over a decade avoiding. But in the end, the truth about what really happened may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…
Have you ever thought that you would give anything to know the truth about a situation and then when you do find that truth, wish you hadn’t? That, for me sums up this debut novel by Kimberly Belle.
This book is a thought provoking dramatic undertaking that takes a decade old crime and uses it to dissect and examine the characters who all were affected by it. While the mystery is a strong base the story is built on, I found the character dynamics far more prevalent. A trio of siblings, torn apart by their stepmother’s death and father’s conviction of the crime must come together and finally deal with the past and their own feelings towards their father and each other. The author combines a blend of humor, sorrow, and compassion as she tells us a story of love, loss, jealousy, guilt, and forgiveness. Using the past and the present, Belle guides us down a long twisting road, letting us form our own opinions about what happened as we listen to the victims recollections of what happened and the accounts of all those left behind to question and wonder.
Published: November 5, 2019
From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
Some family secrets should never see the light of day. In Lisa Jewell’s thrilling, addictive new release, a surprise inheritance sends a young woman on a journey into her own personal history—and what she discovers might be deadly.
Libby Jones always dreamed of learning more about her origins. One day, not long after turning 25, Libby comes home to find an envelope waiting for her, its contents revealing the true identity of her birth parents… and the fact that she has inherited their vast mansion in a posh London neighborhood. Libby’s life suddenly seems to be changing for the better. But by claiming this inheritance, Libby is claiming a darker inheritance, too: a connection to an unsolved crime and an obscure, cult-like society, one which has been waiting, biding its time, until Libby makes herself known.
Meanwhile, in alternating narratives, we’re introduced to Libby’s sister, Lucy Lamb, who’s on the verge of homelessness with her two children in the south of France, and her brother, Henry Lamb, who’s attempting to recall the last few disturbing years with his parents during which they lost their wealth and were manipulated into letting friends move into their home. These friends included the controlling but charismatic David Thomsen, who moved his own wife and two children into the rooms upstairs. Henry also remembers his painful adolescent confusion as he became wildly infatuated with Phineas, David’s teenage son. Meanwhile, Libby connects with Miller Roe, the journalist who covered the story about her family, and the pair work together to find her brother and sister, determine what happened when she was an infant, and uncover who has recently been staying in the vacant house waiting for Libby to return. As the author moves back and forth from the past to the present, the narratives move swiftly toward convergence in her signature style, there are surprising twists, but this one was missing the page-turning magic that I loved in her previous novels. It is still a solid and entertaining read and still deserves a solid four stars.