Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !

 

 

Savaged by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

When wilderness guide, Harper Ward, is summoned to the small town sheriff’s office in Helena Springs, Montana, to provide assistance on a case, she is shocked to find that their only suspect in the double murder investigation is a man described as a savage.

But the longer she watches the man known only as Lucas, on the station surveillance camera, the more intrigued she becomes. He certainly looks primitive with his unkempt appearance and animal skin attire, but she also sees intelligence in his eyes, sensitivity in his expression. Who is he? And how is it possible that he’s lived alone in the forest since he was a small child?

As secrets begin to emerge, Harper is thrust into something bigger and more diabolical than she ever could have imagined. And standing right at the center of it all, is Lucas. But is he truly the wild man he appears to be? A cold blooded killer? An innocent victim? Or a perplexing mix of all three?

Harper must find out the answers to these questions because the more time she spends with him, the more she risks losing her heart.

Review –

Savaged is unlike any other Mia Sheridan’s that I have read so far! It is rather a crime/mystery mixed with romance.

The opening scene begins in the night somewhere above a cliff where four little boys will be abruptly thrown into empty air with a question: Will you die today?
These four kids were obviously kidnapped and we’ll learn later that they were part of a sick scheme.

Throughout the story we will follow one of them Jack forced to do unspeakable things to survive, totally alone for years in the Montana’s wilderness.

Why was he thrown into this life? Who is he? Why him? To whatever ends?Round and round these questions circled my mind while my heart broke so many times for that abandoned little boy.

Go back to present time on a crime scene.
The small town of Helena Springs has seen two murders by arrow in a few days and the person of interest is Lucas. A man looking like a caveman who happened to be close to the last crime scene.
Mark Gallagher freshly arrived from California is tasked with elucidating the crime. He’ll enroll Harper a local nature guide.

When Harper meets Lucas their connection is immediate. She just has to know that savage man who seems connected to her parents death years ago.

All these plot lines entertwine going from past to present and back again to form an intriguing story with the horror of what happened to these kids as a constant background.

This is a story of survival and resilience.
This is a story of madness and evil.
This is a story of new beginnings and hope.
This is a story of love and meeting your soul mate. That perfect someone who will love you whole animal and man alike.

Five stars !

 

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

Review –

Dervla McTiernan’s powerful debut  novel has the authentic feel of its Irish setting, which I loved.

In 1993, police detective Cormac Reilly is called to a house in Kilmore, County Mayo, where he finds fifteen-year-old Maude Blake and her five-year-old brother, Jack, alive, and  in an upstairs bedroom lies the body of their alcoholic mother, dead of a drug overdose. In 2013, Jack’s body turns up in a Galway river after an anonymous caller claims he saw Jack jump in. Jack’s girlfriend, Aisling Conroy, is sadly willing to accept the obvious conclusion that it was suicide. But Maude, newly back from Australia, is convinced it was murder. Based on new information, Cormac investigates the now twenty-year-old death of the mother, while Maude and Aisling try to figure out what actually happened to Jack, since the police seem unwilling to. Various other threads in the tightly woven plot lead to rape, child molestation, drug dealing, police corruption, and more murders. The author neatly ties them all together in the suspenseful conclusion. Dervla McTiernan,(I love her name) born in Ireland but now living in Australia, is a writer to watch. 

Five stars.

Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: October 18, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

Review –

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of “enemy to lover” themed books and this one is up there on my list of favorites.

Tate and Jared grew up living next door to each other. They were as thick as thieves all throughout childhood, but the sweet, generous and loveable boy Tate once called her best friend disappeared overnight, leaving in his stead a guy who made it his daily job to intimidate her, to make her feel insignificant and unwanted, and to isolate her from her peers. No explanation was ever offered, leaving her confused and hurt, and even after countless rumours, pranks, cruel jokes that made the last two years of her life hell, she never stopped missing her best friend. By not understanding his behaviour, she never stopped searching for that kid she once loved in his eyes somewhere, reluctantly hanging on to a memory of him that no longer existed, regardless of all the tears and pain he had willingly caused her.

After a year of studying abroad, she returns to her hometown for the last year of high school, with a new attitude in tow, telling herself that she would not let Jared’s actions affect her again, but her bully is as determined as ever to toy with her. And to make her feel every bit of hatred he feels for her. Until Tate finally fights back

Two years of torment have shaped Tate into the kind of person she most probably would have never become had she not endured such emotional suffering for so long. Her patience has worn thin, she has developed a short fuse when it comes to people putting her down or mistreating her, and when it comes to Jared, she has simply had enough. And so the tables are turned and she goes out of her way to make him feel as insignificant as he has made her feel for so long. And knowing exactly which buttons to press to make him hurt the most ends up turning her into a cruel adversary.

But when Tate finally gets to Jared, his walls start crumbling down and what is left behind them is an angry little boy who is so blinded by his own pain that he hurts the one who represents his greatest weakness in life, the only person he has ever loved, allowing him to fool himself into believing that her pain would take away the pain that is ravaging him from the inside out. And what Tate discovers ends up putting a whole different light on the last three years of her young life.

This book might have started as a very vivid example of the kind of issues many teens unfortunately go through nowadays, our hearts breaking for our heroine and all she has had to endure, but it ultimately turns into a heart-warming romance that was always at the core of these characters’ connection. They could hurt each other so deeply because they knew each other so well, and every action had a reason, a source, a trigger, even though it was difficult for me, as a reader, to swallow some of those reasons at times and find in them a valid justification for such cruel and continued emotional and verbal abuse. As much as I understood the hero, there were times I wished I understood him even more, and for his triggers to have been explained in a more thorough way.

This is a story about the kind of scars we are left with after years of maltreatment, the kind of emotional baggage we carry well after things are said and done, affecting our relationships, our ability to trust those around us, and ourselves. It’s a book that moved me, angered me, made me do the occasional fist pump here and there, and it owned me cover to cover. With a refreshing and captivating writing style, the author pulled me into a world I never wanted to escape, becoming hopelessly invested in these characters, in their stories, and after turning that last page, only too eager to jump immediately onto the next book in the series, which i’m listening to now.

“I love you more than myself, more than my own family, for Christ’s sake. I don’t want to take another step in this world without you next to me.” Jared

Five stars!!!

 

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: April 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Review –

The crux of this story is this: a woman begins an affair with her stepson. As the story progresses, readers discover she was involved in a similar affair as a young person, too, and are drawn into this repulsive web of taboo relationships. These relationships are not technically illegal, but they’re most certainly uncomfortable and taboo – and the power dynamics between adult and young person presented within them adds a whole other layer of wrong for readers to unpack. The cycle of manipulation and grooming portrayed here was the author’s way of showing how abuse can beget abuse. And that idea – the idea of examining a cycle of abuse – is not in and of itself a bad thing. When portrayed through the lens of commentary on a terrible and very prevalent occurrence, this kind of examination could indeed be quite effective in sparking an important conversation among readers. But it almost takes over the book, in my opinion .

The story is told from a number of perspectives, with the timeline jumping between present and past as pieces of the backstory gradually begin fitting into place. It’s a narrative path well trodden by the modern-day crime writer – here it can serve to confuse and I defy you to reach the end without having to backtrack a little.

While All the Beautiful Lies never quite hits the heady heights of The Kind Worth Killing, it’s still a great read. You may well work out the killer ahead of time, but I’m guessing the clever final twist will come as a big surprise.

Fantastic read!

Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Pallavi is an aspiring writer living in California. Her mother, Usha, is thousands of miles away in Delhi – and obsessed with finding her daughter a husband.

In Madhuri Shekar’s ingenious Evil Eye, hilarious back-and-forth via phone and social media takes a shocking, supernatural twist when Pallavi meets the perfect man – leading to a climactic showdown that will leave listeners on the edges of their seats.

Review –

“Usha is convinced that the Evil Eye, a curse that brings continuous misfortune, was cast upon her daughter, Pallavi, in the womb. What else could have possibly left her driven, career-oriented daughter edging closer and closer to 30 without a prospective husband? Determined to set Pallavi on the right path, Usha arranges date after date with potential suitors—but after yet another setup fails, it seems her efforts are proving fruitless. But in an unexpected turn of events, Pallavi becomes her own matchmaker when she meets—and quickly falls for—Sandeep, a young Indian-American entrepreneur. And though she expects her mother will be elated with her finally finding a man, Pallavi is distraught and confused to find her mother growing increasingly suspicious of Sandeep’s motives…and his true identity.

Told through a series of phone calls and voicemails, this Audible Original penned by award-winning rising star playwright Madhuri Shekar transitions seamlessly from a light-hearted family dramedy to an unexpectedly supernatural thriller. With an endearing cast of well-rounded characters, sharp, natural dialogue, and a shocking edge-of-your-seat climax, Evil Eye is a can’t-miss tale about cultural miscommunications, family secrets, and the lingering echoes of trauma.

Please note: This audio contains strong language, distressing situations, and descriptions of abuse and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Discretion is advised.” Audible Originals

Fantastic short story that will keep you captivated from beginning to end.

 

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists.

Review –

Usually when a debut author writes a second book I don’t really expect it to be as good as the first, BUT, Alice Feeney has written a second book that, in my opinion, out shines the previous Sometimes I Lie.

Holy H*ll !!! Just finished I Know Who You Are and my head is spinning.

Aimee,(the unreliable narrator) an actress whose husband has disappeared after an argument. The police notice she’s not very upset about it. Is she being gaslighted? Does she drink too much? Is she a killer? Yes, to all three.

Aimee is a wounded and insecure soul, born Ciara to a poor family in Ireland. Her mother died in childbirth, and both Ciara and her alcoholic father blame her for killing her mother.

Five-year-old Ciara runs away and is kidnapped by a manipulative numbers-runner named Maggie, who renames her Aimee, after another child who died in unclear circumstances (unsolved mysteries abound in this book). Maggie proceeds to treat Ciara/Aimee with such depraved cruelty that she makes Cinderella’s stepmother look like Mother Teresa.

Two episodes, in particular, stand out: One involves a McDonald’s Happy Meal that will make the treat hard to choke down on your next trip to the drive-through, and another involves a pet hamster and a deep fryer. Need I say MORE?

Aimee survives life with Maggie and John, her predatory partner in crime, until a robbery attempt ends in a bloodbath. Fast forward twenty years, and Aimee is a rising actress, able to shape-shift her way through various roles – an opportunity for the author to weigh in on the familiar symbolism of the masks we wear each day.

The ending isn’t a just twist, it’s a triple axel and depending on how seriously you take things you will be appalled by the “yucky” or “eewww” factor. Myself, I read for my pleasure and enjoyment and I always enjoy a well written book, no matter the subject matter or ending.

Be aware that there may be triggers for some because included in the book child abuse, marital rape and incest.

I gave the book 4 3/4 stars because there were too many questions left unanswered and I won’t spoil the book by saying what they were.

 

Given (Highest Bidder #4) by Lauren Landish and Willow Winters

Book Description:

Published: March 3, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I knew she’d ruin me. But I wanted her anyway.

I was born into wealth and my name comes with a reputation.
One I’ve upheld and leveraged for power.
Now everyone owes me and I plan to keep it that way.

Until she’s offered to me. My sweetheart. Only for a single month to repay a debt.
Her tempting curves call to me and beg me to risk it all.
I shouldn’t take her, I shouldn’t even consider his offer.

Women like her bring men to their knees.

But there’s something in her baby blues. They’re haunted by what lies behind them.
She sees through me, leaving me nowhere to hide.

I knew taking her would destroy me, but it only took one taste.

Now I’m addicted. And I’m not giving her back.

*Given is a full-length standalone DARK romance with an HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.

Review –

While I like usually enjoy the writings of Lauren Landish, this one fell flat. It was very predicitable and totally unrealistic, especially when it came to Arianna’s injuries from the whipping Danny gave her. Supposedly it was done over three hours and when rescued Zander had his doctor stitch her up and that night she felt well enough to cuddle is bed ???!!!!! I DON’T THINK SO.

Given is the fourth book featuring the men of Club X, it is however the first I’ve read may go back for the others, if nothing else, to see if they are more realistic.

 

The Next Girl (Detective Gina Harte #1) by Carla Kovach

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

Review –

Four years ago, wife and mother Deborah Jenkins disappeared without a trace. The police did everything possible to find her but it was all to no avail. Her husband, mother, and two young children have all come to terms with her probable death, and although it hasn’t always been easy, each of them has begun to figure out what life will look like without Deborah there. And then, an abandoned infant is found outside a nearby library, an infant who’s DNA matches Deborah’s, and suddenly, the investigation into Deborah’s disappearance is active once more.

Detective Gina Harte remembers the Jenkins case well. She wasn’t the lead investigator back then, but she’s familiar with the investigation nonetheless, and now that Deborah’s case is in the forefront of everyone’s minds again, she’s determined to reunite the woman with her family, no matter what it takes. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. The original detectives did their job thoroughly, and in spite Gina’s efforts to find something they missed, nothing jumps out at her. But Gina knows that Deborah is out there somewhere, most likely the victim of unimaginable horrors. After all, how else could she have given birth to the baby girl who was left outside the library?

Gina would love to devote all her attention to the Jenkins case, but her personal life is pretty messy. Her adult daughter is in the process of planning a memorial celebration for her late father, a man who had once turned Gina’s very existence into a living nightmare. Gina doesn’t want to participate in the celebration, but neither does she want to ruin her daughter’s memories of her father, so she keeps the truth to herself, something which pushes the two women further apart. And, as if all that isn’t enough, Gina is sleeping with one of her direct superiors. Neither of them would go so far as to call what they have an actual relationship, but they’re both aware it’s very much against the rules, so they’ve been meeting in secret for the past several months.

The story is told from four different points of view. Most of our time is spent with Gina, but we also see things from the perspectives of Deborah, her husband Luke, and Deborah’s captor. For the most part, this narrative style works well, although spending a significant time in Deborah’s head took a little bit away from the mystery itself. The identity of her captor isn’t revealed until the end of the story, but his motivation for abducting Deborah is laid out pretty early on. Fortunately, there were still a number of things to be discovered about Deborah’s ordeal, and Gina’s race to uncover the truth definitely kept me listening.

If violence against women is a trigger for you, you’re might not want to pick up this book. Deborah suffers horribly at the hands of her abductor, and the author goes into quite a bit of detail about what has been done to her over the years of her captivity. Plus, Gina’s former husband was terribly abusive, and she is still dealing with flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse.

I thoroughly enjoyed with book and look forward to reading the next one.

 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 21, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

Review –

“Reading anything by Karin Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a season ticket on a ride that never lets you off.” Kirkus Review

I couldn’t have said it better. I am a HUGE fan of Karin Slaughter and have read all of her books and I rate this one FIVE STARS!

Andrea Oliver’s always felt inferior to her parents. Her father, Gordon Oliver, is a trusts and estates attorney; her mother, Dr. Laura Oliver, is a speech therapist. Andy herself has never aspired to any career goal higher than serving as an assistant to someone important. Even when she left Belle Isle, Georgia, for the Big Apple, she got nowhere, and she was only too eager to return home when her mother announced three years ago that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer.

As the two women mark Andy’s thirty first birthday by sharing lunch in a mall cafe, a crazed shooter opens fire on a mother-and-daughter pair who’ve stopped to greet Laura, and Andy’s life changes in an instant. Or rather two instants, the first when the shots ring out and the second when Laura, after inviting the killer to shoot her next, coolly and dispassionately kills him. It takes the dazed Andy hours to realize that her mother’s not at all who she seems to be, and by the time she’s ready to accept the fact that Laura Oliver is a woman with a past, that past is already racing to catch up with both mother and daughter. Cutting back and forth between Andy’s harrowing flight to nowhere after Laura pushes her out of her home and a back story thirty  years earlier involving the Army of the Changing World, a cell of amateur terrorists determined to strike a mortal blow against greedy capitalists and, it eventually turns out, each other as well, the author never abates her trademark intensity, and fans will feel that the story is pumping adrenalin directly into their bloodstreams. Long before the end, though, the impostures, secret identities, hidden motives, and double-crosses will have piled up past the point of no return, leaving the tale to run on adrenalin alone.

The plot was unlike anything I had read before but the chapters set in the present were more engaging than those set in the past and I found myself speed reading through the backstop just to get back to the present.

Loved it and can’t wait for her new book, The Last Widow, that comes out later this year.