A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . .

Review –

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first 30-40% of the novel; it takes its time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I love. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist, Anna, and his second wife, Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

It’s like reading a Twilight (the television show) episode with a bit of Gaslight (the movie) thrown in and a bonus of several twists.

Great read.

 

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: 

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the author of It’s Always the Husband comes a riveting new suspense audiobook about privilege, power, and what happens when we let ambition take control.

For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.

In an audiobook full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.

Review –

She Was the Quiet One does a great job of slowly luring you into the world of this boarding school. You know right away that a terrible murder has taken place, and you know the victim was one of the twins, but you don’t know which one yet. The story is told in alternating chapters, from the points of view of Rose, Bel, their co-dorm head Sarah Donovan, and police records of interviews after the fact. I have to say early on my loyalty to each sister swapped depending on who was narrating the chapter. It was so easy to feel for Bel in her chapters, and it was likewise easy to do so in Rose’s. Campbell is a masterful writer, and it shows in her ability to make you sympathize with the different characters.

The mystery becomes a little clearer with each chapter, and by the time the murder happens, you realize where it was going and who’s guilty. From there, it’s just a matter of waiting for the characters to put it together.

The only part I didn’t really like was, honestly, the epilogue. I felt like everything had been tidied up nice and neat before that, and then the epilogue left me with questions that I hadn’t had before. In a way, I kind of liked the angle it took, but in another way it felt sort of like a twist tossed in at the last minute. However, I will say that it’s made me curious enough I plan to go back and read the book again. No matter what, I highly recommend this book.

The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A stunning story of secrets and scandal, identity and infidelity
 When Tabby Dewhurst arrives heartbroken and penniless on a picturesque, windswept island off the coast of France, her luck appears to change when she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door. Hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the woman to leave and then lets herself into the house. And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emily Marr—or so her new friend introduces herself. Soon, however, Tabby forms suspicions about her new friend, suspicions that lead her back to England, and to revelations that will have explosive consequences for both of them.

Review –

Running from a broken relationship and low on cash, Tabby finds herself in a little village off the Coast of France. While wandering the streets wondering where she can sleep, she overhears an English woman repeating her access code to her apartment. As the woman appears to be heading off somewhere with a large bag, Tabby seizes the opportunity and lets herself in.

Meanwhile, the book splits into two stories, Tabby’s and the apartment owner’s, Emmie.
The two women become unexpected flatmates and unlikely friends. Emmie obviously has a story to tell but it is only through snooping and surfing the internet that Tabby can try to discover what is making her so reclusive and withdrawn.

The girl’s stories are set in both France and England and while there are some similarities in their lives, the reader starts to wonder if it’s a good thing that they met at all?

This is a wonderfully warm novel with a nice easy pace and enough bite to make you want to keep reading. The character of Emily Marr is well described and you genuinely feel like you may know her and why she chooses to disappear. The descriptions of her life before the disappearance are well thought out and give her some depth which I think is needed for the main storyline.

The character, Nina, is hateful. Angry, bitter and hell bent on revenge she doesn’t care who she mows down on the way. Her anger hops off the pages and becomes quite understandable as the story unfolds.

This is a great  read, full of surprises, wonderful writing and would be ideal for bookclub discussions. It also has Reading Group Questions at the end which is a nice bonus. The only fault I would have is the lack of description of the French island. I would have liked to get a bit more of the sense of the place, the smells, the sounds and the atmosphere. Other than that ,a great book with a surprising twist.

This mystery is sad yet intriguing, a definite page turner! This isn’t regular chick lit, it’s on a different level with the mystery angle.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: October 9, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life: he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Review –

I was expecting so much more from this book but in the end it was a complete disappointment.

It takes so long to get to the main mystery, although I get the point of the lengthy build-up in order to understand Toby as a character – someone who has been handed everything in life without having to face the struggles others would have, and someone who cannot believe it when he meets his first misfortune – but that didn’t make it any more enjoyable to get through. It’s a good many chapters  before the main story even rears its head.

Unfortunately, too much time was wasted getting to this part. The story moved so slowly, I started getting a little fidgety. The plot became knotty and cumbersome, and the pace never picked up, tempting me to do the unthinkable- mark a Tana French novel down as a DNF, but I persevered.

There was not a lot of real action in this book and  listening to the characters  have pages and pages of  dialogue about something unrelated to the plot almost put me to sleep.

In the end, I plodded onward, but there was something seriously off about the book’s structure, and that ending was utterly depressing. Yes, one might have a different point of view on that, but I’m going with the glass half empty on this one. It just didn’t work for me. I gave it three stars but that was generous.

 

Broken Knight (All Saint’s High #2) by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published: August 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Not all love stories are written the same way. Ours had torn chapters, missing paragraphs, and a bittersweet ending.

Luna Rexroth is everyone’s favorite wallflower.

Sweet.
Caring.
Charitable.
Quiet.
Fake.
Underneath the meek, tomboy exterior everyone loves (yet pities) is a girl who knows exactly what, and who, she wants—namely, the boy from the treehouse who taught her how to curse in sign language.
Who taught her how to laugh.
To live.
To love.
Knight Cole is everyone’s favorite football hero.
Gorgeous.
Athletic.
Rugged.
Popular.
Liar.

This daredevil hell-raiser could knock you up with his gaze alone, but he only has eyes for the girl across the street: Luna.

But Luna is not who she used to be. She doesn’t need his protection anymore.
When life throws a curveball at All Saints’ golden boy, he’s forced to realize not all knights are heroes.

Sometimes, the greatest love stories flourish in tragedy.

Review –

Wow!

What an absolute rollercoaster of a ride! Broken Knight has absolutely wrecked and ruined me for all books for quite some time I’m sure. This book was beyond phenomenal and a favourite book of mine for 2019. L. J. Shen’s writing is always right on point, but she knocked it out of the ball park with this one, I just don’t know if I’m ever going to get over this Broken Knight. I knew this book was going to be great because Shen does not write bad stories, but I was unprepared for how truly captivating this story really was. If there is one book you need to read this year, it is without a doubt BROKEN KNIGHT!

My emotions really went through the wringer with this one; I was moved, I was heartbroken, I cried, I sobbed, I smiled, I laughed and above all else I loved. I was unsure at some points whether my poor heart could take much more, but there was no way I was putting this book down even if my life depended on it. I thrived on the push and pull of the tempestuous friendship and lived vicariously through these characters who became such an important part of me. This story was just so real, I really felt like I was watching everything unfold in front of my very eyes and I was a part of this deep and emotional journey. I’m not sure I can ever get past these characters as I feel like they are now a part of me and our lives will be forever intertwined.

Broken Knight had so many layers to be discovered and the more I pulled these layers back the more I became addicted to everything that’s exposed before me. The author positively broke me with her storytelling which is true perfection, but then she also healed me in the most breathtaking way possible. Broken Knight is a true love story that will stand the test of time as it is positively unforgettable.

I have not gone into details of the story and that is deliberate because this needs to be devoured free from spoilers. If you are yet to read this book, my advice is to try to go in completely blind without knowing all the ins and outs of the story.

Broken Knight is EVERYTHING and more! I was completely enthralled from start to finish and could not get enough. Definitely one of the  best books of 2019 thus far.

Five stars !

The Sisters by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Two sisters climbing the ranks of Dublin’s criminal justice system. A murder case that could change their lives forever. The Sisters is a gripping new thriller from one of the most exciting voices in crime fiction.

In this prequel to the international bestseller The Ruin, set 10 years prior, bright-eyed Carrie Ryan is at the very start of her career. When she has a hunch about an ongoing murder investigation, she knows it could be her only chance to prove herself and truly break into the “boy’s club” of Dublin’s police force.

Carrie uncovers this make-or-break moment in a case file her sister Aifric, a newly qualified barrister, leaves on their kitchen counter: Robert Collins has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after a fight in a local pub, and all signs point towards a guilty verdict. But both sisters quickly begin to find evidence that complicates the story. All the while, Carrie is very aware that she’s crossed the line – if the detective sergeant running the investigation finds out she’s been messing around with his case, her career will be over before it has begun.

Review –

I listened to the Audible (freebie) Original, The Sisters. narrated by Aoife McMahon. It’s a quick listen, only a little over three hours, and very satisfying.

It is a prequel to The Ruin which I read August 19 of this year and reviewed on this blog on September 21st.

Two sisters, who live together, are at the beginning of their careers in Dublin. One sister, Aifric is a new barrister who is assigned a murder case and has no support from her bosses. The other sister, Carrie is trying to make detective in a sexist environment. Both sisters are confronted with impossibilities in their careers. Aifric talks to her sister about her case, and Carrie becomes inquisitive at the questionable evidence.

It’s a character driven short story, with each sister taking a chapter. It’s amazing that one can be totally involved so quickly. The performance by McMahon is perfect. I highly recommend it!

Although it is a prequel to The Ruin, you do not have to read it first before delving into this one.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Book Description:

Published: May 1, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Review –

“In this promising first novel from nonfiction bestseller Molloy (However Long the Night), the May Mothers, a parenting group, gather at a Brooklyn bar for an adults-only Fourth of July celebration. The outing’s organizers—Nell Mackey, Colette Yates, and Francie Givens—are intent on showing harried single mom Winnie Ross a good time, so they arrange for Nell’s nanny, Alma, to watch Winnie’s son, Midas, and delete the baby monitor app from Winnie’s phone. Drinking commences and Winnie wanders off, leaving her phone and house key with Nell, who misplaces them. Shortly thereafter, Alma calls Nell to report that Midas is missing. When the NYPD fails to find him, the media turns its attention to Winnie and the other May Mothers, prompting Nell, Colette, and Francie to launch their own increasingly reckless investigation. The mystery of Midas’s disappearance may be the skeleton on which Molloy’s plot hangs, but it’s her characters’ anxieties that give the story life and substance. Molloy doesn’t fully earn her book’s big twist, but her clever narrative structure heightens tension and creates uncertainty while spotlighting the solitary struggles of motherhood. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (May)” Publishers Weekly

Not a favorite of mine, I only gave it three stars because, for me, it dragged.

 

Home Tears by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: December 1, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Dani’s survived a lot of sh*t storms.

Her mother died. Her two sisters loathed her. One aunt hated her. The other was strangely distant, but the worst storm—being dumped by her childhood best friend/high school boyfriend/first love for her younger sister.

There went the one person who was hers and with that, the main reason she stuck around. So, she left for ten years. But now she’s back, and nothing’s the same.

With help from Jonah Bannon, a reformed—kind of—bad boy she remembers from high school, Dani uncovers family secrets that have spanned generations. And along with those, she’s about to face the biggest sh*t storm of her life.

Only this time, she may not survive.

Review –

Home Tears was a good read, but didn’t feel like a Tijan book. Her characters lacked depth and I felt a little disconnected with a few of them. First of all this is full of secrets and a few twists that I didn’t think needed to be throw in. But I really did like Dani.

Dani is the heroine of the story. She left home ten years ago running from herself, her family and her love. She was destroyed by those who were suppose to love her the most. She runs away to start over somewhere else and what does she do, she runs again. She has all these walls around her and most are understandable. But now that she has decided to come home, she’s gonna have to learn to let the past go and move on with her life. The town is shocked and it has caused some major upheaval because everyone thought she was dead and of course its a small town and everyone has an opinion.

This book was a messy stew of family secrets, sibling in-fighting, jilted lovers, epic storms and terrible tragedies and was filled to the very brim with flawed characters. I’m afraid there was just too much going on for my pea brain to handle because this book tired me out and not in that cathartic “cry your heart out” kind of way. Were it not an excellently narrated audio, I likely wouldn’t have finished it, just joking, I ALWAYS finish a book I start.

 

 

 

 

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 Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format:   Audio/OverDrive

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

Murder, mayhem, and chalk figures in a sleepy English village.

“In 1986, 12-year-old Eddie Adams enjoys spending time with his group of friends: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and the lone girl in the group, Nicky. He’s largely insulated from his mother’s work as an abortion provider and its accompanying risks, and it’s her income that keeps the household afloat, since his father’s freelance writing jobs are hit and miss. When Eddie finds the decapitated and dismembered body of a local girl in the woods, it stirs up terrible secrets and forbidden passions.

In 2016, Eddie is a teacher who harbors a mild crush for his much younger boarder, Chloe, and isn’t eager to revisit the traumatic events of ’86. He still feels particularly bad about his part in the downfall of a teacher with albinism who was kind to him. When he’s contacted by Mickey Cooper, who claims he knows who really killed that girl, it opens old wounds, and a body count follows.

Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT. The dynamics among the kids are similar, complete with Nicky’s flaming red hair, and Eddie’s first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. The chalk markings the group works out to communicate tap into kids’ universal love for secret code and, of course, getting one over on their parents. Things takes a creepy turn when the symbols are twisted to fit someone’s not-so-innocent agenda.

A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.” Kirkus Review

The ending is creepily eerie and changed my mind about Eddie. (no spoilers -you’ll have to read or listen to the book to see what I mean)

Five stars.