The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros

Book Description:

Published: February 26, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Beckett,

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.

Ryan

Review –

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)

 

The Suspect (Kate Waters #3) by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

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 . . .

Review –

“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.

 

 

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

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.

Review –

“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.

 

 

 

 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 3 

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…

Review –

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.

 

 

 

 

Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

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.

Review –

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.

Loved it!

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

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.

Review – 

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!

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: September 30, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

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…

Review –

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.

Fantastic read!

 

 

Fatal Burn (Northwest #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: March, 2006

Format: Audio/Audible

Three years ago, Shannon Flannery was accused of murdering her wife-beater husband Ryan Carlyle, who was found burnt beyond recognition after a forest fire. At the time, many people believed that Ryan was the Stealth Torcher, a serial arsonist who lit many fires in the area, and suspected that Shannon had gotten back at her husband by beating fire with fire. The suspicions about Ryan’s ‘occupation’ seemed confirmed when the fires stopped following his death. However, although Shannon was acquitted for the murder, she still faced much public speculation over the case, especially from those who believed that she had gotten away with murder.
Now, believing that the worst is finally behind her, Shannon is attempting to get on with life. She has just bought a new property, where she hopes to expand her search-dog training facility.
But then strange things start to happen that make her question her safety, as well as the safety of those that she loves. Fragments of her past come back to haunt her, and mysterious fires begin to crop up, leading Shannon to suspect that somebody is out to get her. Then Travis Settler, an ex-Special Forces agent, arrives on the scene. His teenage daughter Dani has been kidnapped, and he believes that Shannon’s dark past has something to do with her abduction.
With the body count slowly rising, Shannon and Travis have to learn to trust one another, and uncover the dark secrets of the fire-loving serial killer before he seeks his ultimate revenge.

Review –

This novel takes readers into the often-unexplored world of arsonists, and the emotions that they feel when lighting or witnessing a fire. While many people, myself included, cannot fathom the reasons that some people may have for lighting fires that do nothing but cause destruction and chaos, this novel allows readers to view just how some people respond to flames, and makes readers aware of the power that many arsonists experience when dealing with this deadly element.
I am in no way suggesting that all arsonists are murderers, as many do not think of the consequences of their actions. I am simply saying that this novel is a good study of the way that firebugs may react to flame.

The author keeps readers guessing, as she continually introduces new plot twists and scenarios. Travis Settler’s relationship with Shannon adds a bit of romantic spark to the story, and Dani Settler’s determination to survive at the hands of her kidnapper is inspiring, especially considering her age.

This book will keep you guessing and the suspense will burn up the pages (excuse the pun) if reading and heat your ear if listening.

Five stars!

The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

Book Description:

Published: August 6, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The perfect life. The perfect love.

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

Review –

“The Perfect Wife follows Abbie, who as the story opens, wakes up not knowing who she is or where she is.  Tim, the man who is with her when she wakes up, says that he is her husband and begins to fill in some of the gaps in her memory, telling her that she is an artist and a mother.  What he tells her next is rather unsettling.  Tim, a giant in the Silicon Valley tech industry, informs Abbie that she was in a horrific accident five years ago that took her from him. Through the magic of a technological breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence, he has managed to bring her back from the dead.  The Abbie we are following in the story is actually an AI robot that is basically a clone of Tim’s real wife.

The technology is such that even many of Abbie’s memories were able to be uploaded into the AI unit. What starts to happen, however, is that the more AI Abbie pieces together about the real life relationship between her alter ego and Tim, the more she questions what Tim’s motives really are and his version of the accident that took Abbie from him.  Is he really just a sad guy who misses his wife and wants to preserve her memory (in a slightly creepy way) or is there more to it?

I really enjoyed the many twists and turns of the story as AI Abbie gets closer and closer to unraveling the mystery of what happened to the real Abbie and what Tim’s role in it was.  There’s plenty of suspense and I just loved the sci fi twist, especially having the story told from the perspective of the AI so that we can see her piecing together all of the key details needed to solve the mystery.  The AI tech speak was interesting too, even if I didn’t necessarily understand all of it or wholly buy into the idea of being able to upload memories into an AI unit. It was still fascinating to even consider the possibility.  I also liked the exploration of the moral implications – would such a thing even be considered ethical since you’re basically artificially cloning a person without his or her consent?

I also liked that in addition to the science fiction angle and the mystery/psychological thriller angle, the story has even more layers that deal with marriage and family.  The author does an especially nice job of realistically depicting all of the challenges that come with raising a child who is on the autism spectrum.

If a psychological thriller with a sci fi twist and a wholly original plot sounds like something you would enjoy, J. P. Delaney’s The Perfect Wife should be on your must-read list.” thebookishlibra

The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 20, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter brings back Will Trent and Sara Linton in this superb and timely thriller full of devious twists, disturbing secrets, and shocking surprises you won’t see coming

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

Review –

“Pediatrician/medical examiner Sara Linton’s path to marrying Will Trent, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, runs into apocalyptic obstacles only Slaughter could devise.

To begin with, Sara’s mother objects so strenuously to Will that she won’t even utter his name. But her opposition can’t compete with the carnage that erupts when Sara and Will (The Kept Woman, 2016, etc.), hearing the sounds of a bomb near Emory University, rush to the scene and encounter along the way the aftermath of a three-car collision. Stopping to help, they soon smell something amiss, but not soon enough to prevent them from being overpowered and separated by the supposed victims. Will is beaten to the ground; Sara is whisked off in a car whose occupants include Michelle Spivey, a scientist with the Centers for Disease Control who was abducted from under her young daughter’s nose a month ago. Arriving at the mountain encampment of the Invisible Patriot Army, a paramilitary cadre determined to make America white again, Sara is first forced to treat the wounds of the men who kidnapped her and then asked by IPA leader Dash to remain so that she can treat an outbreak of measles that’s swept through the children in the camp, including Dash’s daughter, whose mother is Gwen Novak, the daughter of Martin Novak, whose history of anti-government bank robberies has made him a high-value federal prisoner. As Will schemes to infiltrate the camp disguised as a new recruit, Sara is dismayed to find that no matter what she does, the children she’s tending keep getting sicker and sicker. Even the most ardent fans of Slaughter’s white-hot thrillers (Pieces of Her, 2018, etc.) will be shocked and horror-stricken by the outrage Dash has planned.

All the emotional intensity Slaughter’s readers expect, now focused on a diabolical domestic terrorist. Don’t say you weren’t warned.” Kirkus Reviews

Fantastic read from one of my favorite authors!