Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: November 17, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

Erika

I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael

Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.

Unprotected.

The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

***Corrupt can be read as a stand-alone. No cliffhanger.

Review –

This is the first book in the Devil’s Night series by Penelope Douglas.  Each book focuses on a different man from the main group of friends. The story takes place in the same world as stand alone Punk 57(whose main character is cousins with a character from the Devil’s Night series). You could read this as a stand alone too because there is no cliffhanger and it’s currently available on kindle unlimited.

The book revolves around the events of one night, three years prior and the revenge planned in the present. There is a lot of going back and forth in the timeline.

Four former students who used to be considered “kings” of the school come back on Devil’s Night (the night before Halloween) to whip the basketball team into shape. They do this by showing the current team how to haze, drink, and screw their way into a brotherhood that can hopefully perform on the court. After helping out their old school team, they then proceed to relive their youth by spending the rest of Devil’s Night pulling off some pranks that include sex with an underage girl, arson, and vandalism. They do all this while dragging along a sixteen-year-old girl and basically daring her to participate while constantly treating her to verbal abuse and veiled and not so veiled threats of rape etc. yet she stays. 

Something goes terribly wrong and the videos of their adventures (yes, they record everything) fall into the wrong hands and three of the four end up going to jail for three long years. They think the girl betrayed them so they spend those three years planning an elaborate revenge that will result in her being at the mercy of all four boys to be used by them in every way imaginable. Do they confront the girl, ummm…no. They just assume and plan. The fact that they did everything they were accused of meant nothing, they were just mad they got caught.

It’s dark, uncomfortable, twisted, creepy, exciting, intense, thrilling, and still very sexy.  This wasn’t a romance story that’s just set within a suspense plot, the romance itself was suspenseful and nerve wracking

This is one where I feel like TRIGGER WARNINGS are important but really the whole thing could be triggering so I don’t even know how piece it apart.  Consent is on the shakiest ground here and there are multiple nonconsensual interactions where the main female  character is clearly saying NO and being harassed or attacked and an almost rape scene situation.  Pretty much all of this behavior is meant to add to the scary suspense of the story and it definitely works, making you question just how far these characters are going to go and if you can handle it.

It had a HEA but it is a f***ed up story meant to push your limits – I’d be getting restraining orders and therapy after this sh*t if it happened to me, but again, what a ride. Also if you’re not into sex scenes in public places and mfm threesomes, steer clear!

Five stars!

 

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We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn #4) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: June 4, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn returns in Becky Masterman’s fourth stunning thriller

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote’s masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo’s days as a prison chaplain–a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo’s old things–has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he’d like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he’ll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Review –

This installment of the Brigid Quinn series is inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Masterman’s intriguing fourth Brigid Quinn thriller supposes that Dick Hickock and Perry Smith didn’t act alone when they killed the Clutter family in Kansas in 1959.

For Brigid’s upcoming wedding anniversary, her husband, Carlo DiForenza, has the perfect gift, a memento from his days as a prison chaplain—a sketch by Hickock. Retired FBI agent Brigid has been obsessed with the notion that Hickock and Smith were also guilty of murdering The Walker family of four in Florida a month after the Clutter slayings, a crime that was never solved. Brigid discovers a letter hidden behind the sketch that leads to a written confession by Hickock implicating a third person, Jerry Beaufort, who was fifteen at the time. Now nearly seventy, Jerry, who was recently released from prison after serving time for trafficking and drug possession,(on the three strikes program) decides to track down a detective and others involved in the Clutter case. Fearful that modern-day forensics could expose his role in the murders, he’s prepared to kill anyone who could implicate him. After his research reveals Carlo’s link to Hickock, Jerry sets out for Arizona to silence Carlo.But  he has no idea what’s in store for him, because Brigid was a killer once, too.

Not my favorite of the series but a great read, nonetheless.

 

The Store by James Patterson and Richard Di Lallo

Book Description:

Published: August 24, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The Store doesn’t just want your money – it wants your soul.

Imagine a future of unparalleled convenience. A powerful retailer, The Store, can deliver anything to your door, anticipating the needs and desires you didn’t even know you had.

Most people are fine with that, but not Jacob and Megan Brandeis. New York writers whose livelihood is on the brink of extinction, Jacob and Megan are going undercover to dig up The Store’s secrets in a book that could change the entire American way of life. But after a series of unsettling discoveries, Jacob and Megan’s worst fears about The Store seem like just the beginning.

Harbouring a secret that could get him killed, Jacob has to find a way to escape The Store’s watchful eye and publish his expose – before the truth dies with him.

Review –

As is obvious from its first page,The Store, is modeled after Amazon, even though it does not expressly mention that continually evolving online and omnipresent institution by name. No, the name of the store is…The Store. It’s not catchy, by any means, but it gets the job done, and so does The Store itself, which has everything you want — and, in some cases, knows what you want before you even want it. Anyone who has ever been just a bit startled when an ad pops up online for a product that they happened to mention in an email or on an Evernote-type application will immediately appreciate this book, with its drones that are seemingly everywhere, monitoring everything and everyone as they deliver merchandise to consumers. What THE STORE does really well, though, is examine the other side of the equation.

You may ask, “What other side?” You order, you wait a day or two, and your shipment arrives. Not much care is given to those who gather your batteries, books, CDs and clothing and put them in one of those now-iconic boxes that are soon on their way to you. THE STORE puts a face to those folks, in the form of Jacob and Megan Brandeis. Jacob and Megan are Manhattanites involved in a branch of the publishing industry who find that their jobs have been made redundant. Worse, the book that they have worked on for a couple of years has been rejected by their publisher. The Store, of course, is both directly and indirectly responsible for this state of affairs. However, it does have plenty of jobs available for what are known as “pickers,” or warehouse workers who fill orders.

In due course, Jacob and Megan pack up their son and daughter and move to what is basically The Store’s company town in Nebraska, which is a far cry from Manhattan. It doesn’t seem bad, for a heartbeat or two. They have a spacious new home, wonderful neighbors, and the type of food they want delivered to their door before they even know they want it. It’s way too good to be true. In fact, it is true but not good. There are drones all over the place. Everyone knows where they are at every given point. The police are just a little too efficient.

It just so happens that the Brandeises are collaborating on another book — an exposé about The Store — and trying to do it in secret. Nothing, however, escapes the notice of The Store. Worse, Jacob and Megan’s children, who mightily resisted the move initially, appear to be falling under the spell of the town. Actually, Jacob notices that Megan seems to be getting a little wobbly herself. Jacob makes a last-ditch effort to get the story out to the real world, the one beyond The Store’s company town. But will he make it? And even if he does, will anyone care? Those are just two of the questions that are asked and answered by the end of the book.

There are no new revelations set forth here, but the novel is more of a convincing extrapolation into what might be rather than a presentation of what is. The argument has been made that the real-world model for The Store has gotten too big, and if one is inclined toward that proposition, then THE STORE provides some nightmarish scenarios that would support reining things in a bit. Regardless, it’s ultimately a fun, genre-straddling book with a number of Patterson’s trademark twists and turns, a good companion for the up-coming long days of summer. It remains to be seen, though, if you’ll be able to buy it from certain online merchants… LOL!

It’s a quick read/listen and I recommend it if you like irony.

 

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.

 

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: December 7, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Review –

It’s interesting (and amazing) when an author explores writing something that is completely different from what we are used to seeing from them.  And it also helps that I love reading thrillers as well.  Keep in mind if you are here for the romance, although there is one in this book, it’s definitely darker and grittier and I don’t think it’s really intended to be “romantic”.

There’s a deep, dark secret that Verity Crawford has been hiding.  She’s been in a serious accident and her publisher hired author Lowen Ashleigh to finish writing the three books left in Verity’s hugely popular series.  But when Lowen moves into the Crawford home to go through series notes she discovers some sinister secrets about Verity and her family life.  And she can’t help but feel an undeniable attraction to Verity’s husband, Jeremy.

The great thing about this is that the whole book seemed pretty straight forward.  I mean, awful in some parts, but straight forward.  It had some creepy, nail biting moments but I didn’t feel the need to solve the mystery at any point.  I thought I had it figured out.  I should’ve known better and kept my mind engaged in gathering clues if there were any. I have to give the author credit for making me so wrapped up in the story that first off, I didn’t want to stop listening and second, I just experienced it as it came. The shocker will come at the very end of the story and yes, I didn’t see it coming, (love when that happens)  Also, I think that’s the morally grey point of the book.  Where you question the characters actions and think back on the what’s right and what’s wrong.  There is an HEA but it may feel like a questionable one for people that fall on one side of that moral spectrum than others.

Nevertheless, Verity was a thrilling and exciting ride.  It’s dark and horrific at times but I couldn’t not continue listening.  I really hope that Ms. Hoover writes more in this genre because I’m definitely here for that side of her.

Five HUGE stars!

Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake #3) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Review –

Wolfhunter River is Rachel Caine’s third book in her Stillhouse Lake series (after Stillhouse Lake and Killman .

Gwen Proctor is an amazing character—flawed, brave, vulnerable, fierce, and utterly protective of her children. I found the first two books in this series absolutely spectacular, tautly plotted and full of action and suspense, and they provided a disturbing view into the heart of evil and how it can spread.

I found that this book took a little longer to build up steam, and once it did, there was so much going on and so many things were tangled together that the plot even got a little muddled. It felt like in trying to build on the intensity of the first two books, the author thought she had to triple the suspense. Fortunately, there is still a lot of character development, and we learn more about Sam’s life before he and Gwen met.

This book might be more of a standalone than the first two books were, but I’d still recommend you start reading the series from the beginning. Caine sure does love to keep you guessing about how the plot will unfold! I’m not sure if she intends to keep writing about Gwen, but I hope she does, because she’s definitely full of possibilities.

If you’re a fan of creepy, well-written, suspenseful thrillers, I’d encourage you to pick up this series, starting with Stillhouse Lake. You may find yourself wondering just how you’d react if faced with the same situations Gwen was, and whether you’d be a total badass like she is.

 

The Dark Water Bride by Marty Ross

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Late Victorian London. When the most respectable of Scottish businessmen is pulled, dead, from the Thames, his daughter is drawn into an investigation which reveals a whole world of secrets and corruption and leads all the way to the tragic truth behind the ghostly legend of The Dark Water Bride.

An epic drama combining the genres of the Victorian mystery thriller with the equally classic Victorian mode of the ghostly tale.

Review –

OMG! This a mesmerizing , gory, dark little tale and I was completely absorbed listening to it.

I love a bit of mystery, gothic horror, and bloodthirsty murder and The Dark Water Bride combines all three delightfully. The business man’s daughter is a great character, feisty, determined, headstrong and not your typical simpering Victorian woman. I loved her determination to know the truth regardless of the cost.

The story starts out with a business man found dead in the river Thames. His daughter is told it was a suicide but she couldn’t believe it so travels to London to find out what happened to her father. Some uncomfortable truths and a local legend are revealed as the plot unfolds.

The story is very creepy, exploring the underbelly of London and it’s a dark dirty underbelly at that. This isn’t something for someone who is sensitive to sex and violence, there is quite a lot of both in it. In fact, most of the criticism I’ve seen about Darkwater Bride is the amount of sex and violence. I find it strange that this is the primary complaint about a story that explores the seedy, dark sides of the world.

There is certainly plenty of violence and sex but there’s also a good amount of intrigue, fright and suspense. Even a bit of rommance! This may disturb you, may upset you and might frighten you. But isn’t that what good horror is all about?

Overall the performances were all very good and convincing. The legend of the Darkwater Bride is fully explained , so no worries you won’t be left hanging.

The true story of the ghostly bride was heartbreaking.

If you have an Audible subscription and love creepy stuff, download this one and start listening, you’ll love it. Consider signing up for a free trial, would be worth it just to listen to this one!

Five stars !!!!!

 

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.

 

Elevation by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: October 30, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

Review –

Mr. King’s new novella Elevation  is a change of pace in a few ways. It’s a quick, satisfying read, as opposed to his more epic (though still satisfying) recent works like Sleeping Beauties and The Outsider. And there’s still a weird, unnatural situation (it is Stephen King, after all) but with an undercurrent of humanity and tolerance in the face of modern social strife at the core of resident Scott Carey’s odd tale.

It’s a feel-good tale with a definite whiff of the bittersweet, so no one should worry he’s turning into Nicholas Sparks or Richard Paul Evans. (Again: Stephen King, remember?) This is just the sign of a master simply elevating his own legendary game yet again.

While it was not a five-star book for me, I still very much enjoyed listening to Mr. King read his latest book.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Review –

“After losing her hearing in a freak hit-and-run accident that also killed a woman, Amelia has struggled with alcoholism and unemployment and is finally striving to get her life together. She finds peace on the water, kayaking or paddleboarding with her service dog, Stitch, another survivor and misfit, until the day she discovers a body left in a shallow channel. Shocked not only by her discovery, but also by the realization that she used to be friends with the victim, Gwen, Amelia also worries that the publicity surrounding her 911 call might lead the killer right to her doorstep. In the meantime, she takes a job doing clerical work for a doctor friend of her estranged husband, himself a doctor, and she begins to wonder if Gwen may have been silenced because of a secret she discovered about something or someone in the medical community. Someone clearly has his or her eye on Amelia and is working to discredit her with both boss and husband, so she must be close to finding out the truth. Gudenkauf has created a memorable character in Amelia. Self-deprecating and sometimes angry, her candid voice is a breath of fresh air and an antidote to traditional thriller heroines. In addition, she is self-reliant and strong. The plot contains some clever twists, and the final showdown crackles with tension. It’s hard not to root for Amelia and Stitch; flawed as they are, they’re tough, engaging fighters.

Come for the mystery; stay for the taut suspense, the unique heroine—and of course, the ugly, loyal dog.” Kirkus Review

Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss the author gives us a special look into the life of a very unique character.

Great read!