I Found You by Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’
‘I got here yesterday.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.

Review –

“Single mother Alice offers a stranger sitting on the beach in the rain a windbreaker, and, upon learning he has no recollection of who he is or how he got there, she invites him to stay in her guesthouse. Her children give him the name Frank, and Alice works to help him regain his memory and learn how he ended up in the north of England. Near London, Lily, a young wife from the Ukraine who has been living in England with her new husband, panics when he fails to return home. After the local police inform Lily his passport is fake, she begins to search for him to determine whom she married and why he suddenly abandoned her. These two stories set in present-day Britain are interwoven with a third story set in 1993 of a family’s annual vacation to the beach, which takes a troubling and ominous turn after the 15-year-old daughter, Kirsty, begins dating a local 19-year-old guy, Mark. As Jewell’s (The Girls in the Garden, 2016, etc.) novel progresses, the tensions in each story heighten as the characters must confront questions of whether we ever truly know other people or if we always keep part of ourselves hidden away. While these are not new questions, Jewell’s page-turner approaches them in a riveting manner. Its numerous twists avoid predictability, and the novel is well-paced as it weaves the three narratives together. Toward the end of the novel, as Alice, Frank, and Lily meet and begin to learn who has brought them together, the plot moves a bit too quickly for a full explanation of everyone’s identity and motivations. Yet even these too-short character back stories serve to circle back and reinforce the novel’s central question: how much does knowing a person in the present count for?

Dark and moody, this is a mystery with substance.” Kirkus Reviews

Definitely 5 stars!!!

The Day She Cried by K. Webster

Book Description:

Published: October 17, 2017  

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

She was my first love.
She was my first hate.
The very sun in my world tried to burn me alive with her lies and cruelty.
Until I dimmed her light for good…
Or so I thought.

Now she’s back.
Cracked. Broken. Lost.
And for the first time in a long time, I feel free.
Free from our past. Free from my present that suffocates me. Free to destroy her future.

Her misery is my music.
Thrilling. Invigorating. Intoxicating.

For so long, all I’ve done is hate her.
So why do I love her?

Review –

I’m just going to get straight to the point. This story was raw, tragic, get-wrenching, beautiful, sad and so damn good! It deals with heavy things, love, loss, grief, hate, and the ugliness of how people can be. And it was also hot as hell!

The Day She Cried, told from dual points of view, is a dark romance about two lost, lonely and broken souls dealing with mistakes, abuse, revenge, secrets, loss, forgiveness and redemption. It deals with sensitive subjects like cyber-bullying, cutting and suicide. Both heart-wrenching and heart-warming, a story to stay with you.

It makes you stop and think about things and life, or how you treat people. If I could tell you more I would, but I don’t do spoilers and I truly believe people need to go into this book blindly.

Excellent read.

 

Angry God (All Saints High #3) by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published: February 15, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars:5

From #1 Amazon Bestseller L.J. Shen comes a new, emotional standalone about first love, second chances, and overcoming breathtaking losses at a young age.

Vaughn Spencer.
They call him an angry god.
To me, he is nothing but a heartless prince.
His parents rule this town, its police, every citizen and boutique on Main Street.
All I own is a nice, juicy grudge against him for that time he almost killed me.
Between hooking up with a different girl every weekend, breaking hearts, noses and rules, Vaughn also finds the time to bully little ole’ me.
I fight back, tooth and nail, never expecting him to chase me across the ocean after we graduate high school.
But here he is, living with me in a dark, looming castle on the outskirts of London.

A fellow intern. A prodigal sculptor. A bloody genius.
They say this place is haunted, and it is.
Carlisle Castle hides two of our most awful secrets.
Vaughn thinks he can kill the ghosts of his past, but what he doesn’t know? It’s my heart he’s slaying.

Angry God is a stand-alone, DARK High School Romance. It deals with sensitive subjects some may find triggering.

Review-

I am a firm believer that this book needs to be gone into completely blind. Vaughn’s story is not an easy one he was always special, and this book proves why. I have never anticipated a story to the extent that I have this one and I was completely blown away by the flawless execution and delicacy with which the author handled his book. Interlacing his storyline with her uniquely LJ sense of humor that lightens up the darkest of situations and puts a smile on your face, brings this story to the next level for me. 

Leonora’s character was unlike any heroine that I’ve seen. She had this fire inside her that burned bright and fierce. Her flames and talent danced with Vaughn’s with such intricacy and emotion you could feel it burn from the pages and light your soul on fire. You think Vaughn is ice, but he is anything but, Vaughn is fire feeling everything and burning from the inside. These two couldn’t have been more perfect together and watching as they evolved into what they ultimately became was like watching two shooting stars collide and become one; singularly unique but together something more beautiful and charged with another level of intensity.

LJ Shen continues to grow and expand as an author, with every new story that she creates being better than the last. She has this unique way with words, drowning you in them as if they are poison soaking into your blood and becoming forever a part of you, ultimately seeping into what is your very essence. Every time I pick up one of her books, I’m immediately carried into that story utterly and completely. Nothing else matters but finishing that book and finding out what happens, that story becomes your nourishment until you are done. 

Like every single book in this series, Shen tackles major issues, topics, themes, and she did it with integrity and respect to the content. There are triggers in this book, for sure, but I am believer that literature (and romance is) should be a reflection of issues that we experience and plague the world, and sadly the issues in Angry God are rampant still today. Addressing these issues makes us more empathetic, more aware, more humane. Vaughn and Lenora’s story absolutely does that. The pain they suffer, the antagonism of a young romance as they stumble through their feelings, and the final HEA shows reader so many things – that light can bloom in the darkest of places, that love can shatter darkness and heal wounds, and that real family, blood or not, will love all your broken pieces and hold you together when you fall apart.

L.J. Shen started this journey with Vicious and it ends with his son, Vaughn, the 8th and final book (as of now) in the Todos Santos world. This series has brought us full circle. These characters and this world has taught me so much. I’ve grown, laughed, loved with this fictional people, and that is the power of a phenomenal romance.

Vaughn’s story tore me to shreds, each page was a slice to my very soul until I was left completely ruined by this book. Then slowly and with delicacy that only the author possesses she puts you back together mending you with parts of this story permanently imbedded. I could not have asked for a more perfect ending to my time here in Todos Santos, these character’s will forever be a part of me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I guess you can tell that I loved this book!!!!!

 

Ruin (Slay Quartet #2) by Laurelin Paige

Book Description:

Published: October 29, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

With her heart literally in his hands, Celia will have to try and bargain with a devil.

Edward Fasbender is my captor.

Trapped on this island he owns everything on–including, it seems, me.

He told me he would break me, but I thought he meant in the bedroom. It turns out Edward is playing a completely different game.

And he won’t stop until he’s ruined me.

Slay Two: Ruin is the second book in the Slay Quartet. Slay One: Rivalry should be read first.

Review –

I absolutely loved the first book, and I almost died when it ended with such a massive cliffhanger! So, as soon as I saw the second book on my was available on Audible Escape I dropped everything and dove right in!

Ruin starts where we were left off in the first book. And let me tell you, I couldn’t listen fast enough. I just soaked in every word! 

Told from dual first person perspectives (Celia and Edward) Ruin follows the building, but acrimonious relationship between businessman/billionaire media mogul Edward Fasbender, and Celia Warner. Several weeks earlier Edward Fasbender propositioned Celia Warner in an effort to regain control of his life, and that of the woman with whom he would fall in love but Celia is a game player, and she is about to enter into a game of which she has no control. Left alone for weeks to months at a time, on a Caribbean island with only Edward’s staff for companionship, Celia will discover that Edward’s power and control is beyond anything she could have imagined. Edward’s primary directive is to break the woman he married, and by breaking Celia, Edward will gain domination and command of her body and soul. What ensues is the tempestuous relationship, and sexually charged romance between Edward and Celia, and the potential fall-out as Celia reveals her past, a past that will affect Edward’s direction and intent, going forward. Edward is one arrogant SOB and is always one step ahead of Celia, but in his own sick and twisted way, he has come to care for/love her.

Celia Warner plays with people’s lives ultimately destroying those in an attempt to regain control of her life but the past cannot be fixed, and in this Celia’s desperate need to win at all costs, will cost her her own freedom when Edward Fasbender takes control of her heart and her life.

Ruin  is a story of betrayal and revenge; power and control. Edward Fasbender realizes that Celia Warner is broken beyond repair, just as he wanted her to be, but it’s not as satisfying as he had thought it would be. Never expecting to fall in love, Edward and Celia will come to terms, relationship wise, in an effort to destroy someone else. The premise is intriguing and captivating; the characters are strong, resilient, broken and flawed; the romance struggles in the face of vengeance and determination.

NOTE: Due to the nature of the story line premise, there may be some triggers for more sensitive readers.

If you decide to start this series, be prepared to see it to the end!

Rivalry (Slay Quartet #1) by Laurelin Paige

Book Description:

Published: June 4, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Edward Fasbender is a devil.

He’s my father’s business rival, a powerful, vicious man who takes what he wants and bows to no one. I only took the meeting because I was curious. I thought he was going to offer me a job.

But that’s not what he’s after at all. His proposal is much more intriguing, and I see an opportunity. An opportunity to turn the tables and bring down the devil.

I’ve gotten in trouble playing these games before. I know when the risk is too great, when the stakes are too high. I know how to be cold and strong-willed and destructive. I know how to withstand dominant men with arrogant charm and rugged features.

Yet I can’t resist taking on Edward.

And I can’t resist the pull he has on me.

Soon I’m not so sure which side of the battle I’m standing on–if I’m the warrior meant to slay,

Or the one who will be slain.

Slay is Book One in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author, Laurelin Paige, next dark and edgy series.

Review –

“SLAY: Rivalry is the first instalment in Laurelin Paige’s contemporary, adult dark, romance quartet focusing on billionaire media mogul Edward Fasbender, and Celia Werner. The SLAY Quartet is a spin-off from the author’s FIXED series, and falls in the timeline before Fixed Forever and a few years after Forever with You. SLAY: Rivalry can be read as a stand aloe without any difficulty. Any important information erom the previous installments is revealed where necessary

Told from first person point of view (Celia) SLAY: Rivalry follows Celia Werner as she is propositioned by her father’s enemy Edward Fasbender. As the heir to the Werner Media Company, Celia finds herself targeted by a man whose predilection towards domination and control may be beyond anything she could have imagined. As one who knows how to play the ‘game’ Celia accepts Edward’s offer of marriage, a marriage in name only that leaves our heroine struggling with a direction in life, but a life that is no longer under her control. Celia entered into the ‘marriage’ wholly aware that her life was about to change but wasn’t prepared for the dark and dangerous consequences of her actions.
Celia Werner is a manipulator who plays ‘games’ with people’s lives. Having previous met Celia in the author’s Fixed Series, we will learn to understand the mind of a woman who battles her own personal demons, demons that lead to her need for control.

SLAY: Rivalry is a story of power and control; of domination and submission; of hatred, anger, vengeance and betrayal; an intense and emotional tale. Celia believes she is in control but she lost that control the moment she agreed to become Edward’s wife. The premise is dark and raw; Edward is a dangerous, angry and frightening b*astard; Celia has come up against someone much stronger at playing the ‘game’. SLAY: Rivalry ends on a cliff hanger-you have been warned.

NOTE: Due to the nature of the story line content, there may be some triggers for more sensitive readers.” The Reading Cafe

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: September 13, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Abducted.
Terrorized.
Imprisoned.

At nineteen-years-old, college student Josie Stratton was kidnapped by a madman and held shackled for ten months in an abandoned warehouse before she finally escaped her hellish prison.

Eight years later, when the body of a young woman is found chained in the basement of a vacant house, Cincinnati Police Detective Zach Copeland is instantly reminded of the crime committed against Josie Stratton. Zach was just a rookie on the perimeter of that case, but he’s never forgotten the traumatized woman with the haunted eyes.

As more information emerges, the crimes take on an even more sinister similarity. But Josie’s attacker died by suicide. Does the city have a copycat on its hands? A killer who picked up where the original perpetrator left off? Or are they facing something far more insidious?

Josie has spent the last eight years attempting to get her life back on track, but now there’s a very real chance she could be the unknown suspect’s next target. As Zach vows to keep her safe, and Josie finds herself responding to him in a way she hasn’t responded to any man in almost a decade, the investigation takes on an even more complex edge of danger.

As past and present collide, Josie and Zach are thrust toward a shocking and chilling truth. A revelation that threatens not only Josie’s life, but everything she’s been fighting so desperately to reclaim.

Review –

This story is told in the past and present, from the third person (I know some people have trouble connecting to this POV, but I felt the author did a great job in building an emotional connection with the heroine).
In the past . . .
We learn of the horrific abduction and torture of a young college student, Josie Stratton.  This part of the book is haunting in its simplicity.  The author doesn’t delve into the specifics of Josie’s torture, but we know that she is chained to the wall, raped, and nearly starved to within an inch of her life (the assailant drew this part out, making it that much more disturbing).
Given that there is a present that features Josie, alternating with chapters from the past, we can assume that there is at least somewhat of a happy ending for her (she doesn’t die).  But her journey and what she loses along the way, cannot be forgotten.
In the present . . .
About that happy ending I just mentioned . . . forget it.  After another woman is found, this one dead, and the particular details are revealed about her condition, the police are concerned they have a copycat on their hands.  Even though the original kidnapper is dead, they understand that Josie may be at risk once again. And that’s what brings Detective Zach Copeland to Josie’s doorstep.
There is an immediate connection between Josie and Zach that runs deeper than a physical connection.  On Josie’s part, it is the first time she’s found comfort with a man since her abduction.  On Zach’s part, he sees a woman that has survived the worst circumstances and rather than fold under the weight of it all, is fighting to regain her life.  There is admiration for her strength.  Although he doesn’t regard her as weak, he knows he can’t take any risks as more bodies are discovered.
At some point, like the characters in this story, I began to question on whether the right person was identified as the kidnapper in the past.  I think I sorted that out before any big revelation was made, but I had no clue who the serial killer was in the present.  The author does a great job on slowly revealing connections between the victims and ultimately the killer.  I loved the big twist with the killer’s identification, and how the author wraps up the  story.  Very unexpected!
The author did a phenomenal job of building this thriller, with a heroine that you want to cheer for every step of the way.  Whether you are a fan of this author, or this genre, this one is worth checking out!

 

 

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: November 5, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Review –

Some family secrets should never see the light of day. In Lisa Jewell’s thrilling, addictive new release, a surprise inheritance sends a young woman on a journey into her own personal history—and what she discovers might be deadly.

Libby Jones always dreamed of learning more about her origins. One day, not long after turning 25, Libby comes home to find an envelope waiting for her, its contents revealing the true identity of her birth parents… and the fact that she has inherited their vast mansion in a posh London neighborhood. Libby’s life suddenly seems to be changing for the better. But by claiming this inheritance, Libby is claiming a darker inheritance, too: a connection to an unsolved crime and an obscure, cult-like society, one which has been waiting, biding its time, until Libby makes herself known.

Meanwhile, in alternating narratives, we’re introduced to Libby’s sister, Lucy Lamb, who’s on the verge of homelessness with her two children in the south of France, and her brother, Henry Lamb, who’s attempting to recall the last few disturbing years with his parents during which they lost their wealth and were manipulated into letting friends move into their home. These friends included the controlling but charismatic David Thomsen, who moved his own wife and two children into the rooms upstairs. Henry also remembers his painful adolescent confusion as he became wildly infatuated with Phineas, David’s teenage son. Meanwhile, Libby connects with Miller Roe, the journalist who covered the story about her family, and the pair work together to find her brother and sister, determine what happened when she was an infant, and uncover who has recently been staying in the vacant house waiting for Libby to return. As the author moves back and forth from the past to the present, the narratives move swiftly toward convergence in her signature style, there are surprising twists, but this one was missing the page-turning magic that I loved in her previous novels. It is still a solid and entertaining read and still deserves a solid four stars.

 

 

 

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 !

 

 

Evil by Tijan

Book Description:

Published: May 12, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

You know that group of people in school that everyone fears? Popular. Beautiful. The in-crowd?
That was my family. Kind of.
We were above that group. We held court over everyone else. We were the best looking. We were the mysterious and elusive ones. Most of the girls wanted to (and did) date the guys, but they didn’t want to be one of us. They couldn’t be. They were our prey.
We were the feared.
But like every family, nothing is as it seems. That was my truth.
Kellan was in his own league. He was our leader and he was the one no one messed with. No one dared. He was ruthless, powerful, and no one could match him…
Except for me.
I was about to find out just how different I was from my family.

**Evil is a full-length paranormal romance stand-alone.
**This book contains adult/mature young adult situations.

Review –

Not a fan of paranormal romance, but I’m on a Tijan reading frenzy so gave this one a try.

I started, stopped, contemplated whether I should continue, forced myself to continue because I had to know how it ends, got confused, frustrated, and then just deleted it as soon as I read the end. I initially thought this was a “The Walking Dead” version of “Twilight.” You know, where it’s more gory, more sexy, more adult. Turns out: it’s not.

Sexy? No. Bits and pieces of the romance and lust between Kellan and Shay peek out, but — meh. Adult? Nope, it’s really just high school with demons and angels in it. How the story got from the beginning to the end was just a whole lotta “WTH is going on.” What I liked about Tijan’s  books is they are fast-paced. Her writing style is fluid and easy-to-read. She kept me wanting to know what happened next. I normally like twists that I could not predict. There were lots of those in Evil, but the same twists were just… forced, I think. They don’t “fit” well. They were abrupt, unbelievable, and psychopathic in nature. Yes, I know: “psychopathic” fits with “Evil.” But, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy the whole story’s revelation and ending.

Good should triumph over Evil, that’s what we all constantly hope for. In Tijan’s “Evil,” Evil won, ’cause I sure as hell don’t think Kellan and Shay are good.

Will I read another PR again? I doubt it.

 

Slashes in the Snow (Baum Squad Novel #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: March 3, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Ky
Three years ago my father walked away. Away from our MC club, all his responsibilities, and me. We haven’t spoken since the day he handed me the keys to the kingdom.

Shoved them down my throat was more like it.

I hate him, and the new family he’s playing house with. He left his entire life behind for a woman he barely knows. But I’m strong, resilient, and don’t need a damn soul to survive.
At least, that’s what I thought…until she walked into my bar.

Kira
Someone is watching me. I can feel it. I wake up in the middle of the night freaked out of my mind, paranoid a stranger is there. My skin prickles every time I leave my house, because I know someone is following me.
I’m afraid. Alone. And there’s only one person left to turn to.

The stepbrother I never met. The man my stepfather speaks so highly about, but never sees. He’s the president of a notorious motorcycle club, and exactly the kind of person I need to protect me.

Little did I know, Ky Parish, freakin’ hates my guts.

Review –

Slashes in the Snow is an enemies to lovers, stepbrother romance, romantic suspense (emphasis on romance) with dark elements and a motorcycle club throw in for good measure.  What more could a female reader ask for?

Fantastic read!