Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

 

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this game, even winning can be deadly…

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

Review –

It was supposed to be book club as usual: a group of suburban mothers gathering to talk over a glass of wine or two and then going home to bed. But when new neighbor Angelica Roux shows up at hostess Amy’s door, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose. The booze flows freely, and soon the women are engaged in a game: What is the worst thing you did today? This week? This month? In your life? There are many women in the gathering with secrets to protect, but none more than Amy, who, as a teenager, committed a terrible crime that almost destroyed her. Saved by her love for diving, and then by meeting her husband and stepdaughter, Amy has worked hard to build a normal, stable life; she even has a new baby.

Angelica has come to threaten all of this; she clearly knows about Amy’s past and will expose her to her loved ones if Amy doesn’t pay her. As Amy tries desperately to outscheme Angelica, she also realizes just how much she has to fight for—and what she might be willing to do to keep her family safe and her secrets buried.

This is a fantastic book and once you start reading or listening(as in my case), you can’t bear to stop.

There are so many twists and turns. Just when i thought I knew the motive for all of Roux’s actions, the author throws a curve ball that puts the story in a totally different direction. No spoilers, but you don’t get to the true crux of the plot until the end and what an ending it is!

Five stars!

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The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements #2) by Brittainy C. Cherry

Book Description:

Published: March  25, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

Logan Francis Silverstone was the complete opposite of me. I danced while he stood still. He was quiet, and I was always running my mouth. He struggled to find a smile while I refused to frown.

The night I saw the darkness that truly lived inside of him, I couldn’t look away.

We were broken together, yet somehow whole. We were wrong together, but always right. We were the stars that burned across the night sky, searching for a wish, praying for better tomorrows.

Until the day I lost him. He threw us away with one hasty decision—a decision that changed us forever.

There once was a boy, and I loved him.

And for a few breaths, a few whispers, a few moments, I think he loved me, too.

Review –

This is the second book in the Elements series by Brittainy C. Cherry and boy oh boy can she write the Hell out of angst!

The Fire Between High & Low is not an easy book for me to read. There was so much angst. I had to take breaks. I even knew at 4% that this book was going to wreck me, and it did. The author is like a puppeteer who pulls at your heartstrings until you have no choice but to feel. I sniffled, I cried, I bawled big, fat, ugly tears. It wasn’t within my power to NOT feel empathy for these characters and their situation. This made their HEA so much more powerful, too.

Alyssa (High) and Logan (Lo) came from opposite sides of the track. Each had different interests. Each lived very different lives. They were opposite in most every way that should have mattered. But their spirits were the same. Each was damaged from their parents — whom I hated with every fiber of my parental being! Each was lonely and desired to be loved.

What started out as childhood friendship eventually turned into teenage love. They depended on each other for their mental well-being. Spending time with one another, laughing with and supporting each other, they were inseparable. High needed Lo as much as she needed him. And then due to lies and manipulation, Lo left. Leaving High to figure out how to live without him.

Fortunately, this is written in dual POV. I don’t think this would have worked any other way. Because when Lo acted like an ass, we eventually found out why.

This story shows the power of how people can endure so much hurt, but overcome it. They couldn’t catch a break. Bad things kept getting between them until they didn’t.

Their story is a train wreck happening in slow motion and I couldn’t look away!!!!!

Five stars!

 

The Hookup (Moonlight and Motor Oil #1) by Kristen Ashley

Book Description:

Published: December 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When the new girl in town, Eliza “Izzy” Forrester decides to hit the local drinking hole, she’s not ready to meet the town’s good, solid guy. She’s definitely not prepared to engage in her very first hookup with him.

Then Izzy wakes up the next morning in Johnny Gamble’s bed and good girl Izzy finds she likes being bad for Johnny.

Even so, Izzy feels Johnny holding her at arm’s length. But Johnny makes it clear he wants more and Izzy already knows she wants as much of hot-in-bed, sweet-out-of-it Johnny Gamble.

Floating on air thinking this is going somewhere, Izzy quickly learns why Johnny holds distant.

He’s in love with someone else. Someone who left him and did it leaving him broken. Whoever was up next would be runner up, second best. Knowing the stakes, Izzy will take what she can get from the gentleman that’s Johnny Gamble. And even knowing his heart might never mend, Johnny can’t seem to stay away from Izzy.

Until out of nowhere, his lost love comes back to town. He’s not going back, but Johnny still knows the right thing to do is let Izzy go.

And Izzy knew the stakes, so she makes it easy and slips through his fingers.

But that’s before Johnny realizes Eliza moved to town to escape danger that’s been swirling around her.

And that’s why Johnny decides to wade in.

That and the fact Eliza Forrester makes breakfast with a canary singing on her shoulder and fills out tight dresses in a way Johnny Gamble cannot get out of his head.

Review –

I fell in love with Izzy and Johnny almost instantly. Their chemistry together was the kind that would take up all the air in a room.

The Hookup is the first in a new series, Moonlight and Motor Oil, based on a pair of wealthy alphas and the women who tame them. Set in the small town of Matlock, KY, the premise is classic. An overprotective quiet alpha whose heart was trampled meets and reluctantly falls for a sweet and sassy woman whose innocence and joy of life helps to glue his broken heart back together. Family, redemption, loyalty, and second chances are the themes on which this story is built as Johnny learns to love again while Izzy learns she is worth loving.

The Hookup is very low key (until the end) and exceptionally chatty.The  majority of the book is spent  watching our couple have sex (great hot sex) and get to know one another. The secondary cast is introduced, giving Izzy and Johnny a personable posse of friends and family who pop in and out as the author uses them to introduce the conflicts to come and to create some mild drama and background to this couple’s journey.

Fantastic read and the start of a wonderful series, and I LOVE the look of the cover.

Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

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

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

Review –

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

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

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

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

 

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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

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

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

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

Review –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

Book Description:

Published: August 10, 2010

Format: Audio/Library Book

For eighteen years, Fran Benedetto kept her secret. And hid her bruises. And stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father. And because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son’s face, Fran finally made a choice–and ran for both their lives.

Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. And in this place she uses a name that isn’t hers, and cradles her son in her arms, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Because Bobby always said he would never let her go. And despite the flawlessness of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time…

Review –

“Frannie, a nurse, fell deeply in love with Bobby, a handsome New York cop who at the time seemed attractively “tasty and dangerous,” as well as kind and thoughtful. But after 17 years of marriage, Bobby has become more dangerous than appealing. Tired of being beaten up, and now coping with a broken nose, Fran takes her ten-year-old son Robert and flees their Brooklyn home. Helped by a women’s organization, she and Robert are given new identities and a new place to live: a duplex in Florida. Now known as Beth Crenshaw, Frannie also tries to make a new life for herself and Robert, whom she loves with a fierce and protective devotion. She finds a good friend in the resilient Cindy and a satisfying job as a visiting health aide. She grows close to her patients, especially Mrs. Levitt, a Holocaust survivor. But Frannie can’t relax her vigilance: Bobby has resources and investigating tools that might make it easy to find her, and so while her life is increasingly normal she dates Mike, Robert’s nice soccer coach she’s still afraid. The tension is nail-biting but nicely complemented by perceptive insights, as in Frannie’s meditation that “whenever I thought about leaving, I thought about leaving my house . . . balloon shades and miniblinds . . . mugs for the coffee . . . small things; routine, order that’s what kept me there for the longest time.” Inevitably, Bobby catches up with her and exacts a terrible revenge, but an appropriately bittersweet ending gives Fran, who’ll always wonder whether she was right to flee, a new love and life. Quindlen writes about women as they really are neither helpless victims nor angry polemicists, but intelligent human beings struggling to do what’s right for those they love and for themselves. A book to read and savor.” Kirkus Review

When I first started listening to this book I thought that at the end Fran would kill Bobby, what happened is much worse. When you’re done reading or listening you will be left thinking for a long time.

 

 

Mercy by Debra Anastasia

Book Description:

Published: August 20, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

He taught me to kill. Murder is in my blood now. It runs through my veins and though I hide the monster I see in the mirror with ink, it doesn’t keep him from coming out.

My street name is Mercy, but I never show any. Except for her. I watch Becca, though she doesn’t know. She saved me a long time ago; the day my father killed my mother. Her bravery turned her into a target.

My father holds a grudge and knife with the same proficiency, and Becca is the focus of his hatred. And I’m the only monster who can save her.

Review –

If you were to go off the synopsis, you’d be thinking this was a particularly sinister, dark read – for us, it wasn’t. Yes, there were dark elements, especially in the last 20% of the book, however the story was essentially one of never ending love, acceptance, destiny, redemption and courage; interspersed with guffaw type humour, loads of emotion and some really sweet romance, all delivered with this authors fabulous ability for gripping and entertaining storytelling.

Mercy is the story of Fenix Churchkey and Rebecca Dixie Stiles. Two children who had a very brief interaction, yet it’s one that would stay with them and have a particularly lasting effect on the young Fenix (Nix). Becca and Nix were a destiny, a love story in the making – written in the stars if you like.

Becca stood up to Nix’s brute of a father when they were kids and that made her a target. Flash ahead fifteen years later and Nix is watching out for (really, stalking) Becca to make sure she’s safe. He never lets her see him. Nix always made a pact to never let Becca see him, to always protect her, thinking up ingenious ways to be a part of her life, to watch over her without actually being a part of it. Well, that was all about to change when Nix, at the coercion of his best friend Animal, seizes an opportunity for Becca to get to know the man beneath the menacing appearance, to know the man inside

The author didn’t rush the romance between Nix and Becca, instead treating us to a slow build, allowing us to get to know the characters before the feverishness of their feelings took hold, summoning our emotions through Nix’s past and his healing process. I loved this man(whole body skeleton tattoo and all)! Nix begs the question, what is normal and he shows us how we need to dig beneath the surface to find the jewel. Their love story was intense, exhilarating, sweet, honest and beautiful, if not a little chaotic and crazy.

The secondary characters were fabulous – in particular the relationship between Nix and his best mate Animal. This huge big brute of a man who spoke so sweetly and sometimes had the hilarious demeanour of a little old lady won us over. Animal soon became a crucial part of the story and holy cow  I cannot wait for his story and to learn who his love interest is, though I have some idea!

There is finally a HEA, but I’m not telling anything else other than to say that Becca may have gotten a tattoo, too.(Hmmm, let me see, I wonder what she choose?)

Great read.

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam, and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores the domestic life: baking, gardening, caring for her infant son. Sam, formerly an academic, is pursuing a new career as a filmmaker. Sometimes they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built.

When Merry’s childhood friend Frank visits their Swedish paradise, she immediately becomes part of the family. She bonds with Conor. And with Sam. She befriends the neighbors, and even finds herself embracing the domesticity she’s always seemed to scorn.

All their lives, Frank and Merry have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank soon sees the things others might miss. Treacherous things, which are almost impossible to believe when looking at this perfect family. But Frank, of all people, knows that the truth is rarely what you want the world to see.

Review –

From what I understand, readers either hate this book or love it because of the subject matter, but when I read some of the reviews it only made me want to read it more to see what all the hub-bub was about.

Yes, the subject matter is disturbing and the storyline is shocking but I must say, I have read other books that were just as subject sensitive but didn’t get all the love/hate reaction. I think, because one of the characters was a helpless infant is one of the reasons some people steer clear of this book and that’s okay. For me, I don’t let taboo or sensitive suspects deter me from reading a book. Unless the book may have triggers for you – step outside your comfort zone and read something daring.

I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

Mind (Trinity Trilogy #2) by Audrey Carlan

Book Description:

Published: December 29, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the second highly anticipated erotic suspense novel in the Trinity Trilogy, Mind digs deep into the heart and psyche of Gillian and her stalker through dueling POVs.

While Chase and Gillian plan their wedding, follow them and the entire gang as the stalker acts out his revenge and plots his attack on Gillian, Chase, and their friends.

This book can be considered dark, erotic, and thrilling. As in Body (Trinity Trilogy Book 1) the issue of domestic violence plays heavily in the storyline, and Gillian experiences many disturbing flashbacks of the past, alongside tragedy the stalker brings to the present. There is also a lot of love, devotion, and friendship.

Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to language, graphic sexual content, and themes that some may find disturbing. MIND is book 2 of a three-part trilogy. Body (Trinity Trilogy – Book 1) must be read prior to reading MIND.

Review –

This book picks up just where Body left off, with Gillian Callahan excitedly preparing to marry the man of her dreams, the billionaire Chase Davis. What looked to be a happily ever after as all three of her soul sisters have also managed to find amazing men to fill out their lives is quickly thrown into question as the stalker who started hounding Gillian in Body makes a reappearance here.

With an impending wedding looming, pushed into an even faster time scheme by her impatient groom, Gigi has more than just the stress of planning a wedding on her plate. Her stalker has escalated his activities from mere threats to violent action that puts the very lives of her closest friends at risk. Mind is well-named as you will spend a great portion of the book trying to figure out just who the stalker might be, though it’s not too hard to figure out.

Again, I thought there were too many unnecessary sex scenes (sex just for the sake of sex), but maybe that’s just me.

 

Body (Trinity Trilogy #1) by Audrey Carlan

Book Description:

Published: November 17, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Men ruin women.

Especially men like Chase Davis. Good looking, intelligent, rich and powerful. I never stood a chance.

I didn’t want to want him.

I didn’t want to need him.

I didn’t want to fall for him.

He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I let him consume me. Arrogant, confident, controlling, demanding… intense.
When he entered my life, I was finally healing after having barely survived the men of my past. My soul sisters told me to take a chance. To let someone in. I let him in, and he surrounded me with a light so bright I was blinded by the truth…

Men don’t ruin women. They devour them in every way that counts.

Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to language, graphic sexual content, and themes that some may find disturbing. Beware of triggers.

Review –

I enjoyed this book very much but would have liked it even more without the “instalove”. It was all too fast. Gillian has a history of a controlling men controlling her life but she’s letting Chase do the same thing. Also, I think the sex scenes were a bit over the top. Yes, Chase and Gillian had a magnetic chemistry but they don’t have to go around have sex ALL the time.

I think the stalker is going to turn out to be someone other than the obvious. I’ll be reading the second in the series to find out.