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.

 

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Crazy House (Crazy House #1)by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Book Description:

Published: May 22, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her home and thrown without reazon into a hellish prison known as the Crazy House. To avoid execution, she’s told to shut her mouth and keep her head down.

Becca was never really good at either.

Her only hope for survival is for her sister, Cassie, to find her—that the “good twin” will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because the jailers at Crazy House soon discover they made a mistake that could get both sisters killed…

Review –

In the absence of their parents, Cassie and Becca  are doing their best to tend to the family farm. One morning, Cassie wakes up to discover Becca is missing, having taken her beloved truck and leaving her with a moped that goes a whooping twelve miles an hour.

 Meanwhile, Becca wakens in a horrific children’s prison, in which the detained are forced to fight to the death. As Cassie searches for her sister, Becca does her best to survive the torture her captors put her through. The novel is set in a future in which populations are organized geographically into isolated cells. The government controls all the information going in and out, but more lurks beneath the surface.  

Cassie tries to get the leaders of her cell (a farming community) to help find Becca, but to no avail.  They don’t believe she has been taken, instead has only run away and become a “bad citizen”.

Next Cassie finds herself being expelled from school and her vocation taken away and is totally blindsides because she has been a straight A student and has NEVER missed a day of school.

Then Cassie is taken and her world gets even more bizarre.

When Cassie and Becca are finally reunited, we have little reason to celebrate. They are forced to fight each other and end up bruised and sore. While alone in the “pen” Becca tells Cassie things she needs to know to survive in prison. As time passes and things become more dire they break out with two friends and head home. Once there, they discover that their home is up for sale and after they are unable to convince people of the cell about the prison, they are “taken” again and this time there is a surprise twist. 

The story is very predictable but I loved it any way and look for to reading the sequel when it becomes available on OverDrive.

It’s young adult but if you enjoy dystopian adventures it’s a very good and fast read for adults too.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: February 3, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. Fans of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train will love this modern reimagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Trainfrom the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart—which the Washington Post said “should be a contender for crime fiction’s best first novel of 2014.”

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

Review –

“A chance airport meeting between strangers sets in motion a Strangers on a Train–inspired murder plot. 

During a delay at Heathrow, wealthy Boston businessman Ted Severson shares drinks with fellow American Lily Kintner, an archivist at a small Massachusetts college. One thing leads to another, but instead of sleeping together, the two confess their deepest secrets: Ted wants to kill his two-timing wife, Miranda, and Lily wants to help him. In case the Patricia Highsmith connection isn’t blatant enough, Swanson (The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, 2014) shows Lily reading The Two Faces of January—“not one of her best”—in the airport. While the title implies that Ted’s (and Lily’s) enemies are the kind worth killing, the reader almost immediately decides it’s the cold, heartless protagonists who should ultimately get the ax. Miranda is indeed cheating on Ted with Brad Daggett, the handsome and dim contractor who’s building the couple’s extravagant Maine vacation home, yet it’s hard to feel sorry for a man who tells a complete stranger that he fantasizes about killing his spouse, let alone a woman who openly encourages such behavior. Lily’s past is slowly, predictably revealed, and we discover her penchant for violence, but instead of making her character more complex, it merely becomes another layer of frustration.

While there are twists, most of them are so clearly telegraphed that only the most careless of readers won’t see what’s coming, especially since Swanson needlessly doubles back over the same events from different points of view. Kirkus Review

I really enjoyed this one and even though I thought I knew all there as to know about the characters, the author throws a curve ball for a great ending.  Fantastic read!

 

 

A Simple Favor by Darcy Bell

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Review –

“The formula is familiar: The author’s debut is a pale facsimile of The Girl on the Train. True to template, the novel tells the same story from the differing and self-serving perspectives of three narrators. Stephanie is a blogger who writes about mom issues. Recently widowed and raising small son Miles alone, she overshares all manner of anxieties on her blog. Her husband and her half brother died together in a tragic auto crash, but later we learn the edgy part: her husband had suspicions about her ongoing affair with her half brother. Stephanie forms a play-date friendship with fellow Connecticut mom Emily, a busy publicist for a top Manhattan fashion designer. Certainly, Emily has an unusual fondness for serial-killer movies and Patricia Highsmith novels—and, thanks to her high-powered job, is always sticking Stephanie with the kids—but Stephanie thinks, and blogs, that she’s finally found a true friend. The two do share a common dysfunctional past: estrangement from Midwestern parents. After Emily disappears during a business trip, however, the POV shifts to her, and we learn that she and her Wall Street trader husband, Sean (who’s the third narrator), planned to fake her death in order to cash in on a $2 million life insurance policy so they and their son, Nicky, could escape the rat race. From here, the typical who’s-playing-whom standoff between the three principals unspools, and violence accelerates. There are plenty of rationalizations cited by Sean and Emily as to why their scam makes sense, in spite of the likelihood that $2 million is a drop in Sean’s annual bonus bucket, and, in any case, how much time away from the rat race would it really buy? This is just one of many unconvincing motivations driving the plot, which will amply satisfy readers’ lowest expectations.

More like “girl on a train wreck.”” Kirkus Reviews

This would make the perfect book to pack for vacation!

 

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: April 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Review –

The crux of this story is this: a woman begins an affair with her stepson. As the story progresses, readers discover she was involved in a similar affair as a young person, too, and are drawn into this repulsive web of taboo relationships. These relationships are not technically illegal, but they’re most certainly uncomfortable and taboo – and the power dynamics between adult and young person presented within them adds a whole other layer of wrong for readers to unpack. The cycle of manipulation and grooming portrayed here was the author’s way of showing how abuse can beget abuse. And that idea – the idea of examining a cycle of abuse – is not in and of itself a bad thing. When portrayed through the lens of commentary on a terrible and very prevalent occurrence, this kind of examination could indeed be quite effective in sparking an important conversation among readers. But it almost takes over the book, in my opinion .

The story is told from a number of perspectives, with the timeline jumping between present and past as pieces of the backstory gradually begin fitting into place. It’s a narrative path well trodden by the modern-day crime writer – here it can serve to confuse and I defy you to reach the end without having to backtrack a little.

While All the Beautiful Lies never quite hits the heady heights of The Kind Worth Killing, it’s still a great read. You may well work out the killer ahead of time, but I’m guessing the clever final twist will come as a big surprise.

Fantastic read!

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

Review –

“The clinical term for what ails journalist Rachel Childs is “agoraphobia.” Even if the term didn’t appear twice in the novel, it’d be easy enough for the reader to identify—and identify with—her pain thanks to Lehane’s delicate, incisive rendering of her various symptoms. They include panic, rage, depression, and, most of all, self-loathing. (“That’s who I’ve become,” she thinks to herself. “A creature below contempt.”) The reasons behind Rachel’s breakdown are likewise cataloged in short, vivid strokes: a childhood spent mostly with her brittle, brilliant mother who refused to tell her anything at all about her father, leading to a yearslong search for that father culminating in desolation and heartbreak. The coup de grâce to Rebecca’s self-esteem comes when her meteoric rise to prominence as a Boston TV reporter literally crashes from her on-camera nervous collapse while covering the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Through all these jolts and traumas, one person is always around, whether close or from a distance: Brian Delacroix, a witty, handsome Canadian-born businessman whom she first meets as a private investigator, later through his occasional “keep-your-chin-up” e-mails, and then, after she’s all but locked herself away in her apartment, outside a South End bar. Brian gradually becomes the only one who can even begin to draw Rachel out of her deep blue funk, first as a confidant, then as a lover, and finally as her husband. Happily ever after? You know there’s no such thing in a Lehane novel if you’ve dived into such rueful, knotty narratives as Mystic River (2001), Shutter Island (2003), and World Gone By(2015). It spoils nothing to disclose that Brian isn’t quite who Rachel thinks he is. But as she discovers when she tentatively, gradually subdues her demons to seek the truth, Rachel isn’t quite who she thinks she is either.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read!

Flesh, The Complete Series by Sky Corgan

Book Description:

Published: July 15, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

All 17 installments PLUS Before Flesh, the sequel to The Flesh Series.

Looking to explore the lifestyle for the first time? Want to experiment without having to commit to a Dominant? Then come to Flesh. Flesh is the perfect entryway to all things kink related. Come find out what the lifestyle is all about in a safe, controlled environment. We’ll tailor your scene to your needs. Whether you’re new to the lifestyle and just want to get your feet wet, or you’re into the hardcore stuff, we can create the perfect experience for you. Simply fill out a list of the things you want to try, and we’ll pair you with a Dominant who will fulfill your desires. It’s all about you. Let us introduce you to the pleasures of the lifestyle without all the stresses and worries of having to attend munches constantly and search for that one perfect Dominant. At Flesh, everything is arranged for you. Safe, sane, and consensual. Sky Corgan is the USA Today bestselling author of Unmatchable and The Billionaires Club.

Review –

I’m sorry, but all I have to say is DON’T READ IT or LISTEN TO IT. The narration is horrible and the story line is so unrealistic and out of left field that i just kept shaking my head and rolling my eyes the entire time.

Enough said.

 

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.

The Baby (The Boss #6) by Abigail Barnette

Book Description:

Published: November 10, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

When life unravels, someone has to wind it up again. Sophie Scaife has found herself in such a position one time too many. She should be celebrating a new year and bountiful success; instead, she’s trying desperately to hold her world together as it tears apart.

For Sophie and her husband, billionaire Neil Elwood, coupling the domesticity of marriage and their steamy games of Dominance and submission comes naturally. Rekindling their sinfully kinky affair with an old flame makes their passion burn hotter than ever, and Neil’s lust for Sophie is matched only by his drive in undertaking an ambitious new philanthropic venture.

But in the wake of Neil’s greatest triumph comes a staggering life change neither of them are prepared for. Overnight, Sophie finds herself in a new reality, wholly unlike the life she’d planned. As emotions run high, Sophie struggles to reconcile the husband she cherishes with a man she no longer knows; a man she loves too much to let go without a fight…

Content warning: contains mention of suicide and suicidal ideation, as well as recovery.

Review –

I will start by saying that this book GUTTED me.

It’s difficult to give you an overview of all of the emotions I have without entirely spoiling the book. I will simply leave you with this: Sophie’s growth as a character can only be matched by Neil’s own regression into a very difficult place. Even writing about this brings a little tear to my eye, because… in all of the eloquent phrasing I have at my disposal: FEELINGS is all I can write.

The pace of this book continues to be just quick enough to allow a breather between chapters before the plunge back into horror continues. That seems weird to write as I’m staring at a picture of the cover. As with all of her books, Barnette has this way of wrapping characters into your heart and then summarily tearing apart their lives. This book is no exception. In my minds eye, I can picture the scene that renders asunder Neil and Sophie’s lives playing out. Other events that play out…. later (aren’t you so happy I’m so spoiler free?) are even worse. It… It might be the most emotional book in the Boss series yet, and if you’ve read any of the other ones – you know that’s not an easy feat to beat.

By the title and the cover I thought Sophia would end up pregnant again and this time decide to have the baby. That is NOT what happens. I cried buckets of tears and had to stop listening for a while when I heard the horrific scenes and felt the heart break.

Later when Sophia finds the note I scream at her to HURRY,GET TO NEIL BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. More tears.

Best book of the series so far for all the FEELS.   Five stars!!!!!

You HAVE got to read this series, BUT start at the beginning to get the full picture.

 

The Wicked King (The Cruel Prince #2) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Review –

Holy Crap,  High King Cardan, could you be more of an a$$hole?

One minute you think he might be a good guy and then he does the unthinkable and after marrying Jude and taking her to bed! (eye roll, head shake)

My first reaction on finishing was basically just: WHY DON’T YOU JUST PICK UP MY LIMP CARCASS AND TOSS IT 50 FEET  INTO THE SEA TOO. The story is excellent in the most beautiful, clever, and perfectly poisonous way. I am reeling and also want to s c r e a m myself into the next dimension because I seriously need book three, which won’t be out until November of this year.

A mortal raised in the realms of Faerie by the devious General Madoc, Jude Duarte has learned to play games of politics and intrigue quite well. By manipulating her onetime nemesis, Cardan (the titular Cruel Prince of the previous book, and Wicked King of this one), onto the throne and binding his will to hers for a year and a day, Jude has bought time for her young foster brother, Oak, whom Madoc would have thrust into power and controlled from the shadows. Using all of her resources — her spy net work, her inability to be glamoured, and her innate physical and intellectual talents — Jude manages to keep Cardan’s numerous rivals in check. The growing trust between Jude and Cardan blossoms into an unlikely romance and ultimately a clandestine marriage — but one final betrayal threatens to undo all of Jude’s plans. The plot itself twists, turns, and dovetails perfectly with the assured character development; in this way, Black proves herself a master storyteller. This book was dark, provocative, full of royal intrigue, and power plays galore

I can’t wait until November for The Queen of Nothing!

Five stars!!!!!!!